funky pH problem - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-10-2007, 08:53 PM Thread Starter
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funky pH problem

Hello,
My pH is @ 8.0 in my tank, and I'm not sure why. Here's a description of my tank, maybe someone could help me figure out my problem?
I have a small 5.5 gallon freshwater tank on my desk at work.
I originally filled the tank with drinking water from my local food lion, afterwards I've been doing weekly 1 gallon water changes with my buddies RO/DI water. I also use the RO/DI water for top offs. I have 18 watts of power compact light on the tank for almost exactly 9 hours a day, turned on and off via a timer.
I have 5 lb.s of some plain river gravel that I got from my LFS that I heavily rinsed before putting in my tank, a rena cal basic 50w heater, and a sponge filter. The tank stays @ 78 F. The tank's been up about a month and a half.
The only mobile life in the tank is a few Triops that occasionally hatch from old eggs in the tank (but don't usually last long), some ramshorn snails, a mystery snail and a malasian (sp?) trumpet snail. Once a week or so I drop in half a baby carrot for the snails to eat, it usually takes them 4-5 days to eat it.
The only plant I have in my tank is a bunch of Anachris that is constantly shedding leaves, dieng off, and growing back. I don't usually get all the fallen leaves out of the tank when I do a water change.
My ammonia, nitrates, nitrites are at 0. Do you think the dead leaves could cause the PH of my water to rise to 8.0, where it's at right now? Or, do you think there is some other factor that's raising the pH?
I tried to give all the info I could about the tank, if you need any more I will gladly supply it.
Thanks,
~Adam D.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-11-2007, 01:15 AM
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I'm betting it's the gravel.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-15-2007, 07:34 PM Thread Starter
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Anyone else have any ideas? I doubt it's the gravel, it was sold as aquarium gravel, in those little 5 lb bags.
Thanks,
~Adam D.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-15-2007, 09:31 PM
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Probably the gravel, you could take some out and do an easy 2 cup test to see, one with just water, and one with water and gravel, measure pH a day later.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-15-2007, 10:29 PM
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Hmmmmmm, This reminds me of a tank I once had setup that kept reading at a high PH 7.6 (high for this area). I finally tried a few things to help figure it out.

1) I noticed the testing time I was originally doing was when I got up in the morning so I tried testing in the evening instead. CO2 can change the reading quite dramatically overnight so my thought was in reguards to my having co2 on all night with a yeast setup. This did have some effect on the test results and it was off by .4 - .5. I turned the CO2 off just before dusk and on again after the lights came on to correct this amount.

2) I then tested the tap water and found it to be higher than normal, The water is usually stable for most water systems but you can never be to sure about it. .1 - .2 was the amount the reading was off and I could do nothing about this difference except subtract it from my reading each time.

3) I looked for little pieces of whitish colored gravel in the tanks gravel and found about 3%-5% was actually very lightwieght and upon closer inspection(dropped some into a vial with vinegar in it to watch it foam) found that it was crushed coral mixed in with the "Natural" gravel I had bought from an LFS. I changed the gravel and this took the PH down by another .4.

i.e. There might be several things at work in your tank also, so trial and error of changing how you test what is in the gravel and the original water PH might make some difference. Of course if you are not using co2 then obviously thats not even a part of the equation.

Also, other than that above, the test kit could be giving a false reading. Try someone elses test kit for PH and see if it still reads this high. Be sure to follow the written method of using the kit. It might seem like you can't go wrong with something as simple as PH testing, but you'd be suprised at how easy a missed step or just using your finger as the stopper while shaking the vial, on the end of the tube can make a difference.

BTW the leaves being left in the tank would have the opposit effect than raising the PH. They would make the PH drop some if any. (think Amazon Basin water being acidified by all the dying vegitation in the waterways).

Doug
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-16-2007, 02:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shinosuke View Post
Anyone else have any ideas? I doubt it's the gravel, it was sold as aquarium gravel, in those little 5 lb bags.
Thanks,
~Adam D.
Hate to tell you this but that doesn't mean squat.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-16-2007, 03:32 AM
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Hate to tell you this but that doesn't mean squat.
Agreed! All gravel can have some harmful material in them.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-16-2007, 04:51 AM
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Maybe a new test kit? And gravel vac to rid dead leaf matter?
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-16-2007, 04:57 AM
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eh... the snails like a slightly higher PH & some hardness.. What's the big deal?

Your ph test kit might be messed up. It happens.. Calibrate it to a known ph... Distilled water should have a ph of 7.0


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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-16-2007, 12:35 PM
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Distilled water will have a variable pH since it has no buffers to hold it at 7.0
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-16-2007, 02:17 PM
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I was going to say just that Rexx. RO/DI water has so little buffering capacity that it's not going t take much to cause a swing. The gravel buffering your pH a bit high would be a good thing since your flora and fauna won't be subject to large ph swings. Decomposing matter would acidify your water.

kara
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-19-2007, 04:22 PM Thread Starter
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Wow!
Thank you all very much for all the different advice. I will try a few different things. The tank is on my desk at work so it's a bit difficult to do much experimenting, but I guess I need to do something, right?
Thanks again
~Adam D.
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