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Problems with water after adding sand


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I redid my 75 gallon tank and added sand that I had bought from Lowes. It was Premium All-Purpose silica Sand. I read that many people have used this sand with no problems. However, my ammonia and pH are wonky.

  • Ammonia TAP: 0.25 ppm
  • Ammonia TANK: 4.0 ppm
  • Nitrates: 0 ppm
  • Nitrites: 0 ppm
  • pH: 6.4

I did the water test right after I had finished filling the tank. I need suggestions.

My pH has always been between 7.2 and 7.6 in all my tanks.

(No fish are in there currently)

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Yes I rinsed the sand outside the best I could before putting it in the tank. I'll have to do a tap pH test. I don't know what kH is and don't have a test for it?

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Kh is a measure of the amount of calcium carbonate in your water - it is basically what stabilizes your pH. There is a kh/gh test kit from API that is about 10 dollars.

But, it looks like dropping pH is not the issue here, you just have low pH straight out of the tap. So, you can use baking soda to raise it to an acceptable level. EDIT: based on your results in the larger tank, your kh may be low as well since pH appears to be dropping in that tank. It may be worth getting the test kit just so you can see what it is, but adding the baking soda will raise both kh and pH. Begin adding a small amount (1 tsp - 1 tbsp depending on tank size), wait and then test pH. Continue adding (and keep track of how much you add) until your pH is reading above 7.0. You will need to add baking soda at every water change in order to raise the pH. There are also commercial buffers out there such as seachem gold buffer and API Proper pH, but baking soda is a cheap alternative http://www.kokosgoldfish.invisionzone.com/forum/index.php?/topic/110296-stabilizing-your-tank-ph-with-sodium-bicarbonate-baking-soda/?hl=%2Bcalcium+%2Bcarbonate#entry1476914

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Regarding the ammonia, I don't know of any reason why silica sand itself would cause an ammonia spike. It could cause a cycle bump if you switched substrates, but not typically that much of a rise in ammonia over such a short period! Have you cleaned filters or added anything else to the tank recently?

I would do a big water change (as much as you are able) to start and retest. What are you using for water conditioner?

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The sand shouldn't have been a cause for your cycle bump, but the removal of any previous substrate might be the culprit. Did you do any extensive cleaning recently?

Keep up with your testing, get the kits that were suggested, and do your w/c's. Cycle bumps happen to the best of us. :hug Hang in there!

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I'll look into the kit. I removed river rocks that had been scattered around the tank. Perhaps it was a good amount considering it is a large tank. I use the API water conditioners because it is more affordable. I have a bottle of Ammo-lock I use in case of emergency. Maybe I cleaned too much with the 75 at once. I'm just not sure how water can get to Ammonia 4.0 after just adding it.

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I'll look into the kit. I removed river rocks that had been scattered around the tank. Perhaps it was a good amount considering it is a large tank. I use the API water conditioners because it is more affordable. I have a bottle of Ammo-lock I use in case of emergency. Maybe I cleaned too much with the 75 at once. I'm just not sure how water can get to Ammonia 4.0 after just adding it.

Yes, this is the part that puzzles me as well. It doesn't make sense. Did you test a second time just to double check .

Regarding the water conditioner, I'm just going to throw it out there that we did some math here awhile back and actually found prime to be comparable if not cheaper than some other 'cheaper' water conditioners because it is more concentrated.

On petsmart a 100 ml bottle of prime costs 5.00 and treats 1,000 gallons. A 4oz bottle of API stress coat (just over 100 ml) costs 6.00 and treats 240 gallons.

Of course use the conditioner you have but you may want to consider switching ;) prime is nice because it can be used during cycle bumps to deal with ammonia. It's better than something like ammo lock because it converts ammonia into a form that can still be used by your beneficial bacteria, whereas ammo lock does not which can prolong the cycling process

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Thanks. Once I've used up what I have I'll switch to Prime.

Alright it took 1 tablespoon to bring the pH up to 7.6 - I'm afraid this will make me sound terrible but I tested the water in my 72 gallon and the reading was showing over 8.0 ppm ammonia (it was only two days over due for a water change). I decided to put ammo-lock into the 75 and move the fish to that tank while I cleaned the 72. I found a huge problem that caused the ammonia to shoot up. I had kept river rocks over my bubblers and food was getting trapped in there. Needless to say it's a mess and I feel like pulling my hair out. I always change 80%+ water a week and thought I was getting the rocks clean. I just feel like I keep messing up so much even though I always intend on aiming for what's best for my fish. Thankfully my fish seem to be doing alright and no serious damage has been done. :no:

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The ammonia in the tank I redid was 4.0. I know saying 75 and 72 would be a little confusing.

Any thoughts on why would you have ammonia in the redone tank?

That's the confusing part.

Edited by dnalex
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I have no idea. I rinsed the sand and put it in the tank and added some sea shells that I had boiled the day before. Then I filled the tank up with all new water and added water conditioner. Right after that I tested the water and was shocked at what I had seen. The ammonia in my tap is 0.25 ppm, but how did it get to 4.0 ppm is what I don't understand. I use the API kit.

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I have no idea. I rinsed the sand and put it in the tank and added some sea shells that I had boiled the day before. Then I filled the tank up with all new water and added water conditioner. Right after that I tested the water and was shocked at what I had seen. The ammonia in my tap is 0.25 ppm, but how did it get to 4.0 ppm is what I don't understand. I use the API kit.

Do a 100% WC, please (remove the fish when you do this), then add double Prime. Check the ammonia level in 12 hours.

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I had added a little vinegar to the water when I boiled the shells to try to get off as much sand as possible. I cleaned out the shells the best I could until they ran clear. I had bought the shells from the store and they looked natural to me without any paints.

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Sorry I don't have Prime, I added Ammo-Lock to the water that will last 24 hours. I plan on doing another large water change tomorrow on that tank. The fish have nowhere to go since I just drained and still have to clean up their original 72 and re-do it.

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Sorry I don't have Prime, I added Ammo-Lock to the water that will last 24 hours. I plan on doing another large water change tomorrow on that tank. The fish have nowhere to go since I just drained and still have to clean up their original 72 and re-do it.

I just wanted you aware that each dose of the Ammo-Lock is only able to "lock" up to 3ppm of the ammonia, which leaves at least 1ppm of toxic ammonia around.

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I think that is valuable information that should have been labeled on the bottle. I'll get around to draining the tank as soon as I wake up. I've worked on three tanks today and I'm tired as can be. Hopefully someone may give me an idea as to what caused the ammonia for whenever I wake up. I just checked on the fish and they were doing alright and acting normal.

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