pH question - how low is too low? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-16-2012, 04:43 AM Thread Starter
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pH question - how low is too low?

My tap water is pretty acidic. Add my huge pice of driftwood in my 75gal and the ph sits below 6. This is before adding Co2. My kH is 2. I song have a recent gH but last measured it was between 2 and 3.

I turned on my co2 for the first time at one "bubble" every two seconds with my electronic carbon doser regulator. After a short bit my co2 turned off (it's on a ph controller) and when I checked the ph was sitting at 5.2. I just calibrated the meter today with the ph 7 and 4 today. When I checked the pH against the drop API test it did sit at bright yellow (6 and below). After shaking it up and letting it air the ph did climb to about 6.7.

I changed about 60% of my water yesterday. I have started dosing PPS-pro a few days ago. Substrate - inert gravel over laterite.

So my question is how low should I let the co2 take the ph? Should I in tease my kH? Should I trust the ph meter? Should I now worry and just watch my fish? . I've read a lot of other threads about ph and co2 but none of them had this low of ph.

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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-16-2012, 05:07 AM
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What type of fish and plants are in the tank?
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-16-2012, 05:55 AM
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What about some crushed coral to raise ph and KH?

Look up that.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-16-2012, 09:53 AM
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Wow never heard of driftwood lowering it that much
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-16-2012, 11:26 AM
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Just to let you know, I have a pH of 5.0 LOL. I have BKK and I am little worry that it went this low. I got a lot of shrimp deathes before because of this and just realize it yesterday because I tested with API test kit and it just say 6.0. So I decided to test it with a Nutrafin and it reads 5.0 and I am shocked. I need to calibrate my pH pen to get another test. LOL



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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-16-2012, 12:31 PM
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Quote:
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What about some crushed coral to raise ph and KH?
Or baking soda.

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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-16-2012, 12:33 PM
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2dKH here using controller's so I won't add coral or any other 'uncontrolled' buffer additive. Drop checkers stay green or yel/g above 5.4pH. Never tried to see how low it would go.

No wood, inert sub, 100% RO, GLA booster 3-5dGH, Arm&Hammer 2dKH, American Marine conrtoller's w/0.00pH display, API titration tests.


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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-16-2012, 01:15 PM
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lack of buffer

Quote:
Originally Posted by pejerrey View Post
What about some crushed coral to raise ph and KH?

Look up that.
OP posted using a controller so constantly shifting buffer values are a problem if deciding to alter parameters. The KH value and resulting pH will be constantly rising gradually as the solid is dissolved into solution adding buffer, then only to drop with the next water change. Using a controller that's a nightmare. I prefer static changes I can control. Betting the OP would too.

CaCO3 doesn't mix very well in my experience using it. The reason I use baking soda is solubility,cost, availability and consistent results. No issues with it precipitating out of solution either. The sodium content of baking soda isn't a high enough concentration at the level I dose to effect flora or fauna. Dosed at water changes to test out as 2dKH is enough to maintain stable PH values in the 7.0 - 7.4 range without CO2. I've only once seen tested values drop after setting parameters and that was after long term neglect on a trimmings tank.

To increase KH (using leveled teaspoons)
1/8 TSP : 6.605gallons = 1dKH
1/4 TSP : 13.21gallons = 1dKH
1/2 TSP : 26.42 gallons = 1dKH

In the past I have added limestone (Texas holy rock) to my hardscape and didn't like how much my water increased in buffer over a weeks time (Rising everyday). With the BS I mix to a desired value and there it remains. Crushed coral would do the same thing so does cuttlebone.

Potassium carbonate or calcium based are our 2 best choices looking for a buffer.
BS is the cheapest, has great solubility and is readily available.


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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-16-2012, 04:25 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wkndracer View Post
OP posted using a controller so constantly shifting buffer values are a problem if deciding to alter parameters. The KH value and resulting pH will be constantly rising gradually as the solid is dissolved into solution adding buffer, then only to drop with the next water change. Using a controller that's a nightmare. I prefer static changes I can control. Betting the OP would too.

CaCO3 doesn't mix very well in my experience using it. The reason I use baking soda is solubility,cost, availability and consistent results. No issues with it precipitating out of solution either. The sodium content of baking soda isn't a high enough concentration at the level I dose to effect flora or fauna. Dosed at water changes to test out as 2dKH is enough to maintain stable PH values in the 7.0 - 7.4 range without CO2. I've only once seen tested values drop after setting parameters and that was after long term neglect on a trimmings tank.

To increase KH (using leveled teaspoons)
1/8 TSP : 6.605gallons = 1dKH
1/4 TSP : 13.21gallons = 1dKH
1/2 TSP : 26.42 gallons = 1dKH

...

Potassium carbonate or calcium based are our 2 best choices looking for a buffer.
BS is the cheapest, has great solubility and is readily available.
Thanks for the information. I actually started with sodium bicarbonate, but started slowly initially. In my 75 gal tank, I added a little less than 1 TSP and it did not make much change. This morning, I added 1 TBS, which by this number should raise the dKH by 2. This should bring my total up to about 3 dKH. About 30 minutes after adding the TBS, the pH did raise to 5.8 while adding CO2. I will be checking after I get home this afternoon. My CO2 is on, but at a low rate and with the pH controller, will not be dropping the CO2 below pH 5.5. To date, I've never seen my CO2 drop checker turn color - it is still sitting at a dark blue. Granted, I realized that my drop checker is on the intake side of the tank. If I move it to the outflow side, it should measure a higher CO2 when adding.

I've hoped to avoid manually adjusting the dKH/dGH/pH, but this is just too low to use the pH meter and due to the driftwood, fluctuation at water changes. (yes, I'm sure there will be suggestions to just use a bubble counter and watch the fish... If I go there, I'll go there.)

What removes bicarbonates from water? Obviously WCs. Do plants break it down at a noticeable rate? Do I need to continually by dosing BS?

So, I'll check this evening and see where the pH and dKH is sitting after a day of circulation.

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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-16-2012, 04:37 PM
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Only from what I have learned from other more experienced this is what I say, 6.2 - 6.4 is ideal for inverts and most shrimp both Neocardina and Cardina you could keep both species at that PH easily. Your KH seems ok so as long as its between 0-4 and your GH 1-4. You have quite a large volume of water, perhaps you are not changing enough of your water during water change. Due to your local water perimeters you made need to do a weekly 50% water change via 2 - 25 percent changes bi weekly. This should keep things under control. I know that is almost 15 gallon each time but I think your PH will stabilize. The more plants you put in and the more mature the tank becomes so will your water and PH as well, so as long as you are consistent with your water changes.

Also I know its a huge tank but RODI water seems to have great success as well in the planted tank, I am not sure though as to the water science and if the RODI system would alter the PH too or not?

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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-17-2012, 04:14 AM Thread Starter
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This evening, after the 1 T sodium bicarbonate this morning, the dKH was 4, dGH of 3 and pH was 5.3 after dosing CO2... I'll see what the pH climbs to over night.

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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-17-2012, 11:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sphack View Post
This evening, after the 1 T sodium bicarbonate this morning, the dKH was 4, dGH of 3 and pH was 5.3 after dosing CO2... I'll see what the pH climbs to over night.
what did you find?


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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-18-2012, 12:24 AM
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Many animals are OK with the very low pH you are describing, but nitrifying bacteria are not very active at levels lower than about 6.5, and by 6.0 they are almost worthless. So keep the plants going well, that is practically the only biofilter in the tank at that low pH.

Some plants can use carbonates as a source of carbon, but that process usually does not kick in until the CO2 is depleted. Plants can get CO2 a lot easier than the process they need to go through to get the carbon out of carbonates.

Nitrifying bacteria do utilize the carbon from carbonates. This is one of the factors in 'Old Tank Syndrome'. I would aim to keep the KH at least 2 German degrees of hardness from whatever source suits you.

pH is a ratio between H+ and OH- ions in the water. The water molecule can break down into those 2 ions. Those 2 ions can re-join to form water. In a volume of water there is always some of each bouncing around. Some chemicals will lock up either the H+ or the OH-, leaving an excess of the other. That excess is what a pH meter tests.
RO or RODI water ought to have a neutral pH. It has no buffers to make it one or the other (acidic or alkaline). In fact it sometimes tests acidic. Anything that is added to this water in even small amounts can alter the pH.
CO2, tannic and other organic acids, other acidic things will make the water acidic.
Carbonates and other alkaline things will make the water alkaline.
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-18-2012, 08:25 PM Thread Starter
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what did you find?
This morning the pH climbed to 5.8 overnight with a dKH of 4. This was running CO2 most of the day yesterday and the drop checker did start turning from blue to green (according to my wife, it still looked blue to me).

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Many animals are OK with the very low pH you are describing, but nitrifying bacteria are not very active at levels lower than about 6.5, and by 6.0 they are almost worthless. So keep the plants going well, that is practically the only biofilter in the tank at that low pH.
I did see reference when cycling a tank that hard water help with a faster cycle. Mine has finally cycled after having water in it for two months. It has only had plants for one week now. Next time I cycle a tank, I'll try hardening the water to enable the bacteria to multiply faster.

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Some plants can use carbonates as a source of carbon, but that process usually does not kick in until the CO2 is depleted. Plants can get CO2 a lot easier than the process they need to go through to get the carbon out of carbonates.

Nitrifying bacteria do utilize the carbon from carbonates. This is one of the factors in 'Old Tank Syndrome'. I would aim to keep the KH at least 2 German degrees of hardness from whatever source suits you.
Good to know. I'll monitor it over time.

I have my pH meter CO2 controller set to 5.5 for today and I'll see if it is still running when I get home this afternoon. My wife is home and monitoring the fish / drop checker. She knows how to turn off the CO2 if needed.

The parrot feather is growing up a storm. It was planted on Saturday and has grown 3-4 inches already! So, at least something likes my water.

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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-18-2012, 08:44 PM
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Good to read that you're getting a handle on things.
Grab a glass of water from the tank and just set it on the counter for 24hrs. and test pH on that. Betting with 4dKH the pH reading will be even higher once the CO2 is fully out gassed to atmosphere.

Regarding bacteria and lower pH readings that's a topic the water lab guy's and I yell at each other about LOL. CO2 induced lower readings aren't the same as naturally occurring lower pH levels.


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