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#1 craigieboy01

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Posted 03 April 2010 - 07:00 AM

Hi all, I'm currently doing a fishless cycle in my Fluval Edge, after noticing my cycle had stalled, i realised my Ph was too low at 6.0 (Api master test kit), so i done a large water change on Tuesday 31st and brought my Ph up to 7.6 and added the relevent ammount of Ammonia, after testing this morn my Ammonia has dropped to 0.50ppm, my Nitrites are still 0, should i not be showing more signs of Nitrite? I have also noticed my Ph has dropped to 6.6, why is my Ph dropping? Dont want to keep doing water changes to bring the Ph up as its stalling my Cycle.Any suggestions of what i'm doing wrong? I'm nearly 3 months into a Cycle which should be done by now, getting fed up. :(

#2 Ryefish

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Posted 03 April 2010 - 10:03 AM

i am having the same PH problems with my fishless cycle. It kept dropping from 7.2 to 6.4 overnight and getting lower every single night after, so i had to carry out 90% water changes every second day - annoying! I topped the PH up to 8 using Bicarbonate of Soda and it seemed to kick start everything all happy again.

Do you have a day-by-day diary on the forum of your whole cycle data? Im not able to give advice on why your Nitrites are at 0 but somebody else should be able to


ETA: are your Nitrites still blue? if you put the drops in the test tube do they stay blue when they hit the bottom?

Edited by Ryefish, 03 April 2010 - 10:04 AM.


#3 craigieboy01

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Posted 03 April 2010 - 11:12 AM

i am having the same PH problems with my fishless cycle. It kept dropping from 7.2 to 6.4 overnight and getting lower every single night after, so i had to carry out 90% water changes every second day - annoying! I topped the PH up to 8 using Bicarbonate of Soda and it seemed to kick start everything all happy again.

Do you have a day-by-day diary on the forum of your whole cycle data? Im not able to give advice on why your Nitrites are at 0 but somebody else should be able to


ETA: are your Nitrites still blue? if you put the drops in the test tube do they stay blue when they hit the bottom?

Hi Ryefish, Yes they stay blue when they hit the bottom, I have only had 1 Nitrite spike about 6 weeks ago, any idea how much Bicarbonate i should add to bring it up? I have a 23 litre tank (6 Us Gallon) I have kept a written log, havent posted it on the website. :good:

#4 craigieboy01

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Posted 03 April 2010 - 11:29 AM

Is Bicarbonate of Soda called Baking Soda in the UK?

#5 essjay

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Posted 03 April 2010 - 12:12 PM

Mine's called bicarbonate of soda (Supercook brand) and I'm in the UK. You'll find it in the home baking section of the supermarket next to the flour. It normally comes in a round plastic tub. Make sure it's bicarbonate of soda, or possibly baking soda and not baking powder - that's different.

#6 Ryefish

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Posted 03 April 2010 - 12:16 PM

Yeah. If you are in the UK you can get tubs of Bicarbonate of Soda from the supermarkets in the baking section. Just don't get 'Baking Powder'.

I added it in level teaspoon amounts, left for about half hour to let it mix in properly and tested, repeated again until it was at 8.


The diary might help other more experienced (im not even finished my first cycle yet lol, which is why im reluctant to say things other than what ive experienced myself) people figure out why your cycle is so slow and possibly stalled

#7 craigieboy01

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Posted 03 April 2010 - 12:16 PM

Mine's called bicarbonate of soda (Supercook brand) and I'm in the UK. You'll find it in the home baking section of the supermarket next to the flour. It normally comes in a round plastic tub. Make sure it's bicarbonate of soda, or possibly baking soda and not baking powder - that's different.

Thanks essjay, will go and get it now, do u know roughly how much i should be adding to a 23 litre tank? :good:

#8 essjay

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Posted 03 April 2010 - 04:16 PM

Start with half a tablespoon (ie half a 15ml spoon), then increase to one and a half if the half isn't enough. Dissolve it in a bit of tank water in a tub before adding to the tank.

#9 OldMan47

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Posted 03 April 2010 - 06:23 PM

A half tablespoon should definitely raise the pH in a small tank like that. I would start smaller and dissolve the material in a bowl outside the tank. That way I could stir vigorously to get a good mix without threatening to splash half the water out of my tank.

#10 craigieboy01

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Posted 04 April 2010 - 09:36 AM

Thanks everyone, I will add some and let yous know how i get on. :good:

#11 craigieboy01

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Posted 04 April 2010 - 02:05 PM

Put a level Teaspoon in half an hour ago, checked Ph, its up at 8 so hopefully that should keep things ticking along, What is th best Ph for Fishless Cycling?

#12 OldMan47

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Posted 04 April 2010 - 05:05 PM

The nominal ideal pH is around 8.4 but anything over 7.0 will do fine.

#13 craigieboy01

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Posted 04 April 2010 - 07:43 PM

The nominal ideal pH is around 8.4 but anything over 7.0 will do fine.

Thanks OldMan47, i will keep a close eye on the Ph over the next week, Is their a reason for the sudden drop? :good:

#14 fish_tank0311

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Posted 04 April 2010 - 07:57 PM

If you have driftwood in your tank, that can lower your pH, but it lowers so quickly and dramatically because your carbonate hardness (kH) is too low. kH is a measurement of how much calcium etc is in your water, and the higher your kH is the better it will buffer the water from pH from changes. (At least this is what my local fish specialist has told me) Oldman probably could verify that for you.

Edited by fish_tank0311, 04 April 2010 - 07:57 PM.


#15 waterdrop

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 01:55 AM

Yes, this is correct. As a practical matter, a KH kit will give a number to the amount of "buffer" the water has, allowing it to withstand pH change. Below about KH=4 it can be expected that the pH may make a quick drop at any time, stopping the cycle.

As a technical matter, KH is supposed to refer to Carbonate Hardness and should only be measuring the carbonates (HCO3-) (also known as Temporary Hardness because it can be boiled out) but it turns out that our kits actually measure Total Alkalinity, which is a good surrogate for carbonate hardness in our situations and so some of the general hardness aspects (Ca and Mg for instance) may indeed be a bit involved, but technically those should be mostly involved in GH (general hardness) measurements.

None of this matters to you as long as you make large water changes when the cycle is in danger of crashing or has just crashed.

~~waterdrop~~

#16 craigieboy01

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 02:22 PM

Yes, this is correct. As a practical matter, a KH kit will give a number to the amount of "buffer" the water has, allowing it to withstand pH change. Below about KH=4 it can be expected that the pH may make a quick drop at any time, stopping the cycle.

As a technical matter, KH is supposed to refer to Carbonate Hardness and should only be measuring the carbonates (HCO3-) (also known as Temporary Hardness because it can be boiled out) but it turns out that our kits actually measure Total Alkalinity, which is a good surrogate for carbonate hardness in our situations and so some of the general hardness aspects (Ca and Mg for instance) may indeed be a bit involved, but technically those should be mostly involved in GH (general hardness) measurements.

None of this matters to you as long as you make large water changes when the cycle is in danger of crashing or has just crashed.

~~waterdrop~~

Hi Waterdrop, As i said I'm doing a fishless Cycle, If the Ph keeps dropping will i just keep adding Bicarbonate of Soda or do a large water Change? Which is best for the Cycle? :good:

#17 waterdrop

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 02:53 PM


Yes, this is correct. As a practical matter, a KH kit will give a number to the amount of "buffer" the water has, allowing it to withstand pH change. Below about KH=4 it can be expected that the pH may make a quick drop at any time, stopping the cycle.

As a technical matter, KH is supposed to refer to Carbonate Hardness and should only be measuring the carbonates (HCO3-) (also known as Temporary Hardness because it can be boiled out) but it turns out that our kits actually measure Total Alkalinity, which is a good surrogate for carbonate hardness in our situations and so some of the general hardness aspects (Ca and Mg for instance) may indeed be a bit involved, but technically those should be mostly involved in GH (general hardness) measurements.

None of this matters to you as long as you make large water changes when the cycle is in danger of crashing or has just crashed.

~~waterdrop~~

Hi Waterdrop, As i said I'm doing a fishless Cycle, If the Ph keeps dropping will i just keep adding Bicarbonate of Soda or do a large water Change? Which is best for the Cycle? :good:

Both are actually good, as long as you don't overdo the water changing. The bicarb getting you up in the 8.0 to 8.4 starting point and then letting you slowly drop from there should be a bit better than the 7.6 starting point and dropping from there. If and when the pH does drop quickly enough to look like its going to drop past the 7 mark or so, and especially if you have a bunch of NO2 and/or NO3 in there, it can be good to do a gravel clean (even though its fishless, the N-compounds can kind of "hang-out" near the larger organic molecules that seem to get a bit more concentrated in the substrate area) and take it down to the substrate (what we usually refer to as a 90% water change) and then refill with conditioned, temp-matched tap water (the tap water will refresh some of the trace Calcium and Iron the bacteria can use) and bringing it back to 84F/29C. Be sure to recharge the ammonia to 4ppm (or whatever level you are working with at the moment) and to put in the teaspoon or so of bicarb. Actually, some of the posts in the last few months have also got me thinking I would also add the tinyest bit, a flake or two of fishfood along with the usual ammonia.

~~waterdrop~~

#18 craigieboy01

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 08:14 PM



Yes, this is correct. As a practical matter, a KH kit will give a number to the amount of "buffer" the water has, allowing it to withstand pH change. Below about KH=4 it can be expected that the pH may make a quick drop at any time, stopping the cycle.

As a technical matter, KH is supposed to refer to Carbonate Hardness and should only be measuring the carbonates (HCO3-) (also known as Temporary Hardness because it can be boiled out) but it turns out that our kits actually measure Total Alkalinity, which is a good surrogate for carbonate hardness in our situations and so some of the general hardness aspects (Ca and Mg for instance) may indeed be a bit involved, but technically those should be mostly involved in GH (general hardness) measurements.

None of this matters to you as long as you make large water changes when the cycle is in danger of crashing or has just crashed.

~~waterdrop~~

Hi Waterdrop, As i said I'm doing a fishless Cycle, If the Ph keeps dropping will i just keep adding Bicarbonate of Soda or do a large water Change? Which is best for the Cycle? :good:

Both are actually good, as long as you don't overdo the water changing. The bicarb getting you up in the 8.0 to 8.4 starting point and then letting you slowly drop from there should be a bit better than the 7.6 starting point and dropping from there. If and when the pH does drop quickly enough to look like its going to drop past the 7 mark or so, and especially if you have a bunch of NO2 and/or NO3 in there, it can be good to do a gravel clean (even though its fishless, the N-compounds can kind of "hang-out" near the larger organic molecules that seem to get a bit more concentrated in the substrate area) and take it down to the substrate (what we usually refer to as a 90% water change) and then refill with conditioned, temp-matched tap water (the tap water will refresh some of the trace Calcium and Iron the bacteria can use) and bringing it back to 84F/29C. Be sure to recharge the ammonia to 4ppm (or whatever level you are working with at the moment) and to put in the teaspoon or so of bicarb. Actually, some of the posts in the last few months have also got me thinking I would also add the tinyest bit, a flake or two of fishfood along with the usual ammonia.

~~waterdrop~~

Is a Ph of 7.6 be okay for keeping Guppies? Weekly 30% water changes should keep the Ph roughly at that level, How important is Ph with Guppys? Thanks

#19 waterdrop

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 09:45 PM

A pH of 7.6 sounds fine for guppies, in my un-expert opinion. They like harder water and usually a pH closer to eight than to seven indicates that may be the case. Also, the most important thing for fish is that the hardness be "stable" rather than be a particular number.

Its also important to not confuse your water during fishless cycling with your water later with fish. The chemistry of the two types of tanks can be totally different and while you are fishless cycling you should regard your water as a "bacterial growing soup" and not expect any readings to be telling you anything about what your eventual water will be like for fish. Does that make sense?

~~waterdrop~~

#20 craigieboy01

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 04:17 PM

A pH of 7.6 sounds fine for guppies, in my un-expert opinion. They like harder water and usually a pH closer to eight than to seven indicates that may be the case. Also, the most important thing for fish is that the hardness be "stable" rather than be a particular number.

Its also important to not confuse your water during fishless cycling with your water later with fish. The chemistry of the two types of tanks can be totally different and while you are fishless cycling you should regard your water as a "bacterial growing soup" and not expect any readings to be telling you anything about what your eventual water will be like for fish. Does that make sense?

~~waterdrop~~

Yes it makes sense, i just wish this cycle would hurry up, haha :good:

#21 OldMan47

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 02:50 AM

There is no reason to worry about the pH of a tank that is over a pH of 7.0 As long as you are in that range, the pH is high enough for a reasonable fishless cycle and you can proceed with very few restraints to your cycle. Once you get a cycled tank, a reasonably stable pH above 7.0 and better yet above 7.5 will be fine for the commonly available livebearers. This includes guppies, swordtails, platies and mollies. I could add to the group by saying goodeids and Limias, but they are less likely to show up in your local fish store. Yes I am a livebearer fanatic enthusiast that has a bit of experience about how easy a livebearer is to keep in high pH and and high mineral content water.

#22 craigieboy01

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 05:41 PM

There is no reason to worry about the pH of a tank that is over a pH of 7.0 As long as you are in that range, the pH is high enough for a reasonable fishless cycle and you can proceed with very few restraints to your cycle. Once you get a cycled tank, a reasonably stable pH above 7.0 and better yet above 7.5 will be fine for the commonly available livebearers. This includes guppies, swordtails, platies and mollies. I could add to the group by saying goodeids and Limias, but they are less likely to show up in your local fish store. Yes I am a livebearer fanatic enthusiast that has a bit of experience about how easy a livebearer is to keep in high pH and and high mineral content water.

Hi Oldman47, So when my tank is cycled and planted up and decorated my tap water is 7.6, do you think my Ph should stay at that with weekly water changes? :good:

#23 OldMan47

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 02:51 AM

A pH of around 7.8 to 8.2 is end the result when you use huge amounts of bicarbonate in your tank. I find that I can easily keep my easier fish at less than a content of7.8 pH IN MY tanksd.

#24 craigieboy01

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 04:13 PM

A pH of around 7.8 to 8.2 is end the result when you use huge amounts of bicarbonate in your tank. I find that I can easily keep my easier fish at less than a content of7.8 pH IN MY tanksd.

Hi Oldman47, Can you use Bicarbonate to lift your Ph when you have fish in the Tank? :good:

#25 waterdrop

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 04:23 PM

NO, bicarbonate is NOT the method of choice for raising mineral content and pH when fish are in the tank. If you -must- do it then using crushed coral (CC) in a mesh bag in the filter is the method of choice. If you want to read lots of details on that topic there's an article I wrote along with drobbyb and I think he may have a link to it in his sig - you could find his id with a search I think.

~~waterdrop~~

#26 OldMan47

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 10:59 PM

B icarb is too fast acting for me to be comfortable using it in an occupied tank. For that circumstance, you use the calcium carbonate approach with the most common forms being crushed shell or crushed coral. WD and another member here put together a decent thread that describes it. I have a link to their thread in my signature area that I have marked as pH Problems.

#27 craigieboy01

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 05:28 PM

Thanks for the help everyone, off to the big apple in the morning, so hopefully when i get back my tank will be ready to get stocked. :good:




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