is regular old arm and hammer baking soda alright to use for raising my ph?
im pretty sure its safe to do but... we all know about ph and how it effects the fish. i would just use a small amount over a long period of time to alter the ph. but then again this depends how much you are trying to change it.
Also bare in mind it will change your hardness!
How much do you want to raise from what you have and most importantly: What fish do you have in the tank (are you talking about your 10g or 20g stocking list in your sig?)
in order to change ph you have to alter hardness the amount you need to use depends on your buffering cap ie the higher gh/kh the more you will need to add before the ph will budge.
As Mitch said, the hardness of your water will impact on pH changes; you can cause fluctuating pH which is very bad on fish. What is the pH now, and why do you think you need to raise it? This fish in your lists do better at a lower pH, depending upon what it is now of course.
My tap is really acidic...about 6.1. I was reading somewhere, albeit quickly, that DPs prefer a little higher PH. Instead of buying the expensive PH regulator, I just wanted to use arm and hammer, which is wayyyyyy cheaper in the long run. Really does suck having acidic tap water. I don't get it either. Our water is from a well, from the mountain run off...its strange. But you'll all should see why I wanna raise it a little, 6.1 is pretty low.
If it is for DP or other fish which reuqired such hard and high alkaline water, why not just chaged the sbstrate which will all this for free. This is with an assumption that this tank will not house other common tropical whose ideal consitionsare not hard and alkaline.
I think your pH is great. But then, I like soft acidic water fish, and have three large aquaria full of them. My tanks run at pH 6.0 with <1 dGH.
First, you should not mix fish with differing water parameter preferences. A successful community aquarium must contain fish with similar if not identical requirements respecting water parameters (hardness, pH, temperature, salinity). Given your water, decide on fish that will prefer it.
If you do want basic (alkaline) water fish, the safe method is using dolomite, crushed coral, marble chips in the substrate or (preferably) in the filter. I can go into this later.
Fish will be healthier at a stable pH and hardness, even if it is not quite "preferred" rather than a fluctuating one that will almost certainly cause stress and weaken their systems and possibly kill them long-term.
So you think I'm better of just leaving my DPs where they are at?
I am not familiar with the several species of puffer fish, and just searching a bit now I came across quite a few with differing needs. I suggest you research the species you have, find out their preferred water parameters, and then work to establish those in your aquarium. I would assume you have your puffers in their own tank, which is what you list under your signature, so that is good. A 10g is easy to adjust if that is necessary.
Some of the species I found online do well in soft, slightly basic (alkaline) water, and some species are better suited to brackish water, which would obviously be a bit harder. Your water is probably soft, so raising the pH with dolomite, crushed coral or marble chips will be straightforward. Adding any of these rock substances (in gravel or crushed form) either mixed in the substrate or in the filter will work. Do it slowly; it does not take much to raise the ph and sudden fluctuations are stressful. Going from 6.2 to 7.2 for example should be done over a couple of weeks, no more than .2 of a change every couple of days. Gradually raise the pH to what is recommended for your species of puffer, and they will be more comfortable and healthier.
Once you track down the requirements for the species you have, I would be happy to offer any further suggestions or specifics.
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