ADA Amazonia.

Anna1234

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Hi there, sorry if there is another thread with something similar to this, just couldn't find much exactly like this.
As everyone knows, Amazonia substrate has lowered my ph down to 6.6, possibly 6.4. The problem is my tap water measures at a ph of 7.2, even after sitting for 24 hours, the ph doesn't shift, I've never had issues with ph until I added this substrate. I know it does it for a reason and also lowers the kh, my kh is at 1 in the tank but 3 for my tap water. Anyway, my fish show signs of stress when I do water changes, and the ph automatically raises to 7.2, but by the next morning its a 6.4 and can sometimes go to 6. Its a big swing, so I was wondering if adding something like texas holey rock to the tank as an ornament would help. I know its raises the ph and kh, so if I get a small enough piece will it help raise it just enough and keep it steady for water changes?
I have one medium sized angelfish and 4 female swordtails. I also have about 5 small foxtail plants that grow really well, even in my old tank where the ph was always at 7.2 and the kh was at a steady 3.
I can't get my hands on crushed coral and I really like the look of texas holey rock. Thanks in advance for any advice
 

essjay

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I presume you want to raise KH and pH in the tank?

Texas holey rock appears to be calcium carbonate which will slowly dissolve adding calcium and carbonate to the water. This will increase GH, KH and pH.
 

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There is no problem here, and I would not recommend doing anything to increase GH/KH/pH. That will only make matters far worse.

First, the low KH is why the pH is naturally going to lower in the aquarium. The substrate might factor in, but probably not much if at all. As organics accumulate, they are broken down by bacteria (decomposition) and this produces CO2. The CO2 produces carbonic acid, which lowers the pH. The buffering capacity (GH and especially KH) is very low, so it will be exhausted fairly quickly. Once this occurs, over a few weeks, the pH will become stable for the biological system. It should be left alone.

Once you start messing with the chemistry by adding so-called "buffering" agents, you are interfering in the natural laws of chemistry, and in an aquatic environment this can have far-reaching consequences. The fish mentioned are fine with softer and more acidic water, so there is no need to consider keeping the pH above 7 anyway. If this were a tank of harder water species, that would require intervention, but not here.

With respect to the pH fluctuation, this is not going to harm anything. I have tanks with a pH of 5 (or lower), and my tap water is pH 7.0 and I change 70-80% every week at one go. The few times I have tested pH it has risen into the 6's and then back down again by next morning. This has been occurring for 18 years now, ever since they began adding soda ash to raise the pH of my tap water.
 

seangee

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How much water do you change and how often?
The dropping KH suggests that something in the tank is causing the pH to lower, this could be something in the substrate or just natural biological processes. And you don't have much KH to play with. The key to managing this is regular and substantial water changes. My tank pH is around 5.3 with my source water at 7 - KH is 0. I change water exactly as @Byron does with no issues. But I do need to do this. Without those water changes the pH would continue to drop and if I ever had to do an emergency change the differential would be too high for the fish to manage.

I don't actually test pH before and after every change simply because none of the usual testers go that low. I make the assumption of 5.3 because I once borrowed a digital tester out of curiosity and that was the reading it gave.

What is the GH of your water? The angel is fine with low KH, GH and pH, but if your GH is low too this could be a problem for your swordtails. with the low pH and KH you would typically expect the GH to be low too - but this is not always a valid assumption.
 

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I really must read posts more carefully, sorry. I missed the swordtails. This is not good. What is the GH? We go from GH when it comes to soft/hard water fish.
 
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Anna1234

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I really must read posts more carefully, sorry. I missed the swordtails. This is not good. What is the GH? We go from GH when it comes to soft/hard water fish.
My kh is 1 in my tank and my gh is about 3-4. That's using the api gh kh test kit, I've spoken to other people on forums about this topic and was told amazonia is made to make the kh nice and low so the ph can sit at 6.6 or 6.4. And was just wonderimg what to do because i know angelfish can be kept at lower phs but my girl doesn't seem to enjoy when I do water changes and I thought the sudden shift in ph would be causing it. I change about 25-50% water every week, depending on how much waste is on the substrate.
I didn't really want to mess with the water too much and thought that adding something would make it more permanent then just using other buffers, which I don't use anyway.
I know that ph changes don't seem like much to worry about, but it just worries me a little because it's never changed before and I figured it could be doing more harm than good to my swordtails, and even my angel because she is very finicky. If it is an issue I am thinking of possibly changing the substarte all together.
 

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A few basics to explain. First is that the GH is significant for fish. GH is the measure of dissolved calcium and magnesium (basically these two) minerals in the water. It does not change much (if at all) in the aquarium, so whatever it is in the source water will be what it remains. You can increase GH, I'll come back to this.

Second point is that all freshwater fish have evolved over thousands of years to function within fairly specific parameters. For our purposes, we can consider those fish species that require moderately hard or harder water, those species requiring fairly soft water, and those species that are somewhat in between. Water is continually entering fish through every cell via osmosis, and it passes through the kidneys which is where the fish utilizes it according to the species. Hard water species includes the livebearers, and these are designed to assimilate calcium (primarily) from the water via the kidneys. When the water they live in is too soft, they cannot function properly and they slowly weaken and die; usually they contract something along the way (because their immune system is also being severely weakened) so we may tend to think they died of "x" but5 the real cause was the effect over time of the soft water. Soft water fish have the opposite problem; in hard water the kidneys absorb the minerals (calcium particularly) and this slowly blocks the kidneys, and the fish dies. So matching the water GH to the fish is very important.

Your water is soft, actually very soft, at 3-4 dGH. This is the real issue; the pH tends to follow the GH so to increase pH you also need to increase GH because the GH is the real issue for the fish. You can do this in a couple of ways, but it is not as simple as it sounds. This means having to prepare the water for every water change outside the aquarium, so when added it balances the tank water the fish are living in. I have had to do this once, and I would not choose it again. Selecting fish suited to your source water makes water changes very simple, and the fish will be healthy.

The substrate is not really doing much in all this, becauswe the GH and KH and pH of your tap water are low and this is the issue. Your swordtails will not be healthy in this soft water.
 

seangee

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How long have you had this soil? I just googled it and it appears that it does contain acidic substances so will lower your pH, and consequently KH. The stated magic ingredient is humic acid, essentially rotting vegetation. Somewhat disturbingly every review that I found reports significant ammonia spikes when it is new. If your fish are showing signs of distress it may be that ammonia is being released into the water column, either when you vacuum, or simply because it is disturbed when new water is poured into the tank.
 
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Anna1234

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A few basics to explain. First is that the GH is significant for fish. GH is the measure of dissolved calcium and magnesium (basically these two) minerals in the water. It does not change much (if at all) in the aquarium, so whatever it is in the source water will be what it remains. You can increase GH, I'll come back to this.

Second point is that all freshwater fish have evolved over thousands of years to function within fairly specific parameters. For our purposes, we can consider those fish species that require moderately hard or harder water, those species requiring fairly soft water, and those species that are somewhat in between. Water is continually entering fish through every cell via osmosis, and it passes through the kidneys which is where the fish utilizes it according to the species. Hard water species includes the livebearers, and these are designed to assimilate calcium (primarily) from the water via the kidneys. When the water they live in is too soft, they cannot function properly and they slowly weaken and die; usually they contract something along the way (because their immune system is also being severely weakened) so we may tend to think they died of "x" but5 the real cause was the effect over time of the soft water. Soft water fish have the opposite problem; in hard water the kidneys absorb the minerals (calcium particularly) and this slowly blocks the kidneys, and the fish dies. So matching the water GH to the fish is very important.

Your water is soft, actually very soft, at 3-4 dGH. This is the real issue; the pH tends to follow the GH so to increase pH you also need to increase GH because the GH is the real issue for the fish. You can do this in a couple of ways, but it is not as simple as it sounds. This means having to prepare the water for every water change outside the aquarium, so when added it balances the tank water the fish are living in. I have had to do this once, and I would not choose it again. Selecting fish suited to your source water makes water changes very simple, and the fish will be healthy.

The substrate is not really doing much in all this, becauswe the GH and KH and pH of your tap water are low and this is the issue. Your swordtails will not be healthy in this soft water.
Ok then, I think that makes sense, sorry I've been given a lot of info over the last two weeks about this. My tap water ever after 24 hours has a ph of 7.2, gh of 3-4 and kh of 3. My kh is the only thing that changes in my tank, and sorry if it seems like I'm repeating myself, just keep losing my train of thought. Is there a certain way I can fix this? I've never had this problem before as I had gravel in my last tank and I'm just really worried about my fish's well-being as I don't really like the idea of constant fluctuations.
 
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Anna1234

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How long have you had this soil? I just googled it and it appears that it does contain acidic substances so will lower your pH, and consequently KH. The stated magic ingredient is humic acid, essentially rotting vegetation. Somewhat disturbingly every review that I found reports significant ammonia spikes when it is new. If your fish are showing signs of distress it may be that ammonia is being released into the water column, either when you vacuum, or simply because it is disturbed when new water is poured into the tank.
I've had it in there for about 2 and a half weeks, I've been testing for ammonia lots to make sure its not getting out of hand, because I also read saying that the ammonia levels will spike around 2-3 weeks in the tank, I had an established filter from my old tank and I had no option but to do a fish in cycle as I still live with my parents who think fish keeping is a waste of money, and I'd never be allowed to run two tanks, especially running an empty tank for 4 weeks. Everyone else ive asked and even amazonias website says it lowers the kh to lower the ph, but i understand that regardless my levels in my tap water are not necessarily high enough either. I'm just kind of a lazy fish keeper, only because if I fiddle with it too much my parents annoy me about spending too much and doing too much to it, that's also why I don't like the idea of fluctuations, because the more I have to fiddle with it the more I get annoyed about it.
I know it sounds silly, but would it be easier for me just to change the substrate to something that won't bother my levels instead? Just so I don't have to deal with constant fluctuations during water changes? ThenThen
 

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The substrate itself is not really the issue here, it is the source water. Having said that, I do not know what the result might be with this substrate if you were to increase the GH/KH/pH. You might be fighting against your attempts.

It is your decision because it is your aquarium. You have three choices.

1. Get rid of the livebearers and select fish that will thrive in your water. This solves all problems. The substrate will do its thing and the fish will relish it.

2. If you want to maintain livebearers only, Increase the GH/KH/pH of the water. One way is by using mineral salts mixed in the water for each water change. Rift lake mineral salts are one type, they are primarily calcium and magnesium which is the issue here. You need to prepare the water outside the aquarium for each water change. This is extra work. Emergency water changes will be more involved because of this. And over time it is expensive. The unknown here is what the substrate may do with this approach, and I have no idea.

3. Also for livebearers, this is the second way to deal with increasing GH/KH/pH, and that is to tear the tank down and remove the existing substrate, and add one composed of calcareous sand. You can buy marine and rift lake sands for this. You want one that increases calcium and magnesium, not all do; crushed coral for example has no magnesium.

On the existing substrate, ammonia is a frequent problem with some of these, one reason I have never used them.

As I say, it is your call. But to be honest, getting rid of the livebearers and selecting soft water fish solves all problems and is less expensive long-term as you can use the tap water.
 

seangee

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I still think the distress is likely ammonia.
In terms of livebearers I think @Byron is absolutely right. Personally I would discount option 2 because of the unknown. You would have 2 substances which are each trying to achieve the opposite thing and working against each other.And if you manage to get it right for the livebearers it will be wrong for the angel. Option 3 is viable, but that would create an unhealthy environment for the angelfish, so you would still have to make a choice about keeping some and removing others. Which brings us back to option 1 being the easiest and least expensive.
 
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Anna1234

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The substrate itself is not really the issue here, it is the source water. Having said that, I do not know what the result might be with this substrate if you were to increase the GH/KH/pH. You might be fighting against your attempts.

It is your decision because it is your aquarium. You have three choices.

1. Get rid of the livebearers and select fish that will thrive in your water. This solves all problems. The substrate will do its thing and the fish will relish it.

2. If you want to maintain livebearers only, Increase the GH/KH/pH of the water. One way is by using mineral salts mixed in the water for each water change. Rift lake mineral salts are one type, they are primarily calcium and magnesium which is the issue here. You need to prepare the water outside the aquarium for each water change. This is extra work. Emergency water changes will be more involved because of this. And over time it is expensive. The unknown here is what the substrate may do with this approach, and I have no idea.

3. Also for livebearers, this is the second way to deal with increasing GH/KH/pH, and that is to tear the tank down and remove the existing substrate, and add one composed of calcareous sand. You can buy marine and rift lake sands for this. You want one that increases calcium and magnesium, not all do; crushed coral for example has no magnesium.

On the existing substrate, ammonia is a frequent problem with some of these, one reason I have never used them.

As I say, it is your call. But to be honest, getting rid of the livebearers and selecting soft water fish solves all problems and is less expensive long-term as you can use the tap water.
I don't know what to do now, I don't necessarily feel like getting rid of any of my fish, I'm happy to change the substrate because I didnt do my research before buying this one and thats kinda where the problems started, I have some aquasonic tropical conditioning salts, it says it raises gh but not kh. I'm unsure what to do now.
Thank you for all your advice, I will try to work through it and see what conclusion I can come to with this. Are there any recommendations you have as far as a decent substrate that contains those certain things goes? And could I mix it with other substrate or will it have to be a use on its own type?
 

Byron

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I don't know what to do now, I don't necessarily feel like getting rid of any of my fish, I'm happy to change the substrate because I didnt do my research before buying this one and thats kinda where the problems started, I have some aquasonic tropical conditioning salts, it says it raises gh but not kh. I'm unsure what to do now.
Thank you for all your advice, I will try to work through it and see what conclusion I can come to with this. Are there any recommendations you have as far as a decent substrate that contains those certain things goes? And could I mix it with other substrate or will it have to be a use on its own type?
I used dolomite substrate back in the 1980's but I do not think they still make these. Other members may have options, this is something I did back then and decided it was way too much work, so I have since then only maintained soft water fish.

When I said get rid of the livebearers, I meant maybe a store will take them, or another aquarist. There are lots of lovely soft water fish out there.
 

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