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Tested Low PH This Morning . Do I Need To Panic

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Offline Alison

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Tested low PH this morning . Do I need to panic
« on: March 10, 2019, 12:00:52 PM »
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 Ali :Hi everyone I am a newbie to this fishkeeping hobby .I have a Jewel RIO 125l which I have cycled filtered with a Eheim ecco pro 300 at the moment I have 6 cherry barbs and yesterday added a pair of Honey Gouramies . I still test my water everyday and Ammonia and Nitrites seem to be stable at 0. I do a 20-25% water change every week but I have to admit I haven't tested my PH regularly apart from when I first set it up as I was concentrating on my Ammonia and Nitrites a bit obssesively and it was reading 7 then .My tap water is reading 7 but on testing my tank this morning it is showing a reading of 6 eek .I have  soft water locally 1.26 dg .I have bogwood in my tank but I did boil it for a couple of days before i put it in and it has been in since the start . I did a water change 2 days ago and washed out my filter media in tankwater.My fish look fine but don't know if I should be panicking and  doing anything at the moment .
Any suggestions guys would be appreciated as don't know anyone else who keeps fish and there is always good advice on here .

Offline Sue

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Re: Tested low PH this morning . Do I need to panic
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2019, 12:27:07 PM »
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Hi Alison  :wave:


Don't panic, as long as the fish are OK  :)

Very soft water often goes with low pH, and water companies sometimes add something to the mains water to increase pH so that an acidic pH doesn't corrode their pipework. These added things will gas out so the first thing to do is leave a glass of water to stand for 24 hours then test it. You may well find the pH is lower than freshly run tap water, and potentially could explain the tank's pH being lower than tap water.

Soft water usually goes hand in hand with low KH, carbonate hardness. Carbonate buffers the water against changes in pH. The natural tendency of a tank is to become gradually more acidic. Carbonate reacts with these acids to stop the pH changing. But where there is not much KH it get used up, and when there is none left the pH can drop. I have low KH (3 dH) and many years ago I was very lazy about water changes - and like you I did not test the pH regularly then one day discovered it had dropped off the bottom of the scale.
The way I solved it was by doing weekly water changes instead of when I could be bothered  :-[ and this tops up my KH enough to stop the pH dropping. I now do weekly 50% water changes.
You don't have many fish at the moment so less than weekly water changes shouldn't cause a problem by themselves, though this could be a cause with more fish.

Bogwood leaches tannins, which are acidic. This could be enough to use up all the KH if that is very low.


The only problem is that the filter bacteria don't multiply as fast as with higher pH. So if you are doing a fish-in cycle (I get that impression because you are adding fish slowly) it could take some time for the bacteria to keep up with an increasing fish load. At pH below 7.0, almost all ammonia is in the less toxic form ammonium, so if any does show up the fish should be safe. But there is no safe form of nitrite so if that shows up you'll need to do water changes.
However, if you were to use live plants, particularly floating plants, they will process ammonia faster than the bacteria, and they don't turn it into nitrite. Live plants will help keep your fish safe  :) You would need to choose plants that like soft acidic water, and other members will be able to help with this better than me.


Don't use a product for increasing pH. These chemicals cause more problems than they solve. I would just live with your low pH - there are lots of fish that are quite happy in very soft water with low pH. yes there are safe things you could add that will make the tank water slightly harder, and will increase carbonate and pH as well. But if you go down this route you will have to do it forever. And it will work out expensive over the years.




Personally, I would make sure I did 50% weekly water changes, have lots of live plants - and honey gouramis will like living in floating plants - and choose fish that like soft acidic water. And don't worry about the pH.

Offline Alison

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Re: Tested low PH this morning . Do I need to panic
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2019, 01:12:34 PM »
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 :wave:Hi Sue, thanks for the advice , have stopped panicking so much now was all ready to go shopping for baking powder and powdered coral and was visualising my poor fish swimming around in an acid bath !! I have taken my bogwood out of my tank for the moment as it is quite a large piece and will just monitor the water for a few days to see if there is a difference .
I have got some live plants in at the moment 2 large Java fern ,a couple others not sure what they are called some java moss that my cherry barbs love and are spawning all over it !! . I have ordered some frog weed for my Gouramis as I want them to be happy . They seem to have settled in really well and are not too shy and are swimming around quite happily I have cut off some of the unknown plant and that is floating around until my frog weed arrives which they like to hide in.
I was wondering as I read online somewhere that not enough water movement can also cause ph to drop and I did reduce the outflow from my filter a bit to make it more comfortable for my Gourami's as it was a bit fierce.
Was a bit confused as everywhere says good water movement helps in your aquarium but Gourami's and Betta's don't like too much so in my case would an Airstone help or is it overkill?
Loving this forum ,by the way, so much good advice for people like me as the internet can be a bit bewildering !!!

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Tested low PH this morning . Do I need to panic
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2019, 01:53:32 PM »
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Hi Alison and welcome to the forum.  :wave:

I don't have any experience with soft water, or low pH, as I have the complete opposite. I agree with what Sue has said about taking a sample of tap water and leaving it to stand before testing. I had concerns about high pH not long after I started, I did what Sue is suggesting here, and I found that my tap water had a pH of 7.0 when fresh, and 8.2 - 8.4 after being left to stand for a few days (water is 17dH). I thought that there was something wrong with my tank that was causing the change, and it was quite a relief to find that it was the tap water.

I'm under the impression that a build up of CO2 could cause a lower pH. As long as your filter is causing some water movement at the surface to assist gas exchange, then it shouldn't be an issue.

Offline Sue

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Re: Tested low PH this morning . Do I need to panic
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2019, 02:03:43 PM »
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In hard water areas water companies add stuff to stop all the hardness minerals coating the inside of the pipes like a kettle gets furred up. In acidic water areas they add something to increase the pH so the pipes don't corrode. I know that in some regions of Canada they use soda ash to raise pH (a member on another forum has this and his pH on standing is around 6, and he keeps loads of fish in well planted tanks)

Gouramis have trouble if the water outflow resembles a whirlpool. A small amount of current is not a problem for them, it just means any bubble nest will break up. But with floating plants in the tank, the gouramis can build bubble nests within the plants which stabilises the nest.



Just a heads up about future fish - with gouramis in the tank you need sedate tank mates; active fish will stress the gouramis. Avoid fish like danios, active tetras and most barbs - cherry barbs are the exception, they're fine.

Offline Alison

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Re: Tested low PH this morning . Do I need to panic
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2019, 04:42:00 PM »
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Thanks for the advice feel quite chilled now and glad I have more plants on the way and will be researching tankmates that my Gourami's will get on with . Have seen on u tube that if you put half of a polystyrene cup to float in the tank the Gourami's  may build a bubble nest in that . Maybe worth a try .As you say Sue I researched the Cherry Barbs and they are very chilled and peaceful fish if a bit active in the baby making department my java moss looks like cotton wool at the moment they have spawned all over it . They did like my bogwood as well but think I will leave that out for now  :)

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