The pH of a fish tank is essential for the health and well-being of the fish. Creating the ideal home for fish, you may feel the necessity to raise the pH of the water.
How to Raise pH In Fish Tank? You can either use a chemical or natural way that will maintain an appropriate balance.
In this blog post, you’ll learn several ways of increasing pH, along with what affects the pH, the appropriate level to maintain for your fish tank, and how you can do that.
I believe this will benefit you in your fishkeeping journey to get familiar with such an important parameter pH and how to gain control over it.
What Is pH?
If you are from a science background or already know about pH, you can skip this section and go directly into the area where I’ve discussed how to raise pH in aquariums.
However, if you don’t have any idea about pH, please stick with me because before making any changes in the tank, you should know at least what pH is.
The pH will tell you how acidic or alkaline the water in your tank is. It measures the concentration of hydrogen ions present in a given solution. However, you don’t need to remember all those complicated things, rather only the pH scale. You’ll be referred to the pH scale every time you test the pH.
The pH scale is a number scale that spans from 0 to 14. If the number falls below 7, it’s acidic, and above means it’s alkaline. The perfect balance or neutral point for this measurement is exactly 7 on the pH scale.
Although, you can get negative pH values and even exceed 14 if the liquid is highly acidic or basic, respectively. But, you won’t encounter any of these situations while fishkeeping.
Why Is pH Important?
Starting from your stomach to food preservation and as well as in your aquarium, pH is crucial. Therefore, you need to control and maintain pH in your aquarium in the same way you do it for the temperature, CO2 level, and so on.
Even a slight pH change in your aquarium can cause serious health problems for fish!
For example, water High in pH (basic) can affect fish gill’s movement. If your fish darts back and forth, check your pH levels immediately. You might need to adjust, or you could lose all of the fish in the aquarium!
On the other hand, a low pH can burn through fish skin like nobody’s business. Too much acid in your aquarium can result in a ton of mucous production for your fish. Toxic elements produced by acidic water will promote this increase. Other signs include gasping, hyperplasia (thickening gills/skin), and eye damage.
A change in pH also helps pathogens thrive, and you may have to deal with disease outbreaks! Therefore, you should keep an eye on the pH of your water. Every week, a simple test is all it takes to ensure good health for both fish and plants living together inside the tank. That will allow you to spot changes quickly so that they don’t result in fatalities.
What pH Should Your Aquarium Be?
Did you know that the pH of your tank will depend on what fish species are in it? When designing an aquarium for fish, remember your goal to provide the condition close to their natural habitat. The pH is one of the most critical tank parameters, and this varies on fish types.
Here in the below table, I recommend an ideal range for each type; however, it’s advisable to check the specific needs of the fish you want to keep.
Probably you notice that each type of fish falls into a specific range of pH value. However, there are some exceptions. For example, although African Cichlids are tropical fish, they prefer slightly more alkaline water than the rest of the members of the tropical fish family. Therefore, cichlids are kept at a ph between 8 to 9.
So, check for your fish-specific pH need, also check that the tank pH is suitable for other aquatic life, like plants or invertebrates.
What Can Influence The pH Of Your Aquarium?
pH can become imbalanced sometimes when we least expect it, but pH levels should always be kept within an acceptable range for aquariums. Although a variety of reasons may cause this as well, below are some common causes for pH alteration:
- You may have heard of the term “nitrogen cycle” before, and it’s something you should do if you’re setting up a new tank. The process entails cycling the water with beneficial bacteria- which can make the water more acidic!
- Different chemicals are used to treat tap water to make it safe for humans. But, unfortunately, these chemicals influence the pH too! In addition, the type and amount used can vary depending on where you live, so if your water source changes (moving to a new location), that can affect the pH.
- Tannins can result in poor pH readings because they’re high in acidity. But don’t worry! You’ll be able to determine if your water has been affected by them through some easily identifiable signs like brown-colored tank syndrome or discoloration. Plant materials and decorations such as driftwood have tannin pigments absorbed into the water when wet and lower the pH.
How Do I Keep My Aquarium At Just The Right Level?
Keeping the pH stable is more important than an exact precise level. Unless you own fish of extremely low or high pH level, most fish will adapt as long as water quality and pH are stable. If your tank is thriving with no signs of stress, don’t alter the pH.
pH directly relates to your fish happiness, so you should adjust and make it stable before adding any creatures in their home. If you already contain fish in the aquarium, please don’t make any sudden or drastic changes in pH or any other parameter.
Aquarium shops sell products to change pH levels in the water, but these should be used with extreme care and only by experienced aquarium owners who know what they’re doing because a sudden drastic shift could KILL plants and animals!
Some items have little effect on your tank’s balance at best, while others may drive things crazy. This roller coaster ride through different values may cause problems – so just stay away from all this if possible.
In the section below – how to raise pH in the fish tank, I’ll discuss some safe and natural alternatives you can follow if you need to raise pH in your tank.
How To Raise pH In Fish Tank (Naturally)?
The pH of a fish tank is one of the key parameters and should never be taken lightly. To help you in finding out which method will work best for your specific needs, we have put together these five easy ways.
Aerating The Water
Increasing the dissolved oxygen concentration in the water will raise pH levels. As more air enters, it releases carbon dioxide, which has a high acidic content (produces carbonic acid in the presence of water).
An aquarium’s pH can be lowered by reducing the accumulated pollutants in its water. To bring it back to normal, you should regularly (weekly or bi-weekly) replace one quarter (20%) with fresh water.
Freshwater could be dechlorinated tap water, reverse osmosis (RO), rainwater, or deionized (DI) water. A water change will reduce or remove any excess wastes from your setup.
You must change the water in a small portion (20%) rather than a large amount. This is because changing in considerable amounts may create sudden fluctuations in tank parameters and can shock your fish.
Changing Your Substrate
If your tank pH is low, you can add the right kind of pH-raising materials as a substrate into your aquarium. Fortunately, there are plenty out in nature.
The best choices include crushed coral or dolomite, as well as certain shells that gradually dissolve over time and work as a buffering agent for less acidic waters. This will not do any harm to fish while also raising their home pH slowly but surely.
If you don’t want to use them as substrate, you can also place them in your filter filling in a mesh bag; that’s the perfect hiding place.
Driftwood can be toxic to your aquarium if it releases tannins and tannic acid, lowering the pH. The easiest way to reduce the impact is by removing the wood, but you might want to keep them. In that case, try boiling before adding them to your aquarium. Doing it regularly will kill any harmful bacteria (if present) before they do any more harm!
Decorating With Limestone Or Coral Rock
You can add a touch of elegance to your aquarium with these simple decorations as well as raising pH. Limestone or coral rock high in calcium carbonate will help you create the right environment for fish by lowering pH levels in an attractive way!
How To Raise pH In Fish Tanks With Baking Soda
As baking soda is pH 8.4, you can’t use this method to raise pH beyond that level. Adding baking soda could yield quick results, but don’t add too much soda in a single shot. Choose the amount wisely, though, as too little may just do nothing at all, while overdoing may raise the pH too fast, your fish may suffer.
Maintaining proper balance isn’t always easy, but luckily there are ways around it. The prevailing rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon per 5 gallons. But, I’ll suggest going slowly, test the pH and adjust the amount accordingly.
Other chemicals can be purchased to work in a similar way as baking soda to control pH levels. However, using these products could be risky for maintaining a consistent pH balance. Try to follow natural methods whenever possible; if not, use chemicals with care.
It’s important to understand the pH levels of our aquatic friends because it can affect their health and happiness.
Don’t worry; ph isn’t as challenging to deal with once you know how. You have lots of options available, and it’s crucial that both your fish prefer the same one. Also, make sure their environment has stable levels!
Apply one or two ways mentioned above on raising pH in fish tanks; you’ll see the output quickly.