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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am seeing abnormally low pH and KH values is there anything I should do about them? Numbers are off the bottom of the scale for both tests (API). ph < 6.0, KH <1 see below for the rest of my water parameters. If I make a large water change they will go up, but they quickly drop over the next couple days. The low pH predates the installation of the CO2. It is apparently being caused by the Aquasoil.

TANK SET-UP AND HISTORY:

Tank has been set-up for about a month, but started with cycled media, substrate, etc), but then 2 weeks ago I added some Aquasoil Amazonia and the cycle was broken and the pH dropped to insanely low values < 6.0 (below the bottom of the range measured by API kit). I have been doing a lot of water changes to save my fish, although I lost a few catfish) but I am nearly cycled. I still have some ammonia but I also have NO2 & NO3. I am upset that there was no warning on the aquasoil that this would happen, I would not have put it in my tank.

Using Flourish Excel to supplement cheap CO2 system, and Flourish Comprehensive

15g tall (20x10x20in) tank
Eclipse 1 Hood
Replaced carbon filter cartridge with filter pad and Purigen
32w CF lighting (retrofit from the stock 15w) on 12hr/day
Redsea Turbo CO2 Bio-System (just installed)
Substrate (50% Flourite, 35% Amazonia, 15% large black gravel)

Fish: 6 female betta, 5 pygmy cories, 2 otos, and a juvenile BN Pleco.

Tap GH=10, KH=8, pH=8.0, no N compounds
Tank GH=11, KH<1, pH<6.0, last test before WC Ammonia=0, NO2=.25, NO3=5
 

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I had this problem when I first set up my tank. I have no idea why you are having it but I think mine was because I added one of those pH Down products as recommended by an LFS. Anyway this continued for about 1 month to 6 weeks and is now much better. I just kept doing water changes and adding a minimal amount of NaHCO3 to at least get my numbers to where the kH was at 2 to 3. It will also increase the pH. I wouldn't recommend this for long term because adding chemicals to the water may not be great but at least for temporary use to save your fish I don't see a problem. Many people do add at water changes with no problems though. That substrate is known to contain NH3 and be very acidic.
 

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I had this problem when I first set up my tank. I have no idea why you are having it but I think mine was because I added one of those pH Down products as recommended by an LFS. Anyway this continued for about 1 month to 6 weeks and is now much better. I just kept doing water changes and adding a minimal amount of NaHCO3 to at least get my numbers to where the kH was at 2 to 3. It will also increase the pH. I wouldn't recommend this for long term because adding chemicals to the water may not be great but at least for temporary use to save your fish I don't see a problem. Many people do add at water changes with no problems though. That substrate is known to contain NH3 and be very acidic.
I add baking soda almost weekly. My tap water has a kh of 1 dh. I would have to do a water change every other day to keep it at that level. The baking soda has not shown any side effects to date. Adding it slowly is important though, due to the ph change.
 

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Aquasoil Amazonia is meant to buffer the pH of the water to become acidic. The buffering will settle down in a few weeks, but will continue somewhat for the life of the substrate.

A lower pH helps the plants to better utilize the ammonia that is often present in a newer setup.

I agree that a user guide of some sort would be very helpful to would be ADA Amazonia users.

The product is great if you know what to expect and why to expect it.

It's basically meant to work like this.

1. Add the powersand. This provides a breeding ground for the bacteria to establish in the substrate. It also provides nutrients in the initial 4-6 weeks after setup.
2. Add the Amazonia. This has nutrients and a buffering capacity. As mentioned above this buffering makes it so the plants can use the ammonia that is present the first several weeks. This will boost their growth greatly and help them to get a head start on algae.
3. Add just enough water to barely cover the substrate. They plant your plants. Use a lot of plants to start with. Aquasoil has a lot of nutrients in it so you want to have lots of plants to use them up. Otherwise you'll get algae.
4. Wait 4-6 weeks before dosing or adding any fauna in order to let the tank cycle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Yes, unfortunately I had no idea how it was supposed to be used when I bought it. I just needed to add some mass to the substrate I already had and it looked good at the time. And it did produce huge quantities of ammonia in the beginning. I am just now getting to a point where the plants/bacteria are absorbing it as it is being released. I have had to do daily water changes for quite awhile and just now getting where I can go a few days between them. Luckily the female bettas are pretty hardy fish. Unfortunately the otos and pygmy cories weren't so lucky and it pretty much halved their population. The good part is I did plant heavily and the plants have been growing like crazy. No algae either.
 

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Sorry about the NaHCO3 bit. I have gotten so used to writing KNO3, KH2PO4, etc. on this forum that it just came out that way. I also work at a lab so it's kinda second nature. There are calculations on the net aboiut how much baking soda to add per gallon for buffering capacity, can't remember exactly but I think it's about 1 tsp per 50 gallons or something. You will probably need to add more to counteract the current process. It's pretty safe to add, just do it slowly. I did on the last bucket full of my water changes so that it was at the right concentration fromthe get go. Hope everything works out. Keep us updated.
 

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Low KH is not bad. In fact many, if not most plants grow very well with low KH. When you inject CO2 you get something like a 1.0 drop in pH due to the CO2, which is not bad either. If you use ADA Aquasoil, that also results in a lower pH, at least for the first few months. Again, that is not bad for the plants.

Some fish do better in low pH water when that is a result of low hardness water. Others do better in high pH water, where that is caused by having hard water. Unless you see problems with your fish I doubt that you will be better off by trying to raise the pH or KH, especially when you have to add more TDS (total dissolved solids) to the water to achieve the higher pH or KH.
 

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Hoppy is dead right in what he has said. I'd also like to add that a pH below 6 is not extremely low by any means. I had a killifish tank at pH4.3 for a while and the fish did brilliantly. All my tanks run at between 5 and 6 when the CO2 is on and most are 0dKH. The fish and plants do great.
 

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pH swings really aren't a big problem. Most folks percieve these swings from CO2 to be a problem, but suffocating fish via CO2 is one thing; pH values are another. My best advice would be to do small, frequent water changes. I do my wc's twice weekly (about 1/3 each time) and imo, that's just about right for a newer tank until everything begins to settle in for the long term.
 

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Many people use the EI fertilizing method, with 50% or bigger water changes every week. Those always cause the pH to temporarily go up, then back down as the CO2 builds up in the water. I don't recall anyone finding this to be a problem.

The pH of the tank water is always a result of something else. It could be tannic acids from driftwood, or rotting leaves. It could be the addition of chemicals such as pH down or up solutions. It could be CO2. It could be phosphates added by the water company to raise the pH. In fish only tanks, where chemicals added to the water stay in the water, monitoring pH can be important to avoid building up too much in the way of dissolved solids. But, in a planted tank, we add chemicals (fertilizers and CO2) all the time and the plants consume them. pH is a far lesser concern, if it is a concern at all, in planted tanks.
 

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I have the same pH and KH issues. My fish and plants thrive. I want to add snails. I had snails in my plant grow out tank and I lost a briggs. His shell got thin, like it melted away. When I did research I found it was do to the acidic water. So.... now what? Do I have a dedicated snail tank? I want them to be cleaners in my tanks. How is it that we don't have these issues with pond snails and mts snail? I don't get it. Will nerites be ok? I ended up putting some crushed coral in my plant grow out tank for them to eat and so far they seem ok. I don't know if that will stop the shell erosion. Is this why Tom Barr says to add equlibrium at each water change? (though that is GH...?:rolleyes:) What's a mother to do?!!!:confused:
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I also have a couple snails in my tank, although I didn't think to mention it when I listed my fauna. They are Spixi snails. Not sure they will survive anyway, they often get harassed by the fish. And any baby snails will become fish food because I got pond snails in my tank at one point and the fish ate them all except for the largest one whom I moved to the 5 gal tank with my male betta. Regardless I would like to give them a chance and they seem to clean out my patch micro sword which seems to be overlooked by the otos.
 
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