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Safely raising pH

Discussion in 'African / Old World Cichlids' started by Mamaorca77, Jul 2, 2018.

  1. Mamaorca77

    Mamaorca77 New Member

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    Hey guys, so I have my cichlids waiting for their new home in my 20g, and last night was wc night, I noticed when I took my reading beforehand that my nitrates were a bit high and I was seeing a trace of nitrite, so I did basically a whole tank change (I was going to change the substrate from gravel to sand so I figured this was the perfect chance!) After everything settled, I rechecked this morn and all my levels are perfect..but 1. My pH. It was sitting very low before (6.5 ish) and dropped to a 6 after wc.
    I know cichlids prefer high pH and have been looking up ways to safely raise it, but any advice on how to do it without doing it too fast will be greatly appreciated. My fish seem fine, they were waiting for food when I woke up and had def played in the sand while I was asleep! Lol Now they are happily playing tag, chilling in their caves and checking out the cat..so, it doesn't seem to bother them, but long-term I'm sure I'll have issues. TIA

     
  2. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    Limestone and sandstone rocks. Add a few rocks a couple of times a week and monitor the pH. It will go up naturally because they are calcium based rocks and dissolve slowly over time to neutralise acids in the water.
     
  3. Mamaorca77

    Mamaorca77 New Member

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    Cool thanks again. Ur like a walking encyclopedia!!
     
  4. Byron

    Byron Member

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    There is much more to this problem, and the solution is not so simple. First, what is the GH (general or total hardness) of your source water (tap presumably) and tank water (separately)? And what is the KH (carbonate hardness or Alkalinity) of both individually? And the pH of the source water (remember to out-gas the CO2 when testing tap water pH)?

    The pH is tied to the GH and KH, but aside from that, the rift lake cichlids absolutely must have moderately hard (or harder) water with a basic (above 7) pH. And if the pH is at 6 and fell within the tank, we can assume the GH and KH are probably too low.

    The fish may seem OK, but believe me they are not. These species have evolved over the last 15,000 years to live in moderately hard and basic water, and their physiology requires and depends upon this. We can easily find solutions once we know the numbers. Raising pH alone with shells, rock, etc is not going to do the job, I've done that, because the GH is not being raised sufficiently.
     
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  5. Mamaorca77

    Mamaorca77 New Member

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    Ok, sorry I didn't reply sooner, 4th of July and such. I don't have a test for KH or GH. I plan to make a run to get supplies this wk and can pick one up, but the last time I was there, I grabbed the API master kit and didn't know I needed the others since I, at that time, had only fish that were suited to my pH. In the meantime, I took advice from Colin and a cpl other folks and added some limestone. For a quick fix til the limestone started working, I used a pinch of baking soda in my last wc and bought a cuttlebone today, because I heard that helps and I have snails in my 50. My last test showed my pH hovering right at 8, so it seems this has helped at least short term until I can get a reading on my tap water and, hopefully solve the problem. I also checked online jic my city had this info available but was unable to find anything. I plan to go to the lfs tomorrow after work, so I will grab that test and get back to you.
     
  6. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    Cuttlebone, the white piece of material found inside cuttlefish is calcium but will float and get covered in slime. Just stay with limestone and sandstone. And if your pH went up to 8 then you probably added a bit more than a pinch of bicarb :)
     
  7. Byron

    Byron Member

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    Raising the pH is only part of the issue, you must also increase the GH. Limestone rock is not going to do this. It also will not raise pH much if at all unless you have a tank full of limestone.

    Baking soda is not advisable. It will not raise GH either, but long term it will not buffer the pH and you will have fluctuating pH.

    You must find out the GH and KH of the source water. As you are in the USA, you should be able to get this data from your water authority, if not their website, call them.
     
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  8. NickAu

    NickAu Member
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    Hi

    This thread is confusing, Colin insists on limestone and sandstone while Byron says it's not that easy.

    @Mamaorca77

    I would follow Byron's advice he knows his stuff. Doing it Colin's way, the PH will fluctuate and this will affect the health of the fish.
     
  9. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    Limestone, sandstone, shells, coral rubble & cuttlebone are made from calcium carbonate, the same sort of carbonates that are measured for with a KH test kit. This stuff will raise the pH and depending on how much limestone or sandstone you add, will determine how quickly the pH goes up, and how high the pH eventually gets to. If you only have a few small pieces of limestone in the tank, it will neutralise any acids from fish food and waste and keep the pH stabile. If you have lots of limestone in the tank, the pH will neutralise all the acids and increase the pH further until it gets to its maximum level (around 8.4).

    For African Rift Lake cichlids, they require hard water as well as alkaline water. So whilst the limestone and sandstone will raise the pH for them, it will not increase the general hardness of the water. To increase the general hardness you need to add calcium and magnesium chloride. The easiest way to do this is to buy some African Rift Lake water conditioner from a pet shop and add that to the water.

    Because you have Ramirezi dwarf cichlids in the tank as well, you should rehome one group of fish, either the Rift Lake cichlids or the Rams. They come from different environments and have completely different water chemistry requirements. The rams are smaller and more peaceful and I would move them into a smaller tank whilst leaving the Rift Lake cichlids in the bigger tank.
     
  10. Mamaorca77

    Mamaorca77 New Member

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    Colin, I don't have rams. Just Africans. I'm very interested in rams, and plan to get them, but for a different tank. I have moved the Africans from my 20 to a new 36 bow front with sand/gravel/shell substrate and at my last check on params (2 hrs ago) my pH was at 8.1. They did not have a GH or KH test kit at the lfs I went to yesterday, so I ordered from Amazon last night. Should be here by Mon at the latest, so I'll know more about what's going on for my Africans. They do seem happier in the new tank, and are enjoying their new hiding spots and caves to the fullest! Lol
     
  11. Mamaorca77

    Mamaorca77 New Member

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    And I will look into the Rift Lake conditioner. I believe i did see that yesterday..cant remember if it was at the store or Amazon tho
     
  12. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    sorry, I thought you had rams too. Someone here has rams and Africans. If you don't have rams just disregard what I said about them :)
     

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