I went out an splurged today, got a mini master test kit. No ammonia in either tank (thank you my jungles). But the PH is very low in my 10G. I tested the tap to compare, and it's about 6 straight from the tap.
I'm hoping someone can offer advice on how to deal with my low PH. I have to pick up a Kh/Gh kit, but last time I had that tested the levels were at 0. I have several snails, and I know the lower Ph is detrimental to them. I'd be happy to keep my Ph close to 7 in my 10 gal. Inhabitants in the 10, 2 male bettas (divided) 1 zebra nerite, 1 amano shrimp and several MTS.
Both tanks are heavily planted with silica sand substrate.
And my readings, in case they help
For my 10 Gal
Ph 5.5 NO3(Nitrate) 5 NO2 (Nitrite) 0 NH3 (Ammonia) 0
For my 33Gal
Ph 6.8 NO3(Nitrate) 5 NO2 (Nitrite) 0 NH3 (Ammonia) 0
I posted in the betta forums, but posted here in case anyone here can help. I would prefer more natural methods, I've got crushed coral, but I'm not sure exactly what to do with it.
Purchase a tester kit that can lower or heighten ph levels, thats what i used once
there are many ways to higher the water pH you can try bi carb soda in small amounts, there are gravel called calcium carbonite and there are rocks that can up the pH called calcium carbonite rocks they are white and red, when u touch it this powder feeling substance will come off the rock
Yea ive seen them they are pretty cool, there are also sands that boost ph
As I mentioned, my Kh/Gh readings were 0 last time I had them tested at the pet store, and I have very little to no buffering capacity (I can't remember if it means really hard or really soft water).
Pantyhose or other nylon to put some crushed coral I have in the filter is about the only thing I can think of. I'm wondering if my snails have been nibbling on the crushed coral I put in loose on the sand.
0 GH means you have no hardness at all, let alone soft or hard.
0 KH means you have no buffering capability.
The crushed coral should raise your hardness, have you tested your water since?
First, raising only the pH without raising hardness will not solve your initial issue. It is not the pH but the mineral in the water (or lack of) that is important for invertebrates. But you don't want to go overboard, as the Betta is a soft water fish that will be perfect just where the water is.
I would increase the GH and corresponding pH but not much. There are a couple ways of doing this. I have done a fair bit of experimenting in this area, since I too have near-zero GH and KH in my tap water. My fish, being soft water, are fine, but the plants lack calcium and magnesium.
Using calcareous substances such as dolomite and aragonite is the best natural way to deal with this. It doesn't take much. You can mix these in with the substrate but this can be difficult to ascertain the correct amount and once mixed in they are impossible to remove. Better choice is in a mesh bag in the filter, or hang it next to the filter return. You can buy gravels made from crushed coral and aragonite. This will add the hardness and raise the pH, but a lot. My 115g tank with a pH of 5.5 went up to 7.4 in a couple of days with just half a cup of aragonite in the filter.
Another method, also safe, is using Seachem's Equilibrium to raise the GH. The advantage of this is there is no effect on pH. It only adds pure calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese and iron. One tablespoon in 20g will raise GH by 3 dGH when you start from near-zero. As I said, pH is not affected.
You can read more on the relationship between all this here:
I'm not sure what the levels are straight out of the tap. But in either tank it is reading 0.
My concern about adding things like crushed coral is that it will raise the ph, but it's not a permanent solution. I had it tested at the pet store, and it was a reading of 5.5
I added about 3 tsp of crushed coral into the 10 gal (just sprinkled it over the sand). A few days later had the water tested and it was about 6.5
Here it is a week and a half later and I tested the ph last night, back down to 5.5
It wouldn't surprise me if the readings were off straight from the tap. We have city water, but this is an old house (built about 1920).
I'll try the crushed coral, adding just a small bit into the filter tank, assuming I can ever get my hands on some nylons. I'll also look into the equilibrium. We have petsmart and they carry many seachem products.
I don't expect to get it a ph of 7.6 and keep it there, I'd be satisfied if it would stay near 7, just enough that it won't damage my snails shells any more than it probably already is. Does the equilibrium contain phosphates? I'm wondering about an algae bloom.
I'm not understanding the test pH going from 5.5 to 6.5 back to 5.5, this has not been my experience. I used dolomite for this years ago, and it was steady for more than 12 years before the dolomite (and it was about 3 tablespoons) gave out. And this was in a 115g tank full of fish and plants with pH 5 water doing 50% water changes weekly. My recent experiences with aragonite (I'm using CarribSea's crushed coral with aragonite gravel) are similar, about 2-3 tablespoons have kept the pH around 6.6 for the past 3 months. Something else may be affecting the water or the tests. Get yourself an API liquid pH test kit so you can do the tests yourself, it is much easier.
As for the tap water hardness, this will not alter significantly in the aquarium unless it is being targeted directly. Tap water of say 5 dGH will be that in the aquarium. Calcareous substances in the tank will raise this, and similarly organic substances will lower it somewhat. But aside from this, it stays. Finding out the tap water GH and KH (Alkalinity) fro the water supply people would be worth it. They may have a website.
I use crushed limestone- available from gardening stores. It doesn't raise the ph above 7.5 or so, so there's much less risk of overdose.
I add a tbsp at a time to the substrate. Give it an hour or two, measure, and repeat. Limestone isn't particularly soluble either, so it lasts a long time.
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