Weird water please help!

Discussion in 'Aquarium Water' started by CichlidSWAGA, Apr 13, 2012.

  1. CichlidSWAGAWell Known MemberMember

    Ok so i started cycling my tank March first this year. It has organic miracle grow soil with gravel on top and lots of plants. All of my water parms. are 0 NH3, NO2, NO3 there all 0 ppm. But my ph is at 7.7 which is weird all of my other tanks are right around 7.0. Have any ideas for me?

  2. Fall RiverValued MemberMember

    How are you cycling?
    The miracle grow may have raised your Ph

  3. danhammondNew MemberMember

    A planted tank will cycle the ph during a day night cycle. The plants use co2 during the light cycle and make o2. Your ph will climb while this procees is ongoing. At night the plants use o2 and the ph will drop. How much the ph swings varies depending on the buffer capacity of the tank. The buffer capacity is deteremined by the tanks KH value known as carbonic acid and any chemical additives that buffer the tank. The stonger the buffer the harder it is to move the ph away from its buffer point. The buffer point can be any value not just 7.0. Your miracle grow soil may contain buffering chemicals that are fixing the ph at your 7.7 level. What is the KH value of your water?
    It should be between 50-150 ppm for a planted tank. The higher this value is the more stable your ph will be. The lower this value the more ph swing you will get from day to night. Have you ever tested the ph say 4 hours after your lights go off? A ph of 7.7 is getting near the limit for most plants. All of my plants died at a ph of 8.5.
    Also note that a higher KH value does tend to buffer the ph at a higher value as well. My tank was buffered at a ph of 8.5 with a kh of over 300ppm. Not good at all for plants.

    A tank with a lot of light is harder to control than a low light tank. It will get away from you if you do not keep up with its demands. High growth tanks are troublesome IMHO. Are you adding CO2 to your tank? That will also effect ph.

  4. CichlidSWAGAWell Known MemberMember

    I'm not to sure what most of that means. But i am not running co2
  5. danhammondNew MemberMember

    You are going to have to study hard and fast to keep up with your tank. Start reading everything you can find on the internet about planted tanks.
    I am guessing you are going for a high growth planted tank with your soil choice. How strong is your light? Over 3 watts per gallon?
    How long is your light cycle? Do you have any fish? Are you dosing any thing for the plants? A high growth tank requires a lot to keep it in balance the soil alone can not do the job. If left unchecked it will get away from you and fast. Almost all of the above will have an effect on the ph and on the day night ph cycle. Do not chase the ph!
    That is the worst thing ever. What you need to do is go for a balanced condition and let the ph stabilize on its own. Only worry if the ph wants to stabilize over 8.
    Unless you have some special needs to have a lower ph? Plants do not do well in a ph over 8 and die at 8.5.

    A heavily planted tank does not require much for water changes. In fact i have a 29 gallon heavily planted low tech tank that has not had any water changes in 2 years with a moderate fish load as well. I run it as a low growth tank with 2.5 watts per gallon. It is well balanced and requires weekly dosing and top offs. What you dose with depends on your water quality and what is in your top off water. Plants use up minerals measured by GH water hardness. They also use up the KH which is the free carbon source that the plants use up during the light cycle, I am simplifing this a lot. How much of each of these is in your water? You will need to know that to maintain this tank. Plants also use up nitrates. So you need a nitrate source. Fish can provide the nitrate source. Plants also use up iron. Iron is about the only thing you will not have to worry about though because of your soil choice. How much do you need of all of the above is the balance act that you need to maintain to have this tank be healthy. Too much of any and not enough of another and the tank crashes. Faster and harder for a high growth tank than a low growth tank.
    High light high growth tanks almost always need co2 source as the plants will use up a lot of carbon. Such a tank requires a lot more work to maintain the balance.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2012
  6. pirahnah3Fishlore VIPMember

    I understand you are not running co2, however with the uptake of o2 and co2 the pH changes, if you test your pH first thing in the morning and then around dinner time you will see a difference. Really you want to check it at lights on and lights off and you'll see it the best or at least there a bouts.

    Your tank is still very young and will swing around a bit with the pH, I would be more concerned with the alkalinity of the water rather than the pH itself.
  7. CichlidSWAGAWell Known MemberMember

    I have 2 metal halide 150w 6700k there on 6 hours a day. I am not dosing. And I have 5 turquoise rainbows. I'm not sure what my KH or GH is right now I will test them when I get home.

    I have been watching alot of videos from dustinsfishtanks channel on YouTube he says I don't need co2 with metal halides and his tanks are amazing. So now I'm not to sure here
  8. ryanrModeratorModerator Member

    I agree with the above.

    Just to clarify, by alkalinity, pirahnah is referring to KH, not the pH reading. (Alkalinity is typically a term used by reef keepers to refer to KH). In the context of this discussion, alkalinity does not relate to pH. i.e. whether your water is more basic (alkaline) or acidic. ;)
  9. JayseeFishlore LegendMember

    me neither. Thankfully, I have someone who understands that stuff - should I need to know something about it :)
  10. CichlidSWAGAWell Known MemberMember

    Well I think I'm just going to wait it out. I do understand that my tank is very young which can be a pain sometimes but every tank goes though it at some point. Il just keep doing what I'm doing and hope for the best
  11. AquaristFishlore LegendMember

    Good morning,

    My 33g long tank is heavily planted and I'm not using Co2. My plants are doing very well and I have new growth every where. Lighting is T5 HO 28w 6700K output. My substrate is river rock. I use SeaChem Flourish Root Tabs and FloraPride Liquid fertilizers.

    Your pH levels of 7.0 and 7.7 are fine for your tank. If what you are doing is working, then I don't see a need to make any changes. Don't make the hobby any harder for yourself than it already is. :)

    I do 50% water changes every 5 days.

  12. danhammondNew MemberMember

    Hi Guys, Let me explain a bit about how this works. The engine in a planted tank is the light cycle. Photosynthesis of the plants puts demands on the tank. If those demands are not met then weird results happen. Like assume you give you tank enough of everything for the photosynthesis occuring except carbon. You short carbon no co2. And your light output is at 5 watts per gallon and your light cycle is 8 hours per day. The plants will consume all the nutrients until they run out of carbon then the process stops more or less. But you still have light and unused nitrates. You end up with an algae bloom. Lots of light places demands on the tank that must be met or else something weird will happen. Also it is likely you will have a ph crash as the carbon gets used up if you still have powerfull light driving photosynthesis. The key is how much light energy you give your tank. Another part of the key is what is in your water source. If you are doing large water changes all the time maybe your water supply contains just the right elements for your particular setup. I.E. dumb luck. Unless you have measured your water supply and carefully planned it out that way.

    2 or 3 watts per gallon is low to meduim amount of light, 4 watts per gallon is medium, 5 watts or more is high growth. Sunlight, if your tank is exposed to sunlight that takes light out of your control. Some days are sunny other are cloudy. How can you possibly keep demands balanced in a tank exposed to sunlight? One thing is certain, if your tank gets out of balance it will let you know as weird results will happen. Sure you can shorten the light cycle from 8 hours to maybe 6 hours to try to control this somewhat but then you risk running low on 02 in your tank as plants use 02 when the light is off. They can starve your fish of O2 or if it is a heavily planted tank or you can have plants die off. The shorter light cycle means your plants produce less O2 so your tank is short on O2 when the light goes off then the plants start using O2. You see all of these parameters are under your control.
    Even if you have no idea what you are doing everything you do is having an effect on your tank. I think most hobbists just get lucky. A low light planted tank is so much easier to maintain (2-3 watts per gallon) because it does not need CO2 added for the extra carbon. The cost also in other things that you dose to the tank is much less because your photosynthesis is much less. And if the tank starts to get away from you, you have more time to correct it before it crashes. It works much slower as a function of the light energy.
    Then there is the partial pressure in the air of CO2 and O2. These gasses in the air will penetrate the aqaurium water and try to maintain the same levels in the water. But that exchange of gasses is limited by several functions like surface area of the water, mechanical agitiation, closed tank lids etc. It is possible for the plants in the tank to use these gasses far faster than they replenish naturally. An airstone in the tank will help with the gas exchange.

    When you plant an outdoor garden and do not give your plants enough fertilizer what happens? The garden gets stunted. The outdoor plants are easy because water and fertilizer and soil type are about all you have to worry about. The planted aquarium is much different because you control all of the aspects of photosynthesis. Or you let it go and hope for the best and when weird things happen then you ask for help.

    If you get the ballance right you never need to do water changes. If you have no clue what your balance is then water changes can be your way to fix most issues. But that is assuming your water source is good for plants. My water source for example has 680 ppm KH and is very alky. If I relied upon water changes alone for my tanks I would kill all of my plants within a few weeks as my tanks would buffer to a ph of 8.5 in short order as the kh value in my tank climbed. PH down is not strong enough to overcome the high kh in my water I know I have tried this already. In order to get my tap water to a ph of 7.0 I had to dose ph down every 6 hours continously for ever. Like that was going to happen.
    My tap water has made me an expert on weird but for my specific condition. Your weird may varry from mine. One size does not fit all.
    I also have a water softner on my water supply so my gh is very low. That means I need to dose my tanks with minerals.

    One more thing I left out is temp control. Many high output light systems run hot and induce excess heat into your tank. In these cases you need a chiller to cool the tank back down. Just one more thing to worry about with high growth high light tanks.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2012
  13. danhammondNew MemberMember

    When I see a comment that involves water changes to fix everything I cringe. That is the worst ever advice IMHO. That comment assumes that everybody elses water source is exactly the same as your water is. What works for you because of dumb luck in many cases will not work for everybody else. Nobodys water is exactly the same as yours. What works for you is fine. It might work for somebody else but maybe not. To be a hobiest you need to understand what is in your water source. Or just get lucky by default.

    By the way your light is it only one 28 watt bulb or two? It looks to me like you have 28 watts to 33 gallons or less than 1 watt per gallon.
    If you have 2 bulbs then you are still under 2 watts per gallon. That makes your tank easy to care for as it is a low light energy tank.
    Your 50% water changes are probably overkill. But then again maybe you need that much to balance out something that is rare in your water supply.
    If you knew what it was you could dose it instead into your tank and cut way back on water changes.

    The OP has 300 total watts of light energy in his tank. His difficulty of operating his tank will be several orders of magnitude greater than yours.
    Unless he has a 150 gallon or greater tank to spread out that light energy. We do not know his tank size yet.

    And upon further thought you are adding CO2 to your tank by doing 50% water changes every 5 days!
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2012
  14. danhammondNew MemberMember

    What size is your tank?
  15. CichlidSWAGAWell Known MemberMember

    Well I give you props for knowing so much about this planted tank stuff that's for sure
  16. JayseeFishlore LegendMember

    To be a hobbyist, you need to enjoy keeping fish. Personally, I don't know a thing about my water. I don't ever test it for anything and don't know what my pH is. If you think my success is due to dumb luck, start a thread about it and I will surely be there to explain my practices in depth. I'm always happy to expound upon what I've said or advice I've given :)
  17. CichlidSWAGAWell Known MemberMember

  18. AquaristFishlore LegendMember

    Good morning,


    Since you've decided to make such a post (#13 above) in the open forum then I'm responding in the open forum as well.

    I'm afraid that your 5 years of fish keeping experience doesn't compare to my over 40 years of fish keeping experience. Granted I am not, nor do I claim to be, the Know all Tell all of fish keeping and I know I will never learn it all. I learn more about the hobby every day by research and more research and by listening to what other Fish Lore members have to say and by the experiences they are kind enough to share. However, I have learned absolutely nothing by your rude, insulting and condescending post #13 above. Other than possibly your ignorance shinning through.

    When the first line of defense is a water change, stated by JaySee and myself in many posts and threads, makes you cringe, then all I have to say is I feel for your fish.

    "Dumb luck"? I don't think so. I have fish that I have raised from juveniles that are currently 10 to 13 years old. I have kept these fish alive via tank maintenance and very frequent water changes. My 265g tank and the fish that I have stocked have never been exposed to any type of disease or parasites. My readings are always perfect with 0, 0, under 20.

    I know what I'm doing when it comes to my fish and tanks but I'm not sure that you do with yours. If you want to keep your fish swimming in their own waste and risk disease and parasites, then by all means, forget the frequent water changes. After all, it is your tank and fish. All I have to say is "best wishes for your fish". (They are going to need it!)

    Please note, your rude arrogant posts will not be tolerated from this point on. Be respectful of your fellow Fish Lore members. If not, your account may suffer the consequences! Consider yourself WARNED!

    Please refresh your self with:


    :animal0068:My apologies to CichlidSWAGA for your thread going off topic!
  19. uphill4meValued MemberMember

    Cichlid SWAGA:

    We learned the hard way through establishing a greenhouse and networking that Miracle Grow should never be used in gardening without Peat Moss. Prolonged use makes the soil unreasonably acidic. Replacement or tremendous amounts of compost and Peat are required over 2 years to begin to rehabilitate the soil for only the hardiest of plants.

    Here is what I would try, I do it in some of my aquariums, your plants and Rainbows will love it;

    Soak a few handfuls of Sphagnum Peat Moss (not sphagnum moss, they are different) for 3 days or more, stirring occasionally. Skim off what is floating or suspended; use in garden, houseplants or discard; do not put into tank! Take a little of the sunken Peat and put it in a nylon, about golf ball size. Place in filter or hide in tank. Will yellow the water and make it more clear in small enough doses but will stabilizes pH at 6.5. If pH climbs give the ball a gentle squeeze. Often you will know it needs it because the water is abnormally clear and quickly loosing it's yellow. Most small to medium sized tanks only need one ball, considering the presence of Miracle Grow one may not be near enough initially. For the sake of the living things in your tank add more or squeeze the current ones in such a manner to make the change more gradual. Some of the Miracle Grow is time released and the problem will accelerate or return if left unchecked.

    Good luck! If it works your plants will do great! Might take a lot more Peat or more regular squeezing than you would need without Miracle Grow! Maybe stick an air hose in that Peat soaking bucket and keep it around for a while considering?
  20. uphill4meValued MemberMember

    Given the abundance of nutrients and the potential for decreased oxygen I'd also consider leaving the lights on longer after treatment (for the sake of the plants mainly) and increasing aeration with bubbles and a small amount of Melafix (Tea Tree oil) to increase surface area of the bubbles.

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