Tap pH of 9 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-30-2017, 06:57 PM Thread Starter
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Tap pH of 9

I have a 75 gal with lambchop rasboras, cherries, and amanos.

My tank pH rests around 7.2-7.6 which everyone has no problems with.
When I first tested my tap water a few months ago (February & before) everything was golden, it was hovering around 7.2ish which is perfectly acceptable.
I got the shrimp a few weeks ago and when I did my first water change with them the amanos shoot all around the tank. I'd read about them "dancing" around the tank after a water change (which I now know is due to pH changes in added water), so I figured everything was fine.

However, I added the rasboras shortly afterwards and had my first water change with them on Tuesday. After the new water went in I noticed clear signs of distress from them and so I immediately tested the tap water for everything under the sun, and saw that the pH of the water was off the charts (with some later research about Boston water I found that the water municipality has been trying to keep the pH around 9.3 out of the tap - which doesn't explain why the pH has been fine up until now, my theory is that they treat it in cycles and I managed to hit it at an inopportune time).

I treated the tank water with a mixture of lemon juice (not too much) and baking soda mixed with tank water to drop & buffer the pH a little (I'm not sure it helped all that much, my pH was around 7.8 after the water change. The next morning (around 8 hours later) the pH was back down in the 7.4-7.8 range.

My question is if anyone has any experience dealing with high tap pH.

I could attempt to fill some containers with water and let it sit with an airstone for a few days before each water change, but I live in a small apartment and don't have an easy way to store 15 gallons of water a week. I'm worried if I continue stressing the fish and shrimp out each week (or every other week if I decreased my frequency of water changes) that I could do some serious damage to them overtime from the stress. I've heard bad things about chemical pH adjusters as they act too quickly, but perhaps they could be appropriate in my case?

I was wondering if anyone had any recommendations for dealing with this.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-30-2017, 07:21 PM
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Not a problem I have had as my water has normally been natural and around 7.8-8.0.
Some thoughts on the water treatment but that may be a guess. With a big water supplier like it sounds you would have they will not be treating water on an intermitent basis but have equipment full time which monitors and adjusts the additives. The treated water will enter a huge amount of other treated water in storage and lines so that you will not receive a major change. Something like the way our tanks are not changed by small additions in the water only they are dealing with more like millions of gallons?
Is the info on the water treatment from a good solid source? Much of the time , there are a lot of misunderstood things about public water treatment. Seems there are lots of folks who would complain, no matter what was done. Main thought on that line would be that 9.3 is far more alkaline than I would expect. I might even lean more toward the reading being a test flaw more than actual.
But then I will also admit that much of this is a GUESS rather than actual knowledge of the local water.
Until I resolved some of the questions, I would go with much smaller but more frequent water changes which I would adjust before adding it to the tank.
I would like to read over any info you have on the local water and why/how they are treating it. Perhaps the Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) for your supplier? That should spell out any major changes/ situations involved.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-30-2017, 07:26 PM
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side question I just didn't wanna post my own thread for a related question:
If I get a fish that is good around a ph of 7.0, and I have 7.8 PH water (I do, well water) could I still acclimate that fish? preferably by drip acclimation and it would still thrive. Adaptation?
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-30-2017, 07:44 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by PlantedRich View Post
Not a problem I have had as my water has normally been natural and around 7.8-8.0.
Some thoughts on the water treatment but that may be a guess. With a big water supplier like it sounds you would have they will not be treating water on an intermitent basis but have equipment full time which monitors and adjusts the additives. The treated water will enter a huge amount of other treated water in storage and lines so that you will not receive a major change. Something like the way our tanks are not changed by small additions in the water only they are dealing with more like millions of gallons?
Is the info on the water treatment from a good solid source? Much of the time , there are a lot of misunderstood things about public water treatment. Seems there are lots of folks who would complain, no matter what was done. Main thought on that line would be that 9.3 is far more alkaline than I would expect. I might even lean more toward the reading being a test flaw more than actual.
But then I will also admit that much of this is a GUESS rather than actual knowledge of the local water.
Until I resolved some of the questions, I would go with much smaller but more frequent water changes which I would adjust before adding it to the tank.
I would like to read over any info you have on the local water and why/how they are treating it. Perhaps the Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) for your supplier? That should spell out any major changes/ situations involved.
Here's my source for the pH claims:
MWRA - FAQs about Drinking Water
& here are the actual reports. The pH results can be seen on page 5:
MWRA - Archive: Water Quality Measures and Updates
Interestingly it appears that the pH has always been over 9, and my measurement of 7.2 was more likely to be incorrect.
Their rational for the high pH is to prevent heavy metals leeching into the the water (as is the case in places like Flint, MI with acidic water).

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Originally Posted by BettaBettas View Post
side question I just didn't wanna post my own thread for a related question:
If I get a fish that is good around a ph of 7.0, and I have 7.8 PH water (I do, well water) could I still acclimate that fish? preferably by drip acclimation and it would still thrive. Adaptation?

It depends on how sensitive your fish is. Most fish are actually pretty hardy and can survive in a range of pH's, especially if they're tank raised. What mater far more is the stability of your pH rather than it's actual value.
see here:
http://www.firsttankguide.net/ph.php
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-30-2017, 09:18 PM
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Thanks for the added info. It looks like they are a fair amount ahead of many of the states where I have lived. And for double sure they are ahead of the bunch of politics in Michigan. Your group is aware and thinking of what is needed to keep the drinking water safe rather than just counting the money.
Part of the downside of living on the East coast is the age of many of the facilities and that includes the pipes. So it does come down to it being a bit more trouble for folks like you. At one point, I was trained and did some water work but never on the East coast and never where the water piping and supply were quite that difficult. Reading through the reports, there seems to be several things that they are dealing with and just keeping it running without too many complaints or killing people looks like a real challenge from here! My only question might be on calling PH of 9, "slightly alkaline". Since 7 is neutral and each higher number is times ten, I would have been inclined to call a 9 very alkaline?? But then, they are the trained folks who are dealing with reality, while I'm a rookie just looking from outside.
There should be a number of the other forum members who are far better on how to deal with your problem. Maybe they will be along in a bit with better advise?
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-02-2017, 04:33 PM Thread Starter
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[BUMP]

Anyone have any solutions?
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-02-2017, 05:42 PM
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I can't think of anything else than RO water... PH of 9 is pretty horrible.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-02-2017, 06:03 PM
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Quote:
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I can't think of anything else than RO water... PH of 9 is pretty horrible.
I did a quick look for what I might do in a case of this sort and that is a real eye opener! I'm certainly not in the correct group to search out and buy High PH water for any perceived health advantages but apparently there are folks who do favor it. But then there are also those who advise it is dangerous, so that is still an open topic for me.
But one small nugget in the minefield was a suggestion that the PH might be lowered with a simple filter at the faucet.
Maybe a place to start in the search for a solution? I'm more used to needing to remove hardness and/or increase the PH so I'm way out on suggestions but would a simple Brita-type filter do it?
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