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Hi! I'm not sure if this is the right place to post this, if not please let me know! I am looking for some advice on how to handle very high pH with fairly low kH in my source water. I'm new to fish keeping, and one of the first things I read when researching it is that when you add water to the tank, the pH and the temperature should match what is in the tank. During my fishless cycle back in January, I noticed that my source water (conditioned tap) had a very high pH: higher than the API high pH test registers. However when I tested the tank water it was holding steady at about 7.8. I was concerned about adding water that was so drastically different from what was in the tank, so I bought a pH reducer and have been using that in my source water (I prepare it ahead of time and store it in 1 gallon water jugs, so it's ready when I need to do a water change). With the pH adjuster, I let the pH drop to about 7.4 and it has been consistently reading 7.4 ever since the beginning of February.

Fast forward a couple months (and add a betta fish). I've been doing more reading and I've seen a lot of people recommend not using chemicals to adjust pH and only doing it naturally or it will crash. I acquired a kH/gH test kit to get a better idea of what I need to do to adjust my water, and it seems like my kH is pretty low.

Isn't water with a high pH supposed to have a high kH too? My gH is higher, but still seems pretty low for such high pH. If the trick to lowering the pH naturally is lowering the kH, is there a minimum kH I should have? Will lowering the kH effect my moneywort? I am trying so hard to keep that thing alive!

I definitely want to avoid having my tank crash, but I also don't want my fish to go into some kind of pH shock. Is it okay to keep using the pH reducer for this? I know bettas can adapt to a lot of different pH levels, but is it okay to add water that has such a high pH to a tank that is only 7.4? I know that it will eventually self-adjust, but I'm not sure how long it takes.

I've adapted the emergency chart to give you an idea of my tank. My fish is fine, so I left out the symptoms sections. I also attached a picture of my tank in case that's helpful.

How many gallons is your tank? 1.6
Does it have a filter? Yes
Does it have a heater? Yes
What temperature is your tank? 78-80, but it stays pretty close to 80 most of the time
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? No
Does your Betta have tank mates? What kind? No, just moneywort and 3 mini marimo moss balls.

How often did you perform a water change? Once a week
What percentage of water did you change? ~66%
What is the source of your water? Tap water
Do you vacuum the substrate or just dip out water? Vacuum
What additives do you use other than conditioner? What brand of conditioner?
Tetra AquaSafe water conditioner
Imaginarium pH reducer (it takes approximately 22 drops/gallon to get the water to the right pH which seems like really a lot; like I said, crazy high pH at my house!).
Seachem Flourish root tabs: there is a flourish root tab at the base of the moneywort, and there was another on the other side of the tank, where I had a different plant; that plant died, and I've tried to vacuum up as much of the root tab as I could, but there might be some more in there.

My substrate is just basic blue aquarium gravel, my filter has a small active carbon cartridge, and a filter pad over the intake to keep Chadashah from being sucked up against it. I'm not sure what in there would be causing the pH to lower so drastically!

Water Parameters:
What are your water parameters? Please give exact numbers. If tested by pet store please get exact numbers. "Fine" or "Safe" won't help us help you. Important: Test your water before the regular water change; not after one.

Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 5
pH: 7.4
Hardness (GH): 196.9 ppm
Alkalinity (KH): 107.4 ppm

^These numbers are from tonight. I do water changes on Saturdays; the first 4 have consistently remained the same between water changes; I'm not sure about the kH and gH, I have only had the test kit since yesterday.

Source water:
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: ~5
pH: >8.8; too high for the API high pH test kit to measure.
Hardness (GH): 125.3
Alkalinity (KH): 71.6


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