Why is my pH rising? - Page 2 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #16 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-16-2016, 12:56 AM Thread Starter
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I tested the water a few minutes ago, and it's back at 7.5. I did a 25% water change two days ago, because it was at 8.2, which I thought was dangerously high for my betta (what if it started rising from there?). Yesterday, it was at 8.0 or maybe 8.05. That is what I expected to see today, not 7.5. All the other parameters are ideal. Hopefully it'll stabilize now.

I spoke to a knowledgeable person at an LFS, and he thought it was the Leaf Zone. He thought my plants were probably already getting what they needed, and the excess iron was raising my pH. The pH in the bucket with the ornament has been rock solid at 7.5. I know it's too soon to relax or draw any conclusions. I'll continue testing daily.

Even if the ornament turns out to be inert, I'll go with real driftwood instead. 7.5 is at the high end for a betta, so I'd rather have something that brings it down gently.
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post #17 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 12:14 AM Thread Starter
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Roy, when you advised me to not worry about day-to-day pH, were you talking about the bucket with the ornament, the aquarium water, or both? I ask because my aquarium water's pH is back up to 8.2. I don't know if this pH roller coaster is a natural part of the water stabilizing, or if it's something still in the aquarium that has been the problem.

Here is what is still in my aquarium:

- standard aquarium gravel from Petco
- several plants
- moderate algae
- floating thermometer suction-cupped to glass
- heater (store brand with rubber end caps similar to Aqueon's standard heater)
- nano HOB filter

Speaking of the filter, I just remembered that the sponge that's meant to be the mechanical filtration is just starting to deteriorate. Could it be releasing a chemical that's raising the pH?

Thanks again!

Aquarium #1 - 10 gallon | one male betta | anubias, java fern, crypt | standard gravel | full-spectrum T8 | sponge filter | 50W heater at 77
Aquarium #2 - 5.5 gallon | one male betta | anubias, java fern | standard gravel | full-spectrum T8 | sponge filter | 25W heater at 77
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post #18 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 04:58 AM
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Hi VinceIII,

So I checked on the ingredients in API Leaf Zone....Potassium Sulfate and ETDA Iron. Potassium sulfate has no effect on PH, it is basically neutral. EDTA Iron on the other hand is an acid with a PH of 3.5 to 5.5. At first I wondered if it is possible that what you are seeing is the PH dropping after dosing the leaf zone and then rising again afterward....but that doesn't make sense because the bucket with the apparently neutral ornament stays at PH=7.5. Your tap water is 7.5. Just about everything in your tank should have no effect on PH with the exception of the gravel. Some colored gravel is made from limestone covered with an epoxy paint. If the paint chips or cracks the limestone can come into contact with the tank water and effect the PH.

Let's try one more thing. Take a glass of water from the tap and measure the PH. Wait 24 hours and test the PH again. Now grab a handful of substrate and add it to the glass. Let's see if it changes or not.

In the meantime quit dosing the Leaf Zone and check your PH every 24 hours and lets see if it changes or not.

Roy_________
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post #19 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 07:04 AM
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My pH rises the week after water change because CO2 is bubbled out. There is CO2 in tap water or well water. So the pH is lower after water change, but as CO2 is released, it rises. If you have a filter and/or airstone, this release can happen quickly. My tanks don't have filters, but I do use a bubbler which helps to move the CO2 out of the tank.
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post #20 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 04:26 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, Roy and AWolf.

I tested the aquarium water this morning: 7.5 (down from 8.2 just last night). These swings are frustrating. I also tested this morning's tap water, and it's at 6.4. First time I've seen the tap water at anything other than 7.5. I'll let it sit and will test it again tomorrow. Then I'll try with some gravel.

This morning's unusual tap water result has me thinking that one of my recent water changes might have been with water that was treated differently than usual. If all of this testing points toward inconsistent tap water, would switching to bottled water be the next step? Again, it's only a 5.5 gallon tank.

I last used the Leaf Zone two weeks ago, and it was the second time I used it. I too doubt it has anything to do with these fluctuations. If Leaf Zone had this potential, I'm sure others would have experienced it and there would be mention of it online. I haven't found any such mention. Regardless, I'm not using it any more until I figure out this pH issue.

I also checked reviews for my gravel (Petco Aztec Bronze) and didn't see any claims about it affecting pH.

The bucket in which I'm testing the ornament was filled with 12 cups of fresh tap water, and that has been at 7.5 all week. I'll give it another week.
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post #21 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 05:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VinceIII View Post
Thanks, Roy and AWolf.


The bucket in which I'm testing the ornament was filled with 12 cups of fresh tap water, and that has been at 7.5 all week. I'll give it another week.
You could add an airstone to the bucket, and see if the pH goes up. It would be interesting to know. I've never considered the fact that CO2 exists in our tap/wells to the degree that it will cause larger fluctuations in pH. Someone mentioned this in a thread last week, and your thread reminded me.
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post #22 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 05:47 PM
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How are you measuring pH? With a test kit, with a pH probe, etc.? Could this actually be a problem with measurement accuracy?

Adding normal amounts of LeafZone won't affect the tank water pH. Remember, pH is a log function, not a linear one. Adding a teaspoon of low pH solution to gallons of water at high pH will have no detectable effect on the water pH. Add to that the fact that the KH/CO2 buffer will resist changes in pH caused by additions of weak acids.

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post #23 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-17-2016, 06:26 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AWolf View Post
You could add an airstone to the bucket, and see if the pH goes up. It would be interesting to know. I've never considered the fact that CO2 exists in our tap/wells to the degree that it will cause larger fluctuations in pH. Someone mentioned this in a thread last week, and your thread reminded me.
I'll try that.

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Originally Posted by Hoppy View Post
How are you measuring pH? With a test kit, with a pH probe, etc.? Could this actually be a problem with measurement accuracy?
I'm measuring the pH with the API Freshwater Master Test Kit, and the high pH solution expires in 2020. I rinse the vials and dry them with a non-lotion tissue before each test. I considered that something with my testing might be off, but the same test on the water in the bucket has been consistent. I always repeat the test whenever I get odd results, and I've never had any variation between the first and second tests.

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Adding normal amounts of LeafZone won't affect the tank water pH. Remember, pH is a log function, not a linear one. Adding a teaspoon of low pH solution to gallons of water at high pH will have no detectable effect on the water pH. Add to that the fact that the KH/CO2 buffer will resist changes in pH caused by additions of weak acids.
Thanks for the confirmation. Although I'm not using the LeafZone right now just to eliminate the variable, I'm sure the problem is elsewhere.

In order to stop subjecting my betta to these fluctuations, I'm thinking about doing daily water changes with bottled water for the next week or two. What do you think? I'd hope to get the water from the grocery store, not the betta water sold at pet stores. Any caveats I should be aware of?

Aquarium #1 - 10 gallon | one male betta | anubias, java fern, crypt | standard gravel | full-spectrum T8 | sponge filter | 50W heater at 77
Aquarium #2 - 5.5 gallon | one male betta | anubias, java fern | standard gravel | full-spectrum T8 | sponge filter | 25W heater at 77
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post #24 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-18-2016, 02:52 AM
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After I bought a pH probe I tried to compare it to the API test kit results and I could never get them to match. For me, API reads about .8 lower than the probe. I trust the probe because I calibrated it with known controls and then measured those known samples and got perfect results.

I'd also recommend rinsing your test tube in your tank water sample several times. Don't dry it. Just rinse it in your fish tank water a few times and fill it.
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post #25 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-18-2016, 04:12 AM Thread Starter
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After I bought a pH probe I tried to compare it to the API test kit results and I could never get them to match. For me, API reads about .8 lower than the probe. I trust the probe because I calibrated it with known controls and then measured those known samples and got perfect results.

I'd also recommend rinsing your test tube in your tank water sample several times. Don't dry it. Just rinse it in your fish tank water a few times and fill it.
Interesting information about the pH probe. I'm not sure what it entails or if it would make sense for my application, but I would be interested to know if my parameters are different from what my test kit is showing. Your suggestion about rinsing the test tube in the tank water makes sense. I'll start doing that.

Could I be seeing the natural diurnal fluctuation from my plants? I apologize for not mentioning this sooner, but I just remembered that I also replaced some plants recently. Over the course of a few weeks, I went from four medium anubias and two java fern to seven hygrophila corymbosa stricta and one medium anubias. Could this new hygrophila grove be causing more diurnal fluctuation than the three anubias and two java fern that it replaced? Is 7.5-ish to 8.1-ish within reason for diurnal fluctuation?

By the way, the pH is back up to 8.1 tonight. I was testing mostly at night and occasionally in the morning, but I'll start testing at both times every day.

I did a search about bottled water and learned why it isn't a good idea. I'll stick with tap water.

Aquarium #1 - 10 gallon | one male betta | anubias, java fern, crypt | standard gravel | full-spectrum T8 | sponge filter | 50W heater at 77
Aquarium #2 - 5.5 gallon | one male betta | anubias, java fern | standard gravel | full-spectrum T8 | sponge filter | 25W heater at 77
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post #26 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-18-2016, 04:48 AM
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At night both plants and fish are respiring, producing CO2 so normally in the morning your pH will have shifted slightly to acidic due to carbonic acid produced from the co2.
AFAICT nothing died so the swings being a "problem" is a bit overstated..
It is odd that your pH rose above tap. That is a bit unusual unless you have limestone/shells/ ect in the tank. Normal condition is for pH to decrease due to CO2 or Nitrates..
http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2002/5/chemistry

I suppose it is possible that your plants are sucking up so much of the CO2 so to increase the pH during the day..
In which case higher aeration may help control it a bit.

"A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure"

Last edited by jeffkrol; 07-18-2016 at 05:10 AM. Reason: edit
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post #27 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-20-2016, 02:41 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jeffkrol View Post
At night both plants and fish are respiring, producing CO2 so normally in the morning your pH will have shifted slightly to acidic due to carbonic acid produced from the co2.
That pattern is what I'm seeing, but I don't know if the approximately 0.6 pH shift is excessive and indicates something else.
Quote:
AFAICT nothing died so the swings being a "problem" is a bit overstated..
My betta and the plants seem fine, so I too have started wondering how much of a problem this actually is.
Quote:
It is odd that your pH rose above tap. That is a bit unusual unless you have limestone/shells/ ect in the tank. Normal condition is for pH to decrease due to CO2 or Nitrates..
Chemistry And The Aquarium: The Relationship Between Alkalinity And pH ? Advanced Aquarist | Aquarist Magazine and Blog

I suppose it is possible that your plants are sucking up so much of the CO2 so to increase the pH during the day..
In which case higher aeration may help control it a bit.
The hygrophila started growing new leaves soon after I put it in the tank, so maybe it's experiencing a surge of growth that is causing a higher respiration rate. I'm guessing the diurnal fluctuation wouldn't vary that much, but I don't know.

I started testing a sample of gravel, but then realized I should be testing all of it. That's a much bigger project and leads me to think it would be easier to restart my aquarium (I'd keep the filter media with its live bacteria).

Aquarium #1 - 10 gallon | one male betta | anubias, java fern, crypt | standard gravel | full-spectrum T8 | sponge filter | 50W heater at 77
Aquarium #2 - 5.5 gallon | one male betta | anubias, java fern | standard gravel | full-spectrum T8 | sponge filter | 25W heater at 77
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post #28 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-21-2016, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by VinceIII View Post
That pattern is what I'm seeing, but I don't know if the approximately 0.6 pH shift is excessive and indicates something else.

My betta and the plants seem fine, so I too have started wondering how much of a problem this actually is.

The hygrophila started growing new leaves soon after I put it in the tank, so maybe it's experiencing a surge of growth that is causing a higher respiration rate. I'm guessing the diurnal fluctuation wouldn't vary that much, but I don't know.

I started testing a sample of gravel, but then realized I should be testing all of it. That's a much bigger project and leads me to think it would be easier to restart my aquarium (I'd keep the filter media with its live bacteria).
As longs as it is a fairly consistent gravel, you can sample a small part, just put in a smaller container of water
Anyways what is the gravel??
Things like coral sand would be bad for what you want..
Quote:
Using coral sand in freshwater will tend to increase the water hardness and pH, up to a bit over 8

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post #29 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-21-2016, 03:31 PM
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Hi VinceIII,

I agree with jeffkrol, you should be able to just check a 'sample' of the gravel...I believe you said Petco? Any sand or stones in the tank?

Roy_________
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post #30 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-23-2016, 12:01 AM Thread Starter
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The gravel is from Petco, and the cup with the sample gravel has stayed at 7.5 pH.

I looks like this is the answer:
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkrol View Post
I suppose it is possible that your plants are sucking up so much of the CO2 so to increase the pH during the day. In which case higher aeration may help control it a bit.
I left the light off yesterday and today, and the pH tested at 7.5 in the morning and evening on both days. I'll turn the light on for a few hours tomorrow to see if the pH starts rising again. I have no doubt that it will.

I guess added CO2 is the way forward. From everything I read, I thought my current stock of plants wouldn't be anywhere near needing CO2.

Aquarium #1 - 10 gallon | one male betta | anubias, java fern, crypt | standard gravel | full-spectrum T8 | sponge filter | 50W heater at 77
Aquarium #2 - 5.5 gallon | one male betta | anubias, java fern | standard gravel | full-spectrum T8 | sponge filter | 25W heater at 77

Last edited by VinceIII; 07-23-2016 at 12:30 AM. Reason: additional thoughts
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