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Thread: Low pH

  1. #1
    Senior Member Ironman's Avatar
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    Question Low pH

    I'm having difficulty raising my pH above 7.7 - 7.9.
    My Cal is 400
    Alk is 12 DKH

    Because I have the central air on and windows closed, would this cause an excess of C02 in the house having a negative affect on my pH.

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    If your heating / cooling system is setup properly it will be drawing a large part of the air is handles from outside. I have had my house sealed up pretty good for close to a week now with new AC and I am having no trouble with PH moving downward.
    Temperature can have an effect on PH by reducing the amount of O2 the water can hold while at the same time speeding up chemical and biological reactions. Make sure your temperature is the same as it was before this issue arose. Correct the temperature if necessary as the first step in your trouble shooting process.
    Rob

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    Rob, my tank had been running hot for a while such as 82.7. I've added an extra fan that keeps the temp between 78.5 to 80.5. Could this have caused the drop?

    Thanks,
    John

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    Low Ph is often related to high CO2. The fan should have helped. One way to check this is to take a small amount of tank water and aerate the hell out of it. If the Ph goes up, you are not getting the CO2 out of the tank.


    Bill

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    Originally posted by Bvoss
    One way to check this is to take a small amount of tank water and aerate the hell out of it. If the Ph goes up, you are not getting the CO2 out of the tank.


    Bill
    Do this same test, using an air stone for 1 hour, but test twice. Once indoors and then repeat outside in fresh air. If the ph goes up outside and stays close to the same indoors it will tell you that you have a build up of co2 in the house. If ph goes up with the indoor test your tank needs more aeration.

  6. #6
    Moderator Krugar's Avatar
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    Neither test will prove anything.

    Adding 02 to the water will raise a low pH period. That's why you're not supposed to airate a bagged fish when you get it. The sudden increase in pH can shock & kill your new fish.

    This effect will be more profound in a small volume of water.

    If you can breath in the house, odds are so can the tank. Unless your getting headaches, feeling dizzy, or the CO2 detector is going ape around the fish tank I'm more inclinded to think something's fouled the water and needs to be cleaned.

    If the temperature changes were sudden up and back down, those are stressors that may have caused damage, but I'd also look to see if something died, clean out any mechanical filtration, check the pumps and skimmer for excess gunk & try a water change.

    7.9 isn't terrible, but you want to come up slowly. 7.9-8.2 in a day will stress out your tank.

    Cheers!
    There is nothing so permanent as a temporary measure.

  7. #7
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    The only way to discover a poor O2 level condition is with an O2 meter / test or make the judgment from the results of a redox meter reading. The higher the redox the most likely the higher the O2 in the water will likely be. Low O2 levels when everything appears to be normal usually means that something has died, the re is too much algae in the tank or too much waste in general. Give things a cleaning as was already suggested and you will likely see an improvement.
    Rob

  8. #8
    Senior Member Ironman's Avatar
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    I keep my display tank nice and clean.
    I do have a sump/refugium with a plenum where I grow cheato. There is a little nuissance algae in the sump as well as a little red cyano that accumulates from time to time. I do have some hermits in the sump to help with the cleaning. Could the sump be the cause for the low pH?

    My protein skimmer could use a little cleaning as well.

    Thanks everyone
    John

  9. #9
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    Originally posted by Krugar
    Neither test will prove anything.

    Adding 02 to the water will raise a low pH period.

    Cheers!
    That's the reason for doing both indoor/outdoor test. If your indoor air quality is high in c02, it doesn't matter how much you aerate it, it will remain low. If you don't think indoor air quality has a significant impact on tank ph levels, open a window in your tank room and see what happens to the ph. conversely next time you have gathering at your house when the windows are closed check the ph.
    The aeration test and the reasons for it are more clearly explained here. (scroll down about half way)
    http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2004-09/rhf/index.htm

  10. #10
    Moderator Krugar's Avatar
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    Okay I understand what your getting at, but there's there's a method to my madness.

    Under idea circumstance testing outsdie will tell you if you have enough alk, testing inside will tell you if have an alk or a CO2 problem. Both would answer your questions it would seem.


    *But*


    CO2 in the tank does not only come from the outside air and thus the problem. CO2 is a byproduct of just about every biological process occurring in your aquarium.

    When you airate the water inside the house, assuming your alk levels are high enough the pH will rise, unless the CO2 in the air is equal to or higher than that which was in the tank.

    Since you've taken the water away from the bio-load, it's almost impossible for the CO2 in your house to be equal and the pH should go up.

    If it doesn't go up, you have bigger problems than an aquarium with a low pH.

    And you should have noticed that you get sore / irrated eyes, have a sour taste in your mouth, a stinging in your nose and possibly throat at home. Carbonic acid isn't ment to be on your eyes, up your nose, in your mouth or throat so your body's going to tell you. (The water content of the mucus will also react to the CO2 to form carbonic acid).

    High enough levels to prevent you from lowering the CO2 conent in a sample of water from an active tank would likely also cause low level asphyxia which causes fatigue, breathing problems, higher pulse, more rapid breathing, and possibly cyanosis depending on how far along.

    As I stated, if you can breath in the house, you can airate a cup of water & raise it's pH.

    Cheers!
    There is nothing so permanent as a temporary measure.

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