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Old 08-24-2012, 06:03 PM   #1
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pH dropped to 5.5!!!

Wow my tank is in trouble right now. Just cleaned all my equipment in a 5 gallon bucket with about 2 gallons distilled white vinegar. Well got everything cleaned up, heater, mp10, probes, switch and skimmer.

Well i put everything back in the tank one by one and everything was fine until i got to the skimmer. I was priming the skimmer and when it got about half way full my reefkeeper alarm started going off and my ph was dropping rapidly.

I looked in the tank, all the corals where closing and my fish were struggling resting on the sand breathing heavily.

My first thought was that somehow i got a lot of vinegar in the tank but i have no idea how. pH got down to 5.5. At that point I opened the windows and began dripping kalk to begin raising the ph, i must say i did the rather quickly because my fish looked like they were on their last breath. Once pH got to 7.0 my clowns almost instantly jumped off the sand bed and went right back to their toadstool.

Whew! All fish acting normal and appear ok now, corals seem to be recovering. Looks like some have expelled some zooxanthellae but most seem to be coming around now a little bit. Sps are actually looking better than most the Lps right now but ill update how everything is doing by tom.

Without the kalk and some quick thinking im pretty sure my fish (minimum) would be dead right now. Ph is holding steady at 7.96 so im gonna leave it there.

Ph dropped to 5.5 and rose to 7.96 in a little over an hour. I will be checking to see how the corals handled this huge and quick change. Still confused on how i would have gotten that much vinegar into the tank. I rinsed all equipment before putting back in so idk.
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Old 08-24-2012, 06:17 PM   #2
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Hmmm. That's weird. Did you run it?? Maybe some stuff was stuck in the pump of the skimmer and when you turned it on it spit it out.
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Old 08-24-2012, 06:24 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crister13
Hmmm. That's weird. Did you run it?? Maybe some stuff was stuck in the pump of the skimmer and when you turned it on it spit it out.
Nah skimmer wasnt even running yet. Its a hob and the pump is external, i thought about that but didnt make sense.

As of now about 80-90% of coral seem to be looking better. About 4 or so looking a little worse off but time will tell.
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Old 08-24-2012, 07:14 PM   #4
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Wow what a scare! I wouldnt even know what to do if that happened to me... Until now I guess haha.
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Old 08-24-2012, 07:39 PM   #5
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Wow what a scare! I wouldnt even know what to do if that happened to me... Until now I guess haha.
Yeah not a good thing raising it back up that fast so my corals are definitely stressed right now but everything is still alive and thats all i care about right now. This tank has been through a lot and in about 3 weeks is its one year birthday so to lose stuff now would be pretty sad.

Everything seems to be opening back up for the most part so im thinking everything will be ok. Only one im not so sure about is my hammer coral right now but ill probably be able to tell by tom if its gonna make it or not.

Really bugs me though cuz im not entirely sure how i managed to get that much vinegar in the tank. Would have taken quite a lot plus it was diluted. I think im gonna be soaking everything in Ro next time before it goes back it the tank. Its possible i guess that i didnt rinse everything good enough but i still dont see that having that huge if an effect. Im stumped.

Water is crystal clear right now probably due to the vinegar but ill see if I have any bacteria blooms or cyano issues soon enough.

Also i thank my reef keeper. Without that i would not have been able to diagnose the pH issue so quickly.

That thing just paid for itself.
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Old 08-24-2012, 08:04 PM   #6
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If your pH was 8.2 and it dropped to 5.5 (2.7 difference), it would take aprox 270 mL of vinegar to cause that drop (in 30g of water). That's quite a bit. Anyway, glad you caught it and were able to take action to bring it back up.

You say you cleaned your probes? My guess would be there was still some vinegar on the pH probe.
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Old 08-24-2012, 08:25 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by ccCapt
If you pH was 8.2 and it dropped to 5.5 (2.7 difference), it would take aprox 270 mL of vinegar to cause that drop (in 30g of water). That's quite a bit. Anyway, glad you caught it and were able to take action to bring it back up.
Actually ph was at about 8.0 but yeah thats still a lot and not sure how it happened. Thanks for the math though, that might help me figure out how it got in there, maybe.

I think a water change might be in order tom when i have some salt water mixed up. Was ill prepared or that would have been my first course of action before the kalk.
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Old 08-24-2012, 08:53 PM   #8
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Doing a little more math makes me believe your pH probe had vinegar on it. If you used a saturated kalk solution (2 tsp dry kalk per gal of water) to bring your pH up to 7.9 (2.4 rise) you would have had to dump in 1.5 gals of saturated kalk solution.
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Old 08-24-2012, 09:14 PM   #9
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Doing a little more math makes me believe your pH probe had vinegar on it. If you used a saturated kalk solution (2 tsp dry kalk per gal of water) to bring your pH up to 7.9 (2.4 rise) you would have had to dump in 1.5 gals of saturated kalk solution.
yep that sounds about right, it was a fast drip too more of a pour instead of a drip.

I rinsed off the probe well. My fish were on the sand bed laying on there sides gasping so im pretty confident the ph actually dropped that low, plus everything instantly closed up. I easily used over a gallon kalk water. I didnt really measure the kalk either, just used quite a few heavy pinches lol.

also when I put the probe back in the tank which was before the skimmer, the probe was reading a proper and steady ph.

Also me and my wife are pretty sure we know how I managed to get that much vinegar in the tank. Pretty sure I without realizing it poured the skimmer out into the saltwater bucket. I barely remember even doing it but Im pretty sure I did, only way I can think of that much being introduced. I think trying to do to many things at once I got confused and made a mistake. Not 100% sure thats what happened but only thing I can come up with that makes sense.
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Old 08-24-2012, 09:30 PM   #10
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Also i been thinking about how much damage this did that i cant physically see.

Ph dropped way below 7 which means the water went acidic. Considering how many things are calcium and alkaline based in a reef tank im wondering if skeletal structure etc would be damaged because of this. Perhaps the duration was not long enough? Also aragonite sand and live rock begin dissolving so any clue what the unseen damage done may be?

Everything looks ok right now but im worried about what i cant see. Hopefully the duration wasnt long enough for anything like this to really take place.

Any thoughts?
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