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Lowering PH safely?

1058 Views 2 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  jasonpatterson
Hi, guys! Long time reader, first time poster, and of course I have a problem :)

So, I have a 10 gallon I've been trying to raise shrimp in, and I've had terrible luck. It took me a little while to realize that my local water is insanely soft -- 0GH, 0KH -- which was why none of my little guys were surviving their molts. Started adding Fluval Mineral Supplement, baking soda, and some cuttlebone. When the GH and KH looked okay, I tried again.

They died even faster. I was kinda frustrated, so I let the tank go fallow for a bit, with just the (fairly happy) snail, the vals, and the java moss. They all did fine, although there was a nasty outbreak of bluegreen algae. Eventually I got sad looking at an empty tank, and got some tetras (they'll be moving into a 29 gal once we get it set up), and when I added them I tested the PH, which I hadn't done in a while.

It was above 9. I was sure I'd screwed something up in trying to raise the hardness, but then I went and tested our tap water, which had always been a nice, neutral 7. It, too, was up over 9 -- I guess the town must have changed something when I wasn't looking.

So, after that long preamble, my question is: How can I lower the ph in a way that will be safe for a future shrimp population? The good news is that it goes back down to 7 if I let it sit out in a bucket for a couple days, but a) that's kind of a pain and b) it risks contamination from cleaning chemicals and other crud. Will the ph still "gas out" if it's covered? How long can it sit before I have to worry about it growing its own ecosystem? Can it sit around after being dosed with prime and mineral supplements?

And (as if this wasn't long enough), what about products like API PH Down? I've seen mixed response online, but then, I don't see a lot of people in my exact situation, needing to seriously lower ph for changes, but not in the tank itself (which is back down to a cozy 7).

Anyway, thanks to those of you who are still reading :)
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Ther are more expensive ways but I use peat. Search the forum for the post by getochkn. He posted step by step how he prepares it for shrimps.

You can also fond shrimP specific products, but steer clear of ph down or similar product that plays chemical game with the water. Some ph down products even states not for planted tanks so I wouldn't use it for shrimps. I also use vinegar sometimes but that's controversy.
That's really really basic tap water for a municipal supplier. Are you sure that your pH test kit (high range) is good? It's going to take a bunch of stuff in the water to get it that high, and it shouldn't lower itself in the tank without you adding something to remove whatever base it is that's in the water. The usual out-gassing from water involves carbon dioxide and chlorine leaving, and neither of those would make the pH swing so far, or in this direction.

In a clean, food-safe bucket, you can leave water sitting for quite some time with a loose cover with no problems.

If you add something to change the pH, it's going to remain in the water until after whatever is going on is done. If you are going to do it, I would use a buffering compound like Seachem's Acid Buffer and Basic Buffer. You use them in combination to peg the water at a given pH. If your water is really that strongly basic though, it might not be strong enough to do what you want in reasonable quantities.

You can also invest in an RO/DI system.

Is your KH still 0? If so, I would strongly suspect that your pH test is messed up. You could try taking a fresh sample of your tap water to your fish store and ask them to test it for you. I'm also wondering if it's possible that prime is messing with your pH test results.
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