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PH too low?

Discussion in 'Cycle your Tank' started by Tylor, Nov 14, 2019.

  1. Tylor

    Tylor New Member

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    Hello all. I’ve followed the directions on this page for cycling a tank. I have a 36 gallon tank with a Seachem Tidal 55 HOB filter. The tank is filled with gravel and some decorations. I started the process on Oct 1st. Everything seemed to line up with the timetable given on the Cycle page. I’m currently on dose 6. My readings today were PH 6, Ammonia 0.25, Nitrite 0, and Nitrate 80. I dosed it for the 6th time on 11/8 and it took it until today to reach 0.25 ammonia. My Nitrites have been at 0 every day starting the 9th. Do I need to do a water change and then dose again to a full amount and test? Or am I on the right track but with a slow cycling tank? My only concern is the PH which has been at 6 for some time now. Thanks for your help!
     
  2. seangee

    seangee Member

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    If you followed this guide https://www.fishforums.net/threads/cycling-your-new-fresh-water-tank-read-this-first.421488/ it sounds like you are in the final stage. Change most of the water (90%) using dechlorinated water and give a final dose of ammonia. If your readings are all 0 after 24 hours you are done. One last water change and you are ready to add fish.

    A pH of 6 is nothing to worry about. You may get a different reading after the water change (test 24 hours after adding the water). You should also test for hardness (GH). This info may be available on your water supplier's website. Post the result (we need both the number and the unit because there are several in use). This will help us advise what fish are suitable for your water. Hard water fish should not be kept in soft water and vice versa. A pH of 6 suggests that your water is likely to be soft - but is not a guarantee. We will know for sure once you post the numbers.
     
  3. Jan Cavalieri

    Jan Cavalieri Fishaholic
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    Put a glass of water out overnight and take a PH of your tap water - that's where the PH of your fish is coming from. Others will mightily disagree or have other ways of increasing it but there is an API product PHup that you can slowly add until the tank reaches about 7. It's going to change occasionally but just fix it at your next water change,

    I don't think you are done cycling. You should have doses of ammonia get added and be zero the next day and the day after that (same with Nitrites) before you have enough bacteria to consider yourself cycled. Frankly I'm convinced the longer cycling takes the more stable your tank is - I have 2 that lost their cycling memory shortly after adding fish while the other 2 (that took long to cycle) pretty much stay on target with some brief ammonia spikes over 6 months.

    Based on what you wrote it sounded to me like you didn't get ammonia readings until now and if you don't get enough ammonia readings your tank won't build up any bacteria to convert ammonia to nitrites. If that's the case then you really haven't even started to cycle. Maybe your doses are too small and your plants are absorbing it or something.

    Or you are saying that you've been adding ammonia and now it's showing zero readings but after a few days it suddenly showed up as .25 ammonia? If so you're nearing the end of cycling - but a fully cycled tank will not show any ammonia EVER after you add it because you have enough bacteria to get rid of it. If you dosed it and it's starting to show .25 again then it's not cycled quite yet but I bet you are close. I usually have to go through 7 rounds and 6 weeks.

    If I misunderstood you I am sorry.
     
  4. Tylor

    Tylor New Member

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    Hi, Jan. I have been following the guide posted on this site to a T. Everything has been measuring exactly as it said it would. Ammonia levels were dosed properly and readings were up to 2ppm to 3ppm on each dose. They would drop accordingly and I would see Nitrite rise. Nitrite finally peaked and then dropped to 0. I saw Nitrates appearing as they should when Nitrite started to drop. Knowing I was close, I took another reading on 11/8. At this time the Ammonia was around 0.50 and Nitrites were close to 0. I dosed it back to 2ppm and measured the next day. The Nitrites were now actually reading 0 but Ammonia was still 2. Over the next few days I have been measuring ammonia each day. Today it finally reached 0.25. Each day the nitrites stayed 0 and the nitrates were increasing. So it seemed like everything was correct except ammonia is still taking several days to drop. This is where I was questioning if my Ph was too low and a water change might help? I have yet to actually change any water in this process. I have only been adding as the tank naturally evaporated down some. Hopefully this makes more sense.

     
    #4 Tylor, Nov 14, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2019
  5. Tylor

    Tylor New Member

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    Yup, I have been following this guide exactly. I believe I am in the final stage too, I just wasn’t sure if I should complete a water change or not. I have actually not completed one yet during this cycle. I have only added water as needed caused by evaporation. When I first added water to the tank, my PH levels were around 7.3. They have since slowly decreased each week to now a steady 6.0.


     
  6. essjay

    essjay Moderator
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    At very low pH the bacteria do slow down. A water change will bring the pH back up. Seangee's advice is spot on - do the water change then add the 3 ppm dose of ammonia.

    With soft water, KH is often low enough to get used up during cycling, allowing the pH to fall. I have KH 3 dH and this happened to me during a fishless cycle - the pH dropped off the bottom of the scale so I have no idea how low it really was. Doing a big water change replenishes the KH and if you are right at the end of the cycle, it will complete before the KH is used up.

    Once you have fish, there won't be much acidic nitrite and nitrate like during a fishless cycle; and you will be doing 50% weekly water changes which will top up KH. I have not experienced a pH drop while doing this.
     
  7. Jan Cavalieri

    Jan Cavalieri Fishaholic
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    I agree that a water change would bring up the PH (look online at your city's water report and see what the average PH is in your city - that will tell you what to expect with a large water change). Personally I did NOT do a water change until the tank was fully cycled - which mean zero ammonia and zero nitrites for at least 2 days in a row. Then I did a water change and started adding fish. Made sure the ammonia and nitrite levels held at zero before adding the fish. Unfortunately even that wasn't enough since on two of my tanks they immediately lost their cycling and started showing ammonia readings of 4-8.0 - but upon using a different test kit I found that there was zero active ammonia and it was all ammonium (harmless) but the dang tanks won't convert the ammonium to nitrites no matter what I do - so I just keep doing huge water changes - that in turn kicks my PH up way too high (higher than my kit will register - our City's average PH is 9.4) so I fight deciding what to do to bring the PH down some but not too much because it will continue to decrease over time and you'll then have too low of a PH.

    Hopefully your cycling will hold. I don't know what happened to 2 of my 4 tanks - they were both beautifully cycled before adding fish - I think I added too many fish at once. But my 5 gallon only houses 5 tiny raspdoras - I give them very little food because they are so tiny - that tank can't be overstocked. I'm stuck. Just grateful 2 of my 4 tanks are better behaved but they too have ammonia spikes (actually ammonium spikes) - so the API test kit LIES since it doesn't separate out active ammonia from ammonium - you do have to add prime every two days or the ammonium will convert back to ammonia and kill everything (it hasn't happened to me yet). Tempted to re-cycle my two problem tanks but with all the fish in them I'm a little scared to.
     
  8. essjay

    essjay Moderator
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    The API test kit doesn't lie. It tests for total ammonia.

    It is us that need to realise that ammonia exists in two forms and that all salicylate testers measure total ammonia, not just the API tester. Ammonia dissolved in water is always a mixture of the two forms, and most of it is the ammonium form. The actual amount of each form varies with temperature and pH.

    I had forgotten about this thread until this morning
    https://www.fishforums.net/threads/of-toxic-ammonia-charts.154313/
     
  9. Tylor

    Tylor New Member

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    Ok. Gave it a 50-60% water change last night and then dosed again after. Today the readings are PH 6.6, ammonia 1, nitrite 0, and nitrate 20. Water temp is 76.5
     
  10. Tylor

    Tylor New Member

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    I took measurements again today. Everything looks exactly the same. Am I doing something wrong here? I’ve been attempting to cycle since October 1st. This seems like a lot of time has passed. I’m confused why my nitrites continue to read zero but my ammonia takes several days to drop.
     
  11. Jan Cavalieri

    Jan Cavalieri Fishaholic
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    From a practical standpoint API kits DO LIE about the amount of ammonia in the tank. If I REALLY had ammonia levels of 8.0 ppm my fish would be dying - but upon further testing my ammonia levels are actually zero - it's the ammonium levels that are 8.0. Ammonium is harmless, Ammonia is not. As long as I keep adding Prime every day or two I will keep the ammonium from converting back to ammonia and killing all my fish. Somebody that doesn't understand that about the API kit would be totally freaking out (as I was) when I see ammonia level tests showing 4.0-8.0 PPM. What is so frustrating is that I am unable to get the bacteria to convert the ammonium levels to Nitrites and then to Nitrates. These tanks were so carefully (by the book) cycled before fish were added - what the hell happened? Why does my tank never convert ammonium to nitrites? How do I get the right bacteria in there to convert it to nitrites? This has been going on for a couple of months - I should buy stock in Seachem for all the Prime I go through each month.

    Do I cycle my tank again with fish in it? One of the tanks has 30 fish - (about 1/2 medium size and 1/2 very small and two large) - I've never cycled a tank with fish in it and don't want to risk losing these fish - some cost over $100. (not to mention how fond I am of all of them - which is priceless). I've got to find some way to convert this ammonium to nitrites and then to nitrates. I add stability which is supposed to help with a "new tank syndrome" and add some of these bacteria (I assume that's how it works) - it does nothing. I would steal media from my other two tanks but frankly I'm not completely sure THEY are still cycled - conversion to Nitrites and Nitrates has slowed to a halt - I just have low to zero ammonia levels - but they are never zero more than a day or two after a large water change - then they go back up to .25 ppm ammonia (or ammonium) to as high as .50 ppm - probably not enough to kill fish but enough to stress them. My 5 gallon tank is the worst but it's being used as a hospital tank for a very sick Gourami with swim bladder issues and probably infections. She hasn't eaten or pooped for over 4 weeks - I'm finally force feeding her "pea soup" with a little miralax in it and still no pooping. Every solid food she tries to eat gets vomited back up. Her tank has the worst stats but I'm not putting her through a cycling.

    Sorry about the lengthy response but you can imagine how frustrated I am - I thought I've been doing everything "by the book" only to have uncycled tanks on my hand.
     
  12. essjay

    essjay Moderator
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    What is the temperature of the tank, and what is the pH?
     
  13. Jan Cavalieri

    Jan Cavalieri Fishaholic
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    So anyway Tylor - you are basically having the same issue as I am. Yes you've been cycling about 6 weeks? That's about the max it should take - that's how long all mine took and I would get where I would add ammonia and when I got to where the ammonia and nitrite levels stayed at zero 2-3 days in a row is when I considered my tanks cycled.

    I do not know why some tanks are so stubborn about not getting the bacteria to convert ammonia to nitrites - it makes no sense - these are tried and true methods. I'm sure you are getting very frustrated but YOU are doing everything right - so be patient. And once it is cycled be careful not to add too many fish at a time - I think that's what ruined me. I added more fish than there were bacteria to handle the waste. So the whole thing fell apart but I was ordering online and the cost to ship is $40 unless you purchase more than a certain amount of money - so here I am so close to getting free shipping or paying and extra $40 so I bought a few more fish instead to get that free shipping. BIG mistake adding that many fish all at once. They all survived and were and are in great health but it killed my tank.

    Makes me wonder if we shouldn't be cycling for higher ammonia values knowing that so many idiots such as myself get all excited and add to many fish. If we cycled for higher levels of bacteria perhaps that wouldn't happen? Just a thought.
     
  14. Tylor

    Tylor New Member

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    76.1 and 6.6.
     
  15. Tylor

    Tylor New Member

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    The tank has been converting ammonia to nitrite though. I tracked Nitrites rising and spiking before they suddenly fell to zero. And I can track my nitrates rising every day. Its to the point where it seems any ammonia converted to nitrites are quickly converted to nitrates. It’s just the bacteria converting the ammonia haven't quite gotten to the point where they quickly convert the ammonia. So it’s like the tank is half cycled and I can’t get it over the hump.
     

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