Low PH bad? Help!

  • #1
I don't think I have ever fully completed the water cycle. I have had cloudy water for 5 months. Over the last week, I have achieved clear water, but my ph is very low and ammonia is high.
ph: 6.0
Ammonia: 2
Nitrates: 0
Nitrites: 0

What is going on and what do I do???
Thank you for any help!
  • #2
Hi, it is very hard to cycle a tank with that low of ph. Under 6.5 nitrification basically stops as you are seeing. What is your tap ph? Also will you post your tap ammonia, nitrites and nitrates.

What amount of water do you change out and how often?

Do you know your tap GH and KH? (general hardness and carbonate hardness)

Cloudy water doesn't indicate whether or not you're cycled, there are a few reasons for cloudy water including over feeding, not enough filtration, not enough water changes or enough volume of water during water changes and others. The bottom line is usually there are enough organics either in your natural water source or from food that the heterotrophic bacteria (the ones that breakdown food and waste), bloom up into the water column. Once the organics are gone, the bacteria die back and the cloudy water goes away.

Let me know your tap ph and we can go from there.
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
Okay - this is so sad. But two of my long fun zebra danios are currently dying since the water change this evening. I change 4-5 gallons of water in a water change. My water was so cloudy a couple weeks ago that I was doing water changes daily. I switched water conditioners from an Aqueon condition to seachem prime. Could that be it? Could I be using too much water conditioner in water changes?
My tap ph looks to be about 7.2. Should I add tap water with no conditioner to my tank? I don't want to lose all of my fish
  • #4
Its not prime, I promise.

Most likely you are shocking your fish with the huge ph difference which is why I asked what your tap ph is.

What size is this tank? What is the tank ph now after the water change?

From above, do you know your GH and KH numbers?

The high ammonia indicates a ph crash which we can fix.

I'm sorry if you lose your danios.
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
My tank is 20 g high. I don't know GH or KH. He just died
Tank ph now is now 6.4
  • #6
You didn't forget to use Prime did you? If you used a different water conditioner but have chloramines in your tap water, Prime will detoxify any residual ammonia (which would be left over with a regular water conditioner and could kill your fish.)

Did you match the temperature?
I still need to know the ammonia, nitrites and nitrates of your tank and tap. We can help you fix this but need all the basic information.

A 25% water change would not have killed him from ph shock, especially if your net ph change was 6.0 - 6.4.

So what you need to do is first fix the ph in your tank.
Add 1/2tsp baking soda and mix it with some tank water. Add it to your tank and test the ph in an hour or so. Add the same amount again until its up towards your tap ph of 7.2.

We need you to test your GH and KH like I mentioned before. Kh which is carbonate hardness, holds your ph steady with minerals as a buffer. The nitrogen cycle puts out acid, the carbonates absorb the acids and holds your ph steady.

After that, it should hold for a few days or longer but you should keep your eye on your ph by testing it daily. You can order a GH/KH test after that on amazon or possibly buy one at the pet store? Or ask an employee to check them for you and write down the actual numbers.
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
Okay. Here are the tap and aquarium water results.
Ph: 7.6
Amm: .5
Nitrite: 0

Ph: 6.6
Amm: 1
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 5

It seems to be doing something since I had no nitrates last night at all. This test was also after I added the baking soda. How often do I add the baking soda? Should I do water changes?
  • #8
Since your tap ammonia is at .5, for today I would add another 1/2 tsp of baking soda and dose prime for the full volume of the tank. You want to see your ph come up closer to your tap and stay there so that in the future water changes will not be really stressful for your fish. With your ph at around 7.0, the amount of ammonia you have will be in an ammonium form and not harmful to your fish.

Test your ph every day this week and I would pick up some of one of the following today: crushed coral, aragonite sand, sea shells, limestone, cuttlebone. You can put them on your substrate or with the crushed coral or crushed shells you can put them in a media bag in your hob (start with 1/2 cup or so). If ph begins to fall the shells dissolve some putting carbonate minerals into your water and holding your ph (calcium and magnesium carbonate). I know petsmart sells this (huge) bag of crushed coral made by top fin but you can also find shells in the betta section in a small container. I have not priced them out but that might be the better way to go.

I think its really important you get yourself the GH/KH test kit, KH being the more important factor right now. Sometimes you can buy that one by itself at the pet store. Based on what is going on, it is very likely your KH is too low thus causing the ph drops which is stressful on your fish and the (good) nitrifying bacteria.

If your ammonia is higher tomorrow then yes, I would do at least a 50% water change. By then your ph should be somewhat better/stable in your tank. Add the baking soda with water changes until we know and can get your KH results.
  • Thread Starter
  • #9
Okay, thank you so much. I just tested my water again and got this reading:
Ph: 7.2
Amm: 1
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 10
What's happening? Seems like the ph went up a lot. Is this bad? Do I need to do a water change if ammonia stays the same?
  • #10
No, its not bad. Was this after another 1/2tsp baking soda?

I'm not sure its worth doing a water change because even if you do a 50% and add back in your tap, you'll be back to .75. I would dose prime every 24-48 hours. If it rises more you'll want to do one but for now I think you're ok at that ph.

What temperature is your tank?
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
Phew! Okay, yes this was after the baking soda. I just dosed with prime and will test in the morning. My tank is at 78 degrees.

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