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Old 08-25-2011, 08:58 AM   #1
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PH advice & CO2 - Planted Discus Tank - Tap water is 8.4!

Hey all - My planted discus tank is coming along well - However there is a chance I'll be going medium light by adding another fixture, and was contemplating CO2 for more than one reason:

Can I get confirmation on the below facts:
  • CO2 Lowers PH - Correct?
  • This lowering of the PH is unstable, and quickly crash/spikes if CO2 dosing changes
  • Discus like a PH lower than 7.5
Tank Stats:
  • My tank is at 83-84 degrees
  • 75 gallon (4 foot)
  • Fluval 304, 300 watt heater
  • Nitrates are never above 5ppm
  • Its becoming moderately planted, with places to hide growing out
  • The tank mates are acclimated to warm temperatures.
  • PH is 8.2, with driftwood in tank
  • 54 watt 6700k T5 + localized 96watt PC 50/50 bulb
  • If CO2 is an option, looking to get a 108 watt T5H0 with the 54 T5 watt for a total of 162 watts if i Go to CO2)
  • Eco Complete Substrate
My Problem:
  • My standing (1 week) tapwater PH is 8.4
  • My tank PH is 8.2
How do I reliably keep my PH at a level that discus would thrive in? (don't want/need to breed... stable around 7.4 or less would be ok)

Questions:
  • is dosing CO2 a valid option to lower PH on a permenant basis?
  • warm temperature+CO2 = Oxygen content being low?
  • Will Dosing CO2 mean that I will have to do many small water changes to I don't get PH spikes when adding new 8.4 PH water?
  • When I first pour tap water, its around 8.2. Standing it goes to 8.4 Would it be best to put in "fresh" dechlorinated tap water?
  • is 160 watts enough to grow medium-high light plants and not annoy discus?
Any general advice? I'm really set on getting discus - this tank has been slowing being assembled for nearly a year. Its been set up for 3 months now - I don't want to get discus until the tank is set up in a way that I have a stable, steady regime - If I need to change anything, I want to do so before I get the discus.

A lot of questions - Hopefully the use of snazzy bullet points makes this easy to follow!

Thank you guys (and gals)

P.S. Heres a picture of the tank so far.
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Old 08-25-2011, 11:52 AM   #2
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Thats awfully strange. My Tapwater PH is also approximatly 8.4, but after 2 days it lowers to about 7.8, and all the plants in my tank lower it to 7.4

The Issue might be that your water is very hard, which isnt allowing the PH to drop to more managable levels. Try this, prepare your new water in a bucket or some other container, and either place an airstone inside of it, or try swirling the water every couple of hours. This might go about lowering the PH. If that dosnt try looking into adding peat moss to your tank to soften the water.
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Old 08-25-2011, 12:14 PM   #3
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Hey Sudz, what is the source of your water? You may need to go to adding a portion of RO or rainwater to soften your water. The only way to lower the pH and have it remain stable is to reduce the buffering capacity that is keeping the pH high. However, you may not really need to do that and you might be able to successfully keep discus without doing anything, since you aren't interested in breeding. The question is how interested in playing water chemist you are.
If you were to inject CO2 when the lights are on the pH would drop, and rise again when the lights are off. This fluctuation is of no consequence as the water isn't really being altered.
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Old 08-25-2011, 06:12 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BillD View Post
Hey Sudz, what is the source of your water? .
Source is Tapwater + Dechlorinator

Quote:
Originally Posted by BillD View Post
You may need to go to adding a portion of RO or rainwater to soften your water. The only way to lower the pH and have it remain stable is to reduce the buffering capacity that is keeping the pH high. since you aren't interested in breeding. The question is how interested in playing water chemist you are.
I want stability, and simplicity. I find when you artifically change water conditions... bad things can happen very quickly. The simplist method is best.

However, I was under the impression that Discus like 7.5 or lower PH? what will they be happy with?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BillD View Post
If you were to inject CO2 when the lights are on the pH would drop, and rise again when the lights are off. This fluctuation is of no consequence as the water isn't really being altered.
So even though the PH changes, it will have no effect on the fish? is this sort of a false PH change that only effects test kits and won't effect fish? so if CO2 dies, fish remain OK? just algae bloom?


Thanks for all your input!
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Old 08-25-2011, 06:14 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziggs180 View Post
Thats awfully strange. My Tapwater PH is also approximatly 8.4, but after 2 days it lowers to about 7.8, and all the plants in my tank lower it to 7.4

The Issue might be that your water is very hard, which isnt allowing the PH to drop to more managable levels. Try this, prepare your new water in a bucket or some other container, and either place an airstone inside of it, or try swirling the water every couple of hours. This might go about lowering the PH. If that dosnt try looking into adding peat moss to your tank to soften the water.
I thought that too.

Will peat work as a long term solution?

I thought Peat just added acid (tannins?) to the water to counteract the alkilinity - would it actually soften the water too? I have a canister filter, I could easly put peat in one of the baskets.
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Old 08-25-2011, 06:25 PM   #6
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I was curious as to what body of water your tap water came from. my personal preference is to not use a substrate that isn't inert. Much easier to deal with whatever comes from the tap if you don't have something changing it. I would suggest that if you could maintain a pH of about 7.5 your discus would be fine. It is often said that pH swings are bad for fish, but there is good evidence that pH shock is another myth in the hobby. The killer that is often attributed to pH shock is in fact osmotic shock, when you have a sudden change in the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) in water. A sudden change from a ph of lets say 6 to 7.5 may also kill fish, but it isn't the pH change that does it but the conversion of Ammonium, which is non toxic and is the form of ammonia in acidic water to ammonia which is toxic and is the form ammonia takes in water above pH 7. this type of death has often been attributed to pH shock, when in fact it was ammonia that killed. the fact that CO2 injected tanks experience relatively large fluctuations in ph through out the day without killing fish, supports this position.
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Old 08-25-2011, 06:32 PM   #7
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I agree with Bill.

The pH changing is not as big of a deal as it's often made out to be. Plenty of people have their co2 systems on a timer which shuts the co2 off at night which raises the pH back up until it's turned on again in the morning. Sometimes this is an entire point difference or more.

To get an accurate reading of your source water it needs to be aerated because oxygenated water has a higher pH than water just sitting out overnight.
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Old 08-25-2011, 06:43 PM   #8
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Chlorine in the water will raise the pH. Aeration that removes the chlorine will allow the pH to drop.
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Old 08-25-2011, 10:43 PM   #9
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OK - I've put a half full 4 gallon bucket on the floor with an air stone in the bottom. I put a tiny amount of tap water conditioner in it.

I should let yo uknow that I had a 1 litre mug full of standing tap water for 2 weeks which also test 8.4

I live right on lake ontario, In Burlington, Ontario Canada. I'm on City Water, and it comes from the lake (after treatment, of course)

I've put in a request to the City for their current water results at the nearest pump - it apparently takes up to 6 months to respond, however I was told it change change greatly depending on algae/pollutant count in the water, they treat with different things, and test a bunch... Heres a 15 minute video I watched.

Ironically, this plant is only about 2KM away from my place - on the lake.

Water Treatment Video - Halton Region

How long does the bubbler have to go before I get accurate PH level test?
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Old 08-27-2011, 09:32 PM   #10
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Hey all - had a big message written out but it 404'd on me :-(

nutshell - got a call back from water treatment - From main treatment plant, PH is 7.5 From Distribution centre, it comes in at 7.6, They top up chemicals (Chlorine, etc) and it leaves at 7.8 (as of yesterday) It travels less than 1km to my place from there, and comes out my tap at 8.4

However, I've had the bubbler in a bucket of water now for 2 days, and the water tests at 8.2

if I acclimate the discus slowly (a few hours?) woudl this be acceptable? I believe PJ's in mississauga (whom I Have a relationship with, have really stepped up their vendors) keeps there water at 7.5 Would a PH change of .7 be OK if I acclimate them in a 4 gallon bucket with the drip method?

Also, Sad/good news - Sold my 44 gallon setup. 175 :-( wish I could have gotten more for it!
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