Lowering PH - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-03-2016, 04:42 PM Thread Starter
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Lowering PH

Hi everyone,
I Finally got a good testing kit for my 55 gallon tank. I got the API Freshwater Master Test Kit.
Here are the results of my first test;
pH = 8.2
Nitirte = 0
Ammonia = 0
Nitrate = 40 to 50 ppm

I also have pretty hard water (according to the little 5 in 1 test strips) somewhere in the 150 to 200 ppm range

I have a community tank, and would like my PH to be in the 7.0 to 7.5 range. I looked at API's Proper PH 7.0, and the bullet points were as follows;

Easily sets and holds pH at 7.0
Ideal for freshwater community aquariums
Treats 200 US Gal, Adds electrolytes and detoxifies heavy metals
Do not use in aquariums containing live plants.
Removes chlorine, neutralizes chloramines

Notice the second to last point... So, my question is, How do I lower my pH and not harm my plants?
I'm about to do a partial water change, and test again tomorrow to see what the results are.

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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-03-2016, 04:56 PM
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I would shy away from any chemical based pH lowering meathods, most of those buffers do not work well and if they do you need to use a very large amount, the best way I have found to lower my pH is to reduce things that raise it, remove rocks from tank that might be leaching carbonates (limestone and other such rocks), if you hav enaturally hard water like me (out of tap is 9.2 for me), you can add driftwood that might help (will leach tannins) or us a peat ball in your filter (will also leach tannins). Some people use peat as a layer in their substrate and this works, but the obvious downfall is that if you already have a set up tank it will require teardown. Something that might reduce the tannin leach of the peat or driftwood is to boil it first. Lastly, using RO/DI water will pretty much garantee you a pH of 7.0ish but unless your tank is small (20g or less) or you have your own RO setup it will over a long time cost a bit.

A better question is maybe why is it you want your pH in that range, most fish or plants now adays are captive raised or bred and can handle large pH ranges, some might not be able to. For the most part pH is important to keep constant not necessarily at some very specific range (low or high). (obviously the previous statement is IMO)

So what is it that you are concerned about in a high pH environment?



For reference yes I use peat disks (same as ball you can get them at local gardening stores) in some of my tanks.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-03-2016, 05:16 PM Thread Starter
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I have 2 pieces of driftwood in the tank, and the rocks are varried. I have 4 large pieces of rose quartz (looks really cool with my black substrate) one piece of granite and a few smaller black rocks that I don't know what they are.
My plants are mostly low to mid light varieties, a couple anubias, some crypts, a sword, some Java ferns, moneywart, and water wisteria. ooh, and I have one of those moss balls in there too (My son wanted it)

The reason I want to lower the pH is that it seems to be the thing that is most off in my tank. I have killed 4 otto's, 3 bristlenose plecos, a dozen neons and even a bunch of platys/mollies... None of them lasted longer than 2 weeks. I can't for the life of me figure out why. I acclimate them the way you are supposed to, I float them for ~20 minutes, add some of my tank water to theirs, wait another 20 minutes, add more of my water, wait another 20 minutes then net them out and into my tank. I don't want to kill any more fish, but I need a clean up crew to stay alive long enough to do their job.

The only fish I have that live happily are my 6 albino corys, 5 (out of 10) Serpae Tetras, one (lonely) Dalmation Molly and my male veiltail betta. They have all been in there for about 7 or 8 months, except the Serpae Tetras, they have been in for about a month.

If you know of any other reason I'm killing fish, please let me know.

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-03-2016, 05:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vohlk View Post
I would shy away from any chemical based pH lowering meathods, most of those buffers do not work well and if they do you need to use a very large amount, the best way I have found to lower my pH is to reduce things that raise it, remove rocks from tank that might be leaching carbonates (limestone and other such rocks), if you hav enaturally hard water like me (out of tap is 9.2 for me), you can add driftwood that might help (will leach tannins) or us a peat ball in your filter (will also leach tannins). Some people use peat as a layer in their substrate and this works, but the obvious downfall is that if you already have a set up tank it will require teardown. Something that might reduce the tannin leach of the peat or driftwood is to boil it first. Lastly, using RO/DI water will pretty much garantee you a pH of 7.0ish but unless your tank is small (20g or less) or you have your own RO setup it will over a long time cost a bit.

A better question is maybe why is it you want your pH in that range, most fish or plants now adays are captive raised or bred and can handle large pH ranges, some might not be able to. For the most part pH is important to keep constant not necessarily at some very specific range (low or high). (obviously the previous statement is IMO)

So what is it that you are concerned about in a high pH environment?



For reference yes I use peat disks (same as ball you can get them at local gardening stores) in some of my tanks.
I second this. What may help is adding a pinch of baking soda into your tank from time to time. This will help with PH swings when your lights go on and off. Have you measured your dKH? That may be a better indicator to check as it directly affects PH fluctations.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-03-2016, 05:31 PM Thread Starter
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I have not tested for dKH precisely. I have some 5 in one test strips that measure the hardness, it came in around 150 to 200 ppm

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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-03-2016, 05:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kinzo View Post
I second this. What may help is adding a pinch of baking soda into your tank from time to time. This will help with PH swings when your lights go on and off. Have you measured your dKH? That may be a better indicator to check as it directly affects PH fluctations.
Baking soda increases pH as well though. I like the thinking on stabilizing dKH but not at the cost of making pH even worse. Yes, plants and fish adapt, but I have never heard of neons thriving in 8+ for example.

My water from tap is 7.6 and is brought down to 7.2 by drift wood, catappa leaves, and very minor CO2 (1bp4s). Since I have CRS in my tank (which prefer low 6's), I've been considering using peat in my water change bucket so the pH is matched beforehand. I much prefer slow, natural methods over chemicals, and keeping peat out of the substrate gives you greater control

Last edited by natemcnutty; 10-03-2016 at 05:38 PM. Reason: Fix double quote...
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-03-2016, 05:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac McQueen View Post
I have not tested for dKH precisely. I have some 5 in one test strips that measure the hardness, it came in around 150 to 200 ppm
Sadly, those test steps are horribly inaccurate, but a LFS should be able to do a good test for you for free. Also, the liquid tests are pretty cheap (like $5 on Amazon) if you are willing to do that.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-03-2016, 05:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by natemcnutty View Post
Baking soda increases pH as well though. I like the thinking on stabilizing dKH but not at the cost of making pH even worse. Yes, plants and fish adapt, but I have never heard of neons thriving in 8+ for example.

My water from tap is 7.6 and is brought down to 7.2 by drift wood, catappa leaves, and very minor CO2 (1bp4s). Since I have CRS in my tank (which prefer low 6's), I've been considering using peat in my water change bucket so the pH is matched beforehand. I much prefer slow, natural methods over chemicals, and keeping peat out of the substrate gives you greater control
True, it will raise your ph, but the added alkalinity will help with the PH swings that could be stressing out his fish, especially if the tank is planted. I had the same problem with my endlers. Yes the PH is high and it should be lowered. But consistent PH is overlooked and fluctations (especially sudden ones) can be severely detrimental to their well-being.

Maybe measurements during different times of the day can give you a better idea of PH levels (lights on, lights off). Also, make sure your test kit hasn't expired (yes, they have an expiration date).
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-03-2016, 05:55 PM Thread Starter
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Just got the API Master test kit, it's expiration date is 07/2021. I'm doing a good cleaning and water change, and will test it again in the morning, and again tomorrow evening.
You would thing that a "Master test kit" would test more than pH Nitrite, Nitrate, and ammonia... I'll do my best to get a sample to my LFS as soon as possible. I'd really like to get some more fish in the tank, but I need to get this sorted out first so I don't kill them.. again... =/

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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-03-2016, 06:05 PM
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How long has your tank been set up for. Your Nitrates look kind of high. If your tank has been set up for more than 1 month, have you done any aggressive cleaning lately? you might have reset your cycle (or haven't finished your first if it is a new tank)
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-03-2016, 06:50 PM Thread Starter
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The tank is a over 9 months old, not quite 10 months.

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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-03-2016, 06:51 PM
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How large is it and what does your filtration on it look like
Also have you done any cleaning recently?

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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-03-2016, 07:05 PM Thread Starter
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55 gallon tank, I do a 5 gallon water change weekly, here is a list of equipment;
Filtration = Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel 350
Lighting = Finnex Planted + 24:7
Substrate = Eco complete

Here's a pic


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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-03-2016, 08:04 PM
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Are you using well or city water?
If city are you using dechlorinator?

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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-03-2016, 08:20 PM Thread Starter
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City water, and I use a dechlorinator.
The water is kinda hard, not terrible though.

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