Jump to content

Kh Problems


Fishy Fish

Recommended Posts

  • Regular Member

Hello :)

I have a 55 gallon that I have been doing attempting a fishless cycle - since November 20th. I used the carbon from the filter that my fish is currently in, some gravel and ornaments to seed the tank.

In less than a week, my ammonia dropped, I had nitrites and nitrates. I had read to add ammonia each day to keep it at 4ppm until the nitrites showed - and then cut that amount in half. Well - I misunderstood that. Instead of bringing the ammonia to 2ppm (half of the 4 the directions were referring to) I was using half of the amount that gave me 4ppm while waiting for nitrites. So I was adding 1ml of ammonia each day - which is .5ppm, with my ammonia.

For several weeks, I had 0 ammonia, 2 nitrites, 80+ nitrates and the pH bobbed around between 7.8 and 8.2. I read a post by Lolafish, that the ammonia was supposed to be between 2 - 3ppm each day, so I increased the amount of ammonia to bring it between that each day. The ammonia was still at 0, nitrites 2, nitrates 80+, and pH at 7.8.

The day after Christmas, I was showing .25 ammonia, nitrites and nitrates were still the same, but the pH fell to 7.2. I thought I might be showing ammonia because I added it later in the day than I normally did, so I didn't think much of it - but it never went away. The nitrites did, though. Two days after showing ammonia, the nitrites read 0.

Last Monday my pH fell to 6.8. Lolafish said it could be a KH problem, and suggested I test it. I found a strip test (after looking at 4 different stores) and it said the KH was 40. Later, I tested my tap water, and the KH from the tap is between 180 - 240.

A clerk at the first store I went to suggested a 10 gallon water change. It was that or add baking soda, so with a tap KH that high, I opted for the water change. Afterwards, the KH went up between 80 - 120. The next day it was just about 120.

Today, however, it was 80 again. I don't know if I should do another water change? Add baking soda? Leave it for now and see how it is tomorrow? I thought I'd post here and see if anyone might know what could be causing it to drop, and possibly suggest the best way for me to go.

It's SOOOO close... and I'm so confused. :unsure:

Thank you in advance for your help, ideas and opinions!!

Debbie

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Regular Member

Hey Debbie!

Gosh hon you are having a time with getting that 55 cycled, huh?

All I really know about KH is that it is your water hardness. We have very hard water here, but my PH seems to be fine most of the time. The thing about PH buffers are that I don't think they last. Daryl talked about one buffer that she uses that she gets from Rick's, so you may pm her about that and she could tell you more about it. :idont

Good luck sweetie. I know this tank has you going around in circles, :stars but the cycle WILL happen, sooner that later hopefully! I'm sure Dot is all packed up and ready to move into her new home!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Regular Member

A KH of 80 is alright, so I wouldn't be too worried just yet, but its good you're asking. And, btw, my understand is GH is hardness ('general hardness'), and KH is one component of that, and a very important one, since it resists swings in pH.

Lola asked if high nitrates can effect pH. That reminds me of something I read, saying that the nitrogen cycle - in turning ammonia to nitrite to nitrate - also lets on some hydrogen ions. And if you remember high school chemistry at all, hydrogen ions (H+) is what makes acid. So (assuming that's true), as the nitrogen cycle spits out the H+, the KH of your water is what prevents those hydrogen ions from actually changing the pH, that is until the KH gets used up. So that would be why the KH drops as the tank (with or without fish) as the nitrogen cycle proceeds.

Now, to the original question, I see nothing wrong with doing a reasonable water change during cycling. You don't want it to be so large that you remove much of what you're trying to ge in there (ammonia and nitrite to feed the bacteria), but if you do a water change, and then add more ammonia, I don't see that as a problem. Adding the ammonia before the water change would be counterproductive, of course. If you'd rather use an agent that buffers water, you could. The tradeoff is probably money versus time. And either way, you should monitor the effects of what you do, and adjust as necessary.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Regular Member

Debbie, I was incorrect and fredct was right about the KH. That is your alkalinity. GH is the hardness.

I was confused. :krazy: Imagine that, lol! :rolleyes: What he said was right on the money. Here's what I have about alkalinity:

Alkalinity- (buffering capacity)-determines the ability to maintain a constant PH in the aquarium. If the alkalinity is too low the PH will drop to dangerous levels; too high and the PH will also become too high and difficult to lower. The ideal level for freshwater tanks is 120-300 ppm, for saltwater tanks 180-300 ppm.

So, it seems that your KH does have something to do with your PH.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Regular Member

Thank you everyone! Fred, you have a lot of good information in there. My brain is still trying to process it. :wacko::D

The first store that I went to for the KH test, the lfs employee was going on about ions, magnesium (I think) and other things that went "WOOSH!!" over my head - but I smiled and nodded like I knew exactly what he meant. :rolleyes: One thing he said that sticks out though, is that water changes would be better than adding something to the tank that might mess up it's natural chemistry. That's probably why I opted for the water change the other day.

So - with the nitrites going down - causing more nitrates - that's what brought the KH down? So would doing a water change and lowering the nitrates (and the replenishing tap water with the KH at 180-240) be the best way to go?

That's another thing. The API drop kit hasn't reached the 160 mark on the card, but on the test strip, it's definitely at the 200 color. I time all of the shaking required for the drop test, so I don't see why that wouldn't be right.

Anyway.. repeating myself here - a water change would be the best way to go?

Thank you so much!!

Debbie

PS - Yes Vickie! She's all packed! :tomuch: I realize now that she's not happy to see me when I go to the tank. She's saying "Am I moving yet? Am I moving yet??" I'm sure she can see the tank from where she is. Sometimes I wonder if she thinks Smokey is in there. :unsure:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Regular Member

Debs, my advice is, if something works stick with it. The water change upped the kH- so go with that. Do small water changes as necessary. Treat them like you did the ammonia. What amount of water change is necessary to balance out/improve your readings. Don't be scared of the cycle or respect it toooo much. You are in control and mastering this. Keep the lights off at night. Match the water temp with the water change. Add extra media where you can. Its a bigger tank and a lot of water. Are you just using sponge floss or do you have the ceramic noodley things in there? Variety is good.

I can't think what else... :unsure:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Regular Member

Thank you Trinks! :D

After reading your post, I pictured myself in front of tank telling it "I am in control of you! I am your master!!" I should also tell it to kneel before me... but that would spill the water.. :rofl

Sorry - I'm tired and silly today. When my daughter works the early morning shift, I have naps instead of sleep. :yawn

For media, I only have the filter cartridges that came with them, and each filter has a filter cartridge from the 10 gallon. (used cartridge) I need to get more cartridges for the 10 gallon, so maybe I'll look into other media, too. Should I put them right in the new tank - or let them build up bb's in the 10 gallon first?

The KH was still at 80 today, and the pH at 7.8 so I left it alone. I would have done a water change if it had gone down - but maybe I'll do one tomorrow anyway. (hopefully after a good night's sleep!)

Thank you for your input! I appreciate it! :exactly

Debs

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Regular Member
For media, I only have the filter cartridges that came with them, and each filter has a filter cartridge from the 10 gallon. (used cartridge) I need to get more cartridges for the 10 gallon, so maybe I'll look into other media, too. Should I put them right in the new tank - or let them build up bb's in the 10 gallon first?

I'm not sure what filters you use on this tank, as I use 2 Emperor 400's (and also my Rena Filstar 4 is hooked up to it too!).

What I do know, is that a lot of media is needed, and something more for the BB's to attach to, like rocks or substrate, for the BB's to really grab hold of. I think the more you got, the faster it all goes.

Not sure if it made a huge huge difference or not, but it seems as soon as I added the Rena, with all 4 media baskets stuffed with sponges, ceramic media, Seachem Matrix, etc....the cycle seemed to move a little faster processing those nitrites away.

If you want to add media, don't worry about trying to seed it first. Go ahead and add fresh media, it'll be okay. The BB's in your cycling tank will find it quickly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Regular Member

Hi Lola :)

I have two Penguin 350's in the tank. I've been looking at different media to put in the filters, but I wasn't sure what was good. You mentioned the Seachem Matrix. The information I found on that says "... designed to provide exceptionally efficient biofiltration for single site removal of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate from freshwater, marine, and reef aquaria."

I thought it meant that it had some type of chemicals in it - like zeolite or something - that removed all those things, and wouldn't let the tank cycle. So - once again - I'm reading things wrong? :unsure:

Boy - some people can read things and understand it right off... but my brain likes to take a trip through the park first, and gets confused along the way. :glare:

I just tested it again - so I'm going to go post that in the other thread.

Thank you for the tips!! :exactly:heart

Debbie

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Regular Member

I think the best idea is to do a water change when the nitrates start to climb. Don't let them get as high as 80 again.

Nitrate is nitric acid and will use up KH (temporary hardness) if allowed to become elevated. Once the KH is used up, there will be nothing to absorb acidity and the PH will start to slip.

It's the same principal as descaling a kettle; the kettle has limescale (alkaline-KH), so you add a solution of citric acid which makes the limescale fizz and disolve. The acidity is using up and neutralizing the alkalinity (temporary hardness) of the limescale. Once the citric acid has disolved the limescale, the PH of the solution will be more alkaline - higher - than when C/A was first put in. Now, if you add another dose of citric acid there will be no more fizzing because all the limescale is already disolved and used up; so there will be nothing to alter the new level of acidity and the PH will drop back down again. Capisce?

Two other things:

Strips are not reliable so if you have drop tests the results would be much more accurate.

Lastly, check what is in those filter cartridges. Many of the cartridges sold to 'slot in, then replace periodically' are loaded with zeolite or ammo-chips. This will totally screw up your attempt to get a cycle going. The contents should be printed on the box.

PS Seachem's Matrix provides lots of surface area for beneficial bacteria to colonize; the BB's remove and process the waste - the Matrix itself does not contain ammonia absorbing media.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Regular Member
Capisce?

S?, grazie. ;)

I'll have to order the drop kit online. I saw them on the Foster & Smith (I think?) website for just a few dollars. I can't find it at stores here. They have the API KH and GH both in one box.

I've been doing water changes with the KH drops. I don't want it to go below 80 - which may coincide with the nitrates. I really can't tell, because the 40 and 80 on the nitrate chart are so similar.

The filter cartridges have carbon inside. This is what they look like.

Thank you for the info on the Matrix! I'll have to look for it! I need to do something with that tank. It's making me :krazy: !!! I thought that putting another used cartridge in there would have definitely helped it, but it hasn't changed a bit.

:idont

Debbie

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Regular Member

Is that the only thing there is in the filter, or is there room for some other media- sponge/starts etc ?

There doesn't appear to be any zeolite, but the problem with this type of cartridge alone is that it does not provide any surface area for BB's and needs to be tossed out once the carbon is exhausted. So any small amount of bacteria on the floss gets tossed as well.

Can you tell us which filter you have?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Regular Member

Hi Pixiefish :)

Yes, right now all that is in the filters is the filter cartridges. The filters are both Penguin 350's There is room in back for more media - 4 extra slots in total. Right now, I have 3 old cartridges from the 10 gallon tank in the back. The filter on the 10 gallon looks like this.

I have a thread of my tank progess, and I posted in there today that the tank may be cycled. I'll know for sure tomorrow. I sure hope so...

Debbie

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...