Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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SaraLee 03-15-2013 12:31 PM

Testing low pH
I was wondering if there's a way to test pH lower than 6.0?
I use API liquid tests on all my tanks. One of my tanks has a pretty low pH. It comes up as 6.0 on my liquid test. But since 6.0 is as low as my test reads, I'm wondering whether it's actually at 6.0 or if it may be lower. I haven't yet seen a test that will read any lower, so I'm wondering if anyone knows of a test I can use to get a better idea of what my pH really is.

JDM 03-15-2013 05:46 PM

Under 6. At that point does it really matter as far as fish are concerned? I guess more to the point, how much lower can it go in an aquarium without some sort of chemical adjustment?

I did watch a video recently where the fish were in a pH 5 water source but no mention of whether that was needed to continue to keep them.

What makes your water so acidic?


SaraLee 03-15-2013 06:00 PM

I'm not entirely sure why it's so acidic. My water company artificially raises the pH of the water (I'm not sure what they use to do so, that's all I could get them to tell me). Straight out of the tap, it's about 8.2-8.4, after aerating/sitting out for about 24 hours the pH drastically drops to about 6.4, which is what this tank is usually at. I haven't yet tested my tap to see if it's dropped down to 6.0 as well, but I will be doing that tomorrow once I've been able to let it sit out.
I'm setting this tank up for discus, so a somewhat low pH should be okay. I've read that due to the conditions of their natural habitat that a pH as low as 5.5 should be fine. If the pH of my tank is indeed at 6.0 I'm not too worried, but if it's lower it could be a problem. The issue is I have no way of knowing whether or not it's lower or really is at 6.0

AbbeysDad 03-15-2013 06:00 PM

If only one of your tanks has a pH below 6, I'd say one of your tanks has a problem!?
You must have some unwanted condition causing the acidity.
What is the pH of your source water?

JDM 03-15-2013 06:27 PM

Your water must be very soft... 1 or 2 dGH I'll bet.

Here's a kit that goes to 4.0 . You don't want to use the adjustors but they come won't it.

Test kit


SaraLee 03-15-2013 06:55 PM

Yea, my waters pretty soft. Usually about 1 dGH.
I've wanted discus since I got into aquariums, and my water is almost perfect for them on its own so it must be destined.

Thank you for that link, that's perfect. I wouldn't have even thought to look at home depot.

JDM 03-15-2013 07:01 PM

You should put some of your tanks into your profile... Always nice to see tanks talked about in the forum.

Water that soft... mine starts at 23dGH. I hate testing it.... all those drops.


Mikaila31 03-15-2013 07:40 PM

Just get a $10 PH meter of ebay. 0-14 range and more accurate then trying to compare colors. I use this one and its worked great. Tho the batteries it originally came with didn't last very long. I would suggest a TDS meter as well.

Byron 03-16-2013 07:06 PM

This is an issue I have always had, with tap water that is near-zero GH and KH and the pH used to be well below 6. I had a Tetra kit that went down to 5, but it was likely below that. The water board is now adding ash to raise the pH to 7.

With weekly 50% water changes my tanks are now running between 6.4 and 6.8 and that is fine with me. However, hard minerals are lacking and this is more of an issue for plants than soft water fish.

If you intend plants in your discus tank, you will want to increase the GH to around 5 dGH. Equilibrium (a Seachem product) works well. You can use dolomite/aragonite/crushed coral but in order to get the GH up the pH will be at 8 or higher. Equilibrium is better since it does not affect pH (or KH).

Or you can do a truly authentic discus habitat, with sand, lots of branches and chunks of bogwood, and few or no substrate-planted plants, but lots of floating plants.


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