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Thread: High tap water pH

  1. #1

    Default High tap water pH

    Hi guys

    I thought I would start a spreadsheet and note down my tape and tank water parameters so I can track any changes and generally keep an eye on things. Also who doesn't love shiny new datasets??

    Today was my first entry. I've always known my tank has high pH but I put that down to water soil was in there (I inherited this tank so I'm not sure exactly what the substrate was), but today I measure my tap water and the pH is really quite high. According to the normal-range pH test it's at least 7.6, and the high-range pH test pings it at about 7.4-7.6.

    Is this something I should be worried about?

    Is there anything I should be doing to lower the pH before doing water changes?

    I have an acid buffer which I use to gradually increase tank pH, is this my only course of action?

    Thanks in advance. You guys are ace!
    As a young boy, I dreamed of being a baseball; but tonight I say, we must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!

  2. #2
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    Hiya Vader,

    I would ignore those readings altogether. No need to measure pH unless you are injecting CO2 or breeding tricky species for profit.

    If you really want to measure pH, use this.
    https://www.ebay.com.au/i/3326779890...r=541805003630

    Those test kits are very approximate.

    But pH meters need calibration and proper storage which is not worth it for you.

    Sydney tap water has been 'limed' which causes a low hardness high pH water which reduces corrosion of pipes.

  3. #3

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    Thanks Rebel!

    So my little guys aren't suffering from high pH? Will it affect plants at all?

    I tested my GH/KH for the first time too and I *think* my tap water is about 50-100ppm.. I have no idea what that actually means though.
    As a young boy, I dreamed of being a baseball; but tonight I say, we must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!

  4. #4
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    No effect on plants or fish.

    Your tap water is excellent at that hardness. For plants, the Green Element will provide the Magnesium required, so don't worry about the hardness either.

  5. #5

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    a pH of 7.6 is fine for most fish and all plants. The only fish that will have an issue with that pH are wild caught tetras, angelfish, discus and catfish. And since 99% of fish sold in pet shops are captive bred, you don't have to worry.

    general hardness (GH) is all the dissolved minerals in the water. Rain water or Distilled water has no mineral content and a GH of 0ppm.
    50-100ppm (mg/ltr) is soft water that has some minerals in it but not a lot.
    A GH of 100-250ppm is medium hardness, and a GH of 250-350ppm is hard water.
    Anything over 350ppm is very hard.

    carbonate hardness (KH) is the dissolved carbonates and bicarbonates in the water. These buff the pH and make it alkaline (pH above 7.0). As a general rule, the higher the KH, the higher the pH.
    Last edited by Colin_T; 24-06-18 at 07:17 PM.

  6. #6
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    Just to give an example, here is a tank using 2TONED substrate using the water you are describing...

    http://www.aquariumlife.com.au/showt...-Enquiry/page7

  7. #7

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    The only fish that will have an issue with that pH are wild caught tetras, angelfish, discus and catfish
    Ahh ok, I have ember tetras and otos in there at the moment but want to add some Hastatus. I'm assuming they're all hunkydory

    Thank you for the parameters 101 lesson! I've often seen terms like softeness and hardness used but never been entirely sure what it all means. I'm guessing shrimp, snails, etc are affected by hardness and pH? but plants and fish don't seem to mind?

    Just to give an example, here is a tank using 2TONED substrate using the water you are describing...
    Gosh you build some lovely tanks, Rebel. I'm in awe!
    As a young boy, I dreamed of being a baseball; but tonight I say, we must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!

  8. #8

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    Ember tetras can be wild caught or captive bred. Most should be captive bred but if you can check with the shop you got them from it would help. The shop will probably have to contact their supplier to find out so it might take a few days for them to get a response.

    Corydoras hastatus, Otocinclus and Ember tetras can all get along together assuming the tank is big enough for them.

    All aquatic organisms are affected by hardness. Fish like African Rift Lake cichlids come from very hard water (GH over 350ppm) and won't do well in soft water. Mollies, Swordtails, Guppies & Platies naturally occur in hard slightly alkaline water and if you keep them in soft water they have problems. Fish that naturally occur in very soft water (most Tetras, Angelfish, Discus, Corydoras) are fine in soft water or medium hard water but don't do as well in very hard water. However, fish from soft water tolerate hard water better than hard water fishes tolerate soft water.

    The same thing with pH. Fish from water with an acid pH (below 7.0) will tolerate slightly alkaline water (pH above 7.0). However, fish that naturally occur in alkaline water will not tolerate acid water.

    Snails & shrimp usually need some minerals in the water. If snails are kept in very soft water or acid water, their shells become thin and dissolve. This is because their shells are primarily made out of calcium and that neutralises acids in the water (the acids in the water dissolve the shell). Some shrimp come from soft water but most come from medium or even hard water, and they all need some minerals for their shells. But they don't need as many minerals as snails do.
    Last edited by Colin_T; 25-06-18 at 11:19 AM.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Colin_T View Post

    However, fish from soft water tolerate hard water better than hard water fishes tolerate soft water.

    The same thing with pH. Fish from water with an acid pH (below 7.0) will tolerate slightly alkaline water (pH above 7.0). However, fish that naturally occur in alkaline water will not tolerate acid water.
    This is really interesting, and the pH thing is pretty intuitive but it's the hardness one has really got my thinking. I wonder if it's connected the ability of their kidneys?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin_T View Post
    Snails & shrimp usually need some minerals in the water. If snails are kept in very soft water or acid water, their shells become thin and dissolve. This is because their shells are primarily made out of calcium and that neutralises acids in the water (the acids in the water dissolve the shell). Some shrimp come from soft water but most come from medium or even hard water, and they all need some minerals for their shells. But they don't need as many minerals as snails do.
    I did know this, and I had suspected my water was on the soft side as I've noticed when I've snails that their shells look a bit thin, like light can pass through it. Will glass shrimp tolerate soft water? I've been thinking of adding some but didn't want to see them all go belly up if I did it wrong.
    As a young boy, I dreamed of being a baseball; but tonight I say, we must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!

  10. #10

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    Kidney size in fishes is related to salinity not hardness. Fishes from pure fresh water have smaller kidneys than fish found in brackish or saltwater. Fishes from the ocean have the biggest kidneys % wise to body size.

    Fishes from freshwater that is hard, have the same size kidneys proportionally to fishes found in soft water.

    Glass shrimp are pretty tough but it depends on where you get them from. I have found glass shrimp in soft acid water and hard alkaline water, and brackish water. If you have soft water then try to get some from the upper reaches of a fresh water creek.

  11. #11
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    All tap water will be alkaline....if local authorities are doing their job

    I like this product.....https://www.thetechden.com.au/Supach...r_p/sctt50.htm

    It removes/neutralises Lime....a big cause of high pH

    We all have a different experience and therefore may offer different opinions.

    I've found all fish found in the wild in soft water live longer and look better in soft water in aquariums.....
    Sure they may survive in hard, alkaline water....but they will never look as good as they will being kept in water closer to nature.

    Many focus on pH....because it easy to measure but I don't believe it should be a target on its own.
    Generally in nature.....soft water is acid....hard water is alkaline
    Soft water is Low total dissolved solids, low conductivity
    Hard water is High total dissolved solids, high conductivity

    Personally I don't get too hung up on chemistry....particularly pH

    I like to keep soft water fish in at least 50/50 tap/rain or RO water.....but some species(wild bettas) almost 100% RO water
    Hard water fish are fine in Brisbane tap water but addition of specialist salts does improve colour

    I'm Happy to add salts for Hard water fish....Rift lake /Central American cichlid/Livebearers
    but products like pH Down are a big NO NO for soft water fish......you may end up with acid water but it will have High Conductivity....Totally unnatural

  12. #12
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    Hey Rod, do you find that the pH of the water falls after treatment with SupaChlor? I've heard about it but never tried it myself.

  13. #13
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    To be honest I've never checked.....I'd suggest pH doesn't drop after treatment but water has less buffering allowing natural drop in pH in the right conditions

    Without reducing the buffering water will stay alkaline.....alternatively adding some RO water reduces buffering....allowing water to acidify more readily

    I prefer to do both for soft water fish...SuperChlor + RO water
    Last edited by Rod; 26-06-18 at 09:48 AM.

  14. #14

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    This is all really interesting, I am constantly amazed at the collective knowledge in this group. You guys are great

    So soft, alkaline water is okay for my fish and plants and I shouldn't worry about it? I live in a unit so collecting rainwater isn't an option for me, and I'll confess - I have no idea what RO water is so I'm assuming it's something technical that I won't understand.
    As a young boy, I dreamed of being a baseball; but tonight I say, we must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!

  15. #15
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    RO water is reverse osmosis. Basically a very fine membrane that can filter out most of the dissolved solids leaving almost pure water
    You can buy filtration units and diy...or some LFS sell it and there are vending machine that sell it too (there is in Brisbane)

    As suggested buy some SuperChlor(sold on-line at Tech Den) and use it at each water change. pH will likely drop over time unless you have a buffer in the tank
    ie calcium carbonate substrate(most white substrates are)

    Do you Know pH can change day-night especially in planted tanks as plants use CO2 during the day giving off O2 and this reverses at night
    Last edited by Rod; 27-06-18 at 12:07 PM.

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