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Hello,

I have a 170 gallon fish tank with a sump tank and two grow beds filled with Plant It (like hydroton).  I began fishless cycling on 3/23/2014 using the AquaCycle kit purchased from the Aquaponic Source.  My PH was first measured at 7.0 but over the course of the first week it began dropping even though Nitrites had not been detected.  I used the AquaUp kit to try to bump up the PH.  The kit says it contains Calcium Carbonate and Potassium Carbonate but both of the bags are marked Calcium Carbonate (one is a white powder and the other is light brown granules).  I went away on vacation and when I returned I found that the PH was "off the chart".  Testing with the high PH test it appears it is at 7.8.  Ammonia is testing between 4 and 8 (I am awful at being able to determine the color match). I have not added any ammonia for a week at this point. No nitrites have appeared to date.  Water temperature hovers around 60.1 degrees F.  I tried to bring the PH down using about 2 ounces of AquaDown (18% Phosphoric Acid) but the PH is still 7.8.  I called my water provider and they confirmed they do not treat the water with chloramine.  

Are there any suggestions as to what I should do at this point?  Should I just relax and see what happens or is there an indication that I have got my system off to a poor start and should do something to correct?

Thanks for any advice or input in advance!

Steve

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Well, your pH is not too high. Nitrifying bacteria love higher pH levels (8.0-8.6) and will multiply more rapidly under those conditions. 7.8 is just fine. The reason the phosphoric acid you used isn't working is you buffered your pH with carbonates, which act as pH fortifiers, making your water more resistant to adjustments in pH.

Your ammonia may be a little too high. You typically want to shoot for 2-4ppm, so I would do a partial water change (1/3 of your water) to try to get that level down a tad. If you're using the API freshwater test kit, the test starts out at yellow and in the presence of ammonia adds more and more blue color to the test. So, to check your levels, just keep in mind "how much blue is in this yellow test?" Then line it up with whatever test field is closest.

I will go ahead and do a partial water change.  Currently I don't have a supply of off gassed water for the partial water change. Does that even matter at this point since no nitrites have appeared?  

Thanks for the help Alex!

I'd recommend off gassing your water before using it. No reason to back pedal your system....just because nothing shows up on a test, it doesn't mean nothing is happening.

Hi Steve,

Sorry your AquaUp/AquaStart Kit was mislabeled.  I shot a message over to the manufacturing department asking them to double-check those labels.  FYI, the white powder is the potassium carbonate.

If you do not have an easy way to outgas your water, you may also consider a dechlorinator such as D-Klor.

Hi Alex,

I am experiencing the same delays fish-less-cycling a 5 Gal fish tank and 5 Gal media growo bed, meant to be a science project system for my son. Per your comment, my ammonia seems to bee too high, at more than 8 ppm. No trace of nitrites yet. Picture attached.
In my case, water comes in the 6.0 - 6.4 pH range out of a deep well. But when pumped several times through the system, pH went to 8.4. I am afraid my media (garden deco granite gravel) is reacting with water altering pH.

I understand the high pH range is optimal for bacteria colonization, but once the biofilter establishes I will need to bring and keep pH down, correct?

CARLOS A



Alex Veidel said:

Well, your pH is not too high. Nitrifying bacteria love higher pH levels (8.0-8.6) and will multiply more rapidly under those conditions. 7.8 is just fine. The reason the phosphoric acid you used isn't working is you buffered your pH with carbonates, which act as pH fortifiers, making your water more resistant to adjustments in pH.

Your ammonia may be a little too high. You typically want to shoot for 2-4ppm, so I would do a partial water change (1/3 of your water) to try to get that level down a tad. If you're using the API freshwater test kit, the test starts out at yellow and in the presence of ammonia adds more and more blue color to the test. So, to check your levels, just keep in mind "how much blue is in this yellow test?" Then line it up with whatever test field is closest.

Attachments:

Yes, once you add plants, you'll need to bring your pH down. High pH has a negative effect on plant nutrient uptake, especially with iron. Do a partial water change to bring your ammonia level down to 4ppm.


Carlos A. Gorricho said:

Hi Alex,

I am experiencing the same delays fish-less-cycling a 5 Gal fish tank and 5 Gal media growo bed, meant to be a science project system for my son. Per your comment, my ammonia seems to bee too high, at more than 8 ppm. No trace of nitrites yet. Picture attached.
In my case, water comes in the 6.0 - 6.4 pH range out of a deep well. But when pumped several times through the system, pH went to 8.4. I am afraid my media (garden deco granite gravel) is reacting with water altering pH.

I understand the high pH range is optimal for bacteria colonization, but once the biofilter establishes I will need to bring and keep pH down, correct?

CARLOS A


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