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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys, I need some help.

I've had my tank set up/fully cycled for about 4 months. I have always had stable ph at 7.6 (it's about 8 out of the tap). Yesterday I removed and cleaned 2 pieces of driftwood (in bucket of tank water)
which were starting to be covered in brown algae. I also siphoned the sand which i do once a week.

A few hours after the clean up I noticed my fish seemed to be breathing heavy and I found my ph dropped to about 6.6 - all other parameters looked good (0,0,5). So I changed about 30% water and went to bed.

This morning the fish were looking very stressed, all huddled together and at the surface. I knew it must be the ph and sure enough it dropped to about 6.4. I did water changes over the course of a couple hours and they fish were looking much better - normal infact (pH then was at about 7.2ish).

I've been monitoring the ph today and again its slowly dropping and I don't know why. I assume it has to do with the driftwood cleaning but not sure what i can do about it. There have been no other changes or additions to the tank.

btw the driftwood has been in the tank since initial setup but this was the first time i cleaned it.

For now I am just doing 10% water changes every few hours to keep the ph at around 7.2 to 7.6. Any other ideas what I can do?

my setup:
Tank - 55 gallon
filter - eheim 2217
Fish - 15 neon tetra, 12 lemon tetra, 3 bolivian ram
substrate - sand, river rocks
driftwood (malaysian), no live plants- fake
ph - now about 7
ammonia 0
nitrite 0
nitrate 0 (very low due to all my water changes today, normally 20-30)
kh 3
gh 5

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
First, remove the driftwood to see if it is, in fact, the culprit.

What did you use to clean it with?

With your KH being on the low side the pH can be lowered easier even if unintentionally.

thanks Jeff, I'll be removing the driftwood tonight. I was careful to clean it in tank water during a water change - all i did was brush them off using a filter brush that I only use for the aquarium, so no soap or cleaners of any kind.

They were probably 40% covered in brown and green algae.

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·

Additionally you killed off all the algae in the drift wood which in and of itself could cause the low pH.

and possible ammonia.

Test ammonia also.

And most importantly did you use latex type gloves with any kind of oil or chemicals on them? Did you change the filter media? Did you accidently have any toxin in the tub? Was the dog (with a flea collar) jumping around the tub as you rinsed? This can happen after introducing toxins in the tank not to mention from the water change itself.

You may need to do a water change which I never recommend except in the rare unique cases where accidental toxins may have been introduced. If you have another tank I would transfer the fish there until this settles down.

my .02

thanks for the .02!

I have a couple buckets I use only for water changes, and I try to be careful about not introducing chemicals in/near the tank. I cleaned the driftwood with tank water only but I'm sure i cleaned off a good bit of algae (brown and green were growing on the wood).

All other parameters are great, no ammonia, nitrite, low nitrates etc. Fish are doing great now but from what I've researched these pH swings are not good for them - and they really looked freaked out this morning!

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
A bunch of crypts would go nicely and some real amazon swords.
Man I would really like to get some live plants in the tank. I was actually researching last week what I could get but I assumed my lighting was not sufficient. Also the more I researched the more "complicated" it seemed (special substrate, co2 injection, fertilizer, etc.).

I'll look into these for sure - thanks.
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