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High Ph

Posted By: Mr Leadfoot <leadfoot@sbcglobal.net>
Date: Tuesday, 23 April 2002, at 3:17 a.m.

Some of you may already know that I have a relatively new tank that have had 9 fish, including 3 clowns in there since day one! :-( Fortunately, they've all made it to now, the 19th day.

All this time, I've been doing 25% water changes on average twice a week, adding Nitromax bacteria as directed every other day, and the water has still been quite cloudy.

After being told by numerous people, including some of you, that the white cloudiness was from bacteria blooming in the new tank, I've been waiting for the tank to finish its start up cycle, and have been using the cloudiness as a sort of guide. Water samples have always shown high everything, although my Ammonia Alert by Seachem, shows ammonia to be in the Alert stage.

I'm pretty sure all the water changes has been setting my cycle back, and the cycle would become much lengthier, but I was more concerned with saving the lives of my fish, than getting the tank balanced quickly. And, through all the cloudiness and hight levels of everything, my fish seemed to be happy.

I started thinking that having so many fish would actually speed up the startup cycle, especially with all the bacteria being added, so I decided to let the tank go without water changes for 6 days. Of course, I kept a watchful eye on it during that time. During that week, the cloudiness didn't get any better, or any worse, but I did notice that brown algae spots were getting on a part of the back glass, my imitation driftwood, and my plastic plants, and even a bit on my real sword plants.

So, I changed 25% of the water yesterday. Now, up until yesterday, I always added bacteria several hours after my water changes. Well, when I did my water change yesterday, I decided to vaccum the gravel, which brought up all kinds of stuff, probably due to all the fish waste and my over feeding as a newbie in the first week to ten days. I cleaned the bit of algae off the glass and plastic plants, too. Now, usually a few hours after a change, the water would always cloud up a bit, and by the next day, it would be back up to its "normal" foggy state.

But, not this time. I noticed that the water was exceptionally clear after the water change (compared to it's normal cloudiness), and I thought to myself that maybe adding the bacteria was causing more bacteria blooms/cloudiness. So, I thought, I'd wait til today to see what happened with the water before adding more bacteria.

This morning I woke up and the tank seemed even clearer. In fact, it seemed crystal clear from the front, and much, much clearer when I looked down the length from the side. Previously, you could barely see out the other side (29. gal. so 30").

As the morning wore on, it seemed to get even clearer. I was wondering if this was the last stage of the "break-in" period, so I decided to get some "professional" unbiased advice, and took a water sample down to a LFS that I normally didn't take samples to.

Although I was happy to see my ammonia levels now down to the second highest on the chart (previously WAY off the chart), my nitrites and nitrates were very high, as they'd always been during this entire period, bu what seemed to scare the crap out of the person testing the water was that my PH was way, way off the chart. In fact, the person was so alarmed they said they'd never, ever seen PH that high before, and actually went off to consult someone else.

Of course, the tester came back with someone else, who asked me if any of my fish were still alive! The weird thing is that the fish are very active, eating like pigs, and well, they seem very happy.

What's going on? I thought loaches liked PH around 7.5. Based on the color chart, my PH must be between 9 and 10! None of the fish seemed stressed.

The water is even clearer tonight even after feeding flake to my 4 tiger barbs, frozen bloodworms for everyone, and even some frozen brine shrimp. I've been really mixing it up in hopes that the tiger barbs and bala sharks get a little full so some of the food can get down to the clowns. (I've even devised a clear tube feeder to get food down the water column so my clowns have a decent chance to eat something before the tiger pigs and bala hogs eat everything.)

In any case:

1) Is it possible that the container I take the water in for sampling is causing such high readings in everything? I mean, everything's always been high, given my 9 fish in a start-up. The container is a plastic tupperware cup, that is washed in a dishwasher. Could it be that I should only use glass for water samples?

2) Is the clearing water an indicator of my tanks stabilizing, or is it because I didn't add bacteria?

3) According to all the aquarium "rules" I've learned (and I've been doing a TON of learning), most of my fish shouldn't have made it this far, especially my clowns. Are the fish I have hardier than their reputations?

ANY comments at this point would be helpful.

29 gallon
2 Amazon sword plants
Fake driftwood
Small cave for clowns using aquarium rock kit
AquaClear 150 with sponge, carbon, and AmmRid(?) chips
UGF with powerhead
Gravel 1" in front 1.5" in back

Two 3-4" clowns
One 2-3" clown
Four 2" tiger barbs
Two 4" bala sharks
* Note: All fish have grown about 1" since this tank started 19 days ago (just to give you an indication that they're actually thriving in this environment).


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