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Old 11-01-2011, 06:56 AM   #1 
Faifara
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Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC
First-time fish owner with detailed questions. :)

Hello everyone, I've been lurking on this site for some time and gobbled up tons of information about all aspects of keeping betta fish. I'd like to first say thank you for such a comprehensive collection of knowledge!

Next I want to say sorry for making yet another "I'm new and need help" thread. s:

Okay, here's some background information:
Today I got a 10gal tank complete with filter, thermometer, heater, light, timer. So far I've put substrate in (I want to have a planted tank :D), filled the tank with water, and given it a dose of Cycle and Aqua+. Everything's been running for several hours now, the temperature seems to be hanging around 82-84F (I realize that's a little high, I'm going to dial it down and try to get it to 80F). I haven't got anything else in it yet.

Here's my concern:
The substrate I got is Fluval Stratum, "substrate for shrimp aquariums" because I want to have shrimp, a betta, and live plants in this tank. As a result, the water is at a pH level of 5.5. My question is... should I fix it before adding plants, or will the plants fix it? If I should raise the pH before planting, how would I do that? Would baking soda be fine?

On an unrelated note - How does everyone dispose of their ammonia-test samples? >_> My Nutrafin test kit says it should be treated as hazardous waste, but a brief internet search brought up a forum post elsewhere saying washing it down the drain is fine. Personally, I'd rather collect it in a proper container and take it to my local waste disposal center, which is fortunately only 5 minutes away from my home. How about you?

Thanks for checking this thread! Here's a picture of my tank:
https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net...05937114_n.jpg
(The water's a lot clearer than that now :D Oh also I'm not going to use that Waste Control stuff. My friend's parents gave it to me along with samples of Cycle and Aqua+, and they keep goldfish and tetras so I guess they use it, but I asked an employee at my LPS and he advised against it for my tank. Can anyone confirm?)

Last edited by Faifara; 11-01-2011 at 06:59 AM.
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Old 11-01-2011, 08:59 AM   #2 
Oldfishlady
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Welcome to the forum.....

Your source water is 5.5 pH correct and this is with a liq reagent type test product that test high and low pH....have you tested the KH/GH too....have you retested the tank...if not...re-test and post numbers....

I have a septic system and I dump the used test products down the drain and I have never heard of it ever being a problem....but most people use the API brand kit...maybe its different......
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Old 11-01-2011, 08:01 PM   #3 
Faifara
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Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC
Thanks for the reply OFL, and sorry for the delay! I do have a liquid testing kit but it doesn't contain testing for GH/KH so I went out and tried to hunt one down today... It was like pulling teeth, I swear. In the end I was forced to settle with some 5-in-1 test strips for the time being, I hope I read them all right...

Tested my water just now, using the strips to get the KH/GH readings but I cross-checked with both liquid and strips for the pH.

Tap water:
KH: 40
GH: 25
pH: 5.5 - well that explains it. x_x And probably explains a lot of other things.

Tank water:
KH: 80
GH: 25
pH: 5.5

In my city the water is notoriously soft. :s
As for the ammonia testing solution, it apparently contains some form of mercury, which may be why there's a warning against dumping it down the sink. I wonder if the API kit does too?

Last edited by Faifara; 11-01-2011 at 08:11 PM.
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Old 11-02-2011, 10:45 AM   #4 
Oldfishlady
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One good thing is that making the water harder is much easier than making it softer.....lol....

I would add crush corral or limestone to a mesh bag and either add it to the tank or in the filter box-you could even mix it in the substrate...this will slowly increase the hardness...be sure you have your replacement water used for water changes pre-made and at the same pH/hardness of the tank...since this is a 10gal with live plants...I wouldn't do more than 10-25% weekly on the water changes and anytime you have to remove or add new livestock...be sure to properly acclimate them to the chemistry...

Usually Betta will be fine in that chemistry...but some plants may not do well or the shrimp due to the low mineral content of the water...and it can be really hard to establish the nitrogen cycle in that chemistry since the bacteria need more basic to hard water to colonize...but the bad bacteria doesn't like it either....lol.....

I have never noticed a warning on the API test kit....now I will have to look....lol....

Last edited by Oldfishlady; 11-02-2011 at 10:58 AM.
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Old 11-02-2011, 02:42 PM   #5 
Faifara
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I've got good news. :0 I decided to take a tip from website I found and toss in a teaspoon of baking soda for my 10gal. The resulting changes, when I tested it after all the soda was dissolved, were:

GH: 75
KH: 180
pH: midway between 6.5-7.0

Just now, 12 hours later, I tested again and it hasn't changed. I'll take it as a good thing and head out to get my plants today, and I'll also pick up some coral/limestone for the GH while I'm there.

I am excited, and I haven't even gotten to the part where I put in the critters.
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