Ph falls below 7

Thondal

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Hi. I´m new to the hobby, but i´ve been trying to read up on the subject of ph a lot lately due to my issue with my own tank. (sorry for long post, just trying to explain)

First of all. My tank is still cycling, but the reason i´m asking the question is because the PH gets below 7 after about 3-4 days and i´m afraid that will stop my cycling so I´m reaching out for some suggestions as to how to stabilize my PH.

So, still cycling but with water changes and kalkwasser I have been able to keep my ph above 7... barely. The Ammonia is more or less undetectable and nitrates is on it´s way down, so getting to the "end" of the cycle I guess soon. But I don´t want to introduce anything in my tank. I tried with 3 corals(kenya, gsp and a mushroom) last week as someone suggested these corals would survive during cycle and I made the mistake of not being patient.
Within 1 hour the kenya tree was hanging down and within 48 hours all corals had LITERALY melted away(though one of the gsp frags was still closed and hanging on a few extra days after this). I could see them dissolving in realtime almost. I quickly scoured the internet and bought ph strips and a ph probe. Both showing my water was at 6.5 - 7 range. (all other measures seemed normal, Salinity 30-31ppm)

I immediately did a 50% water change, then 20% the other two days and my ph got to 7.5 (new water is about 8 or 8.1). Then it started sinking again with about 0.2 every day. And after a few days i was back to 6.90. During this time I had been reading a lot and testing and testing. Ammonia still a little bit present and nitrates were at that time around 100ppm, but I did not have a nitrite test so I guess that may have affected my testing. But I ended up buying kalkwasser and Seachem prime. (prime to fix the new water i added and kalkwasser to see if that could get rid of excess co2)

After adding the kalkwasser the ph got to around 8.22 and stayed there for a few hours. This morning I woke up, ph 7.2. My alkilinity is at 12.5 so I don´t want to add anymore kalkwasser. I have a filter running, windows open(i live in the countryside so fresh air and no machinery here, far from any city and close to the sea with fresh air).
I am at a loss. I know i´m not supposed to be chasing numbers and that the tank will be more stable after the cycle is done and the tank is matured, but if it drops below 7 and kills my bacteria then that won´t help me much...

Should I just do daily 50% water changes forever to keep my ph above 7.5 , please, if anyone has ANY advice I would be grateful.


My tank is 120l(30gal)
I have about 2-3cm of substrate(Aquaforest 1-2mm sand)
I have about 12kg of live rock that had dried up
I used the shrimp method to start but I added Aquaforest Bio s to speed things up a bit.
I have a hang on the back filter
(I had the skimmer running during the first 2 weeks but took it off because i thought it was making the water worse when I saw what happened to the corals)
Wavemaker(not an expensive one, but aimed at the water surface to aireate)
No livestock other than the purple, probably dead gsp by now, and still a bit of decaying shrimp leftover
 
Never Wash Another Nasty Filter Sock Again!
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Cali Reef Life

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Ignore PH open a window and it will raise PH unless you have a glass lid. Just focus on nitrite ammonia nitrate and salinity until cycle finishes. Don't rush this hobby but those corals are normally impossible to kill unless there's ammonia present or massive swings. Once there stable do some water changes and you will be prefect.
 
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Thondal

Thondal

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Ignore PH open a window and it will raise PH unless you have a glass lid. Just focus on nitrite ammonia nitrate and salinity until cycle finishes. Don't rush this hobby but those corals are normally impossible to kill unless there's ammonia present or massive swings. Once there stable do some water changes and you will be prefect.
Thank you very much for the quick responses :)
Maybe it was ammonia spike then. The ammonia went up after they died, but I thought it was just the death of the cycle or something else. Maybe I just did some wrong in the testing.

Thanks, i´ll practice my patience :)

@blaxsun "so say we all!!" - Good to see another BSG fan out there :)
 
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Thondal

Thondal

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IMO, pH 6.9 is test error.
I don’t think it is. But I do maybe have found the source of my issue. I had a pump which I thought was sufficient… it was for a 100liter aquarium it said.. pumping about 1000l an hour… my aquarium is 120l, and I didn’t give it much though but after these last few days where it keeps dropping I aimed the powerhead straight to the surface. It stopped the ph from further dropping for now. And I found out I should have at least aim for 2500/liters an hour or more for airiation…
So just ordered an additional pump(all I can afford for now, will buy a DC pump and aim for 4000l/h and varied patterns.
What do you guys think? 1000 liters an hour on 120l tanks. That’s 25gallons for a 30gal tank or something in American measurements . Could this be part of the problem. CO2 just building up and not enough water flow?
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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I don’t think it is. But I do maybe have found the source of my issue. I had a pump which I thought was sufficient… it was for a 100liter aquarium it said.. pumping about 1000l an hour… my aquarium is 120l, and I didn’t give it much though but after these last few days where it keeps dropping I aimed the powerhead straight to the surface. It stopped the ph from further dropping for now. And I found out I should have at least aim for 2500/liters an hour or more for airiation…
So just ordered an additional pump(all I can afford for now, will buy a DC pump and aim for 4000l/h and varied patterns.
What do you guys think? 1000 liters an hour on 120l tanks. That’s 25gallons for a 30gal tank or something in American measurements . Could this be part of the problem. CO2 just building up and not enough water flow?

Test error. At pH below 7, calcium carbonate sand and rock would be dissolving, raising alk and pH.

I’ve seen many hundreds if not thousands of pH measurements for reef tanks as a reef chemistry forum moderator for more than 20 years. unless you dumped a substantial amount of acid into the tank, pH below about 7.5 is test error.
 
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Randy Holmes-Farley

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I discuss pH issues here:

 
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Thondal

Thondal

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I discuss pH issues here:

Thank you. I skimmed through the article but will have a thorough read. And I’m really not trying to pick a fight or pretend I know anything about this hobby. But I’ve used 3 different brand of ph stripes and a digital one and all pointed towards and showed the same issue. Ph 8.0-8.1 when fresh. Within 1 week about 7. Taken into account a error rate of -/+ .2 or .3 or even a .5 the trend was obvious on all tests it was going downhill.
and my corals did melt/dissolve which I mentioned in the first part of my first post here. Which is why I also started looking into my ph and found it below 6.9 at that point. This was a Kenya tree, two mushrooms and a gsp. All died within 24 hours. I watched the Kenya tree either from a thick to thin then to just skin and then it too was gone.

but I have no idea what or how and I accept that maybe some of my measure was way off and I’ll read the article you linked to. I’m just out looking for answers.
As said in the beginning, this is still within the “cycle” months. But ph should at least be a bit more stable than this. Which is why I have tried figuring out what I did wrong.
An update on the surface agitation/water movement in my last post. Today it’s up from 7.3 yesterday evening same time of the day to 7.55(8am in the morning). So I at least I think the lack of flow and my pump not being able to get the gas out of the aquarium was a part of my issue.

If the recommendations (which i did not know of is 20x times the water volume per hour and I did not even have x10 and the water surface did not move 5% of what I’ve seen in videos the last weeks I’ve been researching this, then the water quality would degrade would it not?)
I won’t chase any numbers, and again, I was probably off in my readings but the trend was downwards and my softies did dissolve so, the water was not healthy. But I’ve learned a lot in the progress at least.
Again, I will read the article thoroughly tonight and I’m sorry if I seemed like a “I know what I’m doing” person. I have no experience compared to any people here, but all the evidence of low water quality was there and I can’t believe 3 different strips and a digital one all was off with the same measurements.
 

Tiki_Reef

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Ignore PH open a window and it will raise PH unless you have a glass lid. Just focus on nitrite ammonia nitrate and salinity until cycle finishes. Don't rush this hobby but those corals are normally impossible to kill unless there's ammonia present or massive swings. Once there stable do some water changes and you will be prefect.
I agree with this you would literally have to put forth effort to kill those corals especially GSP, it had to be a ammonia spike that is the only thing that came to mind after reading your initial comment.
 
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Thondal

Thondal

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I agree with this you would literally have to put forth effort to kill those corals especially GSP, it had to be a ammonia spike that is the only thing that came to mind after reading your initial comment.
Might have been ammonia then… it did not spike I think… it was about 1ppm, but at that time when I added the corals it I had just added another shrimp, don’t ask, I’m stupid(was thinking it would help my cycle. I have since read that doing it with dr Tim’s or other bacteria solution would be a better approach), but maybe it was a constant ammonia that was not dealt with. I saw a spike in nitrates after the corals died and thought it was due to them dying, but maybe my ammonia was higher than I knew..
 

Tiki_Reef

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Might have been ammonia then… it did not spike I think… it was about 1ppm, but at that time when I added the corals it I had just added another shrimp, don’t ask, I’m stupid(was thinking it would help my cycle. I have since read that doing it with dr Tim’s or other bacteria solution would be a better approach), but maybe it was a constant ammonia that was not dealt with. I saw a spike in nitrates after the corals died and thought it was due to them dying, but maybe my ammonia was higher than I knew..
Keep testing Ammonia Nitrates and Nitrites when the Ammonia and Nitrites test zero and your nitrates level off your tank will be successfully cycled.

Added: Your Ammonia should be undetectable one ppm is way too high.
 
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Thondal

Thondal

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Just an update. Cycle finished 1 week after my last post. Ph is stable at 8.5. Goes between 8.3-8.5 every day now. Two clowns, one yellow goby, one fireshrimp, one antenna snail(can´t remember what it´s called), two bumblebee snails and possibly one pistol shrimp(possibly because i have not seen him after i added him to the tank 2 weeks ago.
Pulsing Xenia, gsp, pseudogorgonia, three discosomia all thriving and the fireworks clove polyp is also starting to thrive it seems. @Randy Holmes-Farley, sorry for doubting you even for a second. Tried to recalibrate my tester and it just stopped working. Got a new ph tester as a replacement, calibrated and new strips as well. Old ones was way off.

Won´t add anything more for 1-2 months but it´s been thriving for about 20 days now with no issues. Fish are eating like crazy and if I don´t feed them the same time everyday within 10 minutes they are standing waiting for more food at the feeding spot xD, even the Yellow goby who is usually afraid(i call him Frank), is hanging on the glass when it´s time for food.

It´s a 30gall(120liter) tank, with a skimmer. I wonder if I am able to add 2-3 more fish or this is my limit?

Anyway, thanks for the response. Just thought i´d post an update that patience was the thing probably xD
 
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Sebastiancrab

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Just an update. Cycle finished 1 week after my last post. Ph is stable at 8.5. Goes between 8.3-8.5 every day now. Two clowns, one yellow goby, one fireshrimp, one antenna snail(can´t remember what it´s called), two bumblebee snails and possibly one pistol shrimp(possibly because i have not seen him after i added him to the tank 2 weeks ago.
Pulsing Xenia, gsp, pseudogorgonia, three discosomia all thriving and the fireworks clove polyp is also starting to thrive it seems. @Randy Holmes-Farley, sorry for doubting you even for a second. Tried to recalibrate my tester and it just stopped working. Got a new ph tester as a replacement, calibrated and new strips as well. Old ones was way off.

Won´t add anything more for 1-2 months but it´s been thriving for about 20 days now with no issues. Fish are eating like crazy and if I don´t feed them the same time everyday within 10 minutes they are standing waiting for more food at the feeding spot xD, even the Yellow goby who is usually afraid(i call him Frank), is hanging on the glass when it´s time for food.

It´s a 30gall(120liter) tank, with a skimmer. I wonder if I am able to add 2-3 more fish or this is my limit?

Anyway, thanks for the response. Just thought i´d post an update that patience was the thing probably xD
Glad this worked out for you. I would kindly suggest you slow down and let your tank get more stable and mature before you add anything else. Patience is key in the hobby.
 
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Thondal

Thondal

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Glad this worked out for you. I would kindly suggest you slow down and let your tank get more stable and mature before you add anything else. Patience is key in the hobby.
Yes, I have learned that the hard way, guess it´s no point in increasing my knowledge on how bad things can get currently so I will take your word and let my tank mature a little while longer before adding anythinge else.
 

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