Weird Water Parameters

BenjiBear

This might be a little long, and Im also new here, so please bear with me cause im so confused. I've posted on loads of other forums but no one can help. I really need some advice.

So I keep getting weird readings from my API kit and I cant work out what's going on. I know all about the nitrogen cycle and how it works and how important it is so I don't want people to explain that to me because thats not my issue. I filled out the emergency sheet just because I thought the info might be relevant.

Tank

What is the water volume of the tank? 15 Gallons
How long has the tank been running? 2 months
Does it have a filter? Yes
Does it have a heater? Yes
What is the water temperature? 25 Celcius/77 Fahrenheit
What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.) 1 male betta and 3 panda cory cats

Maintenance

How often do you change the water? At the moment every few days
How much of the water do you change? Sometimes 30%, sometimes 50%
What do you use to treat your water? Amquel Plus
Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water? I take up debris and so the substrate gets mixed up a little

*Parameters - Very Important

Did you cycle your tank before adding fish? I did a fish in cycle with the betta
What do you use to test the water? API liquid test kit
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”. At the moment they fluctuate too rapidly to tell, however I explain in detail with actual readings below. My pH is 6.4.

Feeding

How often do you feed your fish? At the moment for my betta it's once a day and my cories every other day.
How much do you feed your fish? My betta is 4 or 5 pellets at the moment and the cories are a small pinch
What brand of food do you feed your fish? My betta has Hikari Gold floating pellets and my cories take Fluval Bug Bites
Do you feed frozen or freeze-dried foods? Not at the moment

Okay so some further details on the actual problem: My tank was cycled around a month ago after doing a very careful fish in cycle with my betta (he was perfectly fine and still is as I gave it my undevided attention to ensure his safety and comfort) and after around 2 weeks to my surprise it showed proper readings of 0ppm ammonia, 0ppm nitrite and 5ppm nitrates for about a week or so after that.

I then proceeded to buy 6 Panda cory cats but 3 didnt make the journey home from the fish store unfortunately and in hindsight, it would never have been a good idea to introduce all 6 at once, but I'd still have preferred to move them to another tank not have them die. But the 3 remaining have now been in the tank for about 2 weeks now and they look really happy.

I was using API quick start to boost my bacteria upon adding the cories and as expected the ammonia rose a little so I water changed and dosed API ammolock, however I didnt realise how bad it was for the bacteria as I was researching my sudden 8ppm ammonia reading. I was told the ammolock gives that false reading and the way it binds the ammonia means nitrites cant consume it (nitrites were still at 0ppm). So, I did a 90% water change to get most of that ammolock chemical out and swapped to Amquel Plus, which I had been recomended.

The next day, I got excellent readings: 0ppm ammonia and same for nitrite and a 5ppm nitrate. So I thought this was great and my issues were solved. Wrong, as the next day I was up at 2ppm ammonia again, no nitrites. I dosed Amquel after a water change again, as im just conscious of my fishes' health. Next day, same result. So I quit amquel for now just incase and just kept on water changing to keep ammonia down instead.

2 days ago I had 2ppm ammonia and 0.25ppm nitrite, so I thought the cories had induced my tank to re-cycle and I also did a water change. But then yesterday I tested expecting the same and no, I had 0ppm ammonia, 0ppm nitrite and 5ppm nitrate. So I felt good but suspicious. I was hoping for the same today but no again, im back at 2ppm ammonia and 0.25ppm nitrite.

Meanwhile, my betta and my cories are acting perfectly normal. I reduced their feeding as I usually feed my betta 2 times a day (3 or 4 hikari gold pellets each time but im working on getting bloodworms to vary his diet) and I was feeding my pandas a tiny pinch of Fluval Bug Bites which they eat like their life depends on it. I stopped feeing them the bug bites on the regular as they seem to eat organic matter (?) off every surface in my tank (wood, leaves, rocks, even my betta's floating log) and so i do it every 2 days now incase it is them pooping too much. My betta is down to once a day for now (dont wanna stop fully atm bc he has a minor wound (a few scales got knocked off his head) and i want him to keep his strength up to heal well - it's been three days and hes still very active tho and eating)

Anyone got any idea of whats going on? I just need to fix this and understand it so i can prevent it and I need the water to be stable enough for my fish.

Thank you!
 

Dechi

I tried to read carefully and I hope I didn’t miss anything. My hypothesis would be that by doing a 90% water change, since your cycle is new and still fragile, you destroyed a good part of your BB and crashed your cycle (it takes 10 minutes for the dechlorinator to work, meanwhile your BB is exposed to chlorine, which kills it).

You’re going to have to go through another cycling process, hopefully some BB survived and the process will be shorter this time.
 

AcornTheBetta

This might be a little long, and Im also new here, so please bear with me cause im so confused. I've posted on loads of other forums but no one can help. I really need some advice.

So I keep getting weird readings from my API kit and I cant work out what's going on. I know all about the nitrogen cycle and how it works and how important it is so I don't want people to explain that to me because thats not my issue. I filled out the emergency sheet just because I thought the info might be relevant.

Tank

What is the water volume of the tank? 15 Gallons
How long has the tank been running? 2 months
Does it have a filter? Yes
Does it have a heater? Yes
What is the water temperature? 25 Celcius/77 Fahrenheit
What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.) 1 male betta and 3 panda cory cats

Maintenance

How often do you change the water? At the moment every few days
How much of the water do you change? Sometimes 30%, sometimes 50%
What do you use to treat your water? Amquel Plus
Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water? I take up debris and so the substrate gets mixed up a little

*Parameters - Very Important

Did you cycle your tank before adding fish? I did a fish in cycle with the betta
What do you use to test the water? API liquid test kit
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”. At the moment they fluctuate too rapidly to tell, however I explain in detail with actual readings below. My pH is 6.4.

Feeding

How often do you feed your fish? At the moment for my betta it's once a day and my cories every other day.
How much do you feed your fish? My betta is 4 or 5 pellets at the moment and the cories are a small pinch
What brand of food do you feed your fish? My betta has Hikari Gold floating pellets and my cories take Fluval Bug Bites
Do you feed frozen or freeze-dried foods? Not at the moment

Okay so some further details on the actual problem: My tank was cycled around a month ago after doing a very careful fish in cycle with my betta (he was perfectly fine and still is as I gave it my undevided attention to ensure his safety and comfort) and after around 2 weeks to my surprise it showed proper readings of 0ppm ammonia, 0ppm nitrite and 5ppm nitrates for about a week or so after that.

I then proceeded to buy 6 Panda cory cats but 3 didnt make the journey home from the fish store unfortunately and in hindsight, it would never have been a good idea to introduce all 6 at once, but I'd still have preferred to move them to another tank not have them die. But the 3 remaining have now been in the tank for about 2 weeks now and they look really happy.

I was using API quick start to boost my bacteria upon adding the cories and as expected the ammonia rose a little so I water changed and dosed API ammolock, however I didnt realise how bad it was for the bacteria as I was researching my sudden 8ppm ammonia reading. I was told the ammolock gives that false reading and the way it binds the ammonia means nitrites cant consume it (nitrites were still at 0ppm). So, I did a 90% water change to get most of that ammolock chemical out and swapped to Amquel Plus, which I had been recomended.

The next day, I got excellent readings: 0ppm ammonia and same for nitrite and a 5ppm nitrate. So I thought this was great and my issues were solved. Wrong, as the next day I was up at 2ppm ammonia again, no nitrites. I dosed Amquel after a water change again, as im just conscious of my fishes' health. Next day, same result. So I quit amquel for now just incase and just kept on water changing to keep ammonia down instead.

2 days ago I had 2ppm ammonia and 0.25ppm nitrite, so I thought the cories had induced my tank to re-cycle and I also did a water change. But then yesterday I tested expecting the same and no, I had 0ppm ammonia, 0ppm nitrite and 5ppm nitrate. So I felt good but suspicious. I was hoping for the same today but no again, im back at 2ppm ammonia and 0.25ppm nitrite.

Meanwhile, my betta and my cories are acting perfectly normal. I reduced their feeding as I usually feed my betta 2 times a day (3 or 4 hikari gold pellets each time but im working on getting bloodworms to vary his diet) and I was feeding my pandas a tiny pinch of Fluval Bug Bites which they eat like their life depends on it. I stopped feeing them the bug bites on the regular as they seem to eat organic matter (?) off every surface in my tank (wood, leaves, rocks, even my betta's floating log) and so i do it every 2 days now incase it is them pooping too much. My betta is down to once a day for now (dont wanna stop fully atm bc he has a minor wound (a few scales got knocked off his head) and i want him to keep his strength up to heal well - it's been three days and hes still very active tho and eating)

Anyone got any idea of whats going on? I just need to fix this and understand it so i can prevent it and I need the water to be stable enough for my fish.

Thank you!
I've never seen something like this... The first thing that came to mind is a possibly faulty test kit. If your fish are acting normal and aren't showing signs of stuff like ammonia burn then it could just be a faulty test kit as going from 8 ppm to 0 ppm in one day seems a bit odd to me even with water changes. The second thing that I thought of is if the low pH is crashing the cycle as low pH can make the nitrogen cycle stop functioning. To solve this you would need something like Seachem Neutral Regulator which at the correct dosage alters the pH so that it is 7. As for water conditioners, I would recommend Seachem Prime as it is highly concentrated and can detoxify ammonia and nitrite if dosed in larger amount. mattgirl do you think pH is the problem here or something else. You also may have crashed the cycle with such a large water change (90%).
 

John58ford

The ammonia in your water is not just from the waste, it's also from the aspiration, out of the gills in addition to the urine and waste. So regardless of how much or little you feed the corries your waste was increased dramatically (unless they are very young, increased by at least 300%). An increase of 1ppm per day seems about right when I have stocked new tanks for fish in cycle while seeding new filters, so likely you have just out fished the bacteria you had built up.

Additionally, the heavy water change may not have been the best, depending on what you disturbed but unless you have very very highly chlorinated water I would not bet on the time it took for the dechlorinator to work to be the cause.

Since you are now doing a fish in cycle with allot more load than a betta, just for your peace of mind, I would like to share with you the acute toxicity level for ammonia at your pH/temperature.... Erm well I just realized you said 6.4... so, my chart doesn't even go that low, I had to source someone else's work and it does seem to parallel my chart. At 24c/6.4 ph you would be ok to get up to an amazing 15ppm before acute symptoms should appear. For others reading, the normal toxicity is between .5 and 2ppm ranging from 8-7ph at these temps. Edited to add: Remember there are sensitive fish, and the cory is one of them so stay on the changes, but don't panic.


Why is your pH 6.4? If you are not using active substrate, this would indicate to me you may be out of your kH buffer, which is critical to the nitrogen cycle. mattgirl is ace at these issues if you are using something fancy to keep it down there though.
 

ProudPapa

I'd suggest stop adding chemicals. Keep testing your water as you've been doing, and do water changes as needed to keep the combined ammonia and nitrites low (ideally below 0.5 ppm, but definitely below 1.0 ppm), but quit adding stuff. I don't know it for a fact, but I suspect that's what's causing the fluctuating readings.
 

BenjiBear

So first off, thank you to everyone who has replied so far, I really appreciate it!

So I'm just trying to process this all and get it right. I'm seeing everyone basically agree that I've probably crashed my cycle in the 90% water change. I would honestly be a little unsure where to even start to get it to re-cycle as weird as it sounds because of the extreme readings, eg. one day its perfect, next its at 2ppm and 0.25ppm then the next back down to 0ppm all over. As John58ford had said about heavily chlorinated water, I can actually smell the chlorine in our water which would tell me its pretty high. Smells like a swimming pool sometimes...yikes.

I did consider the possibility of a faulty kit so im glad that was reaffirmed. I might look into it and see if perhaps I can get a new one since they're a little pricey. Wouldn't be such a bad thing though if my current one actually turned out okay cause i'd eventually need a new one anyways.

As for my pH, I live in Scotland and we have quite soft water here so that could be a factor maybe? To answer John58ford, I used only Fluval stratum in that tank and i have actually seen a few people say it has lowered their ph, so maybe that alone is the culprit. I also appreciate your chart research, its pretty interesting!

From here, what I would maybe do would be to buy a ph regulator from seachem and nothing else cause like JettsPapa has said, excess of stuff probably isnt helping. I may look into cheaper (than a liquid kit) test strips that do ammonia, just so i can see if there's a correlation between them and my API kit to determine if it's faulty or not. Then from there I guess I have to try and get a new cycle going...?

Again, I really appreciate all the help guys
 

John58ford

I'd suggest stop adding chemicals. Keep testing your water as you've been doing, and do water changes as needed to keep the combined ammonia and nitrites low (ideally below 0.5 ppm, but definitely below 1.0 ppm), but quit adding stuff. I don't know it for a fact, but I suspect that's what's causing the fluctuating readings.
I'm totally with the "stop adding chemicals" train. I don't think it should be panic inducing to see the ammonia levels up over one, and as high as 2(or more) at pH below 7. Just like the cycle is harder to keep running down that low (and stops at 6) the ammonia is less and less toxic. If one has a pH above 8, then yes, panic at .5ppm.

This person has done some research, and has extremely low pH. Due to the cory being more sensitive than some to ammonia a low number is better, as are frequent changes, but further research into the pH, would help, as would research on what they are working with that if actually achievable. It is likely not achievable to do 2x50% daily (to stay below .5 while cycling up to the new bio load) water changes for the next 3-5 weeks and so I thought we should share a bit more on the science of ammonia toxicity.

I will edit my first post to remind that cory are sensitive, but the science is there.
 

AcornTheBetta

So first off, thank you to everyone who has replied so far, I really appreciate it!

So I'm just trying to process this all and get it right. I'm seeing everyone basically agree that I've probably crashed my cycle in the 90% water change. I would honestly be a little unsure where to even start to get it to re-cycle as weird as it sounds because of the extreme readings, eg. one day its perfect, next its at 2ppm and 0.25ppm then the next back down to 0ppm all over. As John58ford had said about heavily chlorinated water, I can actually smell the chlorine in our water which would tell me its pretty high. Smells like a swimming pool sometimes...yikes.

I did consider the possibility of a faulty kit so im glad that was reaffirmed. I might look into it and see if perhaps I can get a new one since they're a little pricey. Wouldn't be such a bad thing though if my current one actually turned out okay cause i'd eventually need a new one anyways.

As for my pH, I live in Scotland and we have quite soft water here so that could be a factor maybe? To answer John58ford, I used only Fluval stratum in that tank and i have actually seen a few people say it has lowered their ph, so maybe that alone is the culprit. I also appreciate your chart research, its pretty interesting!

From here, what I would maybe do would be to buy a ph regulator from seachem and nothing else cause like JettsPapa has said, excess of stuff probably isnt helping. I may look into cheaper (than a liquid kit) test strips that do ammonia, just so i can see if there's a correlation between them and my API kit to determine if it's faulty or not. Then from there I guess I have to try and get a new cycle going...?

Again, I really appreciate all the help guys
If you have a LFS, you could test your water and then have your LFS test the exact same water taken at the exact same time and compare results to see if your kit reads the same as theirs.
 

BenjiBear

If you have a LFS, you could test your water and then have your LFS test the exact same water taken at the exact same time and compare results to see if your kit reads the same as theirs.

Im kinda in the middle of no where so it's a little harder for me. The two I would normally use; one is in a highly covid contaminated city and we arent allowed by law to go int high areas since my area is quite low, and the only other store I can reach is 40 minutes away I was actually due to go back because that's where I got the cories from and since they died within a few hours, they offered to replace them but I've held off due to the water issues.

My only other option then would be to put the 3 new cories in my 5 gallon which only has 3 nerites in it at the moment but i dunno if that would be safe for them? Is it too small of a tank even while waiting for the 15 gallon to level out?

I'm totally with the "stop adding chemicals" train. I don't think it should be panic inducing to see the ammonia levels up over one, and as high as 2(or more) at pH below 7. Just like the cycle is harder to keep running down that low (and stops at 6) the ammonia is less and less toxic. If one has a pH above 8, then yes, panic at .5ppm.

This person has done some research, and has extremely low pH. Due to the cory being more sensitive than some to ammonia a low number is better, as are frequent changes, but further research into the pH, would help, as would research on what they are working with that if actually achievable. It is likely not achievable to do 2x50% daily (to stay below .5 while cycling up to the new bio load) water changes for the next 3-5 weeks and so I thought we should share a bit more on the science of ammonia toxicity.

I will edit my first post to remind that cory are sensitive, but the science is there.

Do you think I should just leave my pH or would regulating it to 7 be advisable? That would end up being the only chemical I would use anyway since I only use my dechlorinator at the moment which detoxifys ammonia and nitrites too.
 

AcornTheBetta

Im kinda in the middle of no where so it's a little harder for me. The two I would normally use; one is in a highly covid contaminated city and we arent allowed by law to go int high areas since my area is quite low, and the only other store I can reach is 40 minutes away I was actually due to go back because that's where I got the cories from and since they died within a few hours, they offered to replace them but I've held off due to the water issues.

My only other option then would be to put the 3 new cories in my 5 gallon which only has 3 nerites in it at the moment but i dunno if that would be safe for them? Is it too small of a tank even while waiting for the 15 gallon to level out?
That's a shame. Just on a side not, corys should be in at least a 20g (75l).
 

John58ford

Do you think I should just leave my pH or would regulating it to 7 be advisable? That would end up being the only chemical I would use anyway since I only use my dechlorinator at the moment which detoxifys ammonia and nitrites too.
On the water parameters side of things, I have found it the easiest to stay in the 7.2-7.4 range. Before trying to regulate it though you should do some testing.

I recommend grabbing a gH/kH test kit as it's cheaper than buying them individually (at least over here. If you have more than 2 drops (which would indicate between 1 and 2 degrees kH) carbonate hardness you shouldn't waste time/resources on buffering as it would indicate something in your tank is holding the pH down. Trying to fight that would literally be a waste of money and patience.

Next, I would check and see if your cory were wild caught or tank bred. If they were wild, the pH below 7 may be beneficial. If they were tank/fish farm bred, they likely would do best in average 7-8 pH. These things are very hard for me to say for sure though as I am far from an international fish keeper. I don't know (and likely can not research thoroughly) the methods and conditions in Ireland's decorative fish farming/sourcing. Here in the states the differences in even "tank bred" and "farmed" can be pretty significant and vary from state to state.

So, if the fish were tank bred in "normal" water, and you're lacking in the kH test, I would buffer it up.

If your fish were wild caught/or you have a ton of kH, I would leave it be.

If you ate lacking kH, add a buffer, and still cannot move the pH, I again, would defer to mattgirl. All of my research really has been clinical and based upon research facility procedure. My experience on the other hand is much different from those using stratum or other nicer substrates so I try not to get in that lane. If any university facility in the country would publish a write up on stratum etc, I might be willing to jump the road.
 

BenjiBear

That's a shame. Just on a side not, corys should be in at least a 20g (75l).

I was quite upset about it as they were my first sort of "death" in the hobby, but they were the smallest of the lot and I guess the journey was just too much for them. I know cories arent best in a 15 but I didn't actually know at the time because id been told by several people it was fine. I should have taken more responsibility, I know. My 3 look happy just now but in the next few months i do plan to get something like a 55 gallon or possibly bigger depending and I was thinking of transferring them into that tank then.
 

mattgirl

You have gotten some good suggestions so far and have made some good changes on your own. It is good that you read up on ammo-lock and stopped using it. If I am understanding correctly though, you are still using Amquel Plus. I've not read a great deal about it but what I have read leads me to think, although not as bad as ammo-lock, it still isn't the best product to use while trying to cycle/recycle a tank.

Your low pH is concerning. As you've already read, ammonia isn't as toxic with a pH that low. The problem is the bacteria struggles to grow with it that low. I am concerned about how quickly this tank appeared to cycle. 2 weeks is much faster than normal unless you seeded it with mature filter media. Did you go through both the ammonia and nitrite spike?

It is possible what you are going through right now is the finish of the cycle. Getting the pH up to at least 7 should help. The most natural way to do that is to run some crushed coral in your filter. Once you get it up I will recommend you stop adding Amquel Plus and if at all possible get a bottle of seachem prime. Unlike other products, Prime doesn't bind/lock up the ammonia. The ammonia will be in a form safer for your fish but still free for the bacteria to eat. If you can't get Prime any water conditioner should work. You just don't want one that binds the ammonia.

This is all I can think of for the moment. The thread was moving too fast for me to keep up with all the information you were receiving. I will end up reading through it a time or two though just in case I missed something.
 

BenjiBear

I
On the water parameters side of things, I have found it the easiest to stay in the 7.2-7.4 range. Before trying to regulate it though you should do some testing.

I recommend grabbing a gH/kH test kit as it's cheaper than buying them individually (at least over here. If you have more than 2 drops (which would indicate between 1 and 2 degrees kH) carbonate hardness you shouldn't waste time/resources on buffering as it would indicate something in your tank is holding the pH down. Trying to fight that would literally be a waste of money and patience.

Next, I would check and see if your cory were wild caught or tank bred. If they were wild, the pH below 7 may be beneficial. If they were tank/fish farm bred, they likely would do best in average 7-8 pH. These things are very hard for me to say for sure though as I am far from an international fish keeper. I don't know (and likely can not research thoroughly) the methods and conditions in Ireland's decorative fish farming/sourcing. Here in the states the differences in even "tank bred" and "farmed" can be pretty significant and vary from state to state.

So, if the fish were tank bred in "normal" water, and you're lacking in the kH test, I would buffer it up.

If your fish were wild caught/or you have a ton of kH, I would leave it be.

If you ate lacking kH, add a buffer, and still cannot move the pH, I again, would defer to mattgirl. All of my research really has been clinical and based upon research facility procedure. My experience on the other hand is much different from those using stratum or other nicer substrates so I try not to get in that lane. If any university facility in the country would publish a write up on stratum etc, I might be willing to jump the road.

I actually have a test for kH and gH, im not great at working it all out but i can do a reading if you want? I know that the cories were tank bred if that's helpful too?
 

AcornTheBetta

I was quite upset about it as they were my first sort of "death" in the hobby, but they were the smallest of the lot and I guess the journey was just too much for them. I know cories arent best in a 15 but I didn't actually know at the time because id been told by several people it was fine. I should have taken more responsibility, I know. My 3 look happy just now but in the next few months i do plan to get something like a 55 gallon or possibly bigger depending and I was thinking of transferring them into that tank then.
It's ok. I think it maybe do able in a 15...
 

BenjiBear

You have gotten some good suggestions so far and have made some good changes on your own. It is good that you read up on ammo-lock and stopped using it. If I am understanding correctly though, you are still using Amquel Plus. I've not read a great deal about it but what I have read leads me to think, although not as bad as ammo-lock, it still isn't the best product to use while trying to cycle/recycle a tank.

Your low pH is concerning. As you've already read, ammonia isn't as toxic with a pH that low. The problem is the bacteria struggles to grow with it that low. I am concerned about how quickly this tank appeared to cycle. 2 weeks is much faster than normal unless you seeded it with mature filter media. Did you go through both the ammonia and nitrite spike?

It is possible what you are going through right now is the finish of the cycle. Getting the pH up to at least 7 should help. The most natural way to do that is to run some crushed coral in your filter. Once you get it up I will recommend you stop adding Amquel Plus and if at all possible get a bottle of seachem prime. Unlike other products, Prime doesn't bind/lock up the ammonia. The ammonia will be in a form safer for your fish but still free for the bacteria to eat.

This is all I can think of for the moment. The thread was moving too fast for me to keep up with all the information you were receiving. I will end up reading through it a time or two though just in case I missed something.

When cycling, my ammonia rose but not very high, maybe to around 1ppm before dropping to 0pmm and then I saw a nitrites appear and i did have a big spike there of up to about 5-8ppm for a few days before it dropped to 0pp again. I didnt seed the filter, everything was brand new. I was quite surprised too as I had been told it may take 3 weeks or more. I was using bottle bacteria every day at that point though, maybe that had a bearing?

Thank you for your suggestions though, I'll take note

It's ok. I think it maybe do able in a 15...

I guess the bigger the better really, so if they can end up in a 55 gallon then why not, right? Obviously as long as whatever else I put in there is compatable with them.

Also, so unrelated, but Acorn is an adorable name for a betta
 

AcornTheBetta

I guess the bigger the better really, so if they can end up in a 55 gallon then why not, right? Obviously as long as whatever else I put in there is compatable with them.

Also, so unrelated, but Acorn is an adorable name for a betta
It is. Yeah they could as long as they are compatible. Thanks!
 

mattgirl

When cycling, my ammonia rose but not very high, maybe to around 1ppm before dropping to 0pmm and then I saw a nitrites appear and i did have a big spike there of up to about 5-8ppm for a few days before it dropped to 0pp again. I didnt seed the filter, everything was brand new. I was quite surprised too as I had been told it may take 3 weeks or more. I was using bottle bacteria every day at that point though, maybe that had a bearing?

Thank you for your suggestions though, I'll take note
It does sound like your cycle did just as it should. It sounds like you were using a good bottled bacteria. What was it? So often folks come here for help after wondering why there is no forward progress even after adding bottle bacteria. I wonder if it might help again once you get your pH up a bit?
 

John58ford

I actually have a test for kH and gH, im not great at working it all out but i can do a reading if you want? I know that the cories were tank bred if that's helpful too?
The kH and gH numbers would be great. The thing to remember in drop tests is it's "up to" that drop. If the kH turns blue/green after the first drop you have 1 degree, if it stays blue after the second drop you have 2 degrees, if it turns back to orange in the third drop you have less than 3, and more than 2 degrees. Allot of the time I record my numbers like that ex. 2-3 degrees kH.

That test would help allot. The cycle will struggle a bit below 7, but it's doable down to 6 pH. However with 0 kH, it stands no chance.
 

BenjiBear

It does sound like your cycle did just as it should. It sounds like you were using a good bottled bacteria. What was it? So often folks come here for help after wondering why there is no forward progress even after adding bottle bacteria. I wonder if it might help again once you get your pH up a bit?

It was API's quick start! I was told by the store to dose a little over what was required fo rmy tank and my LFS is pretty reliable and professional, they manager spoke with me for ages and let me ask loads of questions, it was great! So I listened to him and I mean I guess it did something! I still have a lot left so I do plan to use it at some point to help steady out these parameters.

The kH and pH numbers would be great. The thing to remember in drop tests is it's "up to" that drop. If the kH turns blue/green after the first drop you have 1 degree, if it stays blue after the second drop you have 2 degrees, if it turns back to orange in the third drop you have less than 3, and more than 2 degrees. Allot of the time I record my numbers like that ex. 2-3 degrees kH.

That test would help allot. The cycle will struggle a bit below 7, but it's doable down to 6 pH. However with 0 kH, it stands no chance.

I appreciate you explaining! Thank you! My tests are on a strip, but this is what I got;

kH is 0d
gH is 8d
 

John58ford

I appreciate you explaining! Thank you! My tests are on a strip, but this is what I got;

kH is 0d
gH is 8d
Ding. We call this a crash. Can you test your tap water?

Edit: funny thing, I have built a tank tank crashes every 3-4 days if I don't suplement for gH regularly. I was just posting about it this morning as I have been working on correcting the issue for the last couple months.
 

BenjiBear

Ding. We call this a crash. Can you test your tap water?

for just the kH and gH?
 

AvalancheDave

There's no evidence that Ammo Lock actually makes the ammonia unusable by nitrifying bacteria (other than the unfortunate choice of name). The enzyme that catalyzes the first step in ammonia oxidation, ammonia monooxygenase, is actually not very picky about its substrates so it's even used to bioremediate some toxic wastes.
 

John58ford

for just the kH and gH?
All that is relevant to the immediate proceding is the kH. To be honest you would get false pH directly out of the tap but gH will be true. One thing you should do as well is a full test on your tap water, but you will want to let it sit out for a day first to let the pH settle.

I'm going to let you in on a secret I wish some one would have told me when I started my tanks at this house: people who have less than 2 kH in the tap are going to have a much harder time fishkeeping, but it can be solved very easily with a few different forms of bicarbonate. You will need to come up with a tracking system to see what if any kh you have in the tap, and then proceed with a charted maintenance plan involving re-mineralization.
 

mattgirl

There's no evidence that Ammo Lock actually makes the ammonia unusable by nitrifying bacteria (other than the unfortunate choice of name). The enzyme that catalyzes the first step in ammonia oxidation, ammonia monooxygenase, is actually not very picky about its substrates so it's even used to bioremediate some toxic wastes.
This could very well be true but too many folks come here reporting an ammonia reading of 8ppm that they can't get down no matter how much water they change and each time the one thing they have in common is the addition of ammo-lock. I don't know the exact reason why it happens. I just know that it does. Maybe it is a false reading. I will be the first to admit that I don't know the scientific reasoning behind things.
 

John58ford

Hey! We have AvalancheDave here now, you remineralize using KhCO3 right? Or maybe I'm misremembering a thread. It looks like we have just about figured out this thread.
 

BenjiBear

All that is relevant to the immediate proceding is the kH. To be honest you would get false pH directly out of the tap but gH will be true. One thing you should do as well is a full test on your tap water, but you will want to let it sit out for a day first to let the pH settle.

I'm going to let you in on a secret I wish some one would have told me when I started my tanks at this house: people who have less than 2 kH in the tap are going to have a much harder time fishkeeping, but it can be solved very easily with a few different forms of bicarbonate. You will need to come up with a tracking system to see what if any kh you have in the tap, and then proceed with a charted maintenance plan involving re-mineralization.

I'll sit some water out for a day then and test my ph.

I've run some tests on the tap water with my strips and this is what it's showing;

gH 8d
kH 6d

I'm relived to see its not 2 kH to be honest

my strip showed a 7.2 for pH but I know that you did just say that wouldnt be reliable but how much does it tend to fluctuate after having been sitting for a day? Or is that impossible to tell?

Hey! We have AvalancheDave here now, you remineralize using KhCO3 right? Or maybe I'm misremembering a thread. It looks like we have just about figured out this thread.

I feel 100 times better knowing it's close to a solution!
 

John58ford

I'll sit some water out for a day then and test my ph.

I've run some tests on the tap water with my strips and this is what it's showing;

gH 8d
kH 6d

I'm relived to see its not 2 kH to be honest

my strip showed a 7.2 for pH but I know that you did just say that wouldnt be reliable but how much does it tend to fluctuate after having been sitting for a day? Or is that impossible to tell?
It really depends on the oxygen and carbon in the pipes on the way to your house, as well as the type of nozzle you use this can vary significantly. I would bet you won't flex too much though, with common mineralization in tested water over here we see 7.2-8 pretty commonly. At 6d you will probably be in the 7-7.4 neighborhood. have an untreated "mountain spring" well and it is some of the softest water I have seen in a tap without a water softener.

I do not know however how you could drop from 6 degrees to 0 faster than my tanks do. Are you extremely planted? It honestly may be the substrate.

Any of the planted gurus know if stratum actually absorbs or converts kH?
 

BenjiBear

It really depends on the oxygen and carbon in the pipes on the way to your house, as well as the type of nozzle you use this can vary significantly. I would bet you won't flex too much though, with common mineralization in tested water over here we see 7.2-8 pretty commonly. At 6d you will probably be in the 7-7.4 neighborhood. have an untreated "mountain spring" well and it is some of the softest water I have seen in a tap without a water softener.

I do not know however how you could drop from 6 degrees to 0 faster than my tanks do. Are you extremely planted? It honestly may be the substrate.

Any of the planted gurus know if stratum actually absorbs or converts kH?

I do have quite a lot of plants. 2 huge bunches of amazon swords, 2 big bunches of massive java ferns, 3 sets of limnophilia sessiflora each with 3 stems per set, loads of weeping moss, 2 anubias mini, 5 marimo moss balls (most attached to wood) and 3 sets of another individual stem plant i cant remember the name of. I guess for a 15 gallon thats maybe a lot. my swords and ferns are massive for real tho idk how they got to be so big so fast.

It could even be the plants combined with the substrate.

If i raise my pH with seachem, does that automatically bring the kH up? If not, how do i fix my kH issue?
 

John58ford

That tank sounds awesome, it probably is a combination of the plants and the substrate tbh.

To raise kH, I personally use potassium bi-carbonate (KhCO3). There are allot of ways to do it, but you need to look at the byproduct after solution. Some people use baking soda (NaHCO3) but after the bicarbonate is removed it leaves a sodium byproduct. AvalancheDave and Chanyi have a ton more practical experience than me and would likely be able to answer this question a little better.

The long answer is going to involve figuring out what would complement your fertilizer, tanks demands and waterchange habits well. When my head starts to hurt from the math, I chest and use a calculator on: Rotala Butterfly | Planted Aquarium Nutrient Dosing Calculator

That might help after you take in a few suggestions.

Edit: in my case, I cannot offer advice on products made by seachem or fritz fairly. I also have bias issues with API. It's not that I don't want to answer, but they do not transparently list ingredients or make up(other than on the medicines), and the MSDS/right to know paperwork is the only way to guestimate the make up of the products.
 

BenjiBear

That tank sounds awesome, it probably is a combination of the plants and the substrate tbh.

To raise kH, I personally use potassium bi-carbonate (KhCO3). There are allot of ways to do it, but you need to look at the byproduct after solution. Some people use baking soda (NaHCO3) but after the bicarbonate is removed it leaves a sodium byproduct. AvalancheDave and Chanyi have a ton more practical experience than me and would likely be able to answer this question a little better.

The long answer is going to involve figuring out what would complement your fertilizer, tanks demands and waterchange habits well. When my head starts to hurt from the math, I chest and use a calculator on: Rotala Butterfly | Planted Aquarium Nutrient Dosing Calculator

That might help after you take in a few suggestions.

Edit: in my case, I cannot offer advice on products made by seachem or fritz fairly. I also have bias issues with API. It's not that I don't want to answer, but they do not transparently list ingredients or make up(other than on the medicines), and the MSDS/right to know paperwork is the only way to guestimate the make up of the products.

Thank you! I'll look into the potassium bi-carbonate. Would i just dump the powder into the tank? and how much would i dose? In terms of the calculator I couldnt suck more at math tbh. How do I go about using it? Thanks for reccomending it tho!
 

John58ford

Here are the settings and answer for 1dkH in your tank.

Screenshot_20201118-152021.png
Screenshot_20201118-152031.png



I personally have run into a need to buffer kH more than raise my potassium in ppm and am looking into different buffers but for now this is what I'm using. I like this calculator because it lets me really see what I'm adding by breaking down the biproduct. Yes, it's increasing kH, but how ELSE is it affecting my fish and plants? This methodology may take a while to get perfect, but you will know a whole lot more, and save a whole lot more than you would buying products of unknown make-up.

Honestly we are starting to get deep into Chanyi territory here, it takes me a long time to do the math on these things but chanyi has seen allot of it first hand. So has Dave, and many others that may know how to do this with stratum fighting you.
 

BenjiBear

Here are the settings and answer for 1dkH in your tank.

Screenshot_20201118-152021.png
Screenshot_20201118-152031.png



I personally have run into a need to buffer kH more than raise my potassium in ppm and am looking into different buffers but for now this is what I'm using. I like this calculator because it lets me really see what I'm adding by breaking down the biproduct. Yes, it's increasing kH, but how ELSE is it affecting my fish and plants? This methodology may take a while to get perfect, but you will know a whole lot more, and save a whole lot more than you would buying products of unknown make-up.

Honestly we are starting to get deep into Chanyi territory here, it takes me a long time to do the math on these things but chanyi has seen allot of it first hand. So has Dave, and many others that may know how to do this with stratum fighting you.

Alright, thank you so much for all your help! I really appreciate it. I'm very un-scientifically minded etc so in the end, do you think since my water has 6d kH anyway if I just stripped out the substrate and got a non pH altering one my condition would improve? I've literally only been in the hobby for a few months and its quite a lot for me to take in and stuff or am I wrong in that idea?

Thanks again for all your input it's really taught me a lot
 

BettasAreSuperior

sorry if I kinda barged in here. lullabyroars . 0 KH means fluctuating PH. So, the lower your KH the more fluctuating PH you will have. Also, the lower your PH the easier it is to alter. Example: Someone has 2 KH and adds a piece of almond leaves which lowers ph. (their current p is 8.0) The PH would immediately drop to 6.6 and fluctuate. Versus if someone has 10 Kh and their Ph is 8.0 and adds 4 almond leaves. The ph MIGHT go down to 7.8. So, hope that makes sense.
Alright, thank you so much for all your help! I really appreciate it. I'm very un-scientifically minded etc so in the end, do you think since my water has 6d kH anyway if I just stripped out the substrate and got a non pH altering one my condition would improve? I've literally only been in the hobby for a few months and its quite a lot for me to take in and stuff or am I wrong in that idea?

Thanks again for all your input it's really taught me a lot
Well, if the water coming out of your tap is 6 kh then I would get a non-altering ph substrate so, your ph isn't so fluctuating and low. Fluctuating parameters are quite stressful on the fish.

Hope this helped!
 

John58ford

Alright, thank you so much for all your help! I really appreciate it. I'm very un-scientifically minded etc so in the end, do you think since my water has 6d kH anyway if I just stripped out the substrate and got a non pH altering one my condition would improve? I've literally only been in the hobby for a few months and its quite a lot for me to take in and stuff or am I wrong in that idea?

Thanks again for all your input it's really taught me a lot
You would have too look at your end goal. The amazing growth you see in your swords is likely credited to stratum absorbing minerals from the water column and delivering them to the roots of your plants more efficiently. Stratum will also likely buffer kH down to make your plants consume nutrients more efficiently as well. I have read in many places that if you can get your kh to stay just above crash, your plants will uptake better, so I would assume a premium substrate like stratum should do that. Alternatively, allot of people (possibly the target for stratum, the majority) have much harder water than you or I. It is possible that with weekly water changes with moderate to hard water, the kh would not be absorbed fast enough to cause a crash. Another thought is that stratum is designed for people that plan on using broadband fertilizers and buffers anyhow, and it just allowd you to dose more without making the water column intolerable for sensitive fish or invertebrate.


The issue with going non-active is that it will make life easier in the "use what you have naturally" department (my specialty). It will be harder to grow plants and bush/jungle out a tank. My 29 all in one matten tank is on the bleeding edge of "what can you do with non-active substrate and no fertilizer" and it's honestly right back where you're sitting now, but it took me ~8 months to get there. All my other tanks are only light-moderate planting and with softer water than yours they do just fine, but that was their end goal. They will never be jungles and I'm ok with that.

I would wait for someone who does medium-high tech stuff to give you some input before you sacrifice a nice jungle tank for ease of maintenance, unless that's your ultimate goal. Honestly once you chart out your dosing/re-mineralizing it's not that hard, and your more than halfway there.


Your tank sounds awesome BTW, do you have a picture?
 

BenjiBear

sorry if I kinda barged in here. lullabyroars . 0 KH means fluctuating PH. So, the lower your KH the more fluctuating PH you will have. Also, the lower your PH the easier it is to alter. Example: Someone has 2 KH and adds a piece of almond leaves which lowers ph. (their current p is 8.0) The PH would immediately drop to 6.6 and fluctuate. Versus if someone has 10 Kh and their Ph is 8.0 and adds 4 almond leaves. The ph MIGHT go down to 7.8. So, hope that makes sense.

Well, if the water coming out of your tap is 6 kh then I would get a non-altering ph substrate so, your ph isn't so fluctuating and low. Fluctuating parameters are quite stressful on the fish.

Hope this helped!

Don't worry at all! I really appreciate your input! Thank you

You would have too look at your end goal. The amazing growth you see in your swords is likely credited to stratum absorbing minerals from the water column and delivering them to the roots of your plants more efficiently. Stratum will also likely buffer kH down to make your plants consume nutrients more efficiently as well. I have read in many places that if you can get your kh to stay just above crash, your plants will uptake better, so I would assume a premium substrate like stratum should do that. Alternatively, allot of people (possibly the target for stratum, the majority) have much harder water than you or I. It is possible that with weekly water changes with moderate to hard water, the kh would not be absorbed fast enough to cause a crash. Another thought is that stratum is designed for people that plan on using broadband fertilizers and buffers anyhow, and it just allowd you to dose more without making the water column intolerable for sensitive fish or invertebrate.


The issue with going non-active is that it will make life easier in the "use what you have naturally" department (my specialty). It will be harder to grow plants and bush/jungle out a tank. My 29 all in one matten tank is on the bleeding edge of "what can you do with non-active substrate and no fertilizer" and it's honestly right back where you're sitting now, but it took me ~8 months to get there. All my other tanks are only light-moderate planting and with softer water than yours they do just fine, but that was their end goal. They will never be jungles and I'm ok with that.

I would wait for someone who does medium-high tech stuff to give you some input before you sacrifice a nice jungle tank for ease of maintenance, unless that's your ultimate goal. Honestly once you chart out your dosing/re-mineralizing it's not that hard, and your more than halfway there.


Your tank sounds awesome BTW, do you have a picture?

I wouldnt be able to do anything until the weekend so I'll wait and keep checking the thread. I think it's just a bit overwhelming for me at the moment. Because im so new I just want to make things as simple as possible at the moment.

I do have a picture I took the other day featuring my boy Raphael

Lullabyroars tank.jpg

Those Limnophilia in the back have actually grown like 3 more inches since then its crazy
 

BettasAreSuperior

Don't worry at all! I really appreciate your input! Thank you
Your welcome!
I wouldnt be able to do anything until the weekend so I'll wait and keep checking the thread. I think it's just a bit overwhelming for me at the moment. Because im so new I just want to make things as simple as possible at the moment.

I do have a picture I took the other day featuring my boy Raphael

Those Limnophilia in the back have actually grown like 3 more inches since then its crazy
Wow! That is such a beautiful tank. Putting my tanks to shame.
 

BenjiBear

Your welcome!

Wow! That is such a beautiful tank. Putting my tanks to shame.

Ahhh, thank you so much! That's too kind :3 I struggled at the start but when I added the floating plants they helped waaaay more than i thought they would!
 

BettasAreSuperior

Ahhh, thank you so much! That's too kind :3 I struggled at the start but when I added the floating plants they helped waaaay more than i thought they would!
hahaha, lol! Your welcome! I agree floating plants add that touch and they help suck out nitrates. But that tank looks nice!
 

ProudPapa

By the way, yesterday I recommended stopping all chemicals. I was not referring to de-chlorinator when changing water. I assume you knew that, but I wanted to make sure.
 

Similar Aquarium Threads

Replies
5
Views
154
Wrona0306
Replies
5
Views
119
StarGirl
Replies
7
Views
148
mattgirl
Replies
12
Views
433
mattgirl
  • Question
Replies
6
Views
160
mattgirl

Latest Aquarium Threads

Top Bottom