KatieF Posted June 23, 2022 Share Posted June 23, 2022 Hi all! I’m a beginner aquarist hoping for a bit of advice. I’m sorry, I tend to be wordy (which is one reason I love forums and hate facebook!). Please bear with me… For background, I started this January with a new 10 gallon, then added an already fully set up 29 gallon I purchased second hand, and finally a 300 gallon front porch stock tank pond. This question is specifically about the 10 gallon (although it’s application will spill over to everything else). The 10 gallon is lightly planted with some baby Java Fern’s and an unknown variety of moss. I have surface spring water. Out of the tap parameters are: pH: 6.0 GH: 3-4 KH: 1 (A note here, I’m not color blind but have a hard time distinguishing between subtle shades. The pH might be a little above 6, but it’s definitely no more than 6.4. My husband is no help, as he actually is color blind.) This is the water I started the 10 gallon with. I have the Co-Op test strips, which only measure down to 6.4 pH. I knew my water was at least that low. GH and KH also registered 0 on the strips (best I could judge, see note above). I later picked up API test kits to obtain the above numbers. Anyway, at the beginning, I didn’t understand those numbers very well. I was concerned with ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. Once those 3 were good, I added (over a few weeks) 6 zebra danios, 8 ghost shrimp, and 2 nerite snails. I also have trumpet snails that came with the Java fern (started with 2 and now have MANY!). I continued to learn and became worried the pH was too low in general, and the GH was too low for snails and shrimp. I started with a quarter size piece of cuttle bone. It dissolved quickly (think days) and left an ugly mess of grit on the floor and aquarium walls. I repeated a time or two but did not like this method at all. I watched more YouTube, and tried adding some oyster shells & crushed coral (the mix feed stores sell for chickens). I only added maybe 1/4 pound sprinkled on top of the gravel substrate, which brought the 10 gallon’s parameters to: pH: 7.6 GH: 10-11 KH: 3 Over the last 5 months I’ve lost 2 danios. Both isolated themselves from the rest and hid toward the bottom of the tank before one disappeared (I still had a few shrimp then and maybe they ate him that fast?), and the other passed on. I don’t know what caused the deaths, but it was nothing obvious to me like ick or fin rot. It was several months between the two deaths. The shrimp are all gone now as well. All my stock comes from PetCo (it’s all I have access to within an hour’s drive), so I chalked it up to survival of the fittest. The losses aren’t really my question, though perhaps they are relevant. I’m ok with the look of the oyster shell. But I feel like I have 2 problems now. First, the parameter change seems very dramatic for no more oyster shell than I added. I am under the belief it will dissolve over time and I’ll need to add more. How do I know when to add more and how much? Will it dramatically increase parameters again? Even more so as I add more? How do I know how much to add? I did not expect it to have such an effect on the pH. The co-op videos recommend a pound per 10 gallons. I did a fraction of that and feel like even that was almost too much. Second, what about the difference in parameters when I do water changes? This is my biggest concern. Am I shocking these poor fish and causing harm? I was water changing a gallon once a week or so, but for the past few weeks I’ve been gravel vaccing about twice a week, at closer to 2.5 gallons at a time in an effort to reduce food for the snails and thus the snail population. It didn’t occur to me at the time about the parameter difference between the tank and my added water (which was straight out of the tap). Now that it has, I’m struggling to understand how best to deal with it. I have read that parameter swings are harder on fish than outlying ones that remain steady (to a point, of course). Am I trying too hard here? Should I go with my spring water as is and just find the things that can do well in it as is? Or is it just too low for pretty much anything to thrive? I’m not particular in wanting rare or fancy fish. I like beginner friendly and hardy (and inexpensive). Community tanks are my favorite. I’d really like to add some shrimp eventually (cherry or crystal, I don’t really care), and I do like my snails. I normally use a gallon pitcher to refill from water changes. I’m ok to add a few chemicals to the pitcher before I dump it in the tank. But what? There are so many options and so many opinions, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all. My life is extremely busy and these tanks are my stress relief. As such, I need them to be easy and routine. I don’t want to have to buy water (I only get to town every 3-4 weeks). I do have access to city water (which I have not tested), but it would be a pain to use it (it’s 100 yards away in the barn) and I really don’t want to if I have another, fairly simple option. For those that made it through all this, thank you! Any suggestions for how to move forward? ~Katie 3 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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