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I cant image anyone will want to read all of this but hoping there is a friendly Nerm out there willing to help this baffled aquarist.  I have kept aquariums for 25 plus years but only recently (after stumbling upon Cory's YouTube videos ..darn him) have become obsessed.  I have 6 aquariums from 10 gallons to 300 gallons.  I need help connecting some water parameter dots.  No major issues but hoping someone can give me some advise on managing my 300 gallon tank ...

300 gallon tank, Nitrates 50-100 ( consistently even with regular 25% water changes) , Nitrite 0, PH 6.4, KH always 0, GH always 75-150

Tank set up for 5 months

Inhabitants (3) mega tin foil barbs ( 10 inches or so), 2 large clown loaches ( 4-5 inches), 2 large leopard loaches (3-4 inches)  12" pleco * note all of these fish are at least 10years old, moved from 100 gallon tank 4 months ago

Newer fish( added 3 months ago)  include (2) red spot gold Severums and (5) of the happiest cutest little bubble rams on the planet &  (2) red parrot fish

Substrate : fluval stratum

Plants: anubias, java fern , amazon sword, valisnaria ...some others i don't know name off but all getting covered by bba

Light : two 48 fluval plant lights on planted light setting

Water supply: well water with water softener.  out of the tap PH 7.2  GH25  KH80

Filtration: Eshopps fusion flow 300 sump and two large Aquarium Co-op sponge filters

Question/Issues

1. My fish are healthy and happy but I am uneasy with my water parameters because I would like to add Chinese algae eaters or Florida flag fish for black beard algae problem and I am concerned that my ph is too low for them

2. Black beard algae problem.  help me please!

3. I was dosing ezgreen regularly but then worried that with my substrate I was adding too many nutrients so backed off, I was also using easy carbon but backed off that also.  So hard to know if I was on the right track or not...

 

fish2.jpg.618c8093ca57a145a1903f7b2d866a45.jpg

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You've been keeping fish longer than me, so take my input with a huge grain of salt. I just got a fluval 3 light for a planted setup myself - and it can definitely grow plants! I started with the planted setting too, but quickly backed off realizing it was going to grow tons of algae because of how bright it was for so many hours a day. I'm running at less than 70% capacity now.

I'm also on well water, but no softener - maybe part of the answer is the method through which you are softening your water? I'm usually at 200gh myself and around the same PH as you, no BBA but green hair algae because of my iron levels.

The other aspect I am wondering about is keeping nitrates as high as you are? I rarely go over 20ppm and plants are thriving - you may be feeding your BBA?

Love your fish selection and they look great. I don't see why flag fish wouldn't do ok at 7.2? I just added Siamese Algae Eaters to my tank currently running at 7.5 - do the CAEs eat BBA?

I've probably provided more questions than answers! I would consider trying less ferts and light. From all I've read, blackout doesn't really work for long or at all, so I think you're on the right track to look at parameters and lighting.

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thank you so much for your reply!  I will definitely look at changing light settings.  Our home water softening system I think is a salt based softener as my husband is always lugging in big bags of salt from Lowes.

I agree my Nitrates are high.  None of my other tanks run that high and it is part of my concern.  Big fish big poop is probably part of it.  I am going to increase the the frequency of my water changes for a few weeks to see if I can get it down some.

My tank PH is actually 6.4 ( tap was 7.2) which is why I am concerned about adding fish.

It just perplexes me that my water is soft from the tap and neutral PH but in my tank it is hard (150) and acidic.  I do think I probably would have been better off without the Fluval Stratum for substrate. 

I feel like I am struggling to keep pace in a race when I don't know where the finish line is.  LOL.  I am sure the solution is obvious.  I will play with lighting and step up my water changes. 

thanks again!

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The stratum is pulling the kh out. Unless you use some crushed coral to rebalance it will keep that water very soft. It’s an active soil designed for shrimp and planted tanks where the advantages of the pH being below 7 are great for shrimps like Caridina. 
Flow - can you see the leaves shimmy a little bit throughout the tank? Are there some dead spots for flow? BBA likes those dead spots to grow. A well positioned power head can be helpful. 
There’s a great thread on the Fluval 3.0 on our forum in terms of settings. @Jawjagrrlhas led you to a good spot rarely can someone get away with your present settings without CO2. 
Im a fan of Siamese Algae Eaters instead of the Chinese. Superior algae eaters. A dozen nerites may also really help. A good cleanup crew is invaluable. 
Beautiful tank, sounds like a great well thought out setup. As always this is a process the journey is the destination in this hobby. Have fun!

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Thank you beardedbillygoat1,

I wondered about crushed coral... I was confused though because what I read said it would indeed increase kH but also increase GH which is already quite high.

Good suggestion for flow...  Where would you position a power head on a big tank like this... at one end?

Would you be concerned about my low ph for those Siamese Algae eaters?

Will check out fluval 3.0 forum thread

Last questionI don't know much about snails and not sure I can order them ( I live in Maine) but are they large?  I think my clown loaches would make a quick meal of them.

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On 5/14/2022 at 12:46 PM, Beardedbillygoat1975 said:

The stratum is pulling the kh out. Unless you use some crushed coral to rebalance it will keep that water very soft. It’s an active soil designed for shrimp and planted tanks where the advantages of the pH being below 7 are great for shrimps like Caridina. 

I am using stratum in all my tanks with no change in kh that I can observe - around 80 in the new and older setups? I'm 7.1 out of the tap. Not sure if other factors are balancing that out though, like a high GH? 

But i have odd things of late I'm working out - like my my new co2 planted 55 is running at 7.5. Or why my no-tech lemonade jar with one granite rock tested at 8.4 this week?!?

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On 5/14/2022 at 1:21 PM, AquaAries said:

Thank you beardedbillygoat1,

I wondered about crushed coral... I was confused though because what I read said it would indeed increase kH but also increase GH which is already quite high.

Good suggestion for flow...  Where would you position a power head on a big tank like this... at one end?

Would you be concerned about my low ph for those Siamese Algae eaters?

Will check out fluval 3.0 forum thread

Last questionI don't know much about snails and not sure I can order them ( I live in Maine) but are they large?  I think my clown loaches would make a quick meal of them.

Are you listing your GH and KH in degrees or PPM? People reference crushed coral a lot, but I have one tank where I used 1/4 cup of it - and it's kept my PH in that tank .4 higher than all the others ever since. Even with plants. As I mentioned, both GH and KH are high/very high in my well.

I recently added a powerhead to my newest tank and started with it at one end and sponges on the other and didn't like the way the flow worked, neither did my plants. I moved the powerhead to face front, but still at the end and it's working much better. Still lots of flow, but areas for the fish that don't like as much current to hang out. My loaches are loving to "surf" through it all day long!

I second the SAEs over CAE - have heard some unpleasant things from NERM buddies years ago about their aggressive behavior towards tankmates, even trying to feed on their slimecoat. Have not seen any info about SAE having problems around neutral - I'm planning on adding more.

Nerites are great! I got mine through ebay last year and they are still chugging along. They are about 1", so you'd have to gauge if your loaches could eat them at that size. I came across limpet nerites recently that look a bit more like a scallop and hug flat to surfaces, so might fare better? Fair warning though - the nerites will leave eggs on your wood and rock that are kinda hard to remove, and some people don't like this "glitter" in their tanks. I don't mind it and find them a nice addition.

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Posted (edited)
On 5/14/2022 at 9:46 AM, Beardedbillygoat1975 said:

The stratum is pulling the kh out. Unless you use some crushed coral to rebalance it will keep that water very soft. It’s an active soil designed for shrimp and planted tanks where the advantages of the pH being below 7 are great for shrimps like Caridina. 

This is exactly what I was going to mention.  I would keep doing water changes until the substrate stops leeching out so severely, especially given the size of the tank it might take a long time.

 

On 5/14/2022 at 10:21 AM, AquaAries said:

I wondered about crushed coral... I was confused though because what I read said it would indeed increase kH but also increase GH which is already quite high.

Here's the co-op blog post on the topic.  There is also a real fish talk youtube video specifically about KH and crushed coral that might be helpful.  https://www.aquariumcoop.com/blogs/aquarium/ph-gh-kh
 



If your KH testing shows you need to raise it up, then you would want to add crushed coral and keep up with water changes until things stabilize.  It's a massive tank and you may end up "capping" sections of the tank with aragonite or something to try to slow down and prevent some of the leeching as well.  The KH will rise, your PH will rise, GH will (or may) rise as well, but given that the plants will use some of those, it will drop off a bit. Essentially, the roof/ceiling is very high and you're going to go from say... 300+ to 330+, not too bad.  The Floor (i.e. KH) is going to go from low/soft to medium and hopefully stabilize at a base where the PH and parameters stay a bit more stable long term.

 

 

On 5/14/2022 at 10:21 AM, AquaAries said:

Would you be concerned about my low ph for those Siamese Algae eaters?

Mine were at low 6.x and they didn't care too much. (6.3 range).  SAEs are pretty hearty and just really care and focus on eating.

On 5/14/2022 at 9:14 AM, AquaAries said:

I feel like I am struggling to keep pace in a race when I don't know where the finish line is.  LOL.  I am sure the solution is obvious.  I will play with lighting and step up my water changes. 

If you wish, check out some of the photos of my BBA/Staghorn algae issues in my tank (it's only a 29G) in my journal post and see how that compares with a bit of what you're dealing with.  I've gone through everything under the sun to try to get things stable.

1. Fixing KH now.
2. Fixing lighting dead spots now
3. Giving the tank time and water changes / monitoring to fix issues long term (the race)

I don't think the Fluval lights are going to cause as severe algae issues as people think.  You can adjust them, and you can turn them down. The goal, the concept being that if you're running full bore 100% lights, you might just have to slow things down a bit while the tank and nutrients stabilize themselves.  The sweet spot for me is about ~85% power for a "somewhat tall tank" for "plants that require a good amount of light to carpet."

On 5/14/2022 at 8:54 AM, Jawjagrrl said:

Love your fish selection and they look great. I don't see why flag fish wouldn't do ok at 7.2? I just added Siamese Algae Eaters to my tank currently running at 7.5 - do the CAEs eat BBA?

as far as I know for "certainty" only amano's and SAEs would reliably eat BBA.  At a certain size stuff like the flying fox or CAE won't eat algae anymore.

 

On 5/14/2022 at 10:21 AM, AquaAries said:

Last questionI don't know much about snails and not sure I can order them ( I live in Maine) but are they large?  I think my clown loaches would make a quick meal of them.

Good point. I definitely would not go that direction if that is a food you feed normally.  There are species of snails that do get a bit of cover (Malaysian Trumpets for instance) but I would still be weary of that as a solution unless you don't mind the risk of losses and eggs in the tank.

Edited by nabokovfan87
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I would say it would depend on how large the loaches and the nerites are but that’s a fair point. 
Where is the output for the sump? That could help me figure out where the dead spots are. The other thing I’ve seen people do is put some food coloring or something non-toxic could even do Ich-X or something and watch the flow if the coloring gets caught in a spot you know where your dead spots are. In a 300 there could be a few necessitating a couple powerheads. 
You'll read varying reports about crushed coral. You could grab a 5 gallon bucket, some stratum and a cup of crushed coral and let it sit for a week with an airstone and measure the parameters at the beginning and the end. In a low pH setup it may pull a lot of the minerals out pretty quickly. 

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I think you will be ok adding the Florida flag fish I have 6.4 ph and 300+ GH and they do well. I would continue with the with the easy carbon for the black algae. If that not enough I used a hydrogen peroxide in a syringe with out a needle. They have the at most pharmacy’s if you ask for a liquid medicine syringe or you can get the online or pet/farm stores. The cabin should be fine, but I agree with the stopping of easy green, it looks like most of your plant would do better with fert tabs anyway.  Nice tank, I want to go to that size but half that is good for now. 

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Thank you Brandon and everyone!  I have a plan now and your input has really helped me focus.  I have done a second water change ( about 60--70 gallons) and this temporarily reduced my Nitrate down to 75  ( using Aquarium co-op strips).  Hardness came down a little too.  the KH pad actually started to color up a little where it has always been zero.  This morning Nitrate was back up around 100.  KH is still blushing the pad.  I'll do another water change tomorrow.

I ordered some more plants ( watersprite), adding back the easy carbon, I positioned a large Pothos on top of the tank and dangled de-leaved tendrils down into the water which i know will root up and start assisting with the Nitrate.

I ordered a power head and some crushed coral.  

When I have stabilized my parameters a little more i will order up some Siamese algae eaters.  How many do you think?  2 or 3?

Amazing support!  thank you!

Oh PS.  I have syringes and can try the peroxide trick.  I wonder if just dipping them ( saving roots out) in a solution vs syringing?

 

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On 5/14/2022 at 2:04 PM, nabokovfan87 said:

 

The KH will rise, your PH will rise, GH will (or may) rise as well, but given that the plants will use some of those, it will drop off a bit. Essentially, the roof/ceiling is very high and you're going to go from say... 300+ to 330+, not too bad.  The Floor (i.e. KH) is going to go from low/soft to medium and hopefully stabilize at a base where the PH and parameters stay a bit more stable long term.

This is the most succinct explanation I've heard of GH/KH yet. Thank you. I've been struggling to wrap my brain around the subject for a while now. I've been having similar issues of low KH, higher GH & low pH. 

@AquaAries definitely NOT 2 SAE 😅 I made that mistake & now they're each in their own tank. I've read they do well singly or in groups of 6. Mine have only been separated a couple weeks, but they seem to be doing great alone. They're in with other fish & don't bother them at all. My tanks also run on the acidic side, 6.3-6.5, and the SAE seem unbothered & are growing fast. 

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