Why is my pH rising? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-11-2016, 11:35 PM Thread Starter
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Why is my pH rising?

What could be causing my pH to suddenly rise? It used to be reliably at 7.5. I admit that I had gotten relaxed about the pH and wasn't testing it as regularly as the other parameters (lesson learned). After a couple of weeks since the last test, I tested it last Friday and found it at 8.3. I did a 40% water change right away, and here's how it has progressed:

Fri evening 8.3 - 40% water change right away
Sat morning 7.5
Sun morning 7.5
Monday evening 8.2

I tested my tap water to see if that's where the change was, but it was at 7.5 as usual. I'm using the API Master Kit and repeated the pH test.

I've had this aquarium since late February, and its parameters have been fairly stable. I made three changes in the last couple of weeks: replaced T8 fixture with Finnex Stingray, added a Top Fin artificial wood decoration, and started using API Leaf Zone per directions (but haven't used it since last Friday's water change).

The aquarium's specs are in my signature line.

The other water parameters are:

ammonia 0
nitrite 0
nitrate 5

I've been dealing with algae, but just by cleaning it out manually during water changes and working with the duration of light.

I'm wondering if the artificial wood decoration is causing the pH to rise, although I thought artificial decorations wouldn't affect the water quality. I'm not sure what else could be raising my pH so fast. I'd appreciate any ideas you have. Thanks!

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; 07-12-2016 at 02:07 AM. Reason: clarity
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post #2 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-11-2016, 11:52 PM
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Hi VinceIII,

Welcome to TPT!

I would suspect the Top Fin artificial wood decoration. Why, it is likely made out of either polyresin (plastic) which may have had calcium carbonate used as a filler or Plaster of Paris and painted or covered with a polyresin (plastic). It may or not have a glaze on the outside (visual areas) but it is likely there are un-glazed areas. Try removing the decoration for a couple of weeks and see if the PH issue disappears. If it does then take it back where you purchased it and tell them it is unsafe for aquarium use.
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post #3 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 12:13 AM
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What he ^ said .
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post #4 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 02:13 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice. I removed the Top Fin decoration, did another water change, and put the decoration by itself in a bucket of water. I'll test the aquarium and bucket everyday and see what happens.
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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 #5 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 02:27 AM
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One interesting thing to note; pH goes up as temp goes down. So unless your bucket stays the same temp as the tank, your test will not be accurate.
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post #6 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 11:34 PM Thread Starter
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AWolf, thanks for the tip about temperature. The room where I have the bucket is pretty warm, so the water is probably within a couple of degrees of the tank.

I tested the water when I got home tonight (about 22 hours after last night's water change), and it's at 8.0. Then I tested the water in the bucket with the decoration in it, and it's at 7.5. I tested the tap water next, and it's at 7.5.

I thought it was odd that the pH dropped to 7.5 a day after the last water change, but is at 8.0 a day after this one. 8.0 actually makes more sense, because I'd think a partial water that adds 40% of pH 7.5 water to 60% of pH 8.3 water would yield a pH of about 8.0. Does that sound right?

I'll keep testing the bucket water over the next few days, and I'll check the aquarium water in the morning and evening.

What are my next steps if the pH in the aquarium rises again and the bucket water doesn't?
If in the next few days the bucket water does rise, I assume I should do 25% water changes in the aquarium every few days until the pH is stably back to normal. Should I expect the pH to come down at all on its own?

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 #7 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 11:41 PM
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Hi VinceIII,

I wouldn't worry about the day to day PH, as I suggested give it a week or so and see what happens. When you test the water in the bucket give it a good 'swish or two' to mix it up before taking your sample. You'll likely have your answer soon.
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post #8 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 11:48 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seattle_Aquarist View Post
Hi VinceIII,

I wouldn't worry about the day to day PH, as I suggested give it a week or so and see what happens. When you test the water in the bucket give it a good 'swish or two' to mix it up before taking your sample. You'll likely have your answer soon.
Will do. Thanks for the reminder.

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 #9 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-13-2016, 12:38 AM
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You need to worry more about your daily KH readings, once Your KH falls below 4 the PH Rollercoaster starts up. (No fish likes The PH Rollercoaster) I keep my KH at 6-7 and my PH is very stable, All your fish will like you for a stable PH.

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post #10 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-13-2016, 11:54 PM Thread Starter
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I got the API KH test today, and my water is at 5 dKH.

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 #11 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-14-2016, 12:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VinceIII View Post
I got the API KH test today, and my water is at 5 dKH.
Hi VinceIII,

[email protected] isn't bad, that is the amount of carbonate hardness in the water although I would have thought it would be lower with a watersoftener system. Did the GH test kit arrive or perish?

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post #12 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-14-2016, 01:18 AM Thread Starter
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Roy, was the water softener system from somebody's else's thread? I don't have a water softener system.

I was hoping the LFS would have the GH & KH kit, but they had KH only. I'll look for GH elsewhere. I was relieved to see that my KH level is ok.
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post #13 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-14-2016, 01:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VinceIII View Post
Roy, was the water softener system from somebody's else's thread? I don't have a water softener system.

I was hoping the LFS would have the GH & KH kit, but they had KH only. I'll look for GH elsewhere. I was relieved to see that my KH level is ok.
Hi VinceIII,

I apologize, too many folks with water issues this last week I guess.

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post #14 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-14-2016, 05:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VinceIII View Post
I thought it was odd that the pH dropped to 7.5 a day after the last water change, but is at 8.0 a day after this one. 8.0 actually makes more sense, because I'd think a partial water that adds 40% of pH 7.5 water to 60% of pH 8.3 water would yield a pH of about 8.0. Does that sound right?


Thanks again!
No, mixing pH 7.5 water with pH 8.3 water doesn't give you the average of those two numbers. Remember pH is a logarithmic value, so 8.5 pH is ten times less than 7.5 ph when you treat it as a concentration of a substance. And, the water is being buffered against changes in pH caused by weak acids or bases, other than carbonates and carbonic acid, so that also affects how the much the mix will change in pH. pH is a complicated variable!
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post #15 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-14-2016, 11:57 PM Thread Starter
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No, mixing pH 7.5 water with pH 8.3 water doesn't give you the average of those two numbers. Remember pH is a logarithmic value, so 8.5 pH is ten times less than 7.5 ph when you treat it as a concentration of a substance. And, the water is being buffered against changes in pH caused by weak acids or bases, other than carbonates and carbonic acid, so that also affects how the much the mix will change in pH. pH is a complicated variable!
Thanks for the explanation. I forgot about a one-point pH increase equalling 10x the concentration.

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; 07-15-2016 at 01:02 AM. Reason: Found answer
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