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Old 08-11-2020, 04:33 PM   #1
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A pH mystery!

I am in the middle of cycling my tank. I have no fish, and the ammonia cycle seems to be starting quite well (Ammonia is dropping every day to zero, and nitrites are staying fairly low but aren't zeroed out yet). The Ammonia I'm using to "feed" the cycle is that ACE Hardware pure stuff. I bought some live plants and 6 moss balls, and they haven't been doing well at all (actually, plants all died and the moss balls are getting a darker shade of green, so I'm not optimistic) as part of the initial tank setup. I decided to test the pH to see if that was killing them off, and low and behold the pH is > 7.6 (you know, that sky blue color that means a pH disaster in the test results).... I immediately decided "Gee, I guess my tap water is crazy high." Nope - it is basically right on 7 or 7.2....

Some more background facts that may or may not be relevant:

1) The tank cycle is about 5 weeks in.
2) At about 2 weeks, I had a hideous bacteria bloom for about 2 weeks. It cleared up completely.
3) The tank was used, so I cleaned the inside and the gravel with vinegar. I did quite a few water changes so I don't think that is the cause (especially because the pH of vinegar is like 2.5).
4) I have about 5 ornaments in the thing. 3 are also from the previous owner. Those, I soaked in a bleach solution. I left them outside for like two weeks (it is rainy here) and THEN I brought them in and rinsed them incredibly well before putting them in the tank. I can't imagine there is any bleach left on them.

So the mystery is, what is causing the pH to go so high in the tank?
Probably more important - what should I do?

a) Should I do a water change, or wait for the cycle to fully take hold and not worry about it (maybe killing off the moss balls in the process)?
b) Should I buy some stuff to drop the pH?
c) Should I panic and run screaming?
d) Something else?

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Old 08-11-2020, 05:04 PM   #2
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A pH of 7.6 isnt really high, mine is somewhere around 7.5. I wouldnt worry about it. Just aclimate new fish properly, as you would any new fish into your system.

The higher pH could be caused by several things. It could be calcium from any rocks or the substrate. The natural processes of your plants absorbing CO2 and nitrates will increase your pH.

I really wouldn't worry about it.

Edit: Just reread your post. You say it is greater than 7.6. I would get a high pH test done and see where you are. pH in aquariums generally lower over time, and addition of driftwood or Indian almond leaves in the tank are natural ways to lower pH. If you are significantly above 7.5 you might have an issue with plants.
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