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4 year old tank with low PH no KH

oliverpool

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10 Jun 2013
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31
I have a 4 year old tank. It previously had 5 cardinal (from ten 3 years ago), a few paros and a huge Starlight bristlenose and only java ferns as plants. I have been running some aquasoil using a matten filter covering the whole right side of a 20G tank. I recently just decided to do a rescape, change of lights and add a chiller as I wanted to grow anubias and Bucephalandra.

I vaccum the soil as best i could, and mistakenly vaccum all the "mulms?" behind my HMF (should have left them there), change my lights to one of the newer LED ones (running low at around 30% which should equal medium lights I guess), add as much buce and anubias on lava rocks and one drift that I would say the plants would almost cover 75% of the bottom surface if there was laid flat out. I also added floaters to cover at least 25% of the top. Water is pretty clear since it was set up 6 weeks or so ago. However. I gave away all the huge tetra and kept the starlight and paraos and added 6 brown pencil fish, and a few clown killiefish and a panda garra plus like 30? malayan shrimps. Also added 5 nerite snails but they all died like within 2 weeks. some kept overturning (the starlight?) had probably 10 or so shrimp causalities. They do not seem to be doing well as they tend to hide. Even when they are out, they do not seem to be actively feeding. All the fishes are doing well. Although my paros did lose some of their dark colours and are still rather pale looking but swimming around. Oh, I do inject CO2 but not at a very high level.

I recently decided to check my parameters to see why the shrimps/snail just do not live in my tank. And my tank is consistently reporting these numbers from the JBJ 7in1 test strips

Nitrate - around 20. Drops to 15 after a water change and goes to around 20-23 before. Water change around 15% every week or so. Replace only with RO water (due to distance from sink) and some equilibrium added
GH - 2-3 but I have since increased it to a consistent 4 with more equilibrium added during water change
KH - Always and have been zero as far as I recall even 3 years back
PH - This was a shock It is a consistent 4.5 Gassing off does not change this one bit. Not change during and after CO2 injection at all. I do have some surface movement with a pump but no breaking of surface just strong ripples.

Question is, should I try to raise my KH/PH to 5/6 or GH to 5-6 to have better success with shrimps and snails? The fishes seems to be happy except my paraos still has not fully coloured up since this new rescaped happened. Floaters are multiplying weekly, plants look ok. not much algae issue, other then some hair? algae on some of the leaves. Unfortunately I do not have my pre-rescape parameters as I did not test it. I believe my low KH/PH is due to the fact that I do my WC with RO only thus lowering the PH/KH over the many years.

Not sure if I should leave things as it is and not try to breed shrimps/snails or try to gradually increase my PH/KH/Gh over the next few WC. Any thoughts most welcome.
 

oliverpool

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10 Jun 2013
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What about your ammonia? That PH4.5 seems quite low. Anything in your filter or tank lowering PH to that level?
My Ammonia has always been zero. I have nothing behind my HMF other then a bag of purigen. I believe as all my water change to date has been only with RO and some equilibrium, the PH has been dropping like what they call as "old tank syndrome" just that its not from organics but acids
 

oliverpool

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10 Jun 2013
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After using a 50% tap to 50% RO x 25% water change for about 4 weeks, my PH is now around 5 flat all the way. It seems strange as my KH is near zero or maybe 0.5 with a GH of 4/5. But after a 25% or even 50% water change with almost all tap water (very soft in my area) PH would go to 5.9 or 6.. but would drop to 5.5 within a few hours and by the next morning, it would be back at PH 5. Am sure my soil does not have any more buffering capability. Fishes all seems very happy and fine. My fishes are almost all soft/acid loving fishes. but the shrimps are not happy and always hiding. Snail wont last long as well. Am trying some wild bee shrimp and they seem to last better and swimming around more then others I tried. Early days yet. But I basically am going to leave it at PH5 for now. Half tap and half RO with GH booster to reach around 5 DGH and 130 or so tds.
 

oliverpool

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These guys seems to love the water. I guess they would considering that they are usually found in waters of around PH 4.1

IMG_1403.jpg
 

oliverpool

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Did a test of the tank water left outside for 24 hours and the PH is 5.7. the drop to 5 in the tank can only be CO2? Fishes does not seem to be suffering and i actually have airstone running for around 16 hours after the lights goes off. Strange that the airstone running does not move the PH at all. Just as the CO2 does not move the PH.

Am now trying to slowly inch the CO2 up. Am using a Cerges type reactor running at about 1 bubble every 4/5 secs. Bubble counters says green or dark green. Some old bba on one area of the tank with annubias parts of buce that are old and not growing further but dieing back. Other algae in the tank is the green spot on the glass. Not major and only need some cleaning every month or so as its far and few. No skimmer but some surface agitation and no scum on the surface that I can see.

So the question is why is the PH no moving at all. I understand that its ok for LOW stable PH. But that it does not move up and down with airstone or CO2 injection is something I did not encounter anyone saying is fine?
 

Fred Dulley

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8 Jul 2007
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Test kits do have an expiry date I believe. A new pH liquid test kit could give alternative results.
As you said, the fish seem fine so I wouldn't change anything for them. If you do however want snails and shrimps then increasing both the kH and GH isnt a bad shout. As with all things, little and often. Each water change use more of your equilibrium salts. Some people but crushed coral in a media bag in the filter too.
 

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