In a fish tank, the water quality is everything. Water parameters decide the length of the fish’s lives, strength, growth, and nourishment. Beginners often take this lightly, but pH is one of the most significant factors contributing to your fish’s development. If you want your fish to thrive, you must be observant and careful of the pH levels and the right tank size.
Check out this quick guide to take a look at some small tanks for fish and choose the right size for your needs.
pH levels are one of those things that can never stay the same for long. You will have to regularly monitor the increases and decreases of pH in the tank and take preventive measures to stabilize them before they cause harm.
pH levels are based on alkaline and acidic conditions and are measured on a scale from 1 to 14. If your range falls between 1 and 6, the water is acidic. If it falls on 7, that represents neutral water temperatures. If your temperatures go above 8, then it is likely that your fish are living in alkaline conditions.
Different fish species need different pH levels. Most fish species can tolerate a slight change in pH, but a drastic one will kill them. Before you lower or increase the pH levels in the tank, research all about the fish and their ideal water conditions.
Why Is It Necessary To Lower pH In An Aquarium?
When your fish suffer, they tend to exhibit strange behaviors, such as not eating, flitting around lazily, not moving for long periods, etc. Most of the time, this is due to a change in the water conditions that they struggle to adapt to most of the time.
Even though each fish species have different pH requirements, most of them will be comfortable between pH levels ranging from 6.5 and 7.5. Of course, to keep your fish comfortable, it is necessary to bring down the pH if it exceeds this limit.
The common cause of the rise in pH levels is the concentration of minerals in the tap water we use for our fish. If the tap water has a high concentration of phosphates or silicate, it will raise your pH levels.
Once the pH exceeds 7, your fish will exhibit signs of lethargy and sickness.
Another reason for a high pH is the inefficiency of your filtration system. If the filter does not work well and lets ammonia gather in the tank, it will prove fatal for your fish. As a rule of the fishkeeping hobby, you must keep the necessary pH in your tank and, if need be, lower it to suit your fish. To lower ammonia levels in the tank, check this guide.
How Often Should You Test pH In An Aquarium?
You must keep track of the pH in your tank and check it once every four weeks using a testing kit. Always try to do it weekly to detect problems early on, and take curative measures. But, four weeks is the absolute time limit. You will have to mandatorily check the pH every four weeks to ensure that your fish are in optimum health.
Also, check pH levels every time before introducing new fish into the aquarium. In this way, you will ensure that the fresh fish are not shocked by the high or low pH as soon as they are in a new environment.
Along with checking the pH every month, you will need to replace 30% of your water with fresh water to prevent the levels from rising.
How To Lower pH In An Aquarium With Vinegar – Step By Step
Vinegar is a natural way of lowering the pH in the aquarium, and it is pretty easy to do so. You must follow four steps to use vinegar as a pH lowering agent in the tank.
Step 1: Use fresh water and sit for 12 to 18 hours before testing it once.
Step 2: Take a water sample and put some white, diluted vinegar drops into it.
Step 3: Use pH testing paper to check the pH levels and closely notice any pH levels changes.
Once you have multiple water samples, you will know how much white vinegar you should add to the pH testing strip to achieve the level you want.
Lastly, it is time to add the white vinegar to the tank.
Step 4: As a measure, you should ideally add 10 ml of white vinegar for every 10 gallons of water in the tank. Remember to alternate between pouring the vinegar and the water and letting the water be for a couple of minutes before adding the second dose of white vinegar until you achieve the desired result.
Remember not to pour the entire amount together, which will instantly drop the pH level. A gradual change is always safer and better.
Mix the vinegar thoroughly around the tank so that it is evenly distributed.
Other Ways Of Lowering pH In An Aquarium
Some other methods of lowering pH in the tank, apart from vinegar, are as follows.
1. Peat Moss Granules or Filters
Peat Moss filters are one of the best solutions to reducing pH levels and water hardness. They work similarly to Driftwood. They bind the calcium and magnesium ions in the water through ‘chelation.’ It ultimately softens the water. This process is very similar to demineralization. Check this guide to learn more about water hardness and how to soften water.
While softening the water, peat moss will also release acids like tannic and gallic acid. Through these acids, the KH and the pH levels decrease.
You must take some precautions before you use a peat moss filter. Be sure to boil it for two or three minutes so that any parasites or bacteria present there will die.
Peat moss will make your water yellow. To prevent this from happening, you can soak the peat in clean water for some time after it is done boiling.
There are three different ways to use peat moss to lower the tank’s pH.
If your tap water is not suitable for the fish, peat moss will help you to soften it. To add peat moss and filter the water, first, boil peat moss so that all the pathogens die on it. After that, drain the remaining brown water, and fill a bucket of tap water. Put peat moss on it and let it sit for a couple of days. Use this water to perform a partial water change in your tank.
Another method is to use peat moss in the form of a filter. To do this, wrap it around a mesh bag or a net. The bag needs to be small to fit into your filter. Boil the bag just like the earlier method and allow the peat to cool down. Once it is colder, remove the dirty water and put this bag behind the filtering pad.
The last method is to add peat moss to the tank directly. As we described earlier, you will need to boil and let it cool down. Be sure to place the bag in an area where water circulation happens the most.
2. Reverse Osmosis
It is a process that is commonly used in the fishkeeping hobby to keep the tank water pure. The water gets pushed through a membrane (like a filter) through this method, where most impurities disappear. These impurities include insecticides, pesticides, etc.
The membrane consists of blacking systems for calcium and magnesium, which softens the water to a great extent and stabilizes pH.
Moreover, it can help lower the pH without using any chemicals!
Even though this is a little pricier than the other options, it is a worthwhile investment if you have a large-sized tank and want to lower the pH. This option is more reliable and thorough than the others.
Driftwood and peat moss are similar in the sense that they soften water with the use of tannic acids. These tannins are harmless to the fish in the tank. The acid can also boost the health of the fish and protect them from probable infections.
Driftwood is an environmentally viable option because it is made entirely through the fossilization of trees over millions of years. When a piece of a tree gets washed into the sea or the river, it slowly turns into driftwood.
But, driftwood also has its side effects. Driftwood can turn your tank water brown. Sometimes, some parasites might also enter the tank through the driftwood. You will have to observe the driftwood to ensure that it does not develop any fungi.
4. Addition of carbon dioxide
Adding carbon dioxide is a reliable and lasting method of lowering the tank’s pH. Inside water, carbon dioxide acts as an acidic substance. Carbon dioxide is triggered in the water by the decaying of organic matter.
To do this, you can add cottonseeds, corn, etc., to the water. The carbon dioxide will lower the pH from organic matter such as cracked corns or soybean meals.
Keep in mind that this is also a safe method because it gradually minimizes the pH and does not bring sudden changes to the tank. If you do not want to insert it through organic means, then just get some carbon dioxide and artificially pump it into the water.
5. Catappa Leaves
Catappa leaves come from the Catappa (Terminalia Catappa) tree native to places like Africa, Australia, and Asia. There are many common and local names, such as country almond, Malabar almond, tropical almond, sea almond, etc.
The leaves of this tree can lower the pH levels in your aquarium. They can also act as preventive medicine for the fish from diseases and build their immune system. The leaves will decompose and dissolve in the aquarium, so they are not harmful in any way.
How to maintain a stable pH in an aquarium?
If you keep testing your pH levels every 3 to 4 weeks and keep a log of it for future reference, you will be able to adjust pH levels well. Over time, your pH levels will stabilize if you stick to a testing routine.
As we have seen, there are many ways in which you can lower or alter the pH of your tank. Some methods are more accessible and quicker, whereas some are time-consuming but reliable. You can use any of these to achieve your goal.
pH in a fish tank is one of the deciding factors for the survival of the fish. For any lobbyist, whether you are an amateur or a professional, maintaining the right amount of pH in the tank at all times is a challenge.
Remember that you have both natural and artificial ways of lowering the pH, and no matter what method you choose, you will have to follow the rules. Be extra careful while changing the pH and take safety precautions for yourself too.