Everyone else is doing it, so why can't I...

Discussion in 'Aquascaping and Member's Setups' started by STRiDER, Nov 17, 2006.

  1. R.C.
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    88 Wynne Street
    Parrow East

    The shop is situated behind Ultra Wholesale Liquors, which is opposite the Sanlam Shopping Centre on Voortrekker Road. If you come down Voortrekker Road, going towards Bellville, you can turn in and drive through Ultra Wholesale Liquors parking area into Wynne Street.
     
  2. STRiDER
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    STRiDER Noob

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    :yes

    ...nothing like a spot of aquarium shopping...

    Will hopefully get most of the stuff on my shopping list that LFS cannot provide...

    (how long again to the next payday?)
     
  3. STRiDER
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    Finally back from Cape Town

    and all fish still accounted for! O0

    Visited Panorama over the weekend... and a bit of a let down :-\ - I really expected more...
    They did not even had half the stuff on my shopping list.

    -------------

    I managed to get a different pH test kit as well as NO2 and NO3 kits (Panorama did not have any other test kits in stock :taz

    ---------------

    Newest test results:

    pH : 8.2
    NO2 : 0.0
    NO3 : 5 - 10 Mg/L

    ----------------

    It is obvious to me now that the pH is going to be a problem. I still haven't tested for Ammonia and Carbonate Hardness but I suspect problems is going to start sooner than later.

    I added some peat to my canister filter and after running for 24 hours the pH is still exactly the same. I will monitor the pH daily to see what happens. LFS and Panorama suggested liquid additives to lower the pH, but I'm a bit cautious...

    -----------------

    My canister filter picked up a nasty rattle inside - I hope it's not an impending pump failure ??? - Probably ceramic media bouncing around. Will investigate this weekend.

    ------------------

    I also added 6 more Zebra Danios :yes
    One is an albino (white sheep of the family...)

    ------------------

    Re-did a bit of the aquascape - some plants were not doing well in the tank, so I removed them and rearranged some others. Also added 3 Annubias to different spots on the bogwood.
     
  4. STRiDER
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    STRiDER Noob

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    Here's some pics of the new aquascape

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Albino Danio...

    [​IMG]

    --------------------------------------

    Will be replacing the background today, details later
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 11, 2014
  5. STRiDER
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    STRiDER Noob

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    I replaced the background.

    Bought some black nylon material from a fabric store.
    It's tough, waterproof, slightly shiny and very easy to work with.

    Cost R30!

    Fixed it to the rear with small pieces of double sided tape.

    It loosk similar to plastic, but without the wrinkles and folds.

    I gave up on netting the chines algae eaters and built an fairly elaborate trap. Caught one, but it escaped again as I took it out of the tank :mumum:

    ...aanhouer wen... (I hope)
     
  6. STRiDER
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    It's now been 8 days running with peat in my filter.

    pH is still between 8.0 and 8.5.

    I'll be in CT next week and will try and get a Carbonate Test Kit and maybe something else I can lower the pH with.

    -----------------------------

    Added the last of the Zebra Danios (18 in total now). They are truly the clowns of the tank!!

    Managed to catch one Chinese Algae Eater with my trap and relocated it to a different tank. Still has to catch the other one though!
     
  7. Andre
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    Andre Green fingers

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    Hey Strider

    Your pH seems quite high. Maybe you should invest in an RO unit?

    Your tank is looking good!
     
  8. STRiDER
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    STRiDER Noob

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    Thanks Andre

    This pH issue is giving me headaches!!

    Here's the options I came across so far to solve it.

    1. Peat - tried it and so far its not working.

    2. Chemicals - I dont know what's available on the SA market and if it will work

    3. Mix tap water with distilled water before water change - not enough cash for that!

    4. Live with it and get other fish - I will have to get rid of at least 26 fish and re-think my whole set-up. And I'm not yet willing to do that.

    5. Live with it and hope the fish will adapt. So far I cannot find anyone that can tell me whether this will work or not. So far the fish seems healthy (been about a month)

    6. Now you are mentioning a RO unit. I was not aware that they bring down the pH in tap water. I understand that a good RO unit can be quite pricey. How long will it take to do a waterchange of 70 litres with an RO unit. What are the running costs of an RO unit?
    (...more research...)

    7. I am moving to a new house in a different town next year May. The LFS is situated in this town and their tap water is 7.5. Can I possibly try and stick it out till then?

    8. Change to a marine tank!! :p (just kidding)

    -------------------------

    I'm told that I must test Carbonate Hardness. If its very high (as I expect) it should technically be very difficult to lower the pH.
    This could explain why aerating the water and adding peat does not work.

    How will chemicals and a RO unit cope with this?

    aaaagh! too many questions...
     
  9. Andre
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    Andre Green fingers

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    Hi there

    Firstly, you are living near Cape Town, meaning that any Carbonate hardness in your water is added by the water treatment plant. The water in the dams are very soft and low pH. You will see that it contains a lot of tannins (FYI the water people add Aluminium Phosphate to the water to clear the tannins). So my guess is that your carbonate hardness will be pretty low. Also note that there are other pH buffers out there like phosphates that could be causing your higher pH level.

    If you mix 50% RO water with 50% tapwater you will have effectively halved your carbonate hardness. Carbonate hardness, pH and CO2 levels have a fixed relationship. So if you dont change the CO2 levels and drop the carbonate hardness you will cause a drop in pH as well.

    Most fish will acclimitize to a higher pH, just dont try keeping altums or wild caught discus in there, as they are more delicate.

    I never try to alter my pH using chemicals - most of them will effectively push up your Total Hardness which is just a big an issue as the high pH that you are solving.

    If you fish are doing fine then forget about all the pH altering and enjoy them. Most of the fish are succesfully kept in America which is mostly located on one huge limestone bank.

    Keep well

    Andre

    My advise to you is to leave things as they
     
  10. STRiDER
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    Back from short Cape Town Holiday!!

    Firstly about the pH problem:

    Here is some more test results:

    Aquarium Water:
    pH : 8.3
    NO2 : 0
    NO3 : 5
    GH : 220
    KH : 110

    Tap Water:
    pH : 8.2
    GH : 100
    KH : 50

    This results was quite alarming as it means that something in my tank is increasing my water hardness!!
    I have done a few things to try and lower it and its doing the opposite!!
    I've added bogwood to the tank and peat to the filter; and this is supposed to lower hardness.
    I let new tank water sit for hours before adding to the tank and even tried putting oxygen in water before changes.

    Now I'm back to square one!

    -----------------

    On the positive side - all fish still seem happy and I added two more Bronze Corydoris.
     
  11. Pedro
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    Pedro Algae harvester

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    Hey STRiDER,

    Forget the marine setup. That pH & GH is perfect for Rift Valley Cichlids... :)

    Your setup is looking very nice. More close ups of your plants and fish would be awesome.
     
  12. Dirk B
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    Dirk B Aquascaper

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    Hi Strider,

    Don't despair about your tank.

    You should remember a few things:

    Peat does not lower GH, in other words it will not reduce the calcium levels in the water, it will only reduce the carbonate hardness.

    However, adding peat to the filter will not lower the KH permanently unless you remove the peat from the filter, and keep on adding new peat to the filter. The carbonate will bind to the peat, but that does not mean that it will disappear, if you leave the peat in the filter, the peat will rot and release the carbonate back into the water again, and I suspect that this may have happened.

    What would be best, is if you could have a water container containing some peat in which you pretreat the water before you add it to your tank. In this way you can check what the water values are before doing a water change, and you do not need to add the peat to the filter.

    What sort of peat have you been using? There are vastly different peat types available which don't all work equally well.

    Kind regards,

    Dirk
     
  13. STRiDER
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    STRiDER Noob

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    Thanks Dirk

    I bought the peat from Panorama. It's a Fluval product.

    If I add peat to the water before adding it to the tank, how should I do this. Do I need an extra filter or do I just put it directly in the water and leave it like that, and then for how long?

    Another question, will a RO-unit help in my case? I understand that an RO-filter cannot actually change pH at all.
     
  14. Dirk B
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    Dirk B Aquascaper

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    Hi Strider,

    As you feed your fish they take up the proteins and break down the excess protein that they do not need into ammonia which is released via the gills or the excrement into the water. Ammonia is toxic to the fish and that is why you have a filter in which bacteria convert the ammonia into nitrate. Nitrate is far less toxic and you remove that with the water changes you make. In the process of the conversion from ammonia to nitrate, this causes the releases of H+ or protons which acidifies the water. The amount of free H+ determines the pH of water, the higher the amount of free H+ the lower the pH. If your water contains carbonate hardness, the carbonate hardness can absorb most of the H+ and the pH will not change. If you have very little carbonate hardness, then the H+ cannot be absorbed and the levels of H+ will increase resulting in a pH drop.

    For this reason, if you use RO water, which just about contains no dissolved substances and no carbonate, your water's pH will drop, not because you add acid, but just simply because your fish effectively produce H+ all the time. That is also why Andre and others have told you to just simply not adjust the pH and to leave it as most water even in your area contains too little carbonate to really work against this pH drop. I also think that the pH will drop in your tank in a few weeks without your doing very much to adjust it.

    In my opinion, unless you are intending to breed very softwater fishes, I would not invest in a RO unit, it is just simply too expensive, and it is also not maintenance free, it needs to be serviced all the time.

    On your question about peat. You can have a large plastic drum in which you mature your water. To 100 l you can then add a handful of peat, let it sink and just aerate the water to cause good mixing. Leave the water for a few days and then check the pH. If you have added enough peat, the pH will drop. If you have not added enough, it will not have dropped. By regulating the amount of peat you add, you can then adjust the water you do your water changes with.

    You must however be careful and monitor the pH in your tank at the same time. Remember the fish are contributing to lowering the pH all the time. As a result the pH can drop dangerously low so be careful.

    In my fish tanks I am fighting against a drop in pH all the time, because the carbonate hardness here is so low. I actually add some shells to my filters to work AGAINST the drop in pH because it is actually far more dangerous than a pH that is somewhere around about 7.

    Happy fishkeeping,

    Dirk
     
  15. STRiDER
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    STRiDER Noob

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    Thanks again Dirk

    Things seem so much clearer now!! :)

    I will monitor everything over the next couple of weeks and see what happens to the tank. Admittedly the system is still quite new (6 weeks) and I hope that the pH will start dropping a bit eventually.

    As for the peat for water changes. Can I buy pure organic peat from a nursery and use that. Using aquarium peat every time will have me broke in no time :-[

    As for a RO-unit. I'm seriously considering investing in an RO-filter for drinking water and home use. Will the water from such a system (5-stage filter) still be usable for aquariums?

    Thanks again for all the help!!

    Andre dT
     
  16. Dirk B
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    Dirk B Aquascaper

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    Hi Andre

    I agree that you should first see how things go with your tank before trying major changes.

    I also do not buy aquarium peat if I need it, I do get it from nurseries. You have to very careful though. Some of the peat that is supplied in South Africa is not suitable for aquarium use and some of it is not even peat although it is sold as such! The organic peat sold by many suppliers such as Kompel is not actually peat but palmiet fibre which comes from the George vicinity. Although quite good for plants, it does not have the peat properties that you want for aquarium water treatment. What you should try to get is pure Irish spaghnum peat moss or Canadian peat moss, this has the high carbonate binding capacity and will easily make water acidic for aquarium use. I think that Stodels nurseries sells Irish peat but some of the other Cape members of the list can perhaps help with advice here as well.

    Then with regard to your RO unit considerations. For drinking water purposes RO water is actually not good, in spite of what the health shops may want to tell you (and I say this in my capacity of a professor in biochemistry). For drinking water purposes you would want to remove as little of the salts from the water because they are beneficial but you do want to remove the organic components because they don't taste nice and may have a detrimental effect. For drinking water one of these cartridge systems is perfect and a RO unit is total overkill.

    Kind regards,

    Dirk
     
  17. STRiDER
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    STRiDER Noob

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    Thanks again Dirk

    I will look out for the peat.

    As for the RO-unit for home use, well I was afraid you gonna say that :p

    In order not to highjack this thread I started a discussion on RO-water here : http://www.apsa.co.za/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=5
     
  18. Andre
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    Andre Green fingers

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    Hi there

    I bought a number of bags of Spaghnum peat in Gauteng when I was there - I have yet to see it in any Cape Nursery unfortunately :(
     
  19. STRiDER
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    (back from holiday :wave: )

    Tested water again yesterday - no changes whatsoever in the readings.

    I spoke to Nick Hart about the pH issue and he has a few ideas - lets hope for the best!!

    -----------

    Added more fish today!!

    1 x Bronze Cory (total is now 4)
    3 x Yellow Swordtails

    more fish coming from Riebeeck Kasteel on Thursday!! :thumb:

    ----------

    Some plants are really coming on nicely, pics to follow...

    ----------

    P.S. I started feeding algae pellets for the bottom feeders - its amazing how suddenly everyone in the tank becomes a bottom feeder :D
     
  20. STRiDER
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    STRiDER Noob

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    Added 4 more Neons. Total now 24.

    Got some beautiful plants from Nick.
    5 Amazon Swords and some micro swords.

    Lots more on order!!

    -----------------

    Aquascape slightly redone again...
    The left side is coming on nicely, right side will catch up later.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    ------------------

    Some inhabitants

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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