Help pH & Alkalinity

built4speed05

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I have had my SW tank since October and I have recently been having trouble with my pH and Alkalinity. My pH dropped so low that I couldnt get a color reading on my test kit and the alkalinity was extremely high....SO i bought a liquid test kit (seachem) I retested and the pH was still low but the alkalinity was low as well. I treated the water with a buffer, did a water changed & filtered the sand. My pH is staying at 8.1 and the alkalinity will not hold a steady reading. I have to treat the water everyday or every other day to maintain the alkalinity between 4-6 or it will drop to 3 or 3.5, which allows the pH to drop also. My LFS and I are stummped as to what could be causing the problem.

I have lots of inverts so I can not use anything that will harm them. Does anyone have suggestions?
 

bass master

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introducing a buffer chemical can cause pH swings, I personally would not recommend using things like pH up, pH down, etc. If you do think that you need to alter your pH (often times not needed as many fish will learn to adjust to your specific tanks parameters as long as they are stable) I would recommend using a more natural alternative, I believe that crushed coral might sometimes used to raise pH, might want to check up on that though. I dont know a whole lot about saltwater tanks or adjusting pH, but I do know that pH buffers can mess with alkalinity/pH big time. Hopefully someone can step in and tell you from experience what could work.
 

ATP

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do you check calcium as well? If both calcium and alkalinity is unbalanced, that means that your magnesium is too low. Add mg buffer until in range and than add alkalinity, calcium buffer.
 
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built4speed05

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Bassmaster:The buffer that I use is alkaline8.3 which is suppose to increases alkalinity. When alkalinity has increased then pH is suppose to stabilize as well. I think my saddle puffer and clown fish have adjusted to the parameters but I am unable to put new fish in my tank without them being seriously stressed and most do not survive.


ATP:I have not checked calcium before. I will check that tomorrow and see what it is.

Thanks for the suggestions!!
 

bass master

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increased alkalinity does help stabilize the pH by raising the amount of carbonate available for a carbonate buffer solution. Some pH buffers will use other chemicals like phosphate to introduce a new buffer system but it can often be unstable and crash. Thats just why I personally do not use chemical additives to alter my pH. Im not entirely sure about the different chemical balances in saltwater though so my theory may be off, I just figured Id offer in what I knew.
 
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built4speed05

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Bassmaster:I appreciate your advice. I just tested my pH and alkalinity and my alkalinity is at 4 but now I cant get a reading on pH. The pH meter I have starts at 7.8 and its a cream color. I did not get any color change in the well I used to test the pH. Im assuming that the pH is too low....is this correct? Maybe the pH is what is causing the alkalinity to stay low...? This is very frustrating....I dont know what is causing the problem.
 

bass master

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I dont think that pH can affect alkalinity much. Im not really sure about your pH tests, I would definitely go with what ATP said about the calcium and see if thats the problem
 

ATP

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If calcium if off balance, don't add buffers to calcium or alkalinity. You'll be only wasting money. Go test for Magnesium and it should be low if not CA or KH isn't balanced. So add Mangesium buffer first.
 
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built4speed05

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I checked the Calcium level and it was about 360 which is low. It should be between 400 and 500. Thanks for the help. All of these water parameter problems have now caused a planarian (flat worm) bloom in my tank so I was told that my water is too dirty and I need to do a series of water changes over the next few weeks and Im not suppose to feed my fish for 5 days.....I feel horrible not feeding them & was skeptical about that being too drastic. As of yesterday I think not feeding my fish has caused ICH. So now im just going to do water changes and treat for ICH and see what happens
 
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built4speed05

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ATP: Its so frustrating trying to figure out what the problem is. I have had so many people tell me different things that could be wrong and I have been going through them one by one but this is getting me no where. I will see what magnesium tests my LFS has tomorrow. I did a 30% water change last week which helped decrease the number of planarians and Im planning on doing another water change this weekend. I was told to hold off on treating my fish for ICH but my foxface is not doing well and Im putting my fish in the QT tank tomorrow.

So...my question is...once I put my fish in the QT tank what is the best way to treat my tank? Should I do water changes without treating the tank for pH, alkalinity, calcium, and magnesium so I can get the water clean?...(this seems like I'd save chemicals)
 

ATP

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For me, water changes is not the best. I add buffers almost every week. (before reactor set up). I still add PH buffers

From my expereince, when magnesium is too low, it makes calcium and alkalinity really unbalanced. For example, one time my calcium was over 500 and my alkalinity was really low (can't remember). I just kept adding CA and KH buffers, but no use.

Unitl one of the other reefers in my area told me to cheack magnesium. Ichecked and it was low. added buffers until it was within range and than I could controle CA and KH with buffers.

So i think your MG should be low when you check tomorrow.
 
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