Balancing pH levels in an aquarium is fundamental for maintaining a suitable environment for the fish and providing natural habitat to them. Fish tank pH shouldn’t be changed until a person caught the fish from an extremely low or high pH environment. Fish tends to adapt according to the environment.
However, do keep in mind that pH can fluctuate in just a few hours. This is because there may not be any visible contaminants, but invisible ones. These can change pH in an aquarium resulting in the creation of an unhealthy environment for the fish. For a healthy aquarium ecosystem, you need to do it the right way as doing it wrong may result in belly-ups. So, a series of questions arise here!
First, it is important to understand that a high pH in an aquarium means that the water in the fish tank is alkaline whereas low pH in an aquarium indicates that the water is acidic.
How to check the pH of the aquarium
It is a very simple method. For a manual pH test, all you need to do is to buy test strips made from dyed litmus paper, dip them in water and observe the color change. Finally, you have to compare this color change with the given color-coded chart to determine the pH of the water.
PH testing kits are easily available and are being used by fish enthusiasts. The results of the pH test will assist to adjust the pH of your fish tank. There are pH meters as well that are used for the same purpose.
Why is the pH level significant in the water tank?
The level of pH is basically the activity of hydrogen ions and the density of a liquid. PH level depends on the species of the fish you are keeping. If it is maintained properly, fish will live happier and longer. However, if the environment isn’t according to fish, it may lead to the fatality of fish.
Ideal pH level for the Aquarium
As said, pH of the aquarium should be according to the type of fish you are keeping. To ensure the correct levels of pH for your aquatic life either consult the aquarium shop or do your own research.
Below is a general guideline for ideal pH level according to fish type:
- Freshwater fish: around 7.0 pH
- Saltwater fish: around 8 to 8.3 pH
- Tropical fish: around 7 to 7.8 pH
What Causes A Low pH in aquarium?
- The source of water is a significant factor that decreases the pH of the water tank.
- If you use reverse osmosis water which is already low in pH and use the same for regular water changes, the pH will naturally go down.
- When the bacteria in water consume fish waste to keep the tank clean, the nitrogen cycle initiates that lowers the pH.
- Another possibility is the usage of tap water that may be low in pH. It may also lower the pH of the aquarium.
- The next possible reason is the presence of any material that tends to acidify the water of the tank. This includes oak leaves, peat, bogwood, driftwood, and some other botanical leaves.
- Lastly, if you do not change the water for a period of time, it can acidify itself over time due to the feces of the fish and dead plant leaves.
What happens if the pH Level is extremely Low
Acidic water will also stop the eggs of the fish to hatch. A highly alkaline fish tank or too acidic can burn the skin of the fish. Lower pH makes the fish secrete excessive mucus. Gasping of fish, hyperplasia(enlargement of tissue and organs), and eye damage of fish are observable symptoms that occur as a result of low pH.
Top Methods to Raise pH in Aquarium
Before doing anything, make sure to remove your fish from the fish tank. The aquarium has to be free before adjusting its pH.
1. Increase Aeration of the Water Tank
As carbon dioxide is acidic in nature and it produces carbonic acid when dissolved in water. So, we need to increase the concentration of oxygen in the water to raise pH in the water tank. The easiest way to oxygenate the water is to place a filter outlet above the surface of the water. This essentially would cause a disturbance in water and oxygen from air will move in. However, placing an air pump causes more surface agitation that helps in the faster movement of oxygen inside. Resultantly, lowering the pH of the Aquarium.
2. Addition of Bicarbonates
Bicarbonates are available in the form of buffers that have been proved to raise the pH if used constantly. The chemical composition of buffer consists of bicarbonate and sodium carbonate. However, you have to be careful about the amount of it you add. A general rule for it is 1 teaspoon per 5 gallons.
First, you have to dissolve the baking soda in some water separately, then add it to the tank. Additionally, make sure to add it slowly and adjust the pH, as a sudden severe spike can cause the death of fish.
3. Regular Water Changes
It is important to change the water regularly to maintain the pH. You have to replace 25 percent of the water every 2-4 weeks. Make sure to treat the water with a de-chlorinator before introducing it to the water tank.
If you would regularly vacuum the food and waste particles, this will prevent the pH to fluctuate over time.
4. Adding Crushed Corals to the Aquarium
Many inquirers ask how to raise pH in an aquarium naturally. Here is an effective and natural way to raise the pH that is to add crushed corals to a fish tank. This is because coral shells possess a high concentration of calcium carbonate and that raises the pH with zero risk for aquatic creatures. You may add pouches filled with crushed corals or directly add crushed corals to the filter of a fish tank. Resultantly, this will make the water enriched whenever it is filtered.
5. Usage of Dolomite Shavings or Chippings
Dolomite is rich in magnesium as well as in calcium. It is another natural way to raise the pH of water, effectively. Frankly, it works more efficiently than the corals.
The add-on feature of dolomite is that it is multi-colored which enhances the aesthetic look of the tank.
6. Decorate your Aquarium with Limestones
Limestone is another natural way to adjust the pH of the aquarium. Same as crushed corals, it has a high amount of calcium carbonate in them which makes them effective to raise the pH of a water tank.
The good thing about this method is that not only does it increase the pH but also enhances the beauty of your aquarium. Make sure not to overcrowd or saturate your water tank and add some medium-sized limestone in the tank.
7. Grow Macroalgae
Growing macroalgae improves the quality of water and reduces the need for frequent change of water. Moreover, it competes with the nuisance algae and enhances the quality of life for the fish. It also adds oxygen to the aquatic tank.
This is an inexpensive way to complete your aquarium’s ecosystem and add diversity to it.
8. Boiling Driftwood
Driftwood or bogwood releases tannic and tannic acid that lowers the pH of the aquarium. The safest and easiest solution is to remove it from your aquarium or you can replace it with another kind of decoration. However, if you still want to keep it, then you must boil it regularly. This will eliminate the bacteria that lowers the pH of the water tank.
9. Application of Sea Salt
Salt generally has neutral pH, but sea salt consists of ionic minerals such as magnesium and calcium along with Sodium chloride. This results in having a high pH than the normal pure salt. So, the addition of sea salt in a small amount to any water tank will increase its pH.
Carefully add the amount of sea salt by keeping in view the tolerance of fish towards salt and immediately stop adding it as soon as you achieve the desired level of pH.
10. Using Aragonite Substrates
An inch or two of such substrates can potentially increase the pH of an aquarium. Oceans are the main source of aragonite substrates and they play a vital role in increasing the pH.
11. Addition of Baking soda to Aquarium
Here you have another convenient method to increase the pH of your fish tank! To achieve the optimal level of pH, you have to carefully add a small amount of baking soda to it.
With a pH meter, you can monitor the change in pH. You will need to follow this very cautiously as excessive quantity may prove fatal to the fish. As soon as you obtain the desired pH, you have to immediately stop adding any further amount of the soda.
There you have it way, different methods to raise pH in an aquarium. However, it is preferable that pH should match the preference of the fish. This is because the stability of pH is more important. One should avoid frequent or massive fluctuations of pH in the tank as just a swing of 0.3 in pH in a day can prove fatal for the fish.
So, keeping that in view, maintain the pH without causing shock or harm to fish.