Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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somethingisfishy 03-10-2008 11:02 PM

Extremely basic tap water

I need some advice from someone more chemically savvy than I.

Our local water utility here in the SF Bay Area (EBMUD) adds either calcium or sodium hydroxide (lye!) to our tap water to raise the pH to somewhere between 8.5 and 8.8. Apparently this is done to reduce the risk of lead leaching out of old pipes.

I've been trying to keep my tank pH down by adding enough vinegar to new water (during water changes) to bring the pH of the new water down close to 7 before adding to the tank. The theory being that over time this will gradually move the pH of the tank to close to 7. This hasn't been working, my tank pH is still slightly north of 8.

I've had the tank for a year and have certainly lost some fish although I can't blame this issue exclusively.

But I'd like to get it sorted out. I'm all for the "live and let live" approach with pH, and understand that constantly changing it is bad, but I can't imagine that a pH north of 8.5 could be a good thing.

I've added some driftwood to the tank and it hasn't made much difference. Can anyone suggest other approaches? Anybody else have this problem?

c_lou 03-11-2008 08:37 AM

What about doing water changes and top offs with RO water from a local store?

You could also try something like Proper pH. It's a powder that adjusts the pH to 7.0. I have never used it but it could be easily tested. There are others out there. I just went to and searcherd for pH regulator.

Hope that helps.

Or you could just put some Malawi's in your tank. They love the 8.0 pH.

fish_4_all 03-11-2008 11:27 AM

Bottled water, R/O filter or rain water. Chemicals might work but when they fail they make things worse more often than not. Filter your tap water thorugh peat moss to lower it. Make sure to change the peat out regularly. A lot more driftwood maybe.

Fat_Fender_40 03-11-2008 03:13 PM

When you use rain water, wait a half hour or so after it starts and don't collect the water from a gutter or some other sort of run off that is questionable.

If you want some live plants, get a C02 system too. The $25 ones work too to lower the pH.

somethingisfishy 03-12-2008 04:23 PM

Thanks for the tips. The most practical and natural for me is I think using RO water, since I have a smallish tank (12 gal) and my own under-sink RO system (which does turn out close-to-pH-7 water). I'll start mixing some RO water in with water changes and see how it goes.

I've read that the pH lock buffer powders are problematic if you have live plants (which I don't but I'd like to add) and can fuel algae growth with phosphates. So we'll see. Thanks again.

okiemavis 03-12-2008 07:59 PM

Sounds good. I'm glad to hear you're staying away from the chemicals. Chemicals mean you could end up with some sort of crazy crash or spike later. Gradual, natural ways are much more stable.

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