Important Ph Changing Insanely Quick

Xtac

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My tap water runs about 7.0 and once it’s in the tank running it usually is around 6.8. I heard to just not mess with your water but after about a year of keeping African cichlids I wanted to try and increase it a bit. I had a bag of “Natures ocean saltwater substrate” lying around so I put some into a filter bag and put it in my HOB because I was/am pretty sure it’s just crushed coral. I also added 1 tsp of baking soda (reading 1tsp for every 5 gal) I wanted to just do it gradually so I only added 1 tsp for my 40 gallon tank. I tested ph before I did this to get around 6.8 and then I went to test it about 30 mins after I put the crushed coral and baking soda in to get maxed out on the ph test so I went to high ph test and it maxed that out too at dark purple 8.8??.. I tested it again and again and kept getting different results.. If the ph changed that quickly would the fish be showing any symptoms? They seem to be doing fine but the ph isn’t consistent. Any help/advice appreciated thank you
 

Momgoose56

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My tap water runs about 7.0 and once it’s in the tank running it usually is around 6.8. I heard to just not mess with your water but after about a year of keeping African cichlids I wanted to try and increase it a bit. I had a bag of “Natures ocean saltwater substrate” lying around so I put some into a filter bag and put it in my HOB because I was/am pretty sure it’s just crushed coral. I also added 1 tsp of baking soda (reading 1tsp for every 5 gal) I wanted to just do it gradually so I only added 1 tsp for my 40 gallon tank. I tested ph before I did this to get around 6.8 and then I went to test it about 30 mins after I put the crushed coral and baking soda in to get maxed out on the ph test so I went to high ph test and it maxed that out too at dark purple 8.8??.. I tested it again and again and kept getting different results.. If the ph changed that quickly would the fish be showing any symptoms? They seem to be doing fine but the ph isn’t consistent. Any help/advice appreciated thank you
Baking soda probably did it. By the "pH isn't consistent" what readings are you getting? how many hours apart? What pH test are you using?
If you just did the baking soda in the last hour I'd recommend doing a 50% water change to get your pH back down to survivable. Yoor cichlids will probably be fine, just get the pH back down.
 
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Xtac

Xtac

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Baking soda probably did it. By the "pH isn't consistent" what readings are you getting? how many hours apart? What pH test are you using?
Weird thing is, I put literally less then a tsp which is 1/8 the “recommended” amount to safely lower it slowly. The readings were a few minutes apart ranging from 7.6 to 8.8 and now it’s been about an hour since It happen. It seems to be around 7.6 now. But it literally changed that quick within minutes before.
 

MrBryan723

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Remove the coral from your filter would be your best bet. Baking soda maxes out at around 8.4ph while calcite can go all the way up to 9, but 8.8 is normal. What it seems like you did was add the calcite and then buffered the water with the sodium bicarbonate, allowing the calcite to raise it up to close to 9. Just the calcite alone would probably get you a more stable 8.2 or so with buffers.
 

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Weird thing is, I put literally less then a tsp which is 1/8 the “recommended” amount to safely lower it slowly. The readings were a few minutes apart ranging from 7.6 to 8.8 and now it’s been about an hour since It happen. It seems to be around 7.6 now. But it literally changed that quick within minutes before.
Did you rinse the substrate before you put it in there? I'd there was any calcium carbonate dust on it, that to probably worked along with the sodium bicarbonate to rapidly raise your pH. I never recommend baking soda to raise pH (except in an emergency) for that reason. So so you think the pH has stabilized at 7.6 now? I'd check it again in about 4 hous and again first thing in the morning to see where you are. Glad it didn't turn into a real disaster!
 
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Xtac

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Remove the coral from your filter would be your best bet. Baking soda maxes out at around 8.4ph while calcite can go all the way up to 9, but 8.8 is normal. What it seems like you did was add the calcite and then buffered the water with the sodium bicarbonate, allowing the calcite to raise it up to close to 9. Just the calcite alone would probably get you a more stable 8.2 or so with buffers.
Yeah, I already removed it. Could that happen so quick though? It was probably only in there half an hour.
 
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Did you rinse the substrate before you pr it in there? I'd there was any calcium carbonate dust on it, that to probably worked along with the sodium bicarbonate to rapidly raise your pH. I never recommend baking soda to raise pH (except in an emergency) dotte that reason. So so you think the pH has stabilized at 7.6 now? I'd check it again in about 4 hous and again first thing in the morning to see where you are. Glad it didn't turn into a real disaster!
Yes I rinsed it until the cloudiness went away so probably for about 10 minutes and when I put it in the filter at first a big cloud of dust came out even though I rinsed it so maybe I just didn’t do a good enough job. But yes for now the ph is stable around 7.6. I’ll be non stop checking it. I’ve had these species of fish for a while now and they just haven’t been doing well for me so that’s why I figured maybe it was the ph, and tried the most natural methods I could find, but probably was a bad idea to do them at the same time.
 

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Yeah, it can happen almost instantly. Just like adding vinegar to water almost instantly lowers the PH. It leads me to believe your water is fairly soft without alot of existing buffers. Baking soda is very soluble so acts as a fast buffer to raise PH. The coraline sand isn't as soluble so by itsself takes a little more time to buffer but will still do it pretty quickly in water without a lot of dissolved solids in the first place. Fortunately baking soda has a maximum potential of 8.4 and calcite has a maximum potential of 9, so you can't go above that regardless of how much you add.
 

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Yeah, I already removed it. Could that happen so quick though? It was probably only in there half an hour.
I doubt that your pH will stabilize at 9 or even 8.2 with a starting pH of 7. As you will be doing weekly water changes and regularly diluting your tank with water that has a pH of 7. Neither Crushed coral or aragonite, which are the two substances it could have been are pure calcium carbonate (calcite). If you want to raise your pH, put 1.3 cups of the substrate in your filter. A pH of 7.6 to 8.2 is fine for African Cichlids and that low pH may indeed be why they aren't doing as well as they should. Adding the crushed coral/aragonite (not sure what exactly you put in there) wil raise your carbonate hardness (KH) and my bet is your pH wil stabilize at 7.8 at the highest.
 
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