ph downward spikes overnight!
Hi! I feel fairly stupid since I'm supposed to know what I'm talking about, but I am completely stumped and no one has been able to help me so here I am.
Here's the deal:
I've worked at a pet store for about 7 years. I'm not in charge of our fish department, but I do know a fair amount. Recently we've had severe pH problems that we've never had in the past, and I can NOT figure out why! I've tested the ph of our water source: it's about 7.6. After it sits in a cup overnight, it is still 7.6. No changes. As soon as we put it in our aquariums, it drops to 6.0 within 24 hours or less. We feed once a day, every other day. We do not have soft water - in fact, it's actually very hard water. Whenever we siphon and do water changes (which is once a week) we have a computer we program to automatically fill the tanks. It used to run through a water softening machine before it entered the tank, but a few months ago the decision was made to get rid of that. Our ph problems began about a week later, and I've been fighting them ever since.
We've tried crushed coral, baking soda, and Neutral Regulator....nothing works. There is no driftwood or live plants in the tanks. Nitrites, Nitrates, and ammonia are usually always at zero. Does ANYONE know why the ph keeps dropping so fast?? And why it's only some tanks, sometimes? And different tanks at different times? I've always heard and read that hard water keeps ph high, and soft water usually makes it go acidic or fluctuate easily. Of course, I have the opposite problem. Would the decision to get rid of our water softening machine be the cause of all these problems??
Oh yeah, I feel the need to add that the water softening unit we were using was a Culligan machine. Do you know exactly what that would be filtering out? Here is some information I got off their website, but aren't there different types of Culligan machines??
"Through an ion exchange process, softeners remove harsh calcium, magnesium, iron and manganese ions from your water supply."
Would any of those things cause the ph to drop because they are now a part of our water source where they weren't before?
So you have a tap of 7.6 all your tanks are 6 even after w/c and you're not adding NOTHING but water conditioner?
You say it only affects some tanks over other - There's differences in these set ups then, the smallest thing can matter so think & look very hard what this difference is, gravel, plants, plant foods, fish food, stock of fish.....go over it in deatils see what's setting these tanks apart.
Generally (I had 7.6 at our previous house) it will drop some in cycled tanks yes, but not by 1.6 degrees.
Do you have peat of any kind in some tanks?
What was the pH when you used the softener machine in your house IN the tanks to now drop to 6?
Do you know what your Kh is?
Don't know enough about water softening systems to speculate about whether or not removing the system could set you up for a pH drop.
Maybe just too much nitrogen running around in there? What do your nitrates read just before you do your weekly WC? Nitrates can form nitric acid. The nitrification process itself will also eat up buffering capacity and will eventually acidify the water (as well as giving off CO2 from respiration). Have you checked your source water for ammonia/ammonium/nitrites/nitrates? If that's OK, then maybe try changing water more frequently for awhile and see if bringing in more buffer and flushing nitrogen helps restore the balance? If you can add live plants, that might help. Increasing aeration might as well.
The only things we've added are crushed coral, Neutral Regulator or baking soda....all in an attempt to get the ph to stay at least at 7.0. If we have an outbreak of ich we'll add nox-ich. All the tanks have the same gravel, and barely any plants, and they are all fake. The owner likes everything to look uniform. The tanks that seem to have a higher ph most of the time are the tetra tanks, but the ph is still reading about 6.8, and it drops overnight occasionally, too. Those tanks are usually the ones stocked with the most fish. Does that make a difference?
No peat of any kind in any tanks. Before we took the water softener machine out, the ph was staying about 7.6 - same as the tap. We NEVER had to add any buffers.
There's no "chart" for a API KH test. You count the drops from when it turns from blue-yellow/orange...How many drops are these in that case?
If you are dealing with low/no hardness that'd be the reason for it bouncing right there.
Our next step was actually going to be trying to increase aeration somehow. But the tanks that have air stones in them already aren't doing any better than the ones without, so we didn't think that was the problem, but you never know. I'm stuck!
I tried using the API drops, but I guess I was doing it wrong because it took so many drops to turn it orange that I stopped trying. When I get back to work I'll try again and see if I can get an exact result.
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