Tannin water without lowering pH. (Other questions)

Fishyfishyfishman

MacZ You specialize in black water. I want to heavily tannin stain my water but not lower pH or try to create true blackwater. My kH is 6. Do you think I should try at all or do you think it will just cause instability and I shouldn’t try? I enjoy the look and it just feels closer to a real habitat (ridiculous I know). So in the end what do you think?

i tagged Mac because he has severe thoughts on this as far as I can tell but I would like to hear other input as well.
 

KingOscar

I've had Mopani driftwood severely tint my water, to the point where it was difficult to see the fish in the back of the tank. It never affected my PH much if at all. (around 7.5 / 7.6) After many months of normal water changes the tannins eventually were washed out.
 

TClare

I have had a tank quite darkly stained for a while when the wood was new and almond leaves were added. The pH did not change significantly even though the KH is 0-1. PH stayed around 6.6-6.8 same as the tap water. I can’t remember how long it kept the stained look but it was much less time than KingOscar mentions. Maybe a month or two at the most. It disappeared with water changes and for a while I was not able to get the almond leaves, so maybe the pH would have changed eventually if I had kept adding leaves. I am actually thinking of trying a blackwater tank look again, but I don’t mind if the pH lowers gradually. I am sure MacZ will reply with more definite information.
 

MacZ

You specialize in black water. I want to heavily tannin stain my water but not lower pH or try to create true blackwater. My kH is 6. Do you think I should try at all or do you think it will just cause instability and I shouldn’t try? I enjoy the look and it just feels closer to a real habitat (ridiculous I know). So in the end what do you think?
KH is 6. Go ahead, add humic substances as much as you want, nothing will change unless you get out the big guns like peat or hydrochloric or sulfuric acids.

KH at over 2-3° buffers stronger than the weak botanical acids among the humic substances can counter. As long as you do regular waterchanges nothing will change.
pH is a logarithmic scale measuring free H+ ions (these are responsoble for "acidity"). To get from let's say 6 down to 5 you need 10 times the amount you need to get from 7 to 6.

It is physically almost impossible to get pH to budge further down than to 6.5 under these circumstances.
 

Fishyfishyfishman

Would a full blown leaf litter be too much? IAL, beech, and oak leaves. With driftwood? I'm guessing now but I just wanted to double check.
 

brhau

There’s no amount of botanicals that will move your pH with your KH. You’re fine, just don’t add too many leaves at once if there are already fish in the tank.
 

MacZ

You mean a leaf litter bed. No, it would work, but you will have to slowly feed it. It takes months to build one. Every time you add leaves oxygen gets reduced to a degree. No way around that, it will normalize after some days to a week. So it's a very slow process.
 

brhau

You could potentially soak the leaves outside the tank for a while to outsource the period of highest oxygen demand. But unless you have a way of measuring dissolved oxygen (you don't), it's most conservative to take it slow.
 

MacZ

You could potentially soak the leaves outside the tank for a while to outsource the period of highest oxygen demand. But unless you have a way of measuring dissolved oxygen (you don't), it's most conservative to take it slow.
Yes, but the "good stuff" from the leaves should be released in the main tank. It's also a great training in patience.
 

brhau

Yes, but the "good stuff" from the leaves should be released in the main tank. It's also a great training in patience.
Also debated! Scott Fellman does a boil and presoak, which disposes of some (but clearly not all) of the "good stuff." Arguably unnecessary. I think a compelling reason to try it is not that the leaves are "dirty," but rather that the process softens the structure of the leaves, which makes them more accessible to microflora sooner. Dropping fewer leaves in dry and waiting is also valid.
 

MacZ

Well, I mean pouring boiling water on the leaves is what I do, too. I'm just talking about the phase when microorganisms take over the leaf.
 

Fishyfishyfishman

Would presoaking them and then adding them. After they have slightly decomposed or when they stop using up oxygen and then using the water for the color rather than the Leaves itself work? I am guessing not as that seems to obvious but Maybe?
 

brhau

If you just want color, then I'd recommend steeping alder cones and/or decaffeinated tea. It will be a lot faster and darker. The leaf litter bed comes with a lot more benefits though, aside from just color.
 

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