03-17-2009, 10:08 AM
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I comented on pH fluctuations yesterday, but that was a different topic and poster, so I'll repeat it here. Some of this has already been mentioned by earlier posters, but it bears repeating.
Using chemicals to lower the pH is not recommended; I went this route when I was starting out, and had nothing but trouble (fish loss, stressed fish, outbreaks of ick due to the stress, etc). An aquarium will balance out at some pH, depending upon the pH of the water put in it (out of the tap), the materials in the tank [regular aquarium gravel does not affect pH, but using coral or dolomite gravel as one would in a marine tank or Rift Lake chiclid tank will keep the pH high (alkaline) no matter what you do], buffering materials [like peat in the filter to lower the pH], tannins leeching from natural wood in the tank, and the biological processes of the inhabitants. Using CO2 as in a planted tank will also lower the pH.
The pH of your tank you say is 8; is this the pH of the water out of the tap? Or do you have a substrate comprised of dolomite or coral that is raising it in the tank? And what fish do you intend to keep in the tank? With respect to Lupin, and depending upon what fish you are keeping, I can't agree that keeping the pH at 8 doesn't matter unless the fish are wild caught. If the fish are those that occur in acidic waters in their natural habitat, they will not thrive (be healthy and at their best and free of stress) in a pH of 8 even if they are tank raised. We can't change their natural programming that has taken millions of years to develop. As an example, neon tetras are today captive raised almost exclusively, but you will find that all reputable aquarist sources recommend a pH within the range of 6-7, and not above 7. I see no problem with maintaining livebearers or Rift Lake chiclids at pH 8, but I would not attempt keeping characins above 7.
Lowering the pH from 8 to 7 is a very considerable adjustment. A change of one pH unit equals a change of ten times the acidity/alkalinity of the water, and most fish are very sensitive to relatively minor changes. There is a complex biological process that occurs in all fish to maintain a balance between their internal pH and the pH of the water they are in. Subjecting any fish to rapid changes in pH is stressful, and I can assure you will lead to other problems and, if serious enough, death.
I am fortunate enought to live in an area where the tap water is soft and slightly acidic, perfect for the South American characins and catfish I maintain. Peat filtration has therefore been unnecessary for me for twenty years of fishkeeping, but it is the best way (as someone earlier said) of lowering pH to a stable level. Please don't use chemicals to do this, as the fish will suffer.