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What's with the pH?


Neos in Woodstock
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I'm a new member and a new shrimp keeper.  I didn't find anything that addresses my concerns. I'm using both RO and distilled water (in different tanks) and adding SaltyShrimp Shrimp Minerals GH/KH+ for neocaridina. I add the additive until I reach a TDS of 180-200 but my pH is way out of range (7.8-7.9 versus the 7.2 that the breeders recommend). If I add the mineral per instructions (1 level one level spoon to 10 liters of water) my pH is over 8.0!  Is this "normal"? 

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3 hours ago, Neos in Woodstock said:

If I add the mineral per instructions (1 level one level spoon to 10 liters of water) my pH is over 8.0!  Is this "normal"? 

The instructions are just a recommendation. 

Unfortunately, that is the disadvantages of a commercial premixed product. They make it to a certain formula that might not be what you are after. 

Give your container of SaltyShrimp Shrimp Minerals GH/KH+ a good shake to mix up the powder. Could just be too much calcium chloride in the area you are scooping out.

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I'm now wondering if I might have a bad bottle of the Shrimp Minerals GH/KH+? I mean, it's not uncommon to get a "lemon" in anything you buy. I did shake it and I'll try remineralizing some distilled water this weekend, but in the mean time, I think I'll order another bottle...

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Interesting... I use distilled water and same Salty product and I try to manage to GH not TDS....to keep my GH in the 6 range I struggle to keep TDS under 300!!  Based on my experience...and not an expert....feel correct/good GH is more important that TDS.  Have tested water from shrimp suppliers and often get 400 or higher...for what that is worth.  And from what I know...pH anywhere in the 7s is probably fine...would be concerned about 8 and above though.  Curious to learn what others know.

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piste, do you test pH when you have your GH factored in? And if you are keeping neos, what are your parameters? I have the neos and fancy guppies and so I'm trying to balance so both are stress-free.

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6 hours ago, Neos in Woodstock said:

I might have a bad bottle of the Shrimp Minerals GH/KH+?

Anything is possible. 

 

6 hours ago, Neos in Woodstock said:

in the mean time, I think I'll order another bottle...

I would recommend getting Shrimp Minerals GH+ (not GH/KH+). 

It will give you more flexibility. If you need KH, use your existing bottle. 

Mix 50:50 of GH+ and GH/KH+ and you should get closer to the desired levels.

That way the current bottle isn't a complete waste.

 

 

4 hours ago, piste said:

GH in the 6 range I struggle to keep TDS under 300!

That's because your test equipment is not accurate. API GH test 6 is not exactly 6, it's a range. Reading a GH value by counting the number of drops is never an accurate measurement. 

GH as a measurement isn't any better than TDS. They are both valuable tools. Relying on one and ignoring the other is not a good idea.

GH test kits primarily test for Calcium & Magnesium. It does get influenced by other minerals like iron, potassium. But it's largely a tool to test Ca and Mg.

TDS test for a larger set of minerals, chemicals, and "stuff" that is dissolved in water. TDS can never equal GH. Or if you are converting GH to ppm = GH x 17.9.  

Why? because TDS is testing for a whole lot of other things in the water. It will test the presence of Calcium, Magnesium, as well as phosphates, potassium, iron, carbonates, chlorides, sulphates. It even picks up ammonia, nitrite, nitrate. It also picks up metals like copper, mercury, iron that is dissolved in the water. Heck it evens pick up readings if you mix ketchup into the water. It reads anything that will dissolve in water.

So when you say your GH is a perfect 6, yet TDS is 300 ! Well it's time to do a water change, because you might have Nitrates building up. If you went by just a GH reading only, you would think everything is fine in the tank not knowing Nitrates is building up. 

Likewise with just relying on pH. If pH is an ideal 7, but TDS is 400. Is that water fine for shrimp?

Most on SKFA will say no. 

Your pH is fine. but the water is filled with other none desirable dissolved solids that will harm the shrimp or fish. The question is - what is in that 400 TDS of water that some suppliers send you? Some calcium, and magnesium in the water maybe - harmless. But more likely a huge amount of Ammonia, or Nitrates - harmful.  The shortfall of TDS is that we don't know exactly what the TDS meter has detected. But you miss knowing the water could be harmful and full of dissolved solids if you didn't test TDS.

It could be beneficial Calcium. Or it could have been harmful Nitrates or Copper, or a list of other undesirable chemicals in the water.

That's why we use TDS as a guide, much like we use GH, KH, pH as a guide. These only measure ONE aspect of the water in your tank.

Use TDS as another guide to let you know that dissolved solids are building up. If you haven't added any calcium or magnesium recently, then it must be nitrates building up. If you add fertiliser for the plants, than measure how much before and after adding ferts. You'll know the next time the water needs more ferts added if it falls below your base TDS figure. You can use TDS to acclimate new fish and shrimp - take a reading of your tank, take a reading of the water the new fish/shrimp arrived in. Drip water into the bag until bag water TDS = your tank TDS - acclimation done! It's a lot quicker than measuring pH.

Hopefully you see my point, and I have convinced you that relying on one test is never enough.

Use all the tools at your disposal, or you face missing the big picture.

Saying GH is more important than TDS is just foolish. TDS offers you another aspect of your tank that GH does not. Likewise, GH offers you insight specifically to Calcium and Magnesium levels that TDS doesn't.

If you want to read more about TDS, I have a great article on TDS and why it's important somewhere on this forum.

 

 

Edited by jayc
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JayC has this more than covered but just a few things to add,

The commercial products I get do have a date on them but mine are so old they have worn off. They may have been manufacture dates (?) but whatever they were I don't take any notice!

Assuming (correctly) that each GH = 17.9 ppm/TDS you can see that it is much easier to get a more accurate figure using TDS,  especially if you are using a pre-mix/balanced commercial product. Using TDS is much simpler to test as well, so that is why most (if not all) people go byTDS.

PH is quite complex, way beyond my complete understanding, but from A LOT of reading,  it varies throughout the day/night, and some people will leave water in a bucket for a day or 2 as the PH settles, this is usually TAP water though I think?. The tank is the one to test the PH in (not newly mixed water) and do it sometime in the middle of the day, and always add the new water to the tank slowly! Years ago I tested my Caridina tank and the PH was 8.5 first thing in the morning, but back to 6 by lunchtime!

If the tank has been running for a year(ish) then it may need a large water change to help keep everything in sync. TDS for instance will build over time due to evaporation and this can cause parameters/balance to go adrift! 

Neocairidna shrimp want PH of about 7.5 so using the shrimp specific products will give you as near the ideal balance of everything, I wouldn't worry unduly if it goes a little over (or under). Are the shrimp behaving 'normally'? Have you seen any sick or dead shrimp? Neocaridina shrimp are more adaptable and tougher than Caridina. These commercial products have been around for years and worked well so I don't think you need to worry? 

TRY not to look for exact figures of each/every parameter, you will almost certainly fail in my experience!

Simon

Edited by sdlTBfanUK
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Posted (edited)

Alright, this morning I tested the Shrimp Mineral GH/KH+ on an unopened gallon of distilled water to see what kind of results I got. 

First, I shook the Salty Shrimp Minerals to insure the powder was well mixed. Then I tested the distilled water still in the jug. It had a pH of 5.4 and a TDS of 0. (I calibrated both pens prior to starting the test.) I added the Salty Shrimp Minerals to a TDS of 216. Then tested pH (7.92), API GH test was 9, and API KH test was 3.

My conclusion is that the Salty Shrimp Minerals is a bad batch.  I have more arriving tomorrow so I can test it then. The reason I hesitate to not use it is my shrimp were purchased from "USA's Largest Online Retailer of Freshwater Shrimp", according to him anyway and he says that this is the only thing he uses and recommends. Maybe I need to take the advice of Ayn Rand from her novel "Atlas Shrugged" ... when all else fails, check your premise.

Any suggestions or ideas anyone has are welcome.

Edited by Neos in Woodstock
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23 hours ago, Neos in Woodstock said:

piste, do you test pH when you have your GH factored in? And if you are keeping neos, what are your parameters? I have the neos and fancy guppies and so I'm trying to balance so both are stress-free.

I test pH, GH, and TDS regularly...so yes test pH with GH factored in.  I am keeping Neos.  My approach is GH is important so I try to maintain that around 6.  I use TDS to determine water change timing and shoot to keep it under 300.  pH I just try to keep in the 6.8 to 7.4 range...if any changes are needed it is usually needing to be raised due to the wood and leaves...which I accomplish with Aragonite...which of course also affects TDS.  Always a balancing game.

PS. as a New England native myself...curious if Woodstock is ..as in VT?

9 hours ago, Neos in Woodstock said:

Alright, this morning I tested the Shrimp Mineral GH/KH+ on an unopened gallon of distilled water to see what kind of results I got. 

First, I shook the Salty Shrimp Minerals to insure the powder was well mixed. Then I tested the distilled water still in the jug. It had a pH of 5.4 and a TDS of 0. (I calibrated both pens prior to starting the test.) I added the Salty Shrimp Minerals to a TDS of 216. Then tested pH (7.92), API GH test was 9, and API KH test was 3.

My conclusion is that the Salty Shrimp Minerals is a bad batch.  I have more arriving tomorrow so I can test it then. The reason I hesitate to not use it is my shrimp were purchased from "USA's Largest Online Retailer of Freshwater Shrimp", according to him anyway and he says that this is the only thing he uses and recommends. Maybe I need to take the advice of Ayn Rand from her novel "Atlas Shrugged" ... when all else fails, check your premise.

Any suggestions or ideas anyone has are welcome.

What is your tank pH?

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Posted (edited)

Woodstock is a suburb in Northwest Atlanta. This morning, with the lights on for 3 hours and temp @ 73.2 I had one tank at a pH of 7.7, another at 7.8 and the 50 gallon at 7.9. TDS is slowly climbing, but run from 226 to 268.

I try to test at the same time daily so that time, lights, and temperature remain fairly constant to the other parameters. I don't know how much fluctuation actually occurs during a 24 hour period but I thinks it's probably best to work on consistency.

Edited by Neos in Woodstock
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Jayc,

I do use API GH test kit.  What do you use to test GH?  Being a chemical engineer and experienced fish and shrimp aquarist..is that a word? I get the chemistry.  However, to say API test kit is inaccurate...is inaccurate and misleading.  Everything is a matter of precision in context of the need.  Is a pH meter that registers pH of 7.2 inaccurate because technically the actual pH could be anything between 7.16 and 7.24?  Water chemistry is a balance of many things...and shrimp will do just fine within a range of each parameter.  In my experience if one tries to get EVERY single parameter "perfect" you would end up chasing your tail.  True that many things compose TDS....some beneficial within a certain composition and some not.  maintaining certain levels of GH and KH are good for Neos.  Excessive TDS is not.  That being said neos can do just fine well beyond 300 TDS.  My approach is to try and keep TDS under 300 so I do use that as my water change metric.  And as far as I know accepted beneficial levels of GH are 6 or so ...so I shoot to keep that minimum level. Just because a measure of 6 may represent a range does not make it inaccurate.   So I try to keep GH at 6 and TDS below 300.  As for pH...over managing that can often lead to problems.  Personally I am ok with pH as low as 6.7 or so..but shoot to keep in the low 7s.

Never said...or meant to say I rely on one parameter.  In a balanced mature tank...I rely on the above.  If I sense there are other issues...then I keep an eye on ammonia and maybe nitrites and that's about it.  As always...YMMV.

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I want to thank all of you for your input. I agree that you DO end up chasing your tail when you worry about all of the parameters. I'm quickly getting the hang of it as I become more comfortable in the hobby and read through the pages of conversations here.

I hope, in time, to learn enough that I too can help newbies like I am today. Thanks again.

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