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Ph Crash!


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  • Regular Member

Oh no! I've been caught up in other matters and haven't checked my water parameters in a week. This evening, I checked my water and my PH dropped from 7.4 to 6.8. Is this a significant drop enough to be concerned? I have Buff it Up... I usually add it during each water change, but only in small amounts. I'm wondering, should I increase the amount I use to bring the PH back up? Also, my ammonia levels are showing at 0.25. I imagine the PH issue messed up my cycle. I'm doing a minimum of 50% water change this evening and will monitor my water daily from here on out. Any other suggestions?

For clarity sake:

Ammonia: 0.25

Nitrite: 0

Nitrate: 20

PH: 6.8 (was 7.4)

Edited by Desiree
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Phew. Sounds like you have just caught it in time. Any lower and your fish would be in a very bad way. Increase the Buffer yes. Water change. Up aeration (which helps increase pH) . I suspect the cycle crashed first or simultaneously with the pH plunge. Ammonia is acidic. You need to find out why you had a cycle crash...new fish, overfeeding, new food, algae clean up, overcleaning of filter media, under cleaning of filter media? etc.

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Just got done with the water change. I agree, I'm happy I caught it in time. Hmm, it is newly established tank. The fish have only been in there for about 3 weeks, the tank was cycled prior to adding them. I think over feeding and under cleaning of the filter media was the culprit. I made gel food for the first time and may have gotten a bit carried away with feeding. Also, I'm used to having atleast 5 big goldfish, but right now I have only 2 small ranchu (30 gallon tank).

During my water change I found a few pieces of gel food under the rocks, clearly it had gone bad (it was gross!). Also, I checked my filter media and one of the cartridges was really covered, not clogged, but very yucky. I rinsed it with tank water and returned it to the filter. I think this may have something to do with this as well. I guess I need to find the balance...

As for Buff it Up... How fast can I increase my PH? Prior to my water change it was at 6.8. I 1 1/2 dosed Buff it Up, based on the directions on the package. Is it safe to bring it back up to 7.4 tonight? I mean, I can add a bit more in an hour, and so on, if needed... :)

Edited by Desiree
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  • Regular Member

Desiree, I would bring the ph up slowly. Any sudden changes could shock your fish and cause problems. With a newly cycled tank where you've just recently added fish, you'll have to be cautious for a while with your params. Its soooo easy to overfeed. They have their little begging faces at the glass like they're starving, and its hard not to try to give them enough to fill them up! If you're finding decayed gel food under the rocks, you could cut them back to 1/2 once a day, or even every other day-which I can't seem to do. I've never used gel food though so I wouldn't know how much to feed with that.

Thankfully you caught it in time, and that was a good thing.

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  • Regular Member
Oh no! I've been caught up in other matters and haven't checked my water parameters in a week. This evening, I checked my water and my PH dropped from 7.4 to 6.8. Is this a significant drop enough to be concerned? I have Buff it Up... I usually add it during each water change, but only in small amounts. I'm wondering, should I increase the amount I use to bring the PH back up? Also, my ammonia levels are showing at 0.25. I imagine the PH issue messed up my cycle. I'm doing a minimum of 50% water change this evening and will monitor my water daily from here on out. Any other suggestions?

For clarity sake:

Ammonia: 0.25

Nitrite: 0

Nitrate: 20

PH: 6.8 (was 7.4)

7.4 to 6.8 isn't horrible but it could've been a prelude to a disaster. Like Trinket said, you caught it just in time. A 1 point drop is 10X more acidic. A 2 point drop(aka pH Crash) is 100X more acidic!

If you have Buff it Up, which is the best stuff out there, it should be maintaining your pH & KH rock solid. It should easily hold it for up to a week(which is the longest you should go without water changes anyway). I use Buff it up to raise my tap from 6.8 to 7.6ish and it never drops between water changes. That being said, you should be checking your pH at least every other day(every day is ideal).

And yes bring the pH back up gradually up to about 7.6-7.8. Despite the fact that the ideal pH is 7.4, this will give you a slight cushion.

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  • Regular Member

I gradually added a bit more Buff it Up late last night and my current PH is reading around 7.2. Last night, I did a 75-80% water change, treated the water with Prime, Buff it Up, and Cycle and tonight my readings are:

Ammonia: 0.25

Nitrite: 0

Nitrate: 10

PH: 7.2

I'm at a loss, it's like I didn't even change the water... let alone THAT much water. My cycle definitely crashed. :(

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Okay, I did another water change. This time, I took out 50% Fortunately, my fish seem perfectly fine. They are swimming around as usual looking for food, and appear to be unaffected. I've checked them for clamped fins, red streaks, and any other signs of stress I could think of. I added more Buff it Up tonight, over the span of a few hours and my PH level appears to be between 7.4-7.6. I used both the regular and High Range tests. Anything else I should keep an eye out for? I will continue testing my water every day this week.

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You are doing just fine. Have you ever checked your kH ? A store will do it for you...worth knowing for the future. If you check it on several occasions you can get a picture of what kind of buffering capacity your water usually has. The fish seem fine because it didnt dip lower than 6.8. They will start to get sluggish any lower and then as it drops they will either bottom sit or hang at the surface, often gasping. High nitrates/ammonia both can trigger a crash so keep checking your paramns for a while to be safe.

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  • Admin

Thats the neat thing about Buff it Up, it will help with KH and PH. Your doing good, just keep adding when you do a water change, also remember how much you added to get that reading, if your reading is still to low add alittle more than you did the time before. Then you can see what you need to get it back to the normal range you want.

Then when you do a water change later after its set up right you will know how much to add to every water change :D Thats how I do it :D

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Thanks for all the words of encouragement! I will test my water again this evening, and most likely have to do another water change. This time I won't wait till midnight to check... I had such a late night because of this...

I have a KH test, but haven't checked it. I'm actually pretty uncertain as to whether or not I'm doing it correctly. Before getting Buff it Up it was at 75, then raised to 100... Hopefully it is higher than that at this point. I will test it tonight. As for Buff it Up, I've been adding 1/8 teaspoon for each 3 gallons I add/remove from my tank. Does that seem like too much?

Oh, and once I got my snail free (she was stuck in my dragon), after the water change, she proceeded to go to the top of the tank, right at the surface, on the glass. This is the first time I've seen her do this. Could she be reacting adversely to the increase in the PH? It increased from 6.8 to 7.4-7.6 within 24 hours. I hope she is okay. :(

Edited by Desiree
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Didn't I say I wouldn't wait till midnight... Haha... yeah, right. Anyway, I just tested my water and it still reads:

Ammonia: 0.25

Nitrites: 0

Nitrates: 10

PH: 7.4

GH: 143.2

KH: 125.3

Looks like I'm doing another water change...

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I don't get it, I can't get my Ammonia below 0.25 anymore... :( It's been stuck there for days, even though I am doing daily 50% water changes. On the bright side, my PH is back up, at 7.8... It's been a while since I've had fish (got these 3 weeks ago after a 2 year break). Am I doing something terribly wrong? I just don't understand why my cycle hasn't picked itself back up again... Am I right to be concerned? I mean, isn't Ammonia especially toxic in higher PH water? Any suggestions would be ridiculously appreciated!!! :)

Edited by Desiree
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  • Regular Member

I use the API Master Test Kit. When I tested my water last night, prior to another 80% water change, it read:

Ammonia: 0.25

Nitrite: 0

Nitrate: 10

PH: 7.8

KH: 125.3

GH: 143.2

Then, a few hours after my water change, I tested just Ammonia to see if the water change made a difference and it still read 0.25. :( I've checked the Expiration Date and the tests are still good...

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  • Admin

Have you tested the water you use for the water change? It might have a little bit of ammonia in the water :( some places do. If so you can use Amquel or the plus to bind it since its only at a .25 :D

Let me know, I think your Ph is coming along good :D

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Just tested my tap water... Ammonia reads 0.25. :( I use Prime and thought that Prime also binds Ammonia at low doses... is this true? Also, even if the tap water is coming into the tank at 0.25, shouldn't the beneficial bacteria (once fully established) still manage to convert it to Nitrites then Nitrates?

As for the PH, thanks! I'm so happy to see it has finally stabilized. :)

Edited by Desiree
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The prime does bind and your level is so low, the lowest range there is, I dont think its causing a problem. It would still show up on tests cause it is bond by the prime and not getting consumed by the natural cycle of things.

This is what I would do, when you test make sure the ammonia is always or below the .25 mark, since this is the level coming out of the tap. Keep adding Prime or Amquel to the water with every change this will bind up the ammonia. I would be alittle worried to not add that to the water since there is ammonia in the water being added to the tank :(

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Sounds good, I always add Prime to my water, with every water change. Question though... when Prime binds Ammonia, does that make it unavailable for the cycle? Does it ever um, "un-bind" the Ammonia so it becomes available to the cycle?

Also, I've tested my tap water before and this is the first time it has shown Ammonia in it. I'm really suprised by this and am hoping this is only a temporary thing. Maybe they recently changed our water supply or something... :(

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  • Regular Member

If you have chloramines in your water, those are chlorine plus ammonia, so that can lead to a reading on fresh water. At various times your city may increase the dose depending on weather and source water conditions. A good filter will take of it pretty quickly.

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It will bind the ammonia thats in the tank, after a short time it stops and the ammonia that the fish produce naturally will be used in the cycle. So your okay :D

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I'm so confused. I finally got my cycle back to "normal" and was preparing to do a water change this evening... I tested my water and now my PH is really, really high... On the API drop tests it's a bright purple, I'm thinking somewhere between 8.2-8.4. I'm pretty sure this is too high, and I don't understand how this happened. I mean, I was changing water and testing daily and with the addition of 1/8 teaspoon of Buff it Up per 3 gallons of water added per water change, I had the PH constant at 7.8 for a few days. Any ideas what could have happened? :idont

On a side note, the fish appear perfectly fine. I'm doing a water change in a few minutes and am not sure if I should continue my usual "dose" of Buff it Up or not. Any suggestions?

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