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Hello! Looking for new tank setup critique, plus a couple of questions

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Hello! Looking for new tank setup critique, plus a couple of questions
Old 02-04-2010, 10:05 PM   #31
 
Just an update - the Crypto lost a few leaves, but seems to be hanging in there.

I also found a hardness test kit at the LFS tonight, so I finally was able to check that. KH is 2, and GH is 7 (pH still hovering between 7 and 7.2). Anything I should be thinking about?

Last edited by LMychajluk; 02-04-2010 at 10:15 PM..
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Old 02-05-2010, 01:17 PM   #32
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LMychajluk View Post
Just an update - the Crypto lost a few leaves, but seems to be hanging in there.

I also found a hardness test kit at the LFS tonight, so I finally was able to check that. KH is 2, and GH is 7 (pH still hovering between 7 and 7.2). Anything I should be thinking about?
I went back through this thread to check on the fish, and from what has been mentioned (zebra danios, flame tetras, mollies, common corydoras) I don't see any issues over your water parameters. The relatively low KH will not do a lot of pH buffering, so in time the pH may creep down slightly acidic. That will be great for all but the mollies; they will definitely not do well below a pH of 7.2 so keep an eye on the pH (on new tanks I generally test for the first few days, then once a week before I do the pwc but not more often unless I see it moving up or down).

We will need to work out how to raise the pH/hardness if the pH does fall below 7 if you intend to have mollies. Were it me, rather than mess with water fluctuations, I would leave out the mollies from this tank and if you want them (they are neat fish, I've had a tank of them before) set up a suitable tank with calcareous gravel for just the mollies. We can talk about this more if you're interested.

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Old 02-05-2010, 03:08 PM   #33
 
I'm not stuck on the mollies. Actually, I've been thinking that I might not want any live-bearers breeding in my tank just yet, so I'm going to stick to the corys, tetras, danios, and loaches to start out.

Using the calculator I mentioned in my OP, a pH range of 6-7.6 and a hardness of 5-15 dH (I'm assuming gH?) is suggested for what I'm looking to keep. I've been testing the water every day, but will probably cut that back to every 2-3 days at this point.

I've been reading up a bit on kH and how a higher kH helps to stabilize the pH (right?) and keep it from fluctuating too quickly. I have noticed in the last week (since I set up the tank) that the pH has dropped ~.4 from what it was out of the tap. Should I try and raise the kH up a bit to keep the pH in balance? I know some of the commercial buffers (API's Proper pH, for example) contain phospates that aren't good for the plants. Maybe some crushed limestone in one of my filter baskets would be beneficial, or would that also raise the pH too much? I also see that some people simply add a little baking soda...
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Old 02-06-2010, 09:47 AM   #34
 
Just tested my water again. Looks like the pH is still dropping (looks to be more like 6.8 this morning, down from ~7-7.2 Thu evening). Everything else still seems to be stable. I should note that I tested in the morning, and I've been turning the aerator off overnight (I don't know if the o2/co2 in the water would affect pH).

The zebras and tetras seem fine, with good colors and swimming around all over the tank, but the corys seem really lethargic. Most of them are hanging in the back under the filter intake. Some of them are even 'listing' a bit, and not staying upright. I don't see any discoloration or anything around thier gills that would indicate they're having trouble, though...they just look like they're sleeping all the time.
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Old 02-06-2010, 11:43 AM   #35
 
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Just tested my water again. Looks like the pH is still dropping (looks to be more like 6.8 this morning, down from ~7-7.2 Thu evening). Everything else still seems to be stable. I should note that I tested in the morning, and I've been turning the aerator off overnight (I don't know if the o2/co2 in the water would affect pH).

The zebras and tetras seem fine, with good colors and swimming around all over the tank, but the corys seem really lethargic. Most of them are hanging in the back under the filter intake. Some of them are even 'listing' a bit, and not staying upright. I don't see any discoloration or anything around thier gills that would indicate they're having trouble, though...they just look like they're sleeping all the time.
The pH lowering in the period and by the numbers you give is not bothering those fish, including the corys. Test for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate if you can, just to eliminate the possibility of one of these being the issue.

But why are you turning off the aerator? By which, do you mean an airstone or filter? Night is when you should run these, rather than during the day. The CO2 affects pH, as I'll explain next.

There is a diurnal shift in pH every day in a planted aquarium. The pH will be it's lowest at the start of the day when the lights come on, and at its highest when the lights go out. In my aquaria the shift is about .4 or .5, in the 115g from 6.0 to 6.4 or 6.5 every day, then it drops back at night. This is perfectly natural and the fish are used to it; it occurs in nature too. When you are testing pH to determine fluctuations from day to day or week to week, always test at the same time each day so that you will get an accurate reading for the time of day.

I don't think you're at the point of needing buffers yet; those fish will be fine down to pH 6. If that occurs, I would use dolomite gravel, a very small amount in a nylon filter bag in the filter will work. I use 1/2 cup in my 115g and it maintains a steady and stable pH of 6.0 to 6.2 and has for years.

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Old 02-06-2010, 03:42 PM   #36
 
Yep... been testing Ammonia, Nitrate, and Nitrite each time as well. Each are still all testing at 0, and have been all week. I'm not worried as much about the current pH as the gradual drop, or the low kH allowing a large potential swings in pH that may be more than the fish can take.

By 'aerator' I mean an air-powered ornament that I have that I've been using as an airstone (the bubbles it puts out are very tiny/fine). The filter is on 24/7. I've been turning it off because I was worried that the plants wouldn't have enough CO2 if I left it on 24 hours/day (based on your stickies in the Plant forum), and I figured the fish would appreciate the break from the disturbance while resting at night. Now that I have a few more fish in there generating CO2, though, I suppose I can leave it on, or just run it overnight if that's better.
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Old 02-06-2010, 05:25 PM   #37
 
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Originally Posted by LMychajluk View Post
Yep... been testing Ammonia, Nitrate, and Nitrite each time as well. Each are still all testing at 0, and have been all week. I'm not worried as much about the current pH as the gradual drop, or the low kH allowing a large potential swings in pH that may be more than the fish can take.

By 'aerator' I mean an air-powered ornament that I have that I've been using as an airstone (the bubbles it puts out are very tiny/fine). The filter is on 24/7. I've been turning it off because I was worried that the plants wouldn't have enough CO2 if I left it on 24 hours/day (based on your stickies in the Plant forum), and I figured the fish would appreciate the break from the disturbance while resting at night. Now that I have a few more fish in there generating CO2, though, I suppose I can leave it on, or just run it overnight if that's better.
Aerators should not be run during the day, only at night is fine. Plants need all the CO2 they can get, I explain this in detail in Part 3 of the sticky series at the top of this section, that will tell you why this is important. It is onlyduring the day that plants need CO2 to photosynthesize; at night they don't need it, and both they and the fish produce it, so running the aerator at night will not hurt the plants or fish from that aspect.

If you test the pH every morning at the same time, I suspect it will be stable as I explained. If not, let us know.

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Old 02-09-2010, 06:47 PM   #38
 
Well, been trying not to futz with the tank, but I did do a 20% water change on Sunday. I also added a few more plants over the weekend that I don't think I mentioned yet... 2 Giant hairgrass, 2 Moneywort, and a Cardinal plant.

Today, I came home to find one dead Cory. :(

The Zebras and Flame Tetras seem Ok (though I may be missing one of the Zebras...they're hard to count). They have good colors and fairly active, chasing each other around a bit, though they don't seem to be eating that much (I feed a pinch of flakes once a day). But the Corys are still pretty lathargic, just laying on the bottom, sometimes at odd angles. I dropped an algea wafer in the other day, and they didn't seem interested in it. Once in a while one may perk up for a few minutes and swim around, or shoot to the surface, but then go right back to laying on the bottom. But, other than the lethargy, they don't look like anything is wrong. The plants seem to be doing OK as well, except as previously mentioned.

pH 7.4 (Don't know why, but it seems to be more stable than a few days ago)
Ammonia, Nitrate, and Nitrite are all still 0
kH is 4
gH is 10
Temp is ~77

Everything seems within range for the Corys, so i don't know what's bothering them. I was at my parent's over the weekend, and watched 2 Corys in thier tank swim back and forth at mid-tank all afternoon.

Any thoughts? I'm afraid I may lose more Cory....
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Old 02-09-2010, 07:05 PM   #39
 
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Lethargy in corydoras usually means there is something they don't like in the water. For example, if I absolutely need to medicate their tank, they will invariably become lethargic, and respiration increases ("breathing faster"). Or something toxic, like overdosing iron or copper, or obviously ammonia and nitrite which you say tests zero. Are yours respirating faster?

When you answer that, could you also indicate what if anything is going into the water, like fertilizers (I read back and you were only going to use Flourish Comprehensive), are you and how often? I assume you used a water conditioner with the water change Sunday? Any other stuff?

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Old 02-09-2010, 10:59 PM   #40
 
Thanks for checking in, Byron.

I did use the API Tap Water Conditioner when I changed the water on Sunday, and I put a capful of the Flourish Comp in on Saturday when I added the plants, and wasn't planning on using it again for ~week or so. Other than that, I used a capful of API ph-Down on Sunday and another capful last night when the pH was reading 7.8 after the water change, thinking maybe the pH was a bit high for the Corys. Now that it's 7.4, I still think it may be a bit high for them, but don't want to add any more pH-Down so the kH stays steady where it is. I've been reading about CO2 injection, and how it can be used to control pH, and may look into this some more in the future.

Occasionally, the Corys seem to be breathing hard, but not all of them, or at least, not all at once. Right now, one looks like he's 'chewing' on something and flapping his gills, but the others seem to just be hanging out and not in any distress. It's hard to tell if it's the same one always breathing hard, or if each has 'spurts' of breathing difficulty. When I saw that, I thought that there was something in the water that they didn't like, like you said, but the only thing that showed on the tests was the pH being a bit high (hence, the ph-Down). Other than that, there still doesn't seem to be any inflamation around the gills, eyes, etc... that's obvious.

If you think any of it may help, I have carbon and Fluval's Ammonia Remover media that I can add to the filter. I know it may not be the best for the plants, and may remove some of the fertilizers, but maybe that's a good thing, at least for the Corys? (Currently, the filter just has the sponge, pre-filter media, Bio-Max, and the water polishing sponge.) I also have API's StressCoat and StressZyme, but haven't added any in the last few days (maybe last Thu?) and a bottle of AmmoLock on hand, just in case the Ammonia starts to spike and I can't do a water change immediately (i.e., I'm heading out for work), but haven't used that, either.
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