Well water pH problems. Help!
I have well water that tests 6.4 out of the tap. It's not hard. (the fish store said it's about mid range for hardness.)
My problem is that the next day this water will test 8.0! (using the API high pH tester.) This is the water in the aquarium and in a glass of water just sitting on my counter. What would cause such a fluctuation in water pH???
I have just started a 15 gal tank over a week ago. I have a bog log and 5 zebra danios and a few plastic plants. My filter is an outside Aquaeon for up to 30 gal.
Ammonia is on the yellow side of .25 ppm. Nitrates and nitrites are 0.
Do I need to do water changes yet? And when I do start changing water, do I use it right out of the tap at 6.4, or let it sit in a bucket for a day or two until it reaches the 8.0 mark?
I bought this for a tetra and 1 male betta tank. Will I ever be able to get the pH down to an acceptable level for them? Maybe I need to buy water? I hate to even think about toting 5 gallon jugs of water home from the grocery store!
Any advice will be eagerly awaited!
I have no clue of such an unstable pH - never heard of a range change like that - I'm guessing a lack of buffering. Perhaps you need a hardness (KH/GH) test?
You might stabilize pH with a product like Seachem Neutral Regulator. It uses phosphate buffers and conditioners.
I might also suggest an API Tap Water Filter to produce deionized (DI) water.
DI water is too pure for aquarium use so requires additives for minerals and pH.
You might mix this 50/50 (or in any desired ratio) with your tap water for best results.
I have used this. The initial cost is around $40. Cartridge use life varies based on source water quality. I get about 50 gallons per cartridge.
That is quite a variable pH. The level of CO2 in the tap water can affect the pH, and once the CO2 is out-gassed [as it will after 24 hours, or also by briskly agitating the water] the actual pH will test and it will be higher. I've no idea how much this variation can be.
It would help to have numbers for both the GH and KH of the well water. Did the fish store give you test numbers? "Mid-range" is quite vague, but this might mean moderately hard and a pH of 8 with this is not at all unusual. But we are just guessing without proper tests.
If a local fish store cannot test accurately, using a liquid test like API's, you might be advisable in getting a test kit. Both the GH [this affects fish and to some extent plants] and the KH [carbonate hardness or Alkalinity, which is what buffers pH] are needed. Once we know these numbers, it will be easier to suggest options.
On the ammonia/cycling issue, if there are fish in the tank, you need to keep the ammonia and then nitrite near zero with partial water changes daily. Using a conditioner that detoxifies both is advisable, such as Prime or Ultimate. The ammonia or nitrite will still appear in tests, but with these conditioners they will be harmless for 24-48 hours so alternate day water changes should work. If no fish are in the tank, it can cycle naturally.
I'm not sure if they did GH or KH. All I do know is that they filled a vile and added drops until it turned yellow. It took 5 drops on my tap water and 6 drops on my aquarium water. I guess the next step would be to buy a hard water test kit. I already have the API freshwater master kit.
As far as water conditioners, I have API Fresh Start. Should I use that instead of a water change or add it to the change water?
Did you try testing the pH of the tap after briskly shaking some water in a small bottle? Just curious on the result.
You use conditioner when doing a water change. Not sure what Fresh Start is, I think maybe you have the name incorrect? API's basic conditioner is called "Tap Water Conditioner" and it does not detoxify ammonia or nitrite. Prime or Ultimate are the only conditioners I know of that handle both ammonia and nitrite and during cycling this is important.
I just tested my tap water after shaking it vigorously and you're right, the pH went up immediately!
Also, the water conditioner I use is called API Quick Start, not Fresh Start. (oops)
Here is some info on Quick Start:
Patented, all-natural Quick Start contains nitrifying bacteria scientifically proven to prevent "new tank syndrome." With Quick Start, you'll add your fish to your aquarium water immediately and start enjoying your aquarium creation even faster! This convenient water treatment liquid immediately starts the nitrogen cycle in your aquarium, limits toxic ammonia and nitrite in aquarium water, and helps prevent fish loss. Use Quick Start in established aquariums to help maintain an active biological filter.
Quick Start bacterial additive has an extremely long shelf life and requires no refrigeration. For freshwater and saltwater use. 16 oz treats up to 470 gal
I did a 20% water change last night and the Danios seem more active, altho it didn't alter the ammonia level (.25) and the Nitrate and Nitrites are still 0.
When will I know when my tank cycles? Will the ammonia levels go higher before they drop? Also a Fish store guy said maybe I should add buffers to lower my pH. Good idea or not??
Thanks again for all your expertise!!
You are using well water so presumably it is not chlorinated. A water conditioner is primarily used to detoxify chlorine and sometimes chloramine, added by most municipalities. Without these, I would not waste conditioner. The only other possible issue would be heavy metals; have you had the water tested by a lab, and determined it safe? This might clue us in on possible metals.
QuickStart is a bacterial supplement that "seeds" the nitrifying bacteria to get the cycle going faster. In a new tank it won't hurt.
On the pH, that explains that. So the true pH is the higher reading. CO2 will lower the pH, and it diffuses out of water so it is temporary.
You do not want to use chemical buffers to lower the pH. The pH is connected to the GH and KH, as it explains in my article here:
You cannot successfuly alter the pH without adjusting the KH particularly, as it buffers. This is why we need to know the GH too. It may be possible to dilute the water to reduce GH, KH and pH naturally.
Cycling is explained here:
As long as ammonia or nitrite are testing above zero, daily partial water changes are necessary to keep these diluted. Getting a bottle of Prime or Ultimate is wise, as these will detoxify the ammonia and nitrite to further reduce stress on the fish. Once you have live plants, they help too.
I had my tank water tested last night and GH was 5 and the KH is 6. Does that seem high to you? They didn't do the tap water, as it was close to closing time and the guy was being an ass...
I'm now starting to get yellow algae on the sealant in the corners of the tank. It's the color of dried mustard. Should I get an algae eater??? I hate to put anymore fish in until my tank cycles...
If it is algae, the solution is not to get fish [besides, fish that will eat algae are specific to certain algae, and probably wouldn't touch this anyway] but to address the cause. But that has to wait until we know what it is.
GH of 5 is soft water. The tap is not likely to be different. The tank could be higher than the tap if the GH is being targetted by calcareous rock/gravel/sand that woould add hard minerals. Or if something like peat, dried leaves, wood are softening the tank water.
Your well water, does it come straight into the house taps? I am wondering if there is any sort of water device like a softener, filter... ? These could target the GH but not the pH.
No, I don't have a filter on my well water. I do however live up the side of a mountain and the ground is very rocky. There are also boggy swampy areas close to the house. Maybe that is a factor with my water issues...
I do have a large bog log in my tank so maybe that's softening my tank water>
As far as the yellow algae, I couldn't post a picture, but found a link to one, altho mine isn't near as bad. Also, I don't have carbon/charcoal in my filter, as the aquarium gut thought it might be messing with my pH. I'm just using a bonded filterpad. Should I put the cartridge (that came with the filter) in my filter or will that screw up my cycling?
Here's the link to the picture:
yellow algae/slime on silicone-pics - Reef Central Online Community Archives
Thanks again Byron!
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