Obscenely High Ph

  1. Floundering_Around Well Known Member Member

    Just did a water change/test on my 40 gallon container pond. The ammonia and nitrite read at 0 ppm with nitrates at 5 ppm. I was using ammolock when i added water, but since there are also nitrates, i would say the water is cycled. (The pond has no filter)

    However, my pH is obscene at 8.4. All that's in the tub right now is my new fancy goldfish, some pond snails, and plants. 7707e0a9ef120bd82a2625f3d39773c5.jpg

    I drained about 15 gallons and refilled it. During this, I found and made sure Petra (the goldfish) was okay. No signs of injury or disease.
    My tap water has a pH of about 7.5

    I'm also fighting some green water
    What, if anything, should I do?
  2. BeanFish Well Known Member Member

    Just what I was thinking when you mentioned the word "pond".
    Algae blooms like the one you are experiencing raise the pH.

  3. Caitlin86 Well Known Member Member

    Correct me if I'm wrong but it is my understanding that the bulk of beneficial bacteria is located in the filter...without filtration a nitrogen cycle won't take place.
  4. Floundering_Around Well Known Member Member

    Nitrogen fixing bacteria are located in deep substrate beds (like the planter I have in the tub) and plant roots (like my water hyacinth). The plants I have take up ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites in order to feed themselves.
    I also have a floating planter that is made of foam/sponge that IMO allows some aerobic bacteria to grow, since it bobs in the water and allows oxygen to get through the sponge. Obviously just the floater won't replace a filter but even in natural ponds, the nitrogen cycle has to take place or nothing would grow.
    Basically, what I'm going for is the Walstad, or natural method! 2320b99d759fadc048500f2c69a20e9d.jpg

    Well, that's a pain. I don't want to spend the money on products so I'll continue to do water changes to limit the amount of nutrients in the tub. I'm also planning on getting more plants such as java fern, Amazon sword, and some stem plants that should resist goldfish munching on them

  5. BeanFish Well Known Member Member

    Just add more plants, simple as that. The more plants the less algae. Bacteria grow on surfaces so a nitrogen cycle could happen with no filter. You probably wouldn't be able to support the relatively heavy stocking we make without a filter tho.
    Out of my 4 tanks I could run 3 with no filter all thanks to my plants. I still run them as a backup and to have some flow.
  6. Floundering_Around Well Known Member Member

    Yeah, I'm definitely planning on getting some more plants. I'm really interested in setting up a Walstad tank for either me, or my friend that doesn't want to have too complicated of a set up
  7. BeanFish Well Known Member Member

    I don't like Walstad tanks. I prefer to do an hybrid and leave all the filtration to the plants but still do water changes. I stopped doing water changes for 3-4 weeks on one of my tanks and the fish did fine. When I started doing 50% weekly they did even better tho. I know it wasn't my parameters because I had to dose extra nitrogen for the plants.
    Nothing can beat water changes for fish vitality. I know this is completely unrelated to the thread but I thought my experience could give you another perspective. Trying to imitate nature is not possible.

  8. bopsalot Well Known Member Member

    Hi there! I am not sure that set-up is "cycled", exactly. Nitrogen fixation in the soil and the nitrogen cycle are actually two totally different processes. They are related, though, as evidenced in your diagram. Without a filter to circulate oxygenated water, I don't know if a nitrogen cycle can develop. However, if you have enough plants to absorb ammonia, things might go ok. An unfiltered pond might still work without a nitrogen cycle, if planted. Theoretically, there would never be significant nitrites (which are highly toxic to both fish and plants) or significant nitrates, except the nitrates that come in through rainwater (and those nitrates would be used by the plants as fertilizer). But oxygenation of the water for the fish might be a concern. Could algae help with oxygenation? I don't know. You probably already have thought of this, though. I don't really know if you can keep goldfish in an unfiltered pond or not. Are people doing this successfully? I'm interested for sure. I have zero experience with this type of thing. I'm not sure the floating planter will likely harbor many nitrogen cycling bacteria, IMO. You really need circulation for that to occur. Good luck!
  9. Floundering_Around Well Known Member Member

    Thanks for the support and concern! I don't have any submerged fully aquatic plants in the "pond" yet, but am planning to add some. Not only will they help with ammonia and nitrogen, they will provide oxygen.
    When I first saw the crazy high pH, I freaked and got some treated water ready to pluck my little gold out. But after catching them. They seemed perfectly fine. No burns makes, inflamed gills, nada. Plus, I never see my goldy because bit only is the water so filled with algae that you can only see down a few inches (I can't see my finger tips if I put my entire hand up to my wrist in), but my goldy always swims towards the bottom of the tub. Since he's not gasping for air, the water has enough oxygen for now.
    My water is also pretty cold. It doesn't receive full sunlight all day, so the water is probably in the low seventies, MAYBE high sixties. This also helps because warmer water holds less oxygen!
  10. BeanFish Well Known Member Member

    Plants use oxygen all the time. Their oxygen output surpasses their oxygen intake at day. However at night they are just taking oxygen and not producing it.
    Shallow tubs with lots of surface area usually don't have oxygen problems. And BB should grow on the surfaces of your tub although I would rely on plants and algae to control parameters. And not BB on the walls of your tub.

    Algae helps with oxygenation but when it dies it falls to the bottom where bacteria decompose it and deplete the tub from oxygen (therefore killing the fish which require more oxygen ) because the bacteria needs oxygen to decompose the algae. This process is called eutrophication and I think is what caused the famous massive die off at the "Laguna de Cajititlan" in Mexico which the government labeled as a "natural process". Google it and you will see what I'm talking about.
    Algae blooms produce oxygen to the point it raises the pH that much, just as it happened in your tub. All planted tanks suffer pH swings from day-night because of the different CO2 and O2 concentration levels but they arent as big as the ones you would experience with algae blooms.

  11. Discusluv Well Known Member Member

    Of course I agree... ;)
  12. bopsalot Well Known Member Member

    Thank you! You have answered a lot of the questions I had in my head about this set up. I do believe you have an accurate sense of things in this unfiltered tub. ;)
  13. OnTheFly Well Known Member Member

    Nine of my ten tanks run a PH of 8.3, same as my well. That by itself is not the tragedy you perceive.
  14. Floundering_Around Well Known Member Member

    It was just a shock to me since my tap is about 7.5 and all my tanks run around 7.5 too. I've never had pH that high so I was worried cause I've hear of pH burns, etc.
  15. clk89 Fishlore VIP Member

    When you tested from your tap did you let the water in a bucket for 24 hours to off gas it ? I personally have a PH of 8.2 and a variety of fish have been fine. With PH it's more about being stable then being a certain number except for wild caught and super sensitive fish like Discus. Now if you had super soft water with PH of 6.0 then you would need to add crushed coral or something to make the PH higher since really low PH can cause an unstable cycle. I have also heard of ammolock causing issues with parameters too, so I would be wary of that.
  16. OnTheFly Well Known Member Member

    In our part of the country 8.0+ is pretty common. 7.6 if you're lucky. An API hardness kit is about mandatory if you really want to see what is going on. You likely have high GH and KH from calcium content. There are a few tetras I avoid, but mostly it is not a problem because the PH is VERY stable. If you really had 7.6 in your tap, you have a chance you aren't stuck with 8.4. Just avoid the bottled PH adjusting products. Every time you do a WC you will swing your PH around.
  17. Floundering_Around Well Known Member Member

    I didn't. I tested the water straight from the tap and when testing my tank water, they have the same pH
  18. bopsalot Well Known Member Member

    Hello @Floundering_Around ! I have been reading a really great book on fish health as it applies to fishkeeping. Written by expert scientists. The Manual of Fish Health... anyway, it goes into great detail about water chemistry in aquarium set-ups, and coincidentally, it closely examines unfiltered goldfish ponds and their potential problems. After educating myself, I can with some confidence tell you that oxygenation of the water is likely going to be a problem. The algae bloom is likely what caused the ph spike, due to increased absorbtion of dissolved CO2 in the water by algae. As @BeanFish mentioned, algae and plants can increase oxygen in the water through photosynthesis during the day. However, at night, their respiration reverses this process. Furthermore, when the algae die, aerobic bacterial metabolism of dead algae will further deplete oxygen. The book actually said that the goldfish will eventually be found dead in the morning, due to night-time oxygen deprivation, especially after a summer algae bloom. Likely to happen in the summer, after an algae bloom. High ph and high temperature also contribute to this kind of oxygen starvation, but it's complicated so I won't get into it. After I read all that, I figured I'd better shoot you a warning. A filter or a waterfall will fix this, but apparently plants cannot oxygenate the water adequately (the book clearly states that this is an old-fashioned myth). A powerhead for circulation can help, but likely won't be enough. HOB may be the best option, and has the added benefit of removing most of the algae. Fascinating stuff...
  19. Floundering_Around Well Known Member Member

    Ironically, the algae died off last night and I could actually see into the pond. But since the algae wasn't "shading" the water, it was about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. I added five gallons of cool water and made sure my goldy was okay. This morning, it was storming and I saw Petra swimming through the water.
    Still looking for a good solar powered filter. Corey from aquarium coop recommended one bit of course, I can't find the video
  20. BeanFish Well Known Member Member

    A random air pump (to use a sponge filter) uses about 4 watts of electricity so you dont need much electricity from the solar cells. I am sure that you can filter that pond with just plants but to do that the plant/fish concentration has to be really unnatural which will cause oxygen problems at night.
    Nature has something we dont have, HUGE ammounts of water betwen other stuff. Without huge ammounts of water you will never get a "natural" fish tank to actually be self sustainable.