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Naturally lowering pH

This is a discussion on Naturally lowering pH within the Beginner Planted Aquarium forums, part of the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium category; --> Soil tanks are great with shrimp. You say tannins like it's a bad thing. They improve the health of the fish (by releasing minerals ...

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Naturally lowering pH
Old 10-02-2010, 01:04 PM   #11
 
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Soil tanks are great with shrimp. You say tannins like it's a bad thing.

They improve the health of the fish (by releasing minerals and beneficial chemicals into the water) and cut down on algae...

One of the paradoxes with shrimp is that most of them like soft water, and yet they like calcium in the water...

Tannins can lower the ph, but allow a good kh of about 4-6 so they get calcium.
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Old 10-02-2010, 01:19 PM   #12
 
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Lowering the pH from 8.4 is going to be difficult due to the hardness. A KH of 300 (= 17 dKH) is high and this buffers the pH of the water, keeping it stable at 8.4. This is why pH adjuster chemicals will not work, they initially lower the pH, the natural buffering raises it again, and so on back and forth. This is very stressful on any fish in the tank.

"Natural" ways to lower pH are three in number. First, via tannins as already mentioned (peat and real wood). This works but due to the high hardness you have it will take a fair bit of peat and it needs to be replaced as it wears out. Wood is not sufficient to have much impact, even with a lot of it.

Second, CO2 diffusion. This has other issues and must be carefully controlled; high-tech planted tank aquarists use CO2 to improve plant growth. It would not be my choice if I needed to lower the pH.

Third is RO (reverse osmosis). You buy a unit that removes everything from tap water, and then mix the "pure" water with a bit of tap water. This is the safest method if you really want to lower the hardness and pH [I'll briefly explain the connection momentarily] but it takes a bit of experimenting to get it accurate. Others here may have used this, so I will leave it to them to explain if you ask; I have been lucky to have always had soft water out of the tap.

Now to the connection. In an established aquarium, the pH naturally tends to fall as the water acidifies due to the ongoing biological processes that produce carbonic acid that lowers the pH. In hard or very hard water with a high KH (carbonate hardness, a measurement of the bicarbonates) the carbonates and minerals bind with the acids to prevent the acidifying of the water. We term this "buffering" the pH. In very soft water, there are fewer minerals and carbonates so the carbonic acid remains and the pH falls. Lowering the pH in hard water will therefore only work long-term if the hardness is reduced to avoid the buffering.
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Old 10-02-2010, 01:32 PM   #13
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Byron View Post
Lowering the pH from 8.4 is going to be difficult due to the hardness. A KH of 300 (= 17 dKH) is high and this buffers the pH of the water, keeping it stable at 8.4. This is why pH adjuster chemicals will not work, they initially lower the pH, the natural buffering raises it again, and so on back and forth. This is very stressful on any fish in the tank.

"Natural" ways to lower pH are three in number. First, via tannins as already mentioned (peat and real wood). This works but due to the high hardness you have it will take a fair bit of peat and it needs to be replaced as it wears out. Wood is not sufficient to have much impact, even with a lot of it.

Second, CO2 diffusion. This has other issues and must be carefully controlled; high-tech planted tank aquarists use CO2 to improve plant growth. It would not be my choice if I needed to lower the pH.

Third is RO (reverse osmosis). You buy a unit that removes everything from tap water, and then mix the "pure" water with a bit of tap water. This is the safest method if you really want to lower the hardness and pH [I'll briefly explain the connection momentarily] but it takes a bit of experimenting to get it accurate. Others here may have used this, so I will leave it to them to explain if you ask; I have been lucky to have always had soft water out of the tap.

Now to the connection. In an established aquarium, the pH naturally tends to fall as the water acidifies due to the ongoing biological processes that produce carbonic acid that lowers the pH. In hard or very hard water with a high KH (carbonate hardness, a measurement of the bicarbonates) the carbonates and minerals bind with the acids to prevent the acidifying of the water. We term this "buffering" the pH. In very soft water, there are fewer minerals and carbonates so the carbonic acid remains and the pH falls. Lowering the pH in hard water will therefore only work long-term if the hardness is reduced to avoid the buffering.
Ah, how'd I forget? That's what sodium bicarbonate changes to. :)


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Originally Posted by Byron View Post
"Natural" ways to lower pH are three in number.
Channelling wise yoda we are now?
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Old 10-02-2010, 09:09 PM   #14
 
I think I'll go with the peat moss. The RO sounds confusing/annoying and expensive.
But I am still confused. I have a water softener, so my water should be soft and according to my test thingie the water is very soft but you guys are telling me that it's hard.
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Old 10-02-2010, 09:40 PM   #15
 
Mmm. Okay. After reading it seems my only option is an RO system. There anybody who can talk to me about those?
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Old 10-02-2010, 09:42 PM   #16
 
I have the same problem, my ph is high, but my water is soft. Usually high PH means hard water and low PH is softer water. Water softener does weird things to your water chemistry.
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Old 10-02-2010, 10:00 PM   #17
 
I see this now. @.@ Okay. Screw RO systems. They're expensive as hell and you have to replace the filters.
I think I'll try the ADA Aquasoil. I'm sure my plants will like it better anyway.
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Old 10-03-2010, 06:15 PM   #18
 
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Were the hardness numbers taken after the water went through the softener, or before?

Softeners often work by adding salts and other substances in order to remove minerals. The salts and "stuff" can be worse than the minerals. I would want to check this out if I were you.
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Old 10-03-2010, 09:22 PM   #19
 
It should be after. I've taken the water right out of my tap.
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Old 10-04-2010, 09:44 AM   #20
 
For most softener salts, as long as its the pure softener salt and not the rust cleaning or specialized salts, it should be ok for fish, but its still best to check. I use mortons and they say that their standard solar salts are fine, but not their other special products for clearing rust or cleaning the machine, etc.
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