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Thread: PH Help?

  1. Default PH Help?

    0 Not allowed!
    So my new aquarium is settling in nicely so far. For more info on what I have, etc, see my first post:

    The issue I face right now deals with PH. I'm using the API Master Test kit and I have been getting readings of what appears to be 6 or below. The water is always a real light yellow. High PH doesn't seem to even register on the chart with a darker yellow color water.

    What's going on and how can I correct it? FYI my tank is not cycled yet.

  2. Default

    0 Not allowed!
    First things first - for comparison/test gauge, have you tested the pH of the water right out of the tap ? (Presumably what you're using in your tank). Do so & let us know.

  3. Default

    0 Not allowed!
    Yes, that is the water I use. It's PH is 7.4 and high PH is 8.2

  4. #4


    0 Not allowed!
    Something sounds "fishy" (pardon the pun!). Results from the normal and high pH tests should be consistent with each other. If you are getting 7.4 from the normal pH test, you should NOT be getting 8.4 from the high range test. If your pH is 7.4 or less, then the high pH range should "bottom out" and also read 7.4. If your pH is 8.2, then the high range should read 8.2 and the normal one should be maxed out and read 7.6.

    So, something is not quite right with the testing. First of all, make sure you are reading the results under sufficient and adequate lighting. Incandescent lighting from lighbulbs is yellow, and may prevent you from making an accurate color comparison. If in doubt, look at it in bright sunlight to be sure.

    Also, make sure you are following instructions carefully. To summarize: you should have 5 ml of water in the little test tube. You use only 3 drops of the normal pH test solution. For the high range test start with the same 5 ml of water but use 5 drops of the high range test solution. Make sure you clean the test tube before each test with tap water, and then rinse the empty test tube before each test in tank water. Use different test tubes for each test,but, if using the same test tube, clean it between the normal and high range tests so that one test doesn't affect the other. Finally, don't use your finger to cover the test tube opening when inverting the tube to mix it. Oils or residues from your finger can affect test results.

  5. #5

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    0 Not allowed!
    Do you have drift wood in the tank? Tannins can cause your ph to drop a little but not too much, also injected co2 can causw a ph drop. Fixing ph is need to do passively. Do not add anything to directly affect ur ph (ie ph up,down or buffers) as they can cause ph swings and that will kill your fish. If you are doing a fish in cycle i would suggest returning the fish and doing a fishless. Ammonia generally will cause the ph readings to go all wonky. What are ur amonia, nitrites and notrate reading?
    I wonder if i plant one of my tiger barbs would the demon seed grow to a full tree?
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  6. Default

    0 Not allowed!
    +1 to the above - your pH reading will not be stable during cycling anyway.

  7. #7


    0 Not allowed!
    An uncycled tank will have ph swings. Just something you'll have to contend with until It's done. Also there is no reason to be running the high range test if your getting a good reading from the normal range test with your tap water. If you have any drift wood in the tank it is most likely the source of the yellow tint in your water. Shouldn't be much of an issue for getting good results from your tests unless it is really super yellow.
    I've never been very fond of api products. Some are downright terrible. I would suggest getting another test from another manufacturer and test with both for a comparisons . Once the has finished cycling it should stabilize somewhere close to tap ph.
    Never under estimate the power of stupid people in large numbers.

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  8. #8


    0 Not allowed!
    Let me help you out here, as I've been through this many times before. Though many are helpful, unless they've lived this particular problem, and learned how to combat it, they just can't know. You'll drive yourself nuts.

    Basically on the two tests the low reading is 7, the high reading shows the basic lowest range available for the high test results. that's normal. I get different readings on both tests from straight tap water. the high range test reads in the "oranges".

    What you are experiencing is Ph crash, due to low buffering capacity of your tap water. Its 7 straight out of the tap, but within days, bam, it sinks like a stone. You can do water changes until kingdom come, but you won't raise the Ph any in the tank for more than an hour.

    Ph this low will cause attempts to cycle a tank to fail, and will cause an already cycled tank the cycle to go dormant. Both scenarios = fish death/bad conditions.

    to fix it, do NOT rely on Ph buffers in a jar, you will also drive yourself crazy.

    Get crushed coral substrate from a fish store. they come in big bags, but that's the best you will be able to do. Place 2 tablespoons of crushed coral into a filter bag, or cut off section of a nylon stocking and put it in your filter. Monitor the Ph and if after 24 hours it doesn't go up, take out the bag and add in one more tablespoon. Do this until the Ph gets to an acceptable range, do NOT aim for exactly 7.0. Its fine if its a bit under that.

    Keep in mind using crushed coral, more buffering capacity will come out over time, so its imperative to check the Ph regularly to check for consistency and do adjusting.
    2 10 gallon tanks, 1 20 gallon tank, 1 Fluval Edge, 1 29 gallon tank, and one backyard pond.

  9. Default

    0 Not allowed!
    I could understand if the PH was never consistent, but it is always consistently low, no matter how many water changes. So it does seem the buffering is off.

    None of the local stores have crushed coral, but I picked up some crushed oyster shell at Co-Op. My tank is 20 gallon, so how much should I put into a stocking inside my filter?

  10. #10


    0 Not allowed!
    Rinse the oyster shell in dechlorinated water in a cup or bowl, swish it around, then place 2 tablespoons in a filter bag. Start with that and check it after 24 hours. If there is no change, add another rinsed tablespoon. You want to monitor this closely because you don't want the Ph to skyrocket out of control. Once you have reached your desired Ph, leave the filter bag of crushed oyster shell in the filter, just rinse it in tank water when you clean the filter, and put it back in. Check the Ph once a week to make sure it is maintaining the Ph.

    Each time you check the filter/clean the filter, check the bag, the oyster shell / coral will break down over time (it will eventually completely dissolve). If you see the mass breaking down to less, check the Ph, and add more accordingly. Its a bit of a balancing act, but allows those of us with bad buffered tap water to maintain good healthy tanks.

    Hope this helps you out, I know how very frustrating it is!

    As a note here, forgot to add, my 20 gallon has two filters on it, each has a filter bag with around 3 tablespoons of crushed coral, possibly a little more. It may take more or less than you think, so you need to monitor. It won't be an instant fix, it will take time to raise it so just watch and test Ph daily to make sure you aren't going overboard, or are too far under.
    Last edited by Tiari; 07-31-2013 at 12:25 PM. Reason: forgot something
    2 10 gallon tanks, 1 20 gallon tank, 1 Fluval Edge, 1 29 gallon tank, and one backyard pond.

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