How to Raise pH in Reef Tank: Easy Guide For Beginners
Fish water pH can essentially make or break the survival staple of your aquatics; “make” in the sense that it’ll promote health and vitality, and “break”, as in, it might bring the fishes sickness or even death.
So, we want the pH level in the reef tank to be similar to the ones found in their natural habitats: acidic for Oscar fish and basic for African Cichlids.
In case, that’s too much research for you, you should know that the pH of your reef tank should ideally be somewhere between 8 to 8.4, depending on the corals, the types of fishes and other invertebrates you are keeping in the tank.
If the pH is anywhere below that, you might want to do another routine water test and follow the steps I’ll shortly tell you about.
What is pH?
What is pH actually? You must already know the answer if you have a reef tank. But, if the tank belongs to your mom, and you’re home alone, watching your mum’s favorite goldfishes dying one after the other, it’s probably because something is wrong with the water (that you need to fix).
To help with that, you’ll need to know what pH is. It basically signifies what type your reef tank water is: acidic or basic. Different substances have different pH levels depending on the number of Hydrogen ions, and it can range from 0 to 14 (7 being neutral).
The pH in your reef tank can vary, depending on the water you use, the type of fish food you feed, the room you live in and such. But it can change and become harmful but thankfully, it can also be modified.
What is Harmful and When to Change Fish Water pH Levels?
Before I tell you what is harmful, let me tell you about changing fish water pH. If you think the pH levels in the reef tank are frequently changing, think again.
Did you measure it on Monday before lunch as well as on Wednesday but you forgot to check water the next week?
Yes, pH levels can do excellent nosedives. It changes throughout the day with time, maximizing in the afternoon. So before you follow the steps for raising the level, check if it is you who are at fault, and also, if you necessarily need to raise the pH.
Now let’s come to what’s harmful; of course, any deviation from the ideal level is unwanted. Too much acidic water can burn the fish skin or chap it and prevent the eggs from hatching. Even the younger ones are sensitive to acidic water.
However, it is just not acidity that can be detrimental to health because alkaline water can be just as harmful. So don’t go thinking that your reef tank pH level of 9 isn’t much of a deal just because it isn’t acidic.
How To Raise The Ph Level
I can tell you about two surefire ways of boosting up the pH levels of your reef tank. But first, you need to remember that regardless of how harmful it is for your beloved swimmers, you don’t need to hurry.
Raise it, slow and steady.
If the water is at a level of 7.6, don’t force it to 8.2; let it stay at the range of 7.6 to 7.8. If you have young ones inside your tank, don’t rush at all as abrupt changes in the reef tank water chemistry can be fatal for their lives.
Thereby, hastening will only do more harm than good. The two ways you can use to raise your reef tank pH are given below.
1. Test With An Airstone And Fix The Carbon Dioxide
In this process, the first thing to do is take a pH reading. The next day, you’ll have to add an airstone and at the same time, check the pH again. If the level has increased, your reef tank is bustling with too many Carbon Dioxide molecules.
And if it is way below what you had noted the earlier day, your room contains too many Carbon Dioxide. Now you know why you feel so suffocated all the time.
To improve your tank’s condition, you need to upgrade or clean your protein skimmer, which will ensure that the carbon level doesn’t go up anytime soon. Next, increase the aeration with the help of airstones or by putting calcium hydroxide solution in the water.
Regarding the room, it is advised to open a few windows, add indoor greeneries and use fans to increase the ventilation and flow of air.
2. Use Baking Soda
Chemically known as Sodium Bicarbonate, this handy product can also up your reef tank pH level. If airstones didn’t give quite the result, Carbon Dioxide isn’t your problem. While that is good, something else isn’t. Your pH level is still unfixed. What you can do now is get baking soda.
Now, you just have to add one flat teaspoon of baking soda per twenty gallons of water in your tank. An easy way of adding it is by draining half the water in your tank (sometimes leftover fish food and wastes compromise with pH levels too). Then, add it in batches with the new water. If necessary, you can also repeat it.
Other than these two, you can also follow other methods to raise the level. Adding crushed limestone or crushed coral, and using an alkaline buffer to neutralize the acidity of the water are also effective ways of raising the pH level.
Just as much as you dread ammonia poisoning for your fish, you should dread the after-effects of keeping an unattended reef tank with a low pH level. Do regular water tests.
And yes, I mean regular, like once a week or once every three days rather than only once in a month. You may even take time off your busy schedule and keep a journal.
That way, you will learn more about what is the tolerable or ideal water chemistry for your reef tank and hence, take measures accordingly. So, the next time something weird happens, you will know to take the appropriate action before there is a negative impact on your fishes.