PH Crashes - Please Help - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-08-2012, 06:21 PM Thread Starter
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PH Crashes - Please Help

I have a major issue with the water quality coming out of my tap - I live in an area that had a major water contaimination issue years ago and since then the town has been using a reverse osmosis system to purify the water - the problem is that the PH of RO water is dead low - but the water from my tap has a PH that is very high 7.8 to above 8.0 - so the town must be using a buffer to prevent a crash in PH - so now when I change the water in my tanks I can get the PH to remain stable at about a 6.8 - 7.2 for a few days but when the water gases out the ph crashes to about 5.8 - 6.2 and it is almost impossible to get the ph reestablished without another water change - the problem is this crash interupts the bio filter and causes my tanks to automatically go into a mini cycle - essentially killing the nutrifying bacteria or at least forcing them to remain dormant - does anyone know what I can do to get the ph to remain stable after a water change? may'be some kind of buffer?
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-09-2012, 04:58 AM
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What is the kind/thickness of substrate you are using?

You probably have a bacterial nitrification process making your tank acidic instead of bacteria turning nitrogen into inert diatomic gas

Do you frequently siphon or poke substrate and see bubbles? (typically trapped nitrogen gas)

Ever notice a strange rotten egg smelll (that's probably the acidification from hydrogen sulfate production)?

By the time you're able to smell it is very, very toxic.

1) Keep tank heavily aerated and circulating.
2) Might want to consider a top layer of carbonate rock or shell(pure white cuddlebone in bird section of petstore).

You don't illustrate your setup, could u show us what your current tank setup is (size, substrate, plants, fish,lights)?
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-09-2012, 03:47 PM
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Buy those RO Mineral Replacement (seachem) or add baking soda. Your water needs kH to keep the pH stable.


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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-09-2012, 03:58 PM Thread Starter
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The tank that I am concerned about is a 30 gal planted tank with 4 juvenille discus and 4 rummy tetra - and two filters - a bio-wheel 200 and 100. I have about 2" of substrate and gravel in the tank but no smell or bubbles from the substrate - I am not sure if the problem is how you state b/c my small 10gal has the same issues and it is just a simple gravel tank - unless it is my tap water that is causing the bacteria to create acid- the way that I have come to understand it is that when the water comes out of the tap - it seems to be hard water - with a high ph - but when the ph buffer that the town uses breaks down - it turns to its orginal soft state - as it would come out of a RO system - the guy at my LFS suggested using a very small amount of reef builder to raise carbonate alkalinity to raise the ph and harden the water - to prevent ph crashes - but I had not thought of what you are talking about - is there any way I can test the nutrification process? Also, something wierd is that last night the ph rebounded to about 6.6 - 6.8 - but I doubt it will stay stable.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-09-2012, 04:17 PM
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I think based on your description, you need to do what the LFS said, you need some crushed coral or reef builder, you likely have no KH which will cause ustable ph. Take a sample in and have them test the kh or buy a kit.

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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-09-2012, 04:27 PM
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When you do a water change add enough baking soda to raise the KH to about 2-3 German degrees of hardness.
Circulate that water overnight so that whatever pH changes are happening can happen outside the tank, before you add that water to the tank.

Add some coral sand, oyster shell grit or limestone sand or fine gravel to the filter. Keep it in a bag (I use a nylon stocking) so if you have too much you can remove some of it.

Preparing the water ahead of time will minimize the variations at water change time.
Keeping the slow release minerals in the filter will moderate any changes that try to take place after the water change.

Are the GH minerals also low? I would think so. Use a material like Seachem Equilibrium to add back the Ca, Mg and some other minerals (mostly K, but also some traces). Add enough Equilibrium or similar material until the GH is also about 2-3 German degrees of hardness.

You will have to be quite vigilant with the testing until you get the exact recipe worked out, then I would still monitor the tap and tank regularly. However, once you have the recipe worked out water changes will be pretty easy. That is the way I did water changes for my Rift Lake tanks and brackish water tanks. I also keep coral sand and oyster shell grit in the filters. I use a small fountain pump to circulate the water. This equalizes the gases and dissolves the minerals. I add dechlor when I set up the water so I won't forget. But it does not really have to be added until the last minute.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-09-2012, 05:20 PM Thread Starter
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thank you everyone - this helps a lot!!!
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-09-2012, 05:25 PM
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What effects do you see on the plants and fish when the pH drops to around 6? If you don't see any effects there probably aren't any. I would just leave things as they are. Once you start trying to control the KH and pH of the water you have a continuous problem avoiding sudden KH changes, and constant worries about pH which are usually unjustified.

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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-09-2012, 05:41 PM
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The pH changes in themselves may not be a problem, but if there are varying TDS levels, varying mineral levels, then this could be a problem. The pH is simply an indicator that something needs looking into.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-09-2012, 05:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoppy View Post
What effects do you see on the plants and fish when the pH drops to around 6? If you don't see any effects there probably aren't any. I would just leave things as they are. Once you start trying to control the KH and pH of the water you have a continuous problem avoiding sudden KH changes, and constant worries about pH which are usually unjustified.
+1

This. If the fish/plants aren't being affected, don't worry about it. Get your water change water ready in jugs days before, run an airstone so they offgas and get stable, then change with that. Trying to match kH exactly each time and playing chemist just gets harder and not worth it.

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