• Hello guest! Are you an Apistogramma enthusiast? If so we invite you to join our community and see what it has to offer. Our site is specifically designed for you and it's a great place for Apisto enthusiasts to meet online. Once you join you'll be able to post messages, upload pictures of your fish and tanks and have a great time with other Apisto enthusiasts. Sign up today!

Water Changes - planted tanks

MacZ

Well-Known Member
The test is null and void, sorry. Test strips by API are already bad quality, but with so much water on the strip the test fields have mixed.
Do it again, and hold the strip's side against a paper towel for a moment to take off surplus water. Also wait for the usual 60sec until the readings are ready.
The NO3-scale has too big steps. The reading is probably between 10 and 20.

IMPORTANT: For A. cacatuoides the pH and hardness don't have to be that low. KH of 3-5° and pH around 6.5 is enough, especially for tankbred domestic variants.

But to know how far down you can go in the first place, KH is necessary to know. The scale (again, API is rubbish) is a litte off anyways. More steps between 0 and 40 would be great.

Anyhow, to lower your pH significantly with leaves and botanicals the KH has to be below 40mg/l or 1-2°KH.
If the reading is above that it will take ages with that method and eventually just hold.

What I mean with significantly: Usually with soft (KH ~3°/~60mg/l) water, leaves and alder cones initially lower the pH by maybe 0.2 - 0.4 points. Then it stops dropping and unless more botanicals are added regularly to form a leaf litter bed and beneficial mulm it will rise again with the next waterchange that adds new KH to the tank. The mulm and rotting botanicals stabilize the pH at around 6.5.

From there the only way to go down is lowering KH. And to do so, you don't add, but take away. That's why most people here use rainwater distilled water or RO water. Many either use pure RO or, like me, cut the tap with RO to get to a very low KH (I'm below detection right now).

With KH that low the botanical method (provided waterchanges are done without raising KH) gets the pH down 0.2 - 0.4 points a month. That way it took me 4 months to reach a stable pH of 6.0.

Sure there are other methods to add acidity. Peat, blackwater extract, diluted acids (aka pH-down). Many of them can make the water much more acidic much quicker. But for all of them the same applies: If the KH is still significant, pH will start to fluctuate with waterchanges.

The H+ ions of the acids have to "neutralize" (there is no better word) the Carbonates of the KH before any pH-change can even happen. When changing water with tap (with KH) acids are reduced again and KH is raised again, so the stuff has to be added again. That's why pH-chasing is so dangerous. People using pH down and buffers and all that bottled stuff without changing their water itself first are getting in real trouble and sometimes have do add immense amounts of stuff until reaching the desired readings. Just for the fluctuations to come again with the next waterchange.

So my advice: When you have a good reading of the KH, decide how to go on. Adding leaves is a given anyway, but it's your choice if you want to lower the pH.
 

RTCfan86

Active Member
The test is null and void, sorry. Test strips by API are already bad quality, but with so much water on the strip the test fields have mixed.
Do it again, and hold the strip's side against a paper towel for a moment to take off surplus water. Also wait for the usual 60sec until the readings are ready.
The NO3-scale has too big steps. The reading is probably between 10 and 20.

IMPORTANT: For A. cacatuoides the pH and hardness don't have to be that low. KH of 3-5° and pH around 6.5 is enough, especially for tankbred domestic variants.

But to know how far down you can go in the first place, KH is necessary to know. The scale (again, API is rubbish) is a litte off anyways. More steps between 0 and 40 would be great.

Anyhow, to lower your pH significantly with leaves and botanicals the KH has to be below 40mg/l or 1-2°KH.
If the reading is above that it will take ages with that method and eventually just hold.

What I mean with significantly: Usually with soft (KH ~3°/~60mg/l) water, leaves and alder cones initially lower the pH by maybe 0.2 - 0.4 points. Then it stops dropping and unless more botanicals are added regularly to form a leaf litter bed and beneficial mulm it will rise again with the next waterchange that adds new KH to the tank. The mulm and rotting botanicals stabilize the pH at around 6.5.

From there the only way to go down is lowering KH. And to do so, you don't add, but take away. That's why most people here use rainwater distilled water or RO water. Many either use pure RO or, like me, cut the tap with RO to get to a very low KH (I'm below detection right now).

With KH that low the botanical method (provided waterchanges are done without raising KH) gets the pH down 0.2 - 0.4 points a month. That way it took me 4 months to reach a stable pH of 6.0.

Sure there are other methods to add acidity. Peat, blackwater extract, diluted acids (aka pH-down). Many of them can make the water much more acidic much quicker. But for all of them the same applies: If the KH is still significant, pH will start to fluctuate with waterchanges.

The H+ ions of the acids have to "neutralize" (there is no better word) the Carbonates of the KH before any pH-change can even happen. When changing water with tap (with KH) acids are reduced again and KH is raised again, so the stuff has to be added again. That's why pH-chasing is so dangerous. People using pH down and buffers and all that bottled stuff without changing their water itself first are getting in real trouble and sometimes have do add immense amounts of stuff until reaching the desired readings. Just for the fluctuations to come again with the next waterchange.

So my advice: When you have a good reading of the KH, decide how to go on. Adding leaves is a given anyway, but it's your choice if you want to lower the pH.
Thank you for all of that invaluable information Mac. Here’s the results of the new test:

D3CBF56B-B902-43FC-9CE1-DDC7EB7C4F57.jpeg

D547DBC6-1154-4F17-9C25-A7685148556A.jpeg


KH appears to be around 40 and GH between 30-60.
 

RTCfan86

Active Member
With this GH reading, it sounds like the PH can be stabilized a little lower if I maintain the leaf litter floor and beneficial mulm, if I understood you correctly. The bags of leaves I order should be here in a few days. I’ll look into the alder cones you mentioned as well. Since this is a 75 gallon, I’d prefer not to deal with rain/RO water at this time. Perhaps for a future project, or smaller tanks if absolutely necessary. I am still looking for females (I have 2 males), so I have a little time to try and get this right.

Worst case though, if my efforts fail, I have read lots of posts in here and elsewhere of success stories breeding Cacatuoides with parameters like mine. Hopefully the same would work for me if these methods fail.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
You're welcome.
Looks like it. The pH is according to the hardness readings.

The KH is decisive to the pH, not GH. ;) But yes, you can maybe push it down below 7.0. Probably to 6.8 or something.

For Apistogramma cacatuoides these levels are fine. Not perfect but fine. You can keep them with those parameters, no problem.

Breeding may work, but also may not. 50:50 as always. And there is no need for RO or rainwater, correct. That's absolutely to your own discretion.

One more thing, in case you want to go really into blackwater territory at some point: With your readings, you only need 1/4 to 1/3 RO. Hardness is diluted in a linear fashion. Meaning with 1:1 tap:RO you cut it to half, at 1:2 you cut it to a third and so on. That's the only info you still needed IMO for future projects. ;)

Good luck then!
 

RTCfan86

Active Member
You're welcome.
Looks like it. The pH is according to the hardness readings.

The KH is decisive to the pH, not GH. ;) But yes, you can maybe push it down below 7.0. Probably to 6.8 or something.

For Apistogramma cacatuoides these levels are fine. Not perfect but fine. You can keep them with those parameters, no problem.

Breeding may work, but also may not. 50:50 as always. And there is no need for RO or rainwater, correct. That's absolutely to your own discretion.

One more thing, in case you want to go really into blackwater territory at some point: With your readings, you only need 1/4 to 1/3 RO. Hardness is diluted in a linear fashion. Meaning with 1:1 tap:RO you cut it to half, at 1:2 you cut it to a third and so on. That's the only info you still needed IMO for future projects. ;)

Good luck then!
Thanks for all the help and information @MacZ , really appreciate it!
 

RTCfan86

Active Member
You're welcome.
Looks like it. The pH is according to the hardness readings.

The KH is decisive to the pH, not GH. ;) But yes, you can maybe push it down below 7.0. Probably to 6.8 or something.

For Apistogramma cacatuoides these levels are fine. Not perfect but fine. You can keep them with those parameters, no problem.

Breeding may work, but also may not. 50:50 as always. And there is no need for RO or rainwater, correct. That's absolutely to your own discretion.

One more thing, in case you want to go really into blackwater territory at some point: With your readings, you only need 1/4 to 1/3 RO. Hardness is diluted in a linear fashion. Meaning with 1:1 tap:RO you cut it to half, at 1:2 you cut it to a third and so on. That's the only info you still needed IMO for future projects. ;)

Good luck then!
@MacZ my ph is still around 7.5 after having the leaves added for over a week now. I am assuming adding peat would yield the same outcome until I get my KH down, right? Since you said I only need 1/3 to 1/4 RO, does that mean that if I change 50% water on a 75 gallon tank, I would need to refill with about 9-10 gallons of RO each water change to help get and keep the ph down? 75 x .5 x .25 = 9.375 gallons
 

CRD

Member
@MacZ my ph is still around 7.5 after having the leaves added for over a week now. I am assuming adding peat would yield the same outcome until I get my KH down, right? Since you said I only need 1/3 to 1/4 RO, does that mean that if I change 50% water on a 75 gallon tank, I would need to refill with about 9-10 gallons of RO each water change to help get and keep the ph down? 75 x .5 x .25 = 9.375 gallons
Your water is most likely perfectly fine as is. Without digging for old books, cacatuoides is found in nature, in water with a pH close to or above 8 often.
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
@MacZ my ph is still around 7.5 after having the leaves added for over a week now. I am assuming adding peat would yield the same outcome until I get my KH down, right? Since you said I only need 1/3 to 1/4 RO, does that mean that if I change 50% water on a 75 gallon tank, I would need to refill with about 9-10 gallons of RO each water change to help get and keep the ph down? 75 x .5 x .25 = 9.375 gallons

Besides @CRD being correct, that A. cacatuoides live in quite variable pH...

... gallons confuse me, as I'm used to metric units.
You premix your water in the ratio you want and do a series of small waterchanges, maybe of 10-20% of the tank volume with 1-2 days inbetween until you have the full volume of the tank changed to that ratio. After that you can do usual 50% as always.
And yes, future waterchanges will have to be with that ratio, meaning you would need the same amount for each waterchange. The formula by which you go is correct.
You surely don't have 75 gallons. Subtract the volume between surface and rim, aswell as driftwood, substrate and rock. I guess the net volume will be around 70.
 

RTCfan86

Active Member
Besides @CRD being correct, that A. cacatuoides live in quite variable pH...

... gallons confuse me, as I'm used to metric units.
You premix your water in the ratio you want and do a series of small waterchanges, maybe of 10-20% of the tank volume with 1-2 days inbetween until you have the full volume of the tank changed to that ratio. After that you can do usual 50% as always.
And yes, future waterchanges will have to be with that ratio, meaning you would need the same amount for each waterchange. The formula by which you go is correct.
You surely don't have 75 gallons. Subtract the volume between surface and rim, aswell as driftwood, substrate and rock. I guess the net volume will be around 70.
Thanks for the advice/information!
 
Top