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Anyone willing to talk water chemistry???
January 27, 2014
10:50 pm
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shorty
Bergen, Norway
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April 19, 2013
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I have finally checked the water parameters of my little aquarium and the tap water here (Bergen, Norway). Results are:

pH 8.0 out of the tap and somewhere between 7.5 and 8 in my aquarium. Both GH and KH were measured at 2.5 - 3dH.

 

I figured that the pH might be high due to sodium hydroxide added to the water to save city pipes as is done in many places but my understanding is that this would gas off and allow the pH to go down reasonably quickly. Even adding lots of oak leaves and peat (to a test container of water, not my tank), to the point of quite darkly stained water and the pH barely going down to 7.2 - 7.5, whilst GH and KH did not show up at all.

 

I have been trying to get to the bottom of the water here as I would like to get a few more tanks and would love to keep some soft acidic water fishes, but can't seem to work out what is buffering the pH up so persistently.

 

Any help understanding this would be great,

Pete.

 

January 28, 2014
2:40 pm
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oaken
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Hello Pete

Sounds like there might be something in your tank that keeps buffering the pH? Maybe the sand? Have you tried lowering the pH outside the tank in a small container to see if it makes any difference? 

January 28, 2014
7:48 pm
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shorty
Bergen, Norway
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Hi Oaken,

Yes I have done trials in a separate 4.5 litre container with aeration, no substrate, rocks etc and added a fair bit of leaves and peat for a few weeks to the point of dark tannin stained water. Still pH did not even get below neutral while the gH and kH were not measurable. My figuring there must be another buffer in the water here, maybe phosphate or something, just wanted some more knowledgeable folks ideas before buying every test kit under the sun.

 

Also my mate was the one who originally brought up the problem, he keeps discus and was complaining also that he could not lower the pH easily which got me doing these tests in the first place.

January 28, 2014
11:02 pm
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HeinB
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January 27, 2014
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Hi shorty,

you can remove the hydroxide ( or bicarbonate, whatever) by adding acidity, and then the pH will go down. That is, if you add enough acid. Peat and leaves deliver only small amounts, and with peat I have never managed to really drop the pH  well below 6. To do that, I had to use large amounts of beech litter. About 1/4 to 1/3 of the water height in my tank is filled with substrate, after settling. Adding this stuff has an immediate effect on pH, but still the pH drop will depend on how much alkalinity is to be neutralised. In my case - zero hardness - pH drops from about 6 to 4.5 instantly (Depending on the source of litter)

(the substrate I collect from beech forests is the dark compacted layer below the loose leaves dropped in recent years. It can be used as it is, no sieving, but will take some time to sink, usually a few days, while some parts keep floating for very long.)

however, all of this will not reduce the hardness represented by cations, such as your Na+. Some of it may be adsorbed by the remaining tails of organic acids (replacing their shedded H+), but I presume that it will remain hard (GH). An easy but not so cheap way to obtain soft water is by reversed osmosis or destillation, but you can of course also collect rain water.

hope this helps, cheers Hein

January 30, 2014
4:14 pm
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oaken
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Hi Shorty

 

Interesting. But as HeinB said, peat and leaves can sometimes be ineffective at lowering pH. My experience is that some peat lowers pH a lot while some only stains the water. The same goes for leaves. Try using products that contain "oak bark extract", there are a few brands and they are very effective at lowering the pH. Or you could try acid, but I prefer not to mess with that stuff.

February 18, 2014
5:12 pm
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ourmanflint
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February 18, 2014
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I didn't think I'd be giving advice in my first post here, but here goes!!

 

You can drop the ph of your water by aerating as much as possible, this will allow CO2 to dissociate into Carbonic acid which will lower your pH safely. Another very simple solution, is to use bottled or home made soda water. Soda water has a pH of about 3 - 4 so it can quickly and again more importantly safely reduce your pH without interfering with any other parameters or water quality. Just make sure it is plain soda water not flavoured! 

April 11, 2014
3:18 pm
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Oreochromis
West-Flanders
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April 9, 2014
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ourmanflint said 
 
You can drop the ph of your water by aerating as much as possible, this will allow CO2 to dissociate into Carbonic acid which will lower your pH safely. Another very simple solution, is to use bottled or home made soda water. Soda water has a pH of about 3 - 4 so it can quickly and again more importantly safely reduce your pH without interfering with any other parameters or water quality. Just make sure it is plain soda water not flavoured! 

Increasing CO2 can indeed lower the pH, but as soon as the CO2 escapes again, the effect will be gone. So adding soda water is not really a good idea. Also bear in mind that the CO2 concentrations in soda water will kill your fish instantly. If you want to decrease pH with CO2, use CO2 gas and carefull control the addition by measuring pH and alkalinity.

The effect of aeration on pH can be both increase or decrease, depending on the CO2 concentration in the aquarium water. Usually, our aquarium water contains more CO2 than the equilibrium concentration (due to respiration of fish, but more importantly bacterial activity, especially in case there is a lot of organic matter and detritus present). Aerating the aquarium will cause CO2 to escape and will in fact increase the pH.

On the other hand, in an aquarium with very strong plant growth, CO2 levels could be lower than equilibrium concentration, and in this case aeration would in fact provide CO2 to the aqarium and also cause a decrease in pH.

 

April 17, 2014
11:26 pm
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Tiktaalik
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February 17, 2013
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Hi Pete,

Did you try to contact the local waterworks? They might be able to tell you exactly what compound is causing the high ph, so you know what you are dealing with. Then it should be much easier to specifically treat your water insteat of trying by trial and error.

.. and also you could be very happy about your water chemistry, as you seem to have a direct water pipeline from the sulawesi region into your apartment .. just think about those really beautiful shrimp an Tylomelania snails, as well as those stunning gobies, like Mugilogobius rexi or M. sarasinorum and many others. Everybody breeds Discus, but those gobies are still wild-collected and only very few people manage to breed them ..

 

Greetings (:

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