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[APD] First Planted Tank: Water Chemistry Problems
Can anyone help an ex-English major who's apparently in over her head here?
I've set up my first planted tank with the goals of (1) providing a
better environment for one very spoiled betta and his dwarf cory
janitorial crew and (2) avoiding algae problems that I've had in the
past. It's a 10-gallon tank with 2 inches of Fluorite substrate and a
15-watt full-spectrum light. I've got plants like java fern, dwarf
lily, Japanese fans, Crypt Walkeri, and Red-Spot Ocelot. I've been
injecting CO2 using the Red Sea Turbo CO2 Biosystem (which is really a
low-tech DIY system). I do a 40-50% water change weekly as part of my
I haven't put any fish in yet because I'm not happy with the water
chemistry. Because I have very high pH well water with nitrates and
(probably) phosphates, I'm using RO from the LFS. I've built up the GH
using Seachem's Equilibrium, and that's OK. My goal is a reasonable pH
(anywhere from 7.0 to 7.4 would be fine . . . my fish are used to water
in that range) with enough of a KH for it to be stable. But even when I
use Seachem's Alkaline and Acid Buffers in the recommended ratios, I end
up with a pH of well over 7.6. I was hoping that the CO2 would help
bring the pH down, but the system seems erratic and I don't want to
invest in a pressurized metered system.
I've been working on the water, on-and-off, for about a month. My fish
are still in bowls and (gak!) now I'm starting to see algae. I want to
get some SAEs, shrimp, etc before the algae gets a real foothold, but I
don't want to dump fish in there if my water chemistry is still swinging
back and forth.
My latest attempt involves getting the KH down temporarily by adding
unbuffered RO, and then adding Acid Buffer every day as recommended.
I've got the KH at 30 mg/L and have added Acid Buffer for 2 days and the
pH is (surprise!) 7.6.
Do I need to get the KH even lower?
Should I keep adding the Acid Buffer until the pH gets down to my
range? If so, should I then add Alkaline Buffer to get the KH back up?
* (Which will raise the pH, I know.)
Should I give up on the whole CO2 injection thing?
Should I resign myself to a higher pH and just hope that it doesn't
contribute to algae problems that the SAEs can't handle?
Any advice would really be appreciated!
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