About a month ago I set up a 60 litre coldwater tank with a few live plants. I gradually stocked it, it now has 8 White Cloud Minnows and one Rosy Red Minnow (I will try to source him a couple of friends once my tank is stable).
I didn't know about cycling when I set up, but after browsing this site and others I am now monitoring the water quality every day with the API liquid tests. Ammonia did drop to 0 and nitrites rose to .25 for a week or so, but then the ammonia rose to 0.25 and nitrate 0. I cleaned the filter sponge in tank water, I think this must have killed my bacteria :( I am testing the water every day and doing large (around 50%) water changes whenever I get an ammonia or nitrite reading.
I haven't had a positive nitrate reading yet.
So, I think I understand the basics of cycling now, but I am still very confused about pH, kH and gH. My test strip says pH less than or equal to 6.4 (the reading doesn't go any lower :s). I've ordered the liquid API pH test to get a more accurate reading; it hasn't arrived yet. Test strips say kH - 50, gH -50. Should I add some shells or something to increase the kH to increase the buffering capacity? I've been reading about hardness and pH but I got very confused! So I haven't attempted to change anything until I got some advice from some more experienced fish keepers :) That's where you guys some in!
Now I've just read that ammonia is less toxic in acidic water, is this true? I feel really guilty every time I get a positive ammonia reading because I worry I'm damaging my fish for life! Will it be less toxic in my water?
I stood some tap water overnight and tested it, and got ammonia - 0, nitrite - 0, nitrate - 0 and pH less than or equal to 6.4.
Detailed information about my tap water is available here:
If someone could have a glance through and advise me I would be very grateful! In particular, it says that the average alkalinity (as HCO3) of water leaving the treatment plant is 23.7 and the average hardness, (total as Ca/l) is 34. I've read about pH buffering but got very confused... Will my pH be likely to fluctuate, and if so should I add some shells or something to raise the kH?
Oh, and I forgot to mention that I use the API water conditioner when I do water changes to dechlorinate and remove metals... It doesn't remove ammonia, nitrate or nitrate from the water, though. I've read about "Prime", some people recommend it and others say it's best to avoid such chemicals. Any opinions?
I'm using a 600l/h "All Pond Solutions" internal sponge filter. No heater. Temp around 18 degress C. Lighting: one 15w Fluval bulb.
I also have a 110 litre tropical tank with 6 Cherry Barbs and one Kribensis, will my soft, acidic water cause problems for these guys?
I am very confused, who'd have thought that keeping some fish would be so complicated (and so expensive!). But before I start messing around trying to change the pH or kH anything I thought I'd seek the advice of experienced fishkeepers as I really do not know what I'm doing! So any advice would be very much appreciated :)