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Old 01-31-2023, 02:42 PM   #1
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1 Month, Not Cycled, Lowest PH Reading

If I am correct, ammonia is less toxic at lower PH. But the downside is that the cycle may never get started or take ages in lower PH. So should I leave it alone or attempt to slowly raise it to 7 over the course of a month or so?

The fish appear happy and healthy. One has a little black mustache and slightly blackened fin tips but does not appear to be spreading.

BACKSTORY

I was given 3 goldfish about 1 month ago. I have done much research and definitely would have preferred a fishless cycle but I'm here now so I'm doing my best with my 70 degrees Fahrenheit 10gallon tank with sponge and hang over filter with about 1/2 inch deep gravel and a few artificial decorations.

I use seachem prime daily. I use seachem stability daily for 7 days and now only after a 50% water change after gravel vacuuming (about once every 3-4 days).

I have been monitoring with liquid test kit and ammonia usually sits around 1 to 2 ppm. No nitrites or nitrates.

I recently discovered my PH is showing the lowest on the scale (6.4ppm) so it may actually indeed be lower than that and will not change color. I have city water and tested it, it has the same PH results as my fish tank water.

Thank you so much!

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Old 01-31-2023, 02:56 PM   #2
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If you want to genuinely do right by the fish you need a much bigger tank. Goldfish should be nowhere near a 10g tank, 3 goldfish certainly shouldnt be. They should be in 50g minimum, or rehomed if you cant accommodate a suitable home.

Your efforts would be better aimed a cycling a more suitable home they can live out their lives in.

There are many types of micro-orgsnism that consume ammonia ultimately leading to nitrate. Some operate at lower pH, but i tend to agree these may take longer to develop.

Your issue may be more related to low carbonate hardness (KH) than pH. KH is needed for the nitrogen cycle to function. If you have low to zero KH your tank simply wont cycle. Do you know your KH? If you dont have a test for KH your water company should be able to provide the information, often online.

KH can be added into an aquarium through crushed coral in the filter or a piece of cuttlefish bone in the aquascape. Be aware though that raising KH will also raise your pH. And as you have mentioned higher pH will make the ammonia more toxic. Your ammonia levels are quite high and 3 waste heavy goldfish in such a small tank will make the water difficult to keep safe. In addition to being a more suitable long term home, a bigger tank, more water, will dilute the waste and make cycling a much safer prospect.
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Old 01-31-2023, 05:01 PM   #3
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Aiken is correct. There is emerging evidence that suggests there are certain types of microbes that operate at lower pH and prefer ammonium (the non toxic form of ammonia) as a substrate.

Many aquarists run their tanks on virtually 0KH so Iíd assume that we would have heard about it now if it was ever going to be an issue. Previously studies organisms do rely on KH and ammonia as a substrate but are not the dominant microbes in aquarium filters.
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Old 01-31-2023, 05:07 PM   #4
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Aiken is correct. There is emerging evidence that suggests there are certain types of microbes that operate at lower pH and prefer ammonium (the non toxic form of ammonia) as a substrate.

Many aquarists run their tanks on virtually 0KH so Iíd assume that we would have heard about it now if it was ever going to be an issue. Previously studies organisms do rely on KH and ammonia as a substrate but are not the dominant microbes in aquarium filters.
See. Someone reads all the things you put on here. Im still not sure that it completely detaches the nitrogen cycle from alkalinity/ KH though.
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Old 01-31-2023, 05:28 PM   #5
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My KH is 0. My TAL is 50. My GH is 30. I will purchase new PH test strips that can detect a lower range than 6.4 so I can obtain reliable test result.

But it sounds like Caliban contradicted him/herself.

First said that Aiken is correct. But then said that many aquarists run on 0KH.

Forgive me if I read that wrong. Please advise. Thank you.
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Old 01-31-2023, 05:36 PM   #6
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Caliban was saying that low pH isnt going to prevent a tank cycling. Thats certainly true. People cycle tanks with very low pH all the time.

While low KH and low pH tend to go together, low pH doesnt necessarily mean there is insufficient KH for the nitrogen cycle. Especially if KH is replenished for instance with regular water changes.

0KH on the other hand?
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Old 01-31-2023, 05:43 PM   #7
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See. Someone reads all the things you put on here. Im still not sure that it completely detaches the nitrogen cycle from alkalinity/ KH though.

Iím glad someone else is finally using the term microbes in place of bacteria

Itís too difficult to say. Some evidence suggests that these microbes can fix CO2 which will be the dominant form of carbon in acidic conditions.

The way I look at it is that nature is just too complex for us to have all the answers. What we know now will change again in another 5 years. I just donít believe that nature is that reliant on one set of parameters though it merely transitions. Of course there will be periods of unrest when things are transitioning but things will one again stabilise. I consider a system that is reliant on KH to keep harmful levels of ammonia nitrogen down flawed, and nature doesnít do flawed. It simply evolves.

Everything on planet earth is recycled. However way you cut it, the water we are told to change on our aquarium every week is the same water that has been going around since the seas were created (comets)
All the necessary cycles exist in our aquariums. They are closed systems yes. But so is planet earth.

So I stopped worrying. I worried too long and now I just let nature do its thing and observe. I like to push the boundaries of what we believe to see if they break. Most of the time they donít and not once have I seen anything to suggest that my fish are unhappy or unhealthy.

Lastly, even if the nitrogen cycle was reliant on KH. Donít you think it is such a wonderful thing that as the pH drops the lifeforms are spared because unionised ammonia becomes ammonium and that plants prefer ammonium as their nitrogen source? This is no accident. This is evolution. A mechanism adapted to ensure life goes on.
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Old 01-31-2023, 05:59 PM   #8
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Thank you both i have much to think about here
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Old 02-01-2023, 02:38 PM   #9
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OK got new strips to measure PH and it is 6.0 which is quite low. I don't know the environment in which they were bred or even where they came from (like I said they were given to me by a person who has almost no knowledge of goldfish).

Should I really attempt to adjust PH and KH? I have heard that it's more important to offer a steady PH rather than trying to tweak it.

I have calculated that the "free" ammonia is at an incredibly low ratio (.0007 when full ammonia reading is 2ppm) at this PH level so would I do more harm than good by trying to correct this situation and potentially running the risk of swings?

I wouldn't have to worry about nitrites or nitrates poisoning fish because they in all likelihood will not ever show up in this low PH (none yet anyways), just the .000# "free" ammonia that I can remedy by weekly water changes.

I'm not trying to be lazy I'm just trying to do the right thing within a realistic degree.

Thanks.
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Old 02-01-2023, 02:58 PM   #10
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Personally i would and try a get the KH up and that will raise pH also. Crushed coral in the filter or some cuttlefish bone in the tank will slowly disolve and not cause too rapid swing. But you would need to do a lot of work to keep water quality good as the higher pH will make the ammonia toxic.

But to go back to my original post, you need to address the living environment. Those fish will grow to 10 or 12" if kept in a suitable environment. If not they will stunt and suffer ill health and shortened lifespans. If they are 2 to 3" each thats already getting too big for your tank. Really no point in dealing with cycling this tank. In such a small tank I can see you needing to do several water changes every day to keep up with water quality, and ultimately the tank and filtration wont be enough to keep up with the fishes growth.

Just to give you an idea on how these fish should grow, this is a recent thread where the OP and her friend have kept their goldfish 20 years and those fish have had a healthy life in a suitably sized tank.

https://www.aquariumadvice.com/forum...sh-380862.html
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Old 02-01-2023, 04:01 PM   #11
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Thank you. You are right. Thankfully this tank was given to me so I didn't waste money on it and I can use that money to buy a bigger tank. I didn't realize goldfish got that large. Probably a public misconception since I've been reading alot that most goldfish die shortly after being owned and forced to live in a tiny bowl with no care at all. I'll do my best.
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