katlikesfish katlikesfish
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  • Posted on: 16/1 21:47
KH, GH and PH super low during fishless cycling #1
Hi sorry, I hope its not a repeat question but I couldn't find similar topic.
My first fish tank 5gal Fluval Spec V.
I started 2 weeks ago without ammonia add on and just had it going, after quick read few days later I started adding fish food, but no jump in ammonia so I ordered Dr Tims ammonia. PH was low 6.5, KH - 40ppm, GH - 30ppm
6 days ago - I stopped adding fish food, did 50%WC and started adding ammonia (keeping 3ppm level).
I am checking water daily - keeeping steady ammonia levels
Yesterday I started checking all other parameters: NO2 off the roof (darkest pink 10), NO3 (between 160-250), KH was low but in safe, GH - was mid range, PH - 6.4
Today: in the morning PH, KH went down, GH stayed mid level.
I have just finished 50%WC (to flush the nitrites a bit) and I also checked my tap water (PH 6) and fish tank results: NO3 160PPM, NO2 10ppm, PH is 6 (or the lowest possible result on the test), KH - 0, GH - 0

What is going on, can such a low level PH stop the cycle? Am I doing something wrong? From total newbie who really want to get things right.
Fishlady Fishlady
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  • Posted on: 17/1 9:52
Re: KH, GH and PH super low during fishless cycling #2
Can you check the gH and kH of your tap water please?
katlikesfish katlikesfish
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  • Posted on: 17/1 11:42
Re: KH, GH and PH super low during fishless cycling #3
Thanks Fishlady,
Checked tap water:
PH - 6 (the lowest reading on the strip)
KH - 3d
GH - 0d
NO3 - 0ppm
NO2 - 0-10ppm

Checked fish tank:
NO3 - 250
NO2 - 10
PH - 6 (the lowest reading on the strip)
KH - 3d
GH - 8d

Ammonia levels go from 3ppm to 0ppm withing 24h so I am topping up to 3ppm practicly daily.

Also is it normal to have NO3 and NO2 off the charts after 2 weeks?
fcmf fcmf
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  • Posted on: 17/1 13:48
Re: KH, GH and PH super low during fishless cycling #4
Something looks a bit odd about at least some of these test results. Could you let us know:
* are you using test strips or liquid-based test kits to obtain these results?
* if you are in the UK, could you check what your expected tap water hardness level is in CaCO3 and German degrees, and your expected PH level, by inputting your postcode into your water company website?

Thanks. :)
katlikesfish katlikesfish
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Re: KH, GH and PH super low during fishless cycling #5
i have just checked on their website and typical
Ph should be 7.6,
water hardness 7.6 mg/l as calcium = 1.064 German degrees, = 19 mg/l as calcium carbonate

And I am using test strips API 5 in 1 and TETRA test 6 in 1 (don't like this one)
fcmf fcmf
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  • Posted on: 17/1 15:01
Re: KH, GH and PH super low during fishless cycling #6
This is all very helpful - thanks.

I have very similar PH and also very soft water, which struggled during a fishless cycle - yours is even slightly softer than mine.

I also use test strips but use liquid-based test kits too as I find the test strips to give a much lower PH reading than they ought to and much higher GH and KH readings than they ought to, in comparison with more accurate liquid-based test kits and what would be expected for my postcode from my water company website. However, I do find the test strips accurate for nitrite and nitrate, although the range for nitrates in particular can be quite wide - and the test strips are useful for giving a chlorine reading too.

If it's at all possible for you to get liquid-based test kits - the API Masterkit is economical in comparison with buying all the different tests individually - and some bicarbonate of soda to help during the cycling process, that would be really helpful to get you through it properly.

Fishlady is much more experienced than I am about the fishless cycling process and therefore I'll leave you in her capable hands for further advice on this but hope this is helpful in the interim.
Fishlady Fishlady
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  • Posted on: 17/1 16:14
Re: KH, GH and PH super low during fishless cycling #7
I agree with fcmf - test strips tend to be inaccurate and your results are a bit odd at the moment. The gH in the tank should not really rise so if it is rising something in the tank is causing that. kH in a tank will fall because the bacteria we need to process ammonia and nitrite use it up as part of the process. When kH falls to 0 (which will also cause a low pH), the bacteria stop working and become dormant. The first thing needed is liquid based test kits so we can get accurate results and get your tank cycled. The API Master Test Kit does ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH and there's a separate kit for gH and kH. Both are usually cheaper on eBay than in the shops:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/API-Freshwa ... C0AAOSwH5hZebo~:rk:6:pf:0

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/API-GH-KH-H ... :rk:3:pf:1&frcectupt=true
katlikesfish katlikesfish
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  • Posted on: 18/1 13:28
Re: KH, GH and PH super low during fishless cycling #8
Thank you fcmf and Fishlady. Unfortunately I can't really spend anymore money on fish equipment. So I have to kind of stick to what I have got currently.
Another test today,
ammonia dropped to 0 again after 24h,
NO2 - still top marks 10
NO3 - slightly lower in between 80-160
GH raised to 16 (60pm) from 8
KH possibly slightly raised 3-6 (from 3)
Ph still same between 6 - 6.5

What in the tank could make GH to raise? I have just Fluval integraded fillter with charcol insert and ceramic insert. 2 live plants, 1 ornament and one rock ornament. Only add ons is Dr Tims ammonia and dechlorinator when I am adding new water (treating water before going in the tank.

I noticed bacteria film on the glass inside the tanks during water change. Temperature is around 22- 23C (can't really warm it up anymore that is the highest it goes). And since yesterday I turned of the lights in case they send UV.

Not sure what else to do? Raise KH (bicarbonated soda? Limestone, Shell?)??

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Fishlady Fishlady
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  • Posted on: 18/1 16:13
Re: KH, GH and PH super low during fishless cycling #9
Well your cycle is progressing as ammonia is being rapidly converted and nitrite conversion must have started for nitrate to rise. Your kH and gH could not possibly have risen that high so fast even if something was leaching minerals into the water so we are back to needing accurate kH and gH tests. Until you know what the kH is, adding bicarb may be completely unnecessary (and as the cycle is functioning it would seem you do have some kH in the tank).
katlikesfish katlikesfish
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  • Posted on: 18/1 23:33
Re: KH, GH and PH super low during fishless cycling #10
Thank you Fishlady, I am glad you think my tank is cycling, that was my main worry.

I will continue checking the water and hopefully it will be all stable and finished soon