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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I reset up a 10 gallon tank almost 2 weeks ago attempting the Walstad method. I used existing sand and driftwood over Miracle Grow Organic potting mix. I added some granite rocks I had in another tank. It has twice the plants it did before. My Ph was always 6.8 - 7.0 in this tank and the other the granite came from.

When I first set it up my Ph was 6.4. I figured it was lower than normal from the soil. The water was clear that night, but the next morning a bacterial bloom had begun. I waited it out for a week. By the end if it the water went from milky to dark tea stained. The dark water color is pretty weird. I don't think it is from the soil, as it would have showed up in the beginning. I tested the water again. Everything was at zero (ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates) except the Ph climbed to 7.2.

I did a water change, added dechlorinator, and let it sit for 3 more days. Water is clear now. I was going to add my frog, betta, and snail back tonight, but the Ph climbed again to 7.4. My tap water is neutral. My dwarf hairgrass is dying. The other plants seem okay.

I am scared to put my critters in the tank with an unstable Ph. They are currently in a 5 gallon tank stripped of plants. :(

Any ideas what could be causing this? The only new thing added is the soil. I will be setting up a 29 gallon tomorrow using this same method, but with river rock decorations instead of granite. I am wondering if I did something wrong. :confused:
 

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Let me ask you some questions just so that I know more. The more I know the more I can help :)
Do you test your water at a similar time each day? PH will usually be low in the early morning because the plants are not photosynthesizing when the lights are off and not using CO2. It will be higher during the day because plants will be gobbling the CO2.
What does your tank look like? Giving us a picture will help us know if you have enough plants and stuff.
Did this tank have CO2 supplements before?

What I recommend now is to be patient. Keep your fish in the other container and test your new tank daily. It's not uncommon for levels to be a bit weird in a new tank. If your tank stays consistent in the next few weeks, you may be fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for your help! I do test at the same time each day (evenings). I have never used ferts or CO2. I tried to get a picture. Camera not focusing in the dark. Will try again in morning.

Oddly the Ph was 7.0 ths evening. Sooooo weird!
 

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K, welcome to APC!

First of all, don't worry about your pH right now. It will stablize as the tank matures.

MGOC is a very high-nutrient substrate unless you prepare it first (soak and drain or mineralize). It is very likely to cause an ammonia spike in the first 4-6 weeks. You can read more about this in the sticky "suitable soils" in the El Natural forum. The soil is also the source of the dark tea-color.

I suggest the following:

1. Don't put any animals in the tank yet.
2. Do frequent large water changes for the next week or two.
3. Test your water for ammonia and nitrite once a week. Home test kits are often unreliable, if you have a friendly local fish store, they will often test your water for free.
4. When your ammonia and nitrite levels are acceptable for a week with no water changes, then it is safe for the animals.

As Luffy says, more information will help us to help you. Specifically, how many plants are there in the tank, what kind of filtration, and are you using mature biomedia in the filter?

Before you set up your 29 gallon, I suggest that you prepare the MGOC to avoid some of these problems.
 
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