Confused about pH
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Confused about pH

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Old 09-11-2012, 07:12 PM   #1
 
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Confused about pH

I have a 10 gallon aquarium that has been running about 4 months since I last cleaned it out. It currently houses a male betta and 2 clown loaches( I know the loaches get big, but currently they are tiny and in a few weeks I will be getting a 55 gallon tank and a few more loach buddies. Hopefully by the time they are larger I will be getting an even bigger tank). The tank has a sand substrate, three sword plants, one wisteria (?) and two resin decorations.

Anywho, I just received the API Master Test kit. I first checked the water in my tap and the tap water pH was 7.0, 0 ppm ammonia, 0 ppm nitrAte, and 0 ppm nitrIte. I wanted to get baseline numbers before I checked the aquarium water.

I checked the aquarium water and the pH was about 7.8, ammonia 0 ppm, nitrAte 5 ppm and nitrIte 0 ppm. What could be causing the pH to be so drastically different? Should I be concerned about the pH at that level?

I don't know the GH and KH; I can find that out tomorrow if needed.

Because I am getting the 55 gallon I want to make sure I understand the chemistry because I will be having a larger amount of fish which ultimately affect the water more.

Sorry for being so wordy, but I wanted to make sure you had all the info
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Old 09-12-2012, 01:25 PM   #2
 
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Under normal conditions [I'll explain what this means in a moment] the pH in an aquarium with fish will tend to lower. This is due to the acidification of the water by the increase of CO2 and carbonic acid from mainly the decomposition of organics. But the pH may be "targeted" by something to prevent this.

Calcareous rock, gravel or sand--meaning one of these composed of minerals like limestone, marble, dolomite, aragonite, or coral) will increase the GH of the water by dissolving hard minerals like calcium and magnesium. These also raise pH, and this is what I meant by "targeting," as these calcareous substances will target the pH and raise it as the hardness (general and carbonate) also rises. When no such substances are present, then the aquarium will act "normal" as I mentioned at the beginning.

So when the pH of the tap water is 7 as it is here, and the pH in the aquarium is 7.6, we can assume something in the aquarium is calcareous. So the question is, what type of substrate do you have, and are there any rocks in the tank?

It would also help to know the GH and KH (Alkalinity) of the tap water, and this you can get from the municipal water supply folks, who may have a website or should be able to tell you if not.

You might get more understanding from my article on this subject, here:
http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/f...quarium-73276/

Byron.
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Old 09-12-2012, 02:16 PM   #3
 
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Did you use crushed coral in your gravel. Do you have shells or limestone rocks. These will all raise the ph.
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Old 09-12-2012, 03:03 PM   #4
 
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I just called our water company and asked about the hardness and alkalinity. Their answer was the general hardness is 79 and the alkalinity is 78. I hope those numbers mean something to you Byron, because I have no idea. I did read your water hardness post, but unfortunately chemistry is not my sort of thing and my eyes started glazing over.

The substrate in the tank is play sand that I bought from Lowes.

I really want to make sure I understand all of this so when I set up the 55 gallon tank it is stable.
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Old 09-12-2012, 05:41 PM   #5
 
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I would do a test on your sand. Fill a jar with tap water, check the ph. Put a handful off sand in it and check ph in a week to compare.
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Old 09-12-2012, 06:09 PM   #6
 
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I will check the sand as you mentioned. I thought the play sand was inert, but perhaps not. I will keep you posted on the results.

I am really curious to see if the sand changes the pH; if it does I certainly won't be using it in the 55 gallon.

Thanks for your help!
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Old 09-12-2012, 08:11 PM   #7
 
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Do the test on the sand to make sure. I have Quikrete Play Sand in 5 of my tanks and when i first used it I did not see any rise in pH. But that doesn't mean the sand in the bag you bought in another store in another country is going to be identical. One point though, when you test tap water for pH, either let it sit out overnight or put the water in a clean jar and shake it briskly for a minute or so. This outgasses the CO2 which if present in sufficient amounts (as it often is in tap water) can cause a lower pH reading than what is actually the case.

On the GH and KH, i will assume those numbers are either mg/liter or ppm [which are basically the same at the end result], so that is very soft water [GH about 4 dGH] with some Alkalinity. Ideal for soft water fish, and should be OK with plants.

Byron.
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Old 09-13-2012, 06:42 PM   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Byron View Post
Do the test on the sand to make sure. I have Quikrete Play Sand in 5 of my tanks and when i first used it I did not see any rise in pH. But that doesn't mean the sand in the bag you bought in another store in another country is going to be identical. One point though, when you test tap water for pH, either let it sit out overnight or put the water in a clean jar and shake it briskly for a minute or so. This outgasses the CO2 which if present in sufficient amounts (as it often is in tap water) can cause a lower pH reading than what is actually the case.

On the GH and KH, i will assume those numbers are either mg/liter or ppm [which are basically the same at the end result], so that is very soft water [GH about 4 dGH] with some Alkalinity. Ideal for soft water fish, and should be OK with plants.

Byron.


Byron, you are a genius. I put the tap water in a jar and shook it and sure enough the tap water had a pH of 7.6!

Now that we have the water issue resolved, would Zebra Danios and Harlequin Rasboras work with my water parameters in the 55 gallon tank I am going to get? I think it would work after checking the fish profiles, but I would like confirmation.
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Old 09-13-2012, 08:14 PM   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SusanB View Post
Byron, you are a genius. I put the tap water in a jar and shook it and sure enough the tap water had a pH of 7.6!

Now that we have the water issue resolved, would Zebra Danios and Harlequin Rasboras work with my water parameters in the 55 gallon tank I am going to get? I think it would work after checking the fish profiles, but I would like confirmation.
They are fine re: the water. Once the tank is biologically established, the pH will lower below 7 as your KH is low.

I would hesitate at combining them though, because of their different activity levels. Active fish (danio, barb, and some others) generally do not mix well with sedate fish (rasbora, cichlids, gourami, some characins). I find it works better to stay one side or the other.
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Old 09-13-2012, 11:04 PM   #10
 
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Good to know about active v. sedate. I think I will switch out the rasboras for cherry barbs. This fish stuff can be soooo confusing. Thanks for your help!
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