Rising PH- Whats causing it?
we,ve set up a 150 gallon tank about a month back. had a few ammonia issues because of overstoking...thats settled now and we are'nt losing fish but our ph is reading 7.5. our test kit only reads till 7.5, so we not sure if its higher. our source water tests around 7.0, so obviously something in our tank is causing the rising ph.
we have coarse gravel and rocks, collected from a dry stream bed, which have passed the vinegar test. we have a bogwood log which we found from an estuary. It is a dense, hard wood which we soaked in freshwater and it was completly saturated before being added to our tank (it does not affect the colour of our water at all). we are using a sump filter which does a 1000 lt/h. our filter media is sponge and bio balls. we do at least a 10% pwc weekly. we've tried salt-2 handfuls; added gradually; and vacuuming the gravel but the ph is still the same.our tank is heavily planted and we have a co2 injector. our plants were doing well, but since the salt and vacuum....but thats an issue for another thread.
the current fish seem to have adjusted but we want to lower our ph coz we are looking to keep discus and we dont want them dying....your advice would be most appreciated.
A couple of issues here.
First, don't use salt in an aquarium. As you've found out, it affects plants. It also affects fish, some very seriously (characins, corydoras, discus...). Freshwater fish should not have salt added to their water. I'm curious why you thought that would lower the pH...
Wood will not raise pH asnd hardness, unless there is something in the wood. I'm not suggesting there is necessarily, but it does point out the risk in using collectibles from nature. Boiling or steaming wood for a lengthy period usually ensures no parasites and pathogens are present, but other substances may be that would not be affected by such measures. Several years ago I lost a number of fish due to toxins in a couple pieces of wood; and the wood came from an aquarium store, not something I collected outside. Which only shows what can occur when we don't know the wood or the source.
Adding CO2 normally lowers pH, so whatever is in the tank raising it, it is fairly potent. I would almost guarantee that the high pH is due to the gravel and/or rocks, notwithstanding the vinegar test. Have you tested the hardness, both GH (general hardness) and KH (carbonate hardness)? It would be useful to know where these are, as KH is a buffer on pH and there may be a link. Also, test the tap water for GH and KH.
On no account use the pH lowering chemical preparations, especially if there are fish (any fish) in the tank. I'm not implying you would, this is just a comment. These chemicals will lower the pH temporarily until whatever is causing it to rise takes control again; the result is fluctuating pH which is far worse than having a constant if high pH. Some fish succumb quickly to fluctuating pH values and develop internal problems and are more susceptible to disease and parasitic attacks. And if the water has a buffer (the KH will tell us this) it will eventually become maxed out if chemicals are being added, and then the pH will crash.
Let us know the GH and KH of the tank water and the tap water; your lfs may do this if you don't have a kit. I don't suppose you have any idea what type of rock and gravel it is (limestone, qwuartz, shale...)?
Hi, Sorry for taking so long to reply..we were trying to find a good test kit at a fair price but it seems that in our neck of woods(South Africa), test kits are seldom found. If anyone has any suggestions (maybe we are'nt looking in the right places) it would be appreciated. Our LF's don't do tests either, so for the meantime we can't furnish you with the requested results.
What I can tell you (had to wait to ask my hubby, since he's the enthusiast and I'm just the little elf) is that our gravel is mainly sandstone, quartz and slate.We doubt thre's any limestone.
As for thye salt, we were advised to add it as per info on the previous forumn we were registered with. We were told that salt is a neutrilizer-it will lower high ph and higher low ph...the guy at our LF also said that he treats his tanks with weekly doses of salt to prevcent illness e.t.c. We've now learnt to do a little reserch before accepting well intended advice.
Re the salt, how could the same salt lower ph and raise it at the same time? Salt is used in water softeners to change hard water into soft water, but this is a very different thing. And I have never known salt to change pH.
Ther are some aquarists who do allege that regularly using aquarium salt in a freshwater tank will prevent this or that. I take this with the proverbial grain of salt; how do they know the "this or that' would have occurred without it? That's like saying if you regularly take Tylenol you won't ever get a headache; probably not, but you may not get one anyway, so why put chemicals in your system that you don't really need, and risk causing other problems or making them have less effect when you really do need them? That is what salt does to some fish, according to my research and information from scientists. Forget the salt.
I also have a high ph issue (tap comes out at 8.0- 8.2) i was trying to figure out how to lower as im going to be keeping discus and angels and they need much lower than that. so i went to my lfs tonight in search of a cure for the problem. i saw all kinds of chemical buffers that you have to keep on to keep the ph where you want it. as i was looking at some of them they say on the back "not for use with live plants" i said to myself that cannont be good lol. so i asked a guy there and he asked why do i want to lower my ph? i told him what i plan on keeping and he laughed and said ph isnt as big of a issue that everyone makes it out to be. he said the trick is in acclimating your fish properly. he showed me the discus display tank that they had and did a ph test right infront of me of the discus display. and guess what? 8.4!!!! for discus, now these wernbt wild caught but still proves a point. Its also much easyier to work with what you have than against it. easyier and cheaper in the long run. Money
P.S check walmart.com for a master freshwater test kit. 18$ american when you ship to store. the sites description isnt accurate. it is a API master freshwater test kit with more than everything you will need for freshwater EXCEPT GH/KH testers.......
I have kept tank raised Discus in moderately hard water with a ph of 7.4 with few issues however,,the Discus would not breed for the water was too hard. It passes my understanding how any responsible fish store would attempt to keep these softwater fish in hardwater and hope to keep them healthy enough to make a profit.They are expensive and sensitive fish and most fish stores take great pains to provide for these fish so that they can make a profit.
Is true that many fish can adapt to somewhat different pH values and slightly more alkaline waters if acclimated slowly but.. Discus aren't in my view,, one of these fish. If I knew I had hard water with pH values much above neutral 7.0,, or higher,, I would not even consider keeping this species nor do I believe any responsible person seeking to make a profit on them would. It would in my view be a losing proposition.
Thanks for all those answers and info.. Will try the suggested websites and hopefully get back to you all with results...soon
I'm following up on the pH issue raised by Money and responded to by 1077. I am in agreement with 1077 on this, and would like to offer a couple of personal observations.
There are varying opinions on several issues we as aquarists face; use of salt in FW tanks often comes up (I commented on this in two different threads only yesterday), and the issue of how much fish can adapt with respect to preferred water parameters is another on which there is quite wide-ranging views. Some say that after fish are raised in tanks for a few generations, they somehow develop different requirements respecting water parameters. I find it difficult to fully accept that captive breeding can significantly change what nature has programmed into them over millions of years.
Cardinal tetras occur in very soft, acidic waters, water with a ph of 4 to 5.5 and a KH and GH less than 1 degree. Maintaining them in hard water frequently causes blockage of the kidney tubes by calcium salts. And many aquarists have them live 2 or 3 years max. Given the correct water parameters, cardinals will live for more than 10 years, as the late Dr. Jacques Gery experienced.
pH is something that affects the internal workings of a fish. Fish take in water (= "drink" to us) by osmosis through their cells. They must regulate the pH of their blood to equal that of the water, and this takes energy. Which is one reason why pH fluctuations are so critical. All this energy is beng used to regulate their pH, feed their tissues, and maintain their immune system, and it literally wears them out. And it causes stress, and stress leads to other health problems and leaves them more susceptible to disease and parasites. To use an analogy from Laura Muha who wrote on this at length in TFH, its like driving your car up a hill; it takes more gas to maintain the same speed, and the car's engine is working more (and wearing out faster) to do it.
The discus in the store, like the cardinals above, may seem to be OK for now. But how do we know what is occurring internally? Will these fish live shorter and more difficult lives because of this? In one of her articles, Ms. Muha mentions discus maintained by Dr. Chris Andrews, director of the Steinhart Aquarium in SF, in water with a pH of 8.0 and while they appeared to be healthy, they certainly did not spawn. And in her summation, Ms. Muha says it is always better to match your fish with your water chemistry rather than the reverse, and given that we don't know much about pH adaptability, we should use the "preferred" range as the starting point.
My goal is to maintain the fish in my aquaria as close as I reasonably can to what nature has outfitted them for, in terms of water parameters and their environment. By environment I mean the aquascaping of the aquarium, as I think this is also important to the fish's long-term health. A fish that in nature lives amongst plants, roots and fallen branches should not be placed in a bare aquarium without these items. The fish will be continually under stress from having no where to "hide." It does not know that it faces no danger from predators; its instict tells it that it is extremely vulnerable without those hiding places, and it lives in fear of what this would mean in the wild.
This approach is far-reaching; it affects the type of filtration, water currents, plants, wood or rocks, as well as water parameters. From a purely common sense perspective, it seems preferable to provide the fish with relatively similar conditions in all these areas to those it has evolved to live with naturally. Note that I said relatively similar, not exact, as I think in many situations this would be next to impossible; I for one do not want a substrate of dirty mud, not only for aesthetical reasons but water quality in a closed system as well.
just to make sure that i took in what you wrote there about fish and ph byron, your saying that the discus at my lfs look healthy now, but them not being in the proper ph that nature intended makes it harder for them to live basicly? and that pretty much the bigger the change no matter how they are adjusted to the water the more energy they have to use to keep their bodies in balance with the ph. which in turn makes them sustiple to more illness and definately not spawning (i dont intend to breed them). You also reccomended to choose fish that are more in that ph range rather than trying to force the fish to adapt, as its better on the fish which in return reduces stress which then reduces illness which means ur fish will live longer.
Sorry for putting a diffrent question in someone elses thread, I just went over what you said byron to make sure i got it understood correctly please tell me if this makes any sense. Money
On the second point, I agree with 1077 that it is wiser to select fish that will be more "at home" in the water you can easily provide, as opposed to selecting fish that basically require you to significantly adjust your water to satisfy their requirements. But I also feel this is possible, if done correctly; RO or peat filtration will work well to soften water and lower the pH. And I hold that some fish, namely recognized sensitive species with extreme water parameters in nature, should not be forced to exist in water that is significantly different. I take this position because the scientific evidence proves at least to me that this does affect the fish's metabolism, and while it is not agreed as to the effect this has on the fish I take the common sense approach that it is probably going to be on the detrimental side rather than the positive. It just makes more sense that any animal will be better off in an environment that is more atune to that for which is has evolved over millions of years. As an example, monkeys used to be kept in cages in zoos; then people said this was detrimental to the wellbeing of the monkeys. They "existed" in these conditions, but most felt they were not "living" healthy lives. I can't prove one way or the other, but it makes sense, so I prefer to lean on that side.
From fish, my example of the cardinal tetra is a fact. Most aquarists don't have them live for long in aquaria; but given the correct water parameters, they can live healthy lives for more than 10 years. If someone can prove to me that they will live just as long and be as healthy in hard alkaline water, I would reconsider my opinion.
Hope this clarifies better, and thanks Money.
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