pH Increasing - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-01-2003, 02:57 AM Thread Starter
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Howdy all,

Until yesterday, my 55 gallon tank was pretty stable, and then it started happening... The pH started increasing. Its now up one whole point. My readings from November 22 just after a normal weekly 25% water change:

Nitrate 10 ppm
Nitrite 0 ppm
Hardness 75 ppm GH
Alkalinity 60 ppm KH
pH 6.8
Temp 78 F
Phosphate .25 mg/l
Calculated CO2 9.34 mg/l

Yesterday, November 29, I did my weekly 25% water change and here were the readings:

Nitrate 20 ppm
Nitrite 0 ppm
Hardness 75 ppm GH
Alkalinity 60 ppm KH
pH 7.4
Temp 78 F
Phosphate .25 mg/l
Calculated CO2 3.76 mg/l

As of tonight, November 30, just over 24 hours after the last measurements, the pH is now 7.8.

Here are more statistics on my tank:
55 gallon tank that has been set up for 6 months
3 x 32 watt T8 lights with reflectors that are less than 2 months old
2 x Hagan CO2 yeast powered injectors
2 Siamese algae eaters
9 Tiger barbs
1 Apple snail
3 Large echinodorus bleheri
1 Med echinodorus cordifolius
1 Med echinodorus osiris
Several patches of echinodorus tenellus
A few paltry stalks of ceratophyllum demersum (hornwort)
5 small alternanthera reineckii (very red leaves)

All the plants are doing very well, they continue to pearl and have been putting on new leaves regularly.

The only thing that I can think of is that I started adding Flourish Excel last week (November 22). Could that cause the plants to photosynthesize faster and thus raise the pH faster than the CO2 injection can lower it?

Without dumping a bunch of chemicals in, how can I slow or stop this pH increase? I have peat filtration ready to go, I just hadn't started using it yet.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-01-2003, 04:31 AM
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What is your tapwater pH? This would be my first guess, changes in your water supply. Other than that, does your Hagen CO2 thingie still work at full power? Maybe they need to be recharged? Or do you use Flourish Excel INSTEAD of CO2 injection? I am not familiar with Excel... just assuming that it doesn't decrease pH like "normal" CO2.


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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-01-2003, 11:39 AM
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Why is there so much nitrate and phosphate in your water?

Sean

Aquascape? I'm a crypt farmer.

It's a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore looking like an idiot.

That IS an aquascape, it's titled "The Vacant Lot".
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-01-2003, 11:55 AM
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It could be a couple of things. A change in your tap water or your DIY CO2 needs new bottles. And I will say that DIY CO2 on a 55 gallon tank is possible but it's a real pain. Your first water parameters show a CO2 level of 9.3 ppm, that's pretty low.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-01-2003, 02:38 PM Thread Starter
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Wasserpet,
My tapwater pH is 7.2. Still higher than my tank normally runs at, but less than what it has elevated to. That said, I will probably do another water change very soon, and this time use distilled water (or RO water if I can find someone that has some around here.) just to see if indeed my public water supply hasn't changed. As a further point, I suspect that something "extra" has been added to the water supply as we've had a lot of rain lately (western Oregon) and our water supply comes from a lake.

The Hagan CO2 thingies work inconsistently (I have two). That's what I get for trying to save money. That's the reason that I started adding the Excel, hoping to further enhance the amount of usable CO2 in the water, seeing how the DIY yeast conconctions never really raise the concentration more than 13 mg/l. To answer your question, yes, the Hagan things were recharged recently, so there is a somewhat adequate output of bubbles.

SCMurphy,
Nitrate levels are usually around 10 ppm. I thought that was safe. As for phosphate levels, that is actually lower than what I get out of my tap water.

Rex,
Since both you and Wasserpet point at the CO2 levels, I'll go ahead and refill both bottles and see what effect that has and report back on that in the next day or two.

All,
As I read back through this, I begin to question two things... My tap water probably isn't the best (inconsistent and has high additives). I've been resistant to buying an RO system because of cost, but it might be time to bite the bullet.
Second, the Hagan CO2 systems don't seem to be cutting it. Might be time to make an investment there too.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-01-2003, 04:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rknh2o
The Hagan CO2 thingies work inconsistently (I have two). That's what I get for trying to save money. That's the reason that I started adding the Excel, hoping to further enhance the amount of usable CO2 in the water, seeing how the DIY yeast conconctions never really raise the concentration more than 13 mg/l. To answer your question, yes, the Hagan things were recharged recently, so there is a somewhat adequate output of bubbles.
The Hagen units are just pretty packaging of the DIY method to produce CO2. I am using two 3 liter bottles for my large tank, output is high and maintenance is low, and both me and my plants are happy. How high you can get CO2 levels depends on a lot of factors, bottle size, ambient temperature, CO2 dissolving %, and surface agitation among them, but it sounds like you would be better off with a high pressure CO2 system.


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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-02-2003, 02:07 PM
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Also on your tap water tests was that pH taken after the water had rested for a while? It's not uncommon for tap water to have high levels of dissolved gases that can lower the apparent pH at first.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-07-2003, 01:50 AM Thread Starter
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Rex,
I think you've nailed it there. My tap water comes straight out of the tap at a pH of 6.8 and then goes up to 7.4 within 8 hours.

Thank you all for your help. Looks like I've got some work to do on getting good quality water in my tank with each change, and then providing an adequate supply of CO2 in there as well.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-07-2003, 02:27 AM
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Where at in Portland do you live? This morning I did some water changes and the water was at a pH of around 6.4 from the tap. Do you check the tap water hardness? I did today and as usual it was 0/0
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-07-2003, 09:22 PM Thread Starter
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Hey Rex,

Just looked at your profile and saw that you were from Portland too.

I live on Hayden Island at Jantzen Beach. My water is city water but it runs through a heck of a lot of piping to get to the end of the dock that my floating home is on.

Where are you?

With all this rain, I'm wondering if I shouldn't just put a barrel underneath my gutter downspout and use that instead. Hmmm... Idea... I think I'll go capture some and test that. I'll post the results within the next few hours.

-Mark
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-07-2003, 09:35 PM
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I live out east of 122nd on Burnside. And I'll bet your water is a bit different than mine due to all the extra pipes and such. Rain water will work but it will be very soft and acidic. Also you want to make sure that your roof is non-toxic as are your gutters and downspouts. One could rig a device to catch rainwater without too many problems and avoid the questions about the roof and such.
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-07-2003, 10:12 PM Thread Starter
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Well dang, looks like I just found the motherload of discus quality water, and its pouring off my roof at about 1/2 gallon a minute (from one my downspouts).

Here are the results of my research:
Nitrate - 0 ppm
Nitrite - 0 ppm
GH - 0 ppm
KH - 20 ppm
pH - <6.0 (from the coloring and comparison to my color scale, I would say its in the 5.6-5.8 range. My tester doesn't go lower than 6.0)
PO4 - 0 ppm
Temp - 42 F
Calculated CO2 - 49.96 mg/l based on 20 ppm KH and pH of 5.8
There is a very small amount of black sediment (a couple of sand sized pieces in two cups of water)
And totally unscientifically, both my spouse and I think the water tastes slightly smoky.

I have a metal roof and gutters so the toxicity would probably be pretty low after I let the initial rain wash it off. I'd probably run it through a carbon filter to remove whatever it is that adds the extra flavor and remove the sediment and then let it sit for a few days.

Now I've just got to get myself a five gallon jug.
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-07-2003, 10:43 PM
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The pH will rise as the CO2 out-gasses from the water. But what I am wondering is where the hardness is coming from?
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