Daily tests: day 48 – 57 and adding wood

Test tubes waiting to be washed

I’m planning to do a large water change tonight, in preparation for the fish, and I would also like some clear readings for the record, so I know how much the wood will affect the water after it is added. This morning, the readings were:

  • KH: 9.5 ° (170 ppm)
  • GH: 21 (376 ppm)
  • ammonia: 0 ppm
  • nitrite: 0 ppm
  • nitrate: 80 – 160 ppm
  • pH: 8.2

I expect KH, GH and nitrate to drop after the water change because my tap water readings are lower.

Unfortunately, the diatoms are still there and getting worse, so hopefully, the water change will help improve the situation. I also have a Malawi aquarium, which, for those of you who do not know, is a Lake Malawi simulation, with a lot of rockwork and no plants because the fish which live in the lake naturally graze on algae and have a habit of mistaking plants for algae, which means that most plants would not survive for long. In this rocky and plant-free environment, I also often see diatoms, and as is currently the case with this aquarium, the Malawi setup also has high nitrates, so I assume, given that the general hardness is the only other common factor between the two aquariums, that the nitrate is responsible. I have also noted the appearance of cyanobacteria, an algae-like bacteria, today. I hope this is also related to the high nitrate levels.

I performed a clean of the aquarium, including glass and filter, and changed 36 litres of water, which was approximately 80%. The water readings after the maintenance were:

  • KH: 10.5 ° (188 ppm)
  • GH: 18 (322 ppm)
  • ammonia: 0.25 ppm
  • nitrite: 0 ppm
  • nitrate: 10 – 30 ppm
  • pH: 7.8

The results indicate that my tap water has changed since I took the original readings: my tap water pH has dropped, while the KH has risen.

I also added the wood, right after the water changes. It has now picked up the rich red which gives it the name of “red moor wood”, but is being slow to water log.

Daily tests: day 5

While cycling..

This morning’s test results were:

  • KH: 12 ° (214.8 ppm)
  • GH: 18 ° (322.2 ppm)
  • ammonia: 3-4 ppm
  • nitrite: 0.1 ppm
  • nitrate: 1-4 ppm
  • pH: 8.2-8.3

The results show an increase in the KH and pH, the two are related and most likely caused by the sand. This should not be a problem as both should drop with the addition of plants and wood.

I am not completely certain on the changes in nitrite and nitrate, but neither looks as clearly blue or yellow as they did in every previous test. Or maybe I am just getting overenthusiastic.. tomorrow’s results should show whether there really is a change in either.

The temperature is mildly fluctuating between 28 and 28.5 °C, which is not unusual, and I have had to top up with 5 litres of water, due to evaporation, because I am currently not using the coverglass (it is on another aquarium).

First water tests and ammonia dosing

Last night, while I was filling the aquarium with water, I also set aside a glass of the same, not dechlorinated, tap water. I did this because tap water readings are not reliable if tested as soon as the water is drawn from the tap. On the other hand, tap water parameters can be very useful as ammonia and nitrite is sometimes present in poor water supplies, it is also useful to know the pH and hardness, to better understand the buffering capabilities of the water. The results were as follows:

  • KH: 9 ° (161.1 ppm)
  • GH: 18 ° (322.2 ppm)
  • ammonia: 0 ppm
  • nitrite: 0 ppm
  • nitrate: 0 ppm
  • pH: 8.0

From those results, I can see that my tap water is quite hard but generally quite good quality. There are two pH tests included in the API kit: the “mid range” test gives a reading only up to 7.6 and the result was 7.6, while the high range test starts at 7.4 and the result was 8.0. From this, I can see that the value is higher than the mid range test will show, so I disregard that and use 8.0 as the correct result.

Next, I tested the aquarium water. I expected this to be almost identical, but with slightly higher ammonia. Test results were as follows:

  • KH: 9° (161.1 ppm)
  • GH: 18° (322.2 ppm)
  • ammonia: 0.25 ppm
  • nitrite: 0 ppm
  • nitrate: 0 ppm
  • pH: 8.2

My guess was correct: because my tap water contains only chloramine (NH2Cl), no chlorine, the dechlorinator will leave ammonia (NH3) and ammonium (NH4+) behind, after rendering the chlorine harmless. Ammonia is toxic to fish, so if doing large water changes, it is important to use a dechlorinator which will “deal” with it, leaving predominantly the less harmful ammonium. The pH reading for the aquarium water was higher than tap water, but I will still consider it to be no different because the kits are not particularly reliable.

Temperature is at a steady and favourable 28.5 °C, so I dosed the aquarium with 2 ml of 9.5% ammonia at 8:30, which has given me a 4 ppm reading.