Something has raised the hardness of tank water

Discussion in 'Water Chemistry' started by paulag, 17 Dec 2008.

  1. paulag

    paulag Newly Registered

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    I'm totally at the end of my tether. I have a Juwel Rio 240 that has had water in it and the filter running for about a week due to me being unable to get plants locally. I've done an expensive tropica order which is coming tommorow.

    I've got a JBL Co2 system but it's only been run for about 5 minutes yesterday to check it was working. I have the drop checker that comes with the CO2 system in the tank although I filled it with tank water as per the instructions that came with it.

    Theres a mix of laterite/tetra complete under aquagrit and gravel as a substrate. There's a lump of bogwood thats well soaked but still putting out some tannins, a resin cave and a number of interesting stones (none of which look like limestone or chalk to me - more sandstone, quartz and slate I think).

    My pH test indicates the tank water is 7.6 - I should probably get a high range test to check it's not higher but it looks slightly towards the colour of 7.4 if anything. So I was surprised when the JBL test started dropping and now yellow.

    I finally got my KH/GH test today in the post but it tells me that my GH is 12.3dH (220 mg/l) and KH is 5.6dH (100mg/l) which is pretty hard. I checked the tap water and it's only 9 and 3.92 respectively. So it looks like something is hardening the water in the tank. The only stuff i've put into it are are stresscoat and stresszyme.

    I'm at a bit of a loss as to what to do with the plants coming tommorow - I'm thinking take out the rocks and change most of the water I guess.

    Really at this point if I could go back a few weeks I just wouldn't bother with the whole thing. I'm really demoralised.

    Paula
     
  2. Ed Seeley

    Ed Seeley Member

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    3,262
    Location:
    Nottingham
    First of all I don't think your current tank water parameters (pH, GH and KH) will cause any problems for your plants!

    You really need to use some 4dKH water in your drop checker. Using 4dKH water means that when the solution is green the CO2 is at 30ppm which is perfect. The drop checker is great (I have one in one tank) - just the instructions aren't the best!

    Likely culprits for rasing your GH are your rocks or gravel. Limestone and chalk will rapidly raise the pH and hardness and there may be some calcerous material in the gravel too. However if you are doing EI with 50% water changes then you can use them without worries. If not and you want to keep the hardenss down then they will have to be removed.
     
  3. paulag

    paulag Newly Registered

    Messages:
    15
    Thanks for the rapid reply. I am going to remove the rocks in case they are the culprit - I might lob them in a bucket of water and see what happens to that water. If it's the gravel there's not a great deal I can do about it as I have no time to change the whole lot before tomorrow. I will do a large water change when putting in the plants tomorrow, but I'm not planning to do 50% water changes weekly - I don't think that I could physically manage to do it to be honest. It took me 4 days to fill it :(

    I'll get some 4dKH water - I've just managed to spend £900 so far and was really hoping that the expenditure would slow down at some point!

    Paula
     
  4. Ed Seeley

    Ed Seeley Member

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    Location:
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    Once you've removed the Limestone and chalk you should find the hardness should rise less even if there's some calcerous material in the gravel. As I said in my first post the water parameters you have now will grow your plants fine.
     
  5. paulag

    paulag Newly Registered

    Messages:
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    Sadly none of the rocks are limestone or chalk. They're pebbles of slate, quarz and possibly sandstone :(

    I have some leftover substrates so I'm doing an experiment by putting them in tapwater overnight.

    Paula
     
  6. Ed Seeley

    Ed Seeley Member

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    Sorry I mis-read your post - thought you said some of them rather than none of them were limestone or chalk. Rather than add them to water and check the hardness you'd get quicker results testing them with acid. I have used brick cleaner and if they fizz then they are releasing carbonates. Test your resin cave too.
     
  7. GreenNeedle

    GreenNeedle Member

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    2,706
    Location:
    Lincoln UK
    Is sandstone not one of those that breaks down pretty easily??

    AC
     
  8. paulag

    paulag Newly Registered

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    15
    I hadn't even thought about the resin cave. What would I do without my tacky resin cave? :lol:

    It occurred to me that when I filled the tank originally I warmed up the water using the kettle and then stopped because some of the kettle fur was coming out - this might be the problem.

    I've been struck down with a lurg which has left me pretty tired and my plants all turned up today today (wonderful service by the green machine). So I've taken some of the stones out (nothing affected the hardness of water in a bowl after soaking in it for a day) and done a 50% water change when putting the plants in. There's no plan to put any fish in imminently so I've got time to see what's going on.

    FullTank.jpg

    Paula
     
  9. Ed Seeley

    Ed Seeley Member

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    Location:
    Nottingham
    Your plants will be fine Paula. I'd simply keep up the usual tank maintenance and see how the water parameters settle down after a few weeks.

    The best way to test stuff in the tank IME is with the strong acid - you know straight away whether there's anything calcerous in there.
     
  10. paulag

    paulag Newly Registered

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    Thanks. I'm planning to take out the fake cave and replace it with one made from a nice piece of welsh slate I have as soon as I've got hold of something suitable for sides.

    I'll just keep an eye on the water parameters and try to get it settled for a while - I want to be sure that the plants are thriving before considering fish as I don't want to be fiddling with the plants too much once the fish are in and I don't want to be fishless cycling whilst the plants are trying to put down roots.

    Paula
     
  11. Ed Seeley

    Ed Seeley Member

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    Glad you're letting the plants get going before the fish - it's a big key to getting off to a good start IMHO. You'll also be able to run higher CO2 if there are no animals in there which is always good!!! You'll also find that after a while the tank will be cycled with the plants in here and you won't need to do another cycle before stocking the fish.
     
  12. paulag

    paulag Newly Registered

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    I have a microbiology degree and I'm deeply worried about the concept of lobbing high levels of ammonia in an ecosystem as I think it might kill off a lot of the beneficial bacteria apart from the nitrogen cycling ones. So I was wondering if it would be possible to cycle slowly with plants and maybe a low level of added ammonia later on.

    I'm in no huge hurry as I don't particularly want to put fish in before we go on holiday at the end of January as I don't want to dump the responsibility of an immature tank on my inlaws when they stay and look after the house.

    I've just noticed that the plants had a hitch-hiker - a malaysian trumpet snail. I'm not overly keen on killing things so I'm tempted to leave him. I know that on the plus side they aerate the substrate but the downside is that they can build up to problem. I guess I will probably have room later on for a couple of dwarf chain loaches if this is the case.

    Paula
     
  13. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

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    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    Hi,
    It is not really advisable to add ammonia to the tank as it will produce more than it's fair share and will build nitrifying bacterial colonies in the filter, sediment and on all submerged surfaces in good time. It is not really clear to me why ammonia addition has become such a popular trend as it is clearly lethal at even very low concentrations as well as being highly correlated to algal blooms. I would suggest to keep the lighting low, the CO2 levels adequate and to perform weekly or bi-weekly 50% water changes and to forget about ever adding ammonia to the tank.

    Cheers,
     
  14. paulag

    paulag Newly Registered

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    Thats interesting - generally it seems to be very popular to fishless cycle out there. I think it's because many people are desperate to get fish in quickly and quite rightly don't want to use the fish to cycle. As previously said not that keen myself but I wouldn't want to damage my first fish if the filter wasn't mature either.

    The 50% water changes seem very large - my main concern (apart from the physical effort involved) is that it would be impossible for me to warm up 120 litres of water or leave it to stand with the conditioner so all I could do would be to put the conditioner in the buckets as I fill them and put cold water into my tank. I was kinda planning to do 10-15% weekly.
    What is it that I am removing/adding with these big changes?

    Paula
     
  15. GreenNeedle

    GreenNeedle Member

    Messages:
    2,706
    Location:
    Lincoln UK
    It is very popular to fishless cycle with a non planted tank for the reasons that they have nowhere for the ammonia to go. I personally don't use substrates like ADA AS so no ammonia leeching there and when I rescape I put fish in as soon as the temp is right (obviously going through the acclimatisation process first.) This would be with a new or a matured filter. I then let the plants take up the slack (not advisable for the beginner as you will get algae. lol)

    A lot of people do however still fishless cycle in planted tanks but as Ceg says what is already in the tank (substrate, plants etc) will cycle the tank for you.

    Remember there are lots of substances for sale out there and lots of myths in the hobby. It makes sense for the manufacturers and retailers to push these myths because they sell product.

    AC
     
  16. amy4342

    amy4342 Member

    Messages:
    336
    With regards to the water changes, I've been doing it the hard way for years - boiling water, mixing it with cold water in a bucket adding conditioner, stirring it, lugging it to the tank, spilling most of it and then starting again. It takes some of the joy away to be honest because it was such a pain. I now mix the boiling water and cold water in a large vat next to the sink, and I've got a submersible pump (http://www.aquatics-online.co.uk/catalo ... product264) which sits in the bottom of the vat and pumps the water into the tank via a piece of hose which is suckered into the tank - easy. Maybe something like that would be easier?
     
  17. paulag

    paulag Newly Registered

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    It sounds interesting but I can't fit a 120l vat in the kitchen and it would need to be quite a long pipe so it still doesn't solve the problem of how you condition and heat 120l of water to do a 50% water change. It's 12 buckets worth. I tried using the kettle when I first filled it and one full boiled kettle doesn't make much difference to the water temperature in one bucket so I estimate it would be about 25 boiled kettles. The other alternative would be to run a heater overnight in it but again with the where would I get a 120l vat.

    There's also the issue that every time you do a big water change you are risking introducing problems if there's a problem with the water quality or the pH/hardness is significantly different.

    I think I'll stick to 10-15% weekly and if it doesn't work I'll cut my losses and sell the tank.

    Paula
     
  18. Ed Seeley

    Ed Seeley Member

    Messages:
    3,262
    Location:
    Nottingham
    Quite a few people on here use a Python or similar that simply fixes onto the tap. It syphons the water out of the tank via a long hose and then you switch the flow to add the tap water to the tank. IME using hot tap water is no problem - I have even used it with shrimp (Both with an old boiler and water tank and a new Combi boiler). However I use RO water for most of my tanks now and the fish thrive on the cool water change so I wouldn't worry too much about adding cold water. I just allow the water containers to sit in the room for a couple of hours before adding the water to take the worst of the chill off.
     
  19. paulag

    paulag Newly Registered

    Messages:
    15
    Pretty sure it is the gravel. I got hold of some vinegar and dumped some gravel in it and parts of it fizzed away merrily. I'm really peed off because that gravel came from two local fish shops (didn't get quite enough from one)and both lots seem to have the same problem.

    The tank is looking really good with the plants in but I guess I'm going to have to remove the gravel. I've got a layer of laterite covered with a layer of aquagrit with the gravel on top. I guess I need to see if I can just remove the gravel but it may have got a little bit mixed when I planted. I so don't want to chuck away 40 quids worth of laterite and aquagrit.

    My other problem is where on earth do I get new gravel from. Most of the bagged stuff you see is just horrible, expensive coloured stuff and I want something smooth on top so I can have corys so I don't really want all aquagrit. I don't really like the expensive dark coloured substrates.

    My poor plants - 100 quids worth of tropica plants will be uprooted again. But I'm hoping if they have settled in for a week and a half that if I am careful when I remove them I won't do too much damage. They are all merrily growing away at a scary rate. They probably like the hardness but I really wanted some pristella/glowlight tetras.

    Paula
     
  20. Ed Seeley

    Ed Seeley Member

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    3,262
    Location:
    Nottingham
    Why do you want soft water? Commercially bred tetras will be fine in tap water which is hard and after a while the calcerous parts of your gravel will release less minerals into the water anyway. The only reason to have soft water would be to breed them or to keep trickier or more sensitive species. If you want to do that then not only will you need to remove anything that will raise the hardness but you'll also need an RO unit to produce soft water for your water changes! I do this, but I've got killies, wild fish and cichlids that really need it to do well, thrive and breed. If you just want to keep a shoal of Glowlights or Pristellas then you have no need to worry or replace the gravel.
     

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