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Question about cycling a new tank

This is a discussion on Question about cycling a new tank within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> Peat filtration can lower pH, look into that, I know that driftwood and bogwoods also are successful at lowering pH...

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Question about cycling a new tank
Old 01-17-2010, 02:11 PM   #11
 
Peat filtration can lower pH, look into that, I know that driftwood and bogwoods also are successful at lowering pH
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Old 01-17-2010, 02:50 PM   #12
 
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Adjusting pH can be stressful to the point of killing some fish, and often it is not necessary anyway.

The pH of water is determined by the mineral and organic content in the water. Water that is "pure" in having no minerals and no organic material will have a pH of 7; distilled water is such. No water in nature is absolutely 7.0 because other things affect it, and to my knowledge no fish live in neutral water so it is not something I would aim for. Mineral, generally calcium and magnesium, increase the hardness of water and usually this raises the pH accordingly to be basic or alkaline, though not always. On the opposite side, water that has no mineral content but has high organic material will be acidic.

The mineral content determines the carbonate hardness in the water and this will buffer the pH; the more carbonate, the more resistant the pH will be to change. The danger with chemicals that supposedly adjust pH is that they can interact with the buffers in the water, and the pH will be fluctuating up and down accordingly, and this is very stressful to all fish. Knowing the carbonate hardness of your water, measured as dKH or ppm [parts per million] KH is necessary in order to determine which method of lowering the pH may work and if it is worth it or even needed. If your tap water KH is relatively high, the water will be very resistant to any lowering in pH; but if the tap water is low in KH, it will be easier to adjust the pH. Aquaria normally lower in Ph over time, but this depends upon the buffering capacity.

Lowering pH can be done with peat, though depending upon the extent you want to lower the pH this can take a lot of peat and it needs replacing as it wears out. It works by adding tannins to the water, turning it slightly yellow/brown. Tropical "blackwater" streams are highly acidic due to the dissolved tannins, and are the colour of very strong tea as a result. Driftwood may lower the pH marginally, the most I have come across is .2 in a tank with lots of wood, so this is not a viable method to lower pH significantly. RO (Reverse Osmosis) is reliable and others with experience doing this can comment.

But as you have a current tank with a pH of 6, something is either causing this or something else is raising the pH to 8 in the new tank. What is the pH of your tap water? And do you know the KH or even the GH (general hardness)? These answers will allow me or others to offer suggestions.

Byron.
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Old 01-17-2010, 03:42 PM   #13
 
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Just adding to Byron's thoughts. It is much easier to raise pH than to lower pH, because adding carbonates is easily accomplished and tested. If you are fortunate enough to have a lower pH in your tap water and low hardness values, then perhaps this is just a matter of adding a buffer to increase to the desired pH.

That being said, it is much more likely that your tap water pH is higher than the level you desire. Which begs the question of how the pH reads 6.0 in the old tank, as Byron mentioned.

This is a strange situation. Two tanks, same source water, huge difference in tank water pH. Isn't this fun!
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Old 01-17-2010, 03:54 PM   #14
 
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Thanks All

The 30 gal has a pH of 6 currently and may be due to the 3 large pieces of Malaysian drifwood and infrequent water changes for the past 3 years? Or maybe another factor is there is a lot of algae that grows in this tank that I have to clean out every water change.

The new 50 gal (1 week into cycling) has thousands of eggs from a goldfish I was using to cycle the tank. I removed the 2 larger goldfish that were breeding and left the 5 smaller goldfish in for a week before removing them today. Not sure if that has any effect on the pH. I moved the driftwood from the 30 gal to the 50 gal tank about 5 days ago.

My tap water straight from the faucet without conditioner is at 7.6 pH. Unfortunatly I don't have a GH or KH testing kit. I'll have to pick one up.

Last edited by wicked; 01-17-2010 at 04:00 PM.. Reason: correction
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Old 01-17-2010, 04:18 PM   #15
 
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Originally Posted by wicked View Post
Thanks All

The 30 gal has a pH of 6 currently and may be due to the 3 large pieces of Malaysian drifwood and infrequent water changes for the past 3 years? Or maybe because there is alot of algae that grows in this tank that I have to clean out every water change.

The new 50 gal (1 week into cycling) has thousands of eggs from a goldfish I was using to cycle the tank. I removed the 2 larger goldfish that were breeding and left the 5 smaller goldfish in for a week before removing them today. Not sure if that has any effect on the pH. I moved the driftwood from the 30 gal to the 50 gal tank about 5 days ago.

My tap water straight from the faucet without conditioner is at 7.6 pH. Unfortunatly I don't have a GH or KH testing kit. I'll have to pick one up.
I'm suspecting the KH of your tap water is fairly low. This would allow the acidity in the 30g to increase, lowering the pH, especially as you are not regular in your partial water changes. This can be dangerous.

When you do a pwc, you are removing acidic water and replacing it with basic/alkaline water (pH 7.6). The ammonias produced by the fish in acidic water, esp at pH 6.0 which is where i keep my tanks so I have experience, will be ammonium which is not toxic. When you do the pwc, the influx of tap water probably causes the pH to rise, and if this is sufficient to raise the tank above 7, you then have the ammonium changing back into ammonia. You should be able to comprehend what this can mean for the fish.

Regular weekly pwc would prevent this, because the stability of the tank would be more established and not subject to wide fluctuations. When I do my 50% pwc every week with tap water that is 6.8 or 7, it raises the pH in the tanks from 6 to 6.4 which is fine. Same as the diurnal fluctuation in planted tanks. There is also the issue of pollution; without a regular weekly pwc of 50%, with large fish in the tank (a 10-inch red devil is large for a 30g) you have an enormous buildup of waste that no filter can remove, only the pwc. Waste being urine and liquefied solid waste broken down by bacteria but not removed until the pwc. I would be very careful with that fish, with respect to water parameter adjustments, given what he has been subjected to. And I am not meaning to be anything but constructive here; you have in my opinion a very dangerous situation that needs careful handling for the health of the fish.

The wood contributes to the acidification of the water, but insignificantly; it is the buildup of organics due to infrequent pwc that is causing the pH to drop so drastically. And that is as you probably know the cause of the algae problems. Everything is related in an aquarium. There is absolutely no better remedy or medication or maintenance practice in any aquarium than a regular weekly pwc.

Byron.
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Old 01-17-2010, 04:29 PM   #16
 
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Ok I cleaned the tank and did about a 50% water change. The pH is now at about 7.4. The red devil is now very active, digging and attacking the glass. Hope I didn't stress him out.

The wierd readings must be due to lack of proper aquarium maintanace... At times the tank would go 1-2 months without a water change. Time to get back into the habbit of changing the water more frequently.

Thanks everyone for all the geat information!

EDIT

I read your post Byron right after I posted the above. Is it a good Idea to remove the Driftwood? I have transferred them to the other tank. I will test the ammonia levels right now. If the levels are high I'm assuming I should do another pwc. I had no idea how important weekly water changes are...

Last edited by wicked; 01-17-2010 at 04:36 PM.. Reason: additional comment
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Old 01-17-2010, 07:23 PM   #17
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wicked View Post
Ok I cleaned the tank and did about a 50% water change. The pH is now at about 7.4. The red devil is now very active, digging and attacking the glass. Hope I didn't stress him out.

The wierd readings must be due to lack of proper aquarium maintanace... At times the tank would go 1-2 months without a water change. Time to get back into the habbit of changing the water more frequently.

Thanks everyone for all the geat information!

EDIT

I read your post Byron right after I posted the above. Is it a good Idea to remove the Driftwood? I have transferred them to the other tank. I will test the ammonia levels right now. If the levels are high I'm assuming I should do another pwc. I had no idea how important weekly water changes are...
The wood is insignificant, leave it, as it contains bacteria that will help in the ammonia crisis you now have. Having done it, just observe the fish; at signs of stress (gasping, reddened gills, erratic behaviour) do a 50% pwc. Of course, if you have a good water conditioner that detoxifies ammonia, that will help. Prime and others detoxify ammonia by changing it to ammonium, the process I explained earlier, so the fish will not be stressed. And Prime claims to detoxify nitrite, though I've not managed to find out how. However, I have read elsewhere that these detoxifying processes only last 24 hours, after which Prime no longer detoxifies. If that is true, and levels rise, another pwc daily will ease things. Just monitor the fish. There may be enough bacteria in the tank to handle the ammonia.

Nitrosomonas bacteria multiplies by binary division, and can do this every 9 hours under optimum conditions [being pH above 7 and temp normal around 77-79]. Nitrospira take longer, up to 20 hours. So once they are in the tank, and if "food" is available (ammonia and nitrite) they will do their work.

Of course, the other thing about a pH of 6 is that some authorities claim the bacteria dies off at a pH below 6.4 from what I've read. It is generally accepted I believe that nitrosomonas and nitrospira bacteria do weaken in acidic water, and at some point cease to multiply and die off.

Anyway, use a good detoxifying conditioner, and monitor the fish's behaviour and be ready to do a 50% pwc every day if necessary.

Byron.
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Old 01-17-2010, 08:16 PM   #18
 
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Thanks so much for the helpful information. I tested the ammonia and it's at 0.125. He is very aggressive but not gasping for air or staying on the top of the tank. I did have to turn the light of so he would stop attacking the glass though. He also eat when fed. I basically dropped the food in his mouth!

I'm going to do another wc, test the water, and keep an eye on him. Hopefully he'll be in his new 50 gal once it cycles
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Old 01-18-2010, 12:38 AM   #19
 
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Am I understanding correctly that you're planning on putting a red devil into a tank with goldfish? This seems like a very bad idea. Even if you've got the temperature of the tank adjusted to fit the needs of both fish, the red devil is likely going to kill the goldfish. Red devils are mean, mean fish. Actually, depending on how big it is, it might likely eat the smaller goldfish outright.
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Old 01-18-2010, 01:21 PM   #20
 
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Originally Posted by iamntbatman View Post
Am I understanding correctly that you're planning on putting a red devil into a tank with goldfish? This seems like a very bad idea. Even if you've got the temperature of the tank adjusted to fit the needs of both fish, the red devil is likely going to kill the goldfish. Red devils are mean, mean fish. Actually, depending on how big it is, it might likely eat the smaller goldfish outright.
Thanks for the concern. I have kept the red devil with the 5 small goldfish in the 30 gal for about a year now. He didn't attack them and I think it's due to the poor water conditions (I had changed jobs that required me to travel making it hard to perform regular water changes. Currently, I am able to care for the tank properly.).

The goldfish are now in a 20 gal separate from the devil. Good thing because when the condition of the water quality increased in the 30 gal he became and is currently very aggressive. I can't come within 5 feet of the tank without him furiously attacking the glass. Also I had to turn the light off because he was attacking his reflection. I had no idea how fiesty he was until now. I though he just had a low aggression personality but I was completely wrong. It's going to be interesting transferring him to the 50 gal once it's cycled. Think I'm going to have cover the floor around the tanks with a tarp.

I did have him with my red chilli crab for a little while but now that he is so aggressive, I have moved the crab to it's own tank. I'm possibly considering selling the devil due to him being so aggressive. There are no other tank mates I can think of to combine him with other than a large female devil. My LFS has a 10" female devil for $50 but I need to do more research on how to interduce her into the tank properly.
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