How much does pH actually matter?

Discussion in 'pH' started by kidster9700, Jul 28, 2015.

  1. kidster9700Well Known MemberMember

    Okay, so I know certain fish prefer different pH but is it like temperature where if it isn't right the fish won't live as long? The pH from my tap is rather high and I think my tank is around 7.6 or so. I just wanted to know if it really makes a difference. Like, should I be trying to get it to normal? Or are my fish fine since they're used to it?

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  2. Dom90Fishlore VIPMember

    Most fish can adapt to different pH ranges...
  3. kidster9700Well Known MemberMember

    Okay. I've never given it much thought. Besides length of acclimation.

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  4. LiterallyHydroWell Known MemberMember

    The only fish that you should really concern yourself with pH is anything that is currently wild-caught. Not every fish is tank raised yet.
  5. junebugFishlore LegendMember

    Most fish can adapt to different temperature ranges too, but it isn't good for them and does have long-term effects on their health.

    kidster9700 your best bet for healthy fish is to select fish that are comfortable in your tap water. But pH isn't actually the determining factor for what fish will do best for you. It's more about hardness and overall water quality. Carbonate hardness is infinitely more important for fish than pH. pH is just easier to measure, and one can extrapolate information from a pH reading about the overall hardness of their water. Water with high pH *usually* (not always) has high alkalinity and hardness to match. The same is true of acidic water - it usually is soft with low alkalinity.

    Obviously the manipulation we as humans do on tap water can cause some huge variations in these rules, though. My tap water is well water. I know it's very hard and alkaline with high pH. During the summer, my pH is well above 10.0. But when I measure pH out of the tap, it's 7.6. It's when I age it and let it gas out, or in my tanks, that I find the true pH. Which is why I started measuring TDS (total dissolved solids) rather than using the drop kit. Not to mention that even drop kits for kH and GH are notoriously inaccurate in extreme waters.

    But, rather than spend hundreds of dollars on equipment to accurately measure all of these parameters, a pH kit is useful and can give you enough information to keep just about any fish from a petstore happy and healthy in terms of what their water is like. If you have hard water fish (like most livebearers, particularly mollies) what they actually need is hard water, not water with high pH. Observing TDS measurements from their wild environments would give you specific parameters to shoot for... but it's not really necessary. Those fish need water with moderate to high kH and gH. So without an accurate test for those parameters, one could test the pH of the water. Assuming the pH is 7.4 or above, one would then assume that the kH and gH are high to match that number. kH in particular has severe effects on water's pH and water with high kH will also have high pH to match.

    Looking at your tanks, I think you're okay. You do have a betta in hard water, but bettas are a bit of an exception to this rule, as they're found in all sorts of water in the wild and have been bred captively for so many centuries (yes, that's how long folks in asia have been keeping ornamental fish) that water types are nearly irrelevant for them. They do in fact do their absolute best in softer water with low gH, but the main determining factor for fish's tolerance of various water types is their osmotic function. Bettas are easier to adapt to "poor" parameters because their air intake is not solely dependent on osmotic function. Unlike other fish, they breathe the same air that we do.
  6. kidster9700Well Known MemberMember

    Thank you! And I do believe I have rather hard water as a test trip test said back when I set it up. So I should probably make sure anything I get for my tanks is okay with harder water.

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  7. LiterallyHydroWell Known MemberMember

    If you are looking to soften the water for any particular species of fish, your options are generally driftwood/peat moss. The only annoying thing about either one is they leach tannins into the water if they aren't soaked first.
  8. kidster9700Well Known MemberMember

    I do have lots of driftwood in my tank. Along with lava rock. Which I can't remember if it raises or lowers pH or hardness

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  9. LiterallyHydroWell Known MemberMember

    I believe, but don't quote me on it, that lava rock hardens the water, rather than soften it.
  10. kidster9700Well Known MemberMember

    Ah, so it probably cancels out the driftwood haha.

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  11. junebugFishlore LegendMember

    Lava rock is inert, so don't worry about it :)

    Also soaking driftwood or peat moss prior to adding it to the tank would significantly inhibit its ability to alter the pH, since you'd be removing the tannic acid that actually does the pH lowering.

    If you need to alter your pH, the most stable way to do it is with specific buffering agents. Phosphoric acid is a great way to custom make acidic water. However if you're not comfortable with liquid agents (like I am not... lol) seachem makes a line of products specifically designed to customize your water. Neutral regulator binds with the carbonate particles in hard water to neutralize them and bring the pH to a neutral 7. Acid buffer provides the various acid types necessary to lower alkalinity (and as a side effect, pH), and alkaline buffer provides carbonates to raise alkalinity (and pH). They also make a GH buffer salt.

    They all work, I've used them in my wild type aquariums since their inception.
  12. kidster9700Well Known MemberMember

    personally, i like having the high pH in my tank. it makes me feel more accomplished or something lol. and i do soak my driftwood, but i don't let all the tannins leech since i like my water to be off color. currently my tank water is slightly yellow. with a dark blue background, and so many plants, it makes my tank appear green.
    mom thinks its gross but i like the "natural" look. especially for that tank.