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Old 06-07-2014, 01:58 AM   #1
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HELP! GH & KH issues

So this tank had a crash after using a particular water dechlorinator, which after reading more, I found is often an issue in low pH and low general hardness water.

72G with Fluval FX-5

So after the crash this is where I am at...
Ammonia 4ppm
Nitrites 0
Nitrates 0

pH 6 or less, as I can not check a lower amount due to the test only foes to 6 pH.

Temp is at 80F after completing 2 weeks heat treatment for Ich which appeared during the crash.

My plan is to do two 50% pwc. Just dosed Prime to help mitigate the issue until I can figure the rest of this out.

The KH isn't even 1 drop, it turned immediately to a almost pale blue then yellow, because I couldn't believe this I added 14 more drops and it just became more yellow.

GH I used 40 drops, yes 40 and it never turned green. Just a darker orange. The drops would be greenish for a part of a second and turn immediately yellow.

Should I take out all of the fish and put into a bucket, clean out all substrate, re rinse the filter which I did less than a month ago with treated water and start over again.

I had already added about one whole large cuttlebone powdered (calcium) and dissolved into the water and a half cup of Epsom salt (magnesium). To help stabilize the GH/KH. It obviously didn't work.

I added 3 possibly 4 doses of Top fin pH increaser, and it never made any change in the test over the course of 5 days.

All these test liquids properly measure the correct levels in the other tanks so it is not a bad test fluid issue for any of these parameters.

This happened around a month ago. Lost a bunch of fish and the survivors have been doing alright but now with the higher ammonia I need to get this solved ASAP.

If you have any questions I will answer the best I can
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Old 06-07-2014, 02:23 AM   #2
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The other "normal" tank is at

API test
pH 7.2
GH 10 drops
KH 3 drops

The "normal" tank has Cuttlebone powder and a Cuttlebone too, for the Blue Velvet shrimp.

Tap water straight from the tap no resting period or treatment by me.

Gh 1-2 drops kinda was a little changed at the 1 drop but 2 for sure
KH 2 drops
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Old 06-07-2014, 05:16 AM   #3
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Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and just start it over.

I had to do this because when I started I didn't realise my substrate was not inert. PH and GH skyrocketed and stayed there. Everything I tried was only temporary fix. In the end, because a basic component of the tank setup was causing this I had no choice but to temporarily house the fish and filter. Did a complete empty, tank scrub and all the decorations and accessories with hot water.

New substrate, cleaned the filter of the gunk, made sure I didn't clean the bio matrix too much. Put it all back together with 100% new water and now almost a month later the tank is much more stable. 3KH, 8GH, 7.4pH. No ammo, no nitrites and always low nitrates cause of the plants.

Despite the pain, it was worth it. The ecosystem and most importantly the fish are a lot happier.
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Old 06-07-2014, 11:01 AM   #4
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Would not add hardness using chemicals, it will be an uphill battle to attempt to maintain those levels. If you are not attempting to keep fish that like hard water but just to add some hardness as a ph buffer.

Find a lfs or landscaping supply store that sells rock. You want some form of calcium deposit rock like lime stone... Sea shells would also do... Wash them in hot water(not boiling)

Will slowly leech carbonate into the water. Results will not be drastic but over time will have harder aquarium water. Could also switch to aragonite sand for your substrate... Goal is only to get to detectable levels if your home water has no hardness....

Envy you slightly, has taken me 3 months to get the perfect combination of driftwood and leaves to get my hardness lower lol.
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Old 06-07-2014, 11:35 AM   #5
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Did you have this before? I can't remember.

I suspect the higher temp means your tank has been decreasing kh faster than normal.

I would re-home some fish to other tank if possible, pinch media from other tank filters if possible, lots of water changes to get ammonia down.

Add baking soda (very gradually to fine tune) and then keep up the crushed cuttlebone/coral. Your other tank seem fine so I would aim for that (imo I'd like kh to be 4 minimum so I'd tweak it up but that is just me).
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Old 06-07-2014, 01:53 PM   #6
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FYI Substrate is 1 year old Eco-Complete which I purchased new back around April last year.

The other tanks are fine, I had 3 crashes on the 3 tanks that I used the Amquel Plus Dechlorinator in doing Filter cleanouts. The way I generally do pwc is 25-33% about every 10 days to 2 weeks depending on which tank, bio load, etc. If I am going to do a filter cleanout I will do a big pwc the couple weeks before. Then a couple weeks after a maybe 33-50 pwc. I never do big substrate clean, pwc and filter cleanout at the same time, just alternate to maintain as much BB as possible.

My shrimp tanks I do small pwc, maybe 10% every 10 days, they are all completely fine, no pH issues. Same with the Betta tanks but about 25% every 10 days. I have low bioloads there.

The Amquel Plus was causing the plants to die from pwc(i didn't know that then). For the month before the crashes I was doing the pwc as usual and noticed the problems with the plants, so I trimmed the leaves more, ordered new ferts (thinking they were nutrient deficient, which I got but haven't used yet due to the problem/crashes.) I didn't test for gh/kh and pH because those things usually stay level.

Within a few days of the Filter cleanouts I could see the fish were in trouble plants were loosing leaves, and it just was a giant disaster for 3 days.

Anyway, after a zillion gallons of water changes and complete clean outs of the 16G and 35G I had to treat the fish in the 72G for the Ich, that is done and haven't lost any more fish since starting the treatment.

Now I can do the complete cleanout in the 72G tank.

Presently in the 72G,
2 adult Angels came over from the 35G
4 half dollar sized Angels
1 Blackskirt
1 Neon Tetra
1 White Crayfish
1 Purple Spotted Gudgeon who will be moving to my daughter's new home in 8 weeks

16G tank is stable right now and has 1 Diamond Tetra, 1 Betta, 1 Mid sized Albino BN Pleco.

35G just has remaining sad looking plants in it. I left it alone with the plants so I could make sure there were no Ich hosts/fish. I will do pwc there and start moving over fish for big clean out.

I think all BB in the filters were killed and all the plants were melting, I lost all my moss which was beautifully growing over the DW.

Very sad over all my losses and still in mourning, but have these tough guys left. The once gorgeous 72G TOTM tank looks like a barren waste land. Very depressing.

Anyone have any idea how much magnesium in the form of pure Epsom Salt and Calcium/Cuttlebone to add to the new tap water? Or would adding any of the buffering stuff be wise or bad? I tend to not add stuff like that. As my chemistry days in school were basically non existent, I am not a chemist or a scientist and math isn't my strong point either so if any one has any info please make it in a way I can use for the calculations per gallon for example so I can extrapolate it for the pwc. for all your support.

I have a bucket of crushed coral and will maybe add a couple of socks of that into the FX-5.???

The temp is coming down from the Ich treatment. I am moving it back to 78F today.

Any other insights would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 06-07-2014, 02:03 PM   #7
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I remember you from, you know you love aquariums when. . . Post #559

You want bicarbonate to buffer your Kh.

You may hate me for this but, user error I'm afraid.

It crashed because you used up all the minerals in the water. If your tank read 0 Kh.

GH is the same it gets utilised by fish and plants.

Both GH and Kh are easy to maintain using an appropriate powder. Most firms make a type, they are pretty much the same thing.

GH and Kh do not stay the same.
In most cases a sufficient water change is enough to maintain these levels.

The high GH is caused by evaporation, minerals stay behind.

You have good soft water to start with I think. Assuming no nitrate.

A separate Kh and GH powder are all you need. Some are GH and Kh combined, read the label!
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Old 06-07-2014, 03:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J.Mcpeak View Post
You want bicarbonate to buffer your Kh.

You may hate me for this but, user error I'm afraid.

It crashed because you used up all the minerals in the water. If your tank read 0 Kh.

GH is the same it gets utilised by fish and plants.

Both GH and Kh are easy to maintain using an appropriate powder. Most firms make a type, they are pretty much the same thing.

GH and Kh do not stay the same.
In most cases a sufficient water change is enough to maintain these levels.

The high GH is caused by evaporation, minerals stay behind.

You have good soft water to start with I think. Assuming no nitrate.

A separate Kh and GH powder are all you need. Some are GH and Kh combined, read the label!
No, no hate...

What about the bicarbonate, is baking soda acceptable or just what comes in the bottles for like a reef or the API bottles or ???, suggestion on a type? I need to keep the 2 items separate I guess to get them to come out better for the levels required. I can start adding it in asap if I know what to get and how much to add.

I have the Top Fin pH Increase, which contains Sodium Carbonate and it says to add 1ml per 10 gallons. So just keep adding it per directions, until it finally registers on the test?
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Old 06-07-2014, 03:58 PM   #9
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Can we get some more information?

It seems really strange that the ph and kh bottomed out like thqt.

What's your source water measure at for tap and ph?
How much have you been changing out?
What was your water change schedule like before the crash?

Thankfully, with a ph of 6 the ammonia is for the most part converted into ammonium which is a much safer compound.
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Old 06-07-2014, 04:54 PM   #10
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Mebbid there is Kh2 @ source. Post 2.
I use nt labs products.
It all looks basically the same to mix. A powder into liquid. Simple enough.

Normally I test on 1 litre, then scale up to 25, test that and make any adjustments. It's easier to add a little bit than remove some.
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Old 06-07-2014, 06:31 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Autumnsky View Post
No, no hate...



What about the bicarbonate, is baking soda acceptable or just what comes in the bottles for like a reef or the API bottles or ???, suggestion on a type? I need to keep the 2 items separate I guess to get them to come out better for the levels required. I can start adding it in asap if I know what to get and how much to add.



I have the Top Fin pH Increase, which contains Sodium Carbonate and it says to add 1ml per 10 gallons. So just keep adding it per directions, until it finally registers on the test?

With tap gh and kh of 2 and then adding buffers you will always need to be testing (should you go down that road). Anytime there is a change in the tank, the amount of kh being used will vary so unfortunately it isn't possible to set a dose rate and leave.

The crushed coral/cuttlebone is a better long term fix but I've found that is very slow (although I don't let ph go below 7 now so not unexpected).

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) will improve kh. The ph up product you have sounds similar to that.

I would do a lot of water changes first because as mentioned above, the ammonia will become more dangerous as ph increases. Also with temp increase ammonia is more of a problem so if temp doesn't need to be high anymore I would gradually reduce temp. Also at ph of 6, the bacteria has gone dormant or died off so it's a slow road back.

I've picked up a bottle of nutrafin kh booster pretty cheap. Plan to try that next summer.
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Old 06-08-2014, 03:28 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mebbid View Post
Can we get some more information?

It seems really strange that the ph and kh bottomed out like thqt.

What's your source water measure at for tap and ph?
How much have you been changing out?
What was your water change schedule like before the crash?

Thankfully, with a ph of 6 the ammonia is for the most part converted into ammonium which is a much safer compound.
Posts 2 and 3 I think covers most of that...I know it is VERY long.

I had been late on the pwc for the big tank but the other tanks were all being kept up on a regular basis.

The culprit contributing factor is the Dechlorinator in conjunction with the low KH/GH from what other people have said this has happened quite often. When there is a low kh and pH this is a BAD choice to use. I researched "using the product", but did not research "problems using the product" until after I had a problem. Then I found all these people with severe crashes and problems.

I didn't realize how critical it was to check the GH/KH but I will now make sure to keep adding the kh increaser (based on the tests), which is slightly different than pH up product.

Obviously our water is low on some things, and with the lack of ferts (which I think added some extra stuff to the water, I hadn't used any for about 8 months, coupled with the dechlorinator, I also hadn't added as much or as regularly, the Cuttlebone as I had in the past.

Today I picked up a new bottle of Prime, as I just ran out last night,

Also thanks for the reminder Mebbid about the ammonium and that reminded me also to remember to slowly acclimate the fish to the new water, as a jump in at least 1 point pH is a big one for them. And the ammonia will pop up as the pH increases. These poor fish! None of this is a simple or easy fix.

Complete water change and clean on the 72G and will need to cycle the tank again. I don't have any significant "extra" BB, all were in one of these 3 tanks. This is such a hard lesson.
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Old 06-08-2014, 06:25 AM   #13
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Out of interest where is the water conditioner meant to cause problems? Is it binding ammonia or something? Just curious as hadn't heard of it.

Low kh - fun and games
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Old 06-08-2014, 07:22 AM   #14
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Sorry to hear about your tank.
It sounds like, for what ever reason, your BB have been severely depleted. A fish in cycle seems your only way forward unless you can temp rehouse your fish. Probably the best way forward.
I use Eco complete and it presents no problems. I have a fair few MTS which keep the substrate turned over and rarely do a 'gravel' clean as it is too heavily planted. If I have to do any underwater gardening (disturbing the substrate) then I dose the whole tank with Prime in case ammonia levels are upset.
My tap water is Kh and Gh 0. I add 2.5 ml bicarb of soda and 2.5 ml of equilibrium (epson salts would work but I don't know the dosage) to every 10l of tap. This gives me Kh and Gh of about 6. Ph stabilises out at around 7. This works for me and the tank is very stable.
I use Prime to de chlorinate.
I personally choose not to introduce rocks/shells or coral to raise Gh as I don't want to exceed Gh of 6. I have soft water fish.
Good luck with the tank.
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Old 06-08-2014, 01:58 PM   #15
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Out of interest where is the water conditioner meant to cause problems? Is it binding ammonia or something? Just curious as hadn't heard of it.

Low kh - fun and games

I googled different aspects, like problems using Amquel Plus, and read the bad reviews of Amquel Plus.

I can't remember the scientific roll out of the issue but it was something to that effect maybe binding carbonates or something, That night I read about stuff for hours.

The common theme were people who never did pwc and others who had low pH and or low kh. Few to no pwc can cause a ph crash all by itself. The chemical/science part of this is my least favorite part in fish keeping.

It works differently than Prime and somehow eliminates the ammonia etc, whereas Prime just detoxifies it for a period, so they say, it is by Kordon you can read about it there, I read story after story how the exact thing happened.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ScotJudd View Post
Sorry to hear about your tank.
It sounds like, for what ever reason, your BB have been severely depleted. A fish in cycle seems your only way forward unless you can temp rehouse your fish. Probably the best way forward.
I use Eco complete and it presents no problems. I have a fair few MTS which keep the substrate turned over and rarely do a 'gravel' clean as it is too heavily planted. If I have to do any underwater gardening (disturbing the substrate) then I dose the whole tank with Prime in case ammonia levels are upset.
My tap water is Kh and Gh 0. I add 2.5 ml bicarb of soda and 2.5 ml of equilibrium (epson salts would work but I don't know the dosage) to every 10l of tap. This gives me Kh and Gh of about 6. Ph stabilises out at around 7. This works for me and the tank is very stable.
I use Prime to de chlorinate.
I personally choose not to introduce rocks/shells or coral to raise Gh as I don't want to exceed Gh of 6. I have soft water fish.
Good luck with the tank.
Yes thank you for the info, my tank will also be on the lower pH and softer side with Cardinals and Angels and some Rainbows.
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