EMERGENCY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Tom

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The ph in my 10 gallon is down to a drastic 5-5.5. I know that is really bad. I had thought it could be the wood but it is not since I tested the water in the 28 gallon and they were the same piece when I got them, I just broke them apart after boiling. What would cause the ph to go that low and what would I do to raise it back up again? All that is in the tank is 2 clay pots, a rock that was from my back yard but boiled really well, a couple of java ferns, and some of that decorative gems and river rocks from the local art store(also boiled really well), and not to forget about an inch of gravel. I have moved my fish into the other tanks for the time being until everything gets settled again. Please help me.
Tom
 

sgould

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This link may help (or maybe not :-\)...it deals with pH, buffering, and the effects of the nitrogen cycle on both. Its bottom line as far as correcting the situation is to do some water changes, but it also describes some of the science behind what may be happening in the tank. Read especially the section on "buffering capacity". It is really all I have found on pH...I hope it is helpful until someone who knows more can take a shot at it for you!

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That's a very informative site, thanks for that link.

Here are some thoughts, I'll try to give them a sensible order.

pH drop seems to come from stagnation (lack of circulation), waste build up, and extremely soft water. And other things I'm still learning about. 5.0-5.5 seems extremely low. What was your pH before you added the wood? Maybe the wood or clay pots have a more dramatic impact on the 10 gallon take because of the volume.

Try increasing your circulation - do you use an airstone? How powerful is your filter? Maybe adding the first and upgrading the second is in order.

Nothing wrong with a thorough vacuuming of your gravel and rinsing out your filter inserts.

How hard is your water? I use Electro-Right when doing water changes to counter act the softness of water from my R/O water filter (and in distilled water, too, if I use that for expediency). The product is inconsistent (kH seems to rise faster than gH), but it keeps my water about about 6 degrees for both. That's a good minimul for a freshwater community tank with relatively hardy fish. Maybe you should change up to 50% of the water and add this product.

(BTW - I shy away from cleaning/changing the filter inserts and changing water in the same sitting because I worry about disturbing the biofilter. )
 
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Tom

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Thanks you guys. I do have an airstone and the filter is the same one that came with the tank. I think it is a Whisper 5-15. Last night after removing the fish, I changed about 50% of the water. For the wood, I tested it when I was getting it water logged, the ph was normal for this area(around 7.2). I also tested the water when I had cleaned the pots before putting them in the tank and it was normal. As for the hardness of my water, I have no idea and I can't find anything here to test it(no testing kits at the pet store) yet. But also, I haven't really looked for them.
Tom
 
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Tom

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I retested the water and everything but the ammonia is fine. It went up instead of going down. Is it normal for the ammonia to go up after a 50% water change(just water and not filter media)? I nrmally buy a media cartridge for my 28 gallon that is called 'ammonia remover', should I buy one for the 10 gallon?
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Are you using tap water? It's possible that your tap water has ammonia in it, or it has chloramine which is a combo of chlorine and ammonia. If you are using a water treatment before adding the water to the tank (which one are you using?) then it might only break apart the chloramine and destroy the chlorine but leave the ammonia free to roam. Thus you are adding ammonia to the tank when you do the water change. The good bacteria will take care of it but if you test your tank right away, you will detect the ammonia. You could take a sample of your tap water and do a test of it's ammonia level to see if you are in fact adding it with the water change. The only thing you can do in that case is convert the ammonia to non-toxic ammonia using something like or . Then even though you are adding ammonia, it won't hurt the fish and will still be converted by the good bacteria.
 
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Tom

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First of all, I use a chlorine/chloromine/ammonia remover. It is a Petland brand of water conditioner that is called 'Water Safe'. I was recommended it by other pet stores that even have their own brand of conditioner. I have also been using it ever since I have had fish(which is since I was about 5), and they only changed it so there would be a chloromine remover. I have also tested the straight tap water and there is little to no ammonia in it, believe it or not.
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AnnaEA

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A couple of thoughts -- I couldn't find any info on the Petland brand specifically, but I know that the ammo-lock products available in the US frequently don't actually *remove* the ammonia -- they neutralize it, but it is still detectable on an ammonia test, because it is still there, just in a non-toxic form.

Secondly, is it possible that you topped out your test? I know that some testing methods become inaccurate when trying to measure beyond their capacity. This could explain why after a massive water change, your ammonia level appeared to rise -- the water change brought the ammonia back down to levels readable by the test.

EDIT:

I did a little more research into the ammonia issue, and found something which might explain the water change thing and the drop in pH - here's two excerpts, and link to the article.

Example: Your fish produce 10 units of ammonia. The bacteria reduce 5 units of ammonia to nitrite, and Amquel reduces 5 units of ammonia by binding it. Your test says you have no ammonia. Your nitrites are being converted to nitrates. All looks good. You change the water regularly and add more Amquel. You assume your cycle is working well. But without Amquel, your fish still produce 10 units of ammonia, the bacteria still reduce 5 units to nitrite, but now you get a reading of 5 units of ammonia. Your cycle was not taking care of the waste but you did not know this and assumed it was working. The bacterial cycle did not crash or die, it simply was never there in the needed abundance - a fact that Amquel can hide.
...Amquel takes the ammonia and releases oxygen and hydrogen ions into the environment. This is much the same as the Nitrosomonas bacteria releasing hydrogen ions when it converts the ammonia to nitrite (Figure 1). Under the best circumstances this is released as water (H2O) as shown in Figure 2. More often, however, it is released as separate oxygen (which is good) and hydrogen ions. Just like in the regular nitrogen cycle, these released hydrogen ions can cause the pH to drop significantly if the proper buffer is not available in your water.
https://www.kokosgoldfish.com/Amquel.html
 
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I know the Petland product doesn't eliminate it completely, it just turns it into nitrites some how. I am going to test it again tonight after school and I will probably do a water change again.
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Tom before this how often are you doing water changes? When testing your water either test before the water change or several hours after doing the water change. Testing immediately after can sometimes skew your readings.
Carol
 
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Tom

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I was doing a 10% change every week as well as adding more water if needed. I always tested it about a day or two after the water change.
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Hopefully things are going better now.
Just wanted to add one suggestion that I've had to turn to. Something in my tank (possibly the conditioner I'm using) has been stripping the alkalinity from the water. Alkalinity (this is not the same alkaline as in alkaline/acidic, though it is related) acts as a buffer. Anything that would change your pH (up or down), has to go through the alkalinity first. Because of this, you have more time to fix pH problems before they start affecting your fish, if you have an ideal alkalinity.
I had to buy a product that adds alkalinity to the water. (I think that the product box says "buffering agent" or something like that) This is one of two chemicals (not counting nutrient supplements for plants) added to my tank.
 
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I figured out what causes the pH drops but still haven't figured out why. It only drops when the water level drops below 10%.
Tom
 

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Well, that's a step better. At least you know how to prevent it, even if you don't understand why.
I found the box for the product I use. It's called Jungle "Correct pH". It says it's made to hold pH between 6.8 and 7.2, and has worked pretty well for me.
Out of curiosity, does your test kit include an alkalinity test?
 

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Tom said:
I figured out what causes the pH drops but still haven't figured out why. It only drops when the water level drops below 10%.
Tom
Would you expand on this thought? I'm not sure I know what you mean.

If you are saying that the pH drops when the water level drops to 1 gallon in your 10 gallon tank, that makes sense. The elements in the water, particularly nitrates, do not evaporate and therefore become more concentrated in the tank as water evaporates.

Building on what sirdarksol is saying, do you measure General Hardness (gH) and Carbonate Hardness (kH) in your water? What are those measurements?
 
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Sarcastic said:
Tom said:
I figured out what causes the pH drops but still haven't figured out why. It only drops when the water level drops below 10%.
Tom
Would you expand on this thought? I'm not sure I know what you mean.

If you are saying that the pH drops when the water level drops to 1 gallon in your 10 gallon tank, that makes sense. The elements in the water, particularly nitrates, do not evaporate and therefore become more concentrated in the tank as water evaporates.

Building on what sirdarksol is saying, do you measure General Hardness (gH) and Carbonate Hardness (kH) in your water? What are those measurements?
Sorry, I meant to say, when it loses more than 10% of water, the pH goes down. As for the GH and KH, I just got the tester today and haven't gotten around to testing it yet.
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Whew. If not for the content of your other posts, I worried for a microsecond there that you were allowing 90% evaporation to take place...I can't even imagine how that's possible....anyway, a 10% drop shouldn't cause that significant a drop in pH, although what I said before about concentration is true.

Test gH & kH and get back to us with those measurements. (BTW, I never bother translating from °dGH and °dKH to ppm, though it may be useful for others on this board to do it.) I bet that the numbers are negligible.
 
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