Ph problems - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 11 Old 03-04-2018, 05:33 PM Thread Starter
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Ph problems

Hi,I am new to the group,thanks for the acceptance.I will try to make this question as clear as I can.I am returning to the hobby after a 5 year layout and made a basic error by trusting a well known UK store who assured me a bag of decorative stones were inert,far from it.I had also installed tetra active substrate in both of my tanks again after assurances it is totally inert.I have removed the stones and have done a partial water change.I am currently cycling both tanks and am aware of the divided opinions on water changes during cycling,my ph has not come down much hence my question.AS Tthe ph rose would the substrate itself change characteristics and as it absorbed water would it increase in ph itself.I taken a small sample and I am testing it on a daily basis after given it a thorough rinse.There has been some change but is still above my tap water which is around 7 or just under.....Will water changes eventually lower the ph,or will I have to remove the substrate .Does anyone have any experience of tetra active substrate.I have the ordinary tetra substrate and it’s ph is around 6,4 I am slowly adding it to the tank.Will this eventually help in lowering the ph.Sorry if the posting seems a bit disjointed and long winded.I suppose in essence my question is if you remove an offending item,how long will it take for the ph to return to normal,or can it only be achieved by water changes.Thank you
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post #2 of 11 Old 03-04-2018, 09:47 PM
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I like your question! When I was questioning PH I did a web search for information about PH.

What is your method for testing?

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post #3 of 11 Old 03-05-2018, 06:22 AM
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Ph problems

Why are you wanting to mess with the pH? I wouldn’t even begin thinking about changing it until it gets to 6 or 8. Stability is far more important than having it “perfect”. Water changes will move the chemistry of the tank towards whatever your source waters chemistry is. The pH will fluctuate through the cycling process though, so don’t drive yourself crazy.


There really aren’t divided opinions on water changes through the cycling process. If you are doing a fishless cycle than you just have one water change to do, once the ammonia drops and the nitrite rises. If you’re doing fish in, then you need to change enough water to prevent the fish from dying.

125 - BGK, chanchito cichlid, pictus cats, silver dollars, palmas bichir
125 - cichlids (severums, bolivian rams, chocolate), rainbows ( turquoise, red), loaches (angelicus, zebra, kuhli and horseface), plecos (BN, RL and clown), denison barbs, tiretrack eel, pearl gouramis, betta
90 - Congo tetras, african knife, upside down cats, spotted ctenopoma, kribensis, delhezzi bichir
2.5 - betta

Last edited by jaysee; 03-05-2018 at 06:28 AM.
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post #4 of 11 Old 03-05-2018, 10:09 AM Thread Starter
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Hi,thanks for your comment,I am using prime with fish in,done it a few times with no problems,I am also aware that stability is probably more important than fluctuations in ph but my question really is about wether or not the substrate will change in characteristic if it is kept in a higher ph water, because if it gradually lets nutrients into the water,surely it must also absorb water.I am not messing about with the ph,my tap water is around 7 which I would not be to unhappy with as I intend to stock discus but some of the wild caught are from a source of 6.4 and have been advised by two local fish stores that 7.6 is not really suitable.I am picking up a brand new pack of active Substrate tomorrow and will be able to get a definitive reading of the impact of the substrate on water
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post #5 of 11 Old 03-05-2018, 10:10 AM Thread Starter
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API test kits
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post #6 of 11 Old 03-05-2018, 11:15 AM
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Ph problems

The only substrate that will change the tanks pH are calcium based, like crushed coral and the like. They raise the pH which is why it’s a favorite for African cichlid keepers. Silica sands, which are your play, pool filter and standard aquarium sands, are inert and do not change it one way or another.

I do not know how soils interact with the water, but if you want to lower your waters pH naturally you can use peat moss in the filter, as well as add driftwood.

125 - BGK, chanchito cichlid, pictus cats, silver dollars, palmas bichir
125 - cichlids (severums, bolivian rams, chocolate), rainbows ( turquoise, red), loaches (angelicus, zebra, kuhli and horseface), plecos (BN, RL and clown), denison barbs, tiretrack eel, pearl gouramis, betta
90 - Congo tetras, african knife, upside down cats, spotted ctenopoma, kribensis, delhezzi bichir
2.5 - betta
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post #7 of 11 Old 03-05-2018, 04:48 PM Thread Starter
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Hi again,thanks for the reply,what is puzzling me is that I am making daily tests with a little bit of the substrate removed from the tank and kept in a glass jar.i am rinsing the substrate on a daily basis which I suppose equates to large water changes in a tank.The substrate is like small brown pellets which release fertiliser over a period if time.The samples are still reading above my tap water.In the tanks I also have some large bocgwood and tetra complete substrate which as I explained previously actually takes my tap water to around 6.4 but as yet has had no impact on the tank with ph of around 7.4 .I find it a bit annoying but hopefully I can pick up a brand new pack of active substrate tomorrow and do a test to see exactly what the ph is
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post #8 of 11 Old 03-05-2018, 05:04 PM
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high pH is a sign of low co2.


my tanks had a ph of 8.2+ even with peat moss in the substrate.


plants will raise ph.


Again by lowering co2.


I'm not aware of any fish that suffers due to low co2 and higher oxygen.


the last thing I would do is add chemicals just to lower pH.


my .02

maintain Fw and marine system with a strong emphasis on balanced, stabilized system that as much as possible are self substaning.

have maintained FW systems for up to 9 years with descendants from original fish and marine aquariums for up to 8 years.

With no water changes, untreated tap water, inexpensive lighting by first starting the tank with live plants (FW) or macro algae( marine)

see: https://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/a...-build-295530/
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post #9 of 11 Old 03-05-2018, 06:43 PM
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I agree, last thing I would do is add chemicals to change anything. To be completely honest, that involves active substrates. I’m sure this is boring advice, but I would look to keep fish that are happy with whatever your source water is and not mess with the chemistry. Things like calcium substrates and driftwood have an impact on the water, but if you’re changing the water regularly it’s not going to do a whole lot for you.

125 - BGK, chanchito cichlid, pictus cats, silver dollars, palmas bichir
125 - cichlids (severums, bolivian rams, chocolate), rainbows ( turquoise, red), loaches (angelicus, zebra, kuhli and horseface), plecos (BN, RL and clown), denison barbs, tiretrack eel, pearl gouramis, betta
90 - Congo tetras, african knife, upside down cats, spotted ctenopoma, kribensis, delhezzi bichir
2.5 - betta
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post #10 of 11 Old 03-06-2018, 09:42 AM Thread Starter
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Update on my problems,I picked up the new bag of substrate and did a test at home,ph very high,went back to the store and the owner did a test in his ro water,went off the scale,he was very embarrassed and angry as I was in the store when he had previously rang the company rep and she got back to him saying that the “company boffins” had assured him that their products are totally inert and have no impact on ph.He has demanded that she comes into his store and view the results of the test.To compound the issue the company also do a fertilised substrate that lies under the active substrate,this stuff actually lowers ph in a test!! Should be an interesting few weeks,I am really a bit annoyed as I have been telling everybody that it was the substrate that raised my ph.I tested everything and have spent hours trying to resolve the problem,despite in my own mind I knew it was their product that was causing the problem.If need be I can be a pretty determined guy and can hold my own in a debate but I just wondered if some one is relying on “Expert” opinion to begin the hobby would have fared in such a situation.Thanks again for the helpful comments
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