When it comes to issues regarding water chemistry, many aquarium hobbyists are in the dark. Water chemistry is one of the most important aspects of maintaining a healthy fish tank, however, so if you do not understand the basics you should certainly learn them. One of the most misunderstood aspects of water chemistry is pH. Not only do many aquarium hobbyists not understand what pH is, but they don’t know what to do if the pH levels in their tanks drop too low or spike too high. In order to prevent a disaster in your tank, it is wise to learn how to modify your aquarium pH, should you ever need to.
About Water Chemistry and pH
The term pH refers to the level of acidity of alkalinity of your tank water and it is measured on a scale from 0 to 14. A pH value of 7.0 is neutral while values below 7.0 are acidic and values above 7.0 are alkaline. While many species of aquarium fish are hardy and adaptable to a variety of tank conditions, some species are incredibly sensitive to changes in pH. Even species which are typically hardy can be negatively affected by a sudden rise or drop in aquarium pH. There are many factors which may contribute to a change in aquarium pH and, regardless of the cause, you should be prepared to take swift action to remedy pH problems before your fish come to any harm.
Changing the pH in Your Tank
Raising the pH in your tank is much easier than lowering it, but it is not an exact science. Adding baking soda or calcium chloride to your tank water are two of the quickest ways to raise the pH. To use these methods, simply add 1 teaspoon of baking soda per ten gallons of tank water. If you are using calcium chloride, combine it with equal parts baking soda and Epsom salt, then add 1 teaspoon of the mixture per five gallons of tank water.
Another water chemistry term you may be unfamiliar with is buffering capacity – this is the ability of tank water to maintain a stable pH. If you need to lower the pH in your tank you will also need to buffer the water in your tank to a lower pH so you don’t end up with a pH that is too low. To do this you might try adding some naturally soft water to the tank – rainwater and melted snow are both water sources that are naturally soft. Adding peat moss to your tank or filter can also help to lower the pH, but it could also stain the water be leeching tannins into your tank. Injecting carbon dioxide (CO2) into the tank is another way to lower pH but this requires the use of special equipment and it may only serve as a short-term solution.
Tips for Aquarium pH
While it may at some point become necessary for you to modify the pH in your tank, your goal should be to maintain a stable pH. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to make sure that the nitrogen cycle in your tank is completely established and that you have a healthy colony of beneficial bacteria working to remove toxins that could affect pH. To jumpstart the nitrogen cycle and bolster the colony of beneficial bacteria in your tank, try installing an EcoBio-Stone. These stones can be dropped right into your tank and, because they are made from natural volcanic rock and cement and have a natural look, they will not detract from your tank décor. EcoBio-Stones are infused with beneficial bacteria as well as the nutrients they need to survive so they will multiply rapidly, working to improve water quality which will help maintain a stable pH in your tank.