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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am setting up a 55g, hopefully for discus. My tap water down stream of out water softener is very nearly dead soft but high PH upper 7"s. I have been trying since last Sat to get the PH down. I will get it to 6 but 24hrs later it is back up to over 7. Yesterday I rechecked my tap water and and filled a container and adjusted it to 6. This AM it was still 6 so there is something in my tank that seems to be causing the problem.

I have a canister filter with only foam and bioballs, the first 1.5" of substrate is a mixture of washed playsand ( looks like a silica type)and peatmoss. Then I put an inch of fine FLOURA MAX
gravel on top with some live plants. There are also a couple of new clay pots in there as well.

Any ideas as to what could be buffering the water to the high side? Tony
 

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When you say your water is soft, are you referring to total hardness (GH)? Total hardness has nothing to do with pH. Carbonate hardness (KH) will cause what you're seeing. I don't see anything in your system that would be buffering the water. What is the KH value of both tap and tank?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Aparently there is something in the tank that is buffering the water. The tap water I adjusted yesterday seems to hold the PH very well as I expected, but there seems to be something in the tank that is causing the bounce back. Could it be the clay pottery? The gravel? This is one of the reasons I added the peat moss was to help buffer softness and lower PH.
 

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Then the KH is the cause of the pH bounce. Unless you can lower that, the pH will continue to bounce back up. I cannot explain why your test sample still has a pH of 6. Not if the KH is 120ppm. The pH should have bounced back up. You might want to take a look at this article.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
GH on the tank was much higher and the KH was lower than the tap results. I was just thinking though- could not get to the LFS for PH Down and I am using sulferic acid(battery acid) from work. Could this be causing the problem?

Anyway I am going to try a very large water change tonite and try again.
 

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An acid will lower KH, so what you added was working, but hadn't brought it down enough. When it gets low enough, pH can be brought down as well. But, sometimes with unpredictable results.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks Tim

I may just change directions and go Africans. It is looking like the water chemistry may be better suited. Once I have this tank up and going may set the 70 up that I have collecting dust in the basement for the Discus and spring for a RO unit to service the water needs for that tank. Tony
 

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mrbprint said:
Thanks Tim

I may just change directions and go Africans. It is looking like the water chemistry may be better suited. Once I have this tank up and going may set the 70 up that I have collecting dust in the basement for the Discus and spring for a RO unit to service the water needs for that tank. Tony
I think the RO is your best best. I'm looking into that myself right now. Fortunately I've got a small enough tank that I can get by for a bit by buying distilled water to mix with my tap. Lots of testing to see what can be done. But this is the fun stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Yea it is fun but tough on the pocketbook! My wife and I were at the LFS looking at some threadfin rainbows and she made a comment on the price of $8 ea, I didn't tell her how much the Discus were LOL
 

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I haven't done too much RO research but my LFS sells RO water for $0.30 per gallon. So on a 70 gallon tank that's $21 to fill it and then estimate about $40 per month for water changes (assuming total volume of 50% changed per week). That's an annual water cost of $480/year.

I'm not convinced that buying a home RO unit is cheaper given the costs of the unit, the replacement parts, and the waste water it produces. I've heard cheaper RO units waste up to 8-10x the volume of RO water created.

I guess that's why I do Africans as well :D
 

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I have always found that using chemicals to adjust your water never resulted in the water parameter stability that I was really after. A planted tank over time will get your water where you want it. So will RO water. It isn't a one day or even one week change. I haven't done Discus but I have found that most fish will adjust to the water you have as long as you take the time to acclimate them.
 

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Fighting one's water is never a good idea. It's fun for a couple of weeks, but then it becomes a big PITA. This is both when your water is soft and you want to raise rift cichlids and when your water is hard and you want to raise discus.

You're much better off picking a species that can easily adapt to your filtered or conditioned tap. Yes, most fish can be acclimated, but getting them to show their colors and breed when the water is "wrong" can be problematic.

If you only have access to tap water that has been treated with a "water softener", you'll need to add back at least a little magnesium and calcium to a GH above at least 1. If the source water was very hard, you'll also have to worry about the salt content of your softened, especially if you have plants.

GH and KH are the dog and pH is the tail. Concentrate on the dog - even with discus. Discus conditions are low pH only because they are low KH and because of the presence or organic acids from tannins.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I would like to thank everyone and I agree with everyones opinion, but the problem is definately in the tank. The gallon of tap water I added a few drops of acid to and set at 6.4 is holding at 6.4 for 48 hrs. GH and KH has changed only slightly in this test container. The tank on the other hand goes from 6 to 7.4 in 12 hrs and the GH has more than doubled, KH is dropping. It seems that there is something leaching out throwing the parameters way off.

Things in the tank; Miricle Grow Peatmoss Play sand Flora Max substrate 2 4" clay pots 1 large clay pot several live plants.

I am not sure whether to keep dosing with acid till whatever is buffering is used up or start taking stuff out, but the tap water seems to be stable till it goes into the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I was afraid I'd hear that, but sounds logical. It is the one thing I have never used before.
 
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