Tank is a mess. Need help fast!

inuratus

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Okay so I've been trying to keep my tank parameters stable and nothing seems to work. I must be doing something wrong or I am missing something altogether. I have 2 big issues. The first being the ph. It constantly crashes to 6.0 or below as it doesn't measure below that. I had added limestone in a stocking to my aquarium a few weeks ago. This seems like it's done nothing to stabilize the ph. It continues to fluctuate between 7.6 and 6.0 constantly.

My other problem is the cycle crashing. I don't know if it's related to the ph crashing but I swear this cycle has crashed twice already and I have no idea why. I'll cycle it and then after a week I'll get an ammonia spike. I do water changes, add prime etc and then it seems to correct itself giving me no ammonia or nitrite readings and an increasing nitrate reading. But just now yesterday I had a reading of .25ppm nitrite. Why would this be? Today it seems to have corrected itself or processed as it is reading 0, but why these bumps?

I'm at my wits end. I just want to have an aquarium that is stable that I don't have to test everyday and troubleshoot. It's left me frustrated and exhausted and makes me think of rehoming my axolotl.

Things that I have thought about are getting a second sponge filter. Perhaps my one isn't good enough. I gently squeezed it in dirty tank water to clean it once as it was clogged with sludge. Otherwise nothing has changed. Please offer your advice to me. Thank you.
 

minorhero

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How are you doing water changes at this point? Are you using tap water or something else?

How often are you doing water changes?

What are your tap water parameters out of the tap?

How long have you been running the tank with the axolotl in the tank?

Are you using test strips for a liquid test kit to measure pH, ammonia etc

Typically cycle takes anywhere from two weeks on the extreme short end to six weeks. Though sometimes it can take longer. I always leave my tanks alone for a month before trying to add livestock.
 

inuratus

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How are you doing water changes at this point? Are you using tap water or something else?

How often are you doing water changes?

What are your tap water parameters out of the tap?

How long have you been running the tank with the axolotl in the tank?

Are you using test strips for a liquid test kit to measure pH, ammonia etc

Typically cycle takes anywhere from two weeks on the extreme short end to six weeks. Though sometimes it can take longer. I always leave my tanks alone for a month before trying to add livestock.

I am doing water changes with dechlorinated tap water.
My water parameters out of the tap are

ph: 7.6
ammonia:0
nitrite:0
nitrates: >0 (it's slightly tinged orange but no where close to the 5.0 measurement)

I seem to do a water change twice a week.

Right now with this iteration he's been in the tank for about 3 weeks. Before that I cycled the tank for a month and he was only in for 5 days. And before that I cycled for 3 months and he lasted a week.

I am using the liquid API test kit.
 

inuratus

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Still looking for help with the ph issues. My ph fluctuates almost every day. Right now it's at 6 or below. This is having an effect on my cycle as now I am having unprocessed ammonia in my reading. What can I do to bring it up relatively quickly without hurting my axolotl?
 

minorhero

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If your ph is going down by more than a point in the tank you either 1) are reading the results wrong, 2) have very soft water with low gh/kh, 3) are injecting co2. If doing co2 stop but I suspect that is not the issue. If you don't have a gh/kh test kit pick one up and take a reading. You can add seachem equalibrium to bring up the hardness. This will buffer your ph so you don't have wild fluctuations. Before doing either though watch some videos on youtube of how to test parameters and make sure your test tubes are clean. Because the most likely scenario is you are reading them wrong.

Either way ph does not cause ammonia spikes so if there really is a ammonia in your tank you either a) never had a fully cycled tank and it was only partially cycled before or b) you did cycle your tank and then crashed your cycle somehow (most likely by cleaning your filter media in a way that killed the bacteria) or c) you have inadequate filtration in your tank.

Post a picture of your full setup as that can help figure this out.
 

AMurry24537

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In addition to Seachem Prime, the company also sells products to stabilize ph. I personally use their Neutral Regulator, which also gets rid of chlorine and chloramine while detoxifying ammonia, so I don't really even need to add anything else, but they do also offer additional products to work alongside the Neutral Regulator if you have an extremely high or extremely low ph.

I would also clean out your sponge filter more often. It may seem counterintuitive, but you don't really want any buildup on it because the more flow that is allowed to pass through the sponge, the more healthy the bacteria will be. I would recommend maybe cleaning it out well every two weeks for now and then every week once your tank is fully stable and cycled. You were right to do it in the tank water though! Just make sure that the water was recently taken out of the tank--I've heard about some people who leave old tank water sitting around for days before using it to clean the sponges. Not a good idea!
 

inuratus

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If your ph is going down by more than a point in the tank you either 1) are reading the results wrong, 2) have very soft water with low gh/kh, 3) are injecting co2. If doing co2 stop but I suspect that is not the issue. If you don't have a gh/kh test kit pick one up and take a reading. You can add seachem equalibrium to bring up the hardness. This will buffer your ph so you don't have wild fluctuations. Before doing either though watch some videos on youtube of how to test parameters and make sure your test tubes are clean. Because the most likely scenario is you are reading them wrong.

Either way ph does not cause ammonia spikes so if there really is a ammonia in your tank you either a) never had a fully cycled tank and it was only partially cycled before or b) you did cycle your tank and then crashed your cycle somehow (most likely by cleaning your filter media in a way that killed the bacteria) or c) you have inadequate filtration in your tank.

Post a picture of your full setup as that can help figure this out.

I'm pretty sure I have soft water as like all signs seem to point to that. I will have to order a gh/kh kit so that'll take a couple days. I'll post back when I have the numbers.

I haven't tried chemical additives as I keep seeing that it is not advisable. But I'll keep that in mind. And yes I am testing my ph correctly. Watched a couple people use the api test and it's what I have been doing.

The reason why I said my ph was affecting my cycle is because I was told at a low ph when it is very acidic it creates a toxic environment for the beneficial bacteria and they will either stop processing ammonia or start to die off. I figured since my tank spends a lot of time very low that that is what I am dealing with. When I was fishless cycling the tank my ph crashed and it stalled the cycle until I raised it with baking soda. I don't want to do this with him in the tank though since it will rise rapidly.

I have attached pictures of my tank below.
 

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inuratus

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In addition to Seachem Prime, the company also sells products to stabilize ph. I personally use their Neutral Regulator, which also gets rid of chlorine and chloramine while detoxifying ammonia, so I don't really even need to add anything else, but they do also offer additional products to work alongside the Neutral Regulator if you have an extremely high or extremely low ph.

I would also clean out your sponge filter more often. It may seem counterintuitive, but you don't really want any buildup on it because the more flow that is allowed to pass through the sponge, the more healthy the bacteria will be. I would recommend maybe cleaning it out well every two weeks for now and then every week once your tank is fully stable and cycled. You were right to do it in the tank water though! Just make sure that the water was recently taken out of the tank--I've heard about some people who leave old tank water sitting around for days before using it to clean the sponges. Not a good idea!
Thanks I will look into the stabilizers. I was never sure of how often to clean my sponge filter, but I will start doing that now on a schedule. Don't worry I cleaned the filter when I was doing a water change so I cleaned it in the dirty water bucket right away.
 

inuratus

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If your ph is going down by more than a point in the tank you either 1) are reading the results wrong, 2) have very soft water with low gh/kh, 3) are injecting co2. If doing co2 stop but I suspect that is not the issue. If you don't have a gh/kh test kit pick one up and take a reading. You can add seachem equalibrium to bring up the hardness. This will buffer your ph so you don't have wild fluctuations. Before doing either though watch some videos on youtube of how to test parameters and make sure your test tubes are clean. Because the most likely scenario is you are reading them wrong.

Either way ph does not cause ammonia spikes so if there really is a ammonia in your tank you either a) never had a fully cycled tank and it was only partially cycled before or b) you did cycle your tank and then crashed your cycle somehow (most likely by cleaning your filter media in a way that killed the bacteria) or c) you have inadequate filtration in your tank.

Post a picture of your full setup as that can help figure this out.
I have KH and GH results now.

Tank is 2 degrees KH and 5 degrees GH

Tap water is 3 degrees KH and 3 degrees GH.

Let me know what this means.
 

minorhero

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Your water is pretty soft with a kh of 2 in the tank. If it were me I would add seachem equilibrium to buffer your water a 2 or 3 degrees and see if you still have issues.
 
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