Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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adot45 09-03-2011 11:35 AM

ph jump
Hello, new member, old guy. I'm starting a tank that is one month old 9/5. 8/26 finally had an ammonia bloom and rose steadily throughout the week; 8/30 reached crisis (6.0) and started to decline. Daily ammonia from 8/30 was: 6.0, 4.0, 3.0, 2.0, and today I finally got a nitrite reading of .25......and fully expect it to continue to rise. All this time my ph has held in the 7.0~7.2 range. Today it's 7.8 and I wonder if that is cause for alarm or is this just a part of the biological events of establishing the nitrogen cycle? I would really like to fast forward to tomorrow and verify that the nitrites are going up but I will just have to wait as fast as I can. Thank You for any thoughts on this.

Byron 09-03-2011 11:49 AM

Welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum. Nice to have you with us.

Changes in pH can occur from various things, so we need to explore a bit. What is the pH of your tap water on its own? To accurately test, let a glass of water sit out overnight and test it tomorrow, that will give a more accurate reading. Also test it fresh from the tap then, just to see if there is a difference, sometimes there is, sometimes hardly any. Good to know this as in future testing from the tap might be OK.

And do you know the tap water hardness, both GH and KH? This you can ascertain from the water folks, many have a website with water data posted. Hardness affects pH so this data is needed so we know what to expect re the pH over time.

To the tank: what material is the substrate (if gravel, what type specifically)? Any rock or coral in the tank? These can be calcareous and raise hardness and corresponding pH.

On the cycle itself, how are you cycling? Are there fish in the tank?


adot45 09-03-2011 12:33 PM

Hello, thanks. Ph right from the tap is 7.0~7.2 and never varies much. Water hardness range is 80~120 and alkalinity has stayed between 80 ~100 with one wildcard reading of 120. The substrate is standard aquarium gravel with a few resin "tree stumps" and lots of live plants, no coral. The tank is being cycled with some Austrailian Rainbows and a few plattys. Volume is 55 gallons. I did 20% water changes at the higher ammonia levels to make it a little less uncomfortable for them.

Byron 09-03-2011 02:03 PM

Tap water pH can vary for several reasons, so a sudden increase in the tank can be due to that if after a water change for instance. Nothing in the tank seems a problem, so let's move to the cycling.

I have to question those numbers; ammonia at 6 would kill any fish outright. Are you using strips or liquid test kit, and if the latter, the API or another? If ammonia rises above .2 I would do a 50% water change immediately [same with nitrite], using a conditioner that also handles ammonia [and nitrite]. Not all do, it will say on the label. Conditioners are effective for 24-48 hours, and ammonia and nitrite will still show on tests even though non-toxic; but if high numbers continue on the second day following i wold do another 50% change. Ammonia and nitrite at very low levels will usually cause permanent damage internally, which may not become evident for months when the fish "suddenly dies" from nothing obvious.

Now, you do have live plants, and they should handle the ammonia, which is another reason I must question those high numbers. Plants assimilate a lot of ammonia as ammonium, and can take up ammonia as a toxin too, though there is obviously a limit. But with a few fish this should be handled.

Now with plants, assuming they are handling the ammonia, you should see no nitrite spike. Several plants, not just a couple, but you say lots of plants so that should be fine. The plants are why the fish are still alive, no question of that. Though an ammonia reading of 6 is still not realistic.

Hope this has helped a bit.


adot45 09-03-2011 02:15 PM

Test kit is API freshwater master kit. Thanks for your thoughts

adot45 09-29-2011 09:42 AM

cycled 55
I haven't been back here for about 3 weeks but thought I would post an update. My 55 gallon tank finally cycled and it took 5 weeks and 4 days to do it, just as a scrap of information. I'm not saying it takes all 55 gallon tanks this long to cycle, I'm saying it took MY 55 gallon tank this amount of time to cycle. I've got 2 pair of angel fish in it now and have had 3 spawns already. The fish are young but I will start trying to rear the wigglers probably this time or the next using the fry jar.

Here is my 55 with an ugly divider in place to keep the two pairs seperate. I'm presently running in a 75 gallon planted tank and here is a picture of it.

There are pictures of some of my angel fish in my profile.

Byron 09-29-2011 10:38 AM

Cycling time can take anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks normally, so five weeks is not abnormal. Many factors affect the bacteria and cycling, and every aquarium's biology is different.

I like the 75g. If I may make one suggestion, switch to a black background. You will find the tank depth will be greater (perception) and the plants will look much nicer than even now--and the fish too of course. Something as inexpensive as a piece of black construction paper from the hobby/crafts store, cut to fit. It is dull finish and the back wall will disappear.


BarbH 09-29-2011 10:58 AM

Congrats on the angels :-D I agree with the black background, made a huge difference in my 50 gallon when I added the black background to my tank, definitly helps make the plants and the fish pop.

adot45 09-29-2011 04:04 PM

Well, as luck would have it, the reverse of my background is black, so it won't be any big deal to try that sometime. Never thought about using the black side when I was setting it up.......hmmmm

Byron 09-29-2011 04:08 PM


Originally Posted by adot45 (Post 845190)
Well, as luck would have it, the reverse of my background is black, so it won't be any big deal to try that sometime. Never thought about using the black side when I was setting it up.......hmmmm

I've seen that background, the black is shiny I believe; that is distracting, and some fish will "fight" their reflections. But it will still be the colour; a sheet or two of black construction paper is very cheap.

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