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Thread: Aquarium PH issue...any suggestions appreciated

  1. #1
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    Aquarium PH issue...any suggestions appreciated

    I've been trying to figure out this problem for over a month, now. I'm not having any luck and I need some help.

    Here's the situation.

    Started with one ten gallon tank, several fish. Wasn't really testing it for anything, just used bottled water and a little conditioning salt (I have a dragon fish which, from research and a little trial and error, requires some salt for optimum health...all fish fair well with a little salt, apparently, and none of my other fish have had an issue with the amount of salt I've added, even though they're all freshwater).

    Acquired a 45 gallon tank, along with some other fish and a great water test kit. Used tap water to start the tank on, treated the water with store bought conditioning aids. All fish were together in the ten gallon tank until the large tank was safe. Obviously, not the best situation for multiple fish, but they all did fine.

    Moved all the fish to the large tank. All fish did fine, except for the dragon fish, which upon more research, is a relatively adaptable, hardy fish...but must be introduced to water changes slowly. He has been in the ten gallon tank by himself for over a month, now. He is not only fine, but absolutely flourishing. He goes into shock within 48 hours if I try to put him in the larger tank, which I've tried twice. I haven't tried in the last three weeks, though, because I know he can't survive if I don't get the water in both tanks to be the same PH.

    Therein lies my problem. No matter what I do, I cannot get the PHs to match in these two tanks. I have treated them both with a PH adjuster (attempting to raise the PH in the ten gallon tank to 7.0 and lower the PH in the 45 gallon tank to 7.0). I was successful in raising the ten gallon tank to close to 7.0 but can't seem to get the other tank to a lower PH. As of now, it's at about a 7.6. All the research I've done says that the dragonfish actually does better in a higher PH, but Falcor is used to the ten gallon tank, so despite the internet ideas, the fact is, he doesn't do well in the large tank.

    Sheesh...I want Falcor in the larger tank with all the other fish, but I don't know how to get the PHs at least close to the same level.

    I've done several water changes, including taking water from the large tank and putting it in Falcor's tank...hoping to gradually make all of Falcor's tank the same water as the large tank.

    My only thought is that the filter is possibly better in Falcor's tank. It is the right size for his tank. The people who gave us the large tank said that it was only 30 gallons and it is equipped with a filter that is a little bit too small for the actual size, which we discoverd is 45 gallons. Could that be the main issue? I'm tempted to hook Falcor's filter up to the large tank, and see if the two filters together will make a difference.

    I've done many many tests, and the PH really is the only big difference in the water. I've tested Nitrate and Nitrite levels, hardness levels, ammonia levels, etc. Soon, the large tank will be all bottled water, too, as I can buy five or six gallons of water at a time at this point when I do water changes, whereas 40 gallons to start the tank was a bit overwhelming.

    This turned out way longer than I expected. I don't know if there's anyone here that knows that much about fish tanks and their care, but I felt like I should at least try. Falcor is my favorite fish and I would be willing to find him another home if I can't get him acclimated to the larger tank. He's really a cool pet and deserves more room.
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  2. #2
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    Which type of dragon fish are you talking about? There are several species with that common name.

    pH won't be your problem. A stable pH from 5-9 will house almost all aquarium fish without problem. A slow change in pH is best, but you want it to be stable. Using chemicals to adjust the ph makes it change quickly and also makes it unstable. You should stop using those types of chemicals.

    Sometimes it is just the move that stresses the fish. Sometimes it the new tankmates. What kind of fish did you acquire?

    I do recommend slowly switching from bottled water to tap water altogether, bottled water does not have all the nutrients fish need. The only chemicals you should be using are dechlor and perhaps salt. Its not entirely true that all fish thrive with some salt content, some cichlids and puffers cannot tolerate any salt.
    "There are two things which cannot be attacked in front: ignorance and narrow-mindedness. They can only be shaken by the simple development of the contrary qualities. They will not bear discussion."

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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by IRescue452
    Which type of dragon fish are you talking about? There are several species with that common name.

    pH won't be your problem. A stable pH from 5-9 will house almost all aquarium fish without problem. A slow change in pH is best, but you want it to be stable. Using chemicals to adjust the ph makes it change quickly and also makes it unstable. You should stop using those types of chemicals.

    Sometimes it is just the move that stresses the fish. Sometimes it the new tankmates. What kind of fish did you acquire?

    I do recommend slowly switching from bottled water to tap water altogether, bottled water does not have all the nutrients fish need. The only chemicals you should be using are dechlor and perhaps salt. Its not entirely true that all fish thrive with some salt content, some cichlids and puffers cannot tolerate any salt.
    He's a dragon goby. PH is the only thing that's any different in the tank, though...all the other stuff is exactly or close to being the same. I used the chemicals to adjust the PH without any problem at all. I haven't used the chemicals in about three weeks, though and I only treated the tanks once. They all did fine, though, with the product I purchased. No one showed any signs of distress.

    The new tankmates (tetras, plecos, and a feeder fish) didn't seem to be an issue either. They were all in the ten gallon tank to start with without any signs of distress at all. The move to the larger tank didn't affect anyone but Falcor.

    So, buying spring water doesn't have what he needs? The problem I'm running into is that he is thriving in the ten gallon tank, which is a lower PH than I seem to find is recommended, and it's bottled spring or drinking water. Is there any way to add the nutrients to bottled water that are missing? After the scare I had putting him in the conditioned tap water, I'm afraid to not use bottled water.

    And, as far as the conditioning salt I have added, it's for freshwater fish and doesn't have any warnings on it. I don't have any cichlids or puffers, though, so I'm not going to worry about that.

    If it's not the PH, and it doesn't appear to be the other fish, you're saying it could be the move itself? I've seen fish react stressfully to a move, but never have I seen the way Falcor reacts. He swims really spastically, flips around (like a crocodile does), and then ends up on his back, not moving his gills or his mouth...as soon as I put him back in the small tank, he's fine. It's horrible, and I didn't expect that the first time I moved all the fish. The second time I tried to move Falcor, I had made some adjustments to the large tank and thought it would be safe (because I didn't think the PH would be that big of a factor either). If it is the move itself, what, if any, suggestions do you have for making it easier on him?
    The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world. - Dr. Paul Farmer

  4. #4
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    There are other chemicals in tanks besides those you test for with a master test kit. One tank might have different phosphate levels or soft vs hard water. A dragon goby is a hard water lover. But this case sounds like moving an oscar. Oscars love to throw tantrums. That's definately an overdramatic fish you've got there. He should be in a tank 75 gallons or larger, so you definately need to get him out of that 10. Does he have a favorite decoration you can move to the new tank to see if he hides in? Maybe move a few of the new tankmates in with him in the 10 gallon so he can get used to them? You should get rid of the feeder fish altogether assuming its a goldfish, it belongs in a pond with a few hundred gallons.
    "There are two things which cannot be attacked in front: ignorance and narrow-mindedness. They can only be shaken by the simple development of the contrary qualities. They will not bear discussion."

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by IRescue452
    There are other chemicals in tanks besides those you test for with a master test kit. One tank might have different phosphate levels or soft vs hard water. A dragon goby is a hard water lover. But this case sounds like moving an oscar. Oscars love to throw tantrums. That's definately an overdramatic fish you've got there. He should be in a tank 75 gallons or larger, so you definately need to get him out of that 10. Does he have a favorite decoration you can move to the new tank to see if he hides in? Maybe move a few of the new tankmates in with him in the 10 gallon so he can get used to them? You should get rid of the feeder fish altogether assuming its a goldfish, it belongs in a pond with a few hundred gallons.

    thanks for replying! I've tested for the water hardness...phosphates, I haven't though. Is there a way to test for that? I'll go get whatever I need to test for whatever I need to test for. I listed what I'd tested for, including hardness, in my original post. My master kit includes tests for hardness. The ten gallon is a little bit softer, but with the water changes, they're about the same now. I'm fully aware of how big he can get, and eventually, he'll be in about 125 gallons. I'm trying to get him out of the ten, but he nearly dies when I do. I'd rather him stay in the small tank for now until I can figure out how to acclimate him to the larger. He's only about 8 inches at this point. Everything he had to hide in went into the larger tank with him and all the other fish when we set up the larger tank. As of now, he's in the small tank with new hiding places. And, maybe I'm misunderstanding, but he didn't have any issues with the other tankmates when they were all in the smaller tank together, would there be any reason to move any of the fish to get him used to them when he already has been introduced to them all with no issues? As for the feeder fish, he's about an inch and a half long, and hasn't grown much in the last month. I'm not too concerned about finding a pond for him right now. He was meant to be food for Falcor, but Falcor didn't pay attention to him.
    The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world. - Dr. Paul Farmer

  6. #6
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    I wouldn't worry about phosphates, I was just trying to illustrate that there are other chemical differences possible.
    I misunderstood about the other fish, I thought they were new altogether and came with the new tank so he hadn't met them.
    In my understanding, dragon gobys filter most of their food from the substrate, I don't see them eating a feeder fish.
    I'm sorry I can't think of any other ways to move a stubborn, easily stressed fish.
    "There are two things which cannot be attacked in front: ignorance and narrow-mindedness. They can only be shaken by the simple development of the contrary qualities. They will not bear discussion."

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  7. #7
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    I think I mentioned this, and not sure if it makes any difference, but he doesn't react badly until about 48 hours after he's been in the larger tank... he eats fine, swims fine, goes to his favorite hiding place, etc. Acts completely normal but then after awhile, he goes into shock. (I read about shock and thought it sounded like nitrite shock (or nitrate, I can't remember now). But, through several water changes and filter cartridge replacements, I got the nitrite and nitrate levels are the same, and the second time I put him in there after that, he still went into shock. And, it took him about ten minutes to "recover" once he got back into the small tank.

    He's such a brat.
    The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world. - Dr. Paul Farmer

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by IRescue452
    I wouldn't worry about phosphates, I was just trying to illustrate that there are other chemical differences possible.
    I misunderstood about the other fish, I thought they were new altogether and came with the new tank so he hadn't met them.
    In my understanding, dragon gobys filter most of their food from the substrate, I don't see them eating a feeder fish.
    I'm sorry I can't think of any other ways to move a stubborn, easily stressed fish.

    Oh, ok, I hadn't read anything about phosphates, either, so I won't worry about that. Yeah, when we first got the big tank, we put all the fish in the small tank to get the large tank ready for them. They were all together for a couple days while the new tank water was conditioned and filtered. I tried the feeder fish because I'd read somewhere that they do eat small fish sometimes. The only thing Falcor will eat is frozen bloodworms. Believe me, we went through about ten types of food to figure out what he likes.

    And, you nailed it, he is easily stressed and definitely stubborn. I appreciate your replies!
    The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world. - Dr. Paul Farmer

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    Do you mean that the nitrites are at zero?
    "There are two things which cannot be attacked in front: ignorance and narrow-mindedness. They can only be shaken by the simple development of the contrary qualities. They will not bear discussion."

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  10. #10
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    We have very hard water here. I used to try and try and try to adjust the PH of the water to what everyone told me was the "normal" range for tropical fish. It was a losing battle. In a few days, the water would be back to the original PH. It made no logical sense ... it was the same water, nothing new added. No wood or shells or untreated rocks, all of which can affect PH. Complete mystery.

    I finally gave up. My fish are living and thriving in water so hard it should technically kill them all.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by IRescue452
    Do you mean that the nitrites are at zero?
    Both the nitrites and nitrates are either at zero or well within safe range...I can't ever remember which is which, though I do know they are all within safe range.
    The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world. - Dr. Paul Farmer

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Twisterdog

    I finally gave up. My fish are living and thriving in water so hard it should technically kill them all.

    Yeah, I research and try to do what I feel is the right thing...but, when it comes right down to it, Falcor is thriving in a certain type of water, even though things I'm reading are telling me he shouldn't be! I am just trying to get the larger tank more like the smaller tank...the other fish are hardy and don't seem to be fazed by any kind of water change. The poor fish that the people had in the tank, they went through hell to get to us and not one perished. So, I'm just trying to cater to Falcor. Such a pain in the butt this fish is!
    The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world. - Dr. Paul Farmer

  13. #13
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    Water isn't too hard for fish to live until it gets up in the 10 pH range. As long as the tap water is safe for humans, you know it is safe for fish.

    Nitrites must be at zero if the tank is cycled. After the cycling is done you should NEVER see a fluctuation unless you change the filters or clean to vigorously. There is no safe range for nitrites above zero.

    I suppose its not possible to get his 125 gallon tank right away? It would save you another move. This is one reason why I always fight so hard to get people to buy the right size fish for their tank regardless of plans to upgrade in the future. It might be easy for humans to upgrade in the future, but not for the fish.
    Last edited by IRescue452; 04-25-2007 at 08:43 AM.
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  14. #14
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    Although I've had fish tanks for 10 years, I am NOT an expert.

    I use tap water. Put it in a bucket, add Stress Coat, which ALSO takes care of the chlorine and such, then put that in the tank.

    I put in a bit of aquarium salt whenever I change the water.

    I use CYCLE to get the right invisible things into the tank.

    Twice a year, our city does something to the water and I have to do a bit more to adjust the PH.

    I do think you should have one filter which is appropriate for the size tank. I normally get one size larger if it isn't a lot of money extra. Think about getting that done! It is a factor in PH levels, and you will need to correct the filter sometime, may as well do it now.

    Here's a thought. Can you put some of the 10 gal water in a bucket to hold it, add water to that one to get it back up. Do that 2 or three days in a row (yeah I know, lots of buckets of water around to spill.) Then add THAT to the larger tank? You will still have the 10 gal tank ready if he has to be moved back again.

    Silly dragon Falcor, making you go to all this trouble for him; he just KNOWS he is special, he he.

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