PH is too low
I'm new to these forums and I've been keeping fish for over 10 years and I haven't had as much difficulty as I am having with a 5 gallon tank that I've had set up for a month now.
My water out of the tap is 7.8 for ph, 2 GH, 2 KH. When I add this water into my tank, the water is at 7.8 for about 12 hours, then down to 6.8 by the next 12 hours, to barely 6.0 by the second day. Tank's current ph: 6.0, barely, test reads yellow but it's not as vivid as the chart, 2 for GH, 2 for KH. I am believing that the GH/KH are the culprit. I typically don't like adding in special powders, rocks, etc as I've read it can cause a horrible yo-yo effect of ph crash, which won't be good for the tank's inhabitants.
Currently in the tank are 4 phoenix rasboras. I am also wanting to add shrimp to the tank, but with the ph being barely 6, it's not high to sustain them. I am at a loss of what to do to get this PH up and keep it up. I'm wanting to keep the PH between 6.5-7.0 and not have to worry about it dropping and thus causing deaths.
There is no driftwood in the tank. Gravel is flourite red on the bottom with regular black aquarium plastic gravel on top. Tank is planted, but plants are not doing well, I suspect PH is affecting them too.
Any advise would be greatly appreciated.
What is the pH of a cup of water that sits on the counter for 24 hours? If it drops just like the tank water then it probably is the water. If not then something in your tank is affecting the pH.
Flourite has high CEC and that type of substance does grab stuff out of the water for a while. Maybe that is what is going on?
I too have a similar problem, with water out of the tap here being soft, having very low mineral content, and therefore abnormally low GH & KH --- which I feel is the cause of my pH gradually reducing to 6.0 or less over time in the tank.
This can have the effect of reducing the activity (dormancy) and effectiveness of your beneficial bacteria colony over time, to the point where it could fail to deal properly with ammonia & nitrites, even though most ammonia will be rendered less toxic (ammonium) at low pH levels of 6.0 or less. This can still be dangerous.
Our water here needs buffering for aquatic reasons, and I occasionally use Seachem Equilibrium for the GH, and have used a little Seachem Alkaline buffer to bring up the KH, and the pH, which seems to work quite well.
I do prefer not to use any chemicals as a rule, although I believe these 2 products are of good quality, usage-safe, and effective.
If you want to avoid chemicals, you could try using bi-carb of soda in your tank, but that's simply a very temporary measure - the pH will reduce again in just a short while.
Others hang a bag of crushed coral in their tank, which seems to be effective over a longer term.
Hope this helps.
I currently have a cup of water sitting out with an airstone in it. When I originally left a cup sitting out I thought it just had to sit, not with an airstone in it, so just sitting out the ph remained the same.
I will run the KH/GH and PH test tomorrow and see what it is at.
My wistera is almost yellow. Should I yank it from the tank or see if it can be saved? I know decaying plants won't help the ph level either...
Add baking soda or other source of carbonate or bicarbonate to raise the carbonate. Potassium bicarbonate is another good item for this.
Carbonate is the most common buffer of pH in aquariums, and is the one to use when you want to raise the pH.
Nitrifying bacteria will use the carbon from carbonates.
Some plants can use carbonates as a source of carbon, but they usually do not do this unless the CO2 is getting really low.
Many organic processes like decomposition can create an acidic response.
Wisteria is a tough plant. Get the pH under control and see if it makes a come-back.
Tap water left out to test the pH does not need to be aerated, that just makes the process happen faster. So keep the bubbler going and you might be able to test in just a few hours, though a 24 hour test is better.
I did a quick test on the water since it's been sitting out for a good amount of time with the bubbler. Not good, PH is in the mid 6's. All those colors look awfully close in color, I'd say it's closer to 6.4 or 6.2, it just wasn't yellow that 6.0 is on the test. It was a funky shade of green.
So I tested KH and GH, both still holding steady at 2. So it is seeming to be the water.
So it does look like I need bad help with this water. If I were to go with one of those seachem additives, are they super stable and don't run out until you change water? I used baking soda when I was doing the fishless cycle on the tank and found it'd maybe last a week at most and would hard crash almost over night when it wore out. I don't want to run any sort of risk of any buffers just stalling and cutting out to cause a crash. And I do understand if I do water changes I'd have to replenish the amount back in.
Which should I look for? I'd like 6.5 or 7 on the dot. Being my tank is 6.0 right now how much of it should I put in at once? My tank is 5 gallon.
You're quite right about the baking soda. It's simply a band-aid and will only raise pH for a very short period of time, and needs continual replacement.
I'd suggest you ask your LFS for a handful of crushed coral - then bag that and hang it it your tank - it should raise your pH to a desired level fairly quickly & maintain for a considerable period of time, even with wcs.
A small 5 gal tank like yours can indeed be a risky environment for using chemicals to either lower or increase pH.
Having said that, Seachem's Alkaline Buffer is a particularly safe product to use.
I have used it in my 75 gal discus tank to maintain pH around the 6.8 mark, and it does the job very well.
All your tank would need is no more than 1/4 to 1/3 of a level tspn to bring your pH up to 7.0 and keep it steady there.
How much do you add at the time? Being that there are 4 Phoenix Rasboras in there I know it would stress them to have it go from 6 to 7 in an instant.
Do you add the alkaline buffer with each water change, or if not how often do you need to add it?
It won't go from 6 to 7 in an instant - it will take several hours to raise it that much - perhaps even overnite. I have used it quite safely.
However, if you want to be super extra careful, just add a pinch or so every couple/few hours, until you've added no more than 1/3 of a tspn in total, and then leave it at that.
(I think that's overkill, but it may give you peace of mind).
Keep in mind that Seachem makes excellent products, probably the best in the aquatic world, and I'm quite sure their chemists want to do everything possible to maintain the company's good reputation - so I believe the product is safe for your fish.
I've just recently used this buffer in my tank, which raised the pH in my tank from under 6.0 to about 6.8, and which has maintained steady for 3 days now. I'll be doing my usual twice weekly 60 % wc tomorrow - so I'll test then again & see how the pH has held up, or otherwise, and let you know - fair enough ?
Just completed a 50% wc @ 10:30 this a.m. (PST)
pH before wc: 6.8
pH of water straight out of the tap: 7.0
pH of water after wc: 6.8
Doesn't go to show much, given the pH of our water right out of the tap.
However, my pH has remained steady/stable for 4 straight days after adding a less than recommended amount of Seachem Alkaline Buffer to my tank, which was consistently well below 6.0 pH for a long period of time (off the chart - perhaps as little as 5.0 - good for discus, not so good for the bio-filtration).
Anyway, I'm going to continue to monitor frequently, and add an appropriate amount of buffer, if the pH begins dropping either between wcs or after, or over time.
So far, the buffer seems like a good, safe, effective product.
Hope this helps with your situation, GA-KO.
Just looking at the MSDS for the alkaline buffer and sodium bicarbonate I am not sure there is a difference.
Perhaps the short life of baking soda in the tank is because whatever removed the carbonates from the tap water is still working? Certain substrate, nitrifying bacteria and plants can all remove the carbonates no matter if they came in with the water or were dosed afterwards from a jar on the pet store shelf or an orange box in the kitchen. Test kits for aquarium use are not very accurate, so seeing falling levels, then 'suddenly' zero might not really mean much.
Run this test:
Get 3 jars or glasses of tap water.
Add the same dose of baking soda and alkaline buffer to each of 2, the 3rd is plain water, no additives. Measure carefully, by weight if possible.
Test GH, KH, pH and TDS when you first set it up, then daily for several days.
Stir the water once in a while, or else set up the same system them, such as splitting a small air pump between them. Make sure the water movement is the same. Easier, perhaps, just to stir them with a spoon morning and evening.
a) they create the same initial change in the water parameters compared to the plain water.
b) maintain that change the same length of time.
I have used baking soda in several tanks for several reasons and had no problem with it maintaining the KH level.
If SOMETHING was removing the carbonates before I added the baking soda, then that same process continues and removes the carbonates dosed via the orange box from the kitchen.
If NOTHING was removing the carbonates, and I just wanted harder water (for Rift Lake Tanks, or Live Bearers) then that same nothing continues doing NOTHING when the baking soda is in the water, and the water maintains the proper level of KH as long as I have let the tank go. Mostly I was doing weekly water changes, and setting up the new water with baking soda to the parameters I wanted in that tank.
In some of these tanks I also had coral sand, either as substrate, or in the filter. These tanks also stayed stable through the week, but the reaction was too slow for me to add tap water to the tank for a water change. I would add baking soda to the tap water so it would be where the fish were used to it. I was doing large water changes, so that much drop would not have been good for them.
Why is Sodium bicarbonate a 'chemical' (with undesirable overtones) and baking soda is OK?
Thanks for the results. They do look promising.
I'm wondering if it's both the KH and GH that is making the plants unhappy or if perhaps I just don't have enough nitrates in the tank for them? Nitrates are barely measurable. It's not 0, but it's not even 5.
My anubias petite is showing more yellowing leaves. It's never had this problem before. I've had this same tank set up for several years, same anubias plant, and only recently had to recycle it as the last fish died that was in the tank and it sat for a month empty of fish, still had water and filters going.
Should I just worry about the KH or should I also worry about raising the GH too?
For ferts, I don't dose any co2, I have root tabs for the guys that need them, and I have leaf zone and flourish (not excel). Is this enough for them or do I need to look for something else?
Well, for what it's worth, the nitrate levels in my discus tank are pretty much the same as yours, at all times, mainly due to the large, frequent wcs that I do for the discus.
Yet my plants do grow quite well, with root tab ferts in the PFS substrate, and weekly moderate dosings of Excel, Comprehensive Supplement, and occasional dosings of other liquid fert products, same as you basically.
See for yourself:
http://s1105.photobucket.com/albums/...spaul/Sept2011 - and a year later:
As for increasing the GH, I believe I already mentioned that I occasionally add some Seachem Equilibrium, as many aquarists here in Vancouver do, in view of the soft water conditions with very low mineral content.
should be nothing to debate,,, why
it's expensively packaged sodium bicarbonate used due to the fact it doesn't raise phosphate or potassium levels,,,, Seachem say's it is.
from the link:
Q: Is your Alkaline Buffer™ a sodium bicarbonate?
A: Yes, it is a sodium bicarbonate based buffer
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