Adjusting the pH without stressing or harming my fish
Hi, I went to Petsmart this morning to get a free test on my aquarium water. Apparently everything was fine, but the pH levels were high. I bought Aqueon pH Minus, and the bottle says to add 5mL for every 10 gallons (my tank is a 10g tank). However, I'm aware of the stress that fish can go through with sudden pH changes. I have neon tetras in my tank along with my betta, and I know from experience that they're pretty fragile fish. How would I go about carefully adding the pH Minus to the aquarium without harming them? I was thinking to gradually add the 5mL throughout the day instead of dumping it all in at once, but I wanted to get some suggestions first. Thanks.
Sudden changes in pH don't really affect bettas too much (or other hardy fish for that matter), but you should be concerned about stalling your cycle. A rapid swing in pH can easily nuke your beneficial bacteria. It happened to me not too long ago when I played around with using sodium bicarbonate (a natural pH increaser). pH went from 5.9 to 8.3 in a matter of 30 seconds. My fish wasn't phased at all by it, but the next time I changed my water, I realized my cycle had completely failed.
You need to be very cautious about any pH lowering or increasing solutions. They are a short-term (bandaid) fix to pH problems. The first thing I would do is to find out exactly how "high" your pH is. If you can get a test kit, I would recommend it. Avoid using the pH up/down solutions if you can.
Also keep in mind those "uppers and downers" only last for a very short while and then it will spike right back up with a vengeance and it does affect the fish - healthy bettas can withstand a bit more, but it is still a high risk of causing shock.
A natural way to lower it (gradually and will stay down) is use natural items such as peat moss in the filter, Indian Almond Leaf is amazing.. for multiple health benefits and lowering Ph.. even driftwood will lower it, as VJM has mentioned.
Medication will cause sudden change when you put it in, and then on it's own within a very short time. Bettas are NOT sensitive to high/low pH - they can live healthy in either. But they are sensitive to fluctuations.
20 years of keeping fish, bettas are one of the most versatile fish I have come across in regards to set ups.
I just got a test kit and used it for the first time today. The pH reading was about 6.4, and I've been wondering whether I need to adjust it. Jazz managed to shred his tail pretty good and even though I've done water changes and used Stress Coat, it really isn't healing. Would a slightly acidic pH delay healing?
Also, by "peat moss" do you mean those moss ball things I see at the store? I've wondered what those are for.
I'd throw away that pH adjustment stuff. My research suggests it's a bad idea. Your fish will adjust to whatever pH you have. They won't adjust to the wild swings you'll get from using those chemicals.
Peat moss is different than the moss balls. You can usually find it at plant nurseries, and you want 100% peat moss, organic. No chemicals, wetting agents, etc.
You can make a bag from a piece of nylon stocking, and put peat in it. Just knot the bottom, add peat, knot the top. Then put the bag in your filter. I am still looking for peat (all they seem to stock here is spaghnum moss), put there is plenty of Internet info.
Two other natural materials that bring PH down are seiryu stone and alder cones. I wouldn't worry unless you were at over 8. I have driftwood in all my tanks because I like it, the pH effect is just a bonus. I use IAL as preventative health maintenance. My pH has stabilized at around 7.5, and no ill effects.