Question about driftwood and pH - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 5 Old 02-14-2010, 01:49 PM Thread Starter
Question Question about driftwood and pH

Should I get another piece of driftwood?

I ask this because my tap's pH is 8.0 which is a little high for my angelfish. There is a piece of driftwood in my tank now, but its looking kind of ragged, it almost fell apart when I did a particial water change, and its really soft to the touch. I thought it was fake until I touched it.

My tank has been hanging out at 7.8 but the previous owners used a pH down chemical. Can't another piece of driftwood help rather than chemicals?

I was just asking now because I read that if I order it now I would have to soak it for a few weeks.
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post #2 of 5 Old 02-14-2010, 01:54 PM
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From what I have gathered, wood and other natural type things can lower pH, and certain rocks can raise pH. However I beleive this is over time, and I am not sure exactly the process so i will let someone else who is more sure answer you for positive.

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post #3 of 5 Old 02-14-2010, 02:48 PM
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Wood may slightly lower the pH but not significantly. According to what I have read, a drop of .2 [e.g. from 7.8 down to 7.6] is the most, and this only if there is nothing else raising it (such as calcareous rock/gravel). So this is not a reliable method.

A caution on the wood, if it is soft to the touch and when you wipe your finger across it a thick brown smudge/stain occurs, it is probably rotting and should be removed from the aquarium. It may or may not be detrimental to the fish, but there is always the risk that something deep in the wood may begin to leech out as it rots.

The two reliable methods to lower pH are peat filtration and RO water. Peat filtration involves placing a quantity of peat (you buy this in the fish store or elsewhere, other members will have more info) in the filter or in the tank and it slowly acidifies the water, turning it a brownish/yellowish tint at the same time. The amount required and its active period depend upon the hardness; it does have to be replaced from time to time.

RO water involves the use of a RO filter that removes minerals and such from the tap water, resulting in relatively "pure" water which is then mixed with a bit of tap water to restore some mineral. Here again, those who have used this method can supply more details if you ask.

Rainwater can also be mixed with tap water, same idea as above; provided you live in an area with little or no industry, and collect the rain not from a roof but in a barell so it doesn't pick up other contaminants.

Chemicals to lower pH will likely not work due to the degree of carbonate hardness in your water. Using them will lower the pH then the carbonate buffer in the water will raise it back, and so forth; this fluctuating pH is more stressful on the fish than leaving the pH as is, and may kill them.

It would help to know the KH (measure of carbonate hardness) in your tap water; this will tell us how much softening will likely be required.


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 #4 of 5 Old 02-14-2010, 04:25 PM
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I had a similar problem, my water comes out ph of 8.0, but i've got mine down to 7-7.2 using a combination of peat,driftwood, and taking all of my rock out of the tank, like cbirk said some rocks help to raise ph. The peat is cheap and only has to be replaced periodically. I have four pretty good sized pieces of driftwood in my 29 gallon, there are pics under my name in the aquarium tabs if you'd like to look to get an idea of how much space it takes up.
Some driftwood will "stain" your water, but i personally have never soaked my driftwood; however, i did rinse it very good, and my tanks are clear. My LFS guy swears by Malaysian driftwood. Good luck with your p.h.

I'm sure some other members will have a better answer for you, this is just my personal experience with a high ph.

Last edited by cmc29; 02-14-2010 at 04:29 PM.
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post #5 of 5 Old 02-14-2010, 08:27 PM Thread Starter
Ha! It maybe rains 6 inches a year here and even then within a two week period. So rainwater is not an option...

RO sounds a bit complicated, no wonder you said we could talk about pH later, Byron.

I think I might replace the wood anyway, simply because it is starting to look a little iffy, and I don't my fish to suffer from any potential contaminates.

My reading tonight is 8.0 up from the 7.8 when I got the tank, so I'll just keep an eye on it for now.

If I need to restock the tank at some point (all the fish are doing good so far) I will keep in mind the high pH and stock accordingly.

Thanks again for all your great insights! ~cheers
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