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Old 09-28-2016, 08:21 AM   #1
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Help with pH, please (in a hurry)

Hi, I recently moved to a new apartment, and yesterday I brought my fish. I had a 30gl and a 10gl. The fish from the 30gl (a spiny eel, a pleco and a few inca snails) come from very acidic water. However, I made the big mistake of wanting to change the substrate to give their new tank a new look.

pH difference:

strip test: (bucket on left, tank on right) The nitrates are rising a lot on the bucket...


I bought a 55gl tank and white sand. It is silicone based I believe, I already got rid of the bags, so I couldn't tell you the brand until I go back to the store. I brought the filter from my 30gl with water in it, and I used Nite-Out II nitrifying bacteria. Well, I did the pH test, and the pH is over 7.6. In fact, a strip tests suggests its over 8, compared to the 6.5 that my 30gl used to have. I have all the fish and snails in a bucked with dripping water from the tank since yesterday (8 hours ago) and the tests still shows the same results. Maybe I am not dripping water fast enough? I have to go to work in 2 hours, and I am worried about my fish. I should note there are live plants in the bucket too, and I moved the driftwood I had there to the tank yesterday to reduce the pH, to no avail.

Bucket

55gl Tank

Petco opens in 1 hour, so I plan to go there trying to get something that could help, but, should I just give up on the sand and try to re-do the entire thing back to gravel? Also, I used a product that is supposed to "balance" pH among other things yesterday, but obviously the pH stayed high. I am not sure if I made it worse then, since it says it buffers pH. Does buffering pH mean it will increase or decrease? Thank you for the help guys
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Old 09-28-2016, 09:03 AM   #2
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Have you tested your new tap water? Is that rock pictured limestone or coral and has it always been in the tank?

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Old 09-28-2016, 09:30 AM   #3
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I placed that yesterday. I am not sure what it is, but I doubt its coral. I had it on the 10 gl a few months ago. But I took it out in exchange fot something different. The pH was high before I put it in.
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Old 09-28-2016, 09:32 AM   #4
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I would test the tap water first. It seems unlikely for the pH tmgo up so much in that short amount of time. Also, sand should not increase your pH unless it has a lot of carbonates in it. They're probably fine in the bucket for now until you figure this out. I would not add any pH altering chemicals. That will not solve your problem.


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Old 09-28-2016, 09:37 AM   #5
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I placed that yesterday. I am not sure what it is, but I doubt its coral. I had it on the 10 gl a few months ago. But I took it out in exchange fot something different. The pH was high before I put it in.
Test your new tap water. That's your most likely culprit.

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Old 09-28-2016, 09:53 AM   #6
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well it's too late for not adding the chemical buffer. I guess that made things worse. I went to walmart, since petco is a bit too far away, but couldn't find peat moss. Only "spanish moss" and another gardening soil altering pH, which I doubt is safe for aquariums. I will leave the drip system for now, and come back later today to prevent overflow. I will test the water and post it in half an hour or so. Thank you so much for helping me
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Old 09-28-2016, 10:38 AM   #7
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The tap water was alkaline too. blue result, but not as dark as the aquarium water I think.
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Old 09-28-2016, 10:45 AM   #8
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That would change over time. Water out of tap tends to get a bit more alkaline since it initially had a higher concentration of dissolved CO2. Leave some water sitting out before you go to work and then test it after you get back.

Your best bet may be to use an RO filter or mix in RO water if your fish have specific requirements.

Otherwise, a sustainable solution for the long term is to get your fish acclimatized to your tap water. Most can.


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Old 09-28-2016, 11:08 AM   #9
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I didn' get a chanse to do that. However, I do have a filter ( which filters water to 0 TDS or particles per liter whichever is the right unit, so its equivalent to RO). But I always worried that would take away other necessary elements for the fish. I know that water is more acidic, so it would help. but is it really safe for fish to swim in RO water?
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Old 09-28-2016, 05:45 PM   #10
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I didn' get a chanse to do that. However, I do have a filter ( which filters water to 0 TDS or particles per liter whichever is the right unit, so its equivalent to RO). But I always worried that would take away other necessary elements for the fish. I know that water is more acidic, so it would help. but is it really safe for fish to swim in RO water?

No it isn't. There's nothing wrong with your ph regardless of what is was then or is now. Fish are not troubled by changes in ph due to weak acids/bases.

In hard water, which has higher values of ph 8> changes in ph reflect large changes in water chemistry whereas ph in soft water is easily altered. The fish only care about why the ph changes and what is causing it to change. In most aquarium cases, ph fluctuation due to bicarbonates, tannic acids, co2 etc do not harm fish. Ph is just a ratio and means little on its own.

My ph goes from 7.6 to 5.9 on a typical day whilst injecting co2 but my livestock including the ever sensitive ottos and Amano shrimp go unfazed.

Chemical buffers contain stronger acids and bases so that the product works faster. The ph changes but in the case the fish care more because of what is being used in the products in order to change ph.

I wouldn't worry about it for now. Did you notice any different behaviour with your fish? Perhaps the new water has a higher TDS? This may be a more relevant number for troubleshooting.


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Old 09-28-2016, 06:37 PM   #11
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Agree with what Caliban says. I stocked my tank with fishes that'll survive in pretty much any water parameters, especially in the water coming out of my tap. Most fishes are like that. With others, they may still survive in non-ideal water parameters, but their long-term health and well-being may be questionable.


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Old 09-28-2016, 06:53 PM   #12
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I always thought stability was the goal? Your fish could handle a wide range of PH values. But that it not have huge fast shifts?


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Old 09-29-2016, 02:12 AM   #13
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Thank you. I will update on this better tomorrow, since it is really late and I have classes tomorrow. But,so far I finished the transfer and it seems they are ok. However, I do notice them being too "quiet" not moving a lot, but also, being alert. Some of the snails are on the top, but some are also spread randomly, so that makes me feel a bit better. I'll update tomorrow, but I can't leave without mentioning I witnessed the most amazing jump I've seen on fish, my adult Spiny eel jumped while I was about to put it in the new tank, and landed back in the bucket, which is around 4 feet away...
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Old 09-29-2016, 02:18 AM   #14
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I always thought stability was the goal? Your fish could handle a wide range of PH values. But that it not have huge fast shifts?


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Fish are very flexible in terms of the ph but ph changes for different reasons. When you add kh, gh and TDS to ph then we can interpret ph better.

My point is that it's not the ph number that kills fish, it's the reason the number has arrived there. But people only measure ph and assume that ph has killed their fish. A bit like measuring high nitrates and claiming that they have killed your fish when in actual fact it was the large amount of ammonia that was present a few days before that we didn't test for and the subsequent water pollution that resulted in high ammonia that has seen off your fish but people measure ammonia and it is not there anymore so they measure nitrates and panic when it comes back 'high' and go out and buy useless products like de-nitrate or in this case ph buffering chemicals. It's all designed to fleece the unaware hobbyist. I do not exempt myself from any of this. I have been stung by nearly all of these challenges and have purchased nearly all of these products bit the reality is that fish only care about highly oxygenated, unpolluted water with a robust ecosystem, plenty of space to swim/hide with suitable tank mates.

When we talk about large fluctuations in kh, gh and TDS then we have to tread more carefully and stability is better.


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Old 09-29-2016, 08:15 AM   #15
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Thanks Caliban! I had a big ph drop at one point, under 6, and it was all due to removing my coral and not mineralizing the RO water. I don't test GH/KH as often as I should. Lazy mistake. My fish were fine. Khuli's a bit agitated. But if I hadn't corrected it my snails shells would have really suffered.


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Old 09-29-2016, 09:16 AM   #16
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Thanks Caliban! I had a big ph drop at one point, under 6, and it was all due to removing my coral and not mineralizing the RO water. I don't test GH/KH as often as I should. Lazy mistake. My fish were fine. Khuli's a bit agitated. But if I hadn't corrected it my snails shells would have really suffered.


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You're welcome. That is another example. Is it the ph that caused the problem or the fact that you didn't mineralise the RO water. Which is more harmful. The number 6< or RO water? In this case going from extremes in TDS which includes gh and kh would have been more likely to harm your fish.

Snail shells yes. Slightly different as the shells don't have the ability to buffer against the effects of weak acids.

I lost my swordtail a few days after I pulled all my sword plants out. I hadn't changed water for a couple of weeks then pulled the Amazon swords. I kicked up a lot of soil and disturbed my bacteria bed within the gravel around these plants. I performed two large water changes 50%> then installed my new co2 system.

The swordtail was gulping for air at the surface then after a day I noticed that her scales were ever so slightly raised as if she was struggling to regulate fluids properly. She died a few days later. All my other fish couldn't have cared less about whatever it was that killed her.

I think in my case the rapid fluctuations in TDS had damaged her it's much more useful to measure this parameter in my opinion to check for stability. The meters are fairly accurate too.


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Old 09-29-2016, 10:55 AM   #17
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You should be less concerned about pH than TDS. I would dump the water you added the buffer to and replace with new tap water.
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Old 09-29-2016, 10:58 AM   #18
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Help with pH, please (in a hurry)

It was odd. My TDS shot up and it was our tap water. California drought and city had changed water source. Agitated fish after a PWC was what made me check. I did 2 50% PWC a week apart with the RO and the TDS dropped to normal and my ph was fine 7.2 right after the change. A week later I did another PWC RO of about 30%. Then about a week later I tested the water and it had dropped to 6! Since then I added the coral back and a bit of mineral to each PWC and I have been stable. Hoping that after the rains come I can check my tap water and it will be fine to use.


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Old 09-29-2016, 11:43 AM   #19
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It was odd. My TDS shot up and it was our tap water. California drought and city had changed water source. Agitated fish after a PWC was what made me check. I did 2 50% PWC a week apart with the RO and the TDS dropped to normal and my ph was fine 7.2 right after the change. A week later I did another PWC RO of about 30%. Then about a week later I tested the water and it had dropped to 6! Since then I added the coral back and a bit of mineral to each PWC and I have been stable. Hoping that after the rains come I can check my tap water and it will be fine to use.


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Yeah, that's why TDS meters are handy. We can check the stability and consistency of our tap water. This has happened to me before in a smaller tank with less margin for error


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Old 09-29-2016, 11:44 AM   #20
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You should be less concerned about pH than TDS. I would dump the water you added the buffer to and replace with new tap water.

I would do the same.


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