The addition of a nice aquarium that gives us a glimpse of what life is like underwater can be very exciting. For you to continue enjoying the scenery, you need to work towards keeping the aquarium clean and water habitable for the fish.
It is based on this that you should always consult widely before making even the tiniest of changes within this delicate aquatic ecosystem. This is a very sensitive ecosystem and what may seem trivial such as changing or adding gravel could alter the pH and trigger fatality.
Attractive options such as crushed coral are often more suitable for marine fish and could negatively affect the water for fresh water species.
Because of this you always want to strive to keep the water “normal”. Given the variance between freshwater and seawater ecosystems, normal is very relative.
There is not much about pH except that this scale that runs from 1 – 14 is used to determine the degree of acidity and alkalinity of water. Based on that;
- pH ranging from 1 – 7 is considered acidic
- within the region of 7 is considered neutral (e.g. 6.5 – 7.5)
- pH above 7 is considered alkaline.
Though many species have the ability to thrive in a wide range of pH it is important to maintain it around the most suitable for your species. This is especially useful during breeding where even the slightest changes can cause the fish not to spawn as expected.
While you may have been informed that all fish thrive in neutral conditions (pH 7) this is incorrect. It is for this reason you need to learn about the species and how to alter the pH should you suspect changes in the aquatic conditions.
While using chemicals you could quickly alter the pH, chemicals ruin natural buffers often contributing to very drastic changes to the aquarium pH. The sudden change is the reason natural mechanisms to manage pH are preferable. While many fish can survive and thrive one full point below or above their optimum pH; sudden changes are difficult to adapt to and can be fatal.
Factors responsible for sudden change in pH
- Adding gravel – while crushed coral is very attractive it is better suited for marine fish and could cause unexpected changes in the pH
- Changing the water in the aquarium – what you may assume is good deed can bring about significant change in the pH especially when the water is collected from a new source
- Introducing dyed decorations – the dyes could leak into the water and often contribute to serious changes in water acidity or alkalinity
Natural Ways to Lower pH
High alkaline is common cause of fatality in several species; long time keepers advise that is fish keep darting back
and forth it may be time to check the pH. High acidity causes fish to produce excess mucous; symptoms include fish gasping for air and thickening of skin and gills.
Lowering Ph is easy using natural solutions such as peat moss. The procedure is quite straight forward and will require you to place the moss in a mesh bag and insert it into the filter.
Upon inserting this into the filter the water could become discolored temporarily though this will eventually clear up. Natural solutions for altering pH are always preferable given they do not cause sharp / sudden changes to the aquatic eco system.
Driftwood is another perfect natural method to lower and maintain pH within an Aquarium.
Like moss the wood will discolor the water and if you want to avoid that you should treat the driftwood prior to introducing it into the aquarium.
Treatment involves soaking while completely submerged for a period of one to two weeks. On the other hand, boiling the driftwood also is a good way to ensure it will not discolor the water in your fish tank.
The driftwood will act as a natural filter for contaminants in the water. A process very similar to the way plants perform filtration of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the water. It is recommended to make proper inquires while buying because driftwood suitable for reptiles often contains compounds harmful to fish.
While this is not natural the process of reverse osmosis is very effective as far as the issue of lowering pH is concerned. The procedure involves passing water through a membrane that allows water and smaller ions through while inhibiting larger ions.
Fortunately larger ions often include contaminants such as chlorine, lead and other contaminants present in hard tap water. Using an RO unit, you will filter as much as 99% of contaminants out of the water.
The unit could cost a few hundred dollars and will act as the water deionizer within your aquarium; the unit can easily keep fish safe and the water healthy for several years.
If you like tinted water in your aquarium it is advisable to add Indian almond to the water. The slight tint and lighting in crystal clear water gives the aquarium a very natural and attractive appearance.
Catappa is a type of Indian almond whose leaves have been for centuries used to improve the condition of water; hence the name the poor man’s water conditioner. In addition to releasing tannins that tint the water they naturally soften and lower water pH.
Soaking them for prolonged periods before placing in the aquarium is very useful to letting the tannin leak and avoiding discoloration.
The leaves have been used to soften water for many years and it is often said they act as an anti oxidant and bear anti inflammatory properties that prevent disease in fish.
Keepers of betta fish and shrimp often have these in the water as they tend to enhance health of these species. This point is yet to be proven valid using scientific research.
Other than just the pH, you should notice that fish love and enjoy the hiding places that almond leaves in the water provide. The leaves provide a very realistic and river like environment that is especially favored by freshwater species.