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Advice on buffering water

bbg74

New Member
Messages
2
I have kept several aquariums as a kid, mostly African Cichlids and the water where I grew up was perfect for them. I now live in Colombia and I have access to a large variety of apistos. both wild caught and tank raised, and cant wait to jump in. I have been doing a lot of reading about soft water aquariums but Im still not 100% clear on what i should do.

My tap water from the city is ~6.8 and barely measurable GH/KH. I have a large S. American community tank and did have some issues with PH swings ( honestly not sure why) before slowly adding alkaline buffer which raised ph to ~7.4, 7 gh, 2-3 KH. In the coming apisto. tank I am trying to achieve and keep a stable PH close to where it is from the tap while adding a bit of GH/KH. Lots of information out there to weed thru, and i am looking for advice from other apisto. owners on the best approach to keep happy apistos. given my water from the tap

Thank you in advance

Brandon
 
Last edited:

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,892
Location
Germany
Simply put: There are two buffering systems you can use.
1. KH, which you did. But this is not softwater, as softwater is defined by low conductivity. KH also raises pH. The higher the carbonates, the higher pH.
2. Humic substances (aka "tannins") this is what most people use in softwater tanks. Because it's what "buffers" the water in nature.

Please make yourself clear:
pH is never truely stable. It's all about period, not amplitude. A pH change of 2 whole points is not a problem if it takes 4 hours and has no sudden drops. A sudden change of 1 point within 5min, though, will be quite a hit to most fish.

Most Apistogramma species live in waters devoid of any ions. Be it blackwater or clearwater, the conductivity is usually significantly below 50 µS/cm (That's TDS below 30 mg/l) and a pH between 4 and 6. Except some species from the South (Argentina) and the upper Amazon region (Peru) they will all be able to work with such low numbers.

What most of us do is the following.
Pure RO or rainwater and additional:
- Option A: botanicals like seedpods, brown leaves, bogwood, rootwood. All the stuff goes into the tank, releases humic substances whiledecomposing, forming a mulm layer on the sand and thus recreating the habitat perfectly on the way. You can also make a watery extract of botanicals (basically a tea) and add that additionally.
- Option B: white peat without fertilizers. Can be used to pretreat the water ("peat cannon") and also be just placed in a mesh bag in the tank. As it would have to be imported to you this is going to be expensive and it's not sustainable anyway, so I don't recomment it.

It takes a looot of humic substances to lower pH, though. A tank running with botanicals will take some months to settle at a certain pH range, usually somewhere between 5 and 6, depending on how much you add and whether you add to the existing botanicals regularly, be it leaves or extract.

And that's all that's to it. You can of course do things to bring down pH more or stuff, but usually maintaining a low conductivity (under 100µS/cm is a good goal in the aquarium) and a pH roundabout 6.0 is all that it takes. You can still go down when keeping specialized blackwater species.
 

dw1305

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Messages
2,740
Location
Wiltshire UK
Hi all,
Welcome to Apistogramma.com.
and i am looking for advice from other apisto. owners on the best approach to keep happy apistos. given my water from the tap
Just use your water from the tap and add some humic compounds. If you haven't kept planted aquariums before? You need <"some plants for this one"> and a lot of cover for the fish.

I like Bob Wiltshire's (@apistobob ) advice on tank management. <"https://dwarfcichlid.com/apistogramma-and-dwarf-cichlid-aquarium-care/"> and you might also like @Tom C 's pages <"https://www.tomc.no/">

....... and did have some issues with PH swings ( honestly not sure why) before slowly adding alkaline buffer which raised ph to ~7.4, 7 gh, 2-3 KH. In the coming apisto. tank I am trying to achieve and keep a stable PH close to where it is from the tap while adding a bit of GH/KH .......
I know this is going to be counter-intuitive, but @MacZ is right and you need to forget all about pH stability. Have a look at: <"https://www.apistogramma.com/forum/threads/low-kh-questions.23850/#post-112078">.

cheers Darrel
 

bbg74

New Member
Messages
2
Simply put: There are two buffering systems you can use.
1. KH, which you did. But this is not softwater, as softwater is defined by low conductivity. KH also raises pH. The higher the carbonates, the higher pH.
2. Humic substances (aka "tannins") this is what most people use in softwater tanks. Because it's what "buffers" the water in nature.

Please make yourself clear:
pH is never truely stable. It's all about period, not amplitude. A pH change of 2 whole points is not a problem if it takes 4 hours and has no sudden drops. A sudden change of 1 point within 5min, though, will be quite a hit to most fish.

Most Apistogramma species live in waters devoid of any ions. Be it blackwater or clearwater, the conductivity is usually significantly below 50 µS/cm (That's TDS below 30 mg/l) and a pH between 4 and 6. Except some species from the South (Argentina) and the upper Amazon region (Peru) they will all be able to work with such low numbers.

What most of us do is the following.
Pure RO or rainwater and additional:
- Option A: botanicals like seedpods, brown leaves, bogwood, rootwood. All the stuff goes into the tank, releases humic substances whiledecomposing, forming a mulm layer on the sand and thus recreating the habitat perfectly on the way. You can also make a watery extract of botanicals (basically a tea) and add that additionally.
- Option B: white peat without fertilizers. Can be used to pretreat the water ("peat cannon") and also be just placed in a mesh bag in the tank. As it would have to be imported to you this is going to be expensive and it's not sustainable anyway, so I don't recomment it.

It takes a looot of humic substances to lower pH, though. A tank running with botanicals will take some months to settle at a certain pH range, usually somewhere between 5 and 6, depending on how much you add and whether you add to the existing botanicals regularly, be it leaves or extract.

And that's all that's to it. You can of course do things to bring down pH more or stuff, but usually maintaining a low conductivity (under 100µS/cm is a good goal in the aquarium) and a pH roundabout 6.0 is all that it takes. You can still go down when keeping specialized blackwater species.

Guys I never thank you for your assistance, this was very helpful. I think for my new appisto tank I will be using water from the tap which is ~ 6.5-6.8 and o gh/kh. I like the amazon look so I will be adding drift wood, leaves, seed pods, etc. I still dont have a feel for how much of this I need to ward off abrupt PH swings. But that should come quickly. I found a guy here in Medellin that specializes in apistos and he has a large selection of wild caught and tank raised. I imagine I will go for the latter and they should be find in my water.


Thanks again

Brandon
 

MacZ

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,892
Location
Germany
Again pH swings are normal. A good amount of visible humic substances (a tint in the water) is enough to keep it from a sudden drop. nd it would still take lots of H+ ions to drop pH significantly. If you don't add any (or at least not much) it won't happen.
 

apisto2024

Member
Messages
34
Simply put: There are two buffering systems you can use.
1. KH, which you did. But this is not softwater, as softwater is defined by low conductivity. KH also raises pH. The higher the carbonates, the higher pH.
2. Humic substances (aka "tannins") this is what most people use in softwater tanks. Because it's what "buffers" the water in nature.

Please make yourself clear:
pH is never truely stable. It's all about period, not amplitude. A pH change of 2 whole points is not a problem if it takes 4 hours and has no sudden drops. A sudden change of 1 point within 5min, though, will be quite a hit to most fish.

Most Apistogramma species live in waters devoid of any ions. Be it blackwater or clearwater, the conductivity is usually significantly below 50 µS/cm (That's TDS below 30 mg/l) and a pH between 4 and 6. Except some species from the South (Argentina) and the upper Amazon region (Peru) they will all be able to work with such low numbers.

What most of us do is the following.
Pure RO or rainwater and additional:
- Option A: botanicals like seedpods, brown leaves, bogwood, rootwood. All the stuff goes into the tank, releases humic substances whiledecomposing, forming a mulm layer on the sand and thus recreating the habitat perfectly on the way. You can also make a watery extract of botanicals (basically a tea) and add that additionally.
- Option B: white peat without fertilizers. Can be used to pretreat the water ("peat cannon") and also be just placed in a mesh bag in the tank. As it would have to be imported to you this is going to be expensive and it's not sustainable anyway, so I don't recomment it.

It takes a looot of humic substances to lower pH, though. A tank running with botanicals will take some months to settle at a certain pH range, usually somewhere between 5 and 6, depending on how much you add and whether you add to the existing botanicals regularly, be it leaves or extract.

And that's all that's to it. You can of course do things to bring down pH more or stuff, but usually maintaining a low conductivity (under 100µS/cm is a good goal in the aquarium) and a pH roundabout 6.0 is all that it takes. You can still go down when keeping specialized blackwater species.
this pretty much answers my question. Since I am greatly reducing my tanks TDS to be under 50, I was concerned that PH will gradually creep so low. Just to clarify, we dont need an alkaline agent like crushed corals to stop PH from going so low like under 3?
 

Ben Rhau

Apisto Club
Messages
563
Location
San Francisco
There is no way the pH will go below 3 unless you add acid. Dissolved CO2 will buffer it enough that it won't go below 5.5 or 6.

But also logically: If the pH could fluctuate that much without intervention, then the numerical pH would be meaningless. The water itself hasn't changed much.
 

Apistoguy52

Active Member
Messages
260
What Ben says. Even in my added acid softer water tanks, I’ve never seen the pH drop below 3.5 when water changes were neglected
 

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