Aquarium Setup • Water chemistry and stability

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Water chemistry and stability

Postby Red Dwarf » Thu Dec 05, 2019 3:10 pm

Hi All

This is my first post so please excuse the newbie stuff!

I have kept a community tank for over 25 yrs, nothing fancy. My last clown loach just died at the ripe old age of 20 yrs and I am thinking of setting up a new, 55 gallon cichlid tank.
My tap water is from a nearby creek and passes through an in-ground sand filter and UV treatment before it gets to the house.
It is ph neutral and very soft: less that 2 dGH and less than 2 dKH. Sounds like pretty good discus water but I do not wish to be committed to such short interval water changes.
My initial questions are
1. Is this water likely to be unstable regarding ph
2. Should I accept the water as is and go with new world fish ( I do not want a planted tank at the moment)
3. Would I be better off buffering the water and going with Africans?

Many thanks in advance

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Re: Water chemistry and stability

Postby Deeda » Thu Dec 05, 2019 3:16 pm

Welcome to C-F!!

Leave a sample of your tap water in a clean glass container overnight and test the pH, GH and KH again to see if those parameters change. What exactly is the pH of the water?

I've only kept Malawi and Tang cichlids since they suit my harder well water so can't advise on other fish.

I'm sure other members will offer good advice.
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Re: Water chemistry and stability

Postby DJRansome » Thu Dec 05, 2019 3:42 pm

Personally I would go with a soft water fish. What about Rams?
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Re: Water chemistry and stability

Postby ken31cay » Thu Dec 05, 2019 4:27 pm

Deeda wrote:Leave a sample of your tap water in a clean glass container overnight and test the pH, GH and KH again to see if those parameters change. What exactly is the pH of the water?


+1.

You really need to know what your water will initially settle as after about 24hrs and compare that with your tank water which can change again due to the tank's environment. Then you know what you have to work with, and can make changes if necessary.

My municipal water comes from a desalination plant and so is basically r/o water with added chlorine, sodium hydroxide to increase pH, and also an anti-corrusion chemical for the water pipes. TDS is below 50, pH is usually mid 6 range. I have to add alot to my water for africans, but only needed to add trace elements for SA fish.

In your case I'm guessing your water may hopefully contain some trace elements like calcium and potassium salts but I would really have it tested, and add trace elements if needed. But it sounds like your water has little buffering capacity so yes it would be unstable. My water is similar to yours in this regard but when I kept discus the tank was barebottom, almost no decor, and I vacuumed inside tank & changed >75% water daily without fail, so the tank's water parameters changed very little over time.
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Re: Water chemistry and stability

Postby ken31cay » Thu Dec 05, 2019 4:52 pm

DJRansome wrote:Personally I would go with a soft water fish. What about Rams?


This makes sense IMO.

Did you monitor pH with your clown loach setup and if so what was your experience?
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Re: Water chemistry and stability

Postby Red Dwarf » Thu Dec 05, 2019 5:12 pm

I will post again when I have re-tested after 24 hrs.

I am ashamed to say that I got very lazy with testing with my clown loach setup as the fish were happy and looking good for years.
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Re: Water chemistry and stability

Postby ken31cay » Thu Dec 05, 2019 5:45 pm

Red Dwarf wrote:I will post again when I have re-tested after 24 hrs.

I am ashamed to say that I got very lazy with testing with my clown loach setup as the fish were happy and looking good for years.


I only ask because with your water, normally the water pH would keep dropping as nitrates increase so I'd be interested to know how that played out in your tank. But the fish were happy, so if you decide to keep soft water fish and you follow the same things you were doing, then all else being equal, you should hopefully have the same result.
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Re: Water chemistry and stability

Postby Red Dwarf » Fri Dec 06, 2019 6:54 pm

I have re-tested my tap water after it has sat for 24hrs.

PH = 7.2
GH = 1dGH
KH = 1dKH

What are your thoughts?

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Re: Water chemistry and stability

Postby ken31cay » Fri Dec 06, 2019 7:52 pm

I assume the pH was a little lower straight from the tap. What kind of substrate & decor is in the tank? Some types can push pH up (if your water is acidic), others can push down. Your water change routine (size & frequency), tank maintenance, tank occupants & size, and amount you feed all affect the water parameters. So quite a few variables. If you keep all variables the same as when your previous fish were happy then I'd hope for a similar outcome with new fish.
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Re: Water chemistry and stability

Postby ken31cay » Fri Dec 06, 2019 7:54 pm

Of course when you start with new fish I'd suggest monitoring your water parameters again until you feel comfortable everything is going well like before.
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Re: Water chemistry and stability

Postby Red Dwarf » Fri Dec 06, 2019 8:37 pm

This will be a brand new setup, so starting from scratch. I am thinking of a non-planted tank but not sure if New Worlds would thrive in that hence the question of changing the chemistry and going with Africans.
Choice of substrate would be dependant upon fish species I guess.
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Re: Water chemistry and stability

Postby DJRansome » Fri Dec 06, 2019 9:08 pm

Browse the new world fish that like lower pH...apistos and geophagus are two examples that don't seem to need plants in their tank.

On the other hand, if you just want African Rift Lake cichlids regardless I would use baking soda to bump pH, GH and KH. You want your KH to be 7 for stability.
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Re: Water chemistry and stability

Postby ken31cay » Fri Dec 06, 2019 9:17 pm

They should do fine in pH 7.2 but any fish you choose you'd still need to monitor water parameters for a good while until you're comfortable with the new setup. IMO I think keeping your water as is would be easier. If you chose africans then yes it would be recommended to increase your pH, etc., with a buffer. When I started with africans I started with buffer recipe, monitored my parameters and made adjustments as necessary. I need to add this buffer recipe to new water every week when I do my water changes. I keep both my african tanks at pH 8.0-8.1, KH 9, GH 14. I don't know my TDS, which is a very important parameter, but I know it's high and more importantly stays consistent.

When you do get new fish ask the seller for his water pH and any other parameters he can give you, to make sure they're same as your tank water. The fish can have trouble adjusting if your water is significantly different pH, and though I've never run into the issue myself I believe sudden changes in TDS can affect fish even more. After your new fish initially acclimate I advise to keep an eye on pH fluctuations, especially if you stay with the unbuffered water.
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