Ph Problem With Fishless Cycle Of First Tank

Griffin2001

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Hello all! I am brand new to fish keeping and have been doing a fishless cycle on my first tank (5gallon). I’ve been doing tons of research and have been trying to do everything right. I got RO from my LFS and added Equilibrium to start out. I had planted some Anubias and Java Fern at the time. I started adding Dr Tim’s ammonia and following those directions. I was testing every day and it seemed my cycle stalled at .5 ammonia.5 nitrite and 20 nitrate. I then retested my ph and it was off the chart! About 8.4! Went to the LFS and it turns out the RO filter was broken and my KH and GH were literally off the charts. They have replaced the water but the damage was already done.

So now I’m trying to get the cycle back on track. Suggestions to get the PH and hardness under control? I did a 30% water change and added an Indian Almond leaf.

Help???

Current parameters:
PH 8 (straight new RO PH 7.2)
Ammonia .25 ppm
Nitrite .25 ppm
Nitrate 5 ppm
KH 179
 

Anders247

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Welcome to fishlore!
Why are you trying to mess with the pH? RO water isn't the best type to use for fish tanks. What is the pH of your tap? A pH of 8 is fine, actually preferable to a lower pH imo. Easier for fish to adapt to.
 
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Griffin2001

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Not TRYING to mess with the PH. My water is on a softener so I can’t use it. The RO water from my LFS was faulty (they had a filter problem) and ended up with an 8.4 PH when it should have been 7.2.
 

Galaxsy556

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Well first as you are just starting out, I would suggest not to try to mess with the chemistry of the water as much in this way (altering the Ph and hardness etc) it is much harder for a tank to get set up and established if your parameters are constantly fluctuating, not to mention this is even more stressful and lethal to fish if they experience this in a tank. Seeing as you are setting up a 5 gallon tank discus and rams are out your range rn so as Anders247 asked, how come you’re trying to get a specific Ph?

P.S.- I'm not trying to be rude or impolite in any way just trying to help out , there’s so much info out there it can be stressful getting started in the hobby and as beginners a lot of people often complicate things more.

Griffin2001 said:
Not TRYING to mess with the PH. My water is on a softener so I can’t use it. The RO water from my LFS was faulty (they had a filter problem) and ended up with an 8.4 PH when it should have been 7.2.
Mhm well if this was just an issue with their water the only way to bring the pH back down would be with water changes, but do beware since your tank isn't establishes yet the more water changes you do the longer it’ll take your bacteria to see itself in.
 
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Griffin2001

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Galaxsy556 said:
Mhm well if this was just an issue with their water the only way to bring the pH back down would be with water changes, but do beware since your tank isn't establishes yet the more water changes you do the longer it’ll take your bacteria to see itself in.

Thank! Yeah, I’m just trying to get it back to normal. I could kick myself for not testing the water before adding it but I trusted my LFS that it was properly filtered. Trust me, I wouldn’t mess with the PH on purpose!
 

Galaxsy556

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Griffin2001 said:
Thank! Yeah, I’m just trying to get it back to normal. I could kick myself for not testing the water before adding it but I trusted my LFS that it was properly filtered. Trust me, I wouldn’t mess with the PH on purpose!
Yeah you'd definitely think it would be appropriate water that they’re selling! But yeah I understand haha keep us updated .
 

Zka17

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May I ask what do you mean by "my water is on a softener"? If it is what I am thinking, then not seeing why you could not use it for the aquarium... Getting the water from a store is not a long term solution...
 

Momgoose56

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Zka17 said:
May I ask what do you mean by "my water is on a softener"? If it is what I am thinking, then not seeing why you could not use it for the aquarium... Getting the water from a store is not a long term solution...
Are you in a home you own or an apartment? If you own the home, surely your outside water is not being softened! Use your outdoor water in your tank rather than the indoor softened water. A pH of 8.0 to 8.4 is fine for most tropical fish.
 

CindyVBPets

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Agree with others. I'd never buy water from a pet store (and not use R/O)...because if you have some type of issue, and they're closed, you're stuck. And I say this as a former pet store owner. They're not in that "selling water" business and it's risky - as what happened!

If you absolutely can't use your tap water for some reason, go get a bunch of spring water bottles from a convenient source like a Walmart. You can even order a case from Amazon.

All the bottled waters are various PH. From very low to >8.4. It's super easy to do a 5 gal water change with bottled water. You can also get a 2.5 gallon white bucket at Petsmart where the measurements are marked inside like a measuring pitcher. Then you dump it all in there add your Prime when it's time for a change...and you have water "on call". Or just keep it until you need it. I was mixing high and low PH bottled waters that way for a while until I decided to go with tap water and Stratum. THEN you have the correct temp, too. Another issue when fish are involved in the future.

This way if you have an "emergency" water change in your future - you'll have a stock of water at your house. For example, Crystal Geyser runs around 6.9 but others like Walmart store brand around 6.0 then Publix grocery around 8.4. So once you commit you have to commit and always be testing especially if you're not using reliable tap. Because your substrate can totally change your PH, too. And tap isn't always "reliable" when seasons change if the township messes with the water supply.

Trying to alter PH after the fact is a nightmare and doesn't work for long. In this case, no real damage was done, IMO.

My tap is >8.4 and I use Fluval Stratum which renders around 6.3 - 6.6 and botanicals (which also lower) so I find a comfortable 6.9 combining the tap with the substrate/botanicals but I'm not happy about it LOL.

If you are saying you want that 8.0 to lower (which you don't have to since you're cycling and don't want it too low)...just throw in another or half of a boiled and soaked overnight leaf if you want. But I wouldn't bother until I decided what water to use long term. It's just going to delay adding fish, no other real issues in my opinion.

What's going in the tank? A Betta? Just get Betta water then, for now. Or a huge container of that store brand "Freshwater water" at Petco. Then you know for sure what's going on once you see how your substrate impacts your chosen water. In theory haha.

When you add fish your bio load changes and it's likely you'll wake up one day and decide you need an "emergency" water change. So you'll be prepared and not dependent on the store.

Also if it's a Betta just hand feed one pellet at a time to a max of around 3 or 4 in 2 minutes or so....or one "serving" of frozen formerly live thing like brine shrimp, bloodworms etc and watch them eat it. Decaying food... and all that. I thaw a partial frozen cube in a little tank water, rinse in a little tank water, then hand feed off the end of a wooden skewer. That Betta in my icon didn't understand what bloodworms were at first even though he knew my pointing to it was food he was confused but luckily they don't sink and I finally got him eating them. But he's a juvenile.

Also if your pet store told you to buy an algae eater DON'T. They produce a TON of waste and will mess up your whole deal!
 

Galaxsy556

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CindyVBPets said:
Agree with others. I'd never buy water from a pet store (and not use R/O)...because if you have some type of issue, and they're closed, you're stuck. And I say this as a former pet store owner. They're not in that "selling water" business and it's risky - as what happened!

If you absolutely can't use your tap water for some reason, go get a bunch of spring water bottles from a convenient source like a Walmart. You can even order a case from Amazon.

All the bottled waters are various PH. From very low to >8.4. It's super easy to do a 5 gal water change with bottled water. You can also get a 2.5 gallon white bucket at Petsmart where the measurements are marked inside like a measuring pitcher. Then you dump it all in there add your Prime when it's time for a change...and you have water "on call". Or just keep it until you need it. I was mixing high and low PH bottled waters that way for a while until I decided to go with tap water and Stratum. THEN you have the correct temp, too. Another issue when fish are involved in the future.

This way if you have an "emergency" water change in your future - you'll have a stock of water at your house. For example, Crystal Geyser runs around 6.9 but others like Walmart store brand around 6.0 then Publix grocery around 8.4. So once you commit you have to commit and always be testing especially if you're not using reliable tap. Because your substrate can totally change your PH, too. And tap isn't always "reliable" when seasons change if the township messes with the water supply.

Trying to alter PH after the fact is a nightmare and doesn't work for long. In this case, no real damage was done, IMO.

My tap is >8.4 and I use Fluval Stratum which renders around 6.3 - 6.6 and botanicals (which also lower) so I find a comfortable 6.9 combining the tap with the substrate/botanicals but I'm not happy about it LOL.

If you are saying you want that 8.0 to lower (which you don't have to since you're cycling and don't want it too low)...just throw in another or half of a boiled and soaked overnight leaf if you want. But I wouldn't bother until I decided what water to use long term. It's just going to delay adding fish, no other real issues in my opinion.

What's going in the tank? A Betta? Just get Betta water then, for now. Or a huge container of that store brand "Freshwater water" at Petco. Then you know for sure what's going on once you see how your substrate impacts your chosen water. In theory haha.

When you add fish your bio load changes and it's likely you'll wake up one day and decide you need an "emergency" water change. So you'll be prepared and not dependent on the store.

Also if it's a Betta just hand feed one pellet at a time to a max of around 3 or 4 in 2 minutes or so....or one "serving" of frozen formerly live thing like brine shrimp, bloodworms etc and watch them eat it. Decaying food... and all that. I thaw a partial frozen cube in a little tank water, rinse in a little tank water, then hand feed off the end of a wooden skewer. That Betta in my icon didn't understand what bloodworms were at first even though he knew my pointing to it was food he was confused but luckily they don't sink and I finally got him eating them. But he's a juvenile.

Also if your pet store told you to buy an algae eater DON'T. They produce a TON of waste and will mess up your whole deal!
I second this tbh, and if you are getting a betta rather than feed him a large meal once a day, split it into two meals once in the morning and once in the evening. That way you avoid overfeeding which could cause loads of other health concerns for your fishy. I only feed my betta 3 frozen blood worms when I feed that and about 5-6 frozen brine shrimp when I feed those twice a week. I also do a fast day to help his digestive system catch up as bettas often gave problems with constipation due to their high protein diets.
 

Momgoose56

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Like I said, no one in their right mind has outside water on a water softener. If you have outside water, that would work fine for water changes.
 

CindyVBPets

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If you really really want to buy water, I happened to be in Walmart yesterday and their aquarium dept had a big box of "freshwater aquarium water" for sale on the bottom shelf. Looked to be at least 3 gallons. It's in a cardboard box with the water in a big bag inside so It's probably heavy to lift.
 

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