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Cycling Questions

Discussion in 'Cycle your Tank' started by Silencedogood, Jan 14, 2019.

  1. Silencedogood

    Silencedogood Fish Fanatic

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    Hi all-
    I have a 30 gal tank that has been running for roughly 4 wks. I had added 3 platies, 1 neon tetra, and a mystery snail after 2 wks of cycling. I've had the nitrites go up to 1 ppm and now they are down to 0.5 ppm and the nitrates are finally up to 10 ppm. I've had a problem with the ph- one day its 7.2 the next day its all the way down to 6.0. Even with adding ph up, it still fluctuates a lot. ( This tank was established for seven years before I broke it down because of a bad case of ick. I have the old filters in this tank; not sure if that makes a difference. Also, before I broke the tank down, I had the same ph problems. The water I add into the tank has a ph of 7.4.)

    I'm not sure what water parameters I should have in a fully cycled tank. And is it safe for the fish in the tank? My QT tank is not fully cycled, either and I have my pleco in there.

    Thank You.

     
  2. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    If you can contact your water supply company (via website or telephone), they should be able to tell you what the general hardness (GH) and carbonate hardness (KH) is.

    My guess is the water is very soft and doesn't have many, if any minerals in and this is why the pH is dropping rapidly. Pure water like rain water, distilled water, reverse osmosis (R/O) water has no minerals in it and has a pH of 7.0. When something acidic is added to pure water the pH drops below 7.0. If you have minerals like calcium in the water, the acids are neutralised by the calcium and the pH doesn't drop as quickly.

    If you add a small piece of limestone, dead coral skeleton, some shells or dead coral rubble to the tank, they will help to neutralise the nitric acid produced by the fish food and waste and the pH will remain more stable.

    You want to know the GH because platies need a GH above 200ppm. If the water is too soft they won't do very well. If the GH is very hard (GH above 250ppm), the platies will be fine but the neons won't do well. This is because neon tetras naturally occur in water with a GH below 100ppm and a pH below 7.0, whereas the platies naturally occur in water with a GH above 200ppm and a pH above 7.0.

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    If your tank has not cycled yet, reduce feeding to 2-3 times per week and do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate 4-8 hours after feeding. And do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate any day you have an ammonia or nitrite reading above 0.

    Do not get any more fish until the filters have cycled and you know what the GH is.

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    White spot is easy to treat. The safest method is to raise the water temperature to 30C (86F) and keep it there for 2 weeks.

    There is more info about white spot at the following link. The first post on page 1 and second post on page 2 are worth reading.
    http://www.fishforums.net/threads/what-is-ich.7092/
     
  3. Silencedogood

    Silencedogood Fish Fanatic

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    Yeah, the GH is 75 ppm and has been for 2 wks and I'm not sure how to get it up.
     
  4. Silencedogood

    Silencedogood Fish Fanatic

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    My neon tetra is thriving, but the platys aren't doing as well. I know that ppl keep platys and tetras together, but what are the necessary water parameters for them to thrive together?
     
  5. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    The only way to increase the GH is to add mineral salts like a Rift Lake conditioner at about 1/3 - 1/2 strength. This will also raise the pH, GH and KH (carbonate hardness).

    People shouldn't really keep livebearers and tetras together because they come from environments with significantly different chemistry. If you get the GH to about 180ppm it will be borderline for the tetras and they will be near their maximum limit for GH, and the livebearers will be at the very lowest limit for their GH.

    Your water is too soft for livebearers so you should either look at keeping soft water fishes like tetras, barbs, gouramis and most common catfish, or you get rid of the neon and add mineral salts (rift lake conditioner) to increase the GH, and keep the livebearers.
     
  6. Silencedogood

    Silencedogood Fish Fanatic

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    Seems like the only way...too bad. But are salts safe for snails? And if I add live plants, will that help the ph?
     
  7. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    Live plants won't make any difference to the pH.

    The Rift Lake water condition is safe for fish that naturally occur in hard water and is fine for snails. The snails actually do better in tanks with minerals because they use the calcium to build their shells.

    The salts in the Rift Lake conditioner are not the same salt that you sprinkle on chips. That is sodium chloride and is often sold as aquarium salt, swimming pool salt or rock salt. Sodium chloride will harm most fish that come from soft water because it damages the fish's kidneys it they are exposed to it for too long, or if the sodium chloride level is too high.

    The main ingredients in Rift Lake conditioner is calcium & magnesium chloride, and calcium & magnesium carbonates/ bicarbonates. There are other minerals in it too but the main ones are calcium and magnesium. These minerals are naturally found in hard water and do not affect the fish in the same way sodium chloride does. Having said that, fish that naturally occur in soft water, have not evolved to live in hard water and can have problems with calcium build up in their bodies if they are kept in water containing lots of minerals.

    Most Rift Lake conditioners will increase the GH by about 400ppm so you would use it at 1/2 to 2/3 strength for livebearers so the GH is between 200 & 300ppm. The Rift Lake conditioner will also push your pH and KH up, which is fine for livebearers assuming there is no ammonia in the water. Ammonia is very toxic in water with a pH above 7.0. So if you plan on keeping livebearers and adding Rift lake conditioner, wait until the tank and filter have cycled and then increase the GH and pH.
     
  8. Silencedogood

    Silencedogood Fish Fanatic

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    Are neon tetras sensitive to aquarium salt? I was just about to add some in at half dose. My ph is REALLY low; right now its 6.4ish. And that's with adding ph up.
     
  9. Silencedogood

    Silencedogood Fish Fanatic

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    But a few days ago the ph was below 6.0.
     
  10. Silencedogood

    Silencedogood Fish Fanatic

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    Could the ph keep dropping because my water is fairly soft? If I can get the gh up, will the ph stabilize?
     
  11. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    Aquarium salt is sodium chloride that will harm soft water fishes like neon tetras.

    You only add salt (sodium chloride) to an aquarium if the fish have an illness that can be treated with salt. You do not add salt as a preventative measure.

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    The pH can continue to drop if there is nothing to buffer it. You need to add something to increase the GH or KH and that will stabilise the pH.

    If the pH is dropping then add a small piece of limestone, sand stone, some shells or coral rubble.
     
  12. Silencedogood

    Silencedogood Fish Fanatic

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    Where can I get limestone?

    Is this a 'problem' or am I overthinking things:)
     
  13. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    You don't want pH fluctuations for any fish because it can cause acidosis or alkalosis or even kill them.

    Limestone should be available from any pet shop. They sell it for marine tanks or African Rift Lake cichlid tanks. you can find it at most beaches too. It's the smooth white rocks that make up limestone cliffs and are regularly found in the ocean.

    Pet shops also sell coral rubble for marine tanks and that can be used instead of limestone.

    You can also use shells that get sold to go on the bottom of a bird cage. Avoid shells that have been lacquered and get sold for tourist mementos.

    You don't need much of this stuff. A small handful in the filter or just sitting in the tank will usually stabilise a small tank. If the pH continues to drop rapidly after you have added some, add a bit more.
     
  14. Silencedogood

    Silencedogood Fish Fanatic

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    Will the ph stabilize if I leave it alone or is it necessary to intervene? When the tank fully cycles will the ph stop fluctuating?
     
  15. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    No, the pH will not stabilise if there is nothing in the water to buffer the acids. The pH will continue to drop even after the filters have cycled if there is nothing to neutralise the acids in the water.
     

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