Ph Spike Overnight

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by Sarai93p, May 24, 2019.

  1. Sarai93p New Member Member

    I have a heavily planted 75 gallon freshwater community tank. I had it cycling for about 6weeks prior to adding fish. I ordered fish online and added them to the tank yesterday afternoon.
    They weren't in the greatest shape coming out of the bags but seemed to perk up after a few hours in the tank.

    Take levels have been stable for about a month at 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and about 5ppm nitrate. pH has been steady at 7.5. today all water parameters are at 0 and pH is about 8.2. I've lost 4 about to be 5 mollies and 6 neon tetras. Tank temp is 70 degrees. I've been reading to not Chase a perfect pH number but that's quite a swing for overnight and I'd like to lower it somehow. But what is safest?
    I read reducing aeration can lower pH, is that true? I do have 4 bubblers


    Last edited by a moderator: May 24, 2019
  2. LMO Valued Member Member

    What type of rocks/substrate are you using and have you added anything new recently? If you reduce aeration this reduces the rate CO2 can leave the water so, especially at night when your plants are not carrying out photosynthesis, this leads to higher CO2 levels. CO2 in water becomes carbonic acid which would lower pH, however, usually if your KH is high enough this will act as a buffer to stabilise pH and prevent large changes. If you have a low KH this effect could be dangerous due to the drop in pH when CO2 increases overnight.

  3. roXen Valued Member Member

    I would also suggest you retest the ph. Shake the solution well (if using api kit) before retesting.

    I once got a false PH reading.

  4. Sarai93p New Member Member

    Nothing is new except the fish. Substrate is an aquarium gravel. I don't have anything that tests kh, how do I know?
  5. toosie Fishlore VIP Member

    In a planted tank, pH is usually lower in the morning than at night, due to the plants giving off CO2 at night (causing pH to fall) and using it up during the day (causing pH to rise). This pH shift does not normally harm fish. But you are saying the pH went UP over night?

    A bag of water shouldn't have caused a swing like this in a 75g, but did you dump the water from the bag into the tank?

    Did you add anything other than the fish to the tank?

    Edit: slow typer. I see you already answered that last question.
  6. Sarai93p New Member Member

    Yes, pH went up overnight. I did stop supplementing co2 when I added the fish yesterday. I was really only using it to get good roots for the plants because I anticipated the fish to eat them back a bit. Could that be a cause?

    I added as little water from the bags to the tank as possible. Maybe a total of 2-3 cups of water. I also added seachem stress guard when I added the fish
  7. toosie Fishlore VIP Member

    How were you supplementing CO2? If you were injecting a gas (DIY or compressed) and then stopped, then yes, that could cause the pH to go up.

    A tip for next time...never add any water to the tank from the bag. Dispose of the bag water into a container, sink or toilet if removing any in order to add tank water, and net the fish in order to put them into the tank.

    Also...with a tank that size, you will want to start quarantining new fish for a few weeks so that the 75g doesn't get exposed to unnecessary ailments, that can wipe out a tank that size in a hurry, and can be very costly...especially once the stocking level gets higher. But quarantining new fish can also help protect your beneficial bacteria by preventing the need to treat the main tank for illness brought in by other fish. So that's something you may want to look into for the future arrivals.
  8. Sarai93p New Member Member

    Yeah, I debated doing a quarantine, and I sort of am, I'm just using the 75 gallon as a quarantine tank since I added about 40 fish. I have another separate tank of fish to add to the 75 gallon, but it's from another vendor, so they are in the actual quarantine tank.

    I supplement co2 using seachem flourish (or Excell? I use both products,. I can't remember which is just the co2)
    Last edited: May 24, 2019
  9. toosie Fishlore VIP Member

    Makes sense. :)

    I don't think Seachem Excel (which is their carbon supplement) affects I'm stumped I guess.

    What is the pH at now? Did it drop again or is it still at 8.2?
  10. Sarai93p New Member Member

    Today we're at a ph of 8, I've lost 1 Molly, 9 tetras and 2 endlers since yesterday.

    Any idea how to safely lower pH?
  11. RSababady Well Known Member Member

    I think you need to take a different angle to understanding what is killing your fish. If your pH has stabilized to around 8, this does not mean that it is spiking. a pH of 8 is still ok for your fish at this stage. There must be something different that is knocking them off at this rate.

    The tank temperature at 70 degrees is fairly low. Most of the fish you have are expecting no less then 75 F.
    Secondly, you mentioned you don't have a KH test kit - but how hard is your tap water? Does your soap lather easily? Do you get the classical calcium buildup in your kettle - these are indicators as to judge your water hardness. In the first case, if you soap lather easily, then you have soft water. In the latter case if you have heavy calcium build up, you have hard water. Tetras are not keen on hard water.

    I have also heard people say that tetras should not be introduced into freshly cycled tanks - don't know why, but apparently the cannot cope with ...something in an immature tank :(
  12. Sarai93p New Member Member

    My ph was stable at 7.5 and spiked to 8.2 overnight. I need to lower it back.
    All other parameters are normal and the tank is properly cycled, not newly cycled(the tank and equipment have been holding fish for the last 4 years. About 2 months ago we lost the last goldfish. Tank was cleaned and reset up for the community. The cycle was actually complete after 2 weeks and I let it continue another 6 weeks just to be sure).
    I did elevate temp last night and today it is at 75 degrees. As for water hardness, this is actually a tank in the waiting room of my work. I have no idea about calcuim build up and we use foam soap here, so I wouldn't be able to tell by that either.
    So there is a kh test kit I can buy? Is that a more likely reason for the loss/spike than the pH?
  13. toosie Fishlore VIP Member

    I have to agree with @RSababady. I do not think it is a good idea to do anything to adjust pH at this point. But yes, there is something called a GH/KH liquid test kit that you can buy. I believe if you click on the blue words that it will direct you to a website where you can view it. GH will test the general hardness. Kh tests the carbonate hardness. Carbonate hardness helps keep pH stable. Stability is the most important thing as far as pH goes. Trying to adjust pH tends to cause problems for fish due to up and down activity, which is why we recommend leaving the pH where it is.

    I too think there are other causes to the fish deaths. What symptoms are they displaying before they die? Sudden temperature changes can cause there own problems, such as changes in oxygen levels (temp climbing too rapidly), or chills (from sudden drops). But there are several things that could be affecting the fish, so it might be best to allow things to settle down, and watch for obvious symptoms.
  14. Sarai93p New Member Member

    The only obvious symptom is the fish get lethargic and sit at the bottom before dying. Otherwise all the fish are swimming normally, eating/acting normally. The remaining mollies are hiding and only 1 swam up to the surface to eat this afternoon. I've been pulling any lethargic fish and quarantining them.
  15. toosie Fishlore VIP Member

    There are various things that could attribute to those symptoms, but the following website says that one reason can be due to water temp.


    Another reason can be ammonia, but you say the tank is cycled. However, a quick test can ensure nothing has gone wrong with the cycle, so maybe that is something worth doing.

    Disease is another, and if fish are fighting something already, the stress of acclimating to a new tank could be enough to cause further issues.

    Other than making sure the temp is in a range the fish are comfortable with by using a thermometer to test the water, and adjusting it slowly if not...and checking for ammonia and nitrite levels...I think monitoring them is the best you can do at the moment. Hopefully as they adjust to their new home, they will start acting more normally.

    If something entered the water that messed with pH, future water changes should start to bring it back to its previous levels. It's something you can monitor. If pH continues to be at it's current level, I wouldn't worry about it too much. Sometimes the water treatment plants do something a little different that may be causing it. But as long as it remains stable, your fish will be ok.

    One way you can double check the pH of your tap water before doing a water change is to fill a bowl with tap water and leave it on the counter for 24 hours or so. You can aerate it with an airstone if you have a pump kicking around. You can test the pH before and after the 24 hour period so that you can see if there are changes. It may help you know if a water change is likely to affect pH any in the tank.
  16. RSababady Well Known Member Member

    Two things:
    1. Stress: When you order fish online, they go through a seriously bad time of their lives :( First they get put into bags that are packed into a parcel and therefore suddenly the lights go out for a long period of time. Then the parcel/package goes through the Courier / forwarding system which involves being loaded into a local truck, transported to the local depot and offloaded, travelling on a highway at night on a trailer of a huge truck, removed from the truck and placed on a conveyer belt, that hums, moves, starts and stops with jolts and has slides down to a basket for sorting purposes, loaded back onto the trailer of the truck to its destination, travelling in the trailer of a track on the highway (we all know what high way and truck noises are like, not to mention horizontal movement of the sideways swaying of the trailer), unloaded at the local depot and then loaded into the courier's van, driven around half the town and then delivered to you. When you get your fish, you open the parcel with joy and expose the fish to bright daylight and float them in a nicely set up tank with its own light, sounds/vibrations and temperature......etc...... all of this is most stressful and is a totally unnatural environment for the fish - they are max stressed out at this point. Stress does kill fish :(

      The fact that mollies are hiding is also an indication of stress.
    2. I want to go back to the water temperature. Can you raise the water temperature to 75? It will make the fish feel more comfortable. Just keep in mind that, if the temperature of the tank is being measured at the top, even with good water circulation the temperature at the bottom of the tank will be a few degrees lower!
    Just raise the temp to 75, so the fish feel comfortable and warm, leave the lights off and reduce feeding to a minimum for a few days. Your fish will assimilate.

    As for moving fish into a QT tank, I think that is the wrong decision to make at this stage as it only adds to the stress caused by all the changes I have described above.

    EDIT: Sorry I didn't notice that you have raised the temp to 75. Good :)
    Last edited: May 26, 2019
  17. toosie Fishlore VIP Member

    They are the Borge! :p

    Sorry...I couldn't help myself. :(

    I think in the one post @Sarai93p said she increased the temp to 75F already.

    I love your day in the life of a shipped fish though. I can almost feel their battle wounds.
  18. RSababady Well Known Member Member

  19. !poogs! Valued Member Member

    Star Trek. The Borg travel the universe and “assimilate” civilizations by converting them to cybernetic organisms. When they resist the coined phrase is “we are the Borg, you will be assimilated “

    Back to the tank,

    I think ph is not the culprit.

    I agree that quarantine tank at this phase is a waste of time.

    I use neons to cycle tanks all the time. Because they are inexpensive. Haven’t lost one yet.

    I think the temperature was too low.

    Although I have never ordered fish from a supplier, I am told from the LFS they have a significant death rate among some fish from suppliers including fish that die within days of arriving and being sold. Mollie losses are not uncommon.

    I would consider hitting the tank with a water change and some prime.

    If I followed the thread properly, sounds like you had a previous problem losing fish, is this correct?
  20. toosie Fishlore VIP Member

    Yep, Star Trek (refer to post above)...Apparently my spelling is crud because @!poogs!'s spelling is correct. Its suppose to be Borg. Maybe I don't function so well at 2am afterall... :D. Oh well. Thanks !poogs!:emoji_thumbsup: