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Re: Beside Myself With Yoyo Deaths

PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 2:50 pm
by FranM
So tank and tap results

Tank GH—71.6 (4 drops). Tap the same.

Tank KH—35.8 (2 drops). Tap 17.9 (1 drop)

ALSO— my of ich was correct. The skinnier clown is sporting white spots today. Getting ready for a partial water change and redosing.

Re: Beside Myself With Yoyo Deaths

PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:20 pm
by Diana
The difference between 1 drop (1 German degree of hardness or less) and 2 drops (2 degrees) is very little, watch the KH in the tank and make sure it stays up.
When you do a water change I would prep the water before adding it to the tank. Make sure the KH is about 2-3 degrees in the new water.

One way to minimize the Ich is to keep up frequent water changes that emphasizes vacuuming the bottom of the tank. This removes a lot of the Ich that falls to the floor to breed. The water changes do not need to be large, just so long as you skim the whole floor area pretty well. About every other day is good at tropical fish temperatures.

Re: Beside Myself With Yoyo Deaths

PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:32 pm
by FranM
Is it argonite that helps with buffering? Not sure how you mean prep the water.

Thanks again.


Re: Beside Myself With Yoyo Deaths

PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 11:23 pm
by fossphur
You can use aragonite or a media bag of crushed coral in your filter, but then it is an unknown as to how much will leach into the water. This can be problematic for some situations, for example if you are trying to breed it can prevent some fish species eggs from hatching. Generally I think doing water changes and keeping an eye on it should stop it from getting out of hand, and too much kH is generally not as bad as not enough for a mature tank. Lack of kH can result in a pH crash which can stop your filter bacteria from working as well as hurt your fish.

Prepping your change water means adding the water conditioner and any additives and mixing it in the bucket before you put it in your tank. For example the way I do my water is I have a small circulation pump in my water container and I add dechlorinator, seachem alkaline buffer which raises the kH, and then depending on if the water is for my planted tank, guppy tank or shrimp tank I use a different additive to raise my gH. Lots of people just use sodium bicarbonate to raise their kH but I don't know if the sodium can cause problems (maybe that's all the seachem product is!). Anyway the circulation pump mixes all the powders and liquids thoroughly into the water. You probably don't need to worry about all those additives for your tank, in my case I have to use RO water as my tap water comes 500km by a pipeline and is heavily treated. I find the kH additive dissolves pretty well and I don't have to add lots every single time, just enough to keep the tank parameters where I want them.

Re: Beside Myself With Yoyo Deaths

PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 7:41 am
by FranM
Hi foss and thank you.

I already have crushed coral in filter and it's keeping PH stable at 7.2 ish. I hear aragonite may be better for stabilizing KH. I use Prime at water changes which I add to the bucket I'm filling from and pump into tank (because the Python does't fit to the faucet). I would think any additive to the water to alter KH would eventually crash once it sits for a couple of days in the tank, no?

Re: Beside Myself With Yoyo Deaths

PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 9:22 am
by fossphur
It does wear out eventually, but hopefully you do a water change before that happens! The chemistry behind it isn't intuitive - different chemicals have different buffering capacity, that is, they'll hold the pH at a certain level until they are used up, then the pH drops away. A higher KH doesn't necessarily mean the pH will be higher because sometimes that will depend on what buffer is being used. But the higher KH does mean you have longer until the buffer is worn away (I think?). For aquarium keeping purposes there are lots of buffering chemicals we can't use, either because they aren't good for fish or aren't good for plants (the API branded "Proper pH" for example isn't good to use with plants, they're phosphate based - but for a price, you can set the pH to an exact value and keep it there. Useful perhaps for breeding certain fish, pointless for general fish maintenance unless it is a really fussy fish). Calcium carbonate is the chemical found naturally in the water in nature - due to being dissolved out of the rocks in a particular locale for example so that is the chemical that KH refers to even though in an aquarium we might have bicarbonates or something else. For comparison purposes it's worked as if it was the same capacity as a certain amount of calcium carbonate.

I have used "play sand" mixed in the substrate of almost all of my tanks - here in AU, that refers to an extremly finely ground and soft carbonate sand. When I switched to RO water and was working out how much of each additive I needed for each tank, I eventually found out that one scoop was not enough in my corydoras tank, which was the only tank with no playsand. I only needed to switch to adding 2 scoops each water change to keep my pH under control. It's not a huge amount and it's certainly affordable. The trade off when I switched to RO was that I was no longer spending heaps of money on water conditioner (sometimes having to use 4 times the recommended dosage to get rid of all the chloramines) and instead spending it on KH and GH additives. The bonus being instead of my tapwater being a mystery, I now know exactly what is in the water in my tanks, because I measured it out and put it there!

OK so crushed coral vs aragonite - they're both calcium carbonate. The only real difference is that aragonite has more surface area because it is composed of fine particles instead of chunks. This means more contact with water, more opportunity to dissolve, but also a bit harder to contain in a media bag! I don't know much about how fast calcium carbonate is able to dissolve, so if your water is very lacking in KH and the natural processes of fishkeeping are acidifying your water, it might not be enough to keep up with a falling pH. Only the substances that are already dissolved in the water can affect the chemical processes that are happening in the water, which is why having some kind of extra buffer dissolved in the water at water change time is a good idea - I don't think it has to replace crushed coral either. Crushed coral is possibly a good medium for filter bacteria to grow on. Actually I wonder if that would inhibit its ability to dissolve in the water?

Anyway to me part of the fun of fishkeeping is experimenting with different things to find that balance point where everything in the tank becomes stable. Change one thing at a time, watch, wait and measure, then assess whether things got better or worse! Maybe aragonite would help, maybe a KH additive would help! It's up to you what you can afford and what you're willing to try - there are many different right ways to keep fish and I don't believe there is a single "true" perfect way :D - just find what works for you.

Re: Beside Myself With Yoyo Deaths

PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 2:06 pm
by FranM
Thanks, foss!

Re: Beside Myself With Yoyo Deaths

PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 12:35 am
by Diana
To prep the water you can add baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) or potassium bicarbonate. Either of these contain the carbonates that we measure as KH, but no calcium or magnesium (so they do not raise GH).

1 teaspoon of baking soda added to 30 gallons of water will raise the KH by 2 German degrees of hardness.
I think potassium bicarbonate is similar, but you might test it before you use it.

Either of these will almost instantly raise the KH (they dissolve very quickly), so are a good way to prep the water.
As noted by fossphur, any plants or microorganisms that can utilize carbonates will remove carbonates from the aquarium. It does not matter what the original source was. This is why you want to monitor the conditions. Nitrifying bacteria get their carbon from carbonates. About half of the plants that we plant in our aquariums can utilize carbonates if CO2 is low in the tank.

Keeping crushed coral, limestone based gravel or sand, or aragonite or similar sources of carbonate (and usually calcium) are OK in the filter, but they dissolve slowly. Do not depend on them during a water change. They react too slowly, so the water parameters can swing quite a bit before enough of the material dissolves to bring the parameters back to where you want them. Keeping these in a nylon stocking in the filter makes it easy to remove them if the GH or KH climb too high.

Re: Beside Myself With Yoyo Deaths

PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 7:32 am
by FranM
Hi Diana.

In my case the tap water comes out very alkaline so the crushed coral is preventing a crash right now. I will check PH weekly.

So to be sure I'm understanding correctly, it is ok to change the KH somewhat significantly without harming the fish? Eventually the baking soda will be eaten up too but won't affect the PH. Will there be a detrimental crash to the fish if the KH gets up to 4 but drops back to 2, for example, the next day?

Thanks again for the patience and advice. :D

Re: Beside Myself With Yoyo Deaths

PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 2:13 am
by Diana
"In my case the tap water comes out very alkaline..." Most people use alkaline to mean high pH, and acidic means low pH. Water companies make the water alkaline to reduce damage to the pipes. Acidic water is bad for the pipes. Water companies usually add something that we do not have tests for, except that the TDS test will show that something has been added but does not ID the material.

"... so the crushed coral is preventing a crash right now. I will check PH weekly."

"So to be sure I'm understanding correctly, it is ok to change the KH somewhat significantly..." Well, not really. It is best to keep it as stable as possible. A drop of 2 German degrees of hardness is not much, but I would not want to drop it more than that at any one time. "...without harming the fish? Eventually the baking soda will be eaten up too but won't affect the PH" Anything that raises or lowers the KH has the possibility of altering the pH. When the KH rises the pH will usually rise. When the KH drops the pH may do anything. Other chemicals in the water can act on the pH. Most often the pH will drop when the KH drops. Adding baking soda usually will raise the pH. "Will there be a detrimental crash to the fish if the KH gets up to 4 but drops back to 2..." A drop from 4 to 2 overnight is OK under most conditions., "...for example, the next day?"

More details:
Fish are in balance with the minerals and salts in the water. These are tested as TDS (Total Dissolved Solids). Some of the minerals that make up TDS can be measured as GH and KH. Other things that we do not usually measure can also contribute to the TDS.
When the water has a low TDS then water tries to enter the fishes' cells. The fishes' metabolism must work hard to pump out this excess water. Fish that come from soft water (often tropical rivers) are good at this. Waters that have low levels of minerals have pH that can vary pretty easily. Organic matter such as fallen leaves generally lowers the pH.
When the water has a high TDS then the water does not enter the fish cells so easily. The fishes' metabolism does not have to work so hard, and the fish get used to not having to work so hard. Fish from certain lakes (Rift Lakes of Africa) and streams that flow through limestone (often in temperate zones) will have higher levels of minerals. Since these minerals are often calcium or magnesium carbonates (limestone, calcite and related materials) these waters will have high GH and KH. The pH will pretty much always be fairly high in such waters.

When fish are moved from high TDS to low TDS (or when a water change alters the parameters) the fishes' metabolism must work harder to remove the excess water. As long as the change is fairly small (10-15%) the fish can generally adapt pretty well. If the change is more than about 15% it takes the fish longer to adapt, and if that much change happens all at once (like with a big water change using soft water, or buying fish from a store with hard water and adding them to a soft water tank) the fish can take on too much water and die. For example, a change from 100ppm to 90 ppm is about the most I would want to do to sensitive fish, and not much more of a drop for hardier fish.
When fish are moved from low TDS to high TDS (or when a water change alters the parameters) the fishes' metabolism can relax a bit, and does not have to work so hard. Most fish can handle a change to harder water easier than a change to soft water. Still, a change over 20% is a bit extreme for sensitive fish. For example, a change from 100ppm TDS to 120ppm is about the most I would try, though a bit more is probably fine for hardier fish.

Now back to your situation:
KH is just one of the materials that is part of TDS. If the other minerals and salts are more stable, then a change just in the KH is not much of a problem.
However, KH is linked to pH.
Fish can handle quite a change in pH as long as the TDS stays the same. For example, some people with live plants in their tanks will add CO2 for the plants. If something goes wrong, and a lot of CO2 gets added this can drop the pH really fast. But, since CO2 does not affect the TDS, the fish are generally OK with the change in pH.
Conversely, a change in pH that is linked to adding minerals to the water (either pH altering products you buy in the store, or things like coral sand, baking soda and other materials) can be a problem. It is not so much the change in pH, but it is the changing mineral levels that cause the problems.

Here is how I handle this set of problems:
1) Research the fish for optimum GH and pH. At the same time, test the tap water for GH, KH, pH, TDS.
2) Blend the water as needed to suit the fish. Add GH products such as Seachem Equilibrium to raise the GH. Add KH materials such as potassium bicarbonate or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to raise the KH. The fish don't usually care what the KH is, but the KH controls the pH. Since the fish usually tolerate a wide range of pH, the actual KH level could be whatever keeps the pH in that range.
3) As the tank develops microorganisms, as the plants get going, as the fish get established, monitor the GH, KH, pH, TDS. All these organisms can affect the mineral levels, often using the minerals for their growth.
When I make up new water for a water change, I will alter the minerals in the new water so when it is added to the aquarium the end result is the correct parameters for the fish without making too great a change at one time. If the parameters in the tank have drifted too far from optimum then I will add a small amount of whatever it takes to correct it in smaller doses daily or every other day. Adding a slow dissolving material to the filter is a good way to gradually add minerals to the tank. Coral or limestone sand, crushed oyster shell and so on are various forms of calcium carbonate so add both calcium (GH) and carbonate (KH) to the water.
4) If whatever material you use does not do the job, then dig in deeper and find out what is going wrong. Is there something removing a mineral from the water in greater amounts? As I noted above, microorganisms that turn ammonia into nitrite then nitrate get their carbon from carbonates (lowering the KH). Organisms that decompose organic matter can use other minerals from the water. These may make greater demands on you to keep the mineral levels stable.

Re: Beside Myself With Yoyo Deaths

PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 7:51 am
by FranM
Thank you again for the explanation. I will be trial and error for me. I don't have live plants--could never keep them going. The crushed coral I've been using has been doing a good job keeping PH stable. What I think I'll do is take out some of the crushed coral if I begin adding baking soda.

As far as the Ich goes it seems to be getting worse before getting better. I'm going to keep the full regimen going for two weeks, and the tank temp usually doesn't go below 80 although the house will be cooling down this weekend. I may bump the heater up a bit to maintain the higher temp.

Sighhhh. Thank you, Diana.

Re: Beside Myself With Yoyo Deaths

PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 2:46 pm
by fossphur
I've only seen ich once and my experience with it was the same. Any organisms already on the fish at the time you start treatment will still do that part of the lifecycle on the fish so to start with the cysts would be too small to see, then the fish looks worse and worse, until the cysts are done and the next part of the lifecycle begins. And the medication doesn't start working until the part of the lifecycle where the stuff in the substrate hatches and starts looking for a host. I think we saw two distinct waves of ich/slight improvement/ich until all organisms were hit by the treatment and then were gone.

Re: Beside Myself With Yoyo Deaths

PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 2:57 pm
by FranM
Makes sense. Thanks, foss.