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I Have Strange Water...


emmahj

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OK, so here are the stats so far:

Tap water at source (tested by water company): 7.1

Tap water poured from tap directly into a test tube: 7.2

Tap water poured into a bucket, then immediately pipetted into a tube: 7.6

Tap water after it has been stood 24 hours with an airstone: to be advised

Tap water in bucket with or without dechlorinator: 7.6 (dechlor made no difference)

Tapwater after being in tank for more than 24 hours: 8.2

GH of water straight out of tap: >16d

GH of water after being in tank for more than 12 hours: >16d (but fractionally lower)

KH of water straight out of tap: 15d - 20d (slightly more towards 20)

KH of water after being in tank for more than 12 hours: 15d - 20d (slightly more towards 15)

Additives contained in tap water: chlorine, phosphate (1 ppm), fluoride (low level).

Tank contains no pH-altering substances: gravel is inert, ornaments are inert (or pH-lowering, like driftwood), filter only contains nylon sponges. Tanks are very well aerated (filter air and 12" bubblewands). No excess algae and only 1 or 2 small live plants in each. 3 fish in each 30 gallon tank.

Until this year, tap water tested straight from tap used to be 8.0.

I've asked Pets at Home, and they are frankly baffled. So is the water company.

Um, any chemists out there? I really really need some help here please. Every time I do a water change now I'm dropping the tank pH badly. :(

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Tap water poured into a bucket, then immediately pipetted into a tube: 7.6

Sounds like CO2 may be your problem after all if it rised that much just from the agitation of being poured into a bucket. You could try shaking the dickens out of a tap water sample for a pretty acurate test, rather than wait the full 24 hrs for your "bucket sitting" test.

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:blink: i am completely baffled. i think you can get testing kits for CO2, so that might be worth a look, otherwise it might be time to invest in some pH-UP stuff to get your tap water up to a level nearer your tank level...
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Genius! :D

I just shook the devil out of a bottle of water; when it first went in the bottle it tested at 7.2, but after a couple of minutes frenzied boogying it tested at between 7.6 and 7.8. Ah-ha!

So, sorry to be dense, but what do I do about it? Do I aerate all the water before adding it to the tanks to get it up to 8.0? :blink:

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Do I aerate all the water before adding it to the tanks to get it up to 8.0?

Unforuntately, yes. Get used to those buckets lining the hallways like Koko has! :D You could get a 55 gal garbage can, fill it, put in an aeration device (probably a pump or powerhead - an airstone won't cut it in this much water in this deep of a container), then get a submersible pump and length of tubing for filling your tanks. This way you'll have perfectly matched pH water AND you won't have to haul buckets! :)

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Oh God, if I start filling the hallway with buckets I think my husband just might leave me! He's already moaning that I pay more attention to the fish than him. To which my reply is 'Yes? What's wrong with that?!'

I know there's no easy way to cheat my way to a proper pH, but what if, for the sake of argument, I added pH Up 8.0 to the new water? Wouldn't the high buffering hold it steady at that level, seeing as it rises to that naturally? Or would the CO2 problem send it higher still?

And why on earth has this only hapened this year? Where can the CO2 be coming from?

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HappyGoldfish - you are so smart! i was like :hmm , but you were just like  :idea

Haha, Alex! Thank goodness for emoticons, huh? :)

Emma, you could try the pH up thing. In theory it should work - since the "real" pH of your tap water is 7.8-8.0 and it is only the CO2/carbonic acid driving it down, it shouldn't rise higher than this when the CO2 is gassed off. Looks like it's time for another test. :)

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Thanks again Happy! :D I'll give that theory a test run tomorrow.

I like to know if I've understood things properly, so can you just tell me if I've got this right? :)

Carbon dioxide in the water produces carbonic acid which lowers pH. If carbon dioxide/carbonic acid is present in sufficient quantity it will counteract even a high buffering capacity, keeping the pH level low.

But when the water is agitated, the enormously increased gas-air interchange means carbon dioxide begins rapidly to be expelled, therefore much less carbonic acid is produced, therefore the pH level begins to rise due to the influence of the water's natural buffering capacity.

So my tap water is full of CO2 from its source, hence a relatively low pH of 7.2 at the tap (the CO2 being retained in the water at this stage because it is sitting relatively still in a closed house system). Some CO2 is lost in the strong agitation of pouring it from the tap into a bucket, so the pH rises immediately to 7.6. When I pour it into the tank, this agitation dissipates a little more CO2 and the pH rises to 7.8. The tank aeration dissipates the last of the CO2 fairly quickly, so the pH soon reaches its highest (normal) level - 8.0 - 8.2 - where it stays.

Is that right? :)

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Although that still leaves the question of why my source water has so much more CO2 in it this year than last year.... <_<

Time for another phone call to the water company I think. They have some explaining to do! ;)

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"Oh God, if I start filling the hallway with buckets I think my husband just might leave me! He's already moaning that I pay more attention to the fish than him. To which my reply is 'Yes? What's wrong with that?!'"

he must not like goldfish :( but anyway maybe a few cuddle seasons or dates with him will fix things in a hurry? the bucket idea sounds good, or maybe just shake the water before adding it to the tanK

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what are the consequences of the ph differences?

That one I do know the answer to: a rapidly changing pH level stresses the fish badly because they have to try to adjust their osmosregulation suddenly (they must maintain a constant internal pH level). If repeated frequently, e.g. if the pH dips and rises at every water change, this stress results in a vastly increased susceptibility to diseases.

If the pH level crashes - suddenly becomes extremely acidic or alkaline - or if the fish has to live for a long time in a pH far outside its normal range, it will suffer from acidosis or alkalosis: its skin is burned, it cannot take in enough oxygen and its gill and fin tissues may be destroyed. A pH crash is a very quick way to rid your tank of all those messy fish!

Symptoms of a major pH problem include a milky film over the skin, darting, flashing, jumping, gasping, reddened areas and excess mucus.

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ok so suppose I have the symptoms and its happening in my area too...

aerating the water with a nice airstone prior to pouring the water in should help the fishies????? :D

(i'm hoping the noisy air pump will come in use someday LOL)

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Yes, aerating the water well first will do the trick.

So, the saga is at an end. Emma's Great Water Quest is complete! :D

The water company had one of their chemists ring me back today (I think they got scared when I demanded to know why my water was suddenly full of CO2) and oh man - what that guy didn't know about his water! And he keeps two 50 gallon tanks of tropicals.... we had a great chat. :)

Anyway, my water has a lower pH this year for 2 main reasons:

1. In January the company switched to a new reservoir, which happens to be situated on a chalk layer (the old one was based on clay). Chalk adds a lot of CO2 to water, which produces carbonic acid (as we've already seen).

2. They have recently started adding 1ppm phosphoric acid to reduce the lead content (yummy ;) ).

The combination of these two new acids is why the pH has dropped so much, but - as you all said - through pre-aeration to drive off the CO2 will basically solve the water changing problem.

Oh, and I've been invited to attend the water company's Open Day in May! :lol:

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quote:

HAH! Somehow, the part about having to be a PhD level chemist, marine biologist and mechanical engineer (with additional sub-qualifications in electrics) wasn't raised! And neither *eyes glaze over with hint of mania at this point* was the part about having to have a bank account the size of Liberia's annual deficit, or needing 4 million square feet of storage space to hold the tons of tanks andequipment required to keep these creatures contentedly waggling their fins!

quote #2:

1. In January the company switched to a new reservoir, which happens to be situated on a chalk layer (the old one was based on clay). Chalk adds a lot of CO2 to water, which produces carbonic acid (as we've already seen).

well..... now you can add geologist to that very fine list of knowledgable accomplishments! :rofl

seriously though, im glad you got everything figured out! are you going to take happys advice and keep a garbage can full of aged/aerated water on hand? that would make more sense than to keep a bunch of buckets around with bubblers in each one. either way, kudos! :D

paul

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