Really high Ph - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-20-2019, 01:33 AM Thread Starter
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Really high Ph

Hey Guys,

I’ve been fishless cycling my 10 gallon planted tank now for a couple weeks. It’s going well!

I have some nitrites showing up, and I’m thrilled it’s been working.

Here is my problem. I did a ph test, and it’s 8.6. At first I thought maybe it was something I did wrong, so I tested the water directly from the tap. Sure enough it was 8.6

I have driftwood in it for a couple of days and Scarlet Hydrophilla, Javamoss, duckweed, and dwarf lettuce all planted since the beginning. I heard those should lower the ph, but it hasn’t so far.

I plan on putting Neon Tetras, a Betta, and a nitrite snail into it. I know I’ve read my ideal ph is 7, and a little higher or lower is ok. But in my case, it’s WAY higher.

Should I be worried? I was thinking of doing a water change before I add the fish, with water that I passed through a carbon filter. (Brita) or adding vinegar. I don’t want to do ANYTHING until I know I’m not going to mess anything up

Thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-20-2019, 02:27 AM
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8.6 does seem high. Your betta won't much like it, and your tetras won't like it at all.

You have a number of options for lowering pH.

You can try diluting your tap water with deionized water. If you don't want to set up a reverse osmosis system -- which is a lot of investment for a ten gallon tank -- you can purchase gallon containers at your grocery. You can experiment with how much deionized water you need to mix with your tap water to bring the pH down to a reasonable value, say, 7.5. You don't want to use straight deionized water because it will be too soft. If you're doing 20% water changes every week, the cost should not be unreasonable for a ten gallon tank.

You can also try acidifying the water, depending on how comfortable you are working with chemicals. I live in an area with alkaline water, and I used to neutralize it with hydrochloric acid (I bought a big jug at the local hardware; they tend to label it "muriatic acid"). I had to work out the correct dosing: If you add enough to bring the pH to your target, the next day it'll be alkaline again (though less so) as CO2 slowly diffuses out of the water and raises the pH again. This will not lower general hardness and you may not wish to play with concentrated acid. It worked for me, more or less, but I eventually switched to deionized water and then moved to an area with less alkaline water and took up keeping fish and plants that were okay with it.

If you inject enough CO2, you can bring the pH down. It's not rare for serious planted tank enthusiasts to inject enough CO2 to bring pH down a full point, though most probably don't start at pH 8.5. (Higher pH needs more CO2 to produce a given pH change.)

Old-time discus keepers sometimes filtered their water through peat, claiming this removed calcium and lowered pH. I believe the latter; peat has a lot of humic acids in it. But, while aquarium peat is sold in some fish shops, it's a lot of fuss and the results are uncertain.

If you were planning on CO2 injection anyway, first see how much that nudges down the pH. if I was in your place, I'd probably go with diluting tap water with deionized water as well. It would be helpful to know what your carbonate and general hardness are.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-20-2019, 03:48 AM
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I have a pH of 8.2, and TDS of 776(!) out of the tap. It mostly seems to affect my plants and the Betta seemed fine.

Since I'm planning a pygmy cory tank I bought a small R/O filter on Amazon for $89 and tested a series of tap plus R/O mixtures and recorded the resulting pH and TDS numbers.

I use a different mix for different tanks, but this system of mixing tap and R/O water is working so far. I can get the pH down to 7.0 and TDS to 75-ish.

Next project is to test GH and KH on each mix.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-20-2019, 08:06 AM
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A locally bred betta would probably be fine, but you may find it's a little shorter lived than expected. Neon tetras probably won't be alright.

If you're not comfortable using chemicals to bring down pH (I wouldn't be) and don't have access to RO, would you be open to changing your stocking? It's a tiny bit on the high side for endlers, but they'd probably do very well. Otherwise, have you thought about a pair of miniature shell dwellers? They'd be a bit more work, but would be very interesting.

https://www.practicalfishkeeping.co....shell-dwellers

Do you know your gH?

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-20-2019, 10:59 AM Thread Starter
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That’s a lot of advice!

So I do need to correct some info. My ph was between 8.4 and 8.9. The test kit doesn’t give me an exact number.

However! Something weird happened today. I tested the water from my Brita filter, and it was between 7.4 - 7.8. I double checked my tank water, and it was now the same.

Is it normal for ph to change that much overnight?

When I originally posted, I tested both the tap water and the tank water. They both came out high and today they aren’t.

I don’t know the gh. I’m not opposed to buying a RO filter if I can find one used, or cheep. I also promised my girls a Betta and Tetras, so I’m hoping I can figure out an easy solution, that doesn’t involve mixing chemicals.

UPDATE: tested my tank and my tap water when I got home. The tap water is back to 8.6ish, but the tank water is 7.4.

What’s going on!!!

Last edited by LuluCocoPopoRoro; 02-20-2019 at 09:00 PM.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 05:08 PM
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I'd test your water a couple of times again over the next week and invest in gH and kH tests if possible. Water with very low kH can experience pH swings, although high pH water will usually (but not always) have higher kH.

If your tap water parameters are jumping around though, it may just be best to bite the bullet and get a second-hand RO machine, especially if your girls are set on those fish. Just a heads up that your betta may not get on with your neons, especially in a 10G.

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 06:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LuluCocoPopoRoro View Post
UPDATE: tested my tank and my tap water when I got home. The tap water is back to 8.6ish, but the tank water is 7.4.

Whatís going on!!!

We had a long discussion of this elsewhere. The bottom line seems to be that some forms of water treatment can cause your water to come out of the tap depleted in carbon dioxide. Once the water has time to absorb CO2 from the air, pH goes down. It might be helpful to known general hardness and total dissolved solids, but it's not crucial; your tank water is equilibrating to a pH that will be reasonable for your fish and tanks.


Still leaves the issue of bettas and neons together. My first tropical tank was a 20-gallon betta tank, which I think I eventually added some neons to (it's been a long time) without any particular difficulties.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 07:47 PM
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Folks get really wrapped up with testing and water parameters. I'm just not convinced that, for most cases, it matters that much. There is tons of room for error in home test kits, so who knows how reliable the results actually are. And captive-bred fish tend to be really adaptable anyways.

So in search of "perfect" conditions you could spend a bunch of time and money on testing, additives, RO units, whatever. Some people do, and their tanks look great. Some people literally never test their water and their tanks still look great. Unless you're raising demanding wild-caught fish, I don't think it will make a huge difference. Your time is better spent doing regular water changes.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-22-2019, 02:45 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by kgbudge View Post
The bottom line seems to be that some forms of water treatment can cause your water to come out of the tap depleted in carbon dioxide. Once the water has time to absorb CO2 from the air, pH goes down.
This actually to me makes the most sense. I had done a test, and it seems the water left out seems to have a more realistic ph. I did a tap test this morning and t was 8.6. However, when I brought the same water to Petsmart they had it at 7.6. I guess it had a time to ‘carbonate’ on the way over.

As far as bettas and tetras go, from what I have read, neons and bettas get along fine, assuming I don’t have an unusually aggressive Betta.

I have a 2.5 gallon tank set up touching my 10. I plan on having the Betta there for the first week, to gauge it.

Also, according to petsmart my water hardness is 75, and my alk is 80. Not sure what those mean, but she said it was normal
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-22-2019, 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted by LuluCocoPopoRoro View Post
Also, according to petsmart my water hardness is 75, and my alk is 80. Not sure what those mean, but she said it was normal

Sounds like parts per million/milligrams per liter. Yeah, those are pretty normal. That would be a general hardness of 8 and alkaline hardness of about 5. You can use that in the kind of tank you have in mind.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-22-2019, 04:50 PM
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There are many things which change the tap water and we will often not know about those changes but to list a few? Weather like heavy rain versus dry will often change the source of the water as the well may go low or the river run too high to access. There may be a major infestation of zebra snails which have to be killed. The water may set in your pipes longer due to you being gone.
So, I just keep in mind that things vary and I can't always keep track of those changes and might not want to if I could!
Plants and fish can adapt to changes that seem out of normal if they have time but it does induce a fair amount of stress if they have to keep adapting to a moving target. One way to assure they are always stressed is to try to chase the changes yourself by adding this and that to the water. The water supplier will try to keep it stable but they cannon, even though they may have a full time crew to work the problem. So if they can't keep it steady, what are the odds that we can? In some areas and some occasions, we have fewer problems than other locations and situations but it seems to me that I have more success when I modify what I plants and fish I stock to fit the general/normal water I find from my tap. In doing that, I can do a sort of "one-time" decision and avoid the dailly trauma of chasing the changing situation.
I recommend going the low stress way, both for the fish and yourself and then if those fish/plants don't work, I make the changes when I see they don't work.
My motto might be, "Look, learn, adapt as needed."
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