Chemical free pH hack

Anthony Scholfield

Well-Known Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 13, 2019
Messages
885
Reaction score
1,066
Review score
+2 /0 /-0
Location
Eau Claire
Agreed!! But some folks know too much toblearn new things, contrary to their experience l guess. every tank is unique.
But what your sharing isnt a new thing. People been down this road before. Including me, haha.

Im not trying to be rude but have a discussion. I believed like you did once and then ran tests for myself and proved myself wrong.

You can do the same or not but what @Righteous shared was correct and helpful in explaining what actually happened when you added the air stone.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
AS

Righteous

Well-Known Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 12, 2015
Messages
779
Reaction score
995
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Austin, TX
So just to clarify, @emperata I wouldn’t suggest your method doesn’t work, instead I suggest it works because the tank needs more aeration and gas exchange with or without the plant. The main point I wanted to clarify was that it can’t be because of oxygen, since pH can’t be affected by it.

However, it’s theoretically possible that your house plant could have lower concentrations of CO2 directly around the plant itself. This combined with the airstone could act in some sense like a CO2 scrubber, where low CO2 air supplied by the airstone is allowing better gas exchange.

Given how small of an effect a single plant has on CO2, its fairly hard to believe it could have such a large pH effect. More than likely the main contribution is just the aeration, and I could imagine a small but non zero difference from sticking the pump in the plant.

As an experiment if your willing, try moving the pump away from the plant for a day or two, and then back. You’d have to take pH measurements on a regular basis and make sure your meter is calibrated, since false readings could easily confuse things.

And if you want to keep going down the path, CO2 scrubbers using Soda Lime work great, I have one that my skimmer pulls air through and raises my pH an additional 0.3
 
OP
emperata

emperata

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Apr 18, 2021
Messages
36
Reaction score
47
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
earth
I never said it didn’t work. I believe it did work, but not for the specific reasons that were being discussed. (and I think those details are helpful to understand)
I started this thread because l solved a problem-one l thought others might have. This worked for me. I am not advocating everybody with low pH run to a plant shop. I was a physics major, not chemistry. Sadly, l seemed to run into folks who disagreed. No worries. But one fact remains: my pH rose from 8 to 8.3. I love you guys and absorb all you teach. But you can’t change my results.
 

arking_mark

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Mar 2, 2016
Messages
1,672
Reaction score
1,081
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Potomac
I started this thread because l solved a problem-one l thought others might have. This worked for me. I am not advocating everybody with low pH run to a plant shop. I was a physics major, not chemistry. Sadly, l seemed to run into folks who disagreed. No worries. But one fact remains: my pH rose from 8 to 8.3. I love you guys and absorb all you teach. But you can’t change my results.

So in the spirit of science, how about moving the pump away from the plant and seeing what happens. Simple enough.
 

Righteous

Well-Known Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 12, 2015
Messages
779
Reaction score
995
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Austin, TX
I started this thread because l solved a problem-one l thought others might have. This worked for me. I am not advocating everybody with low pH run to a plant shop. I was a physics major, not chemistry. Sadly, l seemed to run into folks who disagreed. No worries. But one fact remains: my pH rose from 8 to 8.3. I love you guys and absorb all you teach. But you can’t change my results.

Well to be honest, I have a problem with that line of thinking and logic (and to be clear, I mean just that statement, not you… I might love you too if I met you!) But dont you want to understand the basis of why it worked? Or whether bias or measurement errors could lead you astray. I could also be completely wrong. But in order to figure that out would still require understanding what’s happening and why.

If tomorrow morning I go outside and pray for the sun to rise, and someone points out it would have risen anyway without my praying, should my response be “you can’t change my result?”

I believe one of the primary goals and successes of this forum is moving reef keeping away from only anecdotal information. Like “I dosed this snake oil and x happened”, or “my LFS told me this info and he has great tanks so must be right”, to a better understanding of why and what’s happening.

Wasnt long ago for example once people got Dinoflagellates in their tank they gave up, and before that wasn’t long before people couldn’t keep fragile coral species alive. We’ve come a long way by asking and thinking about the hard questions, and understanding the science of what’s happening.
 
Last edited:
Orphek OR3 reef aquarium LED lighting

Randy Holmes-Farley

Reef Chemist
View Badges
Joined
Sep 5, 2014
Messages
45,453
Reaction score
34,521
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Arlington, Massachusetts, United States
I live in the south and suffer from two things: a pathological fear of bugs and low pH. Therefore, it’s not possible to flood my apartment with fresh air and my pH was stuck at 8.0. So l put an airstone in my hob and nestled the pump in a dense pothos plant (a super high O2 producer and Co2 scrubber- it’s a type of philodendron that grows like crazy). In two days my pH rose to 8.3.

I do not believe this result can be attributed to the plant. Sorry, but they do not consume enough CO2.
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

Reef Chemist
View Badges
Joined
Sep 5, 2014
Messages
45,453
Reaction score
34,521
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Arlington, Massachusetts, United States
The airstone alone didn’t help. My apartment is airtight. Whether you like, agree, disagree, counter-explain or just feel combative. It worked. And, yes, l posted for info and not molecular arguments. Thanks again. Ciao

Or it is coincidence.

The reefing world is filled with coincidences that convince folks that things are cause and effect when they are not.

That said, in order to have a proper scientific discussion, it would be important to know if this is a 5 gallon tank or a 100 gallon tank, what the absolute alkalinity is, what time of day you measured pH, and what the range of pH is at other times of day.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Malcontent

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Sep 20, 2018
Messages
377
Reaction score
353
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
There's a Youtuber who insists that oxygen is added to bags not for breathing but to stabilize pH. He says it's true because his LFS told him so. People seem to think CO2 and O2 annihilate each other like matter and anti-matter. CO2 lowers pH therefore O2 must raise it.

Oh, and oxygen instantly raises the pH of the water in the bag when you open it. So...what happens when the bag is filled with pure oxygen from the beginning?
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

Reef Chemist
View Badges
Joined
Sep 5, 2014
Messages
45,453
Reaction score
34,521
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Arlington, Massachusetts, United States
There's a Youtuber who insists that oxygen is added to bags not for breathing but to stabilize pH. He says it's true because his LFS told him so. People seem to think CO2 and O2 annihilate each other like matter and anti-matter. CO2 lowers pH therefore O2 must raise it.

Oh, and oxygen instantly raises the pH of the water in the bag when you open it. So...what happens when the bag is filled with pure oxygen from the beginning?

You are certainly correct that O2 has no impact on pH, but pure O2 added to a bag will tend to raise pH as it displaces CO2 from the gas phase, and that then drives some CO2 off of the water. You'd get that same effect by adding nitrogen gas or helium.

That said, I'm not sure raising the pH in a transit bag is even desirable as the lowered pH tends to reduce ammonia toxicity.
 
Corals.com

Randy Holmes-Farley

Reef Chemist
View Badges
Joined
Sep 5, 2014
Messages
45,453
Reaction score
34,521
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Arlington, Massachusetts, United States
Is this the same principle as the CO2 scrubber? It’s the Removing of CO2 that raises pH not the addition of O2.

If it worked it would be, but it won't work. A plant does not lower CO2 enough to have this effect.

I know this is a little different than the "pump in a plant" idea presented above, but folks can understand this lack of effect for a room overall very readily in a nonmeasurement way as follows:

To offset the CO2 that you breathe out in 24 h, plants would need to add about the same dry mass as the dry weight of the food you eat.

Unless you have the tank in a greenhouse (which some folks do), the effect of plants will be lost in the massive doses of CO2 from people, pets, and gas stove cooking.

There are also many studies of exactly how much CO2 plants consume and it fits that fact that a houseplant cannot possibly overcome a person breathing nearby. MANY plants are needed.
 

PeterC99

2500 Club Member
View Badges
Joined
Aug 28, 2020
Messages
2,729
Reaction score
10,816
Review score
+1 /0 /-0
Location
White Plains, NY
If it worked it would be, but it won't work. A plant does not lower CO2 enough to have this effect.

I know this is a little different than the "pump in a plant" idea presented above, but folks can understand this lack of effect for a room overall very readily in a nonmeasurement way as follows:

To offset the CO2 that you breathe out in 24 h, plants would need to add about the same dry mass as the dry weight of the food you eat.

Unless you have the tank in a greenhouse (which some folks do), the effect of plants will be lost in the massive doses of CO2 from people, pets, and gas stove cooking.

There are also many studies of exactly how much CO2 plants consume and it fits that fact that a houseplant cannot possibly overcome a person breathing nearby. MANY plants are needed.
Thank you for the explanation!
 

taricha

2500 Club Member
View Badges
Joined
May 22, 2016
Messages
3,527
Reaction score
4,613
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
However, it’s theoretically possible that your house plant could have lower concentrations of CO2 directly around the plant itself. This combined with the airstone could act in some sense like a CO2 scrubber, where low CO2 air supplied by the airstone is allowing better gas exchange.

hmm... this has me thinking, whether the OP's specifics worked or not, we can modify tank pH by turning on and off lights over an algae fuge. So if the potted plant could be contained in a bubble or dome and an air line run from the skimmer intake to the plant, and output air line from skimmer cup back to the plant dome, that might have a similar effect.

So in the spirit of science, how about moving the pump away from the plant and seeing what happens.
I wonder what a CO2 meter would find if placed in a potted plant - I'm guessing the same as the rest of the room since air molecules move at a few hundred meters/sec. ... (although, if you start pulling air from it with a pump intake, that would really remove any concentration difference I'd think.)
 

Righteous

Well-Known Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 12, 2015
Messages
779
Reaction score
995
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Austin, TX
hmm... this has me thinking, whether the OP's specifics worked or not, we can modify tank pH by turning on and off lights over an algae fuge. So if the potted plant could be contained in a bubble or dome and an air line run from the skimmer intake to the plant, and output air line from skimmer cup back to the plant dome, that might have a similar effect.

I honestly don’t think it would work. My theory is that, for the reasons Randy described the effect is much too small to be noticeable. But I mentioned it as a theoretical possibility just because I’m always open to being proven wrong and there’s some basis for a theory.

CO2 in air is basically unlimited for plants. The reasons the lights in the fuge work is that plants are much more heavily CO2 limited when under water. They’re able to appreciable reduce the co2. In planted tanks you have to inject CO2 to get them really growing.

I think the dome idea if it worked, would also starve the plant of the CO2 it needed. Plants that grow underwater have adapted to the CO2 available. I think a terrestrial plant might struggle, but maybe there’s some species that could adept.

In the end however, when your talking about remove the high concentrations of CO2 in house air, a plant would have to add something like 8 pounds of leaves to offset a human being… so it’s a bit if a lost cause.
 
AS

Righteous

Well-Known Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 12, 2015
Messages
779
Reaction score
995
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Austin, TX
And since plant O2 production has come up, here’s another interesting tidbit. The Amazon rainforest is actually basically O2 neutral, meaning it consumes as much O2 as it produces. People tend to forget plants respire like we do when the lights turn off, and reverse the process.

Most of the planet’s O2 is generated by massive quantities of phytoplankton in the oceans.
 
Last edited:

KrisReef

5000 Club Member
View Badges
Joined
May 15, 2018
Messages
5,431
Reaction score
17,125
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
ADX Florence
And since plant O2 production has come up, here’s another interesting tidbit. The Amazon rainforest is actually basically O2 neutral, meaning it consumes as much O2 as it produces. People tend to forget plants respire like we do when the lights turn off, and reverse the process.

Most of the planet’s O2 is generated by massive quantities of phytoplankton in the oceans.
Now I’m confused?
If we planted 20 trillion trees on the planet would the ocean produce less plankton and lower the Oxygen supply? I would expect the trees to sequester carbon dioxide but since they are O2 neutral there would be a lower co2 level for plankton in the ocean to use to “generate” Oxygen.

Sorry, I’m trying to figure out how it all works :)

Its a bit complicated and challenging to keep balance with all these simultaneous equations in operation.
 

Righteous

Well-Known Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 12, 2015
Messages
779
Reaction score
995
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Austin, TX
Now I’m confused?
If we planted 20 trillion trees on the planet would the ocean produce less plankton and lower the Oxygen supply? I would expect the trees to sequester carbon dioxide but since they are O2 neutral there would be a lower co2 level for plankton in the ocean to use to “generate” Oxygen.

Sorry, I’m trying to figure out how it all works :)

Its a bit complicated and challenging to keep balance with all these simultaneous equations in operation.

The trees would not slow plankton growth. In the atmosphere plants are not limited by CO2. Oxygen already makes up about 20% of the atmosphere, CO2 only 0.04%.

During the Carboniferous era, even with much lower concentrations of CO2 than today, Earth’s atmosphere was able to rise to something like 35% oxygen which didn’t slow plant growth (but did have a cooling effect). So we could sequester massive amounts of CO2 without making a dent in plant or phytoplankton growth.

Also, when we talk about O2 production percentage, that really is about the balance of production versus consumption. If phytoplankton makes up 70% of O2 production that doesn’t mean it generates 70% of the atmospheric concentration per year or anything. It takes thousands of years for that production to increase the O2 levels.

The increase over time has been driven by the imbalance of stuff in the ocean that doesn’t use up the oxygen in the atmosphere since it’s trapped under water.

Heres a good read on it:

 

Garf

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Oct 23, 2020
Messages
1,409
Reaction score
1,720
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
BEEFINGHAM
My daughter grows pothos his in the top of her freshwater tank, looks neat. I tend to agree that if your not running a skimmer, the major difference is the extra bubbling. Easy to test anyhow, just take the air pump out of the plant.
 

denvereefroli

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 25, 2020
Messages
79
Reaction score
57
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Denver
The pH rose. That’s what l needed. You rained on no parade. The plant put oxygen into the pump’s diapragm, like it or not. And yes, thanks, the plant does look pretty.
You're correct, he's wrong. How do you explain pearling on plants when the lights are on? That's oxygen being formed during the day. BTW, it's the oxygen level in the tank that leads to higher coral growth, not the PH, which tends to be correlated with O2. I'll reference the scientific literature here shortly.
 
Corals.com

What is the best "cleaning product" or home recipe for cleaning reef tank equipment?

  • Water and scrubbing

    Votes: 11 13.9%
  • Citric Acid

    Votes: 39 49.4%
  • Vinegar

    Votes: 24 30.4%
  • Hydrogen peroxide

    Votes: 2 2.5%
  • Lemon Juice

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 3 3.8%
ACC
Top