View Full Version : Lowering pH Naturally

02-12-2013, 07:21 AM
I see people asking how to lower their pH naturally, here is what works for me using Peat and Driftwood.

The water where we live is very good water but high in pH 8.0 and hard and I like to keep South American Characins so; buy yourself a box of AZOO peat moss or any organic peat moss. Put it in the bag that comes with it or if you buy the peat moss elsewhere you will have to buy a media bag. Put the bag of peat (after rinsing well) in with your filter media. After 3-4 weeks my pH lowers to 6.5; you must monitor this closely. Remove the Peat from the filter at this time (your desired pH) because it will continue to soften the water and that can mess up the ammonia level in your tank. This is where the driftwood comes into effect as it will help buffer the pH and hardness. You will notice the pH go back up after water changes but again the driftwood will help buffer it back down.

You should not use chemicals to lower your pH. They work for some people but most others with experiance will tell you they are a quick fix and not good for your fish in the long run. Others will tell you to let the fish acclimate to the local pH which is fine, but alot of your South American and African Characins as well as many Chiclids from the same regions will realy show their best colors in lower pH. Plus if you become advanced enough to want to try and spawn most of them, they can't because they need soft water.

This is only one opinion, I hope it helps.

02-12-2013, 08:20 AM
Nice first shot. I think it's a bit more complicated than that though. Let me ponder this a bit.

02-12-2013, 08:45 AM
Peat moss is going to require a frequent level of guess and check work. It does work for a lot of people but if your PH is below 8.0 I would avoid messing with it at all. Most fish will adapt to the PH of your water as long as its between 6 and 8. Slower acclimation is key when introducing sensitive fish to extreme PH's on either end of that.

The best thing you can do is to use a method that avoids fluctuation. As you said chemical PH up or PH down products always fluctuate the PH wildly and that's why I would never use them. Even peat moss will do this to a lesser extent. The main thing to keep in mind is that if you are modifying your PH in a significant way then you need to monitor frequently so that the PH doesn't fluctuate. The fluctuation is worse for your fish than a less then ideal PH.

I work at a fish store and for reasons beyond my comprehension we are constantly using products to raise the PH of our goldfish tanks up to about 7.0. Ideally that's good, and the goldfish do great at it as long as we keep using the product. But sometimes we run out of the product that raises the PH and when we do there is a decent level of die off. The PH will drop to 6.0 or so, a good number of feeders will die, and then after a few days things level off and the fish stop dying. Sometimes we run out of it for weeks or even a month at a time and the goldfish will do great without it, even at a PH of 6.0. The PH doesn't seem to matter. The fluctuation kills them. If we just stopped using the product at all we would never have the moments of die offs that we have when we run out.

Lady Hobbs
02-12-2013, 10:59 AM
That depends on your buffering. If your water is reasonably hard, peat or driftwood will have little effect. And many do not like the appearance of the amazon tank that peat will give you.

02-12-2013, 02:22 PM
I agree with all the posts above, simply put, peat moss will naturally lower your ph but when it comes to water changes or any emergency, it will lead to an unstable/swinging your ph according to the hardness of the water.

02-12-2013, 08:36 PM
As I said, this is what works for me. It takes a little effort and close monitoring to work. If your happy to keep a nice community tank; than slow acclimate everything and your tank will be fine.

If you know me by now this is "not a hill I choose to die on" just a suggestion.

02-13-2013, 01:11 AM
I used peat moss in my canister when I first bought it to lower my 8.2 pH tap water. Between this and alot of driftwood it did actually lower the pH of my tank water to 7.4. It was a pain during water changes as is stated in the above posts so I ended up stopping the peat addition in my canister filter. None of the tetras past away during this experiment thankfully, but it will get the Ph down.

After checking the pH of the local lfs where I bought my fish, which was also pushing 8.0 plus, I decided my tap water was good enough.
It can be done but it's alot of upkeep. It takes time to lower the pH of your tank after doing a large water change which may just stress out the stock more then needed. Usually your only doing a large water change because something bad has happened and the last thing the stock needs is to be stressed out even more.

But if you have the time, resources and expect no large water changes it does work.

03-05-2013, 02:23 PM
There's another kind of moss that can be easier to find than peat moss, least for me it is. It's called pillow moss/frog moss and is in the reptile/amphibian section of a pet store if they have it:

This is what I use in my tank, it doesn't seem to tannin the water like peat moss does which is good or bad depending on the look you're going for :)

It takes time to lower the pH of your tank after doing a large water change which may just stress out the stock more then needed. .
But the water you put IN your tank should already have been adjusted for pH before you do the water change :/

03-05-2013, 03:39 PM
Won't the PH naturally go back up once the peat moss stops working (even if you don't do a water change)?

03-05-2013, 04:08 PM
I personally use a mix of natural and chemical and RO water to maintain my water quality. There's a LOT that goes into soft water tanks when it comes to maintaining them depending on your available water source. However, when the water itself becomes soft, the pH doesn't just go back up because you've lowered the KH through the decomposing moss. If your KH is low, your pH will stay low. Unless something is added that would change you KH, your pH won't really be affected. Now when using a chemical to force the pH to change, then discontinuing it's use WOULD cause a raise in the pH because it's no longer being forcibly lowered. Hence the difference between a true soft water tank and a purely chemically induced one. I hope that helps :)

05-04-2013, 03:31 AM
RO water would be the easiest way to go. The LFS by me sells it to people. I never tried breeding tetras so I have no use for it. We have neutral water where I live. 100% mississippi river, only a few hundred miles from the source!

Goes to 11!
05-04-2013, 04:05 AM
I would avoid messing with it at all. Most fish will adapt to the PH of your water as long as its between 6 and 8. Slower acclimation is key when introducing sensitive fish to extreme PH's on either end of that.
+1 I concur completely.

Simply put: You can either acclimate your fish to your source water one time or you can adjust your water forever, The choice is yours.

05-04-2013, 05:27 AM
What's often overlooked here is that hardness plays a much bigger role. Yes you can adapt soft water fish to hard water and vice versa but those fish are generally very disease prone and won't live nearly as long

12-24-2013, 12:47 PM
The ONLY correct manner to type the short symbol for the acidity or basicity of water (related to ionized hydrogen donation or acceptance ability of the water) is ONLY to type this name as


not PH or ph.

Please people, lets use the correct form; this isn't just being a sloppy typist but a very specific scientific definition that is defined as pH and no other typing is acceptable because it isn't what you mean!!! Those other forms do not mean pH.

End of rant.