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Discussion Starter #1
I was wondering if it would be possible to use decaffeinated coffee grounds to lower the pH in an aquarium? I've looked all over and can not find any information on the subject. I did find one article talking about the impact of caffine in rivers and lakes and it concluded that caffine spikes harmful bacteria creating excess nitrate so I would want to use decaf. I'm ok with any discoluration like tannins but is there anything wrong with using coffee in a similar way as peat??
 

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why would u use coffee? i doubt there will be any difference from decaffeinated or caffeinated.. because caffein is a hormone, its just another nutrient that would be broken down. sure decaffeinated would not pose this problem. yet you can't know a 100% if there not any additives to the coffee to make it better tasting or decaffeinated. it could be used but for what purpose? to make water look murky? you can achieve the same with backwater extract or peat. coffee wouldn't contribute anything to the ecosystem and its another liability for the system since there are no articles and there are many brands of coffee all with different blends/additive that would prove to be harmful to fish.
my opinion is i wouldn't take the risk and throw off the delicate balance of water chemistry in the tank with an unknown substance that you don't know the effect on fish or its effect chemically towards other chemicals in the tank (would it react with ammonia, kill beneficial bacteria, add a buildup of unnecessary nutrients and harmful metals or left over chemicals from processing? )
i personally wouldn't use it. use peat. proven through ages by aquarists including me. plus fish respond to things they know from their natural environment. unless you have found a coffee river in amazon (example) were fish respond to coffee in the water, there will not be any benefit to this. Add peat, something fish DO know in their natural environment and are programmed genetically to respond, breed and thrive in.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I was hoping to use this coffee because it would be a simple way to recycle my grounds without having to go out of my way to buy peat or blackwater extract.
 

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well you could compost the ground if you want to make a good dead to earth. i know peat is kinda expensive at times, yet there are recipes to make it yourself using leaves and good quality earth. be sure it doesn't have any trace elements, heavy metals or additives including fertilizers since it CAN kill your aquarium (nitrate is used as a fertilizer as well as ammonia) its the best way, or you could also gather rainwater, mix it with tap water and lower pH slowly that way. you could also add wood and allow the tennis to leach, but beware, tannis is a weak acid, yet wood has toons of it which could crash the pH. i would try on of this at a time, then mix em when you have an idea and are a bit more used to pH. but remember rainwater has No buffer an tap water depends were u live. so if u have a low buffer and wood with a lot of tennis your pH will crash DRAMATICALLY (personal experience from many years).

there are many other options to peat. tennis will also add that color ur looking for. rainwater won't. but please, don't add anything that doesn't naturally belong in an aquarium to the aquarium. unless you have vast knowledge on chemistry and have all the facts, you can never be too sure, and the risks vs benefits in this situation lean more to a risk with fewer benefits than wood or rainwater. evaluate your other options and research..

remember we are trying to re create the fish environment, if you subject fish into other environments, even if it can live, ill be in great stress and it will be detrimental on the long run.
 

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Peats cheap, agreed with the above its not something anyone has really tried and probably a good reason its not safe. And also the article is probably referring to caffeine in extremely trace amounts even with decaffeinated coffee you will still have way more more caffeine in your water than is even close to the amount they measure in these bodies of water since decaffeinated is not completely caffeine free Decaffeination - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 

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plus caffein has been found it can absorb trace elements and heavy metals. what if it absorbed water through decaffeination or when you brewed it. and when adding it in water it leaches all those contaminants back into the system? you can kill any invertebrates and eventually fish.

even if its completely safe, will fish react positively? they will probably be in stress all the time, which will lead to disease and eventually death or a plain unhappy life. thats isn't the goal of fish keeping..
 

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I'm currently trying to find the page I found regarding the enviornmental impact but I did cross reference the tests with measured levels of caffine in average decafinated coffee and the amount of caffine would be so small in comparison. If I can find the test i'll post it but the basics of the tests where where several fish were placed in designated aquariums with measured levels of caffine for about two weeks. No fish died but the levels of caffine skyrocketed unwanted bacterial growth. I also researched that caffine is released at higher temperatures so if I were to use "used" organic decaffeinated grounds the majority of caffine would be gone by that point. I want to use the coffee grounds because it would be an easy way to reuse them. I was just wondering if anyone has tried this route in their aquarium or knew of any truly harmful aspects to the coffee idea.
 

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Lol well the the amount of caffeine in the water would be so minute if I used the coffee described above (organic decaff and used) that hopefully it wouldn't even affect them. Of course if it did I would immediately do some water changes and disregard the whole thing lol
 

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Well looking forward if you do decide to go forward with it to hear your results, read that paper and yea they used enormous amounts of caffeine in their experiments. Basicly their paper said if you give this bacteria food (caffeine), it will multiple and produce waste (ammonia) no big scientific jump there but my guess is the biological fiter in your tank would be able to keep up with the ammonia being produced with out much of a problem as long as you didn't start dosing your tank with pure caffeine ;-)
 

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I also didn't see anything in that report stating that they had a fully cycled aquarium and that too could have affected the ammonia levels. I'm thinking if no one has any evidence stating that coffee has any toxic effects towards fish then i'll start VERY slow and just keep an eye on things to see how it goes. Wish me luck :D
 

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Caffeine is not the only chemical in coffee. There are over a thousand chemicals in roasted coffee. Have you accounted for all of these, and their effects on fish? Have you considered insecticide residue? Some of the chemicals have even been found to be carcinogenic in rats. Please don't make your fish into test subjects just for the sake of recycling some grounds!
In addition, its much better for the environment to care for your fish in the first place. Think of all the resources used to breed fish, raise fish, transport them to the store, and then care for them until they are purchased. Its much more green to keep them healthy!
There are many fabulous ways to recycle grounds. They make great fertilizer as is, or you can soak them in water for liquid fertilizer (for terrestrial plants). Phosphorus is gold, you shouldn't waste it. Grounds also keep ants away and take oders from your hands. These are just a few uses, a quick google search will turn up more!
 

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I actually use non roasted organic coffee from one of my local shops and I do recycle my leftover coffee as is and compost. But I have more than enough to go around. I'm not asking your personal opinon on the subject i'm asking if anyone has any information pertaining to the tocicity of coffee to fish.
 

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I don't believe you're going to find any complete information on that. That is my conclusion based on fact. It is fact that there are over 1,000 chemicals in coffee. It is fact that very few chemicals in coffee have been tested at all, much less on fish. It is fact that, of the 26 that have been tested, 19 are rodent carcinogens. Yes, rodents aren't people and rodents aren't fish. But obviously there are many variables here. Even if you find evidence that caffeiene is not harmful to fish, there are many more chemicals that are unknown. Why would you do this to fish?

I honestly don't mean to offend you. It is also not my goal to appease you. It is my goal to look out for animals.
 

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Hey, TwilightGuy, ya made me smile! But chemicals can refer to natural compounds, like how there is a cyanide compound in apple seeds. But synthetic chemicals, those are a beast of a different color! A person I used to know went organic and vegan while she was getting her doctorate in chemistry over all the ugly little things she came to understand about synthetic ingredients in food. Yikes! Sometimes I think ignorance is bliss while I'm enjoying my Little Debbie apple pie. :lol:
 

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I've tried it, and it resulted in a bacterial bloom.

(Well, it wasn't organic, and wasn't decaf... but I won't be trying it again.)

The benefit of peat is that it's preserved and won't break down readily... Coffee on the other hand will break down, and probably result in an ammonia spike too.

I'd use the coffee for compost, and oak leaves to add tannins. (I love oak leaves)
 

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You would need a lot of oak leaves to have much of any impact on pH and that will depend a lot on how much buffering capacity your water has. Dead oak leaves do not allow much water movement through them so I'm not sure how well they are going to work in a filter.

What it comes down to is you can get a HUGE amount of peat for very cheap. Home depot sells 3 cubic feet of compressed peat for less then $10. I've bought those bales on more then one occasion and they weigh like 50 pounds. I can't see how any alternative is going to be worth the difficulties and risks.
 
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