Friday, July 26, 2013

Addressing pH Issues in Aquarium Water

Addressing pH Issues in Aquarium Water – Steps to Establish and Maintain Aquarium Water pH

Once you have evaluated water quality using water test kits, the measures that you will introduce will depend on the results of the test. You may have to make specific adjustments depending on the species of fish that you are keeping.

Creating an Ideal Aquatic Environment for Acidophiles

Acidophiles or acid-loving fish species such as the popular Amazonian soft water fishes—Angelfish and Neon Tetras—will thrive well in fish aquarium tanks with a pH range of 6.5-6.8. If you have any of these acid-loving fish species, you can create and maintain an ideal acidic environment using any of these product combinations:

If you are maintaining a soft water fish aquarium tank, placing API Water Softening Pillow in the filter. The softening pillow functions in eliminating excess carbonate ions that cause an increase in water alkalinity. You will also find a subsequent reduction in water cloudiness. Be sure to carefully read the product instruction before adjusting the pH to ensure that you are using the product optimally.

Additionally, selecting the suitable aquarium decoration and substrate is also an important factor that should be taken into consideration particularly for acidophile fish species or those that love soft water.

Aquarium decorations which are recommended by our team of experts at JUST AQUATIC have been carefully assessed to ensure that they are neutral and are suitable for specific fish species. To maintain aquarium water pH at 6.5, we highly recommend Malaysian Driftwood Creation  with live plants and Indian Almond leaves. These products will work well under ph 6.5 and help create a natural-looking underwater environment for your fish species.

Malaysian Driftwood Creation
                     Malaysian Driftwood Creation                             Indian Almond leaves

Achieving Alkaline Conditions for Alkalophiles

On the other hand, alkalophile fish species such as African Cichlids prefer a pH of 8.2 while marine fishes and invertebrates prefer a pH range of 8.2-8.4. Alkaline conditions in fish aquarium tanks can be maintained using these products:

If you are using coral sand and calciferous rocks, be aware that these will dissolve over time and release bicarbonates and carbonate salts into the water. The presence of these substances will result in an increase of water pH, thus creating alkaline conditions.

Bicarbonates and carbonate salts in the tank water will act as buffers to reduce the effect of the acidic nature brought about by the presence of dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2) and ammonia. Over time, these substrates will lose its buffering capacity as a result of being covered by layers of organic and mineral deposit. In order to maintain a desirable alkaline pH range, it is important to use API Proper pH 8.2.

Another product worth mentioning here for African Cichlid enthusiasts is API Buffer Max Cichlids. This product is specifically designed to maintain a pH range of 7.8 – 8.8.

Maintaining Neutral ph for Neutrophiles

Fish species that thrive well in an aquatic environment with neutral pH are collectively called neutrophiles. These fish species are best recommended for beginners since most of these are hardy fish species. The most popular neutrophiles include Goldfish and Livebearers such as Guppies which all prefer a pH of 7.5 while Mollies and Swordtails thrive well at pH 7.2-7.5. Some of the most best-selling products which are designed to create and maintain a neutral pH range include:

When there is a need to adjust the aquarium pH, make sure to make gradual pH changes by 0.3 pH difference every 24 hours to allow fishes to adapt physiologically to the change. Both recommended API pH test kits are effective and sensitive to cater to such small pH adjustment. API pH test kit reads pH from 6 – 7.6 with increments of 0.2- 0.4 while API High Range pH test kit reads pH 7.4 – 8.8 with increments of 0.2 -0.4.

Remember that a partial water change and a weekly pH test are highly recommended.

We hope that this article has given you additional gems of knowledge that will help enhance your skills as an aquarist and help you create an ideal aquarium setting for your chosen fish species.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Methods of Measuring Water pH

Methods of Measuring Water pH of Fish Aquarium Tanks

Being a responsible aquarist, you should be aware that there are several methods you can choose from to accurately measure pH and other important parameters of your fish aquarium tank. Water testing kits are available in paper and liquid forms as well as the more expensive electronic pH meter.

Compared to paper test kits, many aquarists choose to use liquid tests because of its apparent sensitivity and accuracy. The electronic pH meter is the least popular among these methods because of its price.

Water Quality Test Kits

Aside from water pH, there are several factors that should also be regularly monitored for they can equally influence water quality of fish aquarium tanks. For convenience, these parameters can easily be tested using multi-test kits which are designed to measure pH, ammonia, nitrite, and water hardness using a single water sample.

Liquid water test kits come with one or more dyes that can change color to denote specific pH levels and other water parameters. You add a dye mixture to a water sample that you have obtained from your aquarium. To determine the results, the color of the solution is then matched to a color reference chart that also comes with your water testing kit.

There are pH test kits which are indicated for a narrow pH range thus make sure to verify the indicated pH range of the test kit before you buy one. For example, a pH kit designed for freshwater tests may be only useful for a pH range of 5-7. For saltwater, you have to look for a pH test kit that is indicated for a pH of 8.2. In order to get the best results out of your pH test kit, be sure to follow directions to the letter.

One of the most simple and affordable methods to use in monitoring water pH in an aquarium is the API Phosphate Test Kit. It is a liquid formula which can be conveniently used in freshwater and saltwater media.

Phosphate is a common chemical that may be present in aquarium water. The build-up of phosphate lowers water quality thus affecting the wholesomeness of the aquarium environment. When phosphate is present in high concentrations, it often means there is a high level of decaying organic matter. Excess amounts of waste materials can pollute the aquarium water and eventually result in a shift to an acidic pH. Directions on using the API Phosphate Test Kit are outlined below.

Here are the directions on how to use the API Phosphate Test Kit:


1. Fill a clean test tube with 5 ml of water to be tested (to the line on the tube).

2. Add 3 drops of pH Test Solution, holding dropper bottle upside down in a completely vertical position to assure uniformity of drops.

3. Cap the test tube and invert tube several times to mix solution.

4. Read the test results by comparing the color of the solution to the pH Color Card. The tube should be viewed in a well-lit area against the white area of the card. The closest match indicates the pH of the water sample. Rinse the test tube with clean water after use.

Another test kit which has garnered popular following among aquarists is the API Freshwater Mini pH test kit. The kit is designed to test pH levels that range from 6.0 to 7.6. It comes bundled with 250 tests thus giving you unequaled value for your money!

If you choose to go for ultimate convenience in pH monitoring and adjustment, many aquarists rely on API Deluxe P.H. Test Kit with Liquid Adjusters—a two-in-one kit that is already equipped to measure and adjust water pH to desired levels. The kit is perfect for pH levels that range from 6.0-7.0.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

pH and the Aquarium Environment

Aquarium Water pH and the Aquarium Environment

Do you know that even a small change in pH can result in significant changes in a closed system such as in an aquarium? This is the reason why even seasoned aquarists and hobbyists make it a habit to regularly monitor their fish aquarium tanks using water test kits that can effectively measure water pH and other parameters. Some species of fish can be extremely sensitive to even small changes in the pH and this can certainly have disastrous implications.

Ideal Water pH for Specific Fish Species

The evolution of different species of fish over millions of years has enabled them to adapt and thrive in a specific pH range. Freshwater fishes thrive best in a ph range of 6-8 while there are those that do well in acidic pH of 4.5 and others in ph 9.5 which is alkaline. If you don’t make a habit of monitoring regularly the aquarium water using pH test kits, there may be sudden shifts in the pH that can go undetected. The fish species that you are raising may be quite hardy and can survive in wrong water pH for a considerable period of time, however, continued existence in these conditions can eventually result in the deterioration of fish health and compromise the immune system.

Below are examples of some common classes of fish based on their required pH range.

When you are planning to breed certain species of fish, make sure to read up on the pH range which is acceptable to the breed. Although some species may be quite hardy, there are those which require a very tight pH range.

Osmoregulation and Water pH

Osmoregulation is one of the important body processes which are essential to life. It is a complex process undertaken by living organisms to keep their osmotic pressure stable and preserve the homeostasis of the water content of an organism.

Osmoregulation prevents the body fluids of an organism from becoming too concentrated or over diluted. When your fishes are exposed to a wrong pH range, it will eventually cause acidosis or alkalosis and even pH shock. If you are unable to detect any changes in water pH immediately, this negative aquatic condition can lead to fish death.

Low pH can increase the toxicity effect of heavy metals, chlorine and chloramines. Ammonia is more toxic in high pH range.

NH3 + H2O ↔ NH4+ + OH-

High pH will push chemical reaction above to the right, producing more NH3 which is easily absorbed into fish to exert its toxic effects.

The need to regularly monitor the tank’s water pH and ensure that it is maintained at an ideal pH range should never be taken for granted by the aquarist. You can promote a healthy environment where your fish species can thrive and reproduce by investing in a good fish aquarium aerator and carbon dioxide tank that you can easily buy from any online aquarium store.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Understanding Aquarium Water pH

What is pH?

Are you aware that maintaining the pH of aquarium water is still a factor of continuous concern even to veteran aquarists?

pH expresses the degree of acidity or alkalinity and is measured on a logarithmic scale where 7 is neutral. Values below 7 indicate different levels of acidity with pH 0 considered as extremely acidic. On the other hand, values higher than 7 denote various levels of alkalinity with pH 15 classified as extremely alkaline.

In Chemistry we were taught to understand that pH reflects the proportion of hydrogen ions (H+) to hydroxide ions (OH-) in a solution. As you can see from the figure below, the more hydrogen ions (H+) that are present in a solution, the more acidic the solution will be. With equal amounts of H+ and OH- in a solution, the pH will be will neutral. An alkaline condition is achieved when there is more OH- than H+ present in the solution. For fish aquarium tanks and ponds, water testing kits can help keep track of the water’s pH and indicate if it is within desired levels or if there is a need for you to increase or decrease the pH to ideal levels.

pH Scale

Factors that Influence Water pH

Water pH can easily be influenced by the type of minerals and gases which are dissolved in it. Typically, the pH of groundwater ranges from 6-8.5 while surface waters range from 6.5-8.5. Water is said to be “soft” when the pH is less than 6.5 while water with pH higher than 8.5 is considered “hard”.

Water (H20) is considered to be neutral at 25° C with a pH very close to 7. Its chemical formula, H2O, means that a hydrogen ion (H+) which has a positive charge is bonded with a hydroxide ion (OH-) which is negatively charged. This simply means that water possesses properties of both an acid and a base.

What happens when there is a rise and fall in aquarium water pH?

When we say that the pH scale is logarithmic, we simply mean that a one unit shift is equal to a 10-fold increase in the H+ concentration in the solution. For example, a pH 4 solution is 10 times more acidic than pH 5, and 100 times more acidic than pH 6. When you think about it, these logarithmic values of pH can have a profound effect on aquarium life. Even a small rise or fall in the tank’s water pH can actually result in a drastic change in the aquatic environment that can exert an unfavourable effect on your fishes!

When you are raising specific fish species, monitoring pH and other factors affecting water quality in aquarium tanks is a basic regimen for aquarists. You can accomplish this by using water quality testing kits which you can conveniently order from an online aquarium store.

Generally, most species of fish can thrive well in a wide range of water pH, although once you read more about the particular fish that you are keeping, you will find that they indeed have IDEAL pH requirements. Most exotic fishes are more particular about the pH that they require compared to native fish species. Water pH is also an important parameter to consider when you choose to breed fish.