Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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-   -   question about ph (http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/beginner-freshwater-aquarium/question-about-ph-47325/)

dazeek 07-17-2010 06:09 AM

question about ph
 
Hello. I have a 150 gallon freshwater aquarium with the following healthy fish: 5 serpae tetras, 2 tiger barbs, 3 phantom tetras, 4 dwarf gouramis, 4 australian rainbow fish,2 turquoise rainbows, 2 bosmoni rainbows, 2 small plecos, two chinese algae eaters, 7 platys,2 rummy nose tetras and two little black & white striped cat fish that I cant remember their name. Everyone in the tank gets along well.

The tank has a gravel bottom and atrificial decor. (i'm still fairly new to the hobby and haven't ventured into live plants yet)

My question is, my ph is consistently around 8.0 for the past three weeks. My tap water tests with a ph of 7.6 using the api test kit. Is there a way to gradually lower the ph so that it's in a safer parameter for my fish? (I have read that live plants would help with this but I would prefer to not add them at this time.)

kitten_penang 07-17-2010 09:13 AM

you could do a water change or you could get a ph blocker from the lfs.i've used them before and they work ^.^

dazeek 07-17-2010 09:36 AM

I plan on doing a water change again today but I just did one last sunday (50%) and the ph didnt change much. What is lfs?

Byron 07-17-2010 12:40 PM

The pH is what it is due to one or more factors which we must ascertain before you will have any luck adjusting it. Attempts will likely fail (as I'll hopefully explain below) and the fluctuating pH resulting is worse for all fish that a relatively stable pH outside their preferred range.

pH is tied to the water hardness, specifically the carbonate hardness (measured as KH), but general hardness (the GH) is also relevant. Do you know the hardness of your source water (the tap water)? We need to know this. If you don't have a test kit for hardness, contact your water supply people, they will either tell you or they may have a website with this info. If possible, get the numbers of the GH and KH.

The hardness acts as a "buffer" for the pH to keep it stable. The higher the KH, the more buffering capacity. When you attempt to adjust the pH with chemicals or whatever, this buffering brings it back, and it will continue to fluctuate. At some point the buffering capacity may be reached and the pH can then suddenly "crash" to very low levels, and likely kill most if not all the fish.

Second, if the tank pH is consistently rising above the tap water pH, it is most likely due to something in the tank. Calcareous rock and gravel will slowly release calcium (an possibly magnesium) into the water and this raises both the hardness and the pH correspondingly. So, do you have any rock in the tank, and if yes, do you know what type it is? And what type of gravel do you have?

When you've provided the above info, we can proceed with solutions. Do not, please, use any of the pH adjusters. They likely will not work. When we know the above info we may or may not be able to go that route safely.

Byron.

dazeek 07-17-2010 02:32 PM

Thanks Byron. I'll have to wait til monday to get the info from my water company unless i can find a test kit at the aquarium store over the weekend.

We dont have any rocks in the tank other than fake rock looking decorations that were bought at the aquarium store. The gravel we have is just regular pet store aquarium gravel. I dont know the brand but I do know that it was for freshwater aquariums.....i'm not thinking that helps you? We also do not have any driftwood in the tank (in case that would change things at all)

Byron 07-17-2010 04:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dazeek (Post 425501)
Thanks Byron. I'll have to wait til monday to get the info from my water company unless i can find a test kit at the aquarium store over the weekend.

We dont have any rocks in the tank other than fake rock looking decorations that were bought at the aquarium store. The gravel we have is just regular pet store aquarium gravel. I dont know the brand but I do know that it was for freshwater aquariums.....i'm not thinking that helps you? We also do not have any driftwood in the tank (in case that would change things at all)

On the gravel, some contains calcareous rock and is suited for marine tanks (e.g., crush coral) or rift lake cichlids or perhaps livebearers. If it was in a bag, it should say somewhere. If it is "regular" quartz gravel, it will be inert (no effect on water chemistry).

With that out of the way, the pH should not climb higher than the source water. However, one small point here, when you tested the tap water pH, did you let the water sit for 24 hours? This allows the CO2 to dissipate from the water and the reading will likely be higher, depending upon the amount of dissolved CO2 in the water. My tap water goes up maybe .1 or .2 at most, but in some places it can be much more. If you didn't do so before, run a glass of water and let it sit overnight, then test the pH and see what it is. The tank should remain at or below whatever that pH is, assuming there is nothing calcareous in the aquarium.

Over time the pH will tend to lower, as the water acidifies. Knowing the hardness of the source water will tell us what to expect; the softer the water the quicker and more it will acidify through natural biological processes. We can discuss this after you have the hardness numbers. I wouldn't wast money for a hardness kit, you really only need it once for the source water, unless you intend to be adjusting the tank for a specific reason.

Real wood will tend to assist in the acidifying, as would peat. But again, this will be countered by the buffering determined by the KH/GH.

Byron.

dazeek 07-18-2010 06:03 PM

wow - well i think I found the culprit to my high ph...I had no idea you had to let the water sit for 24 hours so i'd just been testing it straight from the tap. The ph reading after letting the water sit for 24 hours was 8.1. (thanks byron for the insight!!)

Any suggestions?

dazeek 07-18-2010 06:27 PM

oh i forgot, I also found out that our gravel is definately inert so therefore it shouldn't be having an effect on the water parameters

Byron 07-18-2010 07:04 PM

Good, one problem solved; now you know that so far everything is normal. After you have the hardness numbers from the water people we can consider options to lower your pH if that is the way you want to go (will depend upon the type of fish you want long-term). As I said previously, attempts to lower pH are usually countered by the hardness buffering capacity, so that's next.

dazeek 07-18-2010 07:19 PM

I'm going to call the water company tomorrow. As I said, my current fish dont seem to be being affected by the ph i just worry about adding new fish and if they will be able to adjust. Ultimately, I'd love to have a freshwater sting ray but everything I have read says that they are hard to keep and that they basically need a ph right around 7.0


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