Ph Keeps Dropping Like A Rock, Cant Start Cycle

Lissy0805

Member
HI there,

I did so much reading everywhere but I can't seem to find the solution to my problem.

I started my first 5 gal. aquarium about 4 weeks ago. I used tts and followed closely to someones advice and it seemed to built a cycle nicely. Last week I added shrimp, cholla wood and java moss. As my readings seemed stable 0, 0, 5.
However, I didnt do enough reading about shrimps and put them in way to fast, they all died within a day. Since then My ammonia kept going up to 0.5 (I did fish all dead shrimp out). I performed multiple water changes (every day) to get the ammonia down, when I tested the ph and Nitrate, I kept getting 0 nitrates but ph of 6!!! I believe I cleaned my aquarium too well and changed to often water and killed all my good bacteria. Now I moved my betta back into the bowl, as I can't start a cycle with a ph of 6.
I changed 90% water (everything up to the sand) and took all decoration out.
Ph of my tap water is 6.8. I only got 1 amazon sword, 1 java fern with each a flourish tab buried in sand in the aquarium. From last night to this morning my ph went straight back down to 6!
I read that I can't restart the cycle unless the ph stays at least 6.4.
Is the sand causing the ph drop? Or my plants? Or the flourish tabs?

For the first 4 weeks (when I set it up the first time) it was stable at 6.6 and I did had nitrates. It can't be the sand? It can't be KH either as it was fine fir the first 4 weeks?

What are my options?
Throw out the sand with the tabs and put new sand in? Buy new plants?

I have the powerfilter 10 that came with it, using 2 bags of aquaclear bio max, a foam sponge inside and a foam sponge pre filter.

Please help, I need to get my ph over 6 so I can restart the cycle with TTS.

One thing that might be important:

I used terrarium rocks (because they looked cool) to build a cave. As TTS requires no water change for the first 14 days, I didnt stir much the sand. After the first cleaning I did noticed dark discoloration in the sand below the rock and also on the rock. Could this be hydrogen sulfate? Yesterday by taking out all decoration I noticed quite a bit dark sand. I read that hydrogen sulfate can make the water acid? Is that maybe lowering my ph?

I do have a thick layer of sand 2-3 inches to keep the plants proper down.
What are your experience with sand? I wamt to keep sand as substrate. My betta loves it a lot more then the rocks.
How do I avoid those hydrogen sulfate bacteria? Should I storm the sand very frequent or not at all to keep the pockets buried?

I think I my best shot is to trash the sand and put new on in?
 

Brizburk

Member
Did you change or replace your filter media? Or rinse it in tap water? Those things will cause you to loose your cycle.

The cholla wood could bring your pH down naturally. What type of sand are you using?

Add the tts and keep an eye on your parameters.



Add the
 

Skavatar

Member
sand is usually inert, unless its the crushed coral sand, which will increase KH and pH. driftwood and cholla wood can lower pH.

do you use CO2? that can cause pH drop.

you'll want to get a GH KH test, they are going for around $7-8 on ebay.

have you seen any bubbles coming out of the substrate? if so then it is hydrogen sulfide. you can use a stick to stir the sand every week during your weekly water changes, and vacuuming.
 
  • Thread Starter

Lissy0805

Member
I did change my filter, but not all at once, but propably still to early that cause killing most of my bacteria.

I boiled the chollawood and my one piece driftwood, right now its not even inside and it still dropped on over night. So I don't think its just the wood.

I don't think it makes sense to put in TTS now with a ph of 6. It will kill the good bacteria.

I do not use CO2.
I will buy the kh test kit.

I only stirred up the top of the sand to get the deprI floating right before water change.
I didnt pay attention to bubbles. But the discoloration of the sand is a better indicated isn't it?

Until the ph stays over 6.4. I see no point on trying to put in good bacteria. :/
 
  • Thread Starter

Lissy0805

Member
I'm using CaribSea Super Natural Premium Aquarium sand, which is super fine. And yes it looked gray/ blackish like this.
And I do now remember seeing bubbles come up as soon I turned my bottom rocks around.
 

Potato1

Member
I had a similar problem when starting up my 5 gallon, I put a texas holey rock in the tank and the pH now stays stable at around 7.5. Perhaps putting some Texas Holey Rock will help to balance out the effects of the wood?
 
  • Thread Starter

Lissy0805

Member
I am doing a desert theme in my aquarium therefore I have a wonderstone rock from petco. Would that have the same effect? Under that rock there was no sign of discoloration.
The rocks that discolored and the sand below them was the red marble resin stacking stones from petco. They are original for Terrarium, but I thought I could uwe them for aquarium too.
 

Potato1

Member
Lissy0805 said:
I am doing a desert theme in my aquarium therefore I have a wonderstone rock from petco. Would that have the same effect? Under that rock there was no sign of discoloration.
The rocks that discolored and the sand below them was the red marble resin stacking stones from petco. They are original for Terrarium, but I thought I could uwe them for aquarium too.
I don't know much about what rocks affect pH, I just know that Texas Holey Rock worked for me. Maybe try creating a new thread asking whether the wonderstone raises the pH, hopefully someone with more knowledge can give you an answer. Sorry I couldn't help.
 

Skavatar

Member
you may have to remove some of the sand substrate, down to about a inch or inch and a half.

from what I can find out about wonderstone rock is that it is metamorphic glassy stone, usually inert.

Caribsea is supposed to be pH neutral according to the packaging label.
 
  • Thread Starter

Lissy0805

Member
So I threw out all of the sand. I found black bulks in the corner of the plants and it smelled terrible!

I cleaned up everything and try to start from scratch. Lets see if the ph stays till tomorrow morning. I'm guessing it was the sand. Gosh it stank terrible...:yuck:
 
  • Thread Starter

Lissy0805

Member
Guys help!
After cleaning EVERYTHING (but my filter material), putting new sand and new water hin. (I risned and cleaned my aquarium very well from this disgusting smell). My ph went back down again to 6!!! I had the filter on maximum output (with my betta I wouldnt do it). Is it really possible that my water is that soft??? My KH test kit arrives Tuesday. What can I do to keep the ph stable at 6.6 or up so I can start a cycle?
 

Skavatar

Member
the nitrogen cycle creates an acidic enviornment, you need atleast 3 or 4 KH to prevent pH crashes.

since there's no fish in the tank right now, you can add small amounts of baking soda to stabilize the pH. start with 1 teaspoon. wait a few hours and test. add more if needed.
 
  • Thread Starter

Lissy0805

Member
Thank you skavatar,

I will definitly do that. I only got baking powder. Is this the same? If not I can just go to the store later on and get baking soda.

I read from another person that NYC water is super soft (<1). Would I have to add baking soda with every water change once the fish is in later or is this a one time solution?
I read that crushed corals in a filterbag can give the same effect but constant. Does anyone here have experiences with this? I don't want to change the substrate again. But if I can add crushed corals in the filter that might be better?
 

wintermute

Member
I have soft water, and had problems with constantly dropping ph. I Put a handful of crushed coral chunks (not powder) in my filter and my ph stabalized at 7.5 and has been there ever since 7.5 is the ph of my source water.

I would definitely recommend getting some crushed coral puting it in a media bag and adding it to your fitter

Tony.
 
  • Thread Starter

Lissy0805

Member
Great! I'll swing by my local fish store today and see what I can find.
 

gmwJOY

Member
I AGREE WITH SKAVATAR
ALSO AGREE WITH WINTERMUTE,
I SUGGEST YOU TO PUT SOME CRUSHED CORALS HERE AND THERE, AND IN FILTER
PLACE SOME LAVA ROCK IN AS A DECORATION, AND IF YOUR TANK HAS ANY WOODS AS DECORATION OR AS HIDING PLACE PLEASE PUT IT OUT OF THE TANK AND TEST WATER ALT LEAST 6 HOUR LATER,
DON'T FORGOT PUT SOME FISH FOOD IN
 

Skavatar

Member
Baking soda only.


Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate.

Baking powder contains sodium bicarbonate, but it includes the acidifying agent already ( ), and also a drying agent (usually starch).
 
  • Thread Starter

Lissy0805

Member
Hey,

So I added 1/3 of crushed coral in a media bag last night and filled up fresh water. Ph from tap is 6.8. This morning it was 6.4. I did wash the corals (I read it somewhere) but when washing it, it seemed to release most of its hardness?) So I'm not sure if that was the issue. I filled the bag a bit more without washing the corals (must be about 1/2 cup now) and after 4h its nore at around 7.

I also bought pure ammonia and added 3 drops to my aquarium and the TTS bottle. My plants however did not seem to syrvive tje massive clean out. The leaves are turning thin and light brown. This should also releade ammonia, correct? So as long I keep the ammonia below 5ppm the bacteria can do there work? I'm hoping my plants will recover somehow now during the cycle.

My problem now is that my fish is in the bowl with the ph 6 water. I added yesterday a tablespoon crushed corals, and went up a little right after. But this morning it was back to 6 again. I'm guessing the bufdering effect only works when water is moving? My fish bowl is only 1.5 gal and has no filter in there.
I try to change 2-3 cups of water 3 times the day, but it stressesy fish that he got this white flakes on his skin (ick?). I'm using betta fix and he is doing better. But how can I slowly raise the ph without doing so many water changes? Eventually he is going into the aquarium with the 7 ph.
 

Wraithen

Member
Baking soda is a quick fix. It will quickly raise the kh and ph, but is easily removed by the acid of the cycle. Crushed coral can take a while. Since you already put the crushed coral in, a bump of baking soda may be able to get you high enough, long enough, for the crushed coral to catch up and keep it stable.
 
  • Thread Starter

Lissy0805

Member
Wraithen said:
Baking soda is a quick fix. It will quickly raise the kh and ph, but is easily removed by the acid of the cycle. Crushed coral can take a while. Since you already put the crushed coral in, a bump of baking soda may be able to get you high enough, long enough, for the crushed coral to catch up and keep it stable.
How much would I have to put in in a 1.5 gallon bowl? I can keep the fish in it? Or do I need to take him out?
 

Wraithen

Member
If you mean the coral, you can add half a gallons worth, it won't hurt anything. If you mean the baking soda, I would dissolve 1/8 teaspoon into a quart of water, and do a drop or two of the solution at a time, wait 10 minutes, test, then add again. I'm confused though. If you are trying to raise the ph of a temporary qt tank, it's not worth it. Just keep doing water changes and adding prime to keep the water safe. Concentrate on your main tank. Once that is resolved, you can slowly add more and more tank water to the qt tank over a day or so until you're with .5 ph and then, as long as temps are the same, just move the fish over.
 

wintermute

Member
Since your tank water is now more where you want it ph wise, use it for doing the small water changes with the fish in the bowl (once the ammonia has dropped to zero before dosing the next lot of ammonia). It will have the higher kh from the crushed coral already so should also start to buffer the water in your small bowl.

Just make sure the water in the bowl doesn't have high ammonia as raising the ph will make the ammonia more toxic.

Personally I wouldn't fishless cycle the main tank whilst you effectively are fish in cycling the 1.5Gallon that the fish is currently in. I would wait for the ammonia to drop in the main tank (or even get it down with some water changes) and transfer the fish to that and do a fish in cycle. I think the fish will be a lot less stressed doing it that way.

Tony.
 
  • Thread Starter

Lissy0805

Member
Just tested KH and GH.

Tab water: KH 2, GH 3
Aquarium water (with crushed corals): KH 4, GH 6

What is a "healthy" KH & GH?
My aquarium water has been staying at ph 7 now for the last 2 days.

I'll propably transfer my betta into the aquarium, as soon the ammonia is back down. (Was still about at 0.4) I put some more TTS in for more bacteria. But I do have 5ppm nitrites already. That's pretty good for 2 days right?
 

Skavatar

Member
GH and KH between 3-7 is good.

your tank is cycling. if you're putting the betta in the tank, do water changes every other day and add extra Prime until you don't have anymore ammonia or nitrite.
 

wintermute

Member
looks like your tap is pretty similar to mine, mine may even be a bit lower. My tank kh is 4 and gh 5 and my ph is rock solid

Tony.
 
  • Thread Starter

Lissy0805

Member
Thanks everyone!

My aquarium has been stable with ph since adding crushed corals. I also slowly raised the ph of the bowl with the baking soda. (Took almost adding half a liter over 2 days slowly to get it up to 6.8., it must have really been in the lowest possible)

I followed your advice Tony and transfered my betta back into the aquarium. He was swiming very frantically at first and flared at everything. I removed the background picture as I notices in the past that it irritates him constantly. Now I just put white paper behind it. He finally calmed down and swims a bit more relaxed and hides here an there in the plants.
7ph, 0.25 - 0.5 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 5- 10 Nitrates.

Still a few weeks to cycle but the ammonia has been slowly going down from 0.5. So hopefully he will make it through the cycle and recover his lost tips of his fins.
Thanks for the help.
 

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