pH Crisis. PLEASE help. - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 12 Old 11-18-2008, 03:12 PM Thread Starter
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pH Crisis. PLEASE help.

I have a 190L tank that I set up in July and all has gone well. (Until now). The problem is, the pH has steadily increased from around 7 and is now at nearly 9 (bad, I know). Amazingly, the fish are alive but a few seem a bit distressed. Their fins have gone ragged (especially the guppies, neons and the siamese fighter). The KH is really low (0-50ppm) and the GH is through the roof (poured half a pot in the test tube and it still didnt turn from orange to soddin green!). I am doing water changes every 48 hours because this is the only way I can keep pH down. Every time I change the water it gets back to 7.5 but it has no buffering capacity at all. I dont want to use proper pH because it says on the label not to use it with live plants. I cant realistically get hold of deionised water because the nearest I can find is a 90 minute drive. Can anyone help? By the way ammonia and nitrite are both zero.
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post #2 of 12 Old 11-18-2008, 11:58 PM
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What do you have for substate? Are you using any rocks that may be raising the pH?
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post #3 of 12 Old 11-19-2008, 05:22 AM Thread Starter
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I have mainly dorset pea gravel and about 5% sand, but I have been removing the sand slowly because it is going green. I also have 2 large pieces of bogwood and some rocks with moss on that I got online from plants alive.
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post #4 of 12 Old 11-19-2008, 01:14 PM
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For your pH to be climbing like that there must be something in the tank that is raising it. Have you checked all the rocks and such to ensure they aren't the cause? A dab of a acid on the rocks will tell you. If it bubbles it shouldn't go in the tank.

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post #5 of 12 Old 11-19-2008, 02:49 PM Thread Starter
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Its coming out of the tap at 7.8. Isn't that rather high?
Can fertiliser tablets make it too alkaline because I have put about 10 in.
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post #6 of 12 Old 11-19-2008, 03:04 PM
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I don't know what your cronic problem is, I can't really come up with anything. However, some stores might carry a water softener. You could call about and see if anyone has some. What type of sand is it?/Where did you get it from?
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post #7 of 12 Old 11-20-2008, 12:48 PM
I'm guessing that the pea gravel is from a place like Home Depot? I got some there, did the acid test (use a drop from you nitrate test #1 bottle-it contains hydrochloric acid and is much more accurate than the standard vinegar test) and found that the pea gravel would in fact raise my pH. My tap water's pH also raises once left to sit, but since your problem is recent I don't think that is the cause. The first thing that I would do is to pull some gravel out and test it.

Fertalizer tabs made for aquariums won't do anything to your water chemistry.
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post #8 of 12 Old 11-21-2008, 08:20 AM
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For that steep of a climb there is something in the aquarium leeching into the water. Sometimes pH climbs if the water is left to sit over night but I've never heard of it climbing 2 full points. That's an increase of over 100 times.

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post #9 of 12 Old 11-22-2008, 07:24 PM
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A friend had a simalar problem a few years ago. He never did figure out was it was but he put all the fish in a QT and did a 100% water change and scrubbed the tank clean. While this is a last resort this may be your only choice if fish start to die.

I have read that if you add a little bit of orange/lemon/lime peels this will make your water more acidic. DON'T take my word for this, try and do some research on it i have never tried it and this might be totally wrong. Good Luck!

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post #10 of 12 Old 11-23-2008, 01:56 PM
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I think there is a lot about the behavior of water ions that I (we) still don't understand. I also have problems with keeping ph down even though my gh and kh readings are relatively low (3 ish). If I leave my tap water in a bucket with a aerator for 24 hours it goes from 7.0 ph to almost 8. I have been attributing that to some type of trace metal that oxydizes or to the loss of carbin dioxide. I found that if I put my tap water in a sealed bell jar and pull a vacuum on it the ph does not change after 24 hours, so gas exchange is part of the process. In my tanks which are planted, ph is higher during the day when the plants are using the carbon dioxide but whether I use tap or RO water my ph always drifts to the very high 7s. This is regardless of substrate. However, if I use the same water in an unplanted tank with low light levels, the ph stabilizes at around 7.0. So, nothing correlates.

I don't completely understand these observations but I have seen similar behavior here.
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