Keeping an aquarium or fish tank is a fun way to beautify your home and get yourself a pleasant hobby. However, keeping an aquarium in good shape and making your fish all happy require more efforts than just a simple pouring tap water into the tank. The wellness of the fish tank depends on many factors. One of those important factors is the pH level.
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What is pH Level?
In the most simple way, the pH level can be explained by the acidity level of your aquarium. The pH level of your aquarium can be low, high or normal for your fish.
- Low pH: On a pH scale, a low pH means a higher level of acidity and the water in the tank becomes more acidic.
- High pH: a high pH means a lower level of acidity and the water in the tank becomes less acidic and more alkaline.
- Normal pH: this is a tricky concept. There is nothing as a ‘normal’ pH level. It is all about the most optimal level of pH and that depends on the type of fish, plants and other creatures in your tank. For much freshwater fish, the optimal pH level is between 5.5 and 7.5. However, it is best that you do a research on your fish before deciding what is the most optimal pH level for your tank.
Ways to raise or lower the pH in your aquarium
Less acidic does not always mean better water. It all depends on the preferable pH of your fish and the current pH level of your tank. You need to test your water to know the current pH before deciding whether or not you need to lower or raise your pH level.
After checking, if you know for sure that you need to do something with the current pH, here are a few easy methods you can use to reach that optimal and consistent pH level.
1. Water Change
Water that is not changed often will have lower pH than tap water. If your fish are comfortable with the pH of normal tap water, you need to change the water of your aquarium often to raise the pH back up to the tap water level.
If you see a fluctuating or deviating pH, instead of consistently dropping, you can do a 30-40% partial water change of your aquarium instead of the full change. This is very effective in not only raising the pH level but also keeping it consistent.
Taking out all the uneaten food and waste in the tank can also help with the pH drop over time. The cleanness level of the tank does contribute to the pH level of the water.
2. Rocks or Substrate
This is a magically easy way to raise the pH level. You just need to add some rocks to your aquarium. Adding some rocks will have the effect of raising the pH level of the tank water.
You can use a variety of rocks. Crushed coral is often used as a substrate in African cichlid tanks. Limestone and petrified coral will also work. If you don’t want to add these rocks right in your tank, you can add a bag of rocks to your filter or hide some these rocks behind one of the bigger rocks that you like to use to showcase.
Another way to lower the pH level in your tank is to add a piece of natural driftwood to the tank. As mentioned above, uneaten food and waste can cause a drop in pH level in the tank. The driftwood will act as a natural filter for your water, taking out the contaminants to lower the pH level of the water. The more fibrous and course the piece of wood is, the better it will work as a filter for the water.
Side note is that driftwood can affect and change the color of your water. If you don’t want this problem to happen to you, there is an easy way out of this. You need to soak the wood in water for a few days before putting it in the tank. This way, the wood would not make the water change color.
Also, be careful when buying the type of driftwood for your aquarium. Keep in mind that the driftwood that is meant for reptile tanks contain chemicals that are dangerous for fish when leaked into the water. Make sure to ask the seller whether or not the driftwood were soaked in any type of chemicals.
4. Peat Moss
Besides driftwood, peat moss is another natural way to help you lower the pH levels of your aquarium. Similar to driftwood, it works as a filter to clear out the contaminants in the water.
The peat moss can also be an issue because it can discolor the water. Similar to driftwood, if you don’t want this to happen, you can pre-treat the moss. You can soak the peat moss in a separate buck of water for a few days before putting them in your tank. Doing this will help to dissipate the yellowish tinge that turns water into a yellowish shade of color.
You can put the peat moss into the water directly. However, the most recommended way to do it is to put them in a filter bag or inside the water filter of the tank. By doing so, the peat will work more efficient as a filter for water since they clump together as a bigger pile, and if you change your water frequently, you don’t accidently throw out all the peat moss together with the dirty water.
It is difficult to exactly tell you how peat moss you need for your tank. The amount of peat moss depends on the size of your aquarium and the current pH level of your tank. Try experiment around with different amounts of peat moss to figure out the amount that works best for your aquarium.
5. Almond Leaves (Catappa)
Nature is wonderful and so are natural remedies. Another way that can help you lower the pH levels in your aquarium is to add almond leaves (Catappa). There are several chemical components in almond leaves that work naturally to lower the pH level in water. They are good for filtering out contaminants in the water tank, causing the water to lower its pH level.
However, this natural remedy also has a water discoloration issue. After being soaked, the tannins (which are colored particle in leaves that make them have the yellow color) will leak out and make your water slightly yellow as well. However, the color change is not really noticeable, especially when compared to driftwood or peat moss. So you can soak them in water for a day beforehand to get the tannins out of the leaves or you don’t have to, the discoloration is very unnoticeable.
Furthermore, using these leaves are not only harmless to your fish and all other being in your tank since they are completely organic and natural but they are also good for the health of your fish. Thanks to the components inside the leaves, they are known to prevent or even cure some diseases of the fish. They also have a slight anti-inflammatory so your fish do not often feel irritated.
Finally, unlike the peat moss or driftwood that people often try to hide in their tank, almond leaves actually look great in the aquarium. It gives an extra touch of color and elegance to the tank.
6. Reverse Osmosis Filter
After introducing you to quite a few natural methods to lower the pH level in your tank, here comes an artificial solution. Reverse Osmosis (RO) is a system that helps filter water and normally, often used widely in water treatment plants.
The RO uses a specialized partially permeable filter that can remove most contaminants from the water. These systems can filter out up to 99% of all contaminants in the water, especially the ones that raise the pH level of water. They are specially built so that while filtering out all the big harmful contaminants, they still let smaller ions pass through, making the water not only cleaner but also healthier for the fish.
The downside of this solution is that it can be quite expensive sometimes. But, people who got themselves an RO system often said that the money is well worth. Since it is one of the easiest ways to constantly keep the pH level in check without having to check the pH and fix it often.
Another problem with the RO system is that it can be quite large and bulky. So if you don’t have a big aquarium, it is really not recommended for you to buy a RO. Try some other options instead.
Water pH level is very important to the wellness of fish and other creatures in your tank. Sometimes, keep a constant healthy level of pH can be tricky. Yet, you can conquer those issues using a wide range of methods above. From natural, easy trick to sophisticated system, you can experiment many options to figure out what works best for you and for your fish. Surely, among those options, you would find the one you like.