pH is the potential of hydrogen. It’s a measure of the concentration of acid (or base) in an aqueous solution. When something has a pH less than 7, it’s said to be acidic and when it has a pH higher than 7, it’s called basic or alkaline.
The further the pH is from 7, the stronger the acid or base. The range of pH values extends from 0 to 14.
Why does the pH of aquariums matter?
The pH of aquariums matters because it has an impact on the health of the fish. The pH is important for healthy freshwater aquariums and helps to maintain the delicate balance between a high pH (alkaline) and low pH (acidic). If the pH is too high or too low, then alkalinity will be lost or aquatic life will die.
what are the exact values?
pH -7 to 7 represents acidic pH values while a pH of less than zero is considered an extremely strong acid. A pH in any range above 7 is alkaline (basic). It’s important to consider that the higher the amount of hydrogen ions in solution, the stronger your acid becomes. The lower the hydrogen ions, the less acidic your solution is.
A pH of 7 is neutral. A pH of below 7 is acidic, while a pH value above 7 points towards alkaline solutions. The standard range fits between 0 and 14, with 7 being neutral, 0 being extremely strong acid (which has virtually no water left) and 14 being extremely basic (a condition that doesn’t exist in the world).
what causes High pH in aquariums?
In a freshwater aquarium, high pH levels can be caused by the addition of calcium and magnesium to the tank. It can also be caused by an overgrowth of algae. A high pH level is not a good thing for aquariums because it means that there is an interaction going on between nitrification and oxidation reactions. A high pH level means the fish are being exposed to too many hydrogen ions present in the solution.
High water hardness may also cause high pH, as a result of the dissolved calcium and magnesium in hard water. Certain medications can also lead to an increased pH of the urine. Overfeeding any fish with a diet that is too rich can lead to urinary acidification and consequently higher pH.
Common Causes of Low pH in Aquariums?
A low pH level in an aquarium usually occurs when fish waste or other elements break down with their colonies resulting in the release of hydrogen ions. Alternatively, it may happen as a result of acidic water such as rainwater running into your tank (and causing your tank to become too acidic). A low pH in aquariums is not necessarily a bad thing. Low pH levels can be of advantage for fish such as discus, cichlids and some cave-dwelling fish. Due to the amount of oxygen present at lower pH levels, your fish may also recover more quickly from disease or infection.
Low pH may also be caused by high nitrate or ammonia levels. Certain medications can also lead to an increased pH of the urine. Overfeeding any fish with a diet that is too rich can lead to urinary acidification and consequently lower pH.
How can I test the ph level?
The most accurate way to determine the pH level is to measure it with a pH meter. These are usually pretty expensive so if you don’t have one, then you can use chemical test kits that determine the ph level but these may not always be accurate.
How much does pH affect fish?
pH fluctuation comes in all sizes and shapes which means that certain fish are more susceptible than others. Here is a list of freshwater fish and how pH changes may affect them:
Fish that prefer lower ph levels in aquariums:
these kinds of fish are livebearers, eels, or bottom feeders such as catfish. These species won’t be affected by low levels but they will thrive if you bring the ph up to 6.0 or 7.0.
Fish that prefer higher ph levels in aquariums:
These include most types of cichlids, also some barbs and tetras will thrive in an alkaline environment (ph between 7.6 to 8.2). If you have fish such as this then it’s important to keep the ph above 6.8.
How do pH changes affect fish? (summary)
Very low ph levels can lead to damage in gills and mucus membranes leading to inflammation or even death. Very high ph level causes problems with osmoregulation.
Too much acidity will cause the fish’s blood cells to become weaker which also leads to fish death.
A high ph level will reduce the availability of metals in the solution. It also reduces the availability of oxygen and as a result can affect the fish’s growth and development, or even lead to death.
High ph levels may cause some heavy metals to dissolve into water. This means that dissolved copper, silver, or zinc can be more toxic than usual. Certain medications may also become more toxic when present in high ph levels. They also may have adverse effects on the fish’s nervous system.
Disease and parasites can grow faster and attack fish more easily when the pH is either too high or too low. Parasites tend to thrive better in soft water (high ph) while certain diseases such as ichthyophthirius can thrive better in hard water (low ph).
Solutions to Correct pH level in aquariums
One of the best ways to correct a low pH is to use a buffer. This solution will raise your ph level but its effect on the fish is temporary. Another good way to address this issue is to increase the carbonate hardness in your water. This, too, will raise the ph levels and make them more stable over time.
Citrate or Calcium can also be used as they help to stabilize the amount of carbon dioxide present in the water. Additives such as these help to stabilize pH levels and also add buffering capacities that can help with lowering your pH levels if necessary.
If you have an acidic aquarium, then you’ll want to take a look at hardening your water with calcium before adding any buffers or additives.
Natural Ways to Add Hardness
If you have hard water, it’s important to reduce the calcium if your ph is too high or add more hardness if your ph is too low. The following are some natural ways that can help:
Distilled water – this will take out a lot of the minerals which will soften up the water.
Rainwater – if you want to raise the levels of hardness and pH, then using rainwater can help. It’ll reduce the calcium levels in your system but adding a buffer will still be necessary.
Borax – this may work for lowering the ph and slowly raising it at the same time. Using borax also helps eliminate odor, stains and kills algae.
When you use your water from the tap, there are certain treatments that can be used to address pH levels in a natural way:
Baking Soda – this will raise your ph level so make sure it doesn’t go too high or fish with soft mouths may die.
Kalkwasser – this is a mix of calcium and water that is used for increasing the levels of calcium in your tank. It can be used on its own or in combination with other additives to stabilize your level.
It’s also important to note that plants also act as a buffer which means they’ll help to naturally maintain pH levels within your aquarium. Make sure you research what plants you choose as some may not be able to tolerate high or low pH levels.
If your fish and plants are healthy then the chances of having a stable environment is much better. If you use natural ways in combination with hardening your water, it will help reduce stress on the system and the overall health of your ecosystem.
Write a conclusion about the above content.
Proper pH levels in an aquarium will have a huge impact on the health of your fish. From higher acidity to parasites, not having a good pH balance can cause many problems.
One way to fix this is by adding buffers, but it’s important to keep in mind that they’re temporary. If you’re having issues with buffering, try adding carbonate hardness or calcium instead.
There are also natural ways that help increase the pH balance such as rainwater and borax. If you still have issues with high acidity, then you can add a buffer and if it’s too high, then try using calcium or baking soda in combination with distilling water which will take out the minerals and soften your water.
Planting them will also help to naturally maintain the pH levels for you as they act as a buffer. If you choose to use hardening your water, then make sure you do it slowly so that you don’t shock your system and cause an algae outbreak.