pH Drops Way Down - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-11-2009, 02:06 AM Thread Starter
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pH Drops Way Down

My pH has dropped from around 6.6 down to 5.4 (6.0 on a test tube test - lowest reading). Hardness is still between 1 and 2 (hard to tell - the test kit - change from blue to yellow - never has worked worth a **** to me). Anyway, this shows a Co2 way high off the scale - not so. The fish are not gasping and the drop checker shows to still add more Co2.

Question - what caused the pH to drop so much?

Question - what do I do about it?

Question - what's up with the Co2 readings and how can I use the chart w/ a pH that is so low (off the chart I have)?
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-11-2009, 02:15 AM
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If you are using API's hardness kit I believe you are measuring kH. With that at less than 2, any acid added to the tank will influence the pH more dramatically than at kH 4 or so.
The lower kH the less stable the pH will be. The higher kH the more CO2 you need to push the pH down. That is called buffering. I would suggest dosing a little sodiumbicarbonate (baking soda) or calcium carbonate (plaster of paris) to get the kH up a little.

I wouldn't use the CO2 charts. They really aren't all that great anyway. In my opinion you should just watch your plants and fish and adjust the CO2 bubble rate very little increments at a time. Increase when plants don't pearl and algae forms, decrease when fish don't look happy

Hope this helps.

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-11-2009, 02:17 AM
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I forgot. If you want to know the kH more accurately, you can increase the sample size to maybe 20 ml (4 times of what it said on the box). When you get the number of drops when the color turns you just divide that by 4 and you get your kH.
You can go as high as you want with this. 50ml divide by 10 and so on...

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-11-2009, 02:48 AM Thread Starter
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/\ /\ Thank you - wow! It sounds like the charts and test kits are not the real key - the reaction of the plants and fish are ...
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-11-2009, 02:53 AM
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Originally Posted by MyEdsul View Post
/\ /\ Thank you - wow! It sounds like the charts and test kits are not the real key - the reaction of the plants and fish are ...
It really depends.
In the beginning it's not bad to do some testing to gain some confidence in what you are doing. That gets old pretty quickly though. You really get a feel for this sort of thing after a while.

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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-11-2009, 03:09 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks - I really appreciate the assistance / feedback.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-11-2009, 03:30 AM
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Don't measure pH, use a drop checker, and throw your pH test kit away (except for the pH test bottle, which is what you put in the drop checker).

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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-11-2009, 03:48 AM
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Accurately measuring how much CO2 is in the aquarium is virtually impossible. First, the only accurate devices for directly measuring the CO2 cost way beyond what hobbyists can afford, around $2000. Second, the concentration of CO2 in the water varies all over the map depending on where in the tank you measure it. Right around the plants, with poor water circulation, you can have near zero, while up near the top of the tank, near where the CO2 enters the water, you can have 40 ppm. With good water circulation in the tank, the differences won't be quite as pronounced, but still enough so that one number won't characterize the amount in the tank.

Using a drop checker serves one very good function - it lets you get somewhere near the maximum allowable concentration of CO2, just so you have a good feel for what it looks like when you do, what kind of bubble rate it takes, how the fish behave, etc. Then you have to make final adjustments by watching the plants and fish. And, to make it even more difficult, the final adjustments aren't final. Once the plants grow a bit bigger and more dense you will very likely be too low on CO2 again, because the plants use a lot of the CO2, and the more plant mass you have, the more CO2 they use up, reducing the concentration in the water. But, that higher plant mass also blocks a lot of the water circulation in the tank, which makes the differences between the concentration at various points in the tank even higher. CO2 may always be a frustrating thing to try to do "right".

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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-11-2009, 04:04 AM
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Accurately measuring how much CO2 is in the aquarium is virtually impossible. First, the only accurate devices for directly measuring the CO2 cost way beyond what hobbyists can afford, around $2000. Second, the concentration of CO2 in the water varies all over the map depending on where in the tank you measure it. Right around the plants, with poor water circulation, you can have near zero, while up near the top of the tank, near where the CO2 enters the water, you can have 40 ppm. With good water circulation in the tank, the differences won't be quite as pronounced, but still enough so that one number won't characterize the amount in the tank.

Using a drop checker serves one very good function - it lets you get somewhere near the maximum allowable concentration of CO2, just so you have a good feel for what it looks like when you do, what kind of bubble rate it takes, how the fish behave, etc. Then you have to make final adjustments by watching the plants and fish. And, to make it even more difficult, the final adjustments aren't final. Once the plants grow a bit bigger and more dense you will very likely be too low on CO2 again, because the plants use a lot of the CO2, and the more plant mass you have, the more CO2 they use up, reducing the concentration in the water. But, that higher plant mass also blocks a lot of the water circulation in the tank, which makes the differences between the concentration at various points in the tank even higher. CO2 may always be a frustrating thing to try to do "right".
I don't need to repeat what Hoppy said, but it is a very important point. The plants are the only ones using CO2 in your tank. If your tank is overgrown and you have been upping the CO2 slowly over the last few weeks, please, please, please turn it down a bit when you do decide to clean up the jungle

I just cleaned up my overgrown 55g last weekend weekend without dialing the CO2 down. Sent the fish up to the surface gasping again

And here I am giving advice... oh well

I guess the best thing to do is to keep the tank at the same plant mass only doing small adjustments every week as opposed to the big cleanup sessions.

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