Water Changes If Tap Water Different From Tank Ph Help 

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CrazyCatChick

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I recently re-scaped my 10 gal that I have had for years to include live plants. I also started doing regular water changes and watching the aquarium pH. Its a long story but the tank was kinda neglected before a few months ago (partly through ignorance). However, I have a bit of a problem. The pH test kit says my tap water (well water) is at 6.0, the lower limit of the kit. The actual ph may be below 6.0. My aquarium has a pretty stable ph of between 6.8 and 7.2 with the pH generally at around 7.0. How do I do water changes without experiencing a pH swing? I know that a stable pH is super important for the fish (2 black skirt tetras, 2 serpae tetras, and 1 mystery snail). The tetras are a few years old and are the only survivors of a die-off experienced a few years ago. The tank pretty much went into a holding pattern after the die-off. I didn't really want to keep up the maintenance but also didn't know of a good home for the remaining fish. I understand that I need to keep those tetras in larger groups and am looking into adding more of them soon. Fortunately, I haven't seen much aggressive behavior.
 

JenC

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If your tank is at 7 and your tap is at 6 then if you changed 50% of the water the most the tank's pH could swing is 0.5.

If you changed 25% the most it could swing it 0.25. In my opinion that's not a big deal.

I have a similar gap between my tap and tanks' water due to off-gassing; they're 8.4 and 7.5 respectively. It doesn't worry me as I almost never change 50%+ at once.

You might want to have someone double check the well's pH? I'm not sure what it would mean for your health and the well system/pipes/fixtures if it was really low.

Low pH water info
 
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CrazyCatChick

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Thanks for the info. I’m definitely going to look into checking the well but I have found that others in the area all have the same pH so I certainly hope it isn’t too bad. I try to only change around 25% of the tank water at a time and I do monitor the pH to make sure nothing crazy happens.
 

JenC

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CrazyCatChick said:
Thanks for the info. I’m definitely going to look into checking the well but I have found that others in the area all have the same pH so I certainly hope it isn’t too bad. I try to only change around 25% of the tank water at a time and I do monitor the pH to make sure nothing crazy happens.
If you ever do need to change a huge amount and are nervous about the pH variance remember you can mix your well water with purchased spring water, which is often in the 7-8 range (test to confirm as they vary by brand and source). It's maybe $1/gallon from the store or 35¢/gallon from a filling station. It would be a hassle for a huge tank but not too bad for a 10 gallon.
 

Basil

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Have your water tested. My well water also tested at 6.0 with the API kit but the commercial test was 5.3! The low ph plus 0 KH and widely variable nitrates made me go RO/DI.
 

JenC

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Basil said:
Have your water tested. My well water also tested at 6.0 with the API kit but the commercial test was 5.3! The low ph plus 0 KH and widely variable nitrates made me go RO/DI.
Just out of curiosity - what do people typically do when their well water has such a low pH? Is that safe to drink and how does the plumbing handle it?
 

Basil

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JenC said:
Just out of curiosity - what do people typically do when their well water has such a low pH? Is that safe to drink and how does the plumbing handle it?
We don’t do anything. The house does have a water softener as the well water is a bit hard also at about 11 dGH. But we never hooked it up. We drink filtered water from the fridge and bottled water mainly because it tastes better.
We do get copper deposits on the white shower walls from the copper plumbing.
And we have to replace our coffee maker every 5 years or so. I’m thinking the low ph is because our wells tend to be about a hundred feet deep so the water is not oxygenated? If I aerate it though, it only rises to about 6.2.
My sister has a filter that some how neutralizes her well water so her pipes don’t leach copper as it’s detrimental to her sheep.
And even though I have an RO/DI system and “make” water for my aquariums, I still end up with water parameters that don’t make total sense, such as GH of 6, KH of 2, and ph in that grey area of 7.6-7.4 with the API testing kit.
 

Momgoose56

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JenC said:
Just out of curiosity - what do people typically do when their well water has such a low pH? Is that safe to drink and how does the plumbing handle it?
I believe there are filter systems you can install between the well and the house that will run the water through a buffer to bring the pH up before it hits your pipes. But you could probably find out more information about how to augment and adjust your well water through your local water company.
 

Basil

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Momgoose56 said:
I believe there are filter systems you can install between the well and the house that will run the water through a buffer to bring the pH up before it hits your pipes. But you could probably find out more information about how to augment and adjust your well water through your local water company.
Yes, I think that’s the de-acidifier that my sister has.
 

Ulu

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JenC said:
If you ever do need to change a huge amount and are nervous about the pH variance remember you can mix your well water with purchased spring water, which is often in the 7-8 range (test to confirm as they vary by brand and source). It's maybe $1/gallon from the store or 35¢/gallon from a filling station. It would be a hassle for a huge tank but not too bad for a 10 gallon.
I did a study of this a couple years ago. I bought 10 different bottled waters commonly available, including national brands and store brands.
I was buying a lot of drinking water and using it for the fish also.

Every one of them was different, and they varied from 6.5 to 8.5 pH.

I retested some store brands a few months later, including Savemart, Walmart and Costco, and they had all changed.
Same bottles, same labels, different water.

The change was from 0.2 points to 0.8 points!
 
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CrazyCatChick

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Who knew the pH would be so variable. My water is also extremely soft. The tetras seem to like it though. I had guppies a long time ago but they didn’t last long - go figure!
 

Ulu

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Guppies do much better in brackish water. Mollies too. I use 1/4 cup per gallon of Instant Ocean seasalt.
 
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CrazyCatChick

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I’ll bet they do great with the extra minerals. I stopped fighting my soft, acidic water and went with only tetras for now. I may give live beaters another try someday now that I’m more active in the hobby again.
 
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