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John Innes No.3 and PH/GH/KH

Angharad

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I have a friend on another forum who lives in the UK but in a very soft water area. Infact, their tank is around the 6PH mark! They are looking at switching from gravel to a capped soil, and as they are unable to cycle a filter properly due to their water being too soft/low hardness, I have suggested this may be a good option.

I knwo every tank is different, but if you have used it, how much did it raise your PH/GH/KH by and, more importantly, how long did the effect last?

If it lasts a good while, it may be an option to start them off, and we can get an idea of how often to test the water to be able to tell when the PH falls again (I personally would suggest fortnightly/weekly if it is a longer term effect, but maybe I am overcautious). If it is very short-lived, maybe I can get some as I am only not using it as I live in a very hard/high PH area.
 

ian_m

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as they are unable to cycle a filter properly due to their water being too soft/low hardness
Never ever ever heard this one before, new to me. I thought people have successfully cycled their tanks using RO water which has 0GH and 0kH ?

How do you know the filter hasn't cycled ? I assume you just left it alone for say 8 weeks, with maybe some plants in the tank ?
 

Andy Thurston

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My memory is somewhat fuzzy, but iirc with my otherwise soft water I found that JI3 raised my pH by about 0.5-1 and TDS by about 100-150. However, that was in a shallow tank (relatively large ratio of soil:water) with somewhat infrequent water changes. It was definitely still raising pH and TDS after a year.
Mines a thin layer of ji3 in a 40cm deep tank
Tds increases weekly by around 50-60 ppm but i dose ei too
My water is also fairly soft tds from tap is around 60-70ppm
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Soft water and cycling really isn't a problem. If you have a planted tank you just need to leave the plants until they are established and then your tank is "cycled". Soft water also gives you the chance to keep and breed a lot of <"really interesting fish"> that are ideal for planted tanks, like <"Pencil Fish"> and <"Apistogramma spp">.

Cycling is a strange concept which is really based upon a series of half truths and misunderstandings. All you need to remember is that in terms of nitrification plant/microbe systems are about an order of magnitude more efficient than microbe alone systems, as long as oxygen isn't limiting. Have a look here for more information in <"Cycling a planted tank">, and linked threads.

If you want "belt and braces", some plants with access to aerial CO2 (floaters or emergents) give you this.

If you want to raise the dKH/dGH can just mix some "Oyster Shell Chick Grit" in with the substrate, or have it in a bag in the filter. A kilogram would last for ever, and literally costs "chicken feed".

JI No3 is would really be a nutrient addition, if has quite a lot of nutrients in it, including ammonia and it will raise TDS and pH as the other posts have suggested. I'd only use a small amount.

cheers Darrel
 

Angharad

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Thanks all!

Well the raising of TDS basically puts it completely out of my use! My tap gives me water consistently over 400ppm. Needless to say I no long drink the tap water since getting my TDS meter. *shudders* Can't even imagine what gunk is in there. I am saving for an RO unit, so maybe once I have it I will consider JI3 for the nest big rescape. Back to the friends tank though:

I cant think of why theirs is uncycled, but a lot of people there are claiming softwater has stalled and affected their cycles. Not an issue I have had the pleasure of dealing with. I know it is a fish-in cycle they are doing, with a single betta in a 15litre tank, and the fish has been there for at least...a month, if not more. A lot of others posted saying they had found cycles stall or crash below PH6.5. Again, as I have no experience I have been led by the consensus.

Anyone here have any ideas? I suggested fishless with Ammonia, which is the method I use to great effect. With ammonia and a bit of seeder media from my big tank, I normally have a cycle within a week or so.

It seems the effect is infact longterm and can either be negligable or a good .5 or more. I can only see this as a benefit in a tank with a PH of 6. :) I'll pass it on! :D
 

Michael W

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Hi,

I think if you want a good low cost substrate, you can try peat and osmocote, you don't need a lot of the stuff, just a thin layer of peat can work with a sprinkle of osmocote under the peat. I imagine that the peat will lower TDS if anything as the CEC should ensure that. The osmocote would provide the nutrients the plants need. I have tried and used this with success in my low tech Betta tank in my signature at the bottom.
 

darren636

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If your tap water is already over 400 ppm. ( been there, done that) then using this compost will have minimum impact on fish suitable for such hard water.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
My tap gives me water consistently over 400ppm. Needless to say I no long drink the tap water since getting my TDS meter. *shudders* Can't even imagine what gunk is in there.
That is the thing with TDS (really conductivity) you don't know which salts are present, just the total amount.

As an example our tap water (Corsham, Wilts.) is about 650 microS (~400 ppm TDS), but comes from a deep limestone aquifer and has virtually no solutes other than Ca++ and HCO3-.
I cant think of why theirs is uncycled, but a lot of people there are claiming softwater has stalled and affected their cycles. Not an issue I have had the pleasure of dealing with. I know it is a fish-in cycle they are doing, with a single betta in a 15litre tank, and the fish has been there for at least...a month, if not more. A lot of others posted saying they had found cycles stall or crash below PH6.5.
The problem is really back to the whole idea about cycling, and whether a tank is "cycled" or "not cycled". Cycling is based upon the idea that all the nitrifying bacteria are in the filter media in the filter and that if they don't get a constant supply of ammonia they will all die, this is an extremely dubious premise at best, and as soon as you add plants and substrate it is virtually irrelevant.

Rather than "cycled/not cycled" you need to think about nitrification in terms of the tanks capacity to deal with increased bioload....
In reality if we have plants we just need to ensure that we have high levels of dissolved oxygen and some supply of carbon (usually as HCO3-). Plants (and particularly those with emergent stems or floating leaves) are a "win,win, win" scenario, they add dissolved oxygen (even outside of the photo-period, and into the substrate via the root rhizosphere), they preferentially take up ammonia (and NO2/NO3), and they provide surfaces for nitrification.

Environmental scientists, the waste water and aquaculture industries etc. don't talk about cycling at all, they are interested in "Biochemical Oxygen Demand" (BOD) <Biochemical oxygen demand - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia> & <Carbonaceous biochemical oxygen demand - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia>. As a "rule of thumb" in any system as long as the oxygen supply exceeds the oxygen demand then the system won't crash.

I wrote this for the keepers of fish with high oxygen demand a few year ago, but it is relevant to all fish keeping <plecoplanet: Aeration and dissolved oxygen in the aquarium>.
from <Yoghurt and cycling>.
Anyone here have any ideas? I suggested fishless with Ammonia, which is the method I use to great effect. With ammonia and a bit of seeder media from my big tank, I normally have a cycle within a week or so.
Seeded media is definitely a good idea, but if you read the linked posts, you'll gather I'm not a great fan of adding ammonia.

cheers Darrel
 
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Angharad

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I only really keep Bettas. They may not have come from it in the wild, but they adapt. The main exception is the Otos and the Loaches (seperate tanks) who are my only 'sensitive' fish. They were obtained before I even knew about TDS, let alone had a meter. D:

Good to know though, thank you! Means I may be able to use that money on the plants rather than the soil, if I can use it. :)
 

Angharad

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Hi all, That is the thing with TDS (really conductivity) you don't know which salts are present, just the total amount.

As an example our tap water (Corsham, Wilts.) is about 650 microS (~400 ppm TDS), but comes from a deep limestone aquifer and has virtually no solutes other than Ca++ and HCO3-.

At least I know whats in the tap water. I'm just down the road. :)

The problem is really back to the whole idea about cycling, and whether a tank is "cycled" or "not cycled". Cycling is based upon the idea that all the nitrifying bacteria are in the filter media in the filter and that if they don't get a constant supply of ammonia they will all die, this is an extremely dubious premise at best, and as soon as you add plants and substrate it is virtually irrelevant.

Rather than "cycled/not cycled" you need to think about nitrification in terms of the tanks capacity to deal with increased bioload.... from <Yoghurt and cycling>. Seeded media is definitely a good idea, but if you read the linked posts, you'll gather I'm not a great fan of adding ammonia.

cheers Darrel

I've had a quick read and as someone coming from the fishkeeping side of the hobby and only just venturing into the planted tank (I'm lowtech until the tiddlers are older), its all a little mindboggling. Test kits being useless. No cycling process to speak of. Baffled. =p I'm going to have to think on it, re-read it and read some of the threads linked in the yoghurt thread, methinks.

So, witha moderate level of planting, any tank should be safe within the 6-8 weeks? Would this be quicker in a heavily planted smaller tank, or is it much the same? I will admit the BOD bit is pretty taxing. That said I have a five-year-old and a toddler trying to wrestle each other in the background.....
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
At least I know whats in the tap water. I'm just down the road.
I've always got spare plants you can have. We've got a water softener for the washing machine etc (mainly because I was fed up of throwing away electric showers), but I really like the taste of our hard water. When I go away as soon as I get home I have a big glass of tap water.

cheers Darrel
 

Angharad

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I always liked it too, that minerally quality you don't get elsewhere. Until the meter threw up questions I didn't like imagining the answer to! Though the solutes you mentioned makes perfect sense, so I think I will go back to drinking it! :D But I miss that Welsh water too. Used to get it on tap, now I have to buy it in Boots. Will an RO unit change the taste do you think?

Thats mighty kind of you. Happy to give it a home if its in the way in your tanks. :)
 

Mr. Teapot

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Will an RO unit change the taste do you think?

RO water tastes weird to me… chemically or metallic, something is very odd about.

A while ago I did come across loads on the interpipes about high rates of nitrification at low pH… I'll see if I have them bookmarked and dig them out for you.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
Here we go:<"High-Rate Nitrification at Low pH in Suspended- and Attached-Biomass Reactors"> ...........The results presented in this paper clearly show that autotrophic nitrifying bacteria have the ability to nitrify at a high rate at low pH and in the presence of only a negligible free ammonia concentration, suggesting the presence of an efficient ammonium uptake system and the means to cope with low pH......
That is a really good paper. It has been referenced a couple of times on <"other forums">, particularly because it deals with nitrification under aerobic conditions in relatively low NH3 situations. It also specifically states that anaerobic denitrification was negligible during the experiment.
Daily nitrogen mass balance based on ammonium fed, nitrate and nitrite produced, and alkalinity balance (where for every mole of NO3− produced, 2 mol of alkalinity was destroyed) showed no apparent nitrogen loss due to denitrification. This is to be expected from reactor systems operating at high concentrations of oxygen (>8 mg
x2009.gif
·
x2009.gif
liter−1 in the effluent) and a feeding solution consisting only of inorganic salts...........
For me it is really back to the same old mantra that biological filtration is all about oxygen, and that is, at least partially, why plants make such a big difference.

cheers Darrel
 
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