Low pH in both tanks...add crushed coral? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-03-2008, 04:10 AM Thread Starter
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Low pH in both tanks...add crushed coral?

I have 2 tanks, a 5g and a 20g. The 5g has natural colored aquarium gravel, a Red Sea nano filter, planted with purple cabomba, wisteria, crypt wendtii and an Anubias. For fish it has 1 Male Betta and 2 otos. There's also a piece of driftwood which I believe is the pH lowering culprit. The tank has had a few problems recently and is going through a bit of a mini-cycle. Ammonia is ~.25, nitrIte ~.25 and nitrAte is about 10 (from plant tablets). The 20g also contains regular aquarium gravel, is heavily planted with Wisteria, Crypt wendtii, Crypt spiralis, purple cabomba, and 2 different anubias sp. It has a Marineland Penguin 100 Bio-Wheel HOB filter. For fish it has 3 female bettas, 3 zebra danios, 6 glolight tetras, 7 neon tetras, 1 female guppy and 1 clown pleco. In this tank ammonia is consistantly 0, as is nitrIte, nitrAte is ~20. Both tanks are low-light. There's a piece of driftwood in this tank as well. For more info on the tanks my journals can be read here: https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/ph...urnal-56k.html and here: https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/ph...urnal-56k.html

The problem I am having is that the pH in both tanks is 6.0 or lower (6.0 is the lowest the test reads). The water coming out of the tap is 8.4 - 8.8 (I bought a high range pH kit to test it more accurately). Water changes don't seem to be doing the trick for raising the pH, and I worry that because of that, the PWC are causing a fluctuation in pH that's not great for the fish. To combat the pH lowering effects of the driftwood, I'm thinking of adding some crushed coral to the filter to raise/buffer the pH. Is there any reason this is a bad idea?

Any input would be greatly appreciated. Sorry the post is so long! I was trying not to leave anything out!


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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-03-2008, 05:01 AM
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My first guess would be the driftwood. I have natural low ph from my tap so I added crushed coral to my substrate and now its a steady 7.2. However my ph was never lower than 6.5...so Im not sure if it would work in your case. I would see if you cant bum off some extra coral and add it to the filter like you suggested and monitor the ph and see if that changes anything.


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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-03-2008, 10:37 PM
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adding coral isnt going to fix your problem forever, youll have keep adding it to keep the ph at some point over time.

is the driftwood leaching and how long in the tank?
was the ph much higher than 6.0?
i always boil and soak wood for weeks before i put it in the tank.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-04-2008, 12:42 AM
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I wouldn't add crushed coral to the substrate. What happens when all the acids and tanins leach out of the driftwood and your ph starts to climb? Perhaps it would be higher than you'd like-then you'd have to take out the substrate-not fun. Since they are small tanks and your tap water is very alkaline why don't you do weekly water changes or bi-weekly wc's? That would be better for the inhabitants IMO.


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Last edited by MarkMc; 06-04-2008 at 12:43 AM. Reason: spelling errors
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-04-2008, 01:35 AM Thread Starter
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CAN_chic - thanks, glad to hear it works for you, i agree though, it's a much larger difference in my tank, but thanks for the input!

Custom - I know i'd have to change it, but that's ok with me if it helps buffer the acidity. The driftwood has been in the tank for about 6 months i think, perhaps a little less. It was my first try with driftwood, i probably didn't soak it long enough, but the water isn't brown anymore, though this could also be because i added charcoal to help clear the tannins out. Should this have helped buffer the pH? And yes, the pH out of the tap is 8.4-8.8, so it's been higher.

MarkMc - like i said in the original post, i'd put the CC in the filter, not the substrate, and PWC's aren't doing the trick. In trying to combat the problem, i've been doing more frequent water changes (~weekly).

Thanks for all the input! Any more advice would be welcome!

And is there any reason NOT to add the CC? would it do damage to anything in the tank? Or is it worth a shot for it's buffering capacity? Or should I diagnose the cause of the low pH first?

Thanks!


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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-04-2008, 02:51 AM Thread Starter
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And now the moment I know you've all been waiting for! Pre and Post water change results! :-P

5 gallon:

Yesterday
before 50% WC:
Ammonia & nitrIte ~.25, nitrAte ~5, pH ~6

Today
before 50% WC:
Ammonia & nitrIte between .25-.5, nitrAte ~10 (i added fert tabs), pH ~6

after 50% WC:
Ammonia & nitrIte between betweem 0-.25, nitrAte ~5-10, pH ~6.4

20 gallon:

Yesterday
Ammonia & nitrIte = 0, nitrAte ~20, pH ~6

Today
before 25% WC:
Ammonia & nitrIte = 0, nitrAte ~20, pH ~6

after 25% WC:
Ammonia & nitrIte = 0, nitrAte between 10-20, pH ~6.2 (between the yellow which is as low as it goes, and the 6.4 which is the next step).

Because just after the WC's the pH IS a bit higher, but I did a 50% WC on the 5g yesterday and today PRE-WC it was reading at 6 and post 50% it was reading ~6.4 I'm going to check them again in ~30 min and see where they are, see if they're really changing that fast. I wish i'd taken a directly after WC reading on the 5 yesterday, but since I can't change the past, i'll move forward from here


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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-04-2008, 03:42 AM Thread Starter
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Well, about an hour later, pH's are the same as just after the WC, 6.4 in the 5g, ~6.2 in the 20g.


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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-04-2008, 11:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karackle View Post
MarkMc - like i said in the original post, i'd put the CC in the filter, not the substrate, and PWC's aren't doing the trick. In trying to combat the problem, i've been doing more frequent water changes (~weekly).
So you did! Pardon my lazy reading skills. How are the tank inhabitants? Are they stressed or are they thriving? How long have you had high nitrite readings? Is it possible that you have a erroneous test kit? Seems to me that your tank would complete the cycle within a couple of weeks and the nitrite would drop to zero. If the plants and fauna are thriving then perhaps you don't need to raise your ph?


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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-04-2008, 01:42 PM Thread Starter
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Hahaha no problem, the first reply mentioned putting it in their substrate, so the confusion is understandable. The plants and fish in the 20g are thriving, i had an issue with tank lights getting left on and a lot of plant die-off in the 5g, follwed by a lot more plant die-off and some fish die-off the following week while I was away, I must've missed some dying leaves when replanting what was left, or they just didn't take. The plants and fish are now doing well again in the 5g so far though. The deaths and dying plants in the 5g are, i am assuming, the reason for ammonia and nitrite being readable and the mini-cycle, hopefully that will quiet back down soon. I don't believe it's a problem with the kit because nitrItes are consistantly reading 0 in the 20g. I suppose if everyone is happy it's not to be too concerned with, other than because 6.0 is the lowest the pH kit reads, and I worry that I wouldn't know if the water dropped below that. When I pick up the gh/kh test kit i'll check for a low-range pH kit.


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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-04-2008, 04:13 PM Thread Starter
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Just a quick update, I checked again this morning and pH is back down to 6.0 in both tanks...


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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-04-2008, 04:31 PM
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weird. crushed coral would buffer your ph to around 7 but then your GH could go up.
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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-04-2008, 05:30 PM Thread Starter
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buffered to 7 is probably better than 6 or below, even if it increases GH right? But i'm going to pick up the GH/KH test kit this evening and decide from there i guess?


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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-04-2008, 06:21 PM
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6 is probaly ok as long as it's not fluctuating.
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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-04-2008, 11:13 PM Thread Starter
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Ok so I went to the fish store and had my water tested in the 20g (2 of the fish that i got on friday died so i brought the fish and a water sample in) and apparently my pH is actually 5 and my hardness is effectively 0!!! YIKES! He suggested a 5g water change every other day to bring the pH slowly up and add hardness, but I am going to bring a tap water sample in tomorrow, as well as a post-WC sample in to him to test it, and to see if my water is really that soft coming out of the tap. If so, then i think it's time to put a bit of crushed coral into the filter to help buffer and add some hardness...what do we think?


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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-07-2008, 02:02 AM Thread Starter
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Ok, I bought a KH / GH test kit today. I couldn't find SeaChem "equilibrium" but I found SeaChem "Alkaline Buffer" that says it raise the KH, is this t he right stuff?

So i tested KH and GH of my 20g tank and my tap water:

Tap Water:
KH - about 3 dKH
GH - about 5 dGH (not sure if that's how to write that)
pH - 8.4

20g Tank:
KH - about 0 dKH
GH - about 11 dGH
pH - about 6.2

After 25% WC and 1/4 dose of SeaChem alkaline buffer:
KH - 2-3 dKH
GH - 8 dGH
pH - about 7.2

So the crushed coral seems to have successfully raised the GH (by too much?) the KH seems to decline incredible rapidly though, should I add the SeaChem "Alkaline Buffer?" or wait for a couple more water changes?

Thanks!

5g stats to come...


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