High pH in a new tank

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by bumblebeebah, Apr 17, 2012.

  1. bumblebeebahNew MemberMember

    Yesterday got two small shubunkin goldfish. I put them in a 10 gallon tank (for now... I got the 10 gal. from a friend, but plan to buy a 50 gal soon so my fish have plenty of room to grow). The only chemical I added was AquaSafe water conditioner. I have 2 fake plants and a broken pot decoration that they can hide in. I installed an air pump with a bubble wall. IMG_0347.jpgIMG_0340.jpgIMG_0379.jpg

    I also bought strips to test my water. Today I tested the water and found that ammonia level was high (1.0), and nitrate and nitrite were both 0. I started looking online and found out about the nitrogen cycle and the "new tank syndrome," so my test results make sense. However, the result for pH was really high--way above 8.4. Out of curiosity, I also tested my tap water and found the pH was also above 8.4. I read that a high pH makes ammonia even more toxic, so I'm worried that this will kill my fish.

    Should I be worried about the pH level? What is the best way to control ammonia until the nitrogen cycle completes? Will water changes and gravel vacuuming help? Since my tap water is high in pH, should I use filtered water from the store instead?

    Thanks for answering my questions... I'm already attached to these fish and I want them to be happy. :)

  2. STLBluesFanValued MemberMember

    well i dont know the answer to your question on PH, but i do know that the test strips are very unreliabe and you should get an api master test kit (liquid) . and the best and really only way to fight ammonia is to do water changes, and by your question it seems you did not cycle your tank, so if i was you i would do daily 50 percent water changes and get them in the 50 gallon as quick as you can, and when you do, use the filte media from your tank now, in your 50 to help cycle that tank.. and since you have tap water, make sure you add a water conditioner everytime you add it to the tank

  3. AlyeskaGirlFishlore VIPMember


    The most important thing with pH is consistency. Fish can adapt to a wide range. I wouldn't mess with it.

    Test strips are not the best as they don't give accurate readings. A liquid kit is recommend like the API (liquid) Master test kit. It's fun to use!

    Since you just learned about the nitrogen cycle and you have fish you need to be doing 50% daily water changes until you get 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite and 20ppm or less Nitrates. It can take 6 weeks or more to cycle. So patience is of importance. Since you've got a reading of 1.0 ammonia I would do an 80% water change right now. You also need to test your tap water for ammonia.

    Pickup a bottle of Seachem Prime water conditioner. This detoxes the toxins for about 24 hours until next water change.

    Goldfish are heavy waste producers, so water changes need to be kept up frequently after the tank cycles. You need that larger tank ASAP.

    Welcome to the hobby.

  4. ShawnieFishlore LegendMember

    Welcome to Fishlore!!
    Great advice from members above :)
  5. orandagalValued MemberMember

    Hi Bumblebeebah,
    You have joined a very informative group and I'm still fairly new myself. I've had goldfish on and off over the years, but have done things incorrectly for a long time. I purchased a 29 gallon tank in January and decided I was going to learn how to really take care of my fish and all about cycling the water. Reading is so important, and I learn something new everyday. I wanted to mention that there is another forum I belong to dedicated to goldfish with a lot of info as well.
    They also have very informative people on there who will help you out. I hope all goes well and don't be afraid to ask questions, I should have named myself the "question queen" and asked many questions in the beginning but feel more confindent as the days go by. Welcome and enjoy your new hobby. They are right also about the ph, as long as it holds steady, don't worry to much about it. Mine has stayed right at 8.2 since cycling.
  6. bumblebeebahNew MemberMember

    Thanks for all your help!
    I did a 70% water change. I tested my tap water, and the result was between .25 and .50 ammonia. But, this was done with the paper strips, not the liquid test, so I guess it might not be accurate.
    Tomorrow I will buy the liquid test kit and the Seachem Prime water conditioner.
  7. AlyeskaGirlFishlore VIPMember

    Prime will detox the ammonia in your tap water. So during cycling you want to add enough for the whole tank volume. You are going to need to use it for your main water conditioner from now on. It's good stuff.

    With the liquid kit and Prime you want to test 24 hours after adding Prime for a more accurate reading. So test before your water change.
  8. AquaristFishlore LegendMember

    Good morning and Welcome to Fish Lore!

    Here is a link on pH that you may find helpful. It also tells you how to find the true pH value of your water by adding water to a bucket, add an air stone and wait 24 hours. After 24 hours check it and see where the level is. Wait another 24 hours and test again and this should be your true pH.

    Best wishes for your fish!

  9. bowcrazyWell Known MemberMember

    First off let me welcome you to FishLore! You will find lots of very experienced fish-keepers here to help you with your questions.

    It is very important to understand the Nitrogen Cycle and how it affects the tank and your fish. As you have already learned in the start of the nitrogen cycle you will see in increase in the amount of ammonia in the tank. This is very toxic to the fish and needs your attention. The quickest way to lower ammonia is by doing back to back large water changes. I would personally do two 50% water changes to lower the ammonia and then treat the whole tank with a product like Prime or Amquel+ to detoxify the rest of the ammonia in the tank. Now this is only a fix for 24 hours and will need to be done on a daily basis until the bacteria can handle the ammonia load. You are going to have a hard time keeping up with the ammonia level with your present set up.

    The Quick Dip type test strips are very inaccurate and become worse every time you open the bottle to get one out. They are affected by the air that touches them and your fingers. A liquid test kit is much more accurate. As for testing your local water for the pH level the proper way to test it is: Fill a bucket with some tap water and aerate it for 24 hour before testing it.. This will give you the true pH of your tap water, which should be lower than right out of the tap. As for adjusting the pH I don’t recommend it for new fish keepers at all. It is very easy to cause a pH crash which will kill all your fish. It is much safer to keep a stable pH so I would suggest leaving it alone.
  10. jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    Welcome to FishLore!

    You got some good advice above, but believe it or not I have more advice to add!

    As you now know, you need to get your tank cycled. There are two ways to cycle a tank, "fishless" or "with fish". Since you already have fish in the tank well skip the whole fishless part.

    Now when cycling with fish, there are two methods. One method is to do daily partial water changes with a water conditioner that will detox lowish levels of ammonia and nitrite such as Prime until cycled. The Prime will detox ammonia and nitrite for 24 hours at which point you will be doing another partial water change with Prime. The daily water changes will also keep the ammonia/nitrite levels low enough that Prime can totally detox them. Thereby keeping your fish safe from toxin exposure.

    The other method is to use Tetra SafeStart to cycle the tank. SafeStart is a bottle of the bacteria that will grow naturally in filter over the course of several weeks to cycle your tank. When using SafeStart you are supposed to fill your tank with water that has been dechlorinated using Tetra AquaSafe (ammonia detoxing water conditioner can cause SafeStart to fail). Then wait 24 hours and add fish and the entire bottle of SafeStart. Then do nothing other than feed your fish for the next 14 days (no water changes, no chemicals etc). On day 14 test your water and if all goes well, you are cycled.

    So since you already have fish in the tank, if you want to use SafeStart I would recommend doing some back to back water changes to get the ammonia levels as low as possible. Use your AquaSafe for these water changes. Wait 24 hours then add the bottle of SafeStart.

    One other thing to be aware of. Prime will show a false positive with the API liquid test kit if test less than 24 hours after Prime was last added to the tank.
  11. bumblebeebahNew MemberMember

    Thank you so much for all your advice! It has been very helpful! Before I started, I had no idea so much was involved in starting a tank!

    I did a water change last night and tonight. Tonight, I also added SeaChem Prime. I'll keep doing daily water changes with SeaChem Prime.

    I invested in a API liquid test kit and got these results: pH: 8.4; Ammonia: .25; Nitrite: 0; Nitrate: 0.

    I appreciate all your help!
  12. Wendy LubianetskyWell Known MemberMember

    Welcome to Fishlore. I think all the good advice has been covered, so just WELCOME.
  13. AlyeskaGirlFishlore VIPMember


    Did you test your tap water again for ammonia reading?

    Just to let you know it can take several days to get a nitrite reading.

    Most of the good bacteria resides in the filter, so leave your filter media alone for now. If it starts to get gunky or the flow slows down then rinse in siphoned tank water and put back.
  14. bumblebeebahNew MemberMember

    On Monday, I moved the fish to the 55 gal tank. But today, one of my shubunkins is sick, and I don't know what to do. It looks like fin rot... it is white and slightly fuzzy, and the end of his tail is destroyed. From what I've read online, it only happens when the fish is stressed, and the best way to fix it is to find out what is stressing the fish. The trouble is, I can't figure out what might be stressing it. There are only 2 small fish in a 55 gal tank, so they are not overcrowded. The water tests say 0 ammonia, 0 nitrates, and 0 nitrites. The pH is high (8.4) but it has always been high in both tanks. I have been using Prime to detoxify the water. I noticed the fin rot Tuesday, and I did a water change, hoping it would get better on its own. However this morning, it is much worse. I appreciate your help!
  15. kinezumi89Fishlore VIPMember

    Have you tested your tap water yet?

    I'm guessing (unless I'm misunderstanding how you did things) that you're getting 0,0,0 readings because you only just moved the fish over. They will be SO much happier in the larger tank, so I'm glad you were able to get one! Be sure when using Prime to add the correct amount for the entire volume of the tank, once daily. I have ammonia in my tap water, so while the tank is cycling (also 55 gallons) I have to put in 1 capful plus a little extra every day. I go through a lot of Prime. :)

    Testing your tap water should be your first step. If there isn't any ammonia, then doing frequent water changes while you wait for someone to help you out (unfortunately I haven't had fin rot yet, so I am not knowledgeable in this area) will give your fish its best chance for recovery. Fish are more susceptible to illness when stressed (bullying, for example) or when in poor-quality water. So if you're keeping their tank filled with pristine water, it will help them stay healthy while the tank is cycling.

    Welcome to FishLore, by the way! :)

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