Jump to content

Battling Increasing pH


piste
 Share

Recommended Posts

Ok....so I am fairly experienced fresh water fish and shrimp keeper but I have been battling pH in my shrimp tank and could really use some guidance.  This is a 5 gallon tank that I have had running for about 4 or 5 years...same SL Aqua substrate.  I did neglect the tank for a period of time due to a house move.  lost most of my shrimp as a result but got things settled down again and restocked last December with 15 painted fire RCS from an online shop I have used often in the past.   Unfortunately they also sent me a healthy stock of copepods which I mistook for shrimp fry.  At the moment most of that batch of shrimp are gone...but I do have a few survivors including a new class of baby shrimp.  But my big issue for the past month or two has been a pH that I cannot get down into a range I am happy with.  It keeps wanting to creep up to 8.0 to 8.2 or so.  I am doing ~20% water changes once or twice a week with distilled water which helps temporarily but pH creeps back up.  I have all but shut off the sponge filter as I have read that can contribute to increasing pH.  Been adding catalpa leaves, peat, alder cones and a refresh of a few pieces of cholla wood....without any improvement.  There isn't anything else in the tank.  I feed shrimp once a day with a rotation of shrimp foods...and do not at all believe I overfeed.  I do have some snails in there as a cleanup crew.  The albino cory became a resident in an attempt to keep copepod population in check...to not much avail.  So ...what the heck keeps pushing up the pH.  Is my substrate the culprit as it is 5 years old or so?  It was SL Aqua substrate.   I target pH to be in the 6.5 to 7.5 range.  Anything close to 6.0 or 8.0 worries me a bit.  I do know not to use things like pH Up or pH down.  The white bag you see hanging is full of peat.  Any thoughts on the pH issue?

Separately....I think the copepods are a lost cause and I know of no way to safely eradicate them....the infestation is more than annoying.  Feel like I am running a copepod tank...they far outnumber my shrimp!!  I think my only option is gonna be to get another tank up and running and transfer shrimp to it over a period of time...then nuke this current tank....which of course solves the pH problem too!!

Thanks in advance!!

shrimp_tank.jpg

  • Sad 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, piste said:

I have all but shut off the sponge filter as I have read that can contribute to increasing pH

Not sure who would give you that advice. Unless the sponge filter is made out of carbonates, it will not be increasing pH.

In fact, the natural process of the beneficial bacteria on your filter will decrease pH. The BB takes in H2O, uses the O (oxygen) and releases H (hydrogen). A net increase of H. And we all know that when there is more hydrogen in the tank ... pH drops.

 

3 hours ago, piste said:

So ...what the heck keeps pushing up the pH.  Is my substrate the culprit as it is 5 years old or so?  It was SL Aqua substrate. 

The only things that might cause the pH to increase in a tank is shell grit, rocks, or your source water is naturally high in carbonates.

Do you have rocks in the tank?

Do you have any shells, corals, cuttlefish bones, etc in your tank?

Try taking half a cup of substrate from your tank, and test it. Test pH of that  distilled water. Add distilled water to that cup of substrate you removed. And then test the pH periodically to see if it increases over a day.

Do you use any other sources of water apart from the distilled water?

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 minutes ago, jayc said:

Not sure who would give you that advice. Unless the sponge filter is made out of carbonates, it will not be increasing pH.

In fact, the natural process of the beneficial bacteria on your filter will decrease pH. The BB takes in H2O, uses the O (oxygen) and releases H (hydrogen). A net increase of H. And we all know that when there is more hydrogen in the tank ... pH drops.

 

The only things that might cause the pH to increase in a tank is shell grit, rocks, or your source water is naturally high in carbonates.

Do you have rocks in the tank?

Do you have any shells, corals, cuttlefish bones, etc in your tank?

Try taking half a cup of substrate from your tank, and test it. Test pH of that  distilled water. Add distilled water to that cup of substrate you removed. And then test the pH periodically to see if it increases over a day.

Do you use any other sources of water apart from the distilled water?

I read somewhere...once ..something about the sponge filter aeration and CO2 causing pH to rise.... I forget the chemistry.

 

FWIW...I have a sponge on the filter intake and I squeeze that out every water change....in water removed from the tank.  

ZERO rocks, shells or anything similar in the tank.  Nothing but substrate, some cholla wood with attached plants, catalpa leaves, peat, etc.

Water added during changes is 100% distilled water...some of that being augmented by Salty Shrimp to keep GH around 5 or 6.  pH of distilled water last I checked around 5.5..worth checking again I suppose.   Tank is a Top Fin tank with side filter and nothing but a carbon filter in there.   My leading suspect is the substrate.  I recall reading that substate loses qualities and needs replaced every handful of years.  Otherwise...no idea here.  Thanks for the input.  I will do the substate test you advise.

Edited by piste
  • Like 1
  • Confused 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you have only  a few shrimps in the tank then the copepod problem is easily sorted by putting some fish in the tank for a few weeks. I put dwarf rasbora in mt tank with seed shrimps and they cleared it in a day or two, tetras may also work and if you can get somewhere to put the shrimp temporerily that is a good idea, though adult shrimp should be safe anyway andit is only for a week or two!

Have you always used distilled water? If you used to used tap water with a high PH then the soil that softened the water may have got saturated, and is now doing the reverse, slowly releasing what it absorbed before, especially if it is low PH water you now use! A PH of 8 wouldn't necesarily be a problem for cherry shrimp, though fluctuating won't be good for them, if you have a few shrimp left then just leave it and run it normally and see what happens, ie whether it (PH) goes above the 8.2?

Considering this isn't a large tank with only a few inhabitants, it is probably best to start again with new substrate (inert for cherry shrimp otherwise you have the reverse problem, PH dropping). This is clearly the quickest fix! If you use PH uffering soil again oviously this problem may happen again down the line! There is a TETRA product of soil over here which doesn't buffer the PH but it may not be available to you where you are, link below just to show you so you can check around, ebay, amazon etc etc.

https://www.tropco.co.uk/-p-3201.html?carpid=ahhacc5tifnj5oijlf3njaqka4

Simon

edit - had a quick look on Amazon, but the above is available for US but $85 for 3L, Seacom Flourite may suit better at $30 for 15lb.

Edited by sdlTBfanUK
Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, sdlTBfanUK said:

If you have only  a few shrimps in the tank then the copepod problem is easily sorted by putting some fish in the tank for a few weeks. I put dwarf rasbora in mt tank with seed shrimps and they cleared it in a day or two, tetras may also work and if you can get somewhere to put the shrimp temporerily that is a good idea, though adult shrimp should be safe anyway andit is only for a week or two!

Have you always used distilled water? If you used to used tap water with a high PH then the soil that softened the water may have got saturated, and is now doing the reverse, slowly releasing what it absorbed before, especially if it is low PH water you now use! A PH of 8 wouldn't necesarily be a problem for cherry shrimp, though fluctuating won't be good for them, if you have a few shrimp left then just leave it and run it normally and see what happens, ie whether it (PH) goes above the 8.2?

Considering this isn't a large tank with only a few inhabitants, it is probably best to start again with new substrate (inert for cherry shrimp otherwise you have the reverse problem, PH dropping). This is clearly the quickest fix! If you use PH uffering soil again oviously this problem may happen again down the line! There is a TETRA product of soil over here which doesn't buffer the PH but it may not be available to you where you are, link below just to show you so you can check around, ebay, amazon etc etc.

https://www.tropco.co.uk/-p-3201.html?carpid=ahhacc5tifnj5oijlf3njaqka4

Simon

edit - had a quick look on Amazon, but the above is available for US but $85 for 3L, Seacom Flourite may suit better at $30 for 15lb.

Thanks Simon.  I did try putting in 3 neon tetras for a week or so.  Copepods seemed to clear up quickly...so removed neons and copepods returned shortly thereafter.  Copepods seem to like to burrow in the SL Aqua substrate...so I think they hideout in there til the coast was clear.  I did keep the albino cory in there....but he doesn't seem to be doing his job!!  I will likely put some neons back in there and give it a longer time period.  I do have some shrimp fry at the moment so have been waiting for them to get a bit bigger...and thus less likely to be neon food.

Yes I have always used nothing but distilled water in this tank.  I do use Salty Shrimp..but the GH/KH and sometimes GH only and regularly test tank to keep GH in the 6 range.  I do a 30% water change about once a week....pH drops to about 7.6 or so...then creeps back up to the 8.0 to 8.2 range...sometimes a tad higher.  The chemist in my is going nuts trying to figure out what is producing those hydrogen ions.  8 to 8.2 isn't horrible...but would like to be a bit lower...and not always creeping up like it does.

Thanks for the tip on the Fluorite!!  I appreciate your time and contributions here.

 

 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well...I may have found my pH culprit.  I mixed up batches of the two Salty Shrimp products.  The one with both GH and KH tests well above 8.0 pH...like 8.3 or 8.4.  The GH-only product tests around 7.2 pH.  I will adjust my regimen accordingly and see where it goes.  My guess is that historically my SL Aqua substrate was buffering...but has expended its ability to do so.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good news you have identified the cause of the problem and I hope it all goes well now! At least you don't need to redo the tank with new substrate for your neocaridina shrimps!

Simon 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Hi,

Sorry I'm newbie here... One thing that you should know about water chemistry, if you have a swing pH, try to check the KH of the water... And also check the substrate, may be the substrate loosing the buffer effect on the water.. I have been through "the battle of PH" years ago.. and the result is very exhausting and annoying.. finally I give up, and reset my tank... With new soil and new plant.. and the problem solved, I can sleep without having stress about the pH again...

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...
  • 4 weeks later...

Well...I come back with head in hands.  Turns out my ph meter...an Apera...seemed to have outlived it's useful life and was giving my false high readings.  I tossed it...got a new version of the same model and seems life is really ok as far as pH goes.  My other issue of copepods remains to be resolved.  As best I can tell...the fish I have in the tank have kept the copepod population in check...but I believe these suckers are happy to live below the substrate.  Game plan is remove the fish soon to another tank and see if the copepods return..which I am betting is highly likely.  If so...will have to break down the tank and start fresh.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Join Our Community!

    Register today, ask questions and share your shrimp and fish tank experiences with us!

  • Must Read SKF Articles

  • Posts

    • sdlTBfanUK
      You may end up losing this batch entirely but then you can start completely fresh and get the aquarium set up right for the next batch of shrimp! If you do any large water changes then try and add the new water slowly, either dripper or some other way. You should get yourself a TDS meter (as JayC above), they are cheap and readily available. You should always use a GH tester kit as well with shrimps, if you do the 50% water change that should halve the GH so you should get a reading after that, or if you can get a local fish store to test it for you that will give you an idea of the GH. If your water supply is as hard as it appears it may be you will need to mull over how (or even IF) you want to keep shrimps as that may mean using RO or distilled/bottled water and buying a proper shrimp specific remineraliser? That will be quite expensive but you won't then have to mess about adding crushed coral/eggshells etc, but only you can decide whether you want to do/spend that much etc? If you live somewhere that gets a lot of rain, then you can use rain water? Also, as JayC states, you need to know what you are using/adding to the water and aquarium, ie fertilizers, rocks. Unless you have very exotic plants you shouldn't need any fertilizers. Just as a note, we have come across quite a few experienced fish keeprs that have this sort of start off issues with shrimp. Shrimp are more difficult than fish, and the aquarium and water etc need to be ready and within the required parameters before getting the shrimps. Usually people jump in, get the shrimps before everything is ready/sorted. Hopefully though you will keep at it, or if this lot die you will have another go and we can help you get it sorted?
    • jayc
      These are all classic symptoms of shrimp moulting problems.   Again, another high GH symptom. High GH not only causes harder carapace (shell), but it also makes eggs harder. When the egg is harder the male finds it more difficult to fertilise the eggs.   That's a worry if you can't get a good GH reading because that is going to be most likely issue right now for you.   Because snails don't moult.    If you dont already have a TDS meter, I suggest getting one asap. It's another test to narrow down your water parameters, and not have to trust one test by it's own - in this case the GH test kit. I would wager your water parameter is too high in dissolved minerals - likely from the tap water source, fertiliser dosing and/or any rocks/crushed corals you might have in the tank. To remedy this, you need to start doing water changes with RO, distilled or rain water immediately. I would do a 50% water change with RO water asap. Then look for sources that increase GH in the tank and eliminate it - fertilisers, rocks, crush corals, shells.    It's difficult to save a shrimp who's carapace is already too hard, but hopefully any younger shrimps will benefit from the water change and the reduced GH.   Good luck and keep us updated.
    • professionalshrimphugger
      United States. I have tested my tap water; it yields the same results. GH: ??, KH: 3, pH: 7.8. I cannot say for sure if my GH test is faulty or not, the expiration is until 2023. It's more of a twitching, then stasis. I have one shrimp that's having a hard time balancing itself, but it's swimmerets and mouth keep moving in attempt in getting back up. I allowed it to stick to my sponge filter. The tank is cycled. I used established media. Readings would not show 0 otherwise. I do use EI Dosing, half dosage recommended for a 20 gallon. It has been said on other forums that it does not affect shrimp, but I stopped dosing to isolate variables a week ago. No CO2, that's too costly for me, hah. I drip acclimated the shrimp for 2 hours, 1 drop per second. I tested for copper in my tank, nothing. Funnily enough, my mystery snails in my community tank don't seem too affected by it.
    • sdlTBfanUK
      Sorry to hear you are having a problem! Where are you based in the world? Can you test your tapwater GH/KH/PH? Best to know what the source water is, dechlorinated (if required) before you have ADDED anything. Are you sure the GH test is working and not old, or already activated/contaminated somehow? The other parameters seem ok! If the GH is as ridiculousy high as you say then I expect the shrimps would have problems molting (they may be twitching to get out of the old shell), though generally twitchy behaviour is usually down to some sort of toxic poisoning or the aquarium not being properly cycled? Are you using any plant fertiser or CO2?  Did you drip acclimate the shrimp over many hours before adding them to the aquarium? They are much more sensitive than fish to changes in water parameters etc. You could end up killing more of them by moving them so I would hold off from that at the moment!  
    • professionalshrimphugger
      Hello all, I am new to the forum, although experienced at fishkeeping, I am relatively new to shrimpkeeping. Let's start with my issue. I had started a colony of 18 juvenile cherry shrimp (Neocaridina davidi) in a 20 gallon long as of last month. I solely use tap water and change 5% per week. They are the only inhabitants alongside a single juvenile Malaysian trumpet snail. Today the numbers have been reduced to 9. The deaths did not start until the shrimp turned into adults, where they have struggled, twitching as if provoked, becoming lethargic, and eventually flipping over to their side and dying. Only the ones on the verge of death exhibit this behavior, whereas the rest simply graze on as usual. I measured my parameters today - my tank has been established for two months as of now and is densely planted. They have never bred despite being of adult size and having visible saddles. Never an issue with molting. Ammonia: 0 ppm, Nitrite: 0 ppm, Nitrate: 0-5 ppm || pH: 7.8, GH: ??, KH: 3 I cannot get a single good read off API's liquid GH test. I have dropped beyond 30+ and gave up as I knew the numbers were already extreme. The thing is, I need a temporary, inexpensive solution to keep my shrimp safe. I believe by the time I order supplies, the colony would already give. I was planning on moving the colony to a 5.5g, barren with my floating plants and mosses, using just distilled water, Seachem Equilibrium (only GH additive I own) and crushed eggshells (potential source of KH). Possibly crushed coral to substitute for the lack of any real mineral additive. I did not believe that high GH would possibly become a problem, and I am fortunate that the strugglers are still alive. If anyone has a solution to this problem, or approve of my plan of action, please let me know. TIA
×
×
  • Create New...