Help lowering PH in 125 gallon - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-10-2017, 09:44 PM Thread Starter
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Help lowering PH in 125 gallon

I am setting up a 125 gallon and I keep having really high PH (PH=8 today) even using distilled water.
So, this tank is used and the previous owner had it with african cichlids. There was a lot of calcium carbonate around that I tried my best to clean. I removed the substract. Replaced it with ecocomplete, have some granite rocks in it, put some small pieces of driftwood and some plants. Filled it with basically distilled water (like I already filled and emptied it a few times and added a bit of tap water, like 20% tap/80% distilled, so it is not pure distilled water). I get like 2 degrees of carbonate hardness, 90 tds and over 7.5 of PH! So the softening the water part is done. I don't want to soften it more but the PH still does not drop. I put a bunch of oak leafs that I dried and cleaned to see if it would release some acids but they are in for like a week or 2 and nothing... still high PH. Any suggestions? I can try peat or almond leafs if anyone knows they are so much more efficient than free range oak leaves...
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-11-2017, 12:47 AM
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Since no one else (perhaps more of an expert) is replying, I'll make some suggestions. This assumes that you have truly stripped any CaCO3 residue out of the tank.

- Sounds like your tap has reasonable KH, given that you only get 2dKH with the added RO/DI. It does take about 24 hours for CO2 to dissolve into water and that may lower the pH to your liking.

- Have you tested the rocks for any CaCO3 contribution? Put them in a bowl with RO/DI water, wait 24 hours and then test the KH.

- I'm not that familiar with Eco-Complete, but found this in an old post:

Quote:
Originally Posted by james0816 View Post
I just found this on CaribSea's site:

While Eco-Complete™ Planted does not affect pH and KH long term, you will find that it will give a small bump to both of these parameters initially, and this is especially noticeable with the use of RO /DI water. Fortunately this is just a small amount of Calcium Carbonate that is on, not in the substrate and it will dissipate with the first couple of water changes, usually in the first couple weeks. Planting the tank will also help. Keep in mind that one should never add particularly sensitive animals to a tank in the first few weeks anyway but that this is especially important with this situation if the animals are pH sensitive- requiring a low pH.

Last edited by Deanna; 10-11-2017 at 12:49 AM. Reason: correction
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-11-2017, 02:22 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you, I will test some small rocks in a bucket. If the rocks are the problem will be unsolvable because some rocks are huge and I will never be able to take them out.
When i did test the KH the rocks were there already so I don't think they can be that bad but it is a possibility. I will test the KH of the tank again. Maybe I will do anothere water change with DI but I am afraid of de-mineralizing everything too much.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-11-2017, 03:05 AM
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Calcium carbonate has a limited effect on PH. If the water is acidic it will increase the PH of seven. It will not much it higher. Magnesium carbonate is similar. Sodium bicarbonate and potassium bicarbonate however will push it higher. Also tap water generally has elevated CO2 levels. RO water filters also will not remove CO2. So when the CO2 outgases from the water the PH typically goes up.

In addition to the bucks with rocks test I would suggested a second bucket. Fill it with tap water and measure the PH every day. That will tell you what the PH will stabilize to without any effects of mineral or rocks in your tank. It would also be a good idea to do that to your distilled water. Pure water with no CO2 typically has a PH of 7 after CO2 has outgassed.

Last edited by Surf; 10-11-2017 at 03:06 AM. Reason: unwanted bump
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-11-2017, 03:52 AM
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I don't think the OP is adding any alkaline buffer (NaHCO3), so the KH reading is probably all coming from the tap. Much of the pH alkalinity is probably also coming from the tap. Tap water can have many types of alkalinity components and our test kits measure total alkalinity, not just carbonate. For example; if the pH is above neutral (7.0), phosphate could be a factor in the pH reading and tap water often has high phosphate levels. Add the CaCO3 from the different possible sources (Eco-Complete and, maybe, residue from previous tank and rocks) and it might be enough to push pH higher than desired. Once the tank is stabilized, it will probably drop somewhat.

BTW: for your bucket tests of the rocks, also put some of the Eco-Complete in a bowl to satisfy yourself about that, as well. The bucket tests will also tell you about GH levels that might be coming from the rocks.

I'm not sure about CO2 in tap water. It depends on your water company. Some do add CO2 to push pH down, but that would gas out in hours after leaving the tap (the pressurized tap water can hold more injected CO2). The places where I have lived do not do so and, therefore, has no more than ambient CO2. you would have to check with your water company.

pH can be moved dramatically by little things in RO/DI water (plant activity or small CO2 changes), which is why it needs to be buffered. I suggest bringing the dKH up to about 4 and take a reading in 24 hours to see if there is a change.

Regardless, is there a reason for the focus upon pH? pH of 7-7.4 is not unusual. I wouldn't worry about it, unless it moves dramatically without CO2 changes. Longer term, I'd be more concerned about achieving a stable pH with at least 4dKH, other than any variation caused by CO2 injection. Is/will CO2 be injected?

You also mentioned that the "softening the water part is done" based upon KH, but KH has nothing to do with soft water. If you are trying to adjust your water softness, you need to look at GH, which is a function of Ca and Mg and also will drive a lot of your TDS measurement. Right now, you are relying upon your tap to mineralize your RO/DI, but you could easily do this with GH additives if you want to adjust the softness/hardness.

Last edited by Deanna; 10-11-2017 at 01:35 PM. Reason: add
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-11-2017, 05:26 PM
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I have extremely high PH here in Colorado (roughly 8.5) and CO2 takes care of the issue for me. I run a pressurized system that keeps my PH at a consistent 7. If a pressurized system is out of your budget, you could always dose CO2 additive and test every couple days until you have the perfect dosing frequency and amount.


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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-11-2017, 05:34 PM
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Im not an expert, but in my case of high ph, i add some leaves or let the dead leaves and bio waste inside the tank and completing the ecosystem such as balancing the nutrient, lighting, lighting period,water cycle, plants, number of prey fish, predators, bio degradator( worm etc ), mid-foodchain fish, and invetebres(in my case is shrimp)...
Maybe i forgot to mention 1 or 2 things, but this is what i do
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-11-2017, 06:18 PM
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8 isn't terribly problematic for most stuff..
If you plan on injecting CO2 that will drop it.
Just plant and wait .. since some things take time you could "do" a bunch of stuff that won't show for awhile compounding the problem...

sorry, I'm more of a minimalist on this. most tanks will "age" to a lower pH naturally.....on the line of Rocksy01

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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-11-2017, 08:07 PM Thread Starter
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lol, I am also a wait and let it be person. I do not plan to add CO2, I am more on the total low tech. I put a bunch more oak leaves in there... I wanted to know though if there is a efficiency difference between oak, almond, peat...

My reasons to want to lower the PH are:
- Safety. I like to keep the ph below 7 because in case there is some ammonia it is less toxic. I go on vacations sometimes for 3 weeks during which the aquariums stay with autofeeders and I really feel better if they are bellow 7.
- My plants hate higher Ph. At home I have 6 tanks. 2 with endlers to which I add crushed coral to keep the PH at 7.5 and like 250tds. The plants look the worst. Specially the super easy java ferns have brown spots on the leafs, even frogbite looks yellowish. The other 4 aquariums I keep between Ph 6.5 and 5.1 (when they drop to 5.2 I do a water change) tds like 60ppm. The plants look super nice and all the fish spawn.
- The fish that will come to this fish tank (which is at work) were breed at home in really low Ph. I put 2 of my baby plecos here and they died. They looked fine for a week and then gone. I brought them first cause they are kind of immortal but I think the ph difference was too high. The other fish I put in, I brought from a store. They are alive and well (pearl gourami, SAE, embers, rasboras; Don't worry, the medium in the filters is cycled and there is no ammonia in the tank). The other fish I want to bring are my home breed GBR and sterbai and I keep mine in really low Ph and they seem to like it. I raised them to bring here, and now they are kind of crowded at home and this tank is not cooperating. I also want to buy some cardinal and rummynose that I double would appreciate my ph8.

I now have 4 buckets waiting 24 hours to re-measure the PH. One DI+rock, one DI+ecocomplete, one DI only and one tap water only. The previous owner used sodium bicarbonate to up his ph. Can residual sodium bicarbonate, with a KH of 3 and tds of 100, be enough to up my ph so much? Is there a way to neutralize it? Now I wish I cleaned the fish tank with acetic acid or something... I just cleaned with water.

Last edited by CT_Ram; 10-11-2017 at 08:49 PM. Reason: misspelling
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-11-2017, 08:30 PM
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Pretty sure most "crusts" are other calcium/Magnesium/ or sodium salts.. any bicarbonate is pretty soluble in water

Quote:
Solubility in water = 6.4, 7.6, 8.7, 10.0, 11.3, 12.7, 14.2, 16.5, and 19.1 g/100g solution at 0, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 80, and 100 deg C, respectively; Solubility in water = 6.9, 8.2, 9.6, 11.1, 12.7, 14.5, 16.5, 19.7, and 23.6 g/100g H2O at 0, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 80, and 100 deg C, respectively; Solubility is lower in the presence of sodium carbonate
as to your leaf question.. any organic tissue will vary in tannin content so hard to say exactly which is better..like which oak...
and when..
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science...31942200848451
Quote:
Don't white oak and grape leaves have high levels of tannins?
The addition of grape, white oak, sour cherry or horseradish leaves to the cucumber pickling brine, is a traditional method dating back hundreds of years.
Tannins, naturally-occurring phenol compounds, are credited with keeping the pickles crisp. Depending on the type of leaf used, the tannin levels vary, affecting the flavor. White oak have the highest amount, their astringent taste more evident than other leaves.
If your water isn't "coloring" then you can probably assume low tannin content..

On that train of thought.. How about throwing in a cup of black tea?...

Never heard of anyone using it though..

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Last edited by jeffkrol; 10-11-2017 at 08:39 PM. Reason: edit
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-11-2017, 09:02 PM Thread Starter
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Seriously, yesterday I was reading about using roibos tea to stain the water. "The internet" said it did not change the PH though just gave it color. I like the blackwater effect so I would not be against any type of tea. I wander if black tea would make the fish hyper with the caffeine!
According to the paper you cited, this is prime time for oak tannins lol ! But it is true my water is far from stained. I also have some purigen in one of the filters so that is contributing to the lack of color. I am a bit paranoid with PH over 7 so I keep purigen in as backup for ammonia/nitrites or something. Do you know if leaves do not work if purigen is in? Are the compounds that give color the same acids that lower the PH? If they are the same I could just take the purigen out. I do have purigen in the tanks at home and the driftwood still lowers the PH a lot. But maybe here something is different.
I put some ghost shrimp, MTS and Ramshorn snails to help digest the leaves. Lets see... I am getting impatient cause my juvenile Rams are stuck in like 20 gallons, are starting to pair up and starting to fight. I need some safe space for them.
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-11-2017, 10:12 PM
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You know this whole Tannin and Tannic Acid thing is really confusing..

AS to Purigen, yes it removes Tannins (which you could or could not want) but "possibly" not tannic acid (which you would want)..
i.e color particles not dissolved chemicals..

Possibly your best bet is just to pick up a bag of peat moss for the filter...
tea:
Quote:
Results The pH of the tea solution was 4.9 and the major anions detected were oxalate and citrate.
Seachem:
Quote:
Re: Purigen and tannins

Hi Caperz.

Purigen will only remove color bodies and excess nitrogenous waste. Purigen will not remove beneficial components, such as trace elements, nutrients, GH, or KH.

Peat moss increases the amount of hydrogen within the water. The more hydrogen ions you have, the lower the pH will be. Therefore, peat moss is a great addition if you are trying to lower pH to the acidic range. Peat moss will not actually soften water

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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-12-2017, 01:14 AM
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Quote:
If a pressurized system is out of your budget, you could always dose CO2 additive and test every couple days until you have the perfect dosing frequency and amount.
Liquid Carbon addatives will not reduce PH.
Quote:
My plants hate higher Ph. At home I have 6 tanks. 2 with endlers to which I add crushed coral to keep the PH at 7.5 and like 250tds. The plants look the worst. Specially the super easy java ferns have brown spots on the leafs, even frogbite looks yellowish. The other 4 aquariums I keep between Ph 6.5 and 5.1 (when they drop to 5.2 I do a water change) tds like 60ppm. The plants look super nice and all the fish spawn.
These plants will do well in PH 7.5 water. However if all of there nutritional needs are not satisfied they will not do well. The Symptoms you describe are consistent with low magnesium levels. The crushed coral you added is a least 90% calcium carbonate. If you have sufficient nitrate, phosphate, potassium, and sulfur with the sufficient calcium the plants will use up all available magnesium and still not have enough. Adding magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) would resolve this problem in a tank with coral.
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-12-2017, 01:42 AM Thread Starter
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These plants will do well in PH 7.5 water. However if all of there nutritional needs are not satisfied they will not do well. The Symptoms you describe are consistent with low magnesium levels. The crushed coral you added is a least 90% calcium carbonate. If you have sufficient nitrate, phosphate, potassium, and sulfur with the sufficient calcium the plants will use up all available magnesium and still not have enough. Adding magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) would resolve this problem in a tank with coral.[/QUOTE]

Thanks. I will try that on these ones. I usually add iron and K but indeed never added any magnesium source (am I sure they have all the nitrates they want cause the endler population explodes frequently). I can try the magnesium sulfate. The only ones that look ok are the hygro. (today the frogbit looks ok cause last weekend I trashed all the ones there and substituted for new ones from another tank - after 2 weeks they become yellow)

55g - tetras, rasboras, SAE, britlenose, GBR, corys kuhlis
30g- britlenose, GBR
8g - Endlers
10g - Endlers
8g- Endlers, shrimp
5g- java moss ball tank, for the occasional breeding
150g- Pearl gourami, rasboras, ember t, rummynose t., cardinal t., Bolivian ram, Apisto cacatuoides
, SAE, britlenose, corys...
All low tech.
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-12-2017, 01:44 PM Thread Starter
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Results from test buckets after one day:
DI+rocks = PH7.3 112tds
DI+EC = PH7.5 18tds (I need to repeat this one cause it was on a plastic beaker, the DI alone on the plastic beaker also had higher PH, DI on the glass beaker was close to 7)
Tap water = PH8.1 265tds
DI glass = PH6.8 4tds (DI in a plastic beaker was close to PH7.5, I think the plastic beaker are leaking something)

fish tank
PH7.5
KH 3,
GH I cannot see color changes on that thing orange-green it looks the same as DI so I assume is green since drop 1, or not, I really cannot say what color that thing is in the first drops
tds 96

Plan of action: Next time top off with tap water to raise KH a little bit. Wait a week to see if my super low stocking produces enough N for the nitrification alone to lower the PH. Wait a week to see if all these extra leaves decompose and lower the Ph. After a week if nothing changes peat moss it is!

Plan2: Put new frogbites in both endler tanks. Add epson salts to one and see if the frogbites stay green in the Mg enriched and turn yellow in the other after 2 weeks.

55g - tetras, rasboras, SAE, britlenose, GBR, corys kuhlis
30g- britlenose, GBR
8g - Endlers
10g - Endlers
8g- Endlers, shrimp
5g- java moss ball tank, for the occasional breeding
150g- Pearl gourami, rasboras, ember t, rummynose t., cardinal t., Bolivian ram, Apisto cacatuoides
, SAE, britlenose, corys...
All low tech.
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