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I’m trying to figure out the best way to bring up my pH on my 55g tank. It’s a high tech tank that I just swapped from DIY co2 to pressurized. My co2 checker is stable in the green. During parameter check today I found pH-5.63, gH-12, kH-2. I’ve been running the co2 @ 3BPS. I haven’t noticed any gasping or indication of the fish having difficulties however I feel the pH is too low and may start causing problems. I’m running an AquaTop FZ7-UV Canister with the co2 atomizing inline to the spray bar. Fluval Aquasky 2.0, Nicrew Classic Led Plus (Planted), Seachem Flourite & PFS,

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Why do you think the ph is too low? Ph caused by CO2 is different from low ph due to tannins or other causes. Some of the most successful tanks on this site and others run tanks with a post-CO2 pH in the 5's. @Greggz can probably comment further.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
6.5 pH in my 10g running DIY co2 granted it’s an experiment tank with no livestock. 7.63 pH in the 20 long low tech experiment tank. Trying out FoxFarms Ocean Forest and then my Blue Dream tank is at 6.1 pH and it has the same substrate as the 55g. I’m not sure why I feel like it’s too low I guess just a gut feeling? I purchased a house and the tap water here has a lower gH/kH/pH than where I was living. From the tap I tested 3 gH / 4kH / 7.41pH.

I think it may be partially due to the Texas Freeze made me paranoid since I lost a lot of livestock when I went with no power for 6 days and was boiling water and bottling it to try and keep the tanks temps up.
 

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Why do you think the ph is too low? Ph caused by CO2 is different from low ph due to tannins or other causes. Some of the most successful tanks on this site and others run tanks with a post-CO2 pH in the 5's. @Greggz can probably comment further.
Yes most of the best tanks from around the world are at 1.0 to zero dKH. Plants love it and fish live long healthy lives.

Personally my tank is driven down to 4.80 pH every day. My Rainbowfish are doing great.
 

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Yes most of the best tanks from around the world are at 1.0 to zero dKH. Plants love it and fish live long healthy lives.

Personally my tank is driven down to 4.80 pH every day. My Rainbowfish are doing great.
Do you know where I can find a chart that goes into the 5range? Honestly after reading your journal and looking around online I think the unease stemmed from finding ph charts mainly stopping at 6pH
 

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Do you know where I can find a chart that goes into the 5range? Honestly after reading your journal and looking around online I think the unease stemmed from finding ph charts mainly stopping at 6pH
I would forget the charts. I have had times where the chart would say my CO2 is 100+. There are other things at work besides CO2 and the chart is not an accurate representation of the level of CO2.

Better to focus on pH drop from degassed value. The chart would tell you that a one point drop is perfect. It's not. Most of the better tanks are more like 1.2 to 1.5 pH drop from CO2. I am talking real world experience not what is in the charts.

Here is a good article about low dKH/pH tanks. It's by Dennis Wong who is one of the best in the business.

2hr Aquarist Low pH Tanks
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
thanks, I am still fairly new to High Tech tanks. It was my belief that being stable is more important than chasing numbers. I’ve have this tank running DIY CO2 for about 8months now and just recently switched it to Pressurized CO2 last week. I do wish the drop checker was easier to read. Last night about 2hrs after photo period I rechecked the PH and it was 5.8. I also raised my drop checker and it was yellow at that point. I’ve got the solenoid and 2nd light on a timer the 2nd light is set for 45% starting at 630am. Scheduling is set for 630-1230(Fluval light kicks on at 730) 1230-1430(break time Fluval ramps down from 85%) 1430-1730(Fluval turns off at 1930)
 

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thanks, I am still fairly new to High Tech tanks. It was my belief that being stable is more important than chasing numbers. I’ve have this tank running DIY CO2 for about 8months now and just recently switched it to Pressurized CO2 last week. I do wish the drop checker was easier to read. Last night about 2hrs after photo period I rechecked the PH and it was 5.8. I also raised my drop checker and it was yellow at that point. I’ve got the solenoid and 2nd light on a timer the 2nd light is set for 45% starting at 630am. Scheduling is set for 630-1230(Fluval light kicks on at 730) 1230-1430(break time Fluval ramps down from 85%) 1430-1730(Fluval turns off at 1930)
I agree stability is very important.

But there is a difference between stability at poor numbers and stability at good numbers. You will definitely see it in the results. With a high tech tank, the devil is in the details.
 

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Thanks for that link to Dennis’ topic on this, @Greggz, but as you read through it, and the associated links, he cites an optimal pH target area of being in the 6-7 area for most planted tanks. Of course, he also mentions the successful tanks both below and above this range (which are all heavily dependent upon excellent maintenance along with many other factors). Aside from the qualifiers he makes for specific fish species that prefer higher pH, I think his main point, which we probably agree upon, is to maintain consistency in KH.

From my viewpoint, if we allow KH to fall into the 0-1 dKH area, we are assuring consistency of KH because it can go no lower and no higher (unless carbonates are added), which is a plus. However, there are the oft-cited Pourbaix diagrams that depict the well-studied optimal nutrient availability/uptake pH ranges of ~5.6-6.2 for plants, in hydroponics. Although I wouldn’t fight aquasoil-based systems (which, I believe, are inclined to these optimal pH ranges anyway), I would try to maintain pH in this range for a community tank and to provide what I suspect to be a more robust region for nutrient forgiveness. With higher pH from tap water, I would, personally, want to bring it down to this range, but CO2 usually does that conveniently.

If pH is below 5.6, carbonates (KH) are blown off, pushing KH to near zero (with the attendant pH drop), and assuring the KH consistency, but macros also begin to require greater balancing. I’ve found that nutrient adjustments need to be made at different pH levels (chelating increases forgiveness with traces), so why not pick the target pH area and try to hold it there? As we’ve often said; try not to fight your tap water or aquasoil. RO, however, allows more customization.

Bottom line: if I’m concerned about a community tank (and I’ve observed less vivid coloring in some fish in my community tank at pH 4-5), and I want to achieve a pH range in the 5.6-6.2 area for nutrients, I’m going to try to keep KH high enough to achieve this and tune my nutrients to that pH level. In the case of @Sham3R setup, he is finding pH in that optimal area, but may begin to see it drop as carbonates are off-gassed at these pH levels.

So, @Sham3R, if you want to prevent pH from falling further, or raise it to your liking, you can add buffers such as KHCO3 or K2CO3 (I’d avoid baking soda because of the sodium). You can also add CaCO3 or MgCO3, but no more than about 60mg/gal at pH below ~6.5 because of the solubility limits.
 
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@Deanna my comments on stability were more about CO2 drop. My point was that a consistent CO2 drop is important, but equally as important is the level of the drop. I consistent drop of 0.7 is completely different than a consistent pH drop of 1.4.

As to raising dKH with RO and Aquasoil, in my opinion you are just fighting the system. When I was raising dKH to 1.0 my Aquasoil would buffer that to an unreadable amount. So I decided why even add it?

In the end do whatever one is comfortable with. I have found little to no difference between 1.0 and zero dKH. If anything, the tank is just a bit better at zero. But there is a big difference between something like 5 dKH and zero dKH. Some species simply love very soft water and won't thrive without it. So it expands the species you are able to keep.

I will say there is an irrational fear of low pH tanks out there. Much of that is from reading old websites where everyone was warning about pH crashes. Most all cases of pH crashes have to do with poor maintenance not low dKH.
 

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No question about consistency being important in everything, especially with light and CO2. Point well made.

I wasn't suggesting the adjustment of KH to a buffering substrate, just the opposite, but I would do it to a non-buffering substrate to suit my desires. I found the same indifference as you did as dKH drops to 1 or less plant-wise (although measuring capability, at those levels, is highly questionable), but had to increase my macros to prevent complaints vs. lower dosing at much higher pH. Then, a return to higher pH levels brought the color back to many fish.

I’ve often wondered if these low pH levels are the reason that many of you find that your plants complain if you don’t dose what I consider to be very high levels of macros. Then, at whatever dosing works for a given pH, those adjustments get into the Mulder chart type of interactions that need to be taken into account (micros included). So, we each tend to naturally find these optimal dosing mixes for our tanks, but I suspect that they are driven by pH.

As you implied; the “pH shock” thing is an old wives tale (although I used to believe it in the old days (we could only measure pH). we know, now, that such “shocks” are really TDS related.
 

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I’ve often wondered if these low pH levels are the reason that many of you find that your plants complain if you don’t dose what I consider to be very high levels of macros. Then, at whatever dosing works for a given pH, those adjustments get into the Mulder chart type of interactions that need to be taken into account (micros included). So, we each tend to naturally find these optimal dosing mixes for our tanks, but I suspect that they are driven by pH.
There could be something to that. I don't doubt pH could influence uptake of nutrients.

Also depends on what you consider very high levels of macros. For reference my current NO3: PO4:K dosing is 8:5:15.

What are yours like these days? Might have to revive the Share Your Dosing thread sometime!
 

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Wow! You’ve changed that considerably from the last I saw your numbers.

My dosing is targeted to “serum levels”, so-to-speak. I try to maintain target levels, which means dosing can change. I target ~20ppm NO3 readings (to stay with Ca and K) and I do this with urea dosing (plus fish food), relying on nitrification to provide the NO3 gauge as to how I’m doing. For PO4, I try to maintain ~5ppm by adding a little daily, plus a slug after a w/c. Maintenance K is in the 20ppm area, usually with daily KHCO3 dosing after the post w/c addition. A doser pump does the daily work for me.

So, by pre-w/c day (I’m now every two weeks on my w/c), what are your serum levels for these macros?

BTW: have you noticed that, every time we type PO4 (with the colon in front of it - your post, above) in a post, the new system changes the “P” into a smiley face?
 

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Wow! You’ve changed that considerably from the last I saw your numbers.

My dosing is targeted to “serum levels”, so-to-speak. I try to maintain target levels, which means dosing can change. I target ~20ppm NO3 readings (to stay with Ca and K) and I do this with urea dosing (plus fish food), relying on nitrification to provide the NO3 gauge as to how I’m doing. For PO4, I try to maintain ~5ppm by adding a little daily, plus a slug after a w/c. Maintenance K is in the 20ppm area, usually with daily KHCO3 dosing after the post w/c addition. A doser pump does the daily work for me.

So, by pre-w/c day (I’m now every two weeks on my w/c), what are your serum levels for these macros?

BTW: have you noticed that, every time we type PO4 (with the colon in front of it - your post, above) in a post, the new system changes the “P” into a smiley face?
We are not far off.

With my front end macro dosing, my NO3 measures at 20-25 any day of the week. PO4 measures about 4 or so, but some is being absorbed by the substrate. I don't measure K.

So yes leaner than in the past. I attribute much of that to the soil. Will be testing lower limits even further shortly.

And yes I see I have to list : PO4 not :pO4!
 

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I, too, have been thinking about going lower (I consider Ca, Mg and SO4 to be in this macro category). If my suspicion about pH affecting uptake/solubility is right, I should be able to always go lower than you with macros, since I am holding pH in the 5.8-6.0 area (kinda supports PPS). Traces may not matter, other than possible interaction issues, if any. It's different than with alkaline water, where the risk of precipitation would become a problem. I wonder how many alkaline tanks have a lot of elements in the substrate from EI-level precipitation (chelates certainly help in this regard). More: with CO2 off at night (for those that do), many may be getting precipitation if pH rises into alkaline territory.
 
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Since everyone else is making it clear that pH isn't necessarily what you should worry about - it's stability - I'll bring up driftwood. And carbonic acid.

Note that I'm a shrimp nerd, so pH isn't really a thing I pay much attention to. I only focus on kH and gH. Many of my tanks have no detectable kH and I tend to run pHs ranging from 5 to 6.5 in those tanks (I think), depending on several other factors.

Some of those factors: In tanks where I have driftwood like you do, pH tends to be lower even if I'm not using a buffering (acidic) substrate and no kH. In tanks where I run CO2, I just don't even bother checking. The carbonic acid (search it here on the forum if you need a 'splainer, as there are some good ones) from CO2 use doesn't alter your water hardness, so there's not much to worry about beyond gassing your critters.
 

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You’re right; CO2 driven pH drops, which are limited by the amount of CO2 that we can get into our tanks (without killing fauna), should have no effect upon critters, although this can be carried too far, IME. I’ve noted faded coloring in some fish (a sign of unhappiness - perhaps stress) at pH levels below ~5. I bring it back up, and color returns.

Without a buffer (KH) against acid, pH drops could be severe IF acids are continuously accumulating, this would be a true pH shock that few of us ever experience. In this case, w/c’s should be designed to keep up with accumulation if carbonates are not added (now measured by pH levels, since carbonates (KH) no longer exist). Where I’ve seen this happen, you have to work at it by not working at it, i.e.; don’t ever do a w/c or clean your tank. It’s amazing how clear the water stays and how life gradually breaks down, including no algae. Eventually, the only living fish were a few old Cories (no: it wasn’t my tank). The pH fell close to 4.0 when the Cories finally gave up. As I recall, life can’t survive long, below pH 4.0.

As you do with your driftwood and/or other humic substance sources (dissolved organics), I’ve been able to dose a humic substance (Fulvic acid) in a controlled way to reduce pH. In your case, the w/c’s are keeping up with the acid generation, but I’ve never liked the lack of control when using things like driftwood, peat, Catappa leaves, etc. to lower pH or, conversely, things like shells and other carbonate sources to raise pH, although there is an upper limit to raising pH with these things. I don’t like active substrate for this reason, as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Ok, so I’ve been just kinda monitoring everything and keeping an eye on them. Everything seems ok and it was probably me “over reacting” a bit. Side note I added more plants and set up 2 experiment tanks... I figured I’ve got the equipment and want to check on this potting mix why not see how it works with a high tech and low tech setup. First picture is the Sorority Tank during meal time. 2nd is the high tech experiment. 3/4 is the low tech. Fox Farms: Ocean Forest Potting mix With a cap of BDBS. Company sent me the GA and stated the soil itself is buffered to 6.3-6.8. I might need to start a journal post about it. I’ve been taking readings every other day.
 

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