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Old 10-09-2012, 01:50 PM   #1
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Strange readings during cycle

Hi all,

My 32g tank's been cycling for about 4 weeks now, and this was my last set of readings;NH4 = 5ppm / NO2 = 0.05ppm / NO3 = 40ppm / pH 4.5 / KH 5 / GH 4. I'm using a full chemical test set, not strips and being uber careful of my tests and readings.

Finding it strange that my nitrAtes seem to be at a "good" level, but the ammonia is still is high and nitrItes are virtually gone. NH4 seems steady, Ites disappeared from one test to the next and Ates steadily climbed. My pH has dropped steadily (from 6.5 to 4.5) over the month, but I'm assuming that's due to decorative vine roots leeching into the water?

The tank's quite heavily planted with cabomba, water primrose, anacharis, wisteria & DHG, and around 2w/g lighting. Am I missing something here with the readings? They seem to be all over the place and the cycle doesn't appear very cyclical !!! I've got a CO2 injector on order but am now wondering whether to delay it until I get these basics sorted out.

All help greatly appreciated.
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Old 10-09-2012, 02:00 PM   #2
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If your ph drops below six your cycle will stall and the beneficial bacteria become dormant. The fact that your ph is 4.means its super low.
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Old 10-09-2012, 02:19 PM   #3
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Ah, ok, thanks. Is there any way to get it back up, naturally? Don't wanna use chemicals if I can avoid it
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Old 10-09-2012, 02:21 PM   #4
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Crushed coral in a bag in your filter should do it naturally but how much depends on the tank so it will be trial and error getting it I would say add a little at a time so you don't shock the ecosystem in the tank. I would try to get it around 7.0
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Old 10-09-2012, 02:24 PM   #5
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Ok, cool. I wanted to add a sand covering to my aquasoil substrate (not too keen on the brown gravel look...) - could I introduce the coral this way, mixing it with the sand, or does it have to be straight in the filter?
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Old 10-09-2012, 02:39 PM   #6
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It should work the same way but you can't be sure how much you need I would still suggest the filter bag until you know how much you need. Once that's figured out you should be able to add it right to the substrate.
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Old 10-09-2012, 02:44 PM   #7
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Brilliant, thanks again. One re question and I'll leave you alone, lol! Will I need to top it up if levels begin to fall again, or will it be a set & forget once I've got back up to 7.0i
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Old 10-09-2012, 02:49 PM   #8
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It should just keep doing its job once put in but ph may fluctuate the first couple weeks. Just keep an eye on it to level off.
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Old 10-09-2012, 02:50 PM   #9
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Mr. Blase is offering good advice! You definitely need to get your ph back up to atleast @6.5. Crushed coral or argonite (they have argonite sand) will def help here. I would do a 100% water change right now with temperature matched, properly conditioned water. You then can a small amount of ammonia (@2ppm) until you can get a buffer to help stabilize your ph before increasing the dose. You good bacteria need to be at a ph of above 6 or they can not process ammonia (too acidic). Your good bacteria also need KH for them to process ammonia and I suspect yours is nonexistent at this point. The big water change will help temporarily.

Have you tested your tap water for ammonia, nitrite & nitrate? I suspect this may be where your nitrate reading mya be coming from.
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Old 10-09-2012, 02:57 PM   #10
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Thank you both - will grab some crushed coral from the store tomorrow. Was going to do a PWC tomorrow evening, and have already prepped my new water, so will look at swapping that out and adding the CC while I'm at it. I have a jar of tap water ready to test tomorrow so will revert with readings from that for your advice if possible?
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Old 10-09-2012, 03:20 PM   #11
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Absolutely keep us posted!
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Old 10-10-2012, 02:13 PM   #12
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Okay...so, grabbed some coral and put 100g in some of the wife's old tights, in the filter. Will wait til tomorrow and take a full set of tests, then daily pH to see what's happening. If no joy, I'll increase by 50g a day until I see some change. JLK - no sign of leeches or eggs in the filter, so happy with that

I've done a 25% PWC tonight (couldn't find a container big enough to hold 32g to mature the new water - need to shop around at weekend) so I'll have to roll with that and the coral for the time being and see what happens.

I tested my tap water, from the same tap I take my PWC supply and got the following readings; pH 7.5 / NH4 = <0.05 / NO2 = 0.025 / NO3 = <0.05. The chlorine is also very low, so it seems any fish might be better off in my bathtub!

Will keep you posted...
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Old 10-10-2012, 02:45 PM   #13
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I would be careful with worn and washed leggings as the could have soap residue on them leftover from the wash. I would by a new set just in case or some LFS have mesh bags specifically for this use.
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Old 10-10-2012, 04:00 PM   #14
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Glad there's no leeches or eggs in the filter!!
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Old 10-13-2012, 01:26 AM   #15
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Ok, so the 100g of coral bought the pH up to 6,5 in 24 hours and seems to be stable. I'll add another 50g today, retest tomorrow and see how that goes. Thanks guys! PS as an indication of what I'm up against here in Dubai, the LFS guy basically refused to sell me the coral when I told him it was for a FW tank, and looked at me like some sort of escaped mental patient when I insisted on paying for it :/
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Old 10-13-2012, 10:57 AM   #16
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Didn't get chance to add any coral yesterday but retested this morning and pH had dropped back to 6.0 overnight. Added another 100g to the filter, so will retest tomorrow and monitor for any further crashes. Got my CO2 kit installed today as well, so will see what changes that makes.
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Old 10-13-2012, 11:20 AM   #17
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Monitor your co2 very closely if you get too much in your tank you can kill everything.
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Old 10-13-2012, 11:42 AM   #18
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I would get your ph situation straightened out & stable first before starting to use the co2.
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Old 10-13-2012, 03:15 PM   #19
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Ok, I'll cut the CO2 and keep monitoring the pH. As a guide, how often should I be looking to top up/replace the coral? Or, once I get that "buffer" (??terminology??) in the water, will it stay there? All your help is much appreciated on this guys.
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Old 10-13-2012, 07:28 PM   #20
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The cr coral will gradually dissolve. You will just need to keep an eye on it and your ph and add more when you notice the amount is starting to diminish.
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