07-10-2014, 05:09 PM
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ramble into power of Hydrogen
A ramble into power of Hydrogen When I started keeping fish I thought how hard can it be? You just add water, livestock and food then enjoy the benefits of my labor. How foolish new fish keepers are I quickly learned about pH and thought it’s not rocket science it is either acid or alkaline how hard can that be. This is a common mis-understanding of pH. I soon learned that I always had the terms confused it is not alkaline but basic, Yes acid or basic where did I get the notion alkalinity; since then I have learned that alkaline referees to the stabilization of pH via carbonate and general hardness.
What is pH? To begin the lower case p and capital H represents percent hydrogen or more correctly power of Hydrogen. The power of hydrogen is the balance between positive hydrogen ion (H+) and the negative Hydroxide ion (OH-). When the amount of Hydrogen (H+) ions are exactly matched to the hydroxide (OH-) ions the solution is neutral. When there are more Hydrogen ions (H+) than hydroxide ions (OH-) the solution is acid and of course when there a more hydroxide ions (OH-) than Hydrogen ions (H+) the solution is basic. What is the difference in the nomenclature of the pH scale? Integer difference is tenfold so that a pH of 7.0 is 10 times more acid that a pH of 8.0 and the pH of 9.0 is 100 times more basic than pH of 7.0. Integer shifts represent giant changes in the relationship between Hydrogen (H+) and hydroxide (OH-) ions. The impact of partial changes in pH represent a smaller change in the Hydrogen / hydroxide relationship so a pH difference between 7.0 and 6.8 represent a change of two times more Hydrogen ions than hydroxide ions making the solution acid.
What does this mean in terms of fish health: in some ways not much and in other ways trouble is waiting just around the corner. Fortunately for fish keepers most freshwater fish can tolerate a very wide range of pH. We fish keepers are led falsely to grab on to the idea that freshwater fish can thrive only in water with optimum pH rating. Generally speaking most freshwater fish can be moved from one pH to another with the most important aspect of this movement in pH is fresh water fish should not be moved into a pH that is outside their range of pH, freshwater fish can and do thrive in a very wide pH range.
The key is accumulation the slow movement which is usually anywhere between 6.5 and 8.5 pH for freshwater fish (this movement in terms of gaining the greatest benefit should not exceed a change greater than .3 tens of an integer at a time). This ability allows the water critter to occupy a greater environmental niche expanding and contracting as pH changes throughout the day and night.
The character of water’s pH is not as important as stability of the character that is pH; as long as freshwater fish are within the necessary pH range that supports complete function of life giving physiological processes, the fish will thrive. For fish the usable range of pH can depend on several factors including prior pH acclimatization water temperature the amount of dissolved oxygen and the amount of cations and anions present in the water. History of gradual movement in pH is what is required.