Advice on Soft vs Hard Water and pH Shock

sparkyweasel

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I was thinking of adding some fertiliser (Easy life - Proficko my local shop has
Fertiliser is a good idea; your plant that's growing well is your Lotus, those grow from the nutrients stored in the bulb so they usually start well. But to continue to thrive, and for your other plants to do well you need some ferts.
However, we've had a number of threads where people have had problems with Profito; it's advertised as an all-in-one, complete plant food but it contains no nitrate or phosphate - two of the major plant nutrients. That may be OK in a tank overstocked with big fish, but not for most planted tanks. Look into a truly complete fert, such as TNC Complete. One that includes N, P, K and trace elements.
 

sparkyweasel

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Yes I read Darrel's links this afternoon, I wouldn't do it again now (I read that the max was 5ppm and mostly dosed to a max of 2 - 4ppm). It's crazy that I read that method in multiple supposedly reputable sites! I'm just going to leave the tank to do it's thing for a month before thinking about adding anything else, and do weekly 50% water changes.
So I see, you posted while I was typing. :)
 

shangman

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Fertiliser is a good idea; your plant that's growing well is your Lotus, those grow from the nutrients stored in the bulb so they usually start well. But to continue to thrive, and for your other plants to do well you need some ferts.
However, we've had a number of threads where people have had problems with Profito; it's advertised as an all-in-one, complete plant food but it contains no nitrate or phosphate - two of the major plant nutrients. That may be OK in a tank overstocked with big fish, but not for most planted tanks. Look into a truly complete fert, such as TNC Complete. One that includes N, P, K and trace elements.
Ahh that's very interesting about the lotus - I'd assumed it had reacted my soil and was sucking up all the goodness from that.

I will try the TNC Complete instead, thank you! Will there be any problems adding a fertiliser with nitrate in, given that my tank is dodgy right now? I don't want to kill the animals to make the plants thrive. I assume it won't, but thought I'd ask just in case, as I have 2 shrimps and 2 fish left and am eager to not finish them off.
 

sparkyweasel

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That level of nitrate won't be a problem. Darrel has links to lots of studies showing that fish are more tolerant of nitrate than some people would have you believe.
I suspect that the old idea that nitrates were bad came from poorly maintained tanks, where the nitrate built up over time. At the same time lots of other waste products were building up, but there are no test kits for those. Before modern thinking on planted tanks and ferts, a high nitrate reading simply meant a neglected tank.
Waste products in general are bad, but nitrates are good for your plants. Nitrates in ferts don't come with other fish waste products and you can safely dose them. Regular water changes will keep the nasty waste products under control, while your plants will consume the nitrates when they start to thrive.
There's a lot to take in, especially when you've already read a lot of stuff that's outdated or just plain wrong. :)
hth
 

Majsa

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I think it is different, as you said my amanos are suffering too, while yours are fine, but I think it does point to them being more fragile/badly treated in the shop fish. It's interesting to read the pointers on what I should look for in the future when buying tiny fish. What a shame, your tank with them looked very beautiful. What did you do afterwards, it says that you still had 5 at the end... did you add more so they had a nice group again? I only have 2 left, and if they survive (they're looking ok right now and are eating) I suppose I should add more in a few weeks, but also that scares me if they're fragile/the stock isn't great. Maybe I can find someone with their own quarantine tank who has a colony to give to in London.

I think at some point I was down to 3 :( I got a new group 2 months later (most of them free of charge as a gesture from the LFS), but they had issues too, some of them died. 9 months later I bought some more from a different LFS, again no 100% success rate but better. At the time I started the breeding project I believe I had 10 or so. I don't think any of these "parents" are alive today (or maybe or two of the bigger ones). I think all the kubotais sold at shops are wild caught, and if their life span is ±3 years, you cannot enjoy them for very long.

I think that perhaps I chose the absolute worst fish to start with, though I suspect everything would've had a bad time :(

It is very upsetting when these things happen. I believe these fish are very prone to stress (from shipping, handling, substandard conditions etc.), which makes them an easy target to pathogens that are already present in the LFS or home tank water. Some other fish might have showed different signs.

Yes I read Darrel's links this afternoon, I wouldn't do it again now (I read that the max was 5ppm and mostly dosed to a max of 2 - 4ppm). It's crazy that I read that method in multiple supposedly reputable sites! I'm just going to leave the tank to do it's thing for a month before thinking about adding anything else, and do weekly 50% water changes.

Sounds like a good idea :)
 

MWood

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I believe these fish are very prone to stress (from shipping, handling, substandard conditions etc.), which makes them an easy target to pathogens that are already present in the LFS or home tank water. Some other fish might have showed different signs.

Agreed, this was one of my first thoughts. Also, 2 hours of acclimatisation seems excessive to me, and possibly another source of stress (I'm also in London and a rainwater user).

Also think that leaving a planted tank for as long as possible before adding any fish is a good idea - not least because it allows you to do more and larger water changes in the early stages with no fear of causing additional stress for livestock. Lockdown meant that the tank I set up in mid Jan didn't receive any fish till June- a little too long!
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
After reading this I think my problem is that I have let myself believe that the aquarium was cycled because the tests/numbers on the tests have been 'correct' after dosing regularly with ammonia, but that actually I needed to wait another month to let the plants and bacteria naturally grow. I was worried that because my tank now seemed 'cycled', that I needed to immediately add some animals to continue adding ammonia and not 'kill off' the bacteria which I read would happen somewhere... it seems like I could just leave it to mature for quite a while longer.
That's it, we need to reduce levels of ammonia (NH3) and nitrite (NO2-), because they are toxic to animal life at low levels, but it doesn't matter <"what mechanism"> we use to achieve this. As @sparkyweasel suggests I'm not too worried about nitrate (NO3-) levels, but I know nitrification is an <"oxygen intensive process">.

Plant/microbe biofiltration is very effective, so realistically we just need a large, grown-in, plant mass and that gets around any problems there maybe with water testing. I'm <"not anti-testing">, quite <"the opposite"> in fact, but I'm not happy to base decisions on the results of the test kits available to home aquarists, if there are better options.

The advantage of plant/microbe filtration is that, as well as the direct uptake of fixed nitrogen by the plants, plants oxygenate the substrate particularly <"in the rhizosphere">, the zone around the roots.
It's crazy that I read that method in multiple supposedly reputable sites!
If you don't have plants you are reliant on the tank/filter microbial assemblage for nitrification, in which case you may need to add an ammonia source, although I would still argue that the level of dissolved oxygen is more important than the ammonia addition.

cheers Darrel
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
I think that should be all right. It says....
....Moorland Gold top soil consists of decomposed leaf mould and sphagnum, collected through water-filtration, which does not damage the environment. We screen our raw material before adding the necessary amount of river sand to create the optimum top soil blend.
Have a look at the posts on <"Biochemical Oxygen Demand">, I think your compost will have a high carbon to nitrogen ratio, with much of the plant left being <"resistant to microbial oxidation">.

cheers Darrel
 
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On the subject of rainwater, I wouldn’t use it on its own - I’d mix it with tap water. In fact, that’s precisely what I do!

Rainwater might be very, very low on KH and GH, so on its own it wouldn’t be suitable for your Amano shrimps, which need some calcium in the water for their skins. Very low KH makes it harder to maintain a stable pH.

So I’d decide what KH and GH you want, measure your rainwater and tapwater, and figure out what ratio to use. If you need to increase the GH, use Epsom salt (MgSO₄) which will also add a useful source of Magnesium.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Very low KH makes it harder to maintain a stable pH.
Yes, you won't have a <"stable pH with low dKH">. I've not kept Amano shrimps, but Cherry Shrimps don't thrive in very soft water.
On the subject of rainwater, I wouldn’t use it on its own - I’d mix it with tap water. In fact, that’s precisely what I do!
I do as well, I have the <"option to add our tap supply (about 17 dKH/dGH)"> to the rainwater, also because I live in a <"limestone area"> and our rainwater has some carbonate buffering from dust etc.
So I’d decide what KH and GH you want, measure your rainwater and tap water, and figure out what ratio to use.
In the summer I mainly use 100% rain-water, in the winter the rainwater has lower conductivity (less dust, more rain) and <"I add a bit more tap water">.

cheers Darrel
 

shangman

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That level of nitrate won't be a problem. Darrel has links to lots of studies showing that fish are more tolerant of nitrate than some people would have you believe.
I suspect that the old idea that nitrates were bad came from poorly maintained tanks, where the nitrate built up over time. At the same time lots of other waste products were building up, but there are no test kits for those. Before modern thinking on planted tanks and ferts, a high nitrate reading simply meant a neglected tank.
Waste products in general are bad, but nitrates are good for your plants. Nitrates in ferts don't come with other fish waste products and you can safely dose them. Regular water changes will keep the nasty waste products under control, while your plants will consume the nitrates when they start to thrive.
There's a lot to take in, especially when you've already read a lot of stuff that's outdated or just plain wrong. :)
hth

I've bought some TNC Complete and started dosing yesterday. Looking forward to having my plants get a bit perkier again, thankyou for the recomendation. It is a lot to take in! I'm just going to do whatever you guys say and see how that goes. Super happy I found the forum and it's filled with so many experienced helpful people :)

I think at some point I was down to 3 :( I got a new group 2 months later (most of them free of charge as a gesture from the LFS), but they had issues too, some of them died. 9 months later I bought some more from a different LFS, again no 100% success rate but better. At the time I started the breeding project I believe I had 10 or so. I don't think any of these "parents" are alive today (or maybe or two of the bigger ones). I think all the kubotais sold at shops are wild caught, and if their life span is ±3 years, you cannot enjoy them for very long.

It is very upsetting when these things happen. I believe these fish are very prone to stress (from shipping, handling, substandard conditions etc.), which makes them an easy target to pathogens that are already present in the LFS or home tank water. Some other fish might have showed different signs.

Sounds like a good idea :)

Oh goodness, looking at that breeding tank makes me want them all over again! Perhaps in a few years when I've got a bigger tank and more experience!

Agreed, this was one of my first thoughts. Also, 2 hours of acclimatisation seems excessive to me, and possibly another source of stress (I'm also in London and a rainwater user).

Also think that leaving a planted tank for as long as possible before adding any fish is a good idea - not least because it allows you to do more and larger water changes in the early stages with no fear of causing additional stress for livestock. Lockdown meant that the tank I set up in mid Jan didn't receive any fish till June- a little too long!

I'm thinking of getting new livestock (some amanos first only) in September, and to the tank another 6+ weeks of water changes (50/50 rain and tap) and plant growth to establish, now I've learnt that patience is key. I want to make sure that everything that comes into the tank feels like they've entered a glorious eden where they can thrive, rather than a death trap!

How long and what method do you use for acclimatising? I want to make sure I know the best method for next time.
 

shangman

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Hi all, I think that should be all right. It says.... Have a look at the posts on <"Biochemical Oxygen Demand">, I think your compost will have a high carbon to nitrogen ratio, with much of the plant left being <"resistant to microbial oxidation">.

cheers Darrel

Ahh this is very interesting, thank you! Glad that I haven't cocked it up at the very first step, it would be very sad to have to completely restart with different soil.


On the subject of rainwater, I wouldn’t use it on its own - I’d mix it with tap water. In fact, that’s precisely what I do!

Rainwater might be very, very low on KH and GH, so on its own it wouldn’t be suitable for your Amano shrimps, which need some calcium in the water for their skins. Very low KH makes it harder to maintain a stable pH.

So I’d decide what KH and GH you want, measure your rainwater and tapwater, and figure out what ratio to use. If you need to increase the GH, use Epsom salt (MgSO₄) which will also add a useful source of Magnesium.

Thank you! I'm definitely doing this. My rainwater at home has a kH+GH of 4, but at my allotment (my secondary source in case the rainwater at home isn't enough) is 0,0, so I think this makes total sense. I was thinking of adding a cuttlebone, but I think a bit of tap is a better option. What proportion do you use, and what is your pH?


Hi all, Yes, you won't have a <"stable pH with low dKH">. I've not kept Amano shrimps, but Cherry Shrimps don't thrive in very soft water. I do as well, I have the <"option to add our tap supply (about 17 dKH/dGH)"> to the rainwater, also because I live in a <"limestone area"> and our rainwater has some carbonate buffering from dust etc. In the summer I mainly use 100% rain-water, in the winter the rainwater has lower conductivity (less dust, more rain) and <"I add a bit more tap water">.

cheers Darrel
I read that Amanos like it between 6.5 - 7.5, though to me it makes sense for them to prefer 7+. I have a question about the rainwater - mine is quite yellow and dirty looking. Have you got any methods for cleaning it up? I must admit the sparkle of tap is quite appealing compared to the cloudy yellow rainwater. It also has an enormous amount of mosquito larae in it, though I'm hoping to get some fish that will love to eat those later on. Incidentally, does anyone hhave any suggestions for favourite 60L-appropriate fish that would love to eat them but not eat amanos?

______

This morning I tested the water, and after doing some reading on water changes (where it said don't just take water from the top of the tank, but also from the bottom... I'd just been using a jug to take it from the top as the tank is small)... I took out my syringe and tested the water from the bottom of the tank (though i didn't also check the top so it couldve been the same there). The water was Am 0, Ni 0.25, and Na 3 (ish, between 0 and 5). I wonder if this is my problem, that at the top of the tank there's not much bad stuff, and I didn't realise it was at the bottom of the tank. Either way, I did another water change of 50%, and I think I'll do a mini 25% during the week (and 50% weekends). The shrimp look like they've perked up since I did that (they were hiding in a leaf in the corner not doing that much before). I did 50% rain, 50% tap.... I thought it was urgent enough to just try that, and now I have next week off I'll test out the 'best' proportions of water.

Current stats before water change - you can see that the past few water changes have been with tap as I panicked about pH shock, and the pH is 1.2 high than it was when I started - though only 50% max of the water should be tap, so the pH rises very quickly when adding the tap.

ph 7.8
am- 0
ni - 0.25
na - 3 (between 0 and 5)
gh- 9
kh - 7

I think it'll probably be more like 20 - 30% tap in the end - I'm hoping for a pH around 7. The rainwater is quite 'ugly' though, not sure what to do about that. I think I can't use a carbon filter as it'll make the fertilising a moot point. Is it crazy to put the water in a bucket the day before with a mini filter filled with carbon? What do you all do (or do you like the look?).
 

MirandaB

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I was going to ask if you were filtering the rainwater through some carbon as being in London pollution would be a concern to me so filtering in a bucket beforehand sounds a good idea.:)
 

shangman

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I was going to ask if you were filtering the rainwater through some carbon as being in London pollution would be a concern to me so filtering in a bucket beforehand sounds a good idea.:)
Would you just put in a small filter the bucket with some carbon the night before? Not entirely sure of the best way to do it!

Was also wondering if I could/should add a filtration bit to the waterbutt itself so it has to go through carbon before it goes into the butt.
 

shangman

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Just a little update....

I think I've realise a big problem with the tank and why things weren't going great. My filter (an Eheim Pickup60) wasn't creating a very strong flow, and so I researched getting a bigger one. I then found a youtube video that pointed out that the top outflow of the filter can be pulled up to increase flow... I somehow totally missed this in the instructions! I've fixed that now, and the flow is so much stronger, now all of my plants wave in the water pleasantly and the water seems much cleaner - it seems like I was only using about a third of the capasity of the filter before. My last remaining amano has started doing more normal behaviours (going around eating all day on all sorts of surfaces, instead of hiding under a leaf the whole time). Also, my malaysian snails which I thought may be dead (though I sniffed them and they smelt fine so I'd left them) have started to move around again after a week of not moving. I think the big weekly waterchanges + the new flow have really cleaned up the tank a lot.

On top of that, all my plants are recovering and thriving now I've started dosing with the TNC Complete. The stargrass has gone from yellow to bright green and massive very quickly, the wallichii which was dying has grown lots of new feathery bits, everything is growing new leaves. My lily even has an emergent leaf (though that's probably just a coincidence if they take all their energy from the bulb). I've bought a selection of floating plants to help do their bit, and keep an eye on if the fertilising amount is enough.

I'm still going to wait until mid-August before adding some cherry shrimp from a local breeder as a test, and then some more amanos if they go ok 2 weeks later. I'm currently waiting for my amano Crusoe to moult, since it looked like the last 2 died from an unsuccessful moult (they had the white ring around their bodies). The ph is 7.5 and the KH and GH are 9 and 7 (in drops on the test), which shoud be enough for a healthy moult.
 

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