A Simple Fix for Low PH

jsker

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A Simple Fix for Low pH

When living in the warm weather or cold weather climates, we really do not have the chance to open our windows that often. This leads to a build up of CO2 in the air inside the house and results in a drop in pH. When our pH drops down to levels that are alarming in our reef tanks, we start asking ourselves why and how can we fix this in order to keep our reef healthy. Here is a quick and simple way to raise the system's pH within a closed-up house.

My reason for the pH drop was that my house is closed up most of the year living in central Florida and that means stagnate air. I did a search on CO2 and the effects of a closed-up home on us and one can also relate this to our reef tanks. Here is a link to that search.

I was having that very same issue last winter running--7.6, 7.7 pH levels. After reading a few articles online and conversing with other members here on Reef2Reef, my two options were to drill a hole in the wall or build a CO2 scrubber. I decided to drill a hole in the wall.

The benefit of running fresh air to a skimmer in a closed up house, is that the fresh air is injected into the tank via the skimmer. Which in turn aerates the water with fresh air (with more oxygen) and reduces the stagnant air in our systems thereby increasing the pH.
  • Tools I needed

  1. Drill
  2. Masonry bit in my case 5/8” to ¾” x 12”
  3. Caulk
  4. Caulking gun
  5. Zip ties
  6. 3/8 OD, 5/16 ID tubing
  7. 90-degree elbow
I measured up from my inside floor 60 inches, drilled the hole, and then ran my 3/8 tubing from my skimmer to the outside world. I caulked around the hole inside and outside and then added a 90-degree push lock water line fitting so that during a storm the rain does not blow straight in. For those who might be concerned about a rise or fall in temperature, I shot the line with a inferred thermometer and the temperature of the line is at room temp after 12” from the inside wall or 20” from the outside world.

If the run is too long or there are to many walls in the way, another option is to go up into the attic or down and through the foundation. If there is fresh air being drawn into your tubing from outside world and going to your skimmer you should see a difference in pH.

Also refer to this article about pH by Randy Holmes-Farley

If you can not drill and/or would like to make your own CO2 scrubber, @120reefkeeper has a great write up here on how to build a scrubber.

Here is a quick video of may outside airline setup.


Outside wall

IMG_4174.JPG
 
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Downbeach

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Nicely done. I helped someone do something similar, but used 1/2" tubing. As mcarroll mentioned a carbon filter would be a prudent idea(I used an old RO/DI canister for this), and also something to prevent "critters" from blocking the outside opening(I used an old overflow strainer for this).

Here is the canister that was used for the carbon(I also used one as a CO2 scrubber):

 
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jsker

jsker

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I did this very thing on my skimmer, I didn't notice any real change on my PH. Ph still runs low, most of the time won't go over 8.1
@Pola0502ds Hmmmm wonder if you would be better off build a scrubber? I also do not have a canopy and run a ceiling for over my tank with two gyre's agitating the water surface. It is 4:30 and I am at a 8.22
 
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jsker

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I would put a screen in the fitting outside, critters seem to like to explore and clog things
if you don't I found out.
I just ordered all the goodies to do the CO2 scrubber off the skimmer too!
Very cool
 

Rick.45cal

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I've done this with my house and a friends house, My house doesn't seem to be too horrible with trapped CO2, his on the other hand... not good. He has so much CO2 trapped in his house that he has lost every stony coral he has added to the tank because of erosion of the skeleton. Not sure how we are going to try and address the issue. He has tried building a CO2 scrubber but 3# of soda lime becomes exhausted in 24 hours. I think we are going to try and build him a Chaeto reactor to operate at an opposing lighting schedule to the display tank. Having the chaeto unable to contact the waters surface will ensure that it can only scavenge it's CO2 from the tank water. (That's the theory anywho). I want one just so I can ditch my zeo reactor :eek::D
 

DLHDesign

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I was going to do a build-thread for this as well, but you've already covered most of what I was going to talk about anyways. Here's the pics of the carbon filter I made for the end of my outside line;
Materials:
I had a SS barb left over from brew supplies, else I would have used plastic. I cut up a filter sock that I didn't need (wrong size) for the filter media. You could skip the thread-tape; no need for that to be sealed.
IMG_1824.JPG


Prevent carbon being sucked up into the line with some filter material:
IMG_1825.JPG


Assemble the filter body:
IMG_1826.JPG


Seal off one end with filter material and zip-tie:
IMG_1828.JPG


Pack the "T" with carbon and seal off the other end:
IMG_1829.JPG


That's attached to the outside end of my air line. We have our house sprayed for bugs once a month, so this filter was critical to being able to pull in outside air for me.
 

jlanger

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I had the same issue with low pH levels (7.8 or lower) and a CO2 scrubber was being exhausted way too quickly, so I needed to pull in some outside air to my skimmer.
My solution wasn't quite as easy as just drilling a hole as my tank sits along a recessed exterior wall in the basement. If I went the easy route, my air line would've been at ground level where the landscaping is sprayed for weeds and pests by the HOA. I decided to run the air line up the wall, through a soffit and along the floor joists above the ceiling and then out the wall just under the deck. This placed the air intake about 9' high and 25' away from the skimmer. The fitting for the air line sits right behind my aquarium and is not visible unless you're looking for it; pleases my OCD of not seeing any cords, hoses or anything to distract from the tank.
I used 1" PEX tubing for the run in the walls and ceiling with fittings on each end. To run the tubing from the wall and through the ceiling, I need to crawl through the soffit over 20' to get to the other end of the house.

All said and done, my pH levels now stay between 7.98(night) to 8.13(day).
I highly recommend to those with low pH levels to get fresh air into your skimmer.

A couple of pics from the task.

Access to soffit above the bathroom from our mechanical room.


Inside the soffit; 18" of height to go over 20' to the other end.


The outdoor fitting; wire screen is placed inside to keep bugs out.


The indoor fitting; used a low voltage box and plate cover with barbed fittings.
 
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jsker

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I've done this with my house and a friends house, My house doesn't seem to be too horrible with trapped CO2, his on the other hand... not good. He has so much CO2 trapped in his house that he has lost every stony coral he has added to the tank because of erosion of the skeleton. Not sure how we are going to try and address the issue. He has tried building a CO2 scrubber but 3# of soda lime becomes exhausted in 24 hours. I think we are going to try and build him a Chaeto reactor to operate at an opposing lighting schedule to the display tank. Having the chaeto unable to contact the waters surface will ensure that it can only scavenge it's CO2 from the tank water. (That's the theory anywho). I want one just so I can ditch my zeo reactor :eek::D
Look at the product that @120reefkeeper use. ??? the link to his write up in in this article
 
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jsker

jsker

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I was going to do a build-thread for this as well, but you've already covered most of what I was going to talk about anyways. Here's the pics of the carbon filter I made for the end of my outside line;
Materials:
I had a SS barb left over from brew supplies, else I would have used plastic. I cut up a filter sock that I didn't need (wrong size) for the filter media. You could skip the thread-tape; no need for that to be sealed.
IMG_1824.JPG


Prevent carbon being sucked up into the line with some filter material:
IMG_1825.JPG


Assemble the filter body:
IMG_1826.JPG


Seal off one end with filter material and zip-tie:
IMG_1828.JPG


Pack the "T" with carbon and seal off the other end:
IMG_1829.JPG


That's attached to the outside end of my air line. We have our house sprayed for bugs once a month, so this filter was critical to being able to pull in outside air for me.
I like the end you made, I will kind of do the same and put the T on the end of my fitting
 
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jsker

jsker

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I had the same issue with low pH levels (7.8 or lower) and a CO2 scrubber was being exhausted way too quickly, so I needed to pull in some outside air to my skimmer.
My solution wasn't quite as easy as just drilling a hole as my tank sits along a recessed exterior wall in the basement. If I went the easy route, my air line would've been at ground level where the landscaping is sprayed for weeds and pests by the HOA. I decided to run the air line up the wall, through a soffit and along the floor joists above the ceiling and then out the wall just under the deck. This placed the air intake about 9' high and 25' away from the skimmer. The fitting for the air line sits right behind my aquarium and is not visible unless you're looking for it; pleases my OCD of not seeing any cords, hoses or anything to distract from the tank.
I used 1" PEX tubing for the run in the walls and ceiling with fittings on each end. To run the tubing from the wall and through the ceiling, I need to crawl through the soffit over 20' to get to the other end of the house.

All said and done, my pH levels now stay between 7.98(night) to 8.13(day).
I highly recommend to those with low pH levels to get fresh air into your skimmer.

A couple of pics from the task.

Access to soffit above the bathroom from our mechanical room.


Inside the soffit; 18" of height to go over 20' to the other end.


The outdoor fitting; wire screen is placed inside to keep bugs out.


The indoor fitting; used a low voltage box and plate cover with barbed fittings.
Nice work, thank you for also posting to help other with different Ideas on how to tackle Low PH
 

Kordon

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We observed a similar phenomenon, many years ago, when aquarists with fish aquariums (pre-reef days) were switching to use of power heads instead of air lifts for their under gravel filters. (Yes, there was such a thing!) pH always dropped, sometimes dramatically, because gas exchange was reduced. It's amazing how few people realize that gas exchange is such an important component of pH control in any marine aquarium.
 

Downbeach

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I wonder if my PH is to high after running an co2 scrubber thru my skimmer. my low is 8.17 and high is 8.44, any thoughts? I currently run the airline tubing from ouside into the scrubber into the skimmer. I need to search the net for what would be consider to high.

http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2007-05/rhf/index.php#3

Have you tried just running the airline into the skimmer? It will likely do what you want, and save what you're spending on the soda ash used in the scrubber. You might consider using some air filtering carbon in the container in place of the soda ash as a precaution against introducing any chemicals from outside the house, i.e. insecticides, etc.
 
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