Help Low PH! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-30-2005, 10:30 PM Thread Starter
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Help Low PH!

Can someone give me some advice on how to bring my PH level up? I just started injecting CO2 the night before last. I've been checking my PH twice a day, morning and night and it's been low, usually around 6.2 but it appears to be a lot lower this evening. Not sure how low either, the 5 in 1 test strips only go as far down as 6.4 on the strip and it's a lot lighter in color. The Alkalinity is about 40, that's the next one up on the strip.

I did add baking soda to my recipe because my PH is normally around 6.4 to begin with. I am also dealing with a bad case of brown algea due to 10 days of heat for Ick. A couple of the plants were actually falling apart so I removed them. Tomorrow I intend to go out and purchase a bunch of long stemmed plants for the tank, which I hope will help with the algea somewhat, that and a couple of Cherry Shrimp that I have placed a bid on.

Edited to say that I have 2 Blue Rams in my tank and one of them does not apear to like the low ph!

Any advice is greatly appreciated!
Linda
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-30-2005, 10:43 PM
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once you start dosing co2, throw any past knowledge you have about pH out the door. From now on all you should be concerned with is Alkalinity (KH) and the co2 level itself.

Make sure you have a KH of 3d (54ppm) at minimum (preferably a tad higher), and that your co2 levels stay around 30ppm. You will still need to test pH to calculate your co2 ppm, but it is only a reference in this point.

pH fluctuations due to co2 do not affect fish. only pH fluctuations from alkalinity changes.

thus, the low pH itself, unless it indicates you have to high of co2, is not what the fish are complaining about. nor will it hurt them.

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-01-2005, 12:27 AM Thread Starter
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I guess your right there, it's not the PH that's bothering one of my Blue Rams, I looked at him a little closer and see that the other Ram has been beating him up and from the looks of him pretty badly. His fins and tail are all jagged and he's having trouble swimming. I feel so badly, all this time I thought they were playing. Not sure what I should do now, I'm afraid the bigger one is going to kill the smaller one. I wonder if Mylofex would help.

Is KH the Alkalinity? And how would I test for my co2 levels? I've been counting bubbles coming out of the gas separator bottle and they are coming out at a rate of about 4-5 a second.

Thank you!
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-01-2005, 12:38 AM
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First off get a decent kH test kit. Ditch the strips. Second do a Google search for CO2 chart or check my Guide.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-01-2005, 12:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LindaC
I guess your right there, it's not the PH that's bothering one of my Blue Rams, I looked at him a little closer and see that the other Ram has been beating him up and from the looks of him pretty badly. His fins and tail are all jagged and he's having trouble swimming. I feel so badly, all this time I thought they were playing. Not sure what I should do now, I'm afraid the bigger one is going to kill the smaller one. I wonder if Mylofex would help.

Is KH the Alkalinity? And how would I test for my co2 levels? I've been counting bubbles coming out of the gas separator bottle and they are coming out at a rate of about 4-5 a second.

Thank you!
how many gallons is your tank? 4-5/second is quite a bit. My 50g has 3bps and is at 45ppm co2.

as Rex said, get yourself a better KH testkit, utilize a co2/KH/pH relationship chart to determine your co2 level. It isn't possible to gauge co2 off of the bubble count from the co2 tank. too many factors play a roll in how much co2 is produced per bubble (surface agitation, filteration method, etc).

for the fish fin repair, get Melafix (probably what you were thinking of when typing Mylofex). Will not hurt the other fish in your tank and will not affect the bacteria cycle. Fin repair is quick with it.

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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-01-2005, 05:34 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Spar,

My tank is a 29 gallon and I just pulled a few more plants out of if last night, they're in bad shape due to treating my tank with heat for 10 days for Ick.

How can I bring my levels down then? I will pick up better test kits tonight, but it's not like I can control the bubbles coming out of the bottle, is the recipe wrong? Maybe too much yeast? Bare with me, I am relatively new to this, especially CO2. According to Chucks chart on CO2, I am getting about 75 ppm which states can harm my fish. Is there anything I can do to bring this down? What if I add a few more plants to my tank?

Any help is greatly appreciated, I do not want to hurt my fish, they are the important thing here. Oh btw, I put Melafix in my tank last night and will treat as perscribed.

Thanks!
Linda
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-01-2005, 06:37 PM
eds
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Easiest way would be to create some surface agitation via a bubbler, HOB filter, etc.
Or you could bypass whatever diffuser you are using.
Do you know your water params out of the tap?
I'm surprised a single DIY bottle would lower ph in a 29 gal so drastically.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-01-2005, 07:12 PM
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i am surprised too. that is some good yeast

Which brings up the next point; after you figure out how high your co2 is, start cutting back on the yeast and sugar added to the mixture. this will cut back on the co2 production, and thus the bubble counts.

I wouldn't think you would need more than 2bps on the co2.

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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-02-2005, 01:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Spar
pH fluctuations due to co2 do not affect fish. only pH fluctuations from alkalinity changes.
Really, I had no idea. Why is that? Can you explain further please?
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-02-2005, 04:13 AM
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Really, I had no idea. Why is that? Can you explain further please?
Just how it works. pH is made up of 2 components: Alkalinity (aka: KH) and Acids (from co2, tanics, etc). The only one of those factors that fish react to (to an extent) is the KH portion. Some acids will effect KH like Tanics as example (will lower KH a little bit), so in essence do play a small roll in fish reaction, but it still all rolls back to the KH movement.

Anyone who injects co2 sees HUGE pH swings all throughout the day to night. Yet no fish die or show any signs of stress. The only logical answer is that the fish merely want a consistent water hardness.

In the overall detailed picture, pH is merely a reference point. As long as you can keep your KH steady and co2 in a safe range (3ppm to 45ppm or so), the resulting pH doesn't matter.

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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-02-2005, 06:37 PM
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So if my ph out of the tap is 7.1 and my fish like slightly acidic water the co2 is not helping?
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-02-2005, 11:34 PM
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So if my ph out of the tap is 7.1 and my fish like slightly acidic water the co2 is not helping?
testing pH straight out of the tap doesn't tell you anything. You need to let it sit out for 24 hours to get to its actual pH. It may be higher than 7.1.

It is actually impossible to have naturally acidic water (< 7.0) unless your KH is less than 1d (18ppm), which is unsafe for fish to live in. In the wild, acidic waters are acidic due to the tanic acids that leach into the waters, from leaves, clay, wood, etc. The KH levels in the water are high enough that without those tanic acids the water pH would be basic. Thus, you could within reason take non-tanic added water with the same KH levels (which would most likely be in basic conditions (>7.0 pH)), switch those fish out into that water, and the fish would be fine.

Thus, the actual labeling of fish as acidic vs basic preferring is somewhat misleading. What you really need to find out is what level of alkalinity your fish prefer. 2-4d (18ppm-72ppm) may be considered low/soft, above that getting into medium and high levels. co2 will lower the pH into acidic conditions (pH wise), but again your fish are only going to react to that level of KH you decide on.

So if your fish want "acidic conditions", meaning soft water, just get your KH to ~3d (54ppm); add baking soda to increase it to 3d or dilute with RO water to decrease to ~3d, and you are all set. And know that at 3dKH, your water will be ~7.5pH prior to injecting co2 or adding tanics. And this is considered soft.

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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-03-2005, 03:43 AM
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testing pH straight out of the tap doesn't tell you anything. You need to let it sit out for 24 hours to get to its actual pH. It may be higher than 7.1.

It is actually impossible to have naturally acidic water (< 7.0) unless your KH is less than 1d (18ppm), which is unsafe for fish to live in. In the wild, acidic waters are acidic due to the tanic acids that leach into the waters, from leaves, clay, wood, etc. The KH levels in the water are high enough that without those tanic acids the water pH would be basic. Thus, you could within reason take non-tanic added water with the same KH levels (which would most likely be in basic conditions (>7.0 pH)), switch those fish out into that water, and the fish would be fine.

Thus, the actual labeling of fish as acidic vs basic preferring is somewhat misleading. What you really need to find out is what level of alkalinity your fish prefer. 2-4d (18ppm-72ppm) may be considered low/soft, above that getting into medium and high levels. co2 will lower the pH into acidic conditions (pH wise), but again your fish are only going to react to that level of KH you decide on.

So if your fish want "acidic conditions", meaning soft water, just get your KH to ~3d (54ppm); add baking soda to increase it to 3d or dilute with RO water to decrease to ~3d, and you are all set. And know that at 3dKH, your water will be ~7.5pH prior to injecting co2 or adding tanics. And this is considered soft.
Hmm so you are saying if fish like acidic water what is really meant by that is low KH. Is it really that simple, becuase if that is the case why don't the resources just say that? You've really got me confused right now, like I shouldn't care about PH at all. Do cichlids like high KH, not high PH, meaning I could bring the KH up with baking soda and inject co2 bing the PH down to around 7 without any health risks to the fish?
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-03-2005, 04:04 AM
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http://aquaticconcepts.thekrib.com/Articles/AFM_CO2.htm

When I read that It seems to not agree 100% with what you are saying. I am not saying you are wrong Is there anything wrong in that article particularly when discussing PH and KH and its relation to co2? Thanks for taking the time to explain this stuff, I really appreciate it.
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-03-2005, 03:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matthewburk
Hmm so you are saying if fish like acidic water what is really meant by that is low KH. Is it really that simple, becuase if that is the case why don't the resources just say that? You've really got me confused right now, like I shouldn't care about PH at all. Do cichlids like high KH, not high PH, meaning I could bring the KH up with baking soda and inject co2 bing the PH down to around 7 without any health risks to the fish?
That is my understanding. Fish like either hard or soft water in terms of GH and KH. However, try to inject co2 into a tank with a KH of 15d (270ppm), and you wont notice a huge change in pH levels. The lower the KH the more drastic of pH changes you will see, and vice versa. So even if in an extremely hard tank you dose co2, you may very likely still have a high pH even at co2 of 30ppm.

saying "shouldn't care about pH at all" may not be the right wording, but when you think about it pH is just a formula when it comes down to it. Just the offset of KH by how much acid content is in the water. pH = 7 - log[acids in ppm / (3*dKH)]. I have heard pH after acidic injections called "artificial pH", which pretty much sums it up. If you were to insert 3ppm into the 'acids in ppm' part of the formula, you will get to what your natural pH levels are: 7 - log(1/dKH). That is if you had no acids (3ppm co2 is in our atmospheric levels, so that is a minimum constant).

Another point is that in my 180g tank with a Sting Ray in it, I keep my KH at 1d (18ppm), which equates to 7.0 pH (naturally neutral). They like "very soft water". The nitrogen cycle plays a part in reducing the KH in the water over time, so I see massive drops in pH quickly, unless I do a daily dosing of Baking Soda to keep the KH as consistent as possible. IF I forget, which go figure does happen, my KH will drop to .25dKH in no time, causing my pH to drop below 6.0. I have seen it even be 5.3 before (and maybe less). *This is not safe to do, so in no way am I recommending this*.

In my situation, if you were to even do a 25% water change with 2dKH tap water (what I have), the KH level will jump up to near 1dKH again, which means the pH will automatically jump up to 7.0 again. Thus, there have been immediate changes of 1.7pH in my tank on many many many occasions. 5.3 to 7.0. Did the fish mind it? No. Why? Because there was only a small change in KH. The actual pH didn't matter. And Sting Rays are extremely sensitive to water conditions!

Where pH matters is in cycling tanks. I forget which way it works, but in one of high or low pH conditions, ammonia is more deadly to fish. For all I know, that may still be just a factor of ammonia being more or less sensitive when acids are present, &/or maybe KH plays a part in healing fish from ammonia effects... not sure myself, but maybe it is pH that matters in that situation.

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