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Hey chem people...

Badmans Tropical Fish Message Center: Tank health and maintenance: Hey chem people...
  

Pandora

Sunday, January 06, 2002 - 01:05 am
I've been noticing a lot of "my pH shot up" questions lately, and after coming back from break, I noticed the same thing with my tap water. Good thing I caught it in time... I noticed a strong chlorine smell to the water when it comes out of the faucet, and washing with it was really drying my hands to the point where it hurt. I purify my water before I put it in the tank anyway, but I'm glad I checked... it went up from it's usual 7.0 pH that is held in the summer to 9.0, and the hardness was almost off the charts!

Well, I was wondering why they do this. I have a decent understanding of chemistry and used to work in a biochem lab. I know the chlorine is in the water to kill off bacteria... but why the seasonal difference in the other minerals the city adds to the tap water supply? Is this because the solutes in the water will cause freezing point depression, making it more difficult to freeze water in the pipes (same reason they salt iced sidewalks)? Well, this is the only thing I could think of, please get back to me with your thoughts...

Oh and before I go, just wanted to get on my soapbox one last time and urge beginners not to use pH down acids to lower their tank water drastically, when the hardness is very high! This just won't work because the buffering capacity will always cause pH to bounce back, and the flux will hurt and possibly kill the life in the tank. I am lowering it more naturally and slowly now with the aid of peat in the filter, an ion exchange purification system, and I'm in the process of buying an RO/DI system.

  

Kick

Sunday, January 06, 2002 - 11:17 am
Pandora, thanks for stressing the use of pH chemicals again for me. I have preached and preached this, but I guess a lot of the folks first use it and "then" coming looking for us when there are no results. This just cannot be stressed enough, but the newbies take what the LPS people tell them as gospel, and many times they just know what the chemical is for, not that it will rarely gives you good results.

The differences in your water perimeters is a fairly easy one to determine. Rainfall, or lack thereof, can cause the differences. And if you have a period of excessive amounts, the water company will increase the use of chemicals to make the water safe for our drinking. The addition or deletion of these chemicals can cause the pH and chlorine levels to change. I have ongoing contact with my water department (have a friend who works there who knows I keep fish), and he is very good about notifying me if the water department changes their usual practices on treating the water. Hope this clears things up for you a little bit.

  

jeff s

Sunday, January 06, 2002 - 05:35 pm
pandora..I will agree with kick.. also,depending on your city water source you can expect seasonal changes in your water especially if your source is from streams,rivers and reserviors..a decrease of hardness during high run-off like spring.. and an increase in hardness is usually noticed when your water is combined with surface and ground water sources..sometimes these increases can be as big as you noted..even deep wells which are usually pretty stable can change when changing from old to new wells or one that has been closed for a while..

  

Pandora

Tuesday, January 08, 2002 - 10:37 pm
Hey thanks a lot you guys. That explains a lot. I guess I never thought of municiple water like that, you know how disconnected we city people are from where we get all our more basic needs =P (You mean hamburger comes from a cow and not the supermarket? Who knew!) I just never even thought in detail about just where the water was coming from, for some reason I had this picture in my mind of tap water coming from huge purified storage reservoirs, who knew where the original source was... manufactured molecule by molecule? Ha!

That is weird, because we hadn't had much rainfall at all in the time when my hardness shot up. I just had not thought of the idea that there would be that much variation in something I tend to take for granted... all this time I thought city water would only change hardness and pH by miniscule amounts, but I am definitely more vigilant these days.

  

Joe

Wednesday, January 09, 2002 - 12:46 pm
Newbie question: I have been using Proper pH to get my pH up to 7.0 (it's very acid out of the well). Is this a bad chemical thing or a good chemical thing? If it's bad, how should I raise pH?

  

joycedonley

Wednesday, January 09, 2002 - 04:49 pm
Have you tried letting the water sit overnite with an airstone running.? Lots of people with well water say lack of oxygenation in deep wells causes false ph readings. Raising ph is not as risky as lowering ph since it's the phosphate in the down which really causes many problems. Also you don't have to worry about losing the buffer when you are going up! Please make sure you aren't getting a bad reading or if you add the up you may end up with the ph too high! Do the bucket test and let us know what the ph is afterwards...you may not have to change it at all.

  

Pandora

Thursday, January 10, 2002 - 04:20 pm
Joe, it really depends, but I think you should try to exhaust all other avenues before really trying to change your water, unless you've had a few years of experience with fishkeeping and water chemistry, and would like to breed. My opinion anyway. It depends on just how acid your water is... what's the pH when it comes right out of the well? Also, heed what joyce is saying, I think that's a good point. pH will change sometimes because of dissolved gases, although I don't believe it has to do with oxygen level of the water. I think it has more to do with dissolved gases which can affect pH as they come out of solution... CO2 is a big one (unrelated to amount of oxygen dissolved), for example. In dissolved form, it is carbonic acid (also, bicarbonate), which acidifies water. It is usually dissolved when it is deep in the well because of greater pressure there, but as it comes up, not only does the pressure decrease at sea level, but also the increased temperature causes the gas to come out of solution. When the gaseous CO2 dissipates, the water can have a different pH... test it right when it comes out, and then test it again the next day; let us know what both values come out as, as joyce suggested.

  

Joe

Friday, January 11, 2002 - 10:50 am
Joyce and Pandora, the problem is that my water is more acidic than my testing kit can register (it's a mid-range kit and only begins to respond at 6.0-6.2), so I have no idea how low the pH actually is. I've tried letting the water stand, but the pH is still too low to register. The testing kit I use outside on our soil registered 5.4 when we moved in five years ago (which explained the almost total absence of grass in the yard) and it takes hundreds of pounds of pelletized limestone every year just to keep green stuff under foot. I'm told this is normal soil conditions for this part of the country, especially in the presence of oak trees (of which we have bunches--nice shade, but lots of leaves and squirrels). So I am not surprised at having acidic water. I would like to avoid using the buffer, but do not presently have a workable alternative. I did try using baking soda at first, but found the pH continued to creep up and I was unable to control it. With the buffer, at least I am getting a steady 6.8 to 7.0.

By the way, Joyce, your suggestion (made last year when you were helping us with cycling problems) has just been put into effect. We waited until after the first of the year to allow our 10 gal. tank to finish cycling, then moved the three Rasboras from the 5.5 gal. into the 10. The 10 now has 3 Danios, 3 Rasboras, and two very small Guppies. We have now added 2 small Corys to the 5.5, so it now contains 5 fish (the Corys and 3 White Clouds). This was your suggestion, and we're hoping this will make a good mix for the little tank.

One of the Danios has proven too foul-tempered and generally anti-social for a community tank, and the lps is going to let me trade him in. Right now, the 10 has mostly upper level fish, and I need to fill out the population with a scavenger and mid- to low-level swimmers (to go with the two Guppies). We're thinking of a Loach for the scavenger--maybe a Clown, though the store currently has some neat looking tiger-striped ones--and maybe a couple of Cherry Barbs. My daugher is lobbying for a small frog and painted Tetras (she knows the paint wears off, but says that doesn't bother her). What would you folks suggest to eventually complete the population of this tank? And no, I've learned my lesson--I won't add them all at once!

  

joycedonley

Friday, January 11, 2002 - 11:31 am
I have cherry barbs and they would make terrific mid water swimmers for you tank. Actually mine really go mid to bottom and don't really stay in one specific area. IMO the loach is not a very good idea as the tank is small. I think clowns do better in groups and usually get about six inches.
That would put your stocking load too high. The cherry barb stay really small and cute. Corys are about the only scavengers I would suggest for a 10 or 15 gallon tank.

  

joycedonley

Friday, January 11, 2002 - 11:36 am
Maybe Pandora has some suggestions on the water chem. I do use a buffer in my Lake Malawi tank(costs a lot). You might want to track the GH (general hardness of your water) also as I don't think it's always tied to the ph and kh.

  

jeff s

Friday, January 11, 2002 - 10:07 pm
joe and joyce can I help here?..joe run this stuff by me again..you are doing what and why to accomplish higher ph...

  

joycedonley

Saturday, January 12, 2002 - 08:44 am
Yep please drop in and advise all you can Jeff. His water from the well seems to have very low ph even though he has done the aerate/bucket method before testing it. I think Peter or somebody suggested aerating well water to get a true ph reading about six months back. I'm not sure where Joe is from and this is a strange problem since everyone around here has to deal with high ph and hard water. I was just curious as to the gh parameters because I thought Iboy said on the West Coast USA he had strange readings on the ph and gh(one being high the other low).

  

joycedonley

Saturday, January 12, 2002 - 08:50 am
We are just a little concerned since the ph is so low it is approaching acid. He thinks it may be below 6.0 since it won't even register on the test kit.

  

jeff s

Saturday, January 12, 2002 - 06:58 pm
ok..joe firstly..you need to find out exactly what you are dealing with..get a low ph test kit and also a KH/GH test kit..you need to find out what is going on first before moving on...well water can be a funny thing to play with..sometimes raw organic material in the well can have a hugh effect on what is going on..we can fix all the ph problems you have but onle if you are way concerned about your particular fish..a ph between 6-7 is no biggy...so get to the testing..first right out of the well..then leave it in a bucket a few days and test it again..also re-test the water in your tank get back with those readings and we will see..OK.

  

Pandora

Saturday, January 12, 2002 - 10:15 pm
Yeah, I agree. Once you start messing with pH, you have to establish a level that you can keep up, otherwise your fish will be battling a pH fluctuation every time you change or mess with the water... if you are not able to keep it buffered at a certain level. I personally would look into fish that do well in low pH, such as hatchetfish and neon tetras, and stick with those. Some people dream all their lives to get such a low pH, hehe, to breed fish such as discus. Joe, have you ever heard of a product called Electroright? Discus users use it to add some needed electrolytes to totally deionized water, and it does have a buffering quality also. But I would do as Jeff suggested, and see just what it is you are dealing with, you don't want to be guessing with something so important.

Lastly on why it is so low to begin with... that is very rare in our country, because in almost every part of the nation, either natural sources of dissolved minerals or city additions to municiple water will usually cause it to hover in the neutral range. My only guess as to why it is so naturally low is that your well water has a high amount of dissolved organic material in it?

  

Joe

Monday, January 14, 2002 - 03:31 am
Thanks everyone! I'm on my way out of town for a couple of weeks (going back to school, if you can believe it) and won't be able to mess with things for a bit. So hang on, and don't be offended if I don't respond for a bit. I'll try some of your suggestions when I get back.

Jeff S, I am using Proper pH 7.0 to treat my water prior to adding it to my two small tanks (5.5 and 10 gal). The results have been outstanding from my beginner point of view--a steady pH in both tanks of 7.0. Hearing all the concerns Joyce, Pandora, Kick and others have on this site about chems, I asked them if I was doing something wrong.

Pandora, so far what I am doing is working in that pH is very steady at 7.0. I have White Clouds, Rasboras, Danios, Cory Cats, and Guppies (not all in the same tank). I live outside Richmond, Virginia, and the soil experts in the local forestry office tell me acid soil is common in this region, which is why logging is a major industry here--acid soil is fantastic for trees. Anyway, the pH of my water seems to correspond to the pH of the soil it comes out of. But when I get back in a couple of weeks, I'll look for a lower range test kit and see what's up in the well. Or maybe I can send a sample in through the local farm bureau--they have a testing arrangement with Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.

Anyway, folks, I'm heading out the door, so please don't think I'm ignoring your advice if I don't get back with you real quick. For the next two weeks, I'm living in a dorm and eating in a dining hall and going to classes. Don't that sound like fun???? My daughter's got fish duty.

  

Pandora

Tuesday, January 15, 2002 - 02:36 am
Ahh, that explains things. I would actually count yourself as lucky... having water which is fairly soft makes some things easier... for example, you won't have the hard water deposits that others battle; and if you decide to grow live plants later, it will be easier.

Hey, Joe, you are probably gone right now, but when you get back, I've got a suggestion for you. While you are waiting to find a good low pH water test kit for sale, there's a free one being offered online... I got one for myself, and it was great. It's a free water kit really made for drinking water, actually, but has 6 one-shot water testers for things like pH (wide range), hardness, iron, chlorine, nitrite, ammonia. This goes for any beginner actually... it's just a promotion for a water company, and just a sample, but still free and fun to try:

http://www.culligan.com/athomeonlineoffers8.asp

PS: Just make sure your daughter follows your directions carefully! Well-meaning pet sitters can sometimes overfeed fish.

  

Joe

Tuesday, January 15, 2002 - 06:27 pm
Pandora, I just checked the site on the university's computers and saw your message. Thanks!!! I'll check out the test kits. I think my daughter will do okay--at 15, she's pretty understanding of what's up with the fish, and one of the tanks is hers (and in her room).

  

Pandora

Thursday, January 17, 2002 - 08:50 pm
MESSAGE TO ALL BEGINNERS

Free chem test kits at that site I linked, just thought it would be useful for anyone who wants a starter sample kit, before they invest in a real one (though I strongly suggest you still buy one for the long term health of your tank... but it's nice to have something to tide you over that's FREE)

Joe, good luck, hope it works out for you.

  

Joe

Thursday, January 31, 2002 - 12:28 am
Okay, I'm back from school and have ordered the free test kit. Next time I'm in town and have a chance I'll look into a lower range test kit. For now, all the fish seem happy and pH is steady at 7.0.

  

joycedonley

Thursday, January 31, 2002 - 06:46 am
Hi Joe and welcome back.

  

Joe

Thursday, January 31, 2002 - 11:11 pm
Thanks! Glad to be back. I haven't lived in a dormitory for nearly 30 years, and I don't recall the showers being quite that small!

  

Pandora

Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 10:20 am
Great Joe! Hope it works out for you... your pH sounds good and hopefully your other test results are good too. Good luck in school! It's hard for people going back to school as adults (my mom did the same thing), so I congratulate you on this next step in your life... I think the dorm showers have shrunken, too, even since I was last there, and that wasn't too many years ago!

  

Gilbert

Friday, March 01, 2002 - 12:10 am
My water also is very acidic with almost no KH or GH. Is there anything I can buffer my water with except chemicals from a pet shop? Thanks, Gilbert.

  

joycedonley

Friday, March 01, 2002 - 11:05 am
How acidic and what kh or gh? Many people think the water is too acidic when it is actually fine for many fish. Is your water well? You can get a false reading on well water until it sits overnight with aereation. Baking soda raises ph, epsom salts can increase hardness, but it is very difficult to play around with water chemistry unless you do a lot of research. Actually your buffer from the pet store may be a safer idea if you are sure your reading is correct. If you have city water call and check the test for accuracy.

  

Gilbert

Friday, March 01, 2002 - 04:40 pm
My PH is about 6.4 straight out of the tap and after a short time it drops lower than my test kit can read. The carbonate hardness is less than 1 degree and the general hardness is less than 1 degree. I have city water and it has been this way for years. I called the water department a few years back and no one knew what I was talking about. I live in a small town in TN. I have kept fish for years and my ph drops drastically evev with weekly water changes.

  

jeff s

Saturday, March 02, 2002 - 04:30 am
gilbert...without getting into a way bunch of water chem....you have zero buffering ability in your soft water...hence you ph problems...what are you tyring to do as in fish keeping that you cannot adjust for?...heck we can play chem lab forever but why?...unless you have specific reasons and knowledge of what will occur then adjust your type of fish to your your water type first..

  

joycedonley

Saturday, March 02, 2002 - 10:48 am
I agree with Jeff if you've kept fish for years in this water why worry now?

 

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