Seachem buffers and ph drop

oafish

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I've had a tank for about 8 months. It's a 4 foot 240 litre with a male green terror, female dempsey, gold (caqueta) earth eater and a red bristlenose.

I am using RODI because my tapwater is upwards of 40ppm nitrates. I use seachem alkaline and neutral regulators to set ph at 7.3 (my tap was towards 7.8 originally) but I noticed last week that my JD was starting to hide away a lot more and my GT fins were a little clamped. I tested water and only issue was ph was down at 6.6

I typically do 40 litre changes once a week as I'm massively over filtering and that seems to keep all parameters in in check. I tested a 40 litre batch in my plastic tub by setting at 7.3 (1 teaspoon alkaline and 1 teaspoon neutral) and leaving 24 hours and it has indeed settled at 6.6ph.

I thought the seachem buffers were meant to prevent pH dropping in this manner so my question really is how to proceed. Should I overdose the RODI in the tub and leave it 24 hours, testing until I get a stable 7 to 7.3 range? Will that be good enough solution or is there something else I should be doing?
 
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oafish

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I like to have my nitrates at zero. Nitrates at any level can cause fish stress.
I don't (and won't) keep plants and am not aware how else to keep nitrates at zero but am willing to try any other trade secrets :)

While I'm interested in nitrates topic I would like to hear any views on seachem buffers. Is there something I'm missing with regards to seachem buffers in that I set at 7.3 then 24 hours later it drops below 6.6? I understand pH drops with time but had assumed that is what the buffers are intended to help stabilise / reduce. For now I will experiment in a tub with adding more than the instructions suggest.

I may drop the alkaline buffer and try to stabilise at neutral just to simplify. I only kept higher ph initially to try and ease the transition down from my tap water.
 

Byron

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I don't (and won't) keep plants and am not aware how else to keep nitrates at zero but am willing to try any other trade secrets :)

Nitrates occurring in the source water are one problem, and nitrates occurring from the biological system in an aquarium are another. UK members frequently report nitrate in their tap water, so have you tested it on its own? Cichlids by the way are now known to be particularly affected (negatively obviously) by nitrate, so it is worth sorting out the source and working to reduce them. If nitrates increase from one water change to the next, it suggests they are occurring within the tank.

While I'm interested in nitrates topic I would like to hear any views on seachem buffers. Is there something I'm missing with regards to seachem buffers in that I set at 7.3 then 24 hours later it drops below 6.6? I understand pH drops with time but had assumed that is what the buffers are intended to help stabilise / reduce. For now I will experiment in a tub with adding more than the instructions suggest.

Adding chemicals is not the best way. Fish take in water via osmosis through their cells, and substances added to the water that are able to diffuse across the cell membranes will enter the fish's bloodstream. This should be avoided as much as possible. Second point, the pH is tied to the GH/KH. You need to provide the numbers for GH, KH and pH of your tap water (remember you need to out-gas the CO2 in tap water for a reliable pH test). It would seem that the GH/KH are on the low (soft water) side, with little pH buffering capacity. This needs to be confirmed (or not).

The other thing about pH is that provided it is stable, fish can much more easily manage even if it is not within your idea of the preferred range.
 
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oafish

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Hi Byron, I use RODI water. My tap water is 40ppm, tested and reported by the water authority. It is unusable so I use 100% RODI. I use replenish to bring back GH/KH. I will measure the tank tomorrow. My water changes are always pH 7.3, GH 11, KH 7.

I'm not aware of anything other than buffers/regulators to stabilise RODI water but I am new to the hobby so happy to find out other ways to stabilise PH in 100% RODI water.
 

Byron

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I will respond on the nitrate issue, and leave the buffering for others with more experience in that. I have used dolomite in the filter (a very small amount in a nylon mesh bag raised the pH from 5 to 6.6 and kept it there for several years)and this is better for the fish that chemical additives, but I'll stay out of that.

Nitrates occurring in the tank are caused by one or more of the following: overstocking, overfeeding, insufficient water changes, insufficient substrate vacuuming, insufficient filter cleaning. Thus they are controllable, and should be as low as possible and not increase significantly between water changes. Live aquatic plants help by taking up most of the ammonia faster than the nitrifying bacteria, and nitrite is not produced, and thus nitrate is less. Aquatic plants do not use nitrate in any appreciable level, and most aquatic plants will not use it at all if ammonia is adequate in balance with light and the other nutrients plants require. I know you earlier said no plants, that's fine given the fish, but it is or would be an important asset against nitrates.
 

Wills

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I wonder if you need to switch to the stuff for rift lake tanks since you want to achieve a higher ph/hardness? Maybe the one you have is more for lower end hardness? Though its a bit tougher with the mix of south and central americans - souths needing softer water than the centrals but around neutral should work for both. Is the Gold Caqueta a Geophagus type eartheater or is it the Caquetaia Myersi?

An other option would be to mix the RODI with the tap water which I think would give you a more stable ph and hardness. And if you did 25% tap and 75% RO your nitrate would be around 10 at a water change and I know you are local to me so guessing you have around 14GH out of the tap so would end up a 3.5 which would be good for the GT and the Eartheater (either species) but not great for the JD.

For the nitrate in the tank issue the starting point would be to increase your filter maintenance, really get a good understanding of how it works and what you need to do to clean it - which I know sounds a bit patronising but I've had filters I've been 'scared' of touching because I didnt know and that can really bump them up. After that you could also look at Riparian planting? If thats something you'd consider, Pothos and Peace Lillys are meant to be the best options - some have good results with Monsterra, I have mini Monsterra in my tank and it does help but I don't get to 0 at the moment. These are some good channels for that route.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCL5gnqQgvgz_M8apUVQRjMQ
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4zZfqa5Fa89sabK6WB86Ww

You can get Pozzani Nitrate filters which if you are prefiltering with RO it would do the job without effecting the ph or hardness? Its a single chamber that you need to slowly pump the water through, though I've never had 100% success with mine in the past.

An other option is to take a bit of kit from the marine side and get a nitrate reactor, which is something I'm considering for the future. Its a bead filter basically so a slow flow of water runs through the beads which grows an anaerobic bacteria (lives without oxygen) and that converts nitrate into a nitrogen gas. They are about £40 from ebay plus the cost of the media.

Its certainly a tough situation because a lot of England has hard water, and a lot of us have high nitrate out of the tap certainly not 0 like other countries. I've gone round and round in circles on it and its a case of damned if you do damned if you don't. Eg live with hard water and nitrates or use RO and buffer it back or use the tap water and rely on house plants, but some people still don't like that. You can only go so far before you come to the conclusion not to keep fish, and I'm the last to advocate that...

Wills
 
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oafish

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Thanks Wills, I don't want to give the impression I'm tearing my hair out or anything, it is going quite well, I was just surprised that the pH had dropped so low. The fish have bounced back a little since a water change and I'm doing a 20% change every other day to raise back the ph up again slowly and will monitor more closely. Just trying to figure how to avoid a surprise pH drop again in future. Feel like I must be going wrong somewhere with the seachem egulator and replenish.

I tried the pozzani filter for a few months but it just wasn't good. Each filter lasted a very short time and it did in fact reduce my pH somewhat. That's when I decided to switch to RODI, with the unexpected side benefit of being a lot less faff as well, with a unit installed under the sink.

I may well be taking the JD out of the equation soon because she isn't liked by the GT and she is also quite keen on attacking the gold eartheater whenever she gets a chance, although it never lasts long before the GT comes and chases her away!

I run two filters, I have an Aquael ultramax 2000 with 5kg of biohome ultimate in it, which clearly does not live up to its promises on nitrate reduction, after 8 months of use! Also have an Oase bioplus 100 running inside, mainly as a backup and something I can take out for hospital tank if needed. The Aquael has a great pre-filter which I wash weekly with the water change and so far have only need to rinse the main filter once but will give it another check this week.
 

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This issue is easy to solve in 100
5RO tank (I also use 100% RO water) . Continue to use replenish to maintain your GH and then put a small amount of crushed coral or natural snail or sea shells in your filter.Dolomite is rock that is mainly calcium and magnesium carbonate and it will also work.

The cause of the issue is the replenish. They likely use calcium chloride and magnesium chloride to provide the calcium and magnesium necessary to be detected in the GH test.These compounds are safe and have been widely used for decades. However bacteria , plants, and animals need a lot of calcium and magnesium but very little chlide to live. Note Chloride is chlorine but this type of chloride is not toxic because it is bonded with the calcium and magnesium.
But as bacteria , animals , and plants consume the calcium and magneisum the GH drops slightly leading to a small excess of Cl which pushes the pH down. If nothing is done PH will eventually drop below 6 and keep going down.

The crushed coral is a mix of calcium and magnesium carbonate. The will react with the chlorine and push the pH back up to about 7. Once the excess chlorine is gone The crushed coral will stop dissolving. It is a self regulating system. All you have to do is to check the crushed coral in the filter and add more if necessary. A small amount will last about a year in the filter. A 1Kg bag would probably last many years.

Stop using the alkaline and neutral products because crushed coral replaces both products. I strongly suggest your do more than a 40l water change once a week.That is only 16%.Water changes are not only about controlling nitrate. They also remove fish waist and excess minerals from fish food. If excess minerals are not remove the total dissoved solids (TDS) will continue to increae until the water becomes toxic. 20 to 30% should be fine for you.
 

Alice B

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I use Seachem buffer to raise pH, usually in a tank getting a bit more CO2 than it should pH wise, but I only use once to start adjusting pH then I do a water change. My tap comes out over 8 and I use tap
 
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oafish

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Thanks Steven, this is very helpful. I will pick up 1kg crushed coral this week. I've also just picked up an 80 litre plastic tub yesterday so I can start doing 1/3 water changes.

Does the coral work immediately or should I overlap the neutral regulator for a few days / weeks?
 

StevenF

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For the nitrate in the tank issue the starting point would be to increase your filter maintenance, really get a good understanding of how it works and what you need to do to clean it - which I know sounds a bit patronising but I've had filters I've been 'scared' of touching because I didnt know and that can really bump them up. After that you could also look at Riparian planting?

Upping filter maintenance isn't going to much to reduce nitrate. The bacteria that destroys nitrate do best in a low nitrogen environment. Unfortunatelymore and larger filters don'decrease oxygen levels in the water. They will either have no effect or increase oxygen levels in the water.

Plants Need nitrogen to grow but they prefer to consume ammonia, nitrite, amino acids first. Only after those are gone will they consume nitrate. And in general it is difficult to get enough plant growth to get enough nitrate consumption to be meaningful. In my opinion 40ppm is way beyond what can be done with plants and filtration. I have plant in my aquarium and they do reduce nitrate a little but nothing close to 40ppm in a week.

Typically
 

StevenF

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Does the coral work immediately or should I overlap the neutral regulator for a few days / weeks?
It should be fairly quick. since you are already increased your water change doing water changes. I would add about 1 spoon full in the filter and just monitor it. So I wouldn't add the neutral regulator.
 

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