pH problem ?

Isabella

Hello everyone I have a weird problem with my 75 gallon tank.

My tap water pH is around neutral (6.9 - 6.8 to be exact). I perform regular weekly water changes in all of my 3 tanks: 10 gal., 30 gal., and 75 gal. My 10 and 30 gallon tanks have the same pH as my tap water. The 10 and 30 gallon tanks have no live plants and they have regular gravel. There are only 2 neons in the 10 gallon tank, and there are 2 angelfish + Golden algae eater in the 30 gallon tank. The 75 gallon tank has Eco-Complete substrate and is full of live plants. The pH in my 75 gallon tank shows the highest number on my pH chart, which is 7.6 if I remember correctly. I am afraid it is even higher only the chart doesn't read it anymore. I need to get a high-range pH test to know for sure. The 75 gallon tank has 6 Cherry Barbs, 2 Angelfish, 2 Zebra Danios, and 2 Harlequin Rasboras in it. It's very lightly stocked so far. The fish seem fine and healthy.

Can anyone tell me why the 75 gallon tank has such a high pH despite the fact that I perform regular water changes (my tap pH is 6.8 - 6.9)? I have once performed 50% water changes in this tank for 3 consecutive weeks, and there was not the slightest change in the pH!

Is it possible that the Eco-Complete is increasing my pH? This is the only tank with Eco-Complete. Can live plants increase pH?

Other parameters are very good: 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrite, and 0 Nitrate. Ever since I've set up the tank and finished cycling it, I've never had even the slightest Nitrate reading. My guess is that the plants are using up all the available Nitrate that fast.

I know that the lower the Nitrate the higher the pH ... could this be the reason?
 

M

Isabella,

I wish I had a solution, but actually I have the same problem-- and no offense, but if a "fish moderator" with 3 large tanks and lots of fish is having this problem it certainly makes a newbie feel better.
My situation is similar: I have a 10G tank with fake plants and 2 ADFs. My tap water started at 7.6 and then went up to 8.0 (I think due to spring runoff or some normal phenomenon.) The tap water is now back to 7.4 (on the High Range pH API test). My tank has been testing at 8.0 since the beginning of July. My frogs have adapted, but I am noticing more algae (reddish brown) and I would like to introduce a few fish and at least an algae eater, but not at a 8.0 pH!!! I did a 3G WC yesterday and when I tested the pH later, it was still 8.0. I did another 3G WC this morning, but worry that is too frequent. I don't overfeed and my nitrates are never over 20. I am really perplexed!!!

I can't wait to see the suggestions you get! BEST WISHES FOR YOU!!

-M
 

Isabella

Thanks a lot M I am really baffled too because the amount and regularity of water changes is THE SAME in all of the 3 tanks. The only difference in the 75 gallon tank is that it has live plants and Eco-Complete substrate. It's gotta be something in the 75 gallon tank causing the high pH. My tap water is the same all the time (6.8 - 6.9).

Oh well, I will ask the same question on plant geek and will see what they'll have to say. There are a lot of folks knowledgeable in water chemistry. I hope someone will be able to help me :-\
 

Butterfly

Isabella the Ph isn't any danger to the fish at this point(because their used to it) so lets do an experiment Put some of the eco-complete in a glass (or dish) of water from the tap(dechlored of course) test the water when you put it in and wait several days and test it again. I think that could be your culprit. If so and the fish are doing good I wouldn't worry about it.
Carol
 

M

Well Isabella,

I thought I had my problem beat....after my WC yesterday (which was the 2nd WC in about 18 hours) I waited a few hours and tested the pH again--it was 7.8ish. I'm thinking yeah, the WC are working and I can finally get my tank to "normal" levels (normal enough to introduce an algae eater and community fish.) I tested it again at 9pm and it was back up to 8.0!!!! It really is driving me nuts! My algae is thriving and I think the higher pH is encouraging it because there isn't enough acid to stifle it. I'm tempted to do a 50% WC, but worry it is too soon after the other 2.

Here's my other question: I have a lava rock in the tank. It has been there since start up (3 months). Are lava rocks known for increasing the pH? It appears to have most of the algae growing on it. I don't see any on the gravel, but my fake plants are wearing a nice coat of rust patches too---tacky, tacky!

I'd appreciate any insight or suggestions!!!!!

Good Luck Isabella!

-M
 

Butterfly

M -As Long as you acclimate your fish to your water that Ph isn't a problem. What is the Ph of your tap water(run some in a container, let sit over night then test)The lava rock could possible be raising your Ph but not in a matter of hours.
Please refresh my memory are there fish in the tank at all if not what are you using for an ammonia source.
carol
 

M

Butterfly,

I have a 10G tank with 2ADFs, 2 fake plants, and a lava rock with a hole in the middle for the frogs to hide in. I have been testing the tap water immediately (put it in the test tube and test with the API master kit). Does leaving it out change the pH?

I know that the frogs have acclimated to the 8.0, but I'd like to add more to the tank, especially an algae eater! I'm afraid that anything I put in there will be instantly stressed from the high pH and die. I don't have a quarantine tank or any type of second tank to acclimate them. And I know this will sound insane and very "type A", but I want the tank to be "normal" and now it's a battle of me v/s water. I'd be fine with the whole 8.0 thing if I wasn't having an algae problem at the same time. I'm about to take the kids to the LFS and pray that they have some solution or idea that I haven't thought of---luckily they are anti-chemical too, so I know they aren't going to push that on me.

If by chance, I decide to take the lava rock out, do you think that will throw me into a mini-cycle? It's the biggest thing in the tank besides the gravel and so I would think it has the most beneficial bacteria, but it also has the most algae (that I can see.)

I really am stumped and appreciate all help! I'll let you know if the LFS says anything worthwhile.

Thanks,

-M

Latest test results: The water is crystal clear and 78F, pH= 8.0, ammonia= 0, nitrite= 0, nitrates= 10.
 

M

Okay,

Just got back from the LFS. My "wise guy" told me that:
1) My lava rock is not raising my pH.
2) That the pH "problem" is simply a result of our city water. That the chemical used to remove chlorine alters the pH initially, but then when it gets
gassed out it goes back to where it normally would be, which for me is 8.0. He said he is on the same water system and uses tap water for 200+
tanks. With that news, and his OK, I bought a small oto and 2 neon tetras. You would have thought it was Christmas to my kids. I am excited
too! Let's hope I can acclimate these guys from their 7.0 to our 8.0 without killing them!

Isabella, I don't know is this helps you, but maybe it's a start.....

Carol, I've never received bad advise from you yet! Thanks!!

-M
 

Isabella

Carol, it's a good idea with testing the Eco-Complete. I'll start the experiment today. On plant geek they think it's Eco-Complete and I have a feeling it's the reason too. It's so frustrating because I don't want to throw away all of the 7 bags of Eco-Complete, not to mention uprooting all of the plants I am afraid my fish may get sick from such a high pH. Carol, don't you think German Rams might get sick too from such a high pH? Now I am afraid to buy them. Don't know what to do. You have Eco-Complete in one of your tanks. What is the pH there?

Here is what they're saying on plant geek:
 

M

Isabella,

Sorry for the bad news. I hope Eco will do the right thing and allow you to return it and/or give you a refund. Hang in there!

-M
 

Isabella

Or maybe the substrate will give out with time and stop affecting my pH? Anyway, if it doesn't ... the company has a guarantee that Eco-Complete won't affect your pH. They have broken that guarantee, which automatically entitles me to get my money back. Only, the problem is, it's not so easy to just remove so much gravel (1 bag of Eco-Complete is 20 lbs, and I have 7 bags in the tank ...). What will I do with all of my plants? It's a fully planted 75 gallon tank
 

Butterfly

Isabella I really don't think you need to pull all that EC out. Your Ph isn't high enough to hurt any thing. The rams will be fine if you acclimate them slowly to begin with. My Ph ran 7.4-7.6 when I had Rams and they were in the EC tank. If they are wild caught and you are going to breed them then they need a lower Ph.
I personally don't test for Ph real often. Mostly I test during set up and about every couple of months as long as my fish are doing well. If their not I test for everything. I do test for ammonia, Nitrites and Nitrates religiously about every week.
Carol
 

M

Carol,

No problem--sorry to post it here, but apparently I'm not worthy yet to reply directly Ha Ha! THANKS FOR ALL YOUR HELP!!!!!!!!!

-M
 

Butterfly

Carol,

No problem--sorry to post it here, but apparently I'm not worthy yet to reply directly Ha Ha! THANKS FOR ALL YOUR HELP!!!!!!!!!

-M
Oh sorry I didn't realize you couldn't reply to pm's yet. yeah we had some problem with pornigraphic spammers and so raised the post numbers before anybody could pm.
Okay,

Just got back from the LFS. My "wise guy" told me that:
1) My lava rock is not raising my pH.
2) That the pH "problem" is simply a result of our city water. That the chemical used to remove chlorine alters the pH initially, but then when it gets
gassed out it goes back to where it normally would be, which for me is 8.0. He said he is on the same water system and uses tap water for 200+
tanks. With that news, and his OK, I bought a small oto and 2 neon tetras. You would have thought it was Christmas to my kids. I am excited
too! Let's hope I can acclimate these guys from their 7.0 to our 8.0 without killing them!

Isabella, I don't know is this helps you, but maybe it's a start.....

Carol, I've never received bad advise from you yet! Thanks!!

-M
1) good to hear
2) that's why you let the glass of water from your tap sit over night before testing.
Glad to hear you got it all sorted out
Carol
 

Isabella

Rex Grigg from Plant Geek said that regular water changes will help with the pH, as the substrate slowly gives out (is my guess). I wonder how long it will take. Just don't want my fishies to get sick. Hopefully, everything will turn out OK.
 

Butterfly

Rex Grigg from Plant Geek said that regular water changes will help with the pH, as the substrate slowly gives out (is my guess). I wonder how long it will take. Just don't want my fishies to get sick. Hopefully, everything will turn out OK.
If they haven't gotten sick by now I wouldn't think it's going to bother them now
. I have been testing the tap water immediately (put it in the test tube and test with the API master kit). Does leaving it out change the pH?
When testing the tank water I test directly from the tank and don't wait. but if testing tap water for Ph I let it sit in a glass over night to gas out then test.
Carol
 

Isabella

If they haven't gotten sick by now I wouldn't think it's going to bother them now

I really hope so! The fish are fine so far. I guess what I worry about is that perhaps there will be some long-term effects of the high pH :-\ And, like I said earlier, I am worried that Rams won't take it too well when I get them. And if I get Otos ... that could be even worse since they're so sensitive. But, we'll see. Anyway, thank you for your comments, as always
 

Isabella

Just an update: Got a high-range pH test yesterday (from API) and guess what? The pH in the 75 gallon tank with Eco-Complete is actually around 7.8 - 8.0 !!! I wonder when that substrate will stop raising my pH Normal API pH test measures pH only up to 7.6, which is why I had no way of knowing my true pH. The normal pH test will show only 7.6, its highest value on the color chart. I knew my pH was higher than 7.6, I knew it! Eco-Complete makes my tank more suitable for African Cichlids rather than for freshwater community fish and plants!
 

pistorta

It is my understanding that eco complete is not a buffered substrate. pH of water will change, even out of the tap, with time alone, due to gas exchange with the atmosphere. I am assuming that you do not have any marine grade ornaments in your tank which would cause an increase in pH...

In addition, plants will only cause an increase in pH during the day cycle when they are utilizing or consuming available CO2. The addition of CO2 to water results in the production of carbonic acid which causes a decrease in pH. When you remove CO2, the opposite occurs. In my opinion, you should utilize CO2 to stabilize your pH and supply the plants with the fuel they need to grow.
 

Isabella

It is my understanding that eco complete is not a buffered substrate. pH of water will change, even out of the tap, with time alone, due to gas exchange with the atmosphere. I am assuming that you do not have any marine grade ornaments in your tank which would cause an increase in pH...

In addition, plants will only cause an increase in pH during the day cycle when they are utilizing or consuming available CO2. The addition of CO2 to water results in the production of carbonic acid which causes a decrease in pH. When you remove CO2, the opposite occurs. In my opinion, you should utilize CO2 to stabilize your pH and supply the plants with the fuel they need to grow.

Yes, I agree with all that you say and I know all that, lol Although, if your water changing habits - and general tank maintenance habits - are good, then your pH won't fluctuate a lot (unless your tap pH fluctuates, and unless you're using CO2 injections). To give you an example, in my 30 gallon non-planted tank (that has very light stock and good maintenance habits), my pH is the same as my tap pH (meaning 6.8 - 6.9) ALL THE TIME. If you've read all of what I wrote in this thread, it's very clear that it's the Eco-Complete that affects my pH in my tank. Besides, as of now, I don't even have enough plants in my planted tank to exert any change on my pH. It's all the Eco-Complete's doing.

I agree with you that it may be a good idea for me to use a CO2 system to help stabilize my pH. In fact, I am currently thinking of setting up some CO2 system as a backup in case my plants start dying. That is, my current plants are doing very well as for a low-light/low-tech planted tank. But I've just placed an order for a lot of new plants, and don't know if all of them will do well. The CO2 system would be a back-up system, in case the plants start dying. I originally never wanted CO2 injections, and still don't want them. However, I can have the system just in case.

Yet, this is not what this thread is about. My point was that the Carib Sea company GUARANTEES that Eco-Complete will not meddle with pH in any way. Their product certainly does meddle with my pH so they are breaking their promise to the consumer. In efect, they're lying about their product.
 

pistorta

Did you verify you received the right type of Eco Complete? They do manufacture a Cichlid version.
 

Isabella

LOL ... I can read the packages, haha ;D But to answer your question: YES, I am "pretty sure" I've got the right substrate, lol. I've researched the substrate well, long before I bought it. And once again, they DO guarantee you that Eco-Complete won't affect (i.e. raise or lower) your pH. Yet, my Eco-Complete does just the opposite.

Anyway, you can read this too, if you'd like: - persumably, the reason has been established in this thread.
 
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