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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 220gallon tank that has been setup for about a year now. I do 50 - 60% water changes every 2 weeks and I have always naturally kept a PH right about 7.0, maybe a little higher. My water comes out of the tap at about 8.0 but within a few days of my water changes the tank always ended up with a PH of about 7.0. This has worked fine for me.

Over the last few months I have added a lot of driftwood to my tank, and I now find my PH at 6.0 and even lower (very acidic). I have started using the seachem 7.0 neutral powder to raise my PH but it seems to be very difficult to maintain my PH even using this powder. The bottle says to add it once or twice a month, but it seems like I need to add it at least every two days to keep my water at 7.0. Any ideas on what I can do as an alternative to dumping seachem neutral powder in my tank every two days? It is becoming very expensive. Would my fish be okay living in 6.0 water? I've listed my tank inhabitants below.

Water Parameters Nitrate 10PPM, Nitrite 0, Ammonia 0, PH 6.0 (maybe even lower, my chart only measures down to 6.0)

Green Severum
Firemouth
Keyhole
Convict
1 bala shark
6 clown loaches
5 giant danios
4 australian rainbow fish
1 pleco
2 corys
 

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That's a tough one. I'd stop with the seachem neutral powder. If you want to try to keep the pH from dropping so low, then try a little sodium bicarbonate (baking powder). Probably a bit cheaper, particularly if you look for it in bulk. You may find it at food supply that sells stuff in bulk. Pool supply would be another option.

As you seem to know, the driftwood is eating up the buffers (alkalinity) and making the water acidic and dropping pH. Adding sodium bicarbonate will replace buffers. It may still be a tricky thing though, to find the right amount to add at the right intervals, so you don't overdo it. A stable pH is better than aiming for a target. The sodium bicarb may raise it higher than 7.0, even to 8.0, but it should also stabilize it. Right now you're on a roller coaster ride. So, I think I'd use the sodium bicarb (baking powder) and experiment with that a bit to find a value it'll stabilize at even if it's a bit over 7.0.

The only other thing I can think of is to get a big backyard kettle and boil the heck out of the driftwood to release the acidifies. You may find that things settle and stabilize once that happens and then the water changes alone can keep it in line. I think I'd do both actually. Boil the driftwood and then add a little bit of sodium bicarb to buffer only as long as needed. In time the acidifying effect of the driftwood should lessen. You could even experiment with this in a big tub, just to get it worked out before subjecting the inhabitants to the changes.

There's a risk in letting pH get too low. See this article on old tank syndrome. Not that you have that, but it tells of what happens when pH is allowed to get and stay too low for too long.

I know I've rambled, but just throwing some thoughts at you. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the tips. I think I will definitely try the sodium bicarbonate. I'll start with a small amount and see how it affects the PH before dumping a bunch in.

I actually did boil all of the driftwood for many hours (probably 16 - 20 hours) before putting it in the tank to minimize the tannins released by the wood.

Hopefully, the baking powder will work and save me a little money.
 
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