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TigerLily 10-10-2009 12:00 AM

Questions about fish and ph
 
I made a post a while back getting some feedback on some kinds of fish that I'm considering for my 29 gallon tank, those being small gouramis and their possible tank mates. I haven't gotten the fish yet, mostly because I just haven't had the time or money to spare. Putting this off may have been a good thing though, as my water tests are making me concerned about my choice.

I had been hoping to keep a few(3-4) of either dwarf or honey gourami and some black skirt tetras(I'm thinking about 5), and the information I found while looking them up said that they do best with a ph between 6.0 and 8.0. My water tests have been putting my ph at 8.4, and because of that I'm wondering if I should be considering entirely different fish.

I have heard that a stable ph is better than a fluctuating ph, but surely there are limits. I have also heard that driftwood can help lower ph. I currently do not have any, but I'm willing to order some if need be (our stores here don't really carry much). Would the small gouramis and black skirt tetras be able to adapt to such a high ph? Or should I be looking at other breeds all together?

Other information:
Tank: 29 gal freshwater
Filter: Aquaclear 30
Live plants
Ammonia: 0
ph:8.4

MoneyMitch 10-10-2009 12:14 AM

ok i know a little about fish and ph. Yes fish do need a ph that is around there natrual value BUT...... as long as you acclimate them VERY veryyyyyy slowly there wont be ap problem. However the reason fish require a ph that is the same as it is in nature because over millions of years that is what the species has evolved to live in. The reason ph is so important is something to do with the fishi going through (cant remember the name of the process) to maintain their blood ph the same as the water. so if it is something way outside of their norm they "can" survive but in the long run will have problems weak immune systems, stress illness and maybe death. driftwood does lower ph but if your trying to get in the mid 7's you need to steer away from acidic water fish. after your cycle the ph will also (Slightly drop) but in order to lower your ph that much you would basically need to fill the entire tank with driftwood and have to live with the brown water from the tannans since that is what actually lowers the ph. not to mention when you do water changes the freshwater ph would also have to match the tank ph to insure there is no ph fluctuation in the tank. i might sugghest smaller species of african cichlids for a place to start or even some fish that are proven to be hard to kill aka hardy. Money

TigerLily 10-10-2009 10:06 AM

Hmm, thanks for the info. I may have to look at other other fish more closely then. Are there any fish besides cichlids that would do well in this size tank and in higher ph? I had hoped to avoid cichlids because I really wanted to keep live plants, and I have heard that cichlids will dig them up.

TigerLily 10-10-2009 12:15 PM

I'm not sure how helpful this is, but I thought I'd update a little. I went to my local fish store today, just to ask a few questions and maybe get some ideas. I was told that because of the city water, the ph in their tanks is very high as well. The lady working there said that most of the fish they sell are already acclimated to a higher-than-normal ph.

Assuming this is true, how much of a difference should this make in my choices?

Byron 10-10-2009 02:44 PM

MoneyMitch's response was a good summation of the situation. Now your fish store staff are (sort of) saying the opposite. But they are selling fish as a business, and others on this forum can relate horror stories of advice they sometimes get from stores. I do not mean to suggest that they are deliberately misleading you--they may not really know. And some of what they have in this case told you is true, so far as it goes.

Acclimating fish to different water parameters can sometimes be successful and sometimes not. Some fish are just too sensitive and the health problems MM mentioned quickly kill them off; in other threads we read of those who have the common blue ram die within weeks if not days, and the answer is almost always the water parameters being too far removed from what that fish demands. And this in spite of the fact that this fish has for years been commercially raised, not wild caught, which many would assume makes it more tolerant of harder water. Cardinal tetras have a tendancy to develop calcium blockage of the kidney tubes whnen maintained in hard water, and I suspect many other similar-water fish do the same. The fish being dumped in the store's tanks is not acclimation; the fish may have been acclimated (to some degree) at the hatchery where it was raised, but unless that water is relatively close to the store's water in terms of pH and (equally importantly) hardness, the fish has undergone significant stress and this can, often but not always, affect its lifespan. Back momentarily to the cardinal tetra, few aquarists can keep this fish for more than a couple of years; yet in has lived more than 10 years in an aquarium of very soft, acidic water.

There are two ways to go. Stay with fish that will be "happy" in your water, or modify the water by a safe means to accomodate the fish you want. Taking the last first, a RO (reverse osmosis) unit is the easiest and safest way to soften water; a portion of untreated tap water is added to the RO water to create a liveable water for the fish (some mineral is usually needed, unless one is dealing with wild-caught fish from very soft and acidic waters). Peat filtration is another method; it requires a constant supply of peat, and a fiar bit to lower pH as far as you might want to; the peat softens the water by adding tannins to acidify it, but the softening ability is quickly exhausted the harder the water. Bogwood will eventually do the same, but it takes far longer and the change is minimal; most aquarists who have measured the drop in pH note that it is around .2 with a lot of wood in the tank.

As for the suitable fish: livebearers all prefer moderately hard water, and plants are welcomed in their environment. Some of the tetras can adapt to harder water; the Pristella Tetra (Pristella maxillaris) is one that even manages in brackish water (in nature and the aquarium), something that would outright kill most other characins. Some research will undoubtedly turn up several others.

Byron.

TigerLily 10-10-2009 03:18 PM

Thanks for the input! I think now I'll definitely go for a fish that could better tolerate the ph, as I don't feel very confident in my abilities to change the ph safely and then keep that level stable. I'm still relatively new to all of this, so for now I think the simple answer (choosing fish to suit the water instead of changing the water to suit the fish) will be better.

As for the livebearers you mentioned, is there a particular type that I should consider? I'm not very familiar with the different livebearing breeds, and so I would appreciate any suggestions you might be able to make on this.

Byron 10-10-2009 03:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TigerLily (Post 255649)
Thanks for the input! I think now I'll definitely go for a fish that could better tolerate the ph, as I don't feel very confident in my abilities to change the ph safely and then keep that level stable. I'm still relatively new to all of this, so for now I think the simple answer (choosing fish to suit the water instead of changing the water to suit the fish) will be better.

As for the livebearers you mentioned, is there a particular type that I should consider? I'm not very familiar with the different livebearing breeds, and so I would appreciate any suggestions you might be able to make on this.

Livebearers include guppies, mollies, platys, swordtails, mosquito fish, and endlers. Many of these groupings have several varieties each, esp the platys, swordtails and mollies. The only issue (for some aquarists) with livebearers is their rapid breeding. Put a male and female in a tank (and sometimes cross-species too, like platys/swordtails) and you will have more fry than you can handle. Some get eaten, many will survive (especially with plants as cover) so you have the problem of what to do with them. This is rarely a problem with egg layers because the eggs get eaten before they can hatch, or if a few do hatch, the fry usually require infusoria and there will be insufficient in the aquarium for most of them, and being so small they are quickly eaten anyway. Once impregnated, a female can produce several batches of fry for months even without another male in the tank. There are several livebearer folks on this forum with more experience that I have with this group of fish.

Byron.


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