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PH Levels


bobhed
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Hi everyone!

I have 2 questions. My tank is established (over 2 years) but the PH continues to stay around 6.6 which when researching seems low. I have Platies, Swordtails, and guppies. Should I attempt to raise it or leave it alone? If I need to raise it how best to safely do that? We have recently had a couple fish die with no signs of disease so wasn’t sure if it could be the PH. We’ve had 4 fry also die all about the same age.

Second question, is my tank has been overtaken by rams horn snails. Started with one and now I wish I had taken it out. Didn’t realize how quickly they multiply! How can I get rid of these? Far to many to do it by hand. 
 

Thanks for the help as always!

Edited by bobhed
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Hi there. 

If your fish have been living happily in 6.6 for 2 years and showing no signs of stress prior you could be just fine. In order to safely raise it if you want you can add crushed coral to your tank. There are several ways you can do this, if you have a canister or HOB you can add it to that. You can put it in a mesh bag and hide it in the tank or just put it in your substrate. There is a ratio of crushed coral to gallons. I might have a heaping cup in my 20 gallon (my pH is 7.6). The last 2 methods (bag and adding to substrate) usually takes longer to get the pH to come up as there is no water flow across it like when it is used in a filter. You don't really want to do other more temporary methods like baking soda- this causes flux and doesn't stay steady.

**adding crushed coral generally adds some GH which can be good for your fish (in particular guppies at least that's my understanding) if your water isn't already liquid rock

As to your ramshorns, any snail that reproduces like they do (this includes bladder snails and pond snails) reproduce because of the abundance of food sources. The less food, the less snails. 

So the question you have to ask yourself is, what are you overfeeding. Do you just have platies, guppies and swordtails? If so, cut back on the amount of food you give them or break up the amount by feeding them just a little bit so they eat all of it and none of it hits the substrate. There are also other food sources. Algaes and dying plant matter so maybe a trimming or gravel vac will be necessary but don't do too much cleaning at once- IMO overcleaning can be detrimental as well. You can also get some Assassin Snails to help keep the population in check. 

HOWEVER if you have bottom dwellers or other snails like Mystery snails your plan of attack on the ramshorns has to be reconsidered because they still need access to food. 

Edited by xXInkedPhoenixX
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On 1/29/2022 at 12:26 PM, xXInkedPhoenixX said:

Hi there. 

If your fish have been living happily in 6.6 for 2 years and showing no signs of stress prior you could be just fine. In order to safely raise it if you want you can add crushed coral to your tank. There are several ways you can do this, if you have a canister or HOB you can add it to that. You can put it in a mesh bag and hide it in the tank or just put it in your substrate. There is a ratio of crushed coral to gallons. I might have a heaping cup in my 20 gallon (my pH is 7.6). The last 2 methods (bag and adding to substrate) usually takes longer to get the pH to come up as there is no water flow across it like when it is used in a filter. You don't really want to do other more temporary methods like baking soda- this causes flux and doesn't stay steady.

**adding crushed coral generally adds some GH which can be good for your fish (in particular guppies at least that's my understanding) if your water isn't already liquid rock

As to your ramshorns, any snail that reproduces like they do (this includes bladder snails and pond snails) reproduce because of the abundance of food sources. The less food, the less snails. 

So the question you have to ask yourself is, what are you overfeeding. Do you just have platies, guppies and swordtails? If so, cut back on the amount of food you give them or break up the amount by feeding them just a little bit so they eat all of it and none of it hits the substrate. There are also other food sources. Algaes and dying plant matter so maybe a trimming or gravel vac will be necessary but don't do too much cleaning at once- IMO overcleaning can be detrimental as well. You can also get some Assassin Snails to help keep the population in check. 

HOWEVER if you have bottom dwellers or other snails like Mystery snails your plan of attack on the ramshorns has to be reconsidered because they still need access to food. 

Great thank you! I have a canister filter so I’ll try adding crushed coral that way. Does it matter which tray I put it in? As for the snails yes my wife was over feeding. She cut way back on that so hopefully it’ll help. 
 

Thanks for the help! I want to start injecting CO2 soon but I read that will lower the PH so I figured I had better get it raised as well. Thanks again!

On 1/29/2022 at 1:13 PM, bobhed said:

Great thank you! I have a canister filter so I’ll try adding crushed coral that way. Does it matter which tray I put it in? As for the snails yes my wife was over feeding. She cut way back on that so hopefully it’ll help. 
 

Thanks for the help! I want to start injecting CO2 soon but I read that will lower the PH so I figured I had better get it raised as well. Thanks again!

Also, yes I just have platies, guppies, and swordtails. Thanks!

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Unfortunately I cannot advise you on where to put crushed coral in a canister as I do not have one. I'm sure as long as it's in an area that gets decent flow and doesn't clog your machine you should be good. Maybe others can chime in! The acidic water wears down the coral eventually so if you see your ph creeping back down after you've established your new "peak" you'd just add more or replace the old! It takes a while but in a higher flow situation it would be sooner than me who puts it in the substrate. 

Good luck! 🙂 

Edited by xXInkedPhoenixX
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One thing I can also advise regarding the snails at least while you're getting the population under control but this is actually good practice. Try doing 1 fasting day for the fish a week. I've not kept swordtails or platies yet but I suspect they might be similar to guppies who will pick at things off substrate and plants and may help reduce the amount of extra food for the snails. 

Edited by xXInkedPhoenixX
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I hate to say that I probably would not do much if the fish are doing ok. How old were the fish. When you change things unexpected things can happen. If you do decide to add the crushed Coral in the canister I use pantyhose’s. They are really fun so the particles don’t get in the pump. As for the snails of the bother you you can take one good numbers if you add some thing left like a single sinking pleco wafer or piece of corn and come back in and hour wither the net and net out a bunch. I have a tank with clown loaches so extra snail go there. That tank has no snails.

Edited by Brandon p
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On 1/29/2022 at 2:06 PM, Brandon p said:

I hate to say that I probably would not do much if the fish are doing ok. How old were the fish. When you change things unexpected things can happen. If you do decide to add the crushed Coral in the canister I use pantyhose’s. They are really fun so the particles don’t get in the pump. As for the snails of the bother you you can take one good numbers if you add some thing left like a single sinking pleco wafer or piece of corn and come back in and hour wither the net and net out a bunch. I have a tank with clown loaches so extra snail go there. That tank has no snails.

Thanks for all the advice everyone. The fish that have died are probably around 3 years old. It’s some of the first fry we raised. 

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On 1/29/2022 at 12:06 PM, Brandon p said:

I hate to say that I probably would not do much if the fish are doing ok. How old were the fish. When you change things unexpected things can happen. If you do decide to add the crushed Coral in the canister I use pantyhose’s. They are really fun so the particles don’t get in the pump. As for the snails of the bother you you can take one good numbers if you add some thing left like a single sinking pleco wafer or piece of corn and come back in and hour wither the net and net out a bunch. I have a tank with clown loaches so extra snail go there. That tank has no snails.

I’m loving that sequence of words:

I use pantyhose, they are really fun.

 

I may have altered the punctuation.

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I had a 10 gallon with overstocked female guppy and some fry. Hornwort few nice anubius ramshorn snails. The pH dropped to 5.5 to 6.0 and I was neglectful with water changes as guppies doing well as well as plants. I moved guppy to another larger tank and most did well. New fish in the 10 gallon died...platy. Upon water checks surmised old tank syndrome because of negligent on water changes. The female guppies adapted to the low pH and did well. The snails had poor quality shells due to low pH and water lacking buffer capacity. 

My well water is pretty hard. So over 2 weeks did 50% water changes and gravel vac 3x week checking water quality each time. The pH continued to drop the first week then stabilized to high 7's the second week with buffer ability (GH?) recouping as the gravel detritus diminished.  I did not clean filters to maintain any beneficial bacteria.

Don't neglect water changes. I slowly added new fish and now have stable pH and GH, platys, Cory, danio, ramshorn with nice shells. This process took about 4 weeks. 

Edited by Laura R
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On 1/31/2022 at 1:00 PM, bobhed said:

Sorry, I'm not understanding your question. PH is running 6.6. We have now lost 5 swordtail fry at about 2 months old or less. They are all the same size when they die. Also, have lost 3 Swordtails and Plattys. Best guess is around 3 years old. 

THE GH IS THE GENERAL HARDNESS IN THE WATER

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On 1/31/2022 at 5:15 PM, quikv6 said:

Livebearers generally thrive on high mineral content, specifically GH. I have found PH to be related to KH, but GH to be independent of those two.

I think it is worth testing in your case. (Specifically GH and KH)

GH is high. It’s reading at 150 which it has been since I first got the tank. My API test kit doesn’t test the KH but I just used the strips because it does and it’s at 0 so definitely low. Here is the picture of the test strip. Any thoughts?

0C9B3877-B434-4319-BEE3-64ED677F64F2.jpeg

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The test strip is enlightening. You have 0 KH (buffer). This can often lead to PH swings or even a PH crash. You look to be at 6.2, which is quite low for livebearers. But if that 6.2 is fluctuating or crashing....that can be where the "problem" lies.

Crushed coral should bring up and maintain your KH. In my opinion....that would lend itself to stability.

EDIT: In addition to adding the crushed coral (which would be a logical next step), I think it would be worth it to test the tap water you use for your waterchanges, to see where PH and KH are, right from the source. That can indicate how much of a "swing" the tank has undergone.

Edited by quikv6
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On 1/31/2022 at 7:10 PM, quikv6 said:

The test strip is enlightening. You have 0 KH (buffer). This can often lead to PH swings or even a PH crash. You look to be at 6.2, which is quite low for livebearers. But if that 6.2 is fluctuating or crashing....that can be where the "problem" lies.

Crushed coral should bring up and maintain your KH. In my opinion....that would lend itself to stability.

EDIT: In addition to adding the crushed coral (which would be a logical next step), I think it would be worth it to test the tap water you use for your waterchanges, to see where PH and KH are, right from the source. That can indicate how much of a "swing" the tank has undergone.

Great thanks! Crushed coral will be here tomorrow and I’ll test tap water now too. 

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On 1/31/2022 at 7:10 PM, quikv6 said:

The test strip is enlightening. You have 0 KH (buffer). This can often lead to PH swings or even a PH crash. You look to be at 6.2, which is quite low for livebearers. But if that 6.2 is fluctuating or crashing....that can be where the "problem" lies.

Crushed coral should bring up and maintain your KH. In my opinion....that would lend itself to stability.

EDIT: In addition to adding the crushed coral (which would be a logical next step), I think it would be worth it to test the tap water you use for your waterchanges, to see where PH and KH are, right from the source. That can indicate how much of a "swing" the tank has undergone.

So my tap water PH is 7.8 and the KH is around 80 ppm.  I just did a water change yesterday as well. 

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So 7.8 to 6.2 is a big drop. Granted, that didn't necessarily happen overnight (and shouldn't have, with 80ppm KH), but that is a big difference nonetheless. Crushed coral will be your friend to maintain that KH/PH. I have found it best to use in an area with flow around/through it, such as a HOB filter. I can also work as gravel, though slightly less effective.

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On 2/1/2022 at 4:33 AM, quikv6 said:

So 7.8 to 6.2 is a big drop. Granted, that didn't necessarily happen overnight (and shouldn't have, with 80ppm KH), but that is a big difference nonetheless. Crushed coral will be your friend to maintain that KH/PH. I have found it best to use in an area with flow around/through it, such as a HOB filter. I can also work as gravel, though slightly less effective.

Thanks again! It will be here tonight. I have a canister filter so im going to put it in the top tray. Last question. Do you know how much I should use? Im going to research it more today. Thanks again for the help!

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