Betta Fish Forum banner

1 - 19 of 19 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
463 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I need help trying to figure out the best way to handle our water chemistry problems.

Our tap water is very soft with poor buffering, both KH and GH are at 2. This causes the pH to be unstable and drop drastically within 24 hours. To fix this problem I have been using a product called "Neutral Regulator" by Seachem that stabilizes the pH. The biggest problem I've encountered using it is the fact it contains phosphates which causes a lot of algae problems as a result. Also, I'm constantly reading that these products are bad.

Originally our pH out of tap was 7.6 - 7.8, then within around 24 hours it would drop down to around 6. However, when I tested it today I got much different results. The regular pH test was a very dark blue, so I used the high range test to find it at the highest it would go, 8.8 - Obviously something has changed in the tap water, because I'm positive it was not that high before. The KH/GH is the same as it was though.

This brings me to my first question: I've heard to get your true pH reading you should put water in a bucket with an airstone and wait 24 hours. This doesn't make sense to me though, because when changing the Bettas water it comes directly from the tap. Their tanks are not filtered, nor do they have airstones, so does that not apply?

Question number two: Instead of using artificial buffers/pH regulators, should I just let some buckets of water sit for 24 hours before water changes and use that? That way the pH would have already dropped to its true level. I'm thinking this is the easiest route.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,450 Posts
You've got water that is just as soft as mine. Do you know just how fast the pH changes in your aquarium? Like have you tested the pH right before a water change and immediately after?

For your first question, the reason why you are supposed to let your water sit for a while before testing the pH is to degas it. Most water has some level of dissolved CO2. CO2 will drive the pH up. It seems like your water has an extra amount of dissolved gases. If you're not changing that many gallons of water it might not be a bad idea to let it sit out and degas before you add it to your tank.

Your other option is to raise your KH. But messing with GH, KH and pH is a balancing act.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
463 Posts
Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
I cannot get an accurate reading on the amount of time it takes for the pH to drop. Not by testing the pH before and after tank cleanings anyway, because I'm currently using Neutral Regulator in all my tanks.

However, I could leave a bucket of water out for 24 hours and test it periodically to get a better estimate. This is probably a good idea anyway, since the out of tap pH is much higher than it used to be. I have a 10 liter bucket filled with water sitting out now and will let you know how long it takes for the pH to drop and how low it gets.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,603 Posts
Do things in the tank, such as a lot of live plants, make a difference? My water is super soft (1 KH, 3 GH, I think) but my pH seems pretty stable (between 6.8 and 7). I'm just wondering if maybe there is a natural remedy.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
463 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
I'm currently debating purchasing a RO (reverse osmosis) unit. :hmm:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,899 Posts
Most water has some level of dissolved CO2. CO2 will drive the pH up. It seems like your water has an extra amount of dissolved gases.
I could have sworn CO2 lowers pH? High tech tanks with CO2 injected always have a lowered pH.

"The pH is closely linked with the level of carbon dioxide (CO2) because CO2 produces carbonic acid." -Byron in his pH/hardness article on TFK.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,450 Posts
I'm currently debating purchasing a RO (reverse osmosis) unit. :hmm:
An RO unit would just remove all of your buffer by removing the KH. I think what you want to do is raise the KH to give your tanks more buffer. Bomba also made a good point. Live plants really help stabilize a tank. I've got water that is just as soft as yours and pH that comes from the tap at 8.2, but I never have problems with pH swings because all of my live plants. Maybe you should call your local water treatment plant and ask about the change in pH because it seems like they did something to it.

I could have sworn CO2 lowers pH? High tech tanks with CO2 injected always have a lowered pH.

"The pH is closely linked with the level of carbon dioxide (CO2) because CO2 produces carbonic acid." -Byron in his pH/hardness article on TFK.
And acid lowers the pH. :oops: You're right. My bad. I was doing a million things at once when I typed that. That would be right if off-gassing of CO2 through aeration raises the pH (which is what happens in my tanks). I'm sorry. I'm a little fuzzy today. lol I should just get off the computer and go to bed.

Mikalia offered a great explanation of CO2 in the aquarium here: http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/...ain-carbon-cycle-aquarium-100867/#post1073696
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,899 Posts
Just another thing- the pH of your tap water could have changed because the city is messing around with it. Usually the don't want acidic water traveling through pipes so they raise the pH without any sort of buffer, since it can't change in pipes since there is no gas exchange there. But when doing water changes, the tank should adjust itself fairly quickly with live plants.
An RO unit would put your pH from around 6.5-7. However as has been stated, you would need a buffer to keep it this way- without one the water will just get more acidic.
Posted via Mobile Device
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
463 Posts
Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
So I need a buffer, but what to use? The Neutral Regulator doesn't seem good because it messes with the pH without really doing anything to buffer the water. Also, it's making the algae go crazy because it uses phosphates.

What about baking soda? It's cheaper and doesn't mess with the GH. I don't know dosing though.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,450 Posts
Baking soda isn't really that good to use as it is only temporary. It's very similar to those chemical buffers. (Byron explains it better in the end of this article: http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/freshwater-articles/water-hardness-ph-freshwater-aquarium-73276/) You need to raise your KH, and you can do this by adding carbonate minerals such as limestone, dolomite (but I would stay away from this as it also raises GH unless you want that), calcium and calcite. Adding crushed coral or mollusk shells would be a good way to raise the KH. I use crushed coral with argonite for hardening my goldfish tank, but this also raises my pH and GH. I would not recommend using this. While I haven't looked into it, there might be crushed coral without argonite that could be used for raising just KH.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
463 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
For now I will wait to see the results of me leaving the water out in a bucket for 24 hrs. Also, regarding going the natural route and having planted tanks, would low light plants in a low tech tank (heavily planted) have the same stability effect on the KH and pH?

Results so far:

Started at 4 PM, the pH was 8.8

8:30 PM the pH was 8.2

I will test again in a few hours before I go to bed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,603 Posts
My tank is low-light (1.5wpg), low-tech. It is really densely planted with fast growers, though, so I don't know if that makes a difference.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,358 Posts
You could probably get a mineral mix meant for RO water. This would add some buffer to your tank hopefully without affecting your pH much. I mean, you basically have a low dissolved solids level, which is essentially what RO water is, just that RO has next to no dissolved solids (more extreme case).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
463 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Updated results so far:

Started at 4 PM (yesterday), the pH was 8.8

8:30 PM the pH was 8.2

11:00 AM (today) the pH was 7.8
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
463 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Got the results for leaving a 10 liter bucket of tap water out for 24 hrs. pH started out at 8.8 and 24 hrs later is at 7.4, hopefully it will hold steady now. If it does, I will invest in some storage containers so the water can sit out. That way I wont have to use chemical buffers to up the KH, since they also mess with the GH and pH.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
872 Posts
You can get away with using a small amount of neutral regulator with baking soda. Generally you can trim up the aging water a little bit if you like.

Don't worry in general if your pH is driven better by kH or GH, if you do regular water changes and keep the nitrates low it really won't make much difference to your fish.

My special little "secret" is to get actual fired clay ornamentation for tanks instead of flash ceramics or resin objects. I also use natural clay media beside the ceramic and sintered biological media in my canister filters. The little bio-slugs / nuggets that are in most of the newer Fluval tank kits and in many of the Aquaclear pouches will provide kH to the tank itself.

Evaporation will also intensify kH vs GH. In my experience the best and fastest way to recover kH in a tank is to find someone with a high kH who's willing to scrape their waterline mineral deposits and mail them to you.

That's about all I have to really add to this. Consider natural rock as the superior substrate for a good reason.
 
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
Top