PH levels rise between water changes - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-26-2017, 02:37 PM Thread Starter
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PH levels rise between water changes

Hello!

I have an issue with my PH level in a small 54l (I believe its around 14 gallons) tank.
I have this tank set up since October 2015. It's relatively well planted (2 Anubias, 3-4 small Anubias nana, moss, some small Cryptocorynes plants, moss balls). I have 2 medium to small Mopani wood pieces, 2 black rocks and an orange one, bought from a Aquarium shop (should be inert/neutral). The substrate is JBL Volcano Mineral and the sand is JBL Sansibar Dark/Black.

The water in my tank, after a week, rises to around 7,6 PH. The water from the tap, after letting it sit 24h has a PH of 7.0. After a water change it's around 7,3 and it steadily rises until the next change. After i did the setup I noticed it said on the bag of JBL Volcano Mineral that it should not be used together with sand from the JBL Sansibar line, but I saw this to late and I'm not sure what effect it might have.

I believe the JBL Volcano Mineral substrate might have an effect on this, so I put a fistful of it in a bowl, with water from the tap (after it sit for 24h) that had 7.0 PH. After a week the water in the bowl had a PH of 7.2. Might this be the reason, or the main reason? I was thinking of taking it out as I don't have "fussy" plants, but I'm afraid this will not truly solve the problem.

The KH is pretty low in my tank, around 4. I'm not an expert but I know a low KH makes the water buffering capacity low, enabling PH swings. I cannot test DH at the moment, as my test kit does not have a test for this sadly. All other parameters are more or less ok.

I doze EasyLife Carbo ("liquid CO2") and fertilizer also from EasyLife, in accordance to the specifications on the bottles. My tank only has one (but big) Danio female. I used to have a striped Gourami (Colisa Lalia I believe it's named) for almost 2 years but it died recently. I didn't stock the aquarium up for a while, as I noticed this issue and it would be easier to make changes to it without a lot of fish in it.

I want to put a Neon Tetras in it, around 10 of them, but at the moment I don't want to go ahead as I'm afraid I will just hurt and kill the fish (a bit high PH for them + the swings).
If you have any tips for me or any suggestions please let me know.

Thank you in advance,
Alex
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-26-2017, 02:53 PM
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Hi alextna,

First, welcome to TPT!

Quote:
I believe the JBL Volcano Mineral substrate might have an effect on this, so I put a fistful of it in a bowl, with water from the tap (after it sit for 24h) that had 7.0 PH. After a week the water in the bowl had a PH of 7.2. Might this be the reason, or the main reason? I was thinking of taking it out as I don't have "fussy" plants, but I'm afraid this will not truly solve the problem.
My first guess was the substrate as well. Your test was good and it would certainly lead me to suspect the JBL Volcano Mineral, if you were to run it again try stirring the substrate in the bowl once a day and see if the PH change isn't even greater.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-26-2017, 03:41 PM
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I agree. Also depending on what kind of hardscape you have, some rocks will raise pH too

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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-27-2017, 07:30 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Seattle_Aquarist View Post
Hi alextna,

First, welcome to TPT!



My first guess was the substrate as well. Your test was good and it would certainly lead me to suspect the JBL Volcano Mineral, if you were to run it again try stirring the substrate in the bowl once a day and see if the PH change isn't even greater.
Thank you for your feedback Seattle_Aquarist! I will try to test this again as you've mentioned, to see if there's any difference.
On a second point, how could I increase my KH to about 6-7? I read that it can be done by dosing baking soda, is that safe? Why I ask is that it might help me keep the PH more stable between water changes. Having a small tank, the water parameters can change significantly during a water change, so any help in having it more stable is a plus for me.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-27-2017, 12:11 PM
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Raising KH to 6-7 will make your pH want to go up more. Your current KH of 4 should be plenty to maintain stable pH. The "pH swings" caused by low KH (like under 2 or so) more causes pH to fall.

Decreasing KH should decrease pH in this case. Using peat or an acid buffer will work, but will always be an uphill battle if substrate or hardscape material is releasing minerals back into the water. I definitely would not use baking soda, that would be throwing gas on the fire. Hate to say it, but the source material probably has to come out to keep your pH low AND stable.

However, your current pH of 7.6 isn't terrible unless you are targeting certain low pH inhabitants. Neons should be fine, I'd look for tank raised ones. A higher but stable pH is better than low and shifting. KH much above 4 would be bad too, long term, as they are softwater fish by nature and develop something like kidney stones in very hard water

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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-27-2017, 02:38 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the explanation KayakJimW! I'm not that bothered by the PH of 7.6 in itself, it's the constant raising of it after a water change that troubles me. I do weekly 25% water changes and if I'll be away and can't do it on time, I'm afraid it'll get higher than 7.6 (it went one time to around 7.8, I had to use the other PH test kit, with a wider range).

I'll also change the substrate in any case, my current plants should do fine. After that I'll check to see how the PH is, if it's still rising I'll take a look at those rocks as well.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-27-2017, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by alextna View Post
Thank you for your feedback Seattle_Aquarist! I will try to test this again as you've mentioned, to see if there's any difference.
On a second point, how could I increase my KH to about 6-7? I read that it can be done by dosing baking soda, is that safe? Why I ask is that it might help me keep the PH more stable between water changes. Having a small tank, the water parameters can change significantly during a water change, so any help in having it more stable is a plus for me.
Hi alextna,

I would not dose baking soda in this tank; it will increase your PH (and dKH) even higher! Find the source of the increasing PH / dKH and remove it from your system.

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