Need help with PH and KH - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 5 Old 09-07-2010, 08:11 AM Thread Starter
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Need help with PH and KH

Ok, I've been scouring the internet for a couple days but can't find a definitive answer for this! My KH and PH are extremely high. My ph is around 8.5 and my kh is at 240! I really need help with getting it down. Since I don't think a lot of the fish like the current parameters. I did a water change and it increased the PH and KH actually, it was at 8 and 180 :(

But also I have a couple of other issues...My tank has been cycled I believe, i used special blend and the water got cloudy the next day and went away after 2. Its been two weeks its been set up now. But my issue is this, I have a 30 gallon tank with:

1 Powder Blue Gourami
2 Angelfish
4 Xray Tetra's
2 Blue guppys- had 3
3 Panda Cories
4 Serpae Tetra's
1 Snail (which I can't find)

My problem is this, 2 days ago I did a water change and also added the serpae tetra's. But the next day the one of the guppies were shimmying at the bottom of the tank and well pooping forever! I took him out and put him in a gallon unheated tank. (thats all I have extra) I figured he was just constipated because I overfeed the fish when I got the new tetra's because I was trying to feed the cories. I haven't seen them eat yet :( But later on in the day, the guppy, no longer had a tail! It looked like just bone or something. He only lived for a couple more hours. But now today the other guppies are staying uptop (they will eat, and swim around) and their tail fins are starting to fall apart and where it meets their body is starting to loose its color.

Now the serpae tetras, only one of them seem to be a terrorizer! It keeps going after the gourami! The 3 other stay in a nice group and don't bother the other fish, only each other. The gourami's tail fin is torn up from being nipp'd and he is staying up at the top next to the filter. He does eat, but was slow to it at first, seemed afraid to go near the food until everyone was done. Before the new tetra's the gourami would swim all over the tank.

The angelfish aren't being bothered and they're doing fine. The Panda Cories...well idk they were swimming all about but then they just lay at the bottom for a while and swim for a little and repeat. Is this normal? Also I'm trying to feed them with bottom feeder wafers but they don't seem to eat it, well they do try too, but the angelfish and the tetra's go after it, after I guess smelling it!. So I'm just worried about the cories not getting any food.

The Xray tetras and the Serpae tetras are perfectly fine also except for the terrorizer!

So to whomever reads this insanely long post thank you, and for any help!
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post #2 of 5 Old 09-07-2010, 07:58 PM
Byron's Avatar
Hi, and welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.

Now down to business. You have some problems with your mix of fish, and you are only noticing the beginning of these; believe me, it can get much worse.

Serpae Tetra are not "community fish" in small tanks. We have fish profiles here, second tab from the left in the blue bar at the top, or click on the shaded fish name in posts. Please have a read of the profile for this fish and you will understand why you should remove them from this 30g. The gourami and angels are or will be direct targets, and so may the other fish. Serpae need to be in large groups (8+) and in much larger tanks unless they are alone in the 30g.

Angelfish are too large at maturity for a 30g. They are shoaling fish that should be in groups, minimum 4-5 in a 55g tank works (unless you have a breeding pair, but in their own tank). Please read the profile on this fish too.

Corys and all tetras are shoaling fish, needing a group of 5+ (corys) or 6+ (tetra, except Serpae as mentioned earlier). You need to decide on which fish will go back to settle the community.

Now to the water hardness and pH. Softening hard water and lowering the pH can only be managed naturally; do not use chemicals and stuff sold for lowering pH, they will not work with your hardness. The KH (carbonate hardness) of water acts as a pH buffer to resist changes, so the only way to effectively and safely lower the pH is with soft water. This can be done in one of two ways.

Peat extract in the filter. Peat leeches tannins into the water that will acidify it, and at the same time colour it brownish-yellow. The harder the initial water, the more peat and the quicker is becomes exhausted. In you situation I do not recommend it long-term.

Using RO (reverse osmosis) or rainwater added to tap water. If rainwater in your area is free of harmful pollutants, this is an option. A RO unit is better long-term; more expensive initially, but over time cheaper than buying bottled water or something. RO basically removes everything from the water, creating "pure" water that can then be mixed with some tap water to create aquarium water that is suitable in hardness and pH for the fish you wish to maintain.

A last word on fish: selecting fish suited to your tap water is obviously easier than adjusting the water for fish not suited to it. Livebearers do very well in basic (pH above 7) harder water. And there are other fish among the Cyrprinids and Characins that will also be suitable. We can go into all this more later. The above will help get you started.


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #3 of 5 Old 09-07-2010, 10:19 PM
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aunt kymmie's Avatar
Nothing to add to Byron's great informative post other than to say, "Welcome to TFK!".
We're happy you decided to join us and embark upon this great hobby.

If you don't stand up for something you'll fall for anything...
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post #4 of 5 Old 09-07-2010, 11:53 PM
burnsbabe's Avatar
Yeah. I would agree with byron that your best solution would be to work with fish that will tolerate your water parameters. Livebearers will do that for you as he indicated.

I think the serpaes neeed to go and honestly the angelfish too. The serpaes because they're being a problem, the angels because they like soft, acidic water.

One thing you can try is to use a lot of wood in your aquarium designs. It acts much the same as the peat that byron described only more of a long-term solution. It won't make water that's 8.5 acidic, but it will help to lower (or at least maintain) it.

Good luck.

30g SE Asian Tank
15 Lambchop Rasbora
2 Gold White Cloud Minnows
3 Dwarf Chain Loaches
2 Powder Blue Dwarf Gourami

55g Amazon Tank
2 Wild Type Angels
1 Marble Angel
1 Black Angel
1 Koi Angel
2 Bolivian Rams
14 Pristella Tetra
10 Dwarf Pencilfish
2-3 Twig Catfish (to come)
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post #5 of 5 Old 09-08-2010, 10:54 AM
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I agree, there are lots of fish that would do well in your water-
livebearers (guppies, platies, mollies, swordtails)
Devario/Microfdevario/Danio species (Zebra danio, "celestial pearl danio")
Invertebrates (Shrimp, CPO crawfish)

It's hard to tell whether the guppy was killed by ammonia or nipping... Either way, remove the tetras and re-consider your stocking and the problem will be solved.

+1 on everything byron said. :P

Originally Posted by Christople View Post
^^ genius

Soil Substrates Guide:
Part 1
--------- Part 2

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