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cycling and my readings?
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giddyland
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Joined: 19 Jun 2003

PostPosted: 2003.08.11(Mon)14:53    Post subject: cycling and my readings? Reply with quote

I have been cycling my 20 gallon tank with 5 golden danios for 5 weeks. For the first three weeks I had 3 and the last two weeks I had 5.
My readings as of today are ammonia 0.6, nitrite 0.3 to 0.8 (in between)
nitrate 15, pH 8.0
what I don;t understand is GH and KH
my GH is 60
my KH is 30
does it make sense, to have soft water with a high pH? been like this since I started. Everything been stable , fish have been great. Can someone help explain the functions of these readings to me.
As well I think I am near the end of cycle?
fish have been great show no signs of stress, I do 10% water changes a day. However I noticed 2 brown dots(algae) on my glass. But this I heard will go away when tank stabalizes. Thanks for any responses
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Type-R
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Joined: 31 Jul 2003
Location: East Yorkshire, UK

PostPosted: 2003.08.12(Tue)8:25    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey giddy,

Looks from your readings that your tank has indeed nearly completed cycling, just keep monitoring those ammonia and nitrite levels and don't be tempted to add loads more fish when your values reach zero!
I assume your GH 60 and KH 30 are referring to part per million (ppm). This gives you a GH of 3.4 degrees and a KH of 1.7 degrees, this means you have very soft water (GH value) with a low buffering capacity (KH value).
It is a common misconception that if you have soft water it will be acidic. This is because of how people in the aquarium hobby talk about water that fish like e.g soft and acidic for discus and hard and alkaline for rift lake cichlids. It is perfectly possible to have soft water like yours with a high pH. As you may know the pH of your water is interlinked with the KH of your water, people realise that if they increase the KH of a soft acidic water then the pH rises as well. If you raise the KH of a soft but alkaline water like yours the pH will in fact fall.
You do need to increase the KH of your water to prevent your pH from swinging, somewhere around 5.6 degrees (100 ppm) should be fine, this will also lower your pH to somewhere around 7.6 I think. Increasing your KH means adding a product to your tap water such as Kent Marine pH stable, you will of course have to do this every water change.
Finally well done on cycling your tank and keep up those water changes! Smile
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kdjoergensen
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Joined: 22 Apr 2003

PostPosted: 2003.08.12(Tue)9:01    Post subject: Reply with quote

The most important parts to take away from KH and GH are how they affect the environment for your fish..

GH is a meassure of the hardiness of the water. When fish is said to prefer soft water (gouramis, tetras, etc) they refer to GH. If you wish to keep certain cichlids the water should be much harder. You can harden the water by adding limestones (which also raises KH). If you like soft water for your fish then do not add lime stones.

Fish do not care about KH (they care about pH and GH). However, the KH level is even more important because of the way it can lead to rapid changes in pH levels, or alternatively prevent changes to the pH level.

KH is a meassurement of the water's ability to resist a downwards change in the pH. As the fishwaste is converted into ammonium and then into nitrite and nitrate the pH of your tank is affected (it goes down). In a tank with a high KH the tank is buffered against large pH swings whereas a tank which a low KH has virtually no buffer. What this means is that continued addition of acidifiers (like fish waste) can result in a rapid lowering of the pH in a low KH tank.

If the water is properly buffered it will take a lot of fish waste to make any reasonable reduction in pH. If your KH is low the pH may fall rapidly.
With your low KH is that adding just small amounts of acids will allow you to adjust your water's pH to a low lower levels.

Your best remedy is frequent water changes to continously recharge your KH levels. You can also add 1-2 tsp per 10 gallon of water of baking soda which will raise the KH. Start by adding 1 tsp per 10 gallon and meassure pH and KH again. Then add more if required, but be aware that adding baking soda will push the pH upwards towards a level of 8.2. So use in moderation. Shoot for a KH of approximately 4.5 deg minimum (80 ppm).

Note: GH and KH is related because the minerals which affect the KH is often the same which affect GH. You can not have a low pH and a very high KH (it simply can not work).

I would as start recommend that you retest pH, KH and GH. Make sure you understand if the KH and GH is in degrees (such as 3.0, 6.0) or ppm (such as 150, 300, etc). Note one degree = 17.9 ppm. Also recheck your pH with intervals.
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Kunnagh
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Joined: 28 Jul 2003
Location: Bristol, UK

PostPosted: 2003.08.12(Tue)13:42    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Note: GH and KH is related because the minerals which affect the KH is often the same which affect GH. You can not have a low pH and a very high KH (it simply can not work).


kdjoergensen - sorry to be hyper-critical, but I think you mistyped in the second half of this - don't you mean 'You cannot have a low GH and a very high KH' ? I only noticed because I get confused about all this as well so I have to read it with my lips moving Smile

Cheers!
_________________
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring
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Type-R
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Joined: 31 Jul 2003
Location: East Yorkshire, UK

PostPosted: 2003.08.12(Tue)16:34    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just a couple of points about what kdjoergensen said,



Quote:
Your best remedy is frequent water changes to continously recharge your KH levels.


As I assume your tap water has the same KH as you reported I.e. 30ppm just frequent changes with tap water will not give you a high enough KH for a stable pH.

Quote:
You can also add 1-2 tsp per 10 gallon of water of baking soda


I would only really recommend using baking soda in an emergency situation (I.e. pH crash). While it is of course true that it does raise your KH, over the medium to long-term it has been reported that it does in fact drive the natural buffering agents from your water and this can lead to a pH crash itself.

Quote:
be aware that adding baking soda will push the pH upwards towards a level of 8.2


With the low GH of this water and the high pH (8.0) adding a moderate amount of KH to the water will initially lower the pH not increase it.
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kdjoergensen
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Joined: 22 Apr 2003

PostPosted: 2003.08.14(Thu)8:25    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since the same minerals which make up KH also often are the same which make up GH it is often true but not always (case in point: baking soda will raise KH but not GH)

The only way you can lower pH in a high KH tank is to saturate (reduce) the buffering capacity. Once the buffering capacity has been reduced will the pH reduction take place and stay. Therefore, if you have naturally hard water with high pH you can not maintain a high KH and a low pH. It simply won't work that way. The pH will rebounce if you add KH stabilizers and water changes will simply bring you back up towards your neutral (high) pH.

That was the reason for my statement: you can not have a high KH and a low pH with natural water conditions as outlined.

typeR is of course right that you can not keep a stable high KH with frequent water changes if you are adding low KH water (as he would be doing). That is excactly why regular applications of baking soda would be needed. The baking soda goes towards a pH value 8.2 so it won't affect the current pH of the tank, but it will provide a higher more stable tank...
so I still suggest that you do frequent water changes and add baking soda regularily.. The only way the pH would crash is if you add baking soda but do not do water changes.. Baking soda is not a substitute for good aquarium maintenance, but it is a way to stabilize the tanK
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Type-R
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Joined: 31 Jul 2003
Location: East Yorkshire, UK

PostPosted: 2003.08.14(Thu)14:43    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
so I still suggest that you do frequent water changes and add baking soda regularily


The point I was trying to make about using baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is that while it does increase your KH and provide a buffer it is only one of the buffering agents normally present in the water. Using just this over the long term drives out other natural buffering agents. This is reported to cause problems in the long term such as pH crashes. This is why I suggested using a product such as Kent Marine pH stable as the regular additive to water changes in place of baking soda.

The other thing I still disagree about is that adding the buffering agent (be it baking soda or other) to soft water with a high pH (8.0) will not drive the pH up, it will bring it down. Adding alkalinity (buffering agent) to soft water with a low pH will drive it up.
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kdjoergensen
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Joined: 22 Apr 2003

PostPosted: 2003.08.14(Thu)14:56    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Adding alkalinity (buffering agent) to soft water with a low pH will drive it up.


It depends on the buffer being used. Baking soda has an equlibrium of 8.2 and adding enough will bring the pH towards 8.2. A buffer with a lower pH will bring the pH down.. You do not reduce pH from 8.0 by adding baking soda which has a higher equlibrium...

I does not matter if you use a commercial product or baking soda. The industry will probably have you believe that you must buy their products and that 'true-and-tested' methods are no longer any good.. however, the truth is that baking soda does provide equally good buffering as any commercial product and it is phosphate free which is a problem with many 'low-pH' commercial buffering agents available...
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Type-R
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Joined: 31 Jul 2003
Location: East Yorkshire, UK

PostPosted: 2003.08.14(Thu)15:11    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree any pH 'fixing' products are a waste of time, and like you say add phosphates. I would never suggest using anything like that. The product I was suggesting simply adds KH it doesn't 'set' your pH. Nobody in the industry has suggested to me that baking soda causes a problem and adding in small amounts to water that already has some natural KH does no harm. In very soft water like in this case the baking soda is going to be far and away the largest buffering element present. I have been told of a similar scenario by a friend in the hobby and after a year using just baking soda in very soft water it ended up with a pH crash. I won't pretend to know how or why this happened but I was just trying to present another opinion on the long term use of the baking soda in this particular scenario. It remains my opinion that baking soda is great as a quick fix but is not a long term solution.

It seems ole' giddy has jumped ship anyway and probably wonders what we are going on about Laughing
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yhbae
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Joined: 03 Jul 2003

PostPosted: 2003.08.14(Thu)19:21    Post subject: Reply with quote

I too have the similar problem as the original poster - tap water sitting outside for 24 hours reads GH = 5 degree, KH = 2 degree and pH = 7.2. (OK, so slightly higher GH but significantly lower pH). I added baking soda (very slight amount) and I got KH = 7, pH = 8 immediately. I did not add any more baking soda, and I must have done 3 X 10% water changes since then over 5 days (I am in the middle of cycling with 3 fishes). pH stablized at 7.8, but KH has slowly dropped to 4.5. Adding more baking soda will shoot up the pH closer to 8.2 for sure.

So my question is, if I continue to use a trace of baking soda, and add driftwood or little of peat filtering, will this also bring down KH? I am assuming it will bring down pH closer to 7.0.

I am considering this because I want to try to breed some tetras and SA cichlids which prefer more acidic water. I don't want to end up with a good KH level, but pH at 8.2.
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