My water is confusing me

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Erica0107

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Ok....so before I had my water test kits I got it in my head that I was going to have South American/Amazon fish species, which meant soft acidic water. So I got my API Master test kit and found out that I have a high pH....straight out of the tap it was over 8. Right now I've got a bucket of water Im letting sit with an airstone so we'll see what it is tomorrow. At this time I didn't have a GH/KH test kit, but I assumed my water would be quite hard since high pH and hard water tend to go together. Well, I just got my GH/KH test stuff, and my first attempt at testing it shows that the water is soft....KH 3 or 4....GH 7. I had planned on using peat or R/O water when I assumed the water was hard, but what do I do now just to lower the pH? Wouldn't peat or R/O also make it too soft?
 

catsma_97504

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Welcome to Fishlore Erica!

No, you do not need to worry about adjusting the pH to keep SA species. Just acclimate them slowly. If you add driftwood or use peat then your pH will go down slowly over time, naturally.

Are you planning on having plants? What type of lighting? The reason I ask, by adding CO2, your pH will again drop naturally.

Regardless of how you set up your tank, please do not consider attempting to use chemicals to alter your pH.

Good luck with your new tank!
 
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Erica0107

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No...I wouldn't use chemicals. If I used peat though, will that make the water too soft? I don't won't the KH to drop anymore from where it is.

I don't plan on having live plants yet.
 

catsma_97504

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No, I do not believe peat would make your water too soft. With a KH of 3-4, you will notice changes in your tank's pH when compared to your water source.

After your tank cycles, see where the pH is at. Then, decide if you want to use peat.
 
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Erica0107

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Yeah my bucket water pH has already dropped to 7.4. I may actually end up with what I wanted right out of the tap! I'm hoping it will still go a bit lower...but still...yay! lol

thanks for the response
 

catsma_97504

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You are most welcome

You are probably right. I'd guess you end up with pH in the 6.7-7.0 range, especially considering your low dKH.

I'd say, just fill 'er up and start cycling.
 
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Erica0107

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grrr...turns out I was wrong. i checked the pH again and it's at 8 . Wishful thinking must have had me seeing the wrong color before, lol. I've still got some time though *crosses fingers*
 

kloseo

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i know you said you didnt want to use chemicals, but seachem does have a ph buffer for freshwater of around6.5 to 7... i have to use the saltwater ph buffer they have to raise my ph to 8.3 in my Saltwater tank.....and have never had a problem ..the thing i like best is that it is set up so if y ou add too much it still will not raise the ph above or below the posted area
hope this helps and best of luck
 

bass master

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If you click the second link I provided, you can find an explaination as to why most pH down products are bad. I cannot speak for pH raising chemicals, but this can be done much more effectively by simply raising your KH, which is likely what the saltwater buffer does.
 

catsma_97504

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kloseo said:
i know you said you didnt want to use chemicals, but seachem does have a ph buffer for freshwater of around6.5 to 7... i have to use the saltwater ph buffer they have to raise my ph to 8.3 in my Saltwater tank.....and have never had a problem ..the thing i like best is that it is set up so if y ou add too much it still will not raise the ph above or below the posted area
hope this helps and best of luck
I've used some of these Seachem products. Most of them work by adjusting your calcium, magnesium or carbonate, but are no guarantee. Most products are only temporary fixes and cause more harm than good. You could use plain old baking soda to raise your pH and have a fairly stable environment.

Now, back to the OP.....
As you already have a low KH, I'd suspect your water has a high calcium or magnesium content. It is my belief that your tank will naturally have a lower pH than you'd expect because of this. You'll need to be careful to avoid a pH swing with the low KH. Using RO/Distilled water or chemicals would be extremely risky and may endanger your inhabitants.

Here is a link to an article that discusses the pH/KH/GH balance in great detail: . Maybe you will find the answers you seek. About half way down the page is the section on pH.
 

bass master

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catsma_97504 said:
Now, back to the OP.....
As you already have a low KH, I'd suspect your water has a high calcium or magnesium content. It is my belief that your tank will naturally have a lower pH than you'd expect because of this. You'll need to be careful to avoid a pH swing with the low KH. Using RO/Distilled water or chemicals would be extremely risky and may endanger your inhabitants.

Here is a link to an article that discusses the pH/KH/GH balance in great detail: . Maybe you will find the answers you seek. About half way down the page is the section on pH.
Why does low KH mean high GH? And why would this lower the pH? Ca and Mg dont affect pH as far as I know, and usually water with a low KH will also have a low GH. Maybe Im not seeing something here though, feel free to correct me.

btw, that link actually suggests some things opposite of what you say in your post. I also disagree with many of the things said in the link, it is informative, but really gives some questionable advice IMO.
 

yallyall1

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I'm no chemistry whizz, but I think that by cycling your tank, your ph and GH/KH lowers...

But, when you add fish, drip acclimate them...
 
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Erica0107

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Well my bucket water at 24 hours has come down, but I'm not actually sure to what. On the API high range test it looks like 7.4, but on the low range test its very blue like the 7.6. I have read and read and read some more including the links that have been suggested here, but almost everything I read talks about having a higher pH that also has hard water. I guess maybe my next step will be running another bucket with peat in it, and then mixing it with my regular water to try to get it where I want it. I can't actually get the tank up and running until the 14th (my sons birthday), so I can only do bucket experiments for now. Once the tank is up and cycled, I'll have to experiment some more to see if I end up with the same results as the bucket water and see if I can keep it stable.

Before I get into all that though....do you think it's possible the pH may continue to drop or would there not be any more changes after 24 hours?
 

catsma_97504

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bass master said:
Why does low KH mean high GH? And why would this lower the pH? Ca and Mg dont affect pH as far as I know, and usually water with a low KH will also have a low GH. Maybe Im not seeing something here though, feel free to correct me.

btw, that link actually suggests some things opposite of what you say in your post. I also disagree with many of the things said in the link, it is informative, but really gives some questionable advice IMO.
I personally do not agree with everything in that link either. It is, however, a good starting place.

I was not trying to state that a low KH environment also meant high GH. I was referring to the fact that the OP has low KH with a higher than expected GH. And, IMO she has more calcium and magnesium than carbonate in her water source. What I was attempting to explain is that low KH and low GH do not go hand in hand in all cases.

KH is the measure of free carbonate while GH is the measure of calcium and magnesium, very different components in the water. While it is true that a higher calcium content is typically an indicator of higher calcium carbonate, one might also assume a higher GH. However, in the OPs case, she has more calcium/magnesium than carbonate, thus the low KH and higher than expected GH.

Here's another link (one that gets a bit too technical for most), but it goes into detail in regards to how pH/KH/GH are in balance with each other -- and I agree with it 100%:
 

bass master

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@erika, i would trust the high range test because your pH is at the edge of the testing range for the low range test, this might make it a little less accurate. I also wouldnt expect the pH to drop much more than it has. 7.4 is a pretty reasonable range for water with a KH of 3-4, if you want to lower it further you can try out things like peat, driftwood, etc.

@ yallyall
pH swings like crazy during cycling, but i believe the OP is talking about her tap water and how to adjust that water to be suitible

@catsma
yea, i like to think i have a fairly good idea about GH, KH, and pH. I just did a write up regarding this subject for this forum (see my second link), your post just wasnt making much sense to me. I cant agree more with most of what you said in your last post, but the post i quoted still doesnt make much sense to me. Also, most water will have higher GH than KH
 

claudicles

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I have a high pH and very soft water too and as most people have said most fish tolaerate a stable pH better tan swings, even if the pH is not ideal for them. If you are doing SA/ CA cichlids, are you planning a planted tank? That often drops the pH without affecting the hardness. What you probaly need to do is get your tank fully set up and cycled then worry about pH and hardness as they will have changed by then. I put peat in my filter because I have discus, fussy about low pH, in a bare botom tank so there are no other things in there to lower the pH. A few good bits of driftwood in your aquascaping may solve your problem.
 
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Erica0107

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I cannot get my water where I need it. I left my my bucket of tap water out for 4 days and it's pH never dropped. So I got some peat moss and have been experimenting with that. Because my kh is low, the peat drops my pH very quickly, but it makes my kh drop to nothing. I've tried mixing it with my tap water in various ratios, but the pH spikes up way too far. So then I tried adding a smidge of baking soda to the peat water, but again....way too much of a pH spike to get the kh up to where it needs to be.

I am at a loss
 

bass master

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It will be hard for you to maintain a lower pH with a decent KH because the carbonates will naturally push the pH towards 8.3. Just about anything that lowers pH (only exception I know of is CO2) will also lower KH.

I believe even most SA fish will be somewhat adaptable to your pH as long as its not ridiculously high. If it stays around 7.5, I dont think there should be too many problems. If you do some research for the specific species of fish you plan on keeping you might find some info on whether or not the fish will adapt to you pH.

Driftwood might be a bit less harsh than the peat if the peat dropped the pH too fast like claudicles said.

Just know that you will always have to be careful with water changes if you decide you do need to lower the pH because a large water change could shoot your pH back up and you could shock your fish.
 
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Erica0107

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Found this comment on another site:

"If you use peat filtering, you will be replacing the carbonate
buffering with organic acid buffering. The pH you get will depend on
how much of what acids and how much in the way of metal ions are in the
solution. Provided there are reasonable amounts of them in there, the
pH should be pretty stable, and since the peat filtering replaces HCO3-
with the organic acid anions, you should have enough."

Maybe I'm reading this wrong, but it sounds to me like he is saying that peat water can still mantain a steady pH even though the KH is low, because it now has "organic acid buffers" instead of carbonate buffers. Does anyone know anything about this?
 
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