I have a catastrophe, need to lower pH immediately, should I get peat? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-13-2010, 07:11 AM Thread Starter
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I have a catastrophe, need to lower pH immediately, should I get peat?

I have been having quite a catastrophe lately with my 40 gallon breeder tank. Pretty much every day for over a week now I have been losing fish. So far I have lost both my angels which I had for over a year, 6 rummy nose, 6 cardinals, and 2 otos. I had no idea why this was happening. I kept testing my water for ammonia, nitrite, kh, and chlorine but they all were reading fine. Then today it hit me, pH. I have no idea why I hadn't thought of that before, but I tested it and sure enough its reading the max on my test of 8.6. Usually the ph is 7.5.

Now I have to figure out what to do. First of all, I have an idea of why the ph is so high. I use purigen in my filter and a couple of weeks ago I bleached it to rejuvenate it. I have done this several times in the past with no ill affects. After I bleach the purigen I always rinse it real well and let it soak in water with seachem natural regulator. So, I immediately removed the purigen pouch and turned the filter off for now (another filter is running). The only other thing that changed in the tank recently is I added some bolbitis plants.

I guess my options are to add peat or more drastically get pressurized co2 or a RO unit. I have heard good and bad things about peat. But I am willing to give it a shot just to get the ph at an acceptable level and then take it out and see if it goes back to ~7.5.

Anybody have any other suggestions. Pleassseeee. It's depressing pulling out 2 or 3 dead fish everyday.

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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-13-2010, 09:29 AM
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8.6 pH is high, but not necessarily lethal to fish. My tapwater is that high and I use it without adjustment in some tanks.

Is it possible there's still chlorine in your Purigen? Chlorine will raise pH and kill fish.

I'm not sure why you're only looking at peat/CO2 to lower pH.

If your tapwater is lower pH, do some water changes! Even if not, it might still be worthwhile if you've got chlorine or other toxins.

pH can also be changed with chemicals. Muriatic/hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid (sold as pool/spa pH reducer), or phosphoric acid. Aquarium pH reducers are either sulfuric or phosphoric acid. But be careful with these, especially the concentrated stuff not intended for aquarium use - mix diluted solutions and practice outside the tank with tapwater until you get the dosage right, then adjust the aquarium slowly.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-13-2010, 09:52 AM
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I agree with Cobra - the way to approach this is with water changes (assuming your tap water still tests the same), and possibly with some peat.

I would, however, stay away from adjusting pH with phosphoric or sulfuric acid. These things cause sudden, and in my experience short-lived, changes in pH.

In my limited experience, I've found that introducing large pH swings is far more effective at killing fish than non-optimal pH.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-13-2010, 02:51 PM
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pH of over 8 is a problem for soft water fish.

Test the tap water with all the tests you have.
~ GH and KH is pretty close to the same in tap and tank,
~ the pH in the tap water is lower,
~ there is no detectable ammonia, nitrite or nitrate except from chloramine,
then do water changes with the correct dose of dechlor.

You can add peat moss to the filter too, this is a slower way to drop the pH, and adds organic acids to the water that soft water fish like.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-13-2010, 05:56 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the responses guys. The pH right out of the tap is 7.8, so there is something I did to that purigen thats causing it to rise. I'm about to do a 50% water change and go up to the store and get some peat.

I don't know why I didn't realize that pH was the culprit here. All the fish that are dying prefer soft, low ph water. My water in the tank is still reading medium hard which its always been. I have a small school of espei rasbora and havn't lost any of them. Same thing with the panda cories and bristlenose pleco, they are just fine.

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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-13-2010, 06:59 PM
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I have kept cardinals in high pH water with no problem. Yes, they prefer soft water but what can kill fish is sudden larger changes in pH OR the introduction/build up of contaminants not necessarily high pH by itself.

You mentioned using neutral regulator after bleaching and rinsing your Purigen. You don't mention using a dechlorinator like Prime before the neutral regulator. If not bleach residue could be your problem not the high pH. Seachem recommends soaking Purigen in Prime or a similar product for 8 hours after bleaching and rinsing. I just looked at their site and they no longer suggest using neutral regulator at all (they used to).
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