High Ph Levels - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-22-2015, 03:03 PM Thread Starter
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High Ph Levels

Hi I just started my tank about 5 months ago. It's all set up now with plants and stuff, but my Ph levels are around 8. I've tried Ph down and it didn't help. Any help possible? I mean throw everything at me, could it be my fish (5 Cory cats, 2 syn leopard cats, 2 german rams, 1 long fin pleco), could it be my hard house water, could it be the temp of the tank which isn't going under 80 no matter what I do (turned off heaters to 71), or could it be the light, or could it be my driftwood and bonsai tree emitting off a high ph? I don't know obviously and its killing me that I can't control ph or water temp. Heres some pics of the tank and whats in it. Thanks guys for the help.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-22-2015, 03:39 PM
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pH is not a stand alone value. It is controlled by the salts, minerals, organic matter and other things in the tank.
When you control these other things, you are also controlling the pH.
KH is the most common material in most aquariums that controls the pH, acting like a buffer.
When the KH is high the pH is very likely to be high and difficult to change (thus the problem with pH down types of products).
When the KH is low the pH can be controlled by something else. It is usually low, unless there is something else keeping it high. It is usually easier to change.

Water companies can add something to the water to keep the pH up.

Materials in the tank like rocks, the substrate, wood, dead leaves and other things can control the pH.

Do the following tests:

Tap water: GH, KH, pH, TDS (if you have a meter)
Tap water that has sat out exposed to the air for 24-48 hours: pH
Tank water before a water change.
Take some of everything from the tank and put each in a separate container with tap water and let it sit for 24-48 hours and test GH, KH, pH, TDS. A handful of substrate, a piece of rock, a bit of the wood...

Interpreting the results:
If the KH is high in the tap water, then any attempts at lowering the pH will have to start here.
Go get a gallon of reverse osmosis or distilled water (they are essentially the same as far as aquarium keeping goes).
Make a few blends of RO + Tap water, perhaps
25% Tap + 75% RO
50/50
75% tap + 25% RO
See which blend comes closest to meeting the needs of the fish (test GH, KH, pH, TDS). Of the fish you list I think the Rams are the most picky, requiring fairly soft water with GH of about 5 German degrees of hardness. Most species of Cory are not so demanding, and are fine at GH up to about 9-12 degrees, depending on species. Most Plecos similar. Synodontis leopardinus is from the soft water areas of Africa, but I do not know how picky they are about water parameters.

If the KH is higher than the GH, then add more RO until the KH is not more than about 3 degrees. Then you can add some minerals to raise the GH a bit. I use Seachem Equilibrium for GH.

Then filter the water through peat moss. This will add organic acids and drop the pH.

If you find that it is something in the tank, like the substrate, then you will have to change the substrate or the fish. Something like one of the Montmorillonite Clays such as Safe-T-Sorb will remove carbonates from the water, and the ADA substrates will do this, and perhaps some others. If the tap water had just a little bit too much carbonates then one of these substrates would be helpful. Neutral gravels and sands can be found in landscape and masonry types of stores. To find this sort of material, go to the stores with some baggies and a sharpie marker. Take samples of whatever materials you like and label your selections. The go home and test the samples for GH, KH, pH and TDS. Rocks will not make the water softer or lower the pH. But they might be neutral- that is, they may be made of something that is not dissolving in the water, so the GH, KH, pH and TDS of the water will not change.

Selecting fish that thrive in your water is the easiest route to keeping fish when the tap water is too hard for the soft water fish.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-22-2015, 03:39 PM
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First, it would be useful to know what the pH of the water is before putting it in the aquarium. Can you please measure it ?

Driftwood usually lowers the pH. Gravel with certain stones can drive the pH up. But first we need to know the starting value of your 'tap ' water.

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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-22-2015, 03:45 PM
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What is the pH of your source water? That is going to be the pH of your tank typically.

Those pH up/down chemicals aren't going to do anything but stress your fish (and possibly kill them as a result) and keep you banging your head against the wall. pH isn't a stand alone value, there are other aspects that control it like kH and gH. It is possible to drop just the pH value and disregard the kH & gH relationship with CO2 injection and maintain that drop.

To many people THINK they have to alter the pH of their tank for the fish, or the plants, this isn't necessarily so in many/most cases. Unless your trying to keep delicate plants, or your importing wild caught fish then trying to maintain a low pH value is not only futile (for the most part), it's unnecessary for the much more of the time than it matters.


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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-22-2015, 05:39 PM
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Hello Bri...

Water pH, hardness and all that chemistry stuff has little importance to a successful tank. Most, if not all aquarium fish you get at the pet store will adapt to most public water supplies. They've been do it for decades since the water keeping hobby started. Your pet store and your house are likely on the same water anyway. So, treat the water to remove chlorine and chloramine and keep the water free of dissolved wastes by removing and replacing half or so weekly and let the fish and plants do their thing.

Easy peazee.

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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-22-2015, 06:28 PM Thread Starter
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Source water Ph level is 7.8-8. So when I do water changes, buy the water from local pet store? And I've been contemplating going the co2 route. Would that help my tank? Like make the plants thrive and control algae? Would there be anything crazy drastic that I'd need to know?
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-22-2015, 07:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian727 View Post
Source water Ph level is 7.8-8. So when I do water changes, buy the water from local pet store? And I've been contemplating going the co2 route. Would that help my tank? Like make the plants thrive and control algae? Would there be anything crazy drastic that I'd need to know?
So the pH in your aquarium is due to the water source.In this case, I would not worry about a specific pH if things work and you don't have sensitive plants/ fish.

Injection of CO2 will lower your pH for as long as there is CO2 injected in the water. Once you stop your pH will rise back to 8. Depending on your KH, it would be impossible to get to say a pH of 5.5 without killing the fish from the high CO2 levels.

You can have plants thrive and almost no algae in both non-CO2 and CO2 injected aquarium, depending on plants and how often do you want to interact with the aquarium. Injection of CO2 will widen the range of plants you can grow and increase the speed they grow at. Start injecting a little and monitor the fish breathing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BBradbury View Post
Water pH, hardness and all that chemistry stuff has little importance to a successful tank. ... So, treat the water to remove chlorine and chloramine ...
I would advise Brian to learn as much as he can about the 'chemistry stuff'. You yourself mention 2 chemicals in the same post you say chemistry is not important. Chemistry is very important for all biological systems, everything grows because several specific reactions happen under specific conditions. pH is one such condition. Different reactions happen at a lower pH than at a higher pH. That being said, you do not need to know every element and every concentration to keep a nice looking aquarium, but do try to broaden your knowledge.

As others members said, please do not add the comercial pH lowering products, often they create more problems than solve.

On hiatus till later this year

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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-22-2015, 07:26 PM Thread Starter
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But things aren't working so well with the plants. They seem to be not as vibrant as they should be.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-23-2015, 03:44 AM
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Are you feeding the plants with fertilisers? Low macros will limit plant growth.

If you have a choice, you have a problem, till you elect your choice. No choice, no problem, only consequences, learn to live with them.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-27-2015, 09:16 PM
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So I don't have to make up a new thread about high ph can I jump in? I also have questions. Let me know I don't want to be rude.

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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-26-2016, 02:42 AM Thread Starter
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Hey! So I check GH and KH and they are at 5 and 10. Which is normal for water! I do water changes with r/o water with super low ph. So it has to be the driftwood, manzanita branch, or bonsai tree. What is it people!!!
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-26-2016, 03:00 AM
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Quote:
Hey! So I check GH and KH and they are at 5 and 10. Which is normal for water!
There is no 'normal'.
What units are using?
Wood does not raise pH. (drift wood, manzanita or anything else).

Water company may be adding something to keep the pH up.
But a KH of 10 German degrees of hardness (if that is the units you are using) is enough to keep the pH up even if they were not adding anything.

Buy or make your own reverse osmosis filtered water and add just the minerals the fish want. I did this for my Rams, making the GH and KH about 2-3 German degrees of hardness, pH about 6.0, trace of tannic acid from peat moss. They bred regularly.

Here is a test you can try:
Buy 1 gallon of RO or distilled water (they are about the same as far as aquarium keeping goes).
Make a few recipes and see what happens.
25% tap + 75% RO
50/50
75% tap + 25% RO

See which has a KH closest to about 3-5 German degrees of hardness, and what the pH is of each of these. Work with the one that makes the pH about 6.5-7.5

Add Seachem Equilibrium to bring the GH back up to equal the KH. (difficult to dissolve- add a bubbler or small pump, or stir frequently for an hour or so)

Add a handful of peat moss and stir. Let it sit overnight, or keep the bubbler/pump running to keep stirring the peat moss.

Now test:
GH, KH, pH.

If this is not quite the recipe you want, then go back and try a different blend of RO + tap.

When you find a recipe that works:
1) Prepare water for water changes this way all the time.
2) When you are first changing the fish over to this kind of water do small, frequent water changes, such as 10-20% twice a week. Do not drop the GH and KH too fast. Allow the fish a chance to get used to the lower mineral levels.
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-26-2016, 03:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian727 View Post
What is it people!!!
What type of substrate is in your tank?

I have source water of 8.3pH, tanks with a GH of 12 & KH of 8
6 tanks that are jungled out at this time and tired of trimming.
Can't seem to dose enough Mg & PO4 in one of them.

You could add a containment bag of SafeTSorb in your filter.
It will suck the hardness right out of it.


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Growing is not that difficult.
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-26-2016, 03:37 AM
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STS will remove the carbonate hardness. It does not seem to do anything about the GH, though.
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