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Newbie: pH Mystery

Hapless1

AC Members
So I have a fairly new tank, has been set up for about 1.5 weeks now. I added Tetra Safestart and currently have about 8 small fish in my 20G tank. I have it set up with standard aquarium store gravel, 2 small pieces of driftwood and three small live plants. I also put a couple of pieces of old pottery in it for interest.
My struggle is the pH, it keeps getting quite high, like in the 8.0-8.2 range and I have no idea why.
My test results this morning were pH 8.0-8.2, Ammonia: 0, Nitrites:0, Nitrates 0.
I did a 50% water change Friday night (night before last) because I was having ammonia readings between 0.25- 0.5 and I had a couple of fish die. I think my ammonia spiked because I added fish too fast (although readings before adding fish were ammonia 0-0.25, pH ~ 7.4). I'm really not sure why my fish died, I wonder if it was a combination of stressors.
I've tried adding driftwood to lower the pH with no effect, ad about 12 hrs ago I tried adding some Indian Almond leaves, but my pH just went up over night from 7.6 up to about 8. I did add an ayirstone yesterday, because of the fish dying/ ? ammonia stress, which may have contributed to the rising pH.
I have resorted to dosing with a little white Vinegar when pH gets up over 8, but I intentionally never lowered it past about 7.6. I tested my treated tap water and pH was about 6.8, so I'm just completely at a loss.
I don't want to lose anymore fish... Thanks for any help you can give me.
I know I've made a bunch of rookie mistakes, but I'm doing my best to sort it out now.

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FreshyFresh

Global Moderator
Staff member
What is the pH of your tap water? It's most accurate to let a sample of tap water set out over night, then test it.

I'm not a fan of safe start type products or adding anything to try to adjust your pH.

What do you use as a dechlorinator? Products like Seachem prime or safe, the granular form are great products for that.

Main thing is you have a means to test for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate in PPM and you are doing water changes.

Any change at getting a sock of gravel or some filtration media out of a healthy, long established tank? That can instant start your tank.
 

Hapless1

AC Members
What is the pH of your tap water? It's most accurate to let a sample of tap water set out over night, then test it.

I'm not a fan of safe start type products or adding anything to try to adjust your pH.

What do you use as a dechlorinator? Products like Seachem prime or safe, the granular form are great products for that.

Main thing is you have a means to test for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate in PPM and you are doing water changes.

Any change at getting a sock of gravel or some filtration media out of a healthy, long established tank? That can instant start your tank.
Thanks for your reply.
I have been de-chlorinating with Vitamin C powder, as recommended by the manufacturer of my Aquaponic kit. After sitting out overnight treated tap water was pH ~6.8.
I don't really have any friends with tanks, so I think I'll just have to wait to get things fully up to speed.
Do you think I should avoid trying to adjust pH, even if it's 8 or so?
Obviously will not add anymore fish for a while...
 

the loach

AC Members
Are you sure your tap water is 6,8? If their water source is acidic, water companies typically treat tap water to get it alkaline. You have to measure KH as well, it acts as a buffer, with a low KH you can easily have pH swings. Adding an airstone will increase pH a bit, adding driftwood lowers it but it will take time...

Just ask away here.. there are many experienced hobbyists to help you out.
 

Hapless1

AC Members
Are you sure your tap water is 6,8? If their water source is acidic, water companies typically treat tap water to get it alkaline. You have to measure KH as well, it acts as a buffer, with a low KH you can easily have pH swings. Adding an airstone will increase pH a bit, adding driftwood lowers it but it will take time...

Just ask away here.. there are many experienced hobbyists to help you out.
Perhaps the Vit C powder increased the acidity. I don't have a test for KH, but good idea, I can check...
 

FreshyFresh

Global Moderator
Staff member
Going from a pH of ~6.8 to ~8.2 is going from acidic to basic.. and quite drastically.

I have never heard of using vitamin-C as a dechlorinator. I'm not saying it's wrong, but I would not do it.

I'd get a good dechlor product like stated above, do some frequent small water changes using the dechlor product and go from there.
 

the loach

AC Members
Vitamin C = ascorbic acid. They use it in ponds to lower pH. But test the pH right out of the tap, after having it sit for a day. Your tap water probably has a low KH, so there isn't much needed for a pH swing.
 

Hapless1

AC Members
Vitamin C = ascorbic acid. They use it in ponds to lower pH. But test the pH right out of the tap, after having it sit for a day. Your tap water probably has a low KH, so there isn't much needed for a pH swing.
Right that's why I'm so mystified as to why pH keeps rising, seems to go up after water sits in my fish tank. Immediately after a water change pH is at it's lowest.
Per your suggestion will check pH of straight from the tap water...
 

Hapless1

AC Members
Ok, I just checked my straight from the tap water and may have solved the mystery. It was like 8.2, maybe pH in my tank is coming up over time as my Vitamin C (Asorbic acid) dissipates...
So do you think I should try to bring it down? Should I just keep trying mild remedies like Almond leaves?
Thanks.
 

the loach

AC Members
I would still test the KH first see what you are dealing with. I see you have some tetras they do like the pH to be lower, you have a new tank so it still needs to mature and the pH will come down a bit. Any changes in pH need to be slow for the fish, so for the moment wood and leaves are good. pH has a logarithmic scale so from 7 to 6 is 10 times more acidic.
 
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