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I have had a lot of problems and failures even though I was doing everything right and the water parameters were always good. I was using well water that was a bit on the acidic side so I did have to add in some PH up at times. I was ready to throw in the towel. I was even starting to get a bit paranoid about drinking my well water.

I decided to test the parameters of the water itself in a bucket over a couple of days to see what would happen. I found that it would start off a bit acidic and then would go through some wild PH swings over a day or so before it settled in slightly acidic. When I added PH up to raise the PH it would steadily decrease back down. I figured it was these PH swings that was taking a toll on my fish when I did water changes. With a little research I read that this could be due to low carbonate hardness. I ordered the test kit and sure enough general and carbonate hardness was pretty much nonexistent.

With my concern over the quality of the well water I purchased a reverse osmosis system for drinking water and decided to use it as a clean slate to start off with for the tank water. Here is what I have been doing and would like the experts here to tell me what you think of it. I fill some 7 gallon water containers with the reverse osmosis water and add a product called Equilibrium made by Seachem to it. This brings the general hardness up and adds the needed minerals back into the water. I then use baking soda to bring up the carbonate hardness and increase the PH. I normally let it sit for a day or two to be sure everything is stable before adding any into the tank. Now this water is only at room temperature so to avoid shocking the fish with a temperature change I have been changing out 2 gallons in my 55 gallon tank every other day instead a a full 20% change. Sometimes 3 depending on the nitrate level. Two gallons is enough for me to do a  thorough vacuum of the gravel on 1/2 of the tank so I alternate sides with each water change.

Since I have been doing this my two orandas have been very healthy, active and playful with no issues at all. What are your thoughts?

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Well I would say if they are feeling better then go with it. I my self just had a ph issue and lost the cycle.

I had to use crushed coral and my wondershells cause the kh was 0 and my ph would come out as 7.0 and drop down to 6.8.

@shakaho do you have any thoughts on this. or @Arctic Mama

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For daily water changes, I recommend 10% of the tank volume per day.  Double that for every other day  changes.    It won't change the temperature enough to bother the fish.

Experiment with known volumes of water to determine how much baking soda it takes to get the pH to 7.5.  Then determine how much you have to add to get and maintain a pH of 7.5.  Once you have this information, share it with us for further advice.

If your small town has a farm store, you might get some crushed oyster shell (intended for chickens) which can help stabilize the pH over a long period of time.  

 

 

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Definitely be careful with the water changes and buffering, smaller changes are better.  I like Equilibrium as a product but it is expensive, baking soda and crushed coral/aragonite sand are much cheaper ways of buffering and pretty gentle.  Wonder shells are good too but I’m afraid they’d exhaust too quickly in your tank to be cost effective.

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14 hours ago, shakaho said:

For daily water changes, I recommend 10% of the tank volume per day.  Double that for every other day  changes.    It won't change the temperature enough to bother the fish.

Experiment with known volumes of water to determine how much baking soda it takes to get the pH to 7.5.  Then determine how much you have to add to get and maintain a pH of 7.5.  Once you have this information, share it with us for further advice.

If your small town has a farm store, you might get some crushed oyster shell (intended for chickens) which can help stabilize the pH over a long period of time.  

 

 

I have quite pinpointed how much baking soda I need for a 7 gallon container yet. Sometimes I overshoot it and have to dilute it with more water to bring it back down to 7.5, sometimes I have to sprinkle little bits of baking soda at a time to inch it back up to 7.5. Right now it's somewhere close to 1/2 teaspoon for 7 gallons. I'm going to have to get some measuring spoons to narrow it down(my wife won't let me use hers). I'll let you know what I come up with.

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, Arctic Mama said:

Definitely be careful with the water changes and buffering, smaller changes are better.  I like Equilibrium as a product but it is expensive, baking soda and crushed coral/aragonite sand are much cheaper ways of buffering and pretty gentle.  Wonder shells are good too but I’m afraid they’d exhaust too quickly in your tank to be cost effective.

The reason I'm using the Equilibrium is to increase the GH back up to an acceptable level and add back in the needed minerals to the reverse osmosis water. Right now it takes about one teaspoon  of it per 7 gallons.  When I was doing my research it seemed like this was the easiest way to do it for now.  When I switched over to reverse osmosis water I was more interested in getting it right starting off rather than experimenting and guessing with alternatives that I haven't fully researched yet.

When I mentioned that I was having wild PH swings with my tap water I mean it was crazy wild. When I filled the bucket it would start off around 6.6 - 6.8. Later in the day it would jump up to around 7.6 and then settle back down to around 6.8 the following day. This couldn't have been good for the fish when I was using the tap water to do a 20% water change.

Edited by Cavalier

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Curious - is there something magical about a 7.5 pH?  

Our water supply is similar - 0dKH and not much GH either, but it is very clean and a pH of 7.0 out of the tap.  The same readings if aged overnight.  For my tropical fish tanks, I use Seachem Alkaline Buffer and Equilibrium (plants/shrimp) to keep the values stable between water changes.  For goldfish, I use enough baking soda to bring up KH to 6dKH and Repenish for GH.  The baking soda raises pH to 8.2, but it's rock solid stable and doesn't move at all between water changes or if I've been on vacation for several weeks.

I've sprinkled their tub with some Aragonite sand, that would also be a natural buffer but it doesn't affect the pH.

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Posted (edited)
44 minutes ago, dahling8 said:

Curious - is there something magical about a 7.5 pH?  

Our water supply is similar - 0dKH and not much GH either, but it is very clean and a pH of 7.0 out of the tap.  The same readings if aged overnight.  For my tropical fish tanks, I use Seachem Alkaline Buffer and Equilibrium (plants/shrimp) to keep the values stable between water changes.  For goldfish, I use enough baking soda to bring up KH to 6dKH and Repenish for GH.  The baking soda raises pH to 8.2, but it's rock solid stable and doesn't move at all between water changes or if I've been on vacation for several weeks.

I've sprinkled their tub with some Aragonite sand, that would also be a natural buffer but it doesn't affect the pH.

Nothing magical; it's just a number I shoot for. Goldfish thrive in a PH between 7.2 and 7.6. As you pointed out adding baking soda does raise the PH so I try to stay  closer to the 7.6 to find a balance between the idea PH level and KH. If the water is a couple of points below or above 7.5 I don't worry about it too much as long as the water is stable.

Edited by Cavalier

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A pH lower than 7.5 may crash.  Goldfish thrive in any stable pH from somewhat below 7.0 to over 9.0.  Since a low pH can cost you your cycle,  life is a lot easier if you maintain a higher pH.  A natural pH in the 8s is very difficult to change.

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Thank you dahling8 and shakaho for the lesson on PH levels  and KH  needed to keep the water stable!

This is why I decided to start a thread and ask the experts rather than go by what I read on the internet. There is so much information lacking  or hard to find out there when it come to goldfish keeping. Everything I have read says to keep the PH between 7.2 and 7.6. Thanks to all of you I now know that maintaining a proper KH to stabilize the water is more important than the PH itself. Most of what I read online is about the PH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels. The pet stores sell the so called "master test kits" and that's all they test for. When I learned that the GH and KH levels were also important I ran to the pet store and they didn't even sell test kits for these. I could go on and on but I think you get the idea but i think you understand my point that all the generic information out there isn't enough. Thanks again for the help the three of you have given me.

A couple of last things. I'm going to raise the KH level up to the recommended level in my water supply and I'm sure it's going to raise the PH up to around 8. I'll keep up with changing 2 - 3 gallons every other day. This will gradually raise the PH in the tank and I hope it will be slow enough to prevent shocking the fish with a PH change. Thoughts?

Arctic Mama,  will the crushed coral increase the GH and add minerals back into the water?

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You keep reading the same "information" on various sites because the people posting them got their "information" from other similar sites, which got their information from other sites ad infinitum.  You will not find information on these sites about the qualifications of of the author.  

 

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@Cavalier the GH should go up but the pH will as well.  The coral sacrifices itself as it dissolved into the water, very slowly generally.  I do find it is somewhat better for raising KH than GH, whereas something like Wonder Shells or Equilibrium seems to affect GH more.

So much is dependent on local water source too.  Soft water that still has decent dissolved mineral content is going to need different buffering and augmentation than higher pH reverse osmosis or distilled water.  

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, shakaho said:

A pH lower than 7.5 may crash.  Goldfish thrive in any stable pH from somewhat below 7.0 to over 9.0.  Since a low pH can cost you your cycle,  life is a lot easier if you maintain a higher pH.  A natural pH in the 8s is very difficult to change.

This is truth!  Give me a higher pH and harder water any day for aquarium stability, even with an Amazon River delta tank.  It’s a lot easier to manage and has so many less swings. 

Edited by Arctic Mama

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Softer, mineral depleted water needs a little bit more attention than our harder water friends.  IME, generic crushed coral did very little to buffer my water to bring up my KH levels.  Think of your water as a solvent, so certain materials will react differently at different pH levels.  A goldfish breeder taught me that "generic" crushed coral or oyster shells are mostly Calcium Calcites, not very water soluable and will only begin to dissolve (adding to KH) at pH of 7.2 or less.  Florida Crushed Coral and the Aragonite substrates sold by Caribsea are actually Aragonite/Oolitic Gravel/sand (sold in different sizes from sugar sand to crushed 2-5 mm pieces) and begins to dissolve at pH levels of 8.2 or less.  Baking soda will bring up your pH to about 8.2 - I prefer using baking soda because I do larger water changes, up to 100% so the fish aren't subject to pH swings and the baking soda adjusts the pH very rapidly as I fill up their tank.  I do throw in some aragonite sand just as another layer of insurance and the fish enjoy sifting through it.  If you do smaller partial water changes, I think the Aragonite sand may be all you need for buffering.  Either used on it's own or several pounds mixed in with your sand of choice - my tub is 50 gallons.  Or if you're going bare bottom or don't like the look of Aragonite sand, the Caribsea Florida Crushed Coral would work fine in your filter.  With the new water, the Aragonite sand will start working right away, but I would experiment to see how it reacts to your water supply.

I gave up chasing pH years ago.  Adjust the level of KH you need/like and let the pH adjust to that level of KH.  As long as the pH doesn't drift between water changes, that should be fine.

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Thanks again everyone!

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8 hours ago, Arctic Mama said:

This is truth!  Give me a higher pH and harder water any day for aquarium stability, even with an Amazon River delta tank.  It’s a lot easier to manage and has so many less swings. 

I just lost my cycle and couldn't figure out why it wasn't cycling fast enough. Low and behold, my ph was 7.2 out of the tap but the tank was 7.0 my KH is 0 so I had to put some crushed coral in the tank and now the ph is staying at 7.5 :thumbs: 

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