CO2 and Ph

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dR3ws3r

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I actually talked a person at my local water authority today. My area is very prone to large shifts in water as there are several different sources, and contractually my local water authority must purchase a certain quantity of city water from the city source daily and then they pump the remainder from the local source. The City source is PH up near 8, and has almost 100 ppm of kh, whereas the local source which I seem to be getting most of my water from lately is less than 20 ppm kh, and closer to 7.2 ph out of the tap (which becomes 6.5 after sitting out). He said the local water authority does not use chloramines or phosphate for anti-corrosion, so I have that going for me I guess, but I will probably never have a stable source of tap water.
 

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Thatpage you linked to is generally old advice but it could cause you problems. Its old advise that goes back decades and it isn't the best way to control PH. Generally in sreams and rivers most of the KH comes from magnesium and calcium carbonate. They dissolve when the PH is below 7and precipitate out at a PH above 7. So if your acidity is from CO2 they will dissolve and in the process push the PH up to 7. Once it is at 7 or above it will precipitate out and not push the PH higher. However if you have a sulfate or some other acid the carbonate will react to it making it non acidic. Soagain thePHwill not go above 7..

However no fertilizer or GH booster contains calcium or magnesium carbonate. Instead they have potassium or sodium bicarbonate. These are always soluble in water and as a result they can push thePH above 7 or 8 if you have enough in the water. Tese will neutralize acids like calcium and magnesium carbonate but not provide the level of PH control of calcium or magnesium. Additionally animals prefer water with some sodium and potassium. But if you just have one like potassium the fish could be sick or even die. If you have too much sodium the same will happen. Tap water typically has sodium and you are dosing potassium with your fertilizer. SO IF you use a KH booster (which are typically potassium bicarbonate) you could fill or shorten the life of your fish. I have seen a post were the cause of nerve snail death was from a KH booster.

So preferably you want calcium magnesium carbonate but given the difficulty in dissolving it a sea shell, crushed coral , limestone are your best choice. Yes your KH test may not detect much but you generally don't need much to keep the PH stable. Solid Calcium and magnesium carbonate will work very well at controlling your PH and all you have to do is to periodically verify it hasn't eroded away. and add more if necessary.
 

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I actually talked a person at my local water authority today. My area is very prone to large shifts in water as there are several different sources,
If you go to google and type "water quality report and your location You should find a link from your city or water utility that may provide very useful data. Your situation sounds a lot like California. My utility gets it's water from the mountains, som local reservoirs, ground Water, and some RO. In wet years much of our water comes from the snow and rain runoff in the mountains and local sources. But in the dry years it is mostly ground water and some RO.
 
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I thought I had my ph pretty stable between 5.8 and 6.0 for about 4 days, but today I cleaned my fluval filter and all of a sudden my ph is balooning up. From like 6.0 to 6.9 in the course of an hour. I replaced the charcoal, phosphate and ammonia filters. Is there something that could be causing ph to go up that I am missing?
 

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I replaced the charcoal, phosphate and ammonia filters. Is there something that could be causing ph to go up that I am missing?
Why are you using a Phosphate filter? How often do you change it? What are your phosphate levels?.

Generally you don't want a phosphate filter in a planted tanks. Plants need phosphate. Phosphate filters can be very effective at removing phosphate. And if you have no phosphate your plants will not grow. Early on in my tank I determined my plants were not growing due to a nitrogen deficiency. Without the nitrogen. Without plant growth phosphates were building up to high levels. It was over 30ppm the first time I measured phosphate. And a water change only provided temporary relief. So I added nitrogen and phosphate levels started to come down. So I added more nitrate. Phosphate levels started come down rapidly as the plants started to grow. And for about a day my PH and KH made some wirld swings But once most of the phosphate was consumed thePH and KH values stabilized. This was years ago and I don't remember the PH and KH values I had.

IF your phosphate filter was full of phosphate levels in your water may have climbed and then when you replaced the filter they rapidly fell. IN my planted tank I now dose phosphate to about 1 to 2 ppm in my tank.

I would advise you remove the phosphate filter and look into getting a phosphate test kit. API has one but it doesn't have good resolution. You don't want phosphate levels below 0.5ppm. The best one on the market is the Hanna instruments HI717. It is a bit pricy at $50 but it digital reader can measure phosphate from 0ppm to 30ppm with a resolution of 0.1ppm.They have a low rand and ultra low ranger versions but for a planted tank the standard rand HI717 is the best choice.

Later once your tank is stable we can think about removing your ammonia filter. Growing plants are very good at consuming ammonia.
 
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Hi Steven,

I really do appreciate you taking the time to respond. I like to learn, and having someone to give me info or suggestions is great!

So to answer your question about phosphates, as my tank is new-ish and the fish aren't really thriving yet the feeding is a bit difficult. I usually get into the habit of turning off my filter and then feeding some food. As the fish are sometimes hiding I believe a lot of the food falls to the bottom, and with no catfish, I kind of envision too much food build up. Things have been better lately as when I turn off the filter and approach the tank it seems that the fish are starting to learn that it is feeding time and will at least come out and eat. The neons tend to feed in the middle of the water column so they tend to ignore the food on the surface and what falls down to the bottom. Anyway, like you said, I did the phosphate test and even with my wife to look at the color chart with me, I was guessing my values were in the 0.25 - 0.5 range. So when I finally got around to doing my first fluval canister filter cleaning, I ordered a bunch of filters that they had like carbon, ammonia, and phosphate. I was just naive enough to believe that phosphates are not great in the aquarium and wanted to remove them. With there being excess food laying around, I thought getting phosphates out would be a good thing. I tried feeding frozen daphnia, and they weren't very interested, but seem more excited about crushed up flake food. As there are only 5 of them now, I usually just crumble up half a flake or so, so that there isn't too much wasted.

So since I changed the filter, my PH fluctuations have changed, not in amplitude, but around a different average. So for the week before I cleaned the filter, the ph would go from 5.8 to 6.1 and back again during the light cycle and dark cycle. After the filter change my PH now goes from 6.7 - 7.0 during the day and 7.0 - 6.7 during the non-lighted period. So I still get a 0.25 - 0.3 change daily but now it is at a slightly higher PH. KH is still between 0-1 and GH is still around 4-5.

Interesting that you mentioned the Phosphate tester as I had ordered that very same one a few hours before you posted that. The remaining 5 neons are still alive. They seem to eat when food is around. They do seem to hide low in the tank in the tall plants at times, which I don't think is a sign of things being good condition for them, but it is hard to tell. The otto's just seem to do their thing and never seem bothered by anything and the 3-4 amano shrimp I have just go about their business. I run my lights from 2-10pm EST, and run an airstone from 10-2 (when the lights are off)

After cutting off the CO2 injection, I've started to get a lot of hair algae. The otto's don't seem to be messing with it much, so I was thinking about what I should start changing and observing to try to get it under control. I have a Kessil 160 tuna sun that I put on for 8 hours total a day with a 1 hour increase to 80% intensity to start and 1 hour decrease at the end of the cycle to dark. I was thinking about maybe lowering the peak intensity. Currently I am only dosing with flourish at the recommended level once a week at best. So I'm not sure if the abundance of nutrients is the problem. The plants are starting to change to smaller leaf size with less growth as I would expect from the changes in CO2. I'm considering passive CO2 now, but I wanted to think about it a little more for now. I'm kind of wondering how much improvement I would see in plant growth with passive CO2 versus doing nothing.

Thanks again for your thought/information.

Drew
 

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Interesting that you mentioned the Phosphate tester as I had ordered that very same one a few hours before you posted that.
I have the low range version but I wish I had the normal range. They also have a very good alkalinity (KH) checker I also have t the ammonia checker but once I figured out my fertilizers I don't use it much now.
 
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I ordered the Alkalinity checker on the 24th of March, but apparently it is on backorder.
 

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After cutting off the CO2 injection, I've started to get a lot of hair algae. The otto's don't seem to be messing with it much, so I was thinking about what I should start changing and observing to try to get it under control. I have a Kessil 160 tuna sun that I put on for 8 hours total a day with a 1 hour increase to 80% intensity to start and 1 hour decrease at the end of the cycle to dark. I was thinking about maybe lowering the peak intensity. Currently I am only dosing with flourish at the recommended level once a week at best. So I'm not sure if the abundance of nutrients is the problem. The plants are starting to change to smaller leaf size with less growth as I would expect from the changes in CO2. I'm considering passive CO2 now, but I wanted to think about it a little more for now. I'm kind of wondering how much improvement I would see in plant growth with passive CO2 versus doing nothing.
For algae keep in mind it is single cell organism. If you have one algae cell it can grow and fillthe tank. The nutrient needs of algae and plants are dependent on size and mass. So a large plant is going to need more nutrients. A small plant like DuckWeed needs a lot less. A single algae celll of algae will occupy about 10 micro liters of volume ).000010 liters So algae need almost no nutrients to survive. If you have water with a total dissolved solids reading of only 1 Part Per Billion all standard aquarium test will read zero and yet there still is enough in the water for it to grow. Plants will not grow at that level. So no mater what you do you will have enough nutrients in your tank for algae to grow. The most common cause of algae issues in a planted tank are nutrients deficiencies. So if you are short on one nutrient ,(such as phosphate, your plants won't grow and other nutrients from your fertilizer and fish will start to build up. end result is Algae will have all that it needs to grow while that plants can grow. Now for some unknown reason when plants do well generally algae doesn't. No one knows whey.

Your problems right now, including algae are probably all from nutrient deficiencies. Flourish comprehensive in my experience not a good fertilizer. i. It really doesn't have enough calcium, magneisum, zinc, copper, and molybdenum and nickel in it for plants to do well. It relies on your tap water having those nutrients. I did use it in the past but most of the time my plants wouldn't grow. The main reason of this was because I am using RO water. RO water is very pure and as a result Ihad multiple deficiency issues. I tried several different fetilizerzs in my tank and none would work. I eventually had to make my own fertilizer to resolve my issue. So we need to figure out how to fertilize your tank. But for that It would be helpful to know were you live. Otherwise what I recommend might not be available to you. Also would be helpful to know what the GH of your water is and if possible we need to get your water quality report.
 
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dR3ws3r

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Well it has been about a week. I had an Otto pass away last night. I have no idea why. They have seemed to live through all the ph swings, and seemed to be happy doing their own thing, but I woke up this morning and one was gone.

I decided to test my water this morning:
ph -6.7
kh - 20 ppm (hanna tester), down from 30 ppm last week
ammonia - 0.25
nitrite - 0
nitrate - 0

I'm still having hair algae issues and bought a few more amano shrimp to help while I try and figure things out.

1. So since there was some measurable ammonia, I tried to understand what that means. I did add 3/4 root tabs over the weekend, which I've read can cause ammonia spikes. I tried to learn what any of this means. Apparently there is NH4 and NH3, and the API test gives you a sum total. If I understand what I read correctly, then it shouldn't be a concern for me as my ph is below 7, and the calculator I saw online had my NH3 (bad ammonia) at 0.0007 ppm. Does this seem correct? I see that there is a Hanna low ammonia checker that specifically says it checks for NH+3. I guess this is what I would want, as NH4 isn't typically a concern?

2. I know that the API test for nitrate requires a lot of bottle shaking and such, but I am pretty sure I followed the directions exactly, but my nitrates continue to read 0. I know that for some people this is the far better end of the spectrum, but I'm thinking that this isn't very good for my plants. Does anyone know if there is a better tester out there to confirm what I am seeing, and what I can do to raise my nitrates just a small amount to get to a minimum of 5 ppm. I see that there are Hanna checkers for nitrates, but they all seem to be for Marine environments. Most of my plants seem ok except for the Crypto's which have some yellow leaves. After greatly reducing my CO2 injection, they aren't growing nearly as quickly.

My water from the tap continues to change. My slightly basic, slightly alkaline water from a week ago, is back to being soft, and acidic.

Any thoughts on how to tell what minerals or nutrients my plants could be missing, that is aiding in the hair algae growth? There doesn't really seem to be testers/checkers for a lot of them. I could be persuaded to believe the lack of nitrates in the aquarium is one issue.

Any thought or ideas are appreciated.

Thanks,

Drew
 

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The ammonia could be from the dead Otocinclus.

Ammonia is toxic in water with a pH above 7.0 and significantly less toxic in water with a pH below 7.0.

0.25ppm of ammonia in water with a pH of 6.7 is not going to kill fish.

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Cryptocorynes suffer from root rot where the rhizome is damaged and allows fungus in. This causes the rhizome to rot and the plant dies over a period of time even though other plants around it are doing well.

Some crypts are grown out of water in hydroponic systems. These plants have wet roots but dry leaves. When put underwater, the terrestrial leaves will rot and new aquatic leaves will grow in their place.
 

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1. So since there was some measurable ammonia, I tried to understand what that means. I did add 3/4 root tabs over the weekend, which I've read can cause ammonia spikes. I tried to learn what any of this means. Apparently there is NH4 and NH3, and the API test gives you a sum total. If I understand what I read correctly, then it shouldn't be a concern for me as my ph is below 7, and the calculator I saw online had my NH3 (bad ammonia) at 0.0007 ppm. Does this seem correct? I see that there is a Hanna low ammonia checker that specifically says it checks for NH+3. I guess this is what I would want, as NH4 isn't typically a concern?

Some root tabs contain ammonia nitrate and ammoniaa sulfate becuse they are made from garden fertilize. These may show up in a ammonia test. The ammonia test results don't agree with the calculator. I would not trust any calculator and just trust the test kit.
2. I know that the API test for nitrate requires a lot of bottle shaking and such, but I am pretty sure I followed the directions exactly, but my nitrates continue to read 0. I know that for some people this is the far better end of the spectrum, but I'm thinking that this isn't very good for my plants. Does anyone know if there is a better tester out there to confirm what I am seeing, and what I can do to raise my nitrates just a small amount to get to a minimum of 5 ppm. I see that there are Hanna checkers for nitrates, but they all seem to be for Marine environments. Most of my plants seem ok except for the Crypto's which have some yellow leaves. After greatly reducing my CO2 injection, they aren't growing nearly
Plants can use amino acids, ammonia, urea, nitrite, and nitrate. Havin 0 Ammia, nitrite and ntrate is not good for plants Yes keeping a small amount of nitrate in the water (5ppm)is a good way to avoid nitrogen deficiency. The Hanna nitrate checker is designed for salt water tanks but I have see claims that it can be adapted to work with fresh water. You might want to call and ask Hanna about this. Otherwise if you have a budget of $250 you can get hanna's high end nitrate checker but that is a lot of money for a device that does only one test.

Any thoughts on how to tell what minerals or nutrients my plants could be missing, that is aiding in the hair algae growth? There doesn't really seem to be testers/checkers for a lot of them. I could be persuaded to believe the lack of nitrates in the aquarium is one issue.
There is a water test methode called ICP-OES that will test for about 30 elements in the water including many plant nutrients but it does't test for nitrate and cannot reliably detect Manganese (Mn) but this is a lab test. You send out a sample of the water and then they send out back the results in about a week. Each test methode has limitations. The checkers don't work for some nutrients bu. Hanna doesn't seem to understand the aquarium test market. They seem to think all aquariums are salt water aquariums..

The best micro fertilizer I know of GLA EDTA+DTPA which should fully cover your micro nutrients and then you could use a GH booster to to maintain a stale GH all year long should cover most of your plant nutrients needs. but it wouldn't cover Nitrate, phosphate and potassium. But GLA does have guidelines for dosing these nutrients.
 
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Plants can use amino acids, ammonia, urea, nitrite, and nitrate. Havin 0 Ammia, nitrite and ntrate is not good for plants Yes keeping a small amount of nitrate in the water (5ppm)is a good way to avoid nitrogen deficiency. The Hanna nitrate checker is designed for salt water tanks but I have see claims that it can be adapted to work with fresh water. You might want to call and ask Hanna about this. Otherwise if you have a budget of $250 you can get hanna's high end nitrate checker but that is a lot of money for a device that does only one test.
I looked at the Nitrate checker this morning, it is $250 for the meter only. It is $400 for the whole kit. I agree that is pretty pricey. Maybe if I owned a store or something I could justify that, but that is a luxury I don't think I need.

The best micro fertilizer I know of GLA EDTA+DTPA which should fully cover your micro nutrients and then you could use a GH booster to to maintain a stale GH all year long should cover most of your plant nutrients needs. but it wouldn't cover Nitrate, phosphate and potassium. But GLA does have guidelines for dosing these nutrients.
I looked at this. Do you know if I can use it without EI? With the variability in my water, I just don't see myself changing 50% of the water once a week, or my water parameters would be swinging too wildly. Surely I could dose at a lower level?

I have reduced my lighting to 7 hours from 8. I have lowered my intensity a little to 70% from 80%. I think maybe the algae is slowing, but it certainly isn't overly obvious yet. I don't plan on making other changes for a week or two to see what comes of these small changes. I did make a small water change this morning, about 10-15%. My KH went from 20 to 26 and my PH from 6.68 to 6.88 just from that small change.

I'd like to add a few more neons, but I think I'll continue to wait out for more stability if I can ever get there. I'm not sure that is possible anymore. I'm becoming jaded :)

Thanks for the help,

Drew
 

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I looked at this. Do you know if I can use it without EI? With
EI is methode for fertilizing a planted tank. there are other methodsMany do use CO2 with EI but some do not. Some use different fertilizers instead of the standard CSM+B. But the methods isn't important. What is important is to use a fertilizer that is compatible with your water and that all nutrients your plants need are provided. With your PH and KH and GH vvariability it is a good choice and it will also work with RO water.. But it only covers the micros.

So you would need a Macro fertilizer containing Nitrogen, potassium, phosphate, calcium, magneisum, sulfur, and chloride. With your tap water you might not have to deal with Calcium Magneisum and chlorine (tap water typically has some magnesium, calcium and typically the water is chlorinated to kill germs resulting in enough chloride salts for the plants. But with100% RO you would have to dose all the macros.

While it may seem expensive to buy all these ingredients separately You typically get a lot more than what you would get with a purchased premixed bottle. So buying separate ingredients might should last a lot longer.
 
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dR3ws3r

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This morning I took 5 gallons out of the tap and into a bucket. Something I do to prepare my water for a water change in a few days. A strange thing happened though, my ph probe reads 7.7 and my drop test AND test strip read about 6.7-6.8. I put the ph probe in calibration fluid and it was spot on. Is there something different about these two testing methods that would lead to this big of a discrepancy? They seem to be miles apart. The KH and GH are about 1 and 2 respectively and TDS is 63 fwiw. Seems like it would be pretty soft water, which I would equate with lower ph, but I guess the water treatment facility can add stuff that would raise the ph for transport.
 

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