Aquarium Decoration (Rocks, Plants and Substrates) • Substrate and ph

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Substrate and ph

Postby bristlenose72 » Wed Nov 20, 2019 5:15 pm

Hi. I have found out that the water in my local area has a pH 7.5. If I want to keep species of fish that require a lower pH can I simply stack the aquarium with wood and also a pH lowering substrate. Won't the effect of these eventually ware off with weekly water changes of the local hard water. Might the weekly change of water also affect the fish.

The tank is big at 270 litres, but I still wonder about maintaining a constant pH lower than the source water supply.

If you have any ideas, I would be very grateful to hear them.

Thanks :)
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Re: Substrate and ph

Postby DJRansome » Wed Nov 20, 2019 6:32 pm

Wood does not always lower pH, at least not much and not fast. What kind of substrate...like leaf litter?

Yes whenever you tamper with pH and other water parameters between the tank and the tap, it is a constant balancing act to keep the tank stable.

First I would be sure your species of fish truly requires a lower pH...discus might be an example. But many of the SA and CA actually like a pH that is higher than you might think.

Some people also use RO water mixed with their tap water.
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Re: Substrate and ph

Postby ken31cay » Wed Nov 20, 2019 9:12 pm

7.5ph is fine for captive bred, ex/ F1's, though wilds like Altums and even some wild Discus actually need the lower pH until they can be very gradually acclimated to the higher pH. What kind of fish do you have in mind? If they are not wild-caught fish then just ask the seller what pH they were keeping the fish in and go from there. Very likely the fish are already acclimated to higher pH. Better to keep your pH at 7.5 if that works for the fish you're getting rather than change it and have it fluctuate because stability is key.

IME you can't rely on wood or leaves to decrease your pH, and they're only used when your pH is already acceptable and you are attempting to keep it low.

As DJ said maintaining a pH when your tap is different than your tank can be tricky, I used to fill two 55gal brute trash bins with water each night in order to match the water parameters for my daily water changes the following day when I kept Discus. But like I said most fish you buy, hard or soft water fish, are usually acclimated to mid to high 7ph range already.
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Re: Substrate and ph

Postby bristlenose72 » Thu Nov 21, 2019 4:21 pm

I was thinking of a couple of african buffalo head and maybe 4 Anomalochromis Thomasi. Also some dwarf neon rainbow fish and Norman's lamp eye. I see there are quite a few tetras that like quite hard water.
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Re: Substrate and ph

Postby DJRansome » Thu Nov 21, 2019 5:45 pm

How long is the tank? I have not seen the buffalo head and thomasi mixed, but I have no experience with them.

Buffalo head is fine at 7.5 and I think thomasi would be as well unless you want to focus on spawning them.

I can offer that I explored combining lamp eyes with some loaches at one time and was advised that each species should have a tank tailored to their needs. For example heavily planted for the lamp eyes. Just because they have the same pH requirements does not mean they are compatible in other ways.
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Re: Substrate and ph

Postby bristlenose72 » Fri Nov 22, 2019 4:33 pm

Tank is 120cm long by 40cm by 50cm. The reason I have chosen 4 thomasi is that they are better in small groups. Why won't they spawn? Could I also have a group of Odessa barbs. (Quite robust) Would harlequin rasboras be too small for this set up instead of the Odessa barbs
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Re: Substrate and ph

Postby DJRansome » Fri Nov 22, 2019 6:40 pm

Sounds like a lot of fish. Maybe someone will chime in on the buffalo head and thomasi combination?

Which is your must have species for the tank? Is the sole purpose for spawning?
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Re: Substrate and ph

Postby ken31cay » Sat Nov 23, 2019 7:15 am

According to this website the thomasi is not particular and will spawn in a large pH range. But it does say to put them in a separate tank when you're ready to breed so other tank mates may be the problem.
http://www.tropical-fish-keeping.com/african-butterfly-cichlid-anomalochromis-thomasi.html#sthash.nqYj94Le.dpbs
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Re: Substrate and ph

Postby bristlenose72 » Sat Nov 23, 2019 7:58 am

Perhaps I will go with just the dwarf rainbow fish and possibly only three Thomasi. I don't want to cramp the tank too much!! :D Might add one rubber lip place to help with the algae, but no other bottom dwellers because of the buffalo heads. I could have kribensis instead of Thomasi, but Thomasi seem nicer to me.
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Re: Substrate and ph

Postby BC in SK » Sat Nov 23, 2019 4:17 pm

6 dwarf cichlids in a 4 ft. 65+ gallon? How is too many fish even being mentioned in this thread??
African butterfly fish is not likely to get a whole lot larger then 3" and Buffalo heads don't get much larger either. Both are called dwarf cichlids for a reason and neither have very large space demands.
Really, if your looking to breed them you should start with 6 of each. Much better chance of getting a pair and also these cichlids will have con specific aggression (just like any other cichlid) that need a group situation to make a compatible pecking order. After pairs develop, some extras could be removed dependent on the situation.
You could go with one or the other but i really don't see doing both in a 4 ft. 65 gal. as overly ambitious. Both these fish are seen as quite suitable for 20-30 gal. tanks, so a 4 ft. 65 gal. offers a little more space.
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Re: Substrate and ph

Postby DJRansome » Sat Nov 23, 2019 6:00 pm

BC are they OK in pH=7.5 for spawning?

What do you think about both of these as well as neon rainbows and lamp eyes?
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Re: Substrate and ph

Postby BC in SK » Sat Nov 23, 2019 7:23 pm

DJRansome wrote:BC are they OK in pH=7.5 for spawning?

Neither fish require low pH to successfully spawn and either could be spawned in pH 8 quite easily.
Why the focus on pH all of the time? It is by far the least important water parameter; it usually only matters in the mind of the aquarist, not for the fish. Water hardness being far more significant for just about any fish. Most fish can generally take a sudden change in pH with out any significance; if they couldn't, a swim to the surface or even taking them out of the water would be lethal :lol: For example, at the depths mbuna live at, a typical pH would be 7.6-7.8 but at the surface it is often as high as pH 8.6 (due to lower levels of CO2). Another example would be lake Kyoga (from where Astatotilapia obliquidens comes from) At the surface pH 7.6 and at only 10 ft. down, it's pH 7.1. Now sudden changes in hardness would be another thing entirely, and could kill a fish form osmotic shock.
Fishbase lists a dH of 5-12 for African Butterfly fish:http://www.fishbase.org/summary/Anomalochromis-thomasi.html While fishbase isn't always the most reliable for water parameters, Anomalochromis thomasi is definitely not what you would typically describe as a "soft water fish". The fish is found over a range that might include soft water, but don't require it. Bear in mind the so called "hard water" of lake Malawi is dGH 3 to a little over 5 (actually borderline soft! :lol: ) and lake Kyoga and Victoria are dGH 1-3 (softer water then what the majority of tropical fish would come from). Buffalo head similar: https://www.fishbase.se/summary/Steatocranus-casuarius listed at dH 5-19. neither fish have any real special water requirements, other then clean water from consistent and large water changes. Avoid extremes or anything that might change hardness suddenly or quickly, and there shouldn't be problems.
DJRansome wrote:
What do you think about both of these as well as neon rainbows and lamp eyes?

Not really familiar with either, but I think both cichlids would probably benefit from dithers. Dithers would be a personal choice as a good many small shcoling fish will usually do well with with cichlids that are not too aggressive.
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Re: Substrate and ph

Postby DJRansome » Sat Nov 23, 2019 7:30 pm

BC in SK wrote:Why the focus on pH all of the time? It is by far the least important water parameter
It was the OP's original questions, how to lower pH and we suggested he verify his current pH of 7.5 was a problem for the fish he wanted.

And the CF profile for thomasi says they may need a lower pH to spawn.
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Re: Substrate and ph

Postby ken31cay » Sat Nov 23, 2019 8:32 pm

Why the focus on pH all of the time?


I'm fairly new to africans myself but spent much more time with South Americans and know pH is critical, especially with certain wilds not yet acclimated to higher pH. Are african's different? I guess so. Thanks for the post.
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Re: Substrate and ph

Postby BC in SK » Sat Nov 23, 2019 8:57 pm

ken31cay wrote:
Why the focus on pH all of the time?


with South Americans and know pH is critical, especially with certain wilds not yet acclimated to higher pH.

It's critical for some species, but even then, water hardness (TDS and GH) is often of much greater significance.
And yes, water parameters can be be more critical for wild caught then for tank raised. Replicating it assumes that the aquarists has the correct info of the particular water parameters the fish was collected from.
But for the majority of fish, and that includes most SA cichlids, I do not think pH is critical at all.
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