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Amateur Water Chemist Needs Some 'splainin' Lucy!


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Okay, here's the deal. I have two 10 gallon tanks, one for qt and one for hospital. I'm only using the qt right now, but this is about the hospital tank.

The hospital did have one fish and was getting daily 90% water changes with the fish because it wasn't cycled. Before the water changes, I would test the water and I would have .25-.5 ppm ammonia and ph was 8.0. After the change, virtually no ammonia.

Less than one week ago, after the hospital no longer had fish in it, I did about a 90% water change on the hospital and it has sat fishless since then, but with the filter running, perhaps some bacteria in it, and at least some ammonia, obviously, in the tank. At this last water change, I did the usual tests and got the same results as above. I had also just bought tests for KH and GH and the results of those were, KH - 107.4 ppm (6 drops) and GH - 214.8 ppm (12 drops).

For fun because I can't buy fish!, and ya gotta buy something, right?!, I bought a small piece of driftwood, knowing that my ph was a little high and it might not hurt, but thought I'll put it in the hospital tank first to soak it and to see what happens with the ph. Do my own little mad amateur scientist experiment.

I've tested a couple of times for ph in the last week and the ph has remained at 8.0.

Something today told me to test for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. It was: ammonia - 0 ppm (the yellow was maybe slightly dark, so there may still be a whiff of ammonia), nitrites - 0.5 ppm and nitrates - 0 ppm. So, my tank has started cycling! Yay! But, in less than a week?

And, to finish doing all the tests, I pulled out the ph, kh and gh tests. Ph was still at 8.0 ppm and kh was still at 107.4 ppm, but now gh is at 161.1 ppm (9 drops).

So, my question is, can the driftwood affect gh without affecting ph and could all of this maybe the reason that the tank started cycling so fast? I wanna know the chemical mechanics of all of this. :read (in layman's terms please! :) ) Thanks! :thanks

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  • Regular Member

Tank cycling can take anywhere from a week to over 6 weeks depending on a lot of factors that effect the bacterial growth. The major one I have noticed is the temperature of the tank, the warmer it is the faster it will cycle. The first type of bacteria can move in pretty fast, especially when you no longer have a waste source to process...that tiny colony had plenty of time to process everything without getting overwhelmed with new ammonia.

The cycle will use up water hardness, but usually the hardness and ph are connected. Yes driftwodd can lower the ph, but it does not always do that. Hopefully someone with a clearer picture on the kh/ gh/ ph connections can explain this.

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oops! I did forget to mention the temp. It was high; about 80-82, but then, a couple days ago, I started noticing my ryukin in the qt tank right next to the hospital tank breathing at the top a lot and his tank was 82 also. I knew this wasn't good, so I've had a fan on the water for the last two days and the temp on that tank went down to 72 and, I guess it's affected the hospital tank cuz that one's 75 degrees.

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