Didn't check my pH for a while...OUCH. - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-26-2016, 01:31 PM Thread Starter
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Didn't check my pH for a while...OUCH.

Last night I checked the pH on my 3 gallon Iwagumi (the one as my profile pic) with 7 chili rasboras... and it was at a hideous 8.2 ! I feel like a terrible aquarium keeper for slacking so much on my testing , but, despite being a black-water species, the chilis seemed to be acting normal, except for one who wasn't eating (this was probably because I did a major trim and destroyed lots of hiding spots. I added more floating plants and he seems to be acting normal again.) The pH jumped so high probably because I took the tank off of CO2 and am now just using Flourish Excel once a day. The raise was so slow it hasn't stressed the fish...yet. So how do I lower the pH? Is the best way to just add CO2 again? I don't really want to add any chemicals and complicate things more. Also, I think the pH used to 7.2 before I took of the CO2...still a little high, but they did great at that level.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-26-2016, 01:53 PM
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Boraras brigittae ? Mosquito Rasbora (Rasbora urophthalma brigittae) ? Seriously Fish
Note that these fish accept a wide range of GH (from 1 to 10 German degrees of hardness), but prefer the pH to stay on the acidic side of neutral.

pH is not a stand alone value.
The minerals and salts in the tank control the pH.
You control the pH by controlling the things that control the pH.

Test and post back:
GH, KH, TDS, pH of tap water, and repeat the pH test:
Test it right out of the tap, then set some water aside, exposed to the air and test again at 24 hours and 48 hours.

GH, KH, TDS of the tank water.

Next, run a few experiments.
1) Often the pH is high because of something in the tank such as limestone, coral or shells that are dissolving, adding calcium carbonates and magnesium carbonates to the water. Test whatever is in the tank by placing it in a separate jar of water (RO water, tap water... whatever) and testing GH, KH, pH, TDS the next day, then every few days for perhaps a week. Test a handful of substrate, a chunk of rock, the ceramic merperson...

2) If the tap water KH and GH are contributing to the problem you will probably end up blending reverse osmosis water with the tap water to lower the KH for the pH, and lower the GH for the fish. You can get started testing this idea with a gallon of RO water from the store.
Make several blends, perhaps a couple of cups of each:
25% RO + 75% tap
50/50
75% RO + 25% tap.
Test GH, KH, TDS, pH on all these, and use the one that comes closest to what the fish want.

Post back with all these results.
To implement changes in the water chemistry, go slow. The fish have had time to adjust to whatever is going on now, and you need to alter the conditions slowly to get it back to optimum conditions.
Example:
Make up the water the way you will want the tank to end up.
The first week do 2 water changes of 10%. If the tank needs larger water changes, perhaps do to rising nitrates, then make up the refill water to match the current conditions (GH, KH, TDS) in the tank.
The 2nd week do 2 water changes of 25%.
The 3rd week do 2 water changes of 33%.
The 4th week and going forward do 2 water changes of 50% until the water parameters are where you want them.
Then you can stop doing this many large water changes, and monitor the tank. See how long it takes to get just a little bit out of the correct range, and how much of a water change you are willing to do. This will set your schedule to keep this tank in the right range.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-11-2016, 02:00 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
Boraras brigittae ? Mosquito Rasbora (Rasbora urophthalma brigittae) ? Seriously Fish
Note that these fish accept a wide range of GH (from 1 to 10 German degrees of hardness), but prefer the pH to stay on the acidic side of neutral.

pH is not a stand alone value.
The minerals and salts in the tank control the pH.
You control the pH by controlling the things that control the pH.

Test and post back:
GH, KH, TDS, pH of tap water, and repeat the pH test:
Test it right out of the tap, then set some water aside, exposed to the air and test again at 24 hours and 48 hours.

GH, KH, TDS of the tank water.

Next, run a few experiments.
1) Often the pH is high because of something in the tank such as limestone, coral or shells that are dissolving, adding calcium carbonates and magnesium carbonates to the water. Test whatever is in the tank by placing it in a separate jar of water (RO water, tap water... whatever) and testing GH, KH, pH, TDS the next day, then every few days for perhaps a week. Test a handful of substrate, a chunk of rock, the ceramic merperson...

2) If the tap water KH and GH are contributing to the problem you will probably end up blending reverse osmosis water with the tap water to lower the KH for the pH, and lower the GH for the fish. You can get started testing this idea with a gallon of RO water from the store.
Make several blends, perhaps a couple of cups of each:
25% RO + 75% tap
50/50
75% RO + 25% tap.
Test GH, KH, TDS, pH on all these, and use the one that comes closest to what the fish want.

Post back with all these results.
To implement changes in the water chemistry, go slow. The fish have had time to adjust to whatever is going on now, and you need to alter the conditions slowly to get it back to optimum conditions.
Example:
Make up the water the way you will want the tank to end up.
The first week do 2 water changes of 10%. If the tank needs larger water changes, perhaps do to rising nitrates, then make up the refill water to match the current conditions (GH, KH, TDS) in the tank.
The 2nd week do 2 water changes of 25%.
The 3rd week do 2 water changes of 33%.
The 4th week and going forward do 2 water changes of 50% until the water parameters are where you want them.
Then you can stop doing this many large water changes, and monitor the tank. See how long it takes to get just a little bit out of the correct range, and how much of a water change you are willing to do. This will set your schedule to keep this tank in the right range.
Hey Diana! So sorry it took me so long to get back, but I have been SUPER busy lately. I haven't had time to do all the tests you suggested, but I have got done with a few, and I came out with some pretty weird results. Also, I don't actually have a TDS test kit, and actually had never heard of it until you mentioned it.

Here are my tank levels:
pH- 8.2 (the rasboras seem to be doing fine)
GH- 10
KH- 7

Here are my normal tap levels after 0 hours of being exposed to the air:
pH- 7.4
GH- 9
KH- 7

Now here are the results after leaving the tap water exposed to the air:
pH after 0 hours- 7.4
after 24 hours- 8.0
and after 48 hours- 8.2

as you can see, the pH of the tap jumps up to the level that the tank has, leading me to believe that none of the stones or hardscape in the tank are leaking minerals and raising the pH; it is somthing already in the water. I don't think it is GH or KH, because the tank and the tap have almost exactly the same levels, and it should already turn the tap pH to 8.2, not only when it is exposed to air. Could it be TDS (sorry, I am uneducated on TDS and its effects in the tank)?

Also, I was thinking of trying peat granules instead of RO water. I am afraid the price of RO water would build up over time. What is your opinion on this idea? Would I have to let the new tap water for water changes cycle through a separate empty tank with peat in the filter to eliminate pH swings? I am afraid that if I have the peat directly in the actual tank filter, when I do water changes with high pH water of the tap will cause the pH of the tank to jump before the peat can do its work. This pH swing might only be minor though, and not really matter. Also, if you have had experience with peat, how much would you actually need to add? I wouldn't want tea colored water, which I am afraid would take away form the scape and lower the light levels that my baby tears need. Another option is just leaving the tank water where it is and not messing with the parameters, although I am afraid my rasboras might not be at their very best (they look fine). These are all just my thoughts (that I want your opinion on ).

Thanks, and sorry for all the new questions and trouble!
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-11-2016, 03:13 PM
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pH is difficult to control when there is something already in the water (carbonates) that will force the pH to be higher than you want. The only way to get around this is to remove or dilute the carbonates. If you make a 50/50 blend of tap + RO then the KH and GH will drop by 50%, giving you a GH of about 5 and KH of about 4. This is right in line with the optimum conditions for the fish you are keeping. This lower KH will also allow you to have a bit more control of the pH, so you can filter the water through peat moss when you are preparing it for a water change. Done this way there is a minor tint to the water, but not much.

Remember, you are not just looking for a certain pH level.
You are really trying to make the water have the right level of minerals and salts (not NaCl) for the fish.
Your tap water has too many minerals for soft water fish.
pH is just a side effect. It is secondary in importance to what the fish need. Get the mineral levels right, first off, then worry about the pH. In fact, get the mineral levels right and the pH problem may be fixed because the right mineral levels control the pH.

The tap water may have a certain amount of CO2 dissolved in it. As long as the water is confined in the pipes the CO2 cannot leave, so the water fresh out of the tap has a lower pH. When the water is exposed to the air the CO2 leaves the water. Less CO2 in the water means it will show a higher pH. This takes time, so over several hours (if you circulate the water) or a day or so (if the water is just sitting there) the pH rises.
When you do a water change with this water the fish do not mind the changing pH. They are more concerned with the mineral levels, and these do not change (within the error level of the test kits).
Fish are fine with the CO2 levels changing and thus the pH changing, as they do when you do a large water change.

Alternate:
Your tap water is hard and alkaline.
Get fish that thrive in hard, alkaline water.
Many live bearers, rainbowfish, and certain cichlids are perfect for such conditions. There are certain tetras, barbs, and quite a few catfish that can thrive in hard, alkaline water, too.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-21-2016, 08:59 AM
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May I know what kind of test kit you guy using?
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-21-2016, 09:23 AM
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If your fish look healthy and are acting normal, I wouldn't worry about the pH. Water quality (ammonia/nitrite/nitrate, dissolved organic matter, O2 levels, etc) is usually more important than water chemistry.

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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-21-2016, 02:12 PM
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With a tank that small, it wouldn't be too uneconomical to buy a few 1 gallon jugs of distilled water at the store. You could blend this 50/50 with tap water and see where this gets you KH and pH wise.

EDIT: just noticed this thread is about 6 months old

Last edited by Positron; 07-21-2016 at 02:14 PM. Reason: edit
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