my rocks are actually lowering PH - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-05-2019, 04:39 AM Thread Starter
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my rocks are actually lowering PH

I posted elsewhere but it seems the forum has lost it/ not posted successfully

These rocks which I found in New York City Central Park by breaking open a boulder of Manhattan Schist ( Schist high in black mica, iron, and low in heavy metals) are actually lowering my PH by about .3-.5 in a few days. I tested these results by putting them in a quart of water by themselves and testing and the results were exactly the same, they brought my PH from tap6.9-6.6 or so. Everything says this is impossible, unless the incredibly polluted last 200 years of NYC history have somehow imbued a pollutant or many into these rocks. They are admittedly much more porous and friable than they were supposed to be with all the mica. Am I a complete fool to have put these in my aquarium? The LFS sells rocks at truly exorbitant rates as you might expect in Manhattan and I am poor. I figured they would be fine since they are a hard stone and typically inert. I got them from a relatively unpolluted part of the city though the air is still polluted. The thing I think of is some sort of acid rain type of compound in the rock from years of sitting on the ground in NYC. any thoughts? If the PH is 6.5 that is not the end of the world. Was eventually planning on adding a pea puffer

Any ideas on what I might keep? I really don't want to use water additives to tamper with chemistry and am pretty bummed out this happened. Also, I can not get my ambulia to root.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-05-2019, 04:53 AM
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Hi @aquapadawan,

Welcome to TPT!

Did you de-gas the water first (let it sit for 24 hours) prior to putting in the rock(s)? Most municipal water has additives that increase the pH to reduce corrosion in the pipes. It takes at least 24 hours for the additives to de-gas and the water to reflect the actual pH.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-05-2019, 05:01 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seattle_Aquarist View Post
Hi @aquapadawan,

Welcome to TPT!

Did you de-gas the water first (let it sit for 24 hours) prior to putting in the rock(s)? Most municipal water has additives that increase the pH to reduce corrosion in the pipes. It takes at least 24 hours for the additives to de-gas and the water to reflect the actual pH.
I did not, though I did use water conditioner in a separate container before adding to the tank would that do the trick? You may just be on to something here thnanks!
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-05-2019, 06:16 AM
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How did you measure the PH. Matching a color to chart can easily give you a 0.3 difference. Furthermore your ability to match color to the chart will depend on the light you areusing to make the comparison. The colors will look slightly different between various indoor lights, out door light (in a shade, or directly exposed to the sun). the manufacture of my electric PH checker has a listed accuracy off +/- 0.2 assuming it is calibrated correctly.. Very close to your value of 0.3. To confirm you pH drop is real probably would probably require better equipment than most of us have.

Quote:
Did you de-gas the water first (let it sit for 24 hours) prior to putting in the rock(s)?
Quote:
I did use water conditioner in a separate container before adding to the tank would that do the trick?
You would need to know the chemistry of how the conditioner will effect the water. Some conditioners just just neutralize chlorine and chloramine. Others do more. Without any understanding of how the conditioner does the job and what the chemistry of your water is you cannot assume the conditioner took care of outgassing. It is quite possible that outgassing cause the 0.3 PH drop.

However for most experienced aquarium owners a PH change of 0.3 is not something to be concerned about. Many people using CO2 want to see the PH drop 1 point when CO2 is on verses the value when it is off. Also others want to have tannins in the water. Tannins are acidic and again will drop PH. So a drop of o.3 should not be a concern.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-05-2019, 03:07 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Surf View Post
How did you measure the PH. Matching a color to chart can easily give you a 0.3 difference. Furthermore your ability to match color to the chart will depend on the light you areusing to make the comparison. The colors will look slightly different between various indoor lights, out door light (in a shade, or directly exposed to the sun). the manufacture of my electric PH checker has a listed accuracy off +/- 0.2 assuming it is calibrated correctly.. Very close to your value of 0.3. To confirm you pH drop is real probably would probably require better equipment than most of us have.





You would need to know the chemistry of how the conditioner will effect the water. Some conditioners just just neutralize chlorine and chloramine. Others do more. Without any understanding of how the conditioner does the job and what the chemistry of your water is you cannot assume the conditioner took care of outgassing. It is quite possible that outgassing cause the 0.3 PH drop.

However for most experienced aquarium owners a PH change of 0.3 is not something to be concerned about. Many people using CO2 want to see the PH drop 1 point when CO2 is on verses the value when it is off. Also others want to have tannins in the water. Tannins are acidic and again will drop PH. So a drop of o.3 should not be a concern.
It just seems like I would need to reconsider some of the fish I was thinking about keeping and plants. Isn't 6.5 too acid for a lot of things? I was thinking pea puffers, but maybe I'm better suited to shrimp although I think our KH is low
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-05-2019, 04:38 PM
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6.5 should be fine for plenty of critters.

Is that buffering substrate you're using? If so, that's likely what's lowering things.

What are your kH & gH?
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-05-2019, 05:55 PM
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As Seattle_Aquarist said, until you've controlled for degassing, you don't really know if your rocks are lowering pH. You need to fill two buckets (preferablly degassed first) and put the rock sample only in one. See if the drop in pH is any different.

And, your rocks rock. Manhattan Schist is beautiful.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-06-2019, 05:21 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by somewhatshocked View Post
6.5 should be fine for plenty of critters.

Is that buffering substrate you're using? If so, that's likely what's lowering things.

What are your kH & gH?

Don't know those values, maybe the API master kit should have included them lol! According to the literature NYC has soft water, so I'd bet there isn't a lot of buffering capacity. I am using FLoruite Black mixed with fluval stratum and mineralized organic soil with a lot of peat on the bottom. That could be lowering the PH also
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-06-2019, 05:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aquapadawan View Post
Don't know those values, maybe the API master kit should have included them lol! According to the literature NYC has soft water, so I'd bet there isn't a lot of buffering capacity. I am using FLoruite Black mixed with fluval stratum and mineralized organic soil with a lot of peat on the bottom. That could be lowering the PH also
The Fluval Stratum will definitely lower the pH and I think that 0.3 to 0.5 pH is about what it would lower by but it also depends on your KH. I would recommend getting a GH/KH test kit from your LFS.
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