Nitrogen Cycle Ph Under 7

PureKlutz

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I thought I had the basics of the Nitrogen cycle until I did more reading and realized that at PH levels under 7 you get ammonium instead of ammonia.

My tank’s PH is always under 7 (I use treated tap water and it’s automatically soft), so how does that effect the nitrogen cycle?
 

Alex Pasquale

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Your tank will just take a little longer to cycle that's all. My pH is around 6.4 and it never effected my nitrogen cycles in a negative way. Everyone has different water no matter where you are at. Just remember that a steady PH is better than chasing any particular number so don't go out and buy anything to alter your pH it's a waste of time and money.

Here take a read here, this will give you a better understanding of pH, Cycling, and the Nitrate to Nitrite conversion.
 

sfsamm

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Depending on how far under 7 you are it can have different effects on your cycle. If you are above 6.6 your cycle likely will just take longer. Below 6.6 and especially below 6.4 things can change dramatically as the water can become inhabitable to the BB used to complete the cycle.

Under a pH of 7 the acidity of the water begins converting Ammonia to Ammonium which is still utilized by the bacteria as well as offering the benefit if being relatively harmless compared to Ammonia. In most systems a stable pH is best.

The concern would be water changes and if you add water of a more basic composition and raise the pH of the tank over 7 the Ammonium immediately becomes Ammonia which causes a double whammy for the fish. A sudden rise in pH plus sudden exposure to Ammonia.

Just test your water to be sure it matches the pH of your tank prior to adding it and take precautions to keep your pH stable so that it doesn't drop down between maintenance and all should be fine.

If you find it drops between water changes you can pick up a kH buffer and dose the water up prior to adding it to the tank. You really only need to maintain a kH of 4-5 for a solid stable pH above 7 and 2-3 should keep it from dipping dramatically between water changes while still allowing it to remain soft if that's the preferred parameters of the fish.
 

Alex Pasquale

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sfsamm said:
Depending on how far under 7 you are it can have different effects on your cycle. If you are above 6.6 your cycle likely will just take longer. Below 6.6 and especially below 6.4 things can change dramatically as the water can become inhabitable to the BB used to complete the cycle.

Under a pH of 7 the acidity of the water begins converting Ammonia to Ammonium which is still utilized by the bacteria as well as offering the benefit if being relatively harmless compared to Ammonia. In most systems a stable pH is best.

The concern would be water changes and if you add water of a more basic composition and raise the pH of the tank over 7 the Ammonium immediately becomes Ammonia which causes a double whammy for the fish. A sudden rise in pH plus sudden exposure to Ammonia.

Just test your water to be sure it matches the pH of your tank prior to adding it and take precautions to keep your pH stable so that it doesn't drop down between maintenance and all should be fine.

If you find it drops between water changes you can pick up a kH buffer and dose the water up prior to adding it to the tank. You really only need to maintain a kH of 4-5 for a solid stable pH above 7 and 2-3 should keep it from dipping dramatically between water changes while still allowing it to remain soft if that's the preferred parameters of the fish.
I agree with everything you said except using any type of kH buffer. I don't believe in chasing something like kH or pH. A steady number is a lot better than doing that. All she has to do when buying any new fish is drip acclimate them instead, allows the fish to get use to her water parameters. Plus she can end up spending a lot of money on just kH buffers, and if she uses a kH buffer she would in turn have to use a pH buffer as well.
 

sfsamm

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Alex Pasquale said:
I agree with everything you said except using any type of kH buffer. I don't believe in chasing something like kH or pH. A steady number is a lot better than doing that. All she has to do when buying any new fish is drip acclimate them instead, allows the fish to get use to her water parameters. Plus she can end up spending a lot of money on just kH buffers, and if she uses a kH buffer she would in turn have to use a pH buffer as well.
I only mentioned a kH buffer in order to stabilize her pH if it is dropping between maintenance. And no... You do not need a pH buffer when using a kH buffer. You would be maintaining a stable pH by remineralizing to a kH capable of stabilizing the pH. Now if she was going to be driving her pH down for other reasons such as wild caught fish that required it I still wouldn't recommend a pH buffer to drive it down as her TDS would potentially skyrocket. I would recommend various other methods via tannins and the addition of tannic acid rather than a pH buffer.
I agree chasing a pH is inherently dangerous but stabilizing it so that it's not swinging dramatically on the stock when it is a softwater tank is by no means a recommendation to chase a pH. All water adjustments should be made outside of the tank to match the water inside the tank.
A newbie with a kH of 0-2 though will be looking at drops in pH that can affect stock if proper maintenance isn't performed. KH buffers are not expensive. And as you said stability is key especially for someone new to the hobby.
 
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PureKlutz

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Thanks everyone! Seems like I don’t have anything to worry about! It’s awesome that the PH of my tank is actually benefiting the tank!
 
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