Please tell me if my theory on pH is correct? - Page 2 - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #11 of 16 Old 04-17-2011, 03:42 PM
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I figured if I posted a good lead-in question, someone who knows more about it than me (i.e. Byron and lots of other folks) would be able to help you out! I'm just throwing out ideas, that may not address the issue, depending on the results of you water hardness question. You might try a change in the substrate material (ecocomplete tends to shift my pH up slightly) and/or some plants. Somewhere, (here?) I read that a well-planted tank will shift the pH up slightly.

It sounds like your water is poorly buffered and it's going to go to the pH it "wants" quickly. Shifting it chemically will just make the "bounce" more pronounced, as Byron stated. I would have thought pH 5 was waaay too low for fish- I learn new stuff here all the time. BTW - done correctly, plants actually aren't as much trouble as you might think! I killed a lot of plants previously also...now my planted tank looks good!
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post #12 of 16 Old 04-17-2011, 03:56 PM Thread Starter
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I would contact the water supply and not rely on tests at a pet store which can be misleading. The water people can tell you what you have and it will be accurate and reliable.

Yes, I'm still suspecting soft-ish water, but let's see the data.

On the issue of pH adjusting chemicals, don't use these. They can often cause significant pH shifts too quickly. Now I am understanding why you are having such fluctuations. This is highly stressful on any fish. We work best with nature, let the water do what it will without intervention. Those hardness numbers will tell us more.

OK I found out the results of water hardness. It said my city has soft water and then gave me this data: 16 milligrams per liter, or 1 grain per gallon.
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post #13 of 16 Old 04-17-2011, 03:59 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by DKRST View Post
I figured if I posted a good lead-in question, someone who knows more about it than me (i.e. Byron and lots of other folks) would be able to help you out! I'm just throwing out ideas, that may not address the issue, depending on the results of you water hardness question. You might try a change in the substrate material (ecocomplete tends to shift my pH up slightly) and/or some plants. Somewhere, (here?) I read that a well-planted tank will shift the pH up slightly.

It sounds like your water is poorly buffered and it's going to go to the pH it "wants" quickly. Shifting it chemically will just make the "bounce" more pronounced, as Byron stated. I would have thought pH 5 was waaay too low for fish- I learn new stuff here all the time. BTW - done correctly, plants actually aren't as much trouble as you might think! I killed a lot of plants previously also...now my planted tank looks good!
Thank you! Well I just found out our water is soft. Does poorly buffered water occur in soft water? I have no clue about this lol. I think I am going to try plants again. I don't know what kind of light I have, I'm sure it's cheap because it came with the hood in the tank set up when I got it and I'm hoping it's good enough. Do you use fertilizers for your plants? I read somewhere it's good to put them in but I've never tried them before.
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post #14 of 16 Old 04-17-2011, 04:26 PM
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OK I found out the results of water hardness. It said my city has soft water and then gave me this data: 16 milligrams per liter, or 1 grain per gallon.
OK. Your water is identical to mine out of the tap. That is approximately 1 dGH and likely 1 dKH. With that soft water, your pH will lower fairly quickly, as it has been, so this all makes sense now. I let mine go. The number and type of fish in relation to the water volume has a bearing on this (the more fish the more organics and the faster and more acidic).

Some of my tanks stay between 6.0 and 6.4, some are down to 5 according to the Tetra low-pH test (which only goes down to 5). I do 50% water changes weekly with tap water that in spite of its softness has a pH of 7.0 - 7.2, they add something to achieve this, I can never remember what, some type of ash I think. Anyway, after the water change the pH obviously rises by .2 or maybe .4. It has remained constant like this for years. I have soft water fish, and most are wild caught, so they are in heaven. Which is probably why I have spawning all the time from some not-so-easy-to-spawn species.

I have experimented with various means (all natural, no chemical stuff) over the years. Before I go into it, is there a need to raise the pH for your fish? Not all fish manage well in pH 5. My view though is still not to fiddle with the water chemistry unless it is necessary. I didn't see a list of the fish species in this thread, that would help.

Byron.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #15 of 16 Old 04-17-2011, 04:44 PM
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Hard water has high concentrations of Ca2+ and Mg2+ ions and possibly other minerals. Soft water has few/fewer minerals. Some of the minerals in hard water form compounds that resist a pH change (they buffer against a change). The more buffered a solution, the harder it is to get the solution to change pH. That's not the full chemistry,obviously, but good enough to work with. In other words, if there is anything chemical in your tank (fish waste, bacterial products, pH shifting chemicals) your soft water will move toward that pH pretty easily. The problem is, if something changes in your tank, it can shift again as easily. That's why your pH shifting chemical didn't work very long. I suspect changing the water bounces it around temporarily also?

For plants and lighting, I highly recommend Byron's posts (stickies) in the plant section of this forum. It's not as complex as it might appear. You can make the process as easy (or complicated) as you want. I'd recommend starting a new thread asking for lighting opinions (under the plant section). Post a question and make sure to include your tank size, type of light you have (type of light you'd like?), and type of plants you wish to grow. That will help determine the optimum lighting. Lots of helpful folks here. Then, you can ask about fertilizers and other options (different plants may require different approaches).

Regarding your pH issue, I'm going to defer to Byron or someone who has dealt with the pH issue. My water stays around 7.0-7.2 and is medium-hard, so it's not a problem I've ever had to address! I can't make mine stay at 6.8.

Of course, Byron types faster than me... He beat me to the post!

Last edited by DKRST; 04-17-2011 at 04:45 PM. Reason: Byron beat me!
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post #16 of 16 Old 04-17-2011, 06:38 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by DKRST View Post
Hard water has high concentrations of Ca2+ and Mg2+ ions and possibly other minerals. Soft water has few/fewer minerals. Some of the minerals in hard water form compounds that resist a pH change (they buffer against a change). The more buffered a solution, the harder it is to get the solution to change pH. That's not the full chemistry,obviously, but good enough to work with. In other words, if there is anything chemical in your tank (fish waste, bacterial products, pH shifting chemicals) your soft water will move toward that pH pretty easily. The problem is, if something changes in your tank, it can shift again as easily. That's why your pH shifting chemical didn't work very long. I suspect changing the water bounces it around temporarily also?

For plants and lighting, I highly recommend Byron's posts (stickies) in the plant section of this forum. It's not as complex as it might appear. You can make the process as easy (or complicated) as you want. I'd recommend starting a new thread asking for lighting opinions (under the plant section). Post a question and make sure to include your tank size, type of light you have (type of light you'd like?), and type of plants you wish to grow. That will help determine the optimum lighting. Lots of helpful folks here. Then, you can ask about fertilizers and other options (different plants may require different approaches).

Regarding your pH issue, I'm going to defer to Byron or someone who has dealt with the pH issue. My water stays around 7.0-7.2 and is medium-hard, so it's not a problem I've ever had to address! I can't make mine stay at 6.8.

Of course, Byron types faster than me... He beat me to the post!
Great info. thank you very much!
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