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Discussion Starter #1
I thought I could post this here, since this is the first time I've cycled and would like advice. I've been putting fish food in my tank everyday cause I think it helps it a long a bit? I've also taken the dirty filter cartridge from my 10 gallon and put in the new filter device in my cycling 30. Also, if anyone has any advice for keeping my ph lower... preferably around 7.0 so my otos and tetras are happiest, that would be great. I cannot afford to buy 5 gallons of distilled water every week. And I already ordered Proper Ph 7.0 and am waiting for it to come. What else softens water?

Second day tank setup 11-2

Nitrate 0 ppm
Nitrite 0 ppm
Ammonia 0 ppm - .25 ppm
High Range PH 8.0 :-(

5th day tank setup 11-5

Nitrate 0 - 5.0 ppm
Nitrite .25 ppm
Ammonia .25 ppm
High Range PH 8.2 :evil:
 

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It's not that adding fish food helps it along a bit, it's that you need an ammonia source in the tank for it to cycle at all. Rotting fish food provides a source of ammonia that allows the beneficial bacteria in your tank to grow.

Softening the water and lowering pH are two different things. Hardness and softness relate to the amount of dissolved materials in your water (calcium and carbonate being the most important ions). pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of your water. Often, the two go hand-in-hand as water that is very hard is also often very basic. However, it's definitely possibly to have very basic water that is also very soft. You can purchase GH and KH test kits to test your water's hardness, or you can have it tested for you at a fish store. Harder water has much more buffering capacity than soft water, and thus if your water is very hard it might be difficult to lower your pH to the range you want. Good ways to gently lower pH include adding bogwood or driftwood to your tank as well as using peat in your substrate or filter. The ability to lower pH of these materials will be greatly reduced by hard water. I suspect that Proper pH 7.0 would also prove less useful if you have very hard water, so it would be worth it to find out just how hard your water is before attempting to lower the pH.

Also keep in mind that pH swings can be deadly. Using a lot of chemicals to mess around with your pH can destroy your water's buffering capacity, which can result in a pH crash that's fatal. Also, even if you do lower the pH of the water in your tank to the desired level, it's important to remember that the water coming out of your tap will still be very basic and thus every time you do a water change a pH swing will occur. You will have to come up with some way of preventing this, such as pre-filtering the water you'll use for the water change with peat or using distilled or RO/DI water in addition to tapwater during water changes.
 

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Some people mix it in with their substrate, but that can get rather messy. A better option would be to buy a filter media bag (they go for about $1 at Petsmart, nothing fancy really) and stuff it full of peat and plop it in your filter. I'm not exactly sure about the life cycle of peat, so others will have to advise you as to how often it should be replaced.

The main effects it will have on your aquarium are caused by the release of acids into your aquarium water. These tannic and humic acids will gently lower your pH (again, provided you don't have extremely hard water that would buffer the pH change) but will also color (or discolor, depending how you see it) your water. It will become a golden color similar to a weak tea, but will still be clear. Some people like the way it looks but others don't. I, personally, am a fan of it. Using activated carbon in your filter will remove this coloring effect, but might also reduce the ability of the peat to lower your pH. The tetras you plan on keeping in the tank will appreciate the "blackwater" effect the peat will provide as it will mimic their natural environments.

You can see the blackwater effect in my Jack Dempsey tank:
http://www.fishforum.com/freshwater-fish-pictures-videos/couple-random-pictures-17916/
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Sounds good, but complicated. Can I have the filter media bag and normal filter cart in there at the same time?
 

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Yep, just put the media bag in the big empty area of the filter between the intake tube/impeller and the filter cartridge.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I'm not quite sure I know where that is. In my penguin 150, there are two slots for carts, Can I maybe put my carbon cartridge in the first slot closest to the back, and put the media bag in front of it so the tannin stain isn't caught by the filter?? *ponders*
 

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I mean the area of the filter furthest from the tank at the back of the filter that's full of water when the filter is running. There should be enough room between there and the cartridges.

Here's a rough drawing:
penguin.JPG

The red is the filter intake tube, the blue is the filter cartridge, and the pink/purple is the biowheel. The brown ellipse is where you could stick the media bag full of peat.

Even if you position the bag of peat between the filter cartridge(s) and the biowheel, the tannins will still be removed from the water just as fast as they are added as long as any of your filter cartridges have carbon in them. Again, I'm not sure exactly how much the removal of the discoloration will negatively impact the peat's ability to lower pH, but I imagine you'd just be better off with no carbon.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
With no carbon then, how would I filter the water? I think I am learning alot more than I ever cared to. lol
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Second day tank setup 11-2

Nitrate 0 ppm
Nitrite 0 ppm
Ammonia 0 ppm - .25 ppm
High Range PH 8.0 :sad:

5th day tank setup 11-5

Nitrate 0 - 5.0 ppm
Nitrite .25 ppm
Ammonia .25 ppm
High Range PH 8.2 :evil:

Update
11-8

Nitrate 5.0 ppm
Nitrite .25 ppm
Ammonia 1.0 ppm
High Range PH 8.2


Does it seem normal the way things have progressed in a week. It's possible I may have read the readings wrong, and sometimes the water leaks/spills outta the tubes when you shake em. Think the caps get to loose or something after using em over nad over again. I use the API freshwater test kit. Any help? Thanks.
 

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Looks like the cycle is progressing. If you're using the regular blue filter cartridges, you can slice open the blue material along the top edge of the cartridge and dump out the carbon and just continue to use the cartridge. Actually, you could even use this as a makeshift container and put some peat right in there.

The use of carbon in your filter is controversial, but even those who support it wouldn't say it's as necessary as adequate mechanical and biological filtration. If you're concerned about removing it, I would read up on the debate on activated carbon use in freshwater tanks before you make a decision.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Sounds like an idea. Yea, I just use the blue ones, although someone on here suggested I get the drs foster smith brand of them and I have. Its' the Drs foster smith bio3 disposable filter carts. i've got 24 of them. although because the carbon is seperated into 3 pockets so it deosn't teabag, it might be harder to replace it with peat.
 

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With a fishless cycle no, no real reason to. I might consider it if you got ammonia readings over 5 ppm as too much ammonia can be detrimental to the bacteria but that's unlikely unless you are putting a LOT of food in.
 

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You'll have to do a big water change at the end of the cycle though (before you add fish) as your nitrates will probably be through the roof.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Second day tank setup 11-2

Nitrate 0 ppm
Nitrite 0 ppm
Ammonia 0 ppm - .25 ppm
High Range PH 8.0 :sad:

5th day tank setup 11-5

Nitrate 0 - 5.0 ppm
Nitrite .25 ppm
Ammonia .25 ppm
High Range PH 8.2 :evil:
11-8

Nitrate 5.0 ppm
Nitrite .25 ppm
Ammonia 1.0 ppm
High Range PH 8.2

11-14

Nitrate 5.0 ppm
Nitrite .25 ppm
Ammonia 1.0
High Range PH 8.2

Okay, so things don't seem to have progressed at all... unless I missed something in between tonight and my last test 6 days ago. Is that okay? It will be 2 weeks tomorrow since I've started, and I'm amazed at my patience. Hehe, I'm thankful for how much I've learned here, that's for sure. Currently to aid the cycle, I've been putting in a small pinch of food morning and night. A little bit more than I feed my fish each time in my 10 gallon. Should I put more food in there at a time? It's looking pretty yucky already, but the water is a nice weak tea color from the drift wood. :) Also, still waiting for GH/KH test kit to arrive. Thanks for reading!
 

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If you're not sure put in more food. You don't have any fish in there now to worry about hurting so all you really have to do is make sure that the ammonia doesn't go above 5ppm. If things do get to high you can always do a water change/vacuum some of the gunk up. You're going to want to do a water change and extensive vacuuming anyways before the fish go in.

That being said you have to remember that as far as the test goes things are highly subjective. While it still looks the same color as the 0.25ppm mark or whatever there could be minor variations going on. Also if you have detectable nitrites and nitrates be happy, your cycle is progressing and it'll get there.
 
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