How quickly can fish adjust to pH change?

BlackwaterRat

Good morning everyone!

So I just got myself a pH meter, as I had started to question the accuracy of my pH test kit. I was concerned bc my water tends toward a lower pH (very soft city water), and those color charts just don't seem ideal when it comes to sensitivity on the low end of the range.

My 55 gal was a little lower than I expected at a pH 0f 6.0 (it had been reading at about 6.4 with the test kit). My betta tank is higher, at 6.8. However, I was *shocked* to discover that my barb tank is currently at 4.9! Yes, that is 4.9: I tested it several times, after calibrating the meter with distilled water and standardized test solutions.

Now, this is a 10 gal tank; a temporary home while I prepare to move this group of fish from their former 20 gal tank to their new 30 gal home. The transfer has taken a bit longer than I originally planned, as I had a DIY disaster that I've been trying to fix (long story, not worth telling). There are 3 cherry barbs, 3 gold barbs, 2 otos, and one ADF--I know this is overstocked, but like I said, their transfer to the new tank is imminent. While ammonia and nitrites have stayed at 0, my nitrates are high, despite frequent water changes. I moved them to the smaller tank along with their normal filter, so I don't think cycling is an issue.

My question really is in regard to reacclimating the fish to a normal pH. As a starting point, if I do a water change now with tap water, is that pH jump going to be stressful? Would it be advisable to first add some baking soda to raise the pH some before the water change? I'm concerned that an abrupt jump would be worse than keeping them where they are at longer. They are all doing fine now--active, eating...I never would have guessed there was a change had I not used the new meter.

Also, as far as the baking soda goes, how quickly will that result in a pH rise? Any idea how long it would be effective? I am probably about 3 days away from being able to move them if things go according to plan...

Thanks for any advice. I know I have not provided as much detail as you guys prefer in regard to my setup, but I am already very familiar with all of the reasons the pH probably fell; I'm not so much looking for solutions to the underlying problem so much as advice on safely reacclimating as I get their setup back to normal.

Thanks!
Amy
 

Anders247

CindiL can help.
 

jpm995

What's the ph of your tap water? That will determine how fast it will rise with water changes. I would determine what ph your shooting for [I would suggest whatever your tap water is]. Rise the ph with water changes, it the easiest to calculate and won't give you an unknown spike that a chem may do. This way you will lower your nitrates while rising ph. You will need a hardness test to determine if your water is soft. If too soft add some crushed coral to your filter to buffer the water.
 

CindiL

I agree water changes will bring it up. AI'm to keep the change at .5 or less. So for example if your tank is 5.0 and your tap is 6.0, you could do a 50% change to bring that up. You can do more than one in a day, just don't want to do a 5.0 to 6.0 suddenly and at once. It is easier for them to go from low to high then vice versa.
 

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