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Old 01-11-2023, 12:29 PM   #1
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20 gallon will not stabilize

Hello! I have a 30 gallon and 20 gallon. My 30 has been going for 5 or more years same fish and everything is great! I got the 20 for my daughter, put a 30 gal filter on itÖ. Filled it with water, treated the water and I just can not get it to stay clear for more than 2 weeks at a time and when it was clear the PH was off the charts low. I boiled all the decorations and Iím afraid that perhaps that damaged them and now theyíre making the water bad. Is that possible? What can possible be the issue? Itís a white greyish cloudy. Standard kid set up, fake plants, gravel bottom etc. i need help, I donít want to put fish in until Iíve got it balanced and staying balanced!!

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Old 01-11-2023, 01:10 PM   #2
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I can’t get the water to stay clear for more than 2 weeks, and no matter what I do, when I test it the PH is either super high or super low. I can’t get to a point where I can even begin putting fish in.
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Old 01-11-2023, 01:10 PM   #3
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It sounds like a bacterial bloom which is normal in newly established tanks. Its bacteria consuming excess nutrients and growing in number until they become visible. As the tank and your cycle establishes, denitrifying bacteria will outcompete the bacteria you are seeing and the tank should clear up.

What do you understand about the nitrogen cycle?

Did you cycle the tank properly before getting your fish? If so, what did you do precisely? Or are you now cycling the tank with fish? If so, do you know how to do this?

Do you know your water parameters? pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate?
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Old 01-11-2023, 01:20 PM   #4
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Looks like a little crossover with our posts.

You are doing whats called a fishless cycle, a process that typically takes a couple of months before you can add fish. Do you know how to do a fishless cycle?
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Old 01-11-2023, 01:30 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Aiken Drum View Post
Looks like a little crossover with our posts.

You are doing whats called a fishless cycle, a process that typically takes a couple of months before you can add fish. Do you know how to do a fishless cycle?
The only reason itís fishless is because of how high the ph was and then how low it was. It was completely off the charts both ways. If I get the PH under control is it more simple to do a cycle with fish?
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Old 01-11-2023, 01:39 PM   #6
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Is your pH going from a low pH to a high pH or the other way round? What precisely is happening?

So you plan on doing a fish in cycle when you get a stable pH?
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Old 01-11-2023, 01:42 PM   #7
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I started it and the PH was off the charts high. I put the littlest baking soda in it, let it run for a week, off the charts low. Used aquarium water balancer. And then that’s when it got beyond cloudy and I couldn’t save it. I have down a 50% water chance and put bottled water in. Still cloudy
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Old 01-11-2023, 02:00 PM   #8
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Why did you put baking soda in the water? It wont do anything in high pH water, will just sit there.

What is your tapwater pH? Test it from the tap and let some sit overnight and test it again. The overnight test is your true tapwater pH.

What do you have in your aquarium? Any rocks that might effect the water pH?

Products that alter pH are rarely a good idea and tend to cause pH swings rather than solve them. What precisely is this water balancer you used?

I would see where your pH wants to settle at before trying to intervene. Leave things be for a while. The cloudiness should clear up as your tank cycles and nutrients start to get used up.
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Old 01-11-2023, 02:04 PM   #9
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I put baking soda in because of you Google it, you can use it to adjust PH, I misspoke it was to raise it. You put it in hot water and dissolve it and then add it to the tank.
The balancers were aqua safe plus and easy balance plus.
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Old 01-11-2023, 02:39 PM   #10
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Baking soda in high pH water simply wont dissolve. I suppose pouring that into the water could cause it to come out of solution and cause some cloudiness.

Aquasafe plus is just a water conditioner, that wont effect pH.

Easy balance plus is supposed to reduce the need for water changes. Who knows what that is putting in the water, but i suspect more calcium carbonate same as the baking soda. You dont have any fish and its generally best to do your weekly water change rather than rely on chemicals.

Like said, let things be for a while and give things chance to settle down. All you normally need is water conditioner.
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Old 01-11-2023, 06:20 PM   #11
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Hi and welcome to the forum

What is the pH of the tap water and aquarium water (in numbers)?

What colour is the cloudy water (milky cloudy or green cloudy)?

Can you post a picture of the aquarium?

Sodium bicarbonate increases the pH
Sodium Biphosphate lowers the pH

What is the GH (general hardness), KH (carbonate hardness) and pH of your water supply?
This information can usually be obtained from your water supply company's website or by telephoning them. If they can't help you, take a glass full of tap water to the local pet shop and get them to test it for you. Write the results down (in numbers) when they do the tests. And ask them what the results are in (eg: ppm, dGH, or something else).

The KH of the water will directly impact the pH. If you have 0 KH the pH can drop rapidly. If you have lots of KH, the pH will usually be high.
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Old 01-12-2023, 08:01 PM   #12
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What is your KH?
Usually, keeping KH up over 3 will help reduce pH swings.
I personally like to use equal parts of Seachem alkaline and acid buffers to keep my KH and pH stable.
Take care!
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Old 01-13-2023, 04:38 PM   #13
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I thought PH swings high &low where just normal parts of the aquarium 'cycle' and to leave it to run its course and not do anything to fix it.

I got high & low PH swing when I did my aquarium cycles and just let it run it course and PH stabilized at end of the cycle.
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Old 01-13-2023, 04:50 PM   #14
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The nitrogen cycle will tend to acidify water as nitrate is acidic. If you have good KH then this will absorb or buffer the acid and keep your pH stable. KH is used up by the nitrogen cycle, so if you have low KH and it gets depleted then this buffering wont happen and the nitrate will cause a pH drop. Do a water change, replenish the KH, and your pH will rise again.

During a fishless cycle you are dosing ammonia at much higher concentrations than a tank full of fish will produce, this produces nitrate much quicker and the KH will also get depleted much quicker. So you will see bigger swings in pH when cycling than you would when your tank is running normally.

This is why we are asking the OP for KH levels in their tap water. If they have low KH then you would expect to see the kinds of swings they are reporting in their water. If its medium/ high levels of KH you wouldnt expect to see these swings, so something else would be causing them. Perhaps they have reactive rocks that raise or lower the pH.
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Old 01-13-2023, 08:29 PM   #15
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One thing to try is this--
If you have a tank that seems well cycled, try adding a bit of the tank water (especially dirty tank water or a little bit of the substrate) from the cycled tank into your uncycled tank...it might help seed it with the nitrifying bacteria to get you started.
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Old 01-13-2023, 09:27 PM   #16
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I thought PH swings high &low where just normal parts of the aquarium 'cycle' and to leave it to run its course and not do anything to fix it.

I got high & low PH swing when I did my aquarium cycles and just let it run it course and PH stabilized at end of the cycle.
Yes, pH swings can be part of the cycling. But, if your water source has poor KH, it will make the swings more likely.
When you add fish, there can be factors that can cause sudden pH changes so, ideally, it's not a bad idea to make sure your KH is high enough to keep from having major swings going forward.
I experienced it myself when I first got my tank going. In fact, my water source only had a KH of about 1 so i have a routine buffering regimen when I do water changes.

I don't recommend using baking soda. It will release sodium into your tank. Seachem acid and alkaline buffers are products I would recommend. Dose them in equal parts to buffer to a pH of 7. But, you're best off to just check your KH and GH levels first to rule that out.
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Old 01-14-2023, 04:32 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saiwong View Post
I thought PH swings high &low where just normal parts of the aquarium 'cycle' and to leave it to run its course and not do anything to fix it.



I got high & low PH swing when I did my aquarium cycles and just let it run it course and PH stabilized at end of the cycle.

People barely ever leave things alone unfortunately. We alway believe we need to have control over the aquarium when in reality it controls itself.
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