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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Recently I've been using a cichlid buffer by Seachem. I also have argonite sand in my tank that is supposed to maintain the ph at 8.2. My PH keeps dropping to around 7.4. My nitrates are currently around 30-35 ppm. I dont know if nitrates affect the PH, but I was thinking that maybe since i've been doing a 20% water change every other day this could be why my PH keeps dropping so low? I just want someone thats a little more educated to tell me what they think. Thanks
 

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Nitrates themselves don't affect pH.

However, the ammonia that is converted into nitrite to nitrate can cause it.

I'd be willing to bet your KH is pretty low (surprising for a pH of 8.2). Sand/substrate cannot maintain a pH unless the water isn't changed. If your KH is low, add some baking soda to get the KH up - it will do 2 things: Keep the pH at 8.2 (if you add enough) and buffer it so it won't drop when the ammonia/etc gets in there.

What's the pH out of your tap?
Say it's 7.
Let's say your tank is at 8.4 - and you replace 50% of your water with tap water. You'd be at pH 7.7.
 

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Actually, nitrates consume buffers and can lower KH and ultimately pH. Glaneon is right on by suggesting you check KH. See Practical Water Chemistry for a good explanation of ph, and KH and their relationship, how to adjust, etc..

I'd also guess that your KH is low, but don't understand why if you're adding the Seachem buffer. But, that depends on frequency and amount used. Instead of the commercial products, use baking soda to raise KH and stabilize pH at around 8.2 or so. Save money to buy more fish. :)

The argonite sand won't dissolve fast enough to buffer IME.
 

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Hmm, see - I thought it was the cycle itself that causes the pH crash, not the presence of nitrates - but I guess when I think it through... yeah.. you can't just add nitrates :) Therefore...

okay fine.. but.. still :)

just add baking soda - I have 40 mbuna in my 125 and I go through 1/4Cup baking soda each week when I do a 50% water change. That ain't much money!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
so what your saying is that I should add the reccomended dosage of baking soda to my tank, per gallons of water that I take out of my tank in a week. But I also want to continue using the buffer as needed?
 

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tjc348 said:
so what your saying is that I should add the reccomended dosage of baking soda to my tank, per gallons of water that I take out of my tank in a week. But I also want to continue using the buffer as needed?
The baking soda is the buffer. It can replace the Seachem product. The Seachem product may have other 'stuff' in it, but nothing typically needed or worth paying the extra dollars for.

And yes, to your question about adding it during water changes per the amount changed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
It says to add the baking soda slowly because the fish are sensitive to PH change, with as drastically as my PH is changing, is it really going to matter?

The guide says to add 1 teaspoon per 5 gallons.

Everyday i've been checking my PH and it drops to about 7.4. I add the seachem buffer once I realize how low it is. Then I check the PH an hour or two later and the PH is back up to 8.4 or so.

I did this yesterday. and today I checked it and it is back down to 7.4.

I just did a 25% (10 gallons) water change a few minutes ago and I added two teaspoons of baking soda.

I re-read what you said and u said that it will either maintain my my PH or keep it from going down.

So everytime I do a 25% water change (2x a week) I should add about 2 teaspoons of baking soda?

Sorry if i'm asking too many questions I just don't want to see my fish die. I need to find the happy medium because I feel like the PH changing that much is way too drastic
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Okay thanks, that clear things up for me.

My last question is, is it okay to add all of the recomended amount of baking soda to my tank all at once? if its 1 teaspoon per 5 gallons then I would need 8 teaspoons.

If I shouldnt add it all at once, how slowly/fast should I add it?
 

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What's getting lost in all of this is KH. You need to test this, both tap and tank. It's what stabilizes pH. It's what the baking soda raises. It's sometimes called 'buffers', or 'carbonate hardness'. You need to know and focus on this and pH will follow. Don't focus on just trying to raise pH. Your pH is probably bouncing up and down because your KH is low. If you get this value, then we can look at initial and subsequent doses and how to go about that.
 

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Yes, it's a very important test if you're going to be buffering, or trying to determine the need for buffering. You could guess and just add, but then you might get unpredictable results from that without really knowing why.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Ok, im picking up a KH test kit, once I determine what my level of harness is I will post back and let you guys know. Thanks again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Sorry my KH is probably somewhere between 180-300. I got the test strip kind and it is kind of hard to match the colors. I've never used them before.
 

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If your tap is 20-30ppm, then you're right to add buffers. If the tank is now reading 200-300ppm, it should be more than high enough to stabilize pH. But, I'm not sure exactly what's in the Seachem product.

If/when pH drops to 7.4 or whatever it drops to, it'll be interesting to see if KH has dropped also. Testing them both together will tell more about what's going on.

You shouldn't need to add any more buffer to the tank for now unless you do a water change. Then go ahead with the tsp per 5 gallons of change water. Just dissolve it first in some change water and add it slowly maybe near the filter outflow.
 
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