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Old 03-13-2009, 10:03 AM   #1
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Need help with water

I have a 55 gal tank that has been set up for 2 years. I initially tried to get the PH to 7.0, but it would never go there no matter what I did. I didn’t want to make my tank a chemical soup. I have done my water changes every couple of weeks, only feed fish once a day. About 6 months ago I added live plants. Now I get algae blooms.

So I began testing the water again. I don’t have a KH/GH kit yet. After 24 hrs of letting it sit, my tap water tested this way with quick dip test strips: Nitrite 0, Nitrate 0, Total Hardness 25, Chlorine 0, Alkalinity 40, PH 6.8. After 48 ours of letting it sit the readings became Nitrite .5, Nitrate 20, Total Hardness 0, Chlorine 0, Alkalinity 80, PH 6.2.

I tested my tank water for a few days with the following results:

Day 1 (test strips) – Nitrate 20, Nitrite .5, Hardness 300, Chlorine 0, Alkalinity 0, PH 6.2

Day 2 (test strips) – Nitrate 20, Nitrite .5, Hardness 150, Chlorine 0, Alkalinity 0, PH 6.2

Day 2 (test tubes) – Nitrate 0, Nitrite 0, PH 6.0, Phosphate 10

At this point I added some PH up. After 24 hrs the results were:

Day 3 (test strips) – Nitrate 0, Nitrite .5, Hardness 150, Chlorine 0, Alkalinity 40, PH 6.2

Day 4 (test strips) – Nitrate 20, Nitrite .5, Hardness 150, Chlorine 0, Alkalinity 40, PH 6.2

Here I did a 12% water change and vacuumed the gravel. After 24 hours the results were:

Day 5 (test strips) – Nitrate 20, Nitrite .5, Hardness 300, Chlorine 0, Alkalinity 0, PH 6.2

Day 5 (test tubes) – Nitrate 0, Nitrite 0, PH 6.0, Phosphate 10, Ammonia .25

Can anyone suggest why my tank water is hard if my tap water isn’t? Is there anything I can do for the PH? Any other suggestions would be helpful. I read the forums on water chemistry, but somethings not right with mine.

I stock mollies, swordtails, gouramis, danios, plecos, tigerbarbs. I added a red tail shark recently and he died.

Thanks for any help you can provide.
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Old 03-13-2009, 08:24 PM   #2
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Hi and welcome to AA!

It is indeed strange to see your tap water change like that.

If I understand it correctly, your tap water has an INCREASE of alkalinity, but a decrease of pH, and appearance of nitrite AND nitrates after sitting out for 48 hours <all on its own in a clean container I presume>. This makes no sense at all. I might have to blame the test stripes, as those are known to be rather inaccurate. <And the appearance of nitrates also don't make sense, the nitrogenous waste - at 20 pm no less - has to come from somewhere. You don't get that just letting the water sit.>

pH Up will not work too well to increase your pH. It does not have enough buffering capacity & you tend to have yo-yo-ing pH instead. You need to add buffers such as Ca CO3 (crush coral, shells, limestone) or NaHCO3 (baking soda) or a commercial buffer to achieve a stable high pH.
However, I wouldn't go out & start doctoring your water just yet. You need to find out what is truly happening to the water. I think a good test kit is in order.

If the pH is stable & you have adequate buffering capacity, there is no need to mess with the water at all. Fish don't really need an "ideal" pH. A stable pH is much more important.
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Old 03-19-2009, 04:35 PM   #3
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Thanks. Right now everything (Nitrate, Nitrite, Ammonia) is at 0 ppm in the tank, but PH is 6 and phosphate still high. If I wanted to get the tank gradually to a PH of 7, that would mean when I changed water I couldn't just put the tap water in. I would need to pretreat that too, making more work. My GH/KH kit should be in soon. I'll see what that tells me about my tap water as well.
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Old 03-20-2009, 09:47 AM   #4
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I checked KH/GH yesterday. KH is 6 degrees and GH is 12+. Which doesn't make sense. Hardness = Alkaline but I have acidic water accoding to PH level.
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Old 03-20-2009, 10:45 AM   #5
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Some cities use buffers in their water to keep it from causing the pipes to corrode. That might be why your water readings is changing after 48 hours.
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Old 03-20-2009, 03:59 PM   #6
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A KH of 6 should keep your pH nice & stable. It is much lower than predicted so I think there is a secondary buffer present. Either the water is full of phosphate, nitrates or the water had been doctored at the water plant. <It is also possible that the water co had added Ca(OH)2 to increase the pH temporary, this would account for the high GH.>

At any rate, if your pH is stable at 6, with a half decent KH, I would just leave it alone & acclimatice your fish to that pH.
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