Tap water PH - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-18-2003, 01:48 PM Thread Starter
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I have recently became aware that my tap water has a very high PH level. Its off the scale of my PH test kit, wich only goes to 8.0. How much above 8.0 it is, I can only guess. All I can say is that I had to use five times the recommended dosage of "PH Down" to get a neutral reading. I'm not sure why it is so high now, it never use to be that high.

What tipped me off about this was my fish always seemed stressed after a water change. This never use to happen. For what ever reason, my city water now has a much higher PH level.

My real question is, what product do you recommend for lowering the PH of my tap water for water changes. In the past, I had no need to do this, so I am completely inexperienced in the suitability and safeness of PH adjusting chemicals. I'm always very wary of introducing chemicals to my tanks, so any advice on this subject would be greatly appreciated.

125gal planted tank, natural gravel substrate(small grain), Eheim Pro 2028 canister filter, 6 30 watt fluorescent lamps(1.44WPG), no CO2, no fertilizer, angels,guppies,cardinal tetras,.
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-18-2003, 07:12 PM
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What is the KH of the water? If the KH is low, say around 1 or 2, then simply aerating the water will lower the pH.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-18-2003, 07:44 PM
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I used to use pH down to try and make my 7.8pH / 5dKH tap water more suitable for my Angels but that only ended up skewing my CO2 chart readings since the pH lowering agent is a phosphate-based buffer.

Best bet for dropping pH is CO2, peat or Deionoized water changes.

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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-18-2003, 09:19 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies. Maybe I should have added in my first post that the PH levels in my tanks are fine at about 7.0. (that is before I do a water change) That seems to be what my tanks naturally want to balance out at without using Co2, peat, or anything else to adjust the PH. So using CO2 or peat really isn't necessary in my situation. Also, I don't want to use deionoized water for water changes, since two of my tanks are 55 & 125 gals.


The only time I need to worry about PH, is when I do a water change. I borrowed a test kit today that registers higher PH levels. Apparently, my tap water is around 9.5. With my tap water PH being so high, even a small water change can swing the PH level in my tanks significantly enough to cause stress to my fish. Over time, the PH will go down to normal, but the damage is done.

What I need to do is adjust the PH of the water change water to the appropriate level before adding it to my tanks. What I'm concerned about, is the effects of PH adjusting chemicals on my tanks health. Are all PH adjusting chemicals safe? And are some better than others? Maybe my memory is failing me, but it seems like I read somewhere that these chemicals should be avoided if possible. Maybe I'm just paranoid.

:hehe:

125gal planted tank, natural gravel substrate(small grain), Eheim Pro 2028 canister filter, 6 30 watt fluorescent lamps(1.44WPG), no CO2, no fertilizer, angels,guppies,cardinal tetras,.
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-19-2003, 02:22 AM
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If at all possible , you should avoid adding chemicals to your tank to adjust the PH for a whole host of reasons that vary with the adjusting chemical.
Test your tap KH to see what the buffering capacity of your tap water is. From the sound of it your KH isn't very high or your tank PH would tend to gravitate towards the ph of your tap water. There really is no certain way of knowing without a KH reading. If you don't have a KH test, get one, they're cheap and worth every penny.
Test your KH and post it here, then we can help you out a little better.

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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-19-2003, 02:24 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your reply. I have to confess, until now, I've never tested my water for KH or GH. Here are the results...

Tap Water
GH-8
KH-2
PH-9.5

Tank Water
GH-7
KH-2
PH-7

Not knowing if too much about this particular aspect of the hobby, I did little researching on the web to see what these readings meant.

I have say, its all a little confusing. My GH seems to be more or less normal (
if there is such a thing ) , at a soft to medium hard reading. However as you correctly suspected, the KH appears to be too low.

I would like to keep my tanks PH at 7. If I'm understanding the implications of having a low KH value, raising it will also raise my PH. Is this correct? or would it simply make my tank less vulnerable to PH swings?

Is using sodium bicarbonate the best way to increase the KH value. If so, should this be added to the water that is being added to my tank during water changes, or should I just treat the tank water. Also, is sodium bicarbonate like Arm Hammer acceptable for aquarium use?

Sorry for all the questions, but as you can see, my knowledge in this area is rather limited. If my conclusions on this subject are incorrect, please set me strait.

By the way, most of the information I read about this came from this web page.

Water Hardness

On a side note. When I did a search on Google using GH KH, among the many German pages that came up, a direct link to one of m.lemays post from our very own "Planted Tank" board were in the search results. I thought that was pretty cool.


125gal planted tank, natural gravel substrate(small grain), Eheim Pro 2028 canister filter, 6 30 watt fluorescent lamps(1.44WPG), no CO2, no fertilizer, angels,guppies,cardinal tetras,.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-19-2003, 04:41 PM
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Try aerating the tap water for a while and see if that lowers the pH. By aerating you will actually add CO2 to the water thus lowering the pH. With a KH of 2 and pH of 9.5 means there is virtually no CO2 in the water.

Raising KH will raise the pH. Use CO2 injection to lower the pH. Using chemicals causes problems. I use Arm and Hammer backing soda to raise KH and so far I haven't seen any problems.
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-19-2003, 07:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Tom713
Is using sodium bicarbonate the best way to increase the KH value. If so, should this be added to the water that is being added to my tank during water changes, or should I just treat the tank water. Also, is sodium bicarbonate like Arm Hammer acceptable for aquarium use?
Yes, Arm and Hammer is fine to use. It will raise your pH to a maximum of about 8.5. After that, KH will go up but pH won't. Baking soda "wants" (read ion balance) the pH to be about 8.5.

As you increase the KH, you will most likely need to look at something to lower pH if you really want to keep it at 7. I'd let it settle out naturally at whatever it wants to be when you get the KH to where you want it - unless you have some species that can't stand a 7.5 or 8 pH. However, if you decide you need to lower pH...

"Discus Buffer" will lower pH and also adds KH. "Amazon Acidifier" is a liquid that is just dilute HCl and doesn't contiain buffering chemicals. Neither contain the phosphate that is common in most pH lowering stuff at the LFS.

Yes, for routine partial water changes, I'd treat my replacement water before putting it in the tank. Whatever is needed to make its KH and pH closely match the water in the tank.

If you decide to raise KH in your existing tank water with baking soda... go slow.. Add a little, wait a while (30 minutes or so) check the pH/KH and add a little more 'till its where you want it.

Good Luck...

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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-19-2003, 08:46 PM
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Quote:
On a side note. When I did a search on Google using GH KH, among the many German pages that came up, a direct link to one of m.lemays post from our very own "Planted Tank" board were in the search results. I thought that was pretty cool.
There goes my 15 minutes of fame!, wasted on a google search.:sad::hehe:
Just try aerating the water first, that should bring the ph close to 7.0. You have a "good problem", its a lot easier to raise kh, if needed, than it is to lower it. A lot cheaper too!

Quote:
I would like to keep my tanks PH at 7. If I'm understanding the implications of having a low KH value, raising it will also raise my PH. Is this correct? or would it simply make my tank less vulnerable to PH swings?
The answer is both. Leave your kh at 2 unless you'll be adding C02. If you'll be adding CO2 you might want to raise it to 3-5 degrees KH to guard against huge PH swings.
Quote:
Is using sodium bicarbonate the best way to increase the KH value. If so, should this be added to the water that is being added to my tank during water changes, or should I just treat the tank water. Also, is sodium bicarbonate like Arm Hammer acceptable for aquarium use?
IMO, its the purest way to increase KH without adding extra calcium or some other form of carbonate. Arm and hammer works great. If I remember correctly 1/8 teaspoon to 10 gals will raise kh 1 degree or is it raise your ph by 0.1. Well in either case ,a little goes a long way. Add 1/8 teaspoon per 10 gals and test after 10 minutes.

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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-20-2003, 02:02 AM Thread Starter
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Again, I want to thank all who have replied in this thread.

Since the main problem is my tap water, I'm going to try aerating the change water before I put it in my tanks. This won't be much of a problem. As it is now, I use a 32 gal trash can to first treat my water for chlorine, and check the temperature. I'll just add the aeration at this time. After that, I'll use a small pump to fill my tanks as I normally do.
I prefer this method over the Python, and its definitely better than buckets.

Right now, I've got a five gallon bucket of water that I put a air stone in. I want to see just how effective aeration is.

There are two things that concern me. How long will it take, and is the PH lowering by aeration a temporary effect. If I have to continue aeration in my tank itself, this my not be the best solution. I don't have a CO2 kit, so I need to conserve what CO2 I do have.

125gal planted tank, natural gravel substrate(small grain), Eheim Pro 2028 canister filter, 6 30 watt fluorescent lamps(1.44WPG), no CO2, no fertilizer, angels,guppies,cardinal tetras,.
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-20-2003, 03:02 AM
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Because your tap water kh is so low, the aeration should be a permanent effect, Your tank ph is a testament to that fact. As the water gets aerated thru circulation in the tank , you end up with a ph of 7. In effect, you're just lowering the ph of your water change water so as not to introduce high ph water into your tank. Take a ph measurement of the water in the 5 gal bucket and let us know if it worked. I'm not familiar with how long it would take to aerate it, but 1 hour under vigorous aeration should be plenty of time. I'd bet you could get it done quicker than that.

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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-20-2003, 08:03 PM Thread Starter
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OK....I did the aeration test. I have good news and bad news.

The good news is, almost like magic, the PH did come down from 9.5 to 8.O. Also, the PH drop appears to be permanent. After turning the air off last night, I checked it again today and it remained at 8.0.

The bad news is, it took 4 hours of aeration to get down to the 8.0 reading. Perhaps the long length of time is due to the initially high PH, as well as the low KH value. I've turned the air on again today to see how much longer it will take to get near a 7.0 reading that my tanks are.

I do like the idea of this method since no chemicals are involved. One of my concerns is ramping up this method to a 32 gallon trash can full of water. With my current air pump, I'm afraid it won't push enough air to be effective.

I do have a fairly powerful submersible water pump. I wonder if this might be as effective as a air stone. Is water movement the key, or are air bubbles needed for this.

My other concern is that my two largest tanks are in my living room. I will have to leave the trash can with pump running for a fairly long period of time. God forbid if I leave it running while I go to work and the can springs a leak. There goes my paranoia again :aah:

I also did another experiment. As lanstar
said.

Quote:
Baking soda "wants" (read ion balance) the pH to be about 8.5.
I took some of my 9.5 tap water and added some baking soda. Instead of raising the PH, it did indeed lower it to 8.5. How much I put in did not matter, the PH remained at 8.5.

I may trying using a combination of aeration and baking soda. If I do, I'll only add enough soda to get to the 8.5 reading, and let the aeration do the rest. Even if my KH and PH goes up some, it shouldn't be a problem as long as its gradual. I may even end up with a more stable tank when in comes to PH swings.

125gal planted tank, natural gravel substrate(small grain), Eheim Pro 2028 canister filter, 6 30 watt fluorescent lamps(1.44WPG), no CO2, no fertilizer, angels,guppies,cardinal tetras,.
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-23-2003, 02:14 AM
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did you ever call the water company to find out why it has changed? You said that it wasn't that high a pH before. Maybe they can tell you if this is temporary thing.
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-23-2003, 05:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Tom713

I do have a fairly powerful submersible water pump. I wonder if this might be as effective as a air stone. Is water movement the key, or are air bubbles needed for this.

...I will have to leave the trash can with pump running for a fairly long period of time. God forbid if I leave it running while I go to work and the can springs a leak. There goes my paranoia again :aah:

I also did another experiment. As lanstar
said.

Quote:
Baking soda "wants" (read ion balance) the pH to be about 8.5.
I took some of my 9.5 tap water and added some baking soda. Instead of raising the PH, it did indeed lower it to 8.5. How much I put in did not matter, the PH remained at 8.5.
See guys, sometimes I really tell the truth!

You might want to try this, Tom... Make a spraybar out of PVC plastic pipe and hook it to your pump. Especially if the pump has a high "head" (ability to make pressure).

Get a short piece of PVC pipe, an end cap, an "L", a hose barb fitting and a couple of wire ties.

Drill holes all in a line on one side of the PVC pipe. The diameter of the holes will depend on the output of your pump. (If your pump has a 1/2" discharge, you might start with 10 1/8" holes and drill them out larger if you think you can get away with it after testing the setup.)

Put the end cap on one end of the pipe. Put the "L" on the other end pointing in the same direction as the holes. Put the hose barb fitting on the end of the "L", using another short piece of pipe.

Run a hose from the pump to the spray bar you just built. Make it long enough so the pump can sit on the bottom of the trashcan and have enough hose for the spraybar to be at the top.

If you make the spray bar just short enough to fit inside the trash can, you can drill another couple of holes in the top lip of the can and use them to wire tie the spray bar to one side of the trashcan. (I'm assuming this trash can is not round.)

Now you've got a self-contained, high power, fail-safe circulation/aeration system that can't leak out of the can, because it is all contained in the can.

If you drop a submersible heater in there too, your water can be aerated and at the right temperature in short order.

Just a thought...

Tim

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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-24-2003, 06:44 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your suggestions lanstar.

I always try to keep things as simple as possible, so I'm not sure if I want to go to that much trouble. However, I will certainly keep in mind what you have described. Not having the expertise of many of the board members here, I always appreciate the time and effort that is taken to offer advice/suggestions on this board.

My pump is rated at 370 GPH. I plan to first try sitting the pump at the bottom of the trash can with the discharge pointing strait up. Hopefully, it will generate enough water movement to get the desired results. With a little luck, maybe I won't have to resort to something more sophisticated

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