Can't Lower Ph In New Tank

zwinch
  • #1
HI everyone, hopefully someone has some answers for me.

I started a new 20 gallon tank about 2 months ago. I used CaribSea Eco-Complete Plant Substrate, and I currently have 2 pieces of driftwood, 1 piece of lava rock, a large java moss plant and various others plants that are doing ok. No living creatures. Using a Tidal 55 filter with seachem matrix and some carbon that I added two weeks ago. All of the ammonia, nitrate, nitrite readings are around zero. Aside from the plant substrate it's identical to my main 30 gallon tank.

I cannot get my PH below 8.0. My main tank runs around 6.8 and I'm using the same water and chemicals. I removed some rock, same ph, I added the choya, same ph, added more and more driftwood and plants, same ph. I added carbon, same ph. Done a few 20% water changes, same ph. Nothing I do seems to have any effect.

My first batch of RCS from my main tank died in a few days and I'm terrified to add anything else. I'm just not understanding what I've been doing wrong. I have zero issues in my main tank and it's been fine for about a year now.

Please, tell me what I can do.
 
Lorekeeper
  • #2
Just leave your PH alone.

Almost anything you add to your tank can adapt to a huge range of PH. You just need to drip acclimate over about an hour or so.
 
AntsRule
  • #3
I agree with lore keeper, with the drip acclimation your fish should be fine , but if you really want to bring it down add some driftwood it brings ph down naturally.
 
mattgirl
  • #4
I agree with Lorekeeper A stable PH is much more important than a specific number. If this tank wants to be at 8 just let it stay there. Acclimate your stock to that PH and they will be alright. Alright unless you plan on getting fish that have to have a lower PH.
 
zwinch
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
I've had two decent sized driftwood pieces in the tank for well over a month now. It had no effect.
 
AntsRule
  • #6
Then just leave the ph be
 
DuaneV
  • #7
Like others have said, leave it. Messing with it causes way more problems.

And contrary to popular belief, adding driftwood (as youve found out) does little to nothing as far as adjusting PH.
 
zwinch
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
Ok, I agree it isn't a bad thing that it's holding at 8.0. All of the fish and shrimp I was looking into all have that 7.0 ph preferred on their care sheets. I just don't want another shrimp disaster.
 
mattgirl
  • #9
Ok, I agree it isn't a bad thing that it's holding at 8.0. All of the fish and shrimp I was looking into all have that 7.0 ph preferred on their care sheets. I just don't want another shrimp disaster.
I can understand why you are concerned if you have had problems before. You may just need to do a longer than normal acclimation process when you start stocking this tank.

Check the PH of the water they are in when you get them so you know what they are used to. If there is quite a bit of difference just slowly over a long period of time add tank water to the water they came in and they should be fine with the higher PH once acclimated. It actually took me several hours for some of my fish because they came to me with a very low PH.
 
zwinch
  • Thread Starter
  • #10
I think I figured out what is happening. I said that I had used CaribSea Plant for the gravel... My local fish store guru said that he has heard of bad batches of that stuff raising the pH to above 8.0. He said it's not every bag, but it does happen. I googled it and sure enough, it's an issue that a few people are having. He suggested that I do a few 50% water changes over the next few days and see if the lower ph holds. It's at 7.5 right now after a 50% change. If it goes back up I'll have to change the substrate, which sounds fun.

Anyways, I built this tank with the sole purpose of wanting to put stuff in there that required 6.5-7.0 Ph, so this is my plan. Thanks for the help.
 
Wildbill63
  • #11
Hi, Total newbie and first post here!!! I have a 29L that started new cycle over a week ago. Everything is going well with Nitrate, Nitrite and ammonia levels but I can't get my Ph down. It stays above 7.6 I had it down to about 7.4 but it went back up. I have used Ph Down and also read online to use distilled vinegar but it won't budge. I have a well for my household water and figured it was best to use the water pre-conditioned before it goes into house since it's right out of ground. (at the source) Any help on this would be greatly appreciated. Oh, and the water is getting cloudy but from what I've read that's normal for new tanks, is this correct?
 
NaturalGothic
  • #12
Get you some driftwood. A small to medium sized piece will not only lower your pH, it’ll help regulate it. Consistency is key when it comes to pH.

Get you some driftwood. A small to medium sized piece will not only lower your pH, it’ll help regulate it. Consistency is key when it comes to pH.

Also, it is normal to get cloudy water. It’s called a bacterial boom.
 
mrsP
  • #13
For fishes steady, even not ideal, pH is lot better than one you try artificially change with chemicals and cause it to fluctuate. Driftwood is good way to do it, and iit has other benefits for your tank and fishes too.
 
Islandvic
  • #14
Why exactly do you want to lower the pH?

Attempting to raise or lower pH is a rabbit hole I suggest to not go down.

Once you get the pH down, what happens after a WC?

Fish prefer stable pH that doesn't have sudden fluctuations.

I have hard water and a steady pH of 7.8 which is perfect for my African cichlids. My tanks with community fish and South American cichlids probably would prefer a lower pH, but they are doing just fine with zero issues. Again, a steady pH is key.
 
Gel0city
  • #15
Hi, Total newbie and first post here!!! I have a 29L that started new cycle over a week ago. Everything is going well with Nitrate, Nitrite and ammonia levels but I can't get my Ph down. It stays above 7.6 I had it down to about 7.4 but it went back up. I have used Ph Down and also read online to use distilled vinegar but it won't budge. I have a well for my household water and figured it was best to use the water pre-conditioned before it goes into house since it's right out of ground. (at the source) Any help on this would be greatly appreciated. Oh, and the water is getting cloudy but from what I've read that's normal for new tanks, is this correct?
Hello! Personally, I have never changed my PH level because its been working for my fish at a stable 7.6 (about). The cloudy water is called a bacterial bloom, which is common in new tanks.
 
Wildbill63
  • #16
Thanks everyone for suggestions of driftwood I will get some and let ya'll know results.

Why exactly do you want to lower the pH?
I want to lower Ph because of everything I've read on acceptable levels for freshwater fish generally should be around 7.0, but I see from the replies here that evidently it don't have to be that low.
 
mrsP
  • #17
No, they are fine with stable pH.
 
Islandvic
  • #18
Correct, you should be just fine with your well water.

Keep up with water changes. Remember, beneficial bacteria lives in the substrate and filter media, not in the water column. WC's are the best way to reduce spikes in ammonia and nitrates.
 
Inner10
  • #19
Hi, Total newbie and first post here!!! I have a 29L that started new cycle over a week ago. Everything is going well with Nitrate, Nitrite and ammonia levels but I can't get my Ph down. It stays above 7.6 I had it down to about 7.4 but it went back up. I have used Ph Down and also read online to use distilled vinegar but it won't budge. I have a well for my household water and figured it was best to use the water pre-conditioned before it goes into house since it's right out of ground. (at the source) Any help on this would be greatly appreciated. Oh, and the water is getting cloudy but from what I've read that's normal for new tanks, is this correct?

7.6 is a great PH don't try to change it.

But I'll explain why it's so difficult to lower PH and why it wasn't working for you.

Water has carbonate hardness, known as KH. If you start adding a weak acids it starts converting those into CO2, until you eat up the buffering capacity the PH won't go down. Once you eat that up and you have no buffering capacity the PH will be subject to huge swings. So you never ate up your buffering capacity when you tried to lower the PH. You just lowered your KH.

So...if you ever want to lower the PH of the water you need to add acid to strip the KH, then more to lower the PH. Then you have to add carbonates to increase your KH which simultaneously increases your PH...so you have to lower the PH below the target PH, then add alkaline buffer to increase the KH and PH to your target.

Oh and a bacterial bloom is normal, but it's a good indication that you should check your parameters.
 
Wildbill63
  • #21
Thanks Everyone for all the helpful insight..... I just bought about an 8-10" piece of driftwood. I'll let ya'll know of outcome. So all other tests were in acceptable range. Does it seem like I can add a few fish? And what do you all recommend as being hardy first time fish? Wife wants a few Glofish but they are expensive, would rather try out a few less expensive ones to see how they do
 
NaturalGothic
  • #22
Thanks Everyone for all the helpful insight..... I just bought about an 8-10" piece of driftwood. I'll let ya'll know of outcome. So all other tests were in acceptable range. Does it seem like I can add a few fish? And what do you all recommend as being hardy first time fish? Wife wants a few Glofish but they are expensive, would rather try out a few less expensive ones to see how they do

If your water has been stable for at least 2 weeks, you should be good. I’ve found that glofish are actually very hardy. I don’t know why that is but they can actually withstand a lot. Personally, I like to recommend neon tetras, convict cichlids (they stay small-ish and are the more peaceful kind), a group of Eel (Kuhli) loaches, maybe some cory cats? And if you’re a pleco guy, super red and lucI bristlenoses stay smaller than other strains.
 
Gel0city
  • #23
I am not sure if you meant 29L or 29 gallons, but if you meant 29 gallons, then you could definitely get some Glofish. For hardy first time fish I know guppies, mollies, platies, and some species of tetras are successful. However if your tank is 29L (about 7.6 gallons???) then you might not have a lot of space for these fish.

Also: guppies mollies and platies are livebearers and are easy to breed, so if you don't want any babies I would suggest all males or all females
 
H Farnsworth
  • #24
I was also wondering if it’s gallons or liters
 
NaturalGothic
  • #25
Thanks Everyone for all the helpful insight..... I just bought about an 8-10" piece of driftwood. I'll let ya'll know of outcome. So all other tests were in acceptable range. Does it seem like I can add a few fish? And what do you all recommend as being hardy first time fish? Wife wants a few Glofish but they are expensive, would rather try out a few less expensive ones to see how they do
I am not sure if you meant 29L or 29 gallons, but if you meant 29 gallons, then you could definitely get some Glofish. For hardy first time fish I know guppies, mollies, platies, and some species of tetras are successful. However if your tank is 29L (about 7.6 gallons???) then you might not have a lot of space for these fish.

Also: guppies mollies and platies are livebearers and are easy to breed, so if you don't want any babies I would suggest all males or all females

Gel is right; if you mean 29L as in 7.6 gall, you’ll be strapped for space.
 
mattgirl
  • #26
What have you done to cycle this tank. I see it has been up and running since March 15th. Can you give us actual numbers? Have you been adding ammonia to feed and grow the cycle?
 
Mongo75
  • #27
Thanks everyone for suggestions of driftwood I will get some and let ya'll know results.


I want to lower Ph because of everything I've read on acceptable levels for freshwater fish generally should be around 7.0, but I see from the replies here that evidently it don't have to be that low.
My pH is 8.0 out of the tap, and 8.0 in the tank. I wouldn't try to home Discus in my water, but most fish aren't as sensitive as Discus are. Like everyone else is saying, you want your pH to be constant, not ideal and most fish will adapt. Another point I've noticed is when they say fish X needs pH Y, that's for wild fish in their natural habitat. Most fish we get are captive bred and have a greater tolerance for pH ranges.
 
saltwater60
  • #28
My ph is 8.2. I’d like to lower it but I’ve tried a few things and it won’t go down. I’m not up for messing with it too much. I have a planted tank and all my fish are fine. I have some apistos and their colors are brighter at lower ph so that was my goal for lowering the ph. I can’t be bothered with it though. A 7.6 is a great ph.
 
Islandvic
  • #29
Wildbill63 , Does "Acceptable range" mean zero ammonia, zero nitrites and detectable nitrates w/ ability to process added ammonia in a 24hr period down to zero using a home test kit?

Or is this what fish store is telling you after they tested your water?

If 29 liter tank, maybe a couple of male guppies and a shrimp colony. A betta would work. As others have stated, a 29l tank is under 8 gallons. Smaller tanks can sometimes be harder to keep cycled versus larger tanks.

If a 29 gallon tank, you have more options. In my experience, black neon tetras, lamp eye tetras, and serpae tetras have been hardy and would do well in a group of 5-8.

Any platy are usually hardy, and would recommend getting only males. There are numerous online resources showing how to determine if a platy is a male or female.

I clown pleco would do well in that tank with the driftwood you mentioned. I've got 4 and are over a year old. They are about 3" in length.

I wouldn't recommend regular neon tetras until the tank is more mature. They can be hit or miss sometimes regarding how hardy they are. A weak strain of neon tetras can come from breeders and sometimes they don't do as well in tanks that have been recently set up.

Adding a sponge filter to your tank is always good practice. They are great at biological filtrationz, will colonize a ton of beneficial bacteria and are low maintenance. I have one in each of our tanks.

Also, I suggest to look into having items on hand to set up a temporary quarantine/hospital tank as needed. A 5 gallon bucket, a 50w adjustable heater and a cycled sponge filter from main tank is all you need.

Once your tank is stocked and you want to add more fish, putting them in quarantine for 7-14 days is good practice. That way you can observe them for signs of Ich and other illness. Introducing Ich into the main tank from new fish is not fun. It's easier to treat illness in a QT versus a main tank.

Finally, look into getting some easy plants to add to the tank. Most anubias are easy to grow. Also, adding some Pothos (common Ivy house plant) is super simple and easy to add. Just pull the Pothos out of the container l, rinse off the dirt and place it between the lid and filter. Let the roots hang in the water. Pothos requires no special lighting or fertilizers. It can help keep ammonia and nitrates in check. I have it in all my tanks.
 
Wildbill63
  • #30
OK, sorry for confusion..... 29L was what on the label, believe it stands for Long. It is a 29 gallon tank 30" L 12" W 18" H Nitrates and ammonia are a 0 ppm. I've added Tetra Aqua Safe at beginning per the instructions and PH Down attempting to lower at first but have not added any since getting everyone's replies on levels being OK. Just going to put my Driftwood in today.
 
Islandvic
  • #31
Gotcha.

The driftwood will be a nice piece of decor for the tank.

Many people boil it in a large pot before placing in their tank. It will reduce the amount of tannins released turning the water slightly tan.

I would let it boil of 10-20 min , dump the water and repeat again a few times.
Whatever tannins released by the driftwood is safe for fish
 
Wildbill63
  • #32
I've learned a lot over the last week and I appreciate all the help..... Driftwood in place and I'm leaving Ph where it is, which is around 7.5 ( hard to tell with the API master kit chart using the high and regular. Anyway, I'm still having a white cloud issue!! I've bought 2 Serpae Tetras, 1 Black Neon Tetra and 1 Hifin Blk Skirt Tetra. When can I expect the water to get clearer?? I'm not getting a full benefit of clear water and they are hard to see in the tank.
 
Mongo75
  • #33
The cloudiness is just a sign that your cycle is progressing. It may last a week, sometimes a little more, usually a little less. Every tank is different.
 
Wildbill63
  • #34
The cloudiness is just a sign that your cycle is progressing. It may last a week, sometimes a little more, usually a little less. Every tank is different.

Thanks Mongo75.... It's been well over a week, but I did just add the Driftwood about 4 days ago and it actually made it a little worse. I'm guessing because I added something organic to the water maybe caused that. I'm hoping adding the fish will help speed process up a little, just disappointing that I can't see them very well.
 
Mongo75
  • #35
Thanks Mongo75.... It's been well over a week, but I did just add the Driftwood about 4 days ago and it actually made it a little worse. I'm guessing because I added something organic to the water maybe caused that. I'm hoping adding the fish will help speed process up a little, just disappointing that I can't see them very well.
You do know, the wood will leach tannin into the water and turn it tea colored. Just in case you don't know
 
Wildbill63
  • #36
Yes, had read that..... and the piece I got from LFS was already in a tank so I didn't do anything to prep it. It will eventually clear up though, right?
Also, while I have your attention..... I also added a air stone bubbler and since then I got a layer of bubbles, as if there is soap or other chemical. Makes it hard to feed the fish because the pellets get hidden in them. Can the fish smell or otherwise find the food do you know?
 

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