So How Important is PH Really?

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by designer, Mar 8, 2012.

  1. designerNew MemberMember

    Hello All

    I've found a lot of conflicting information on PH. How important is it really for your fish and aquarium? I have a 36 gallon tank that is still cycling (into week 5) and I have 5 Danios. My PH is 8.0. SHould I worry about this level? I've read that it isn't that big of a deal but then others have said that it is and it should be lowered? How can I lower it if the tank is still technically cycling?

    All information appreciated! Much thanks.... :;smack
  2. Aquarist

    AquaristFishlore LegendMember

    Good morning,

    While your tank is cycling, your pH levels may be all over the place.

    Most fish for the home aquarium can adapt to the pH levels we have right from the tap w/chlorine and chlorimines removed.

    For me the safe zone is 6.0 to 8.5. I keep my tanks at 8.0 with no issues. I have well water and the pH is so high it's off the charts so I prefilter, heat and treat my water for 5 days prior to water changes.

    To answer your question, I consider pH to be very important as far as sudden changes in pH. Especially sudden drops in pH can be fatal to your fish. This is where acclimation is key.

    Link for more info on pH:

    Drip Acclimation Method:

    Don't forget, all new fish should be Quarantined, after the initial set up with stock, for at least 1 month. Some may say 2 weeks, but I prefer 1 month.

    Ken :)
  3. jdhef

    jdhefModeratorModerator Member

    I totally agree with the above. Keeping a certain ph level is really most important when trying to get fish to breed. Other than that, it is very important to keep ph stable since swings in ph can kill fish. And trying to alter your ph can lead to ph swings unless you have a setup like Ken (aquarist48) has.

  4. psalm18.2

    psalm18.2Fishlore LegendMember

    Ph is important if you're using pressurized CO2 because it indicates safe levels for fish. Otherwise it's a personal choice to each owner as to worry/fix or not. I use well water and maintain 7.6. The cycle can die if pH goes below 6 due to bacteria die off.

  5. Jaysee

    JayseeFishlore LegendMember

    I don't know what my pH is - not important to me :;dk
  6. josh40996

    josh40996Valued MemberMember

    I don't think the actual value the pH is, is important. I believe that the more important factor is how stable it is.
  7. psalm18.2

    psalm18.2Fishlore LegendMember

    With 8 tanks and healthy fish.;)
  8. catsma_97504Fishlore LegendMember

    The only time I care about pH is in my high tech planted tank as I am injecting CO2 and in my breeding tanks.

    Otherwise, it does not matter what it is, only that it is stable.

    FYI - As your tank is currently cycling you may find that it has suddenly dropped to 6.0 pH. This is expected.
  9. Jaysee

    JayseeFishlore LegendMember

    I thought that was implied ;)
  10. iZaO JnrWell Known MemberMember

  11. e_watson09

    e_watson09Well Known MemberMember

    With fish in the tank its more importants to have a stable pH. Now I do think some more delicate fish pH is something you need to keep in mind but most fish are fine.

    Out of my 8 tanks I haven't tested for pH in any of them in around 6 months maybe? And that was when I added some seahorses.
  12. pirahnah3

    pirahnah3Fishlore VIPMember

    I agree as well, a stable pH is really what you want unless you are specifically breeding certain fish, but that to me can take a diff setup as mentioned with kens tanks.

    Keep an eye on it and make sure its not the cycle messing with it and youll be fine.
  13. bowcrazyWell Known MemberMember

    There are very few instances where pH is a big concern. First off you don’t want a extremely low pH when trying to cycle a tank because it can slow the process way down. You don’t want a pH that is extreme to one end of the scale if you are looking at wild caught fish that live in natural waters on the other end of the scale, and in this case I would recommend not keeping that kind of fish in your type of water. Some fish will only breed when the pH is somewhat near their natural pH but if your not looking to breed them then pH isn’t a factor to consider.

    The best advice I can give about pH is do not use chemical products that alter the pH because they can cause pH swings which is extremely hard on fish and is one of the top causes of deaths in healthy fish. A stable pH is always better and safer than one that is constantly being adjusted. Now if you are intent on keeping fish that have to have a pH in a certain range there are natural ways to adjust the pH slowly and that are a lot more stable.
  14. deon juniorValued MemberMember

    i have never had a problem with ph as long as it was stable.
  15. OP

    designerNew MemberMember

    I tested my water this morning and see that I may possibly be coming to the end of my cycling? Although my ammonia is still at .25, my nitrate and nitrite are at 0. But I also noticed that my PH has been on the high end this entire time and has now gone down to 7.4 on the high PH and it's at 7.6 on the low PH. Since I know all of you have mentioned keeping the PH stable is the key factor, will the PH spike back up or is it "normalizing" itself now? My danios seem to be more active than ever...

    thank you!
  16. jdhef

    jdhefModeratorModerator Member doesn't seem like you are even half way thru cycling yet. When cycling you go thru a couple of phases.

    The first phase is the ammonia phase. In this phase the fish are producing ammonia, but there is no bacteria to convert it yet. After a few weeks, bacteria forms that consumes all the ammonia, but releases nitrites. So initially, you ammonia level will spike. Once the bacteria that converts ammonia into nitrites forms, your ammonia levels will drop to 0ppm.

    Now comes the second (nitrites) phase. Since all that ammonia is being converted into nitrites, your nitrite levels start to spike because you do not yet have the bacteria that converts nitrites into nitrates. But after a few weeks you will develope bacteria that converts nitrites into nitrates. Once there is enough of that bacteria your nitrite level will drop to 0ppm.

    It's at that point you are fully cycled. All ammonia is converted into nitrites, giving you 0ppm ammonia. All nitrites are converted into nitrates giving you 0ppm nitrites. And you have nitrates constantly on the rise.

    Also, you do realize there is no high ph and low ph. There is only one ph, but the test kit does not have a way of testing the entire range, so it splits the range into two. It would be similar to having two therometers. One from 0 degrees to 55 degrees and one from 45 degrees to 100 degrees. If the temperature was 75 degrees, the low temperature thermometer would read 55 degrees (it's max reading) while the high temperature thermometer would read 75 degrees (the true temp). Conversly if it were 30 degrees the low themp thermometer would read 30 degrees (the actual temp) but the high range thermometer would read 45 degrees (is minimum reading)

    So if your still reading, you ph is around 7.5 plus or minus. But don't be alarmed, apparently while cycling ph will fluctuate.

    Hang in there...cycling can really wear on one's patients.
  17. bowcrazyWell Known MemberMember

    I would like to also add that to test the true pH of your tap water you have to hold it for 24 hours in an aerated bucket for 24 hours. Testing your tap water right from the tap does not give you the true pH of the water. The water in your tank is closer to the true pH as long as you haven’t done a large water change in the past 24 hours. The pH will naturally drop some over 24 hours but then should become stable.

    and a A+ to jdhef
  18. iZaO JnrWell Known MemberMember

    pH becomes too inconsistent to successfully be sure that the pH you read is your pH for the day even. Ammonia rises pH, DOCs lower it, co2 lowers it, nitrate lowers it... too many factors to play with when cycling. Leave your pH alone until you have completed the n cycle

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