Water pH Advice
We lost our first Neon Tetra last night and just wanting to try ruling out anything that may have caused it. I'm thinking NTD but none of the others show similar behaviour/symptoms (yet).
The pH in the tank seems very high, and even our tap water is unusually high. My pH test kit only goes to 7.4, but it is obvious that the pH is higher. The pH for our tap water is off the scale as well.
Are there any ways to go about reducing the pH safely? I do have a pH Down buffer.
Tank size: 150L
Filtration: Eheim 2213 + Overhead that came with the Tank (AquaOne AquaStyle 850)
Planted or not: 3 x Anubias (2 on D/W), Amazon Sword +
Inhabitants: 14 x Neon Tetras, 5 x Black Widow Tetras, 10 x Platies, 3 x SAE's, 1 x Betta (in breeding box)
Nitrate: 10-20ppm (API Test Kit)
pH: > 7.4 (test kit only goes to 7.4)
Visible symptoms: Dead Neon was sitting on the bottom hardly breathing with occasional twitching (have since euthanised as I have no Quarantine tank)
What you feed and how often: Flake 6 times a week, occasional replacement with freeze dried bloodworms
Recent changes to your tank:
Was your tank cycled correctly: Yes
I see you listed API test kit, did you buy them individually? If not, the master test kit should have a high range pH test in it. Otherwise take a sample to a local fish store and have them test it.
Neon Tetras are a soft, acidic water fish though so it certainly could have contributed.
The only safe way to reduce pH is to mix your tap water with RO or DI water. This will lower the GH (make the water softer) and more importantly lower the KH (what buffers the pH). Chemicals are never a good idea, they are only temporary and pH swings are far more harmful to fish.
Take a look at this: http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/f...quarium-73276/
The GH is actually more significant than pH, at least here. While as Geo said the pH is above what neons prefer, it is not especially high (assuming it is around 7.5) and neons are not wild caught. The GH is what we need to know, both for this question and any attempts to adjust pH since the GH and KH factor in, as the article Geo linked explains.
Another issue is that while commercially-raised fish like the neons may manage with less than optimum water parameters, there is evidence that this does eventually take its toll. As well, neons these days are in poorer and poorer shape, due to generations of inbreeding commercially, and this clearly has a number of impacts on the fish's physiology. In other words, it will just die, from something along the way.
When we bought the original tank, the shop threw in a pH test kit, so we don't have an API test kit for pH. It looks like it may be worth investing in gH, kH and pH test kits.
Would I be better off getting Sera test kits over API? I have heard that Sera are more accurate (plus I prefer the larger vials).
I also guess, what would be the full range of test kits a fish keeper should own?
Sera kits are said to be the best, but obviously thus most expensive, and they are not as widely available.
As for the tests you need, the basic are pH, ammonia, nitrite an nitrate. These are useful when starting a new tank, or when problems occur it is always wise to test all these. Aside from this, generally a pH and nitrate test sporadic is sufficient. API make a Master Combo that includes those mentioned.
Our local fish store just uses the test strips, which are not very accurate. To accurately know what the ph is you need the API ph test bottle and the API High Range ph test bottle. Especially if you think your ph is on the high side. The ph test "low end" is normally used by people breeding Angel fish, for example. And the High Range ph test is normally used by people with African Cichlids and other invertebrates that require a higher ph. Neon tetras are generally kept in ph of 6.0 to 7.8 so I am not sure that the ph is your issue. However, without the proper test you will not know for sure what your ph is. I would think that if it were the ph, more of your fish would be showing signs of stress or illness. It could just be one of those things that happens to all of us, a fish just dies and we don't know why. If your ph is in fact high, you can add some peat moss to the tank to help lower it. That is a natural alternative, rather than "ph up or ph down" which is tricky and can cause some serious ph swings that most fish are unable to tolerate.
I test nitrate before every water change, and have never noticed anything higher than 20ppm.
Total Hardness: 57.7mg/L (28)
pH: 8.0 (1053)
NH3: 0.253 (28)
Another file I found appears to give the results for a 12 month period, but given the file name it appears to be results from 2011.
Is there anything I should be worried about based on the published data our water supplier provides?
The pH corresponding is high, they give the range 7.8 to 8.2 and I agree this should come down for soft water fish.
Another illustrative number in this data is the TDS (total dissolved solids), at 95-129 mg/l, which equates with 95-129ppm. This is important for fish. We tend to think of GH as the hard minerals and that here is the 57ppm. But other substances also add TDS and a true "GH" has to factor these in, and you can see it is much higher, double in fact. Add to this the TDS that come in to the aquarium from fish food, water conditioner, plant fertilizers and almost any substance (medications, treatments, etc) and one can begin to understand the stress being placed on our fish. Even though we will say, correctly here, that it is very soft water.
You mentioned previously a pH Down Buffer. These can be dangerous. The KH or Alkalinity, which here is 28-37 mg/l, equating to ppm or 2 dKH at the highest end, works to maintain a stable pH where it is at coming out of the tap. The KH is not high, and I frankly don't know the extent to which this will buffer the pH. But the issue with the pH Down solutions is that the KH acts to prevent this, so the pH Down TDS keep building up, the pH lowers and then bounces back, and in the end the pH has fluctuated wildly, severely stressing the fish, but stays where it is, and the TDS continue to add up making things even worse. If this is continued, the buffering capacity of the KH may be reached, and then the pH crashes, usually killing the fish because it is too much too fast. Which is why most of us do not recommend these products.
I would let things be for a time, and monitor how much, if any, the pH naturally falls. Do not vacuum the substrate [are there live plants?] which will work to acidify the water and thus lower the pH. Wood, dried leaves and peat also work to this end.
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