question about ph and ammonia
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question about ph and ammonia

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question about ph and ammonia
Old 06-21-2010, 07:56 PM   #1
 
question about ph and ammonia

Please bear with me as I am fairly new to the hobby (up and running about 3 months). I have a 150 gallon freshwater aquarium with a fluval fx5 filter and two air stones. I currently have 5 phantom tetras, 5 serpae tetras, 5 platys, 2 rummy nose tetras and 5 tiger barbs. I also have 2 300w heaters.

I did a 25% water change two days ago and my ph went from 7.0 to 7.6. My ammonia went from 0 to .25. I dont know what would have caused the change? any clues? any advice on how to proceed? My fish are all acting normally although I seem to wake up to one less rummy nose than I had when I went to bed (this has happened 3 days in a row - as i had 5). I am thinking someone is hungry :( The aquarium store that we bought the fish at said these fish were all compatiable but after reading online I think they may have steered me wrong. It's the most reputable aquarium store around (it's been here for over 50 years)...I thought I was going to the right place.

Please give any/all advice you have to share......but please also keep in mind that i'm still quite new and dont have the best understanding of the whole hobby yet. Thank you in advance to anyone who helps me out!!
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Old 06-22-2010, 05:34 AM   #2
 
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Welcome to TFK, and to fishkeeping!

What's the pH of your tap water? The pH of the water in your tank is often lower than the pH of your tap water as pH usually falls naturally in a fish tank due to things like the introduction of organic acids and the increased CO2 that your fish "exhale." If your tap water pH is higher than 7.6, it makes sense that your pH would go up from 7.0 after a water change but will probably fall back down to 7.0 after some short time. Other than that, are there any decorations in the tank that might be causing the pH to go up? Things like substrates designed for marine tanks or African cichlids, limestone rocks, shells, etc. will all increase pH to varying degrees.

How long has your tank been set up? Was it cycled before adding fish, or could it be that the tank is cycling now?
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Old 06-22-2010, 01:03 PM   #3
 
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Hi and welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.

Following up on iamntbatman's post, have you checked your tap water for ammonia? A rise in ammonia in an established tank (assuming this tank is cycled) means either the source (tap) water has ammonia or something has occurred in the tank; a dead small fish or even two in a 150g is unlikely to raise ammonia detectably, so test the tap water. Unless of course the tank is not yet cycled, as iamntbatman mentioned.

On the fish, yes, the advice you received was misleading to some extent. First on the rummys, never add these to a "new" tank but only to one that has been fully cycled and established, say 3+ months. They are highly sensitive fish. And they absolutely must be in a large group, at the very least six but I would never consider this species in less than 9 fish. They are one of the most tightly-shoaling of the characins. Check our profile on Hemigrammus bleheri which is the most-commonly seen of the three "rummynose" species now. Water parameters are important for this species (hardness and pH) as explained in the profile. [Click on the shaded name to see the fish's profile, or you can use the "Tropical Fish Profiles" link second from left in the blue bar at the top.]

The Serpae Tetra and Tiger Barb fish are likely to cause trouble. Again, have a look at the profiles, this is explained there along with ways to avoid some of the trouble.

Byron.
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Old 06-22-2010, 08:22 PM   #4
 
We didnt cycle it first i'm thinking. What we did was set it up , added water and let the filter run for 12 hours, added stress coat and something I cant exactly remember the name of at the moment that was made by tetra aqua that adds the biological matter. Then we let the tank run for a bit more and added fish. The way we understood it the tetraaqua stuff was to make the tank cycle right away.....now i'm thinking we were wrong??
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Old 06-22-2010, 09:52 PM   #5
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dazeek View Post
We didnt cycle it first i'm thinking. What we did was set it up , added water and let the filter run for 12 hours, added stress coat and something I cant exactly remember the name of at the moment that was made by tetra aqua that adds the biological matter. Then we let the tank run for a bit more and added fish. The way we understood it the tetraaqua stuff was to make the tank cycle right away.....now i'm thinking we were wrong??
The ammonia was probably due to the tank not yet being fully cycled. I would still check the tap water though for ammonia; some tap water does have ammonia in it, and this is something you need to know so you can deal with it at water changes.

The rummys as I said are highly sensitive in new tanks; don't get any more until this is resolved.

Also you need to test your tap water for pH.

Establishing the nitrification cycle takes time, anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks. There are a number of things that impact, which is why it is not possible to be exact on how long. "Seeding" the tank with established bacteria does jump-start the cycling by introducing live bacteria rather than waiting for them to appear naturally. Seeding can be done by using filter media, wood, plants, rocks, gravel from an established tank, or adding a biological supplement which is what your Tetra "stuff" probably does.

Not everyone endorses biological supplements. Some do work, others may or may not. The Tetra one is probably called SafeStart. If this is what you have, use it as directed. I have not myself used this product, but I understand it is Dr. Hovanec's formula of live bacteria so it will work.

This and a good water conditioner, such as API's Stress Coat, is all the stuff you should add.

Don't forget to test the tap water for pH and ammonia and report the numbers.
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Old 06-23-2010, 04:56 AM   #6
 
Thanks Byron! That's is indeed the name of my tetra aqua item. I couldn't for the life of me remember it and we used the whole bottle for the start up. I will test my tap water and tank water again tonight. It's amaing what a "perfect science" having an aquarium is - who knew. But, we are up for the challenge. I guess you live and you learn and being an aquarium owner I'm learning that we really should have done our homework first. It's clearly not as simple as buying a tank, accessories, and adding fish as we were lead to believe. However, although right now it's frustrating at times, this is the first hobby that my boyfriend and I are sharing so I hope we become proficient over time. Thank you again!
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Old 06-23-2010, 04:38 PM   #7
 
I tested our tap water's ph and ammonia. The ph is 7.6 and the ammonia is at 0. I re tested the tank and the ph is still 7.6, ammonia .25, nitrites 0 and nitrates 0. Any suggestions? My fish seem to be doing ok but i'm so worried :(
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Old 06-23-2010, 04:54 PM   #8
 
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These numbers show the tap water to be 7.6 so you can expect the tank to be around that for the time being. As iamntbatman pointed out previously, over time the biological processes in an aquarium cause the water to slowly acidify and the pH will (slowly) lower. Several things affect this, primarily the hardness of the source (tap) water. If it is hard, it tends to buffer the pH to keep it stable, and regular partial water changes (40-50% every week) will assist this process. The tank will basically remain around 7.6 and be stable, which is good, because while many fish can adapt to a different pH from their natural preference, most are seriously affected internally by fluctuating pH. By fluctuating I don't mean a couple decimal points, say 7.6 down to 7.4 and then up to 7.6, that is harmless, and in planted tanks the pH goes through a diurnal shift of .3 to .5 every 24 hours as in fact occurs in nature. But sudden significant swings are hazardous.

Why the previous pH test mentioned in your first post was 7, I don't know; could be a false test? Or your water is soft and thus has no buffering capability and the tank naturally fell. I'll leave this for the present, as the ammonia is important.

This suggests the tank is cycling, nothing out of the ordinary here, so monitor ammonia daily. If you use a good water conditioner that detoxifies ammonia it will help [can't remember if the API one does, I think so]. If the ammonia rises above .25 a partial water change is advisable. But if you use a water conditioner that detoxifies ammonia, it does this by changing ammonia to harmless ammonium; test kits will read ammonium as ammonia, so don't be worried. The detoxifying of conditioners generally lasts 24 hours, maybe a bit longer, so daily checks are needed.

Using the SafeStart will also help as this is adding bacteria to consume the ammonia (and nitrite once that stage is reached). You have a 125g tank so the large water volume will also help as the ammonia will be "spread out" so to speak. It takes bacteria time to multiply to handle the ammonia being produced, and when they reach that point they stop multiplying. Nitrosomonas bacteria, which use ammonia and produce nitrite (stage 2) take about 9 hours to multiply, which they do by binary division (each bacterium splits into two new bacteria). Nitrite is also deadly, at if it rises above .25 a 50% water change is called for. Again the bacteria supplement will help in this, as does your larger tank. The time frame is variable, from a few days to a couple weeks.

Byron.
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