dying tanks

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dying tanks

Postby tferguso » Wed Jun 27, 2007 2:51 pm

My water (New York City tap), which has always had a pH of 7.1 or so, has suddenly gone to 6.0. My tanks are dying. Can anyone tell me how this has happened and how I can fix it?
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dying tanks addendum

Postby tferguso » Wed Jun 27, 2007 2:54 pm

I've just had the thought of testing the water right out of the tap. It's 7>1. How does it get to 6.0 in three different tanks?
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Postby Tigerhair » Wed Jun 27, 2007 3:24 pm

Hi, welcome to the board :D Have you checked out the main site for details on water chemistry? The link is here.

What would help us is to know:

How long the tanks have been set up and how they were.
How often and by how much you change the water in the tanks.
What substrate and other items - such as rocks - you have in your tanks.
If you use any commercial pH product that alters it.
What are the levels of nitrate, nitrite and ammonia in your tanks.
What fish you have in each.
What changes have occurred and over what period of time.
How are you doing today?!

And I'm guessing there'll be more...

:D
I will be more enthusiastic about encouraging thinking outside the box, when there's any evidence of thinking going on inside it! Terry Pratchett
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dying tanks

Postby tferguso » Wed Jun 27, 2007 3:54 pm

The 55 gal has been running since May 2004.
Nitrites and -ates are 0
Ammonia was, surprisingly, present since I checked a few days ago.
Temp 78-80
20% Water change every 4 days
Fish: 18 small cyprinids and swords
A few rocks.
Gravel substrate (6 inches) that get vacuumed at each water change.
Power filter with sponge, charcoal and ceramic balls

5 1/2 gallon
Same parameters, but no ammonia.
No fish at the moment; plants dying.

1 1/2 gallon
No plants; one paradise fish

feeding is varied and sparing in all tanks
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Postby krekra » Wed Jun 27, 2007 7:20 pm

Well all kinds of things can effect water PH from added co2, temperature shifts, chemicles in the water, things like that. SOmetimes the big city water companies will pulse coccidiastats, pestacides and chloramines in the water to help keep it safe esp if there hasnt been much rain(stagnent overly warm water supply with lots of bacterial blooms) or there has been too much rain(runn off from farm lands upstream from the water supply) If you were unfortunate enough to do a water change on one of those days you may have had an issue.

What keeps your pH from drasticly changing is the buffering capacity of the water. This is measured by KH and GH. If you have soft water or have added a water softener you may have issues with a low ph.

Are you using a water conditioner/dechlorinater that gets both chlorine and chloramines??? Can you test your GH and KH??

Also can you set a glass of water out for 24 hours and then test and see what your taps resting PH is??

As for your 55, if there was ammonia present and you havent added any new fish I would wory that your pH switch or whatever lead to the PH drop has killed off some of your bacteria.

Also you mentioned your plans are dieing?? What plants have you got and what do they look like as they are dieing...ie color, leaf quality. Are you adding CO2 for your plants???

OK I think thats enough for now

OH also Hi and welcome :oops: :lol:

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Postby Apistogramma » Thu Jun 28, 2007 1:11 am

Have you been affected by the bad weather we currently have in England? E.g. flooding?
Becky

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dying tanks

Postby tferguso » Thu Jun 28, 2007 5:23 am

Thanks for the comments and suggestions; I;m upset that my fish (all long-term residents) are dying..
I've begun using "pH UP," but no results yet.
Dying plants are anacharis, vallisneria and anubias (sagitteria are ok). I don't infuse CO2.
The water softness is 2 GH; that's its usual hardness, so I wonder if its a factor.
Very intersting comment about the pH killing bacteria; I'll see what I can do to seed the tank after the pH returns to normal.
I'll try the 24-hour water test; fresh-out-of-the-tap water is 7.1.
To the British correspondant: weather has been okay here. Thanks for the warning, though; I'll be in the UK in August.
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Postby krekra » Thu Jun 28, 2007 5:29 am

We havent had the flooding you guys have had. Texas has though

New York City is a very small islad with a huge population so to get clean fresh water to everyone it comes from rather far so can be effected by all sorts of things. We havent had much of a soaking rain in a couple of months....just storms and such so the water level in the New York resevoirs is a bit below average right now.
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dying tanks

Postby tferguso » Thu Jun 28, 2007 7:39 am

Should I bow to what seems inevitable and just tear down the whole system and re-cycle from scratch?
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Postby krekra » Thu Jun 28, 2007 11:42 am

I dont think you have to do that. I have a great link for buffering your tank based on your KH etc.....only I am at work and the link is on my home computer. Ill be home around 7 EST so will drop you the link then
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dying

Postby tferguso » Fri Jun 29, 2007 5:16 am

Well, I did it; broke down the system and began it from scratch. I tossed 2/3 of the gravel (I had a very deep bed, suggested by a lfs employee) and washed what was left. All the plants except the thriving sagitteria were dumped, filter media changed, etc.
This morning, I checked the pH and it is also down at the bottom of the scale!
Interestingly, I also kept a glass of water out for a night and this morning its pH was still 7.1. Its quite frustrating.
I'll begin 25% daily water changes, as I saw on a website. But, any buffering products (I'm using pH Up to no avail) you can suggest will be welcome.
Thanks
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Postby gbk » Fri Jun 29, 2007 6:03 am

Have you got any sources of limestone around? Putting some limestone in the tanks will make the water harder and keep the pH from crashing. Similarly Sodium Bicarbonate (used in cooking).

Your hardness is quite low. Generally fish tanks produce stuff which will gradually 'use up' the hardness. A small amount of hydogen ions will then cause the pH to crash as the calcium salts are not present to soak them up. Adding calcium or sodium (such as limestone) will add to the hardness.
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Postby krekra » Fri Jun 29, 2007 11:52 am

here is the buffering link

http://www.dataguru.org/misc/aquarium/C ... hange=0.00

Im sorry you have had such a frustrating time. I think maybe your LFS may have hit on something. Sometimes with deep substrates you can get pockets of anarobic activity that can release gasses that can alter pH???

Was there any odd smell to the gravel???
Karena

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dying tanks reviving

Postby tferguso » Sat Jun 30, 2007 4:54 am

Many thanks krekra, tigerhair, gbh and apistogramma for your friendly advice. Actually, my lfs (chain) was the one that told me to use all that gravel. I never really liked it, so took the opportunity to get rid of most of it, leaving a shallower substrate that can be more completely vacuumed.
A trip to a not-so-lfs, and independent store and one of the best in the city, got me a seachem product that seems to be doing the trick.
Of my 18 fish, only 5 survived: 3 very tough cherry barbs, one scissortail and a male sphenops molly. I thought I was vigilant, but will never take water conditions for granted again.
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Postby Apistogramma » Sat Jun 30, 2007 6:29 am

I'm sorry to hear that you lost so many :( It's really miserable when you do everything you possibly can and still lose fish. I hope that from now on things run a lot more smoothly for you!
Please stick around and let us know how things are going...and ask lots of questions of course! It's always exciting to hear about what other people are doing with their tanks! :D
Becky

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