How to Adjust the pH in Your Aquarium

What are the effects of pH in the aquarium?

High Alkaline

pH changes in the aquarium, even if small, can have serious health effects on your fish. High alkaline, aka basic water, can affect your fishes’ gills. If your fish dart back and forth, check your pH, as this is a common symptom of high alkaline and may result in fish death.

High Acid

An acidic aquarium can result in the production of excess mucous by your fish. This is due to an increase of toxic elements promoted by acidic aquarium water. Other observable symptom include fish gasping, hyperplasia (thickening of skin and gills), and eye damage. As with high alkaline, fish death can occur.

How do I adjust the pH in my Aquarium?

How to increase your aquarium’s pH

A common method of raising the aquarium’s pH is by adding baking soda. 1 teaspoon of baking soda per 5 gallons is generally considered a safe amount for small incremental increases.

It’s best to remove the fish from the tank prior to raising the pH. Then simply dissolve the required amount of baking soda in some conditioned water and add it to the aquarium. Once the pH is at the desired level you can re-introduce the fish just like you would when you first brought them home from the store.

You should never make sudden and large pH changes, as this will have a severe effect on your fish. Start with 1 teaspoon per 5 gallons of water and slowly raise the pH incrementally. This will allow your fish to acclimate to the new tank conditions.

• add crushed coral 

• add dolomite chippings

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How to lower your aquarium’s pH

Using peat moss is a common way to lower the aquarium’s pH. Simply put the peat moss into a mesh bag and add it to the filter. Peat moss will gradually lower the pH. With peat moss, it is likely however that your water will temporarily discolor. It should clear up over time and you can also use activated carbon to help it along.

Other methods of lowering the pH include:

  • Decrease aeration of the aquarium
  • Driftwood will soften the water and lower the pH
  • Increase CO2 levels (planted aquariums)
  • Adding RO water

What influences the pH in the aquarium?

  • The pH level can be different before and after water changes, especially if the pH of the aquarium water and the aquarium itself vary
  • Decreased aeration will lower the pH
  • driftwood will soften the water and therefore lower the pH
  • adding CO2 will lower the pH
  • high nitrates can cause the pH to drop
  • pollutants and waste in the water will lower the pH
  • crushed coral (substrate or ornaments) will increase the pH
  • hard water will cause higher pH levels
  • using a water purifier can lower pH levels (good with hard water)
  • soft water is generally low in pH
  • RO water has a pH of 6 or lower 
  • overstocked aquariums can be low in pH

Stability is the main factor, keep in mind that fish can adapt to a pH that is slightly off their preferred preference, it is the fluctuations that causes stress and fatalities.

The pH will vary during the day, it should always be tested in the morning or evening. Always ensure that the test kit has not expired.

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