Ph can get a bit confusing, so hang in there. Ph refers to physical hardness and describes the amount of mineral in your dissolved water. However, you won't need this. You do not need to worry about Ph in your aquarium because for freshwater systems, ph does not matter. The only time Ph can become a problem is if people start messing with by putting minerals in their aquariums causing the levels to flucuate. A stable Ph is the most important. even for soft water species which have a low Ph "your 8 is a high Ph" like apistos and discus can be kept in high Ph as long as the levels are kept stable.
so... pH ranges from 1 to 14 it does not stop at 8. less than 7 is acidic greater than 7 is basic. Cichlids like a higher pH 7.8 to 8.2 which is acheived with harder water or additives like crushed shell. Basically things that can add hydroxyl ion or bump up your calcium or sodium.
pH is NOT hardness. Hardness is a function of mineral deposits or TDS in the water. pH is a measure of the molar concentration of hydrogen ion in solution. pH combined with the TDS and the water temperature together relates to your hardness. As a general rule of thumb hardness is directly proportional to pH i.e high pH equivocates to a high hardness (for the most part).
With regard to temperature, as temperature increases the water molecules attenuate at a higher rate which results in an increased formation of the hydrogen ionic bonds thuse resulting in a lower pH (more acidic).
I’ve been checking pH and concerned that it fluctuates between 7.6 and 8.2. I’ve just started reading up on this subject but from what I understand so far, hardness of water plays role in buffering capability to maintain stable pH, what ever it is. I haven’t done anything to my water ( in terms of adding anything to it to effect the hardness) as I’m still new to this and don’t want to mess it up. Should I just let it be as is for now? While I do my research...
Also, I looked up the annual water report from my town and here’s the result (for some reason pic loaded on top of the post)
pH has no units as you see on the chart. Hardness (TDS = total dissolved solids) does help in buffering pH. I would let it ride for now. What fish are you going to be keeping? My cichlids are all kept at 8.2 and they spawn regularly.
I'd venture a guess your pH gets lower between water changes and raises back after? Your water report indicates a fairly low kH value which is your carbonate hardness which is the buffer that maintains your pH. You also have some pretty low gH which is your Calcium and Magnesium and would be important if you want plants, snails or shrimp for sure. Might be worth the couple bucks to get a kh/gH liquid test just to be certain what yours are and to monitor it.
How long does it take for your pH to drop from 8 to 7.6?
Yes, I think you are correct sfsamm,
It’s higher after water changes, then drops down. I’ll have to look at my diary tomorrow to confirm this trend and figure out how long it usually takes.
Yes, I am concerned about my snail and shrimp but haven’t added any calcium containing materials being afraid that it will raise the pH even more....
Anna if you do in fact tend to swing down between water changes I recommend two things. First pick up a kh/gH test kit so you can monitor everything accurately they are usually very inexpensive on Amazon. Second start looking at a mineral booster for your water.
The fish you have will love you for some nice solid pH 8, hard water. Live bearers in general do thrive in those conditions.
Yeah your pH may end up running a bit towards that 8 but it's fine. My pH is 8.2, kH 10 (180 ppm) and gH 15-16 (270-288 ppm). And I keep quite a wide variety of fish in those parameters.
The key is keeping it stable and when you have a low kH your pH tends to trend downwards over a period of hours to days. Then you do a water change and up it goes again which is not stable. I recommend a kH and gH product as it will supply nutrients needed for shrimp and snails and plants as well as the kH stabilizing your pH.
Personally for a remineralizer in my shrimp tanks I use a kH/gH booster by Salty Shrimp. I've seen many people have great success using Seachem Equilibrium and I've used it successfully in the past as well for soft water. Don't bother with the acid and alkaline buffers you don't need them. Knowing of many first hand successes with those products I prefer to recommend them but there are a large number of options and I'm sure others have success with other products as well.
Once you can measure your kH and gH and have chosen a product all you'll need to do is conduct water changes as usual unless you do more than 20% at a time. If you do larger water changes break it up for 2-3 weeks into smaller % changes multiple times weekly with the remineralized water. This will give your stock time to adapt to the increased kH and gH and will prevent stress caused by osmotic shock if you all the sudden change the water all at once.
It is better to add the mineralizer to the water and allow it to sit for several hours prior to adding it to the tank but some people successfully add directly while filling the tank. It's more difficult to judge the exact amount needed when adding directly to the tank as you may not know exactly how much water was removed so if doing large volume changes it can still cause changes in parameters that can be difficult for the fish.
It seems like a daunting task but once you do it a couple times it's quite easy. Picking up an inexpensive TDS meter can also help you mix your water as once you have the amount of remineralizer needed nailed down you can note the TDS of the water being added and aim for that TDS weekly without having to run the kH/gH test all the time. Just keep in mind that TDS measures Total Dissolved Solids and therefore you want to give the remineralizer time to completely dissolve before expecting an accurate reading. That time can vary based on the product you choose. TDS does not have to be exactly the same every time but aim for a range. Say you need to remineralize to a TDS of 250 to get the kH and gH necessary you'd want the TDS meter to read between something like 235-265.
Hopefully that helps a bit and if you have any questions please feel free to ask. We would be happy to help you out in nailing it down or explaining in helpful ways what you need to know.
Thank you, that’s really good info!
I will definitely buy hardness test kit. Also, I think I will monitor pH some more. I looked in my diary and most of the time pH is higher after water changes, but not all the time, so I’ll have to monitor some more and figure it out.
Thank you for product recommendations. I was actually looking into seachem equilibrium but didn’t buy it. I want to have a good understanding of what I’m doing first