I need some advice from someone more chemically savvy than I.
Our local water utility here in the SF Bay Area (EBMUD) adds either calcium or sodium hydroxide (lye!) to our tap water to raise the pH to somewhere between 8.5 and 8.8. Apparently this is done to reduce the risk of lead leaching out of old pipes.
I've been trying to keep my tank pH down by adding enough vinegar to new water (during water changes) to bring the pH of the new water down close to 7 before adding to the tank. The theory being that over time this will gradually move the pH of the tank to close to 7. This hasn't been working, my tank pH is still slightly north of 8.
I've had the tank for a year and have certainly lost some fish although I can't blame this issue exclusively.
But I'd like to get it sorted out. I'm all for the "live and let live" approach with pH, and understand that constantly changing it is bad, but I can't imagine that a pH north of 8.5 could be a good thing.
I've added some driftwood to the tank and it hasn't made much difference. Can anyone suggest other approaches? Anybody else have this problem?