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Which peat or sphagnum moss to use to low pH?

dw1305

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Hi all,
My Kh is about 6 and my pH 8. Reading here I've peat or sphagnum moss is a good way to lower the pH into the 6s. Which sphagnum or peat can I use?....... Will peat moss and sphagnum moss have different effects? Thank you!
My guess is that you would need a lot of peat to lower the <"dKH below dKH 4">, at which point the pH will start to fall.

It has to be <"sphagnum">, but it doesn't matter whether it is white peat or still moss.

cheers Darrel
 

Ben Rhau

Member
The kind they sell for reptiles usually comes in very small quantities, so it’s quite expensive per unit. I’d get one for gardening, which will come in larger sizes and is cheaper. Just make sure it doesn’t include added fertilizers. Peat pellets also work.

Finally, there are concerns about peat being unsustainable. It seems controversial, even with Canadian sphagnum moss. For that reason, I’ve moved to using driftwood and alder cones to acidify my water. My water is fairly soft, though, so it doesn’t take much.
 

dw1305

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Hi all,
Finally, there are concerns about peat being unsustainable.
The problem is that there are now no commercially exploitable sphagnum peat reserves left in the UK, Netherlands or Germany, and Ireland has stopped burning peat in power stations. Finland still has white peats, but they've taken 12,000 years to form.
I don't use peat any more either.

cheers Darrel
 

Ben Rhau

Member
I don't recommend that. I used to use buffering salts to lower pH, but the problem is that you increase your total conductivity. In that situation, my fish were OK but did not show any breeding behavior. Once I lowered the overall salt/ion concentration, they started to breed like crazy.

Peat would slightly soften your water by exchanging cations for protons. I'm assuming alder cones work the same way, @dw1305?

Overall, I believe that lowering conductivity by either cutting your water with rainwater or RO would have a larger affect on the fish that the pH itself. It's not totally clear to me that pH is important. That said, peat, driftwood and alder cones come with the additional benefits of adding humic substances to the water, which are desirable.
 

dw1305

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Hi all,
I'm assuming alder cones work the same way, @dw1305?
I don't actually know. The Aqualog.de article <"Medicinal trees: The Common Alder"> says:
Unfortunately there has been no scientific research into the precise substances contained in Alder cones, or at least none is known to us. But because the bark and leaves of the Common Alder are used in human medicine, their contents are well known. As with all natural products the concentration of the individual substances varies depending on the location and the time of collection, but as a rough rule of thumb it can be stated that some 10-20% of the contents are tannic acids, while additional main active ingredients are phenylpropane (flavonolglycoside (hyperoside)), cinnamic acids, stilbene derivatives, steroids, and triterpenic acids (taraxerol (alnulin) and taroxeron (protaenulin)), and ancillary substances are anthraquinone (emodin), sugars, uric acids, and waxes (all data after LAGONI, 2003).
Wich suggests that it might chelate some dGH (<"like citric acid">) and add some H+ ion donors ("acids").

cheers Darrel
 

Jon Webb

New Member
I don't recommend that. I used to use buffering salts to lower pH, but the problem is that you increase your total conductivity. In that situation, my fish were OK but did not show any breeding behavior. Once I lowered the overall salt/ion concentration, they started to breed like crazy.

Peat would slightly soften your water by exchanging cations for protons. I'm assuming alder cones work the same way, @dw1305?

Overall, I believe that lowering conductivity by either cutting your water with rainwater or RO would have a larger affect on the fish that the pH itself. It's not totally clear to me that pH is important. That said, peat, driftwood and alder cones come with the additional benefits of adding humic substances to the water, which are desirable.
I cut my hard desert water in half with r/o, which drops the hardness in half. I use peat in my canister filters, and a little goes a long way. I will watch the depletion of peat from the planet. Meanwhile, I’ve got enough for a couple of years. I have community tanks, with no specific efforts at breeding for now, but have had great success at breeding pearl gouramis and wild discus in the past.
 

Linds6292

New Member
Strong Style, not sure if you're aware and others reading might not know peat moss is sphagnum moss. Sphagnum moss grows in such a way that eventually it blocks out the light from the moss underneath and smothers it. In effect, killing its old self. The dead moss partially breaks down to form what we call peat moss. Hence it's often called "sphagnum peat", especially since "coco peat" because a widely used substitute for many applications.

Of course, growing this plant mass captures carbon and leads to an interesting discussion on the sustainable use of peat. It is renewable (though extremely slow growing). I must admit that I was hesitant to use peat moss after learning about how it is harvested and visiting one of the few sphagnum bogs in Australia and seeing how complex an ecosystem thy support. However, I have changed my mind somewhat learning that Canadian peat harvesting, where a lot of the world's production is, harvests less than the combined increase in peat over the 280 million acres of peat bogs in Canada. This seems pretty sustainable to me.
 

Ben Rhau

Member
I have to admit I'm not well versed in this debate, but I do believe the sustainability question is controversial.
  1. Peat may continue to be produced naturally, but the argument I've read is that once a bog is mined, that bog is no longer producing normally. So the current rate production would decline linearly with further harvesting.
  2. In order to mine the peat, living ecosystems are disrupted, and it's not clear those recover normally either.
Interested to hear from additional knowledgable members and learn more about the subject.

Cheers
 

Linds6292

New Member
I have to admit I'm not well versed in this debate, but I do believe the sustainability question is controversial.
  1. Peat may continue to be produced naturally, but the argument I've read is that once a bog is mined, that bog is no longer producing normally. So the current rate production would decline linearly with further harvesting.
  2. In order to mine the peat, living ecosystems are disrupted, and it's not clear those recover normally either.
Interested to hear from additional knowledgable members and learn more about the subject.

Cheers
I'm certainly not an expert. I've just read a variety of sources. Some things keep coming up on both 'sides' of the coin. Peat growth is around 60% more yearly than harvesting loss. Peat miners and conservation groups are working and succeeding on restoring the bogs after mining by regrowing sphagnum.

I get what you saying in point 1. but the linear rate would be very flat.

I'm just glad people are having the discussion and that environmental groups, government, scientists, and mining companies are working better together than in most other similar situations (like logging).
 

dw1305

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Hi all,
I do believe the sustainability question is controversial.
You have to drain the peat bog to cut the peat, once it is drained the sphagnum moss can't grow and will begin to oxidise away.

If you want to know quite the long term effect of this is, you can look at the history of <"Holme Fen post"> in E. England.
Peat miners and conservation groups are working and succeeding on restoring the bogs after mining by regrowing sphagnum.
It is "<really difficult">, I was involved with English Natures attempt to reform a sphagnum dome on the Somerset Levels, and it didn't go well. I think they've had a bit more joy in Finland and <"Estonia"> where climate change hasn't added another level of difficulty.

cheers Darrel
 

Linds6292

New Member
It is "<really difficult">, I was involved with English Natures attempt to reform a sphagnum dome on the Somerset Levels, and it didn't go well. I think they've had a bit more joy in Finland and <"Estonia"> where climate change hasn't added another level of difficulty.

Some good info there. Most of what I've read about is Canada and USA based. From what I can gather they are obliged to recover the bogs they harvest. Canadian Wildlife Federation site has a lot of info and links to all relevant organisations.
 

dw1305

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Hi all,
From what I can gather they are obliged to recover the bogs they harvest. Canadian Wildlife Federation site has a lot of info and links to all relevant organisations.
You would have to call me sceptical. I know there are good people everywhere, but a lot depends on the regulatory framework that they work with, and unfortunately often economic development is <"massively favoured">, whatever the environmental cost.

I've worked in commercial horticulture, I drive a diesel car and I still do some consultancy for a very large quarrying company, so I understand there is a certain amount of hypocrisy involved, but I am trying to cut my fish-keeping environmental footprint down as far as possible.

cheers Darrel
 

Strong Style

New Member
Thank you for all the info everyone!

So I've acquired some Fluval peat granules and am testing them. I put maybe 50 g of granules in a filter bag and let it float in about 3.5 gallons of water. In 24 hours, the pH came down to 7.0-7.2. The kH is still 6. Of note, the ammonia is at 0.25 so I am glad I'm testing this before I expose fish to it. I've read peat can release ammonia and I see here it has. What is the work around to this?
 

Linds6292

New Member
Thank you for all the info everyone!

So I've acquired some Fluval peat granules and am testing them. I put maybe 50 g of granules in a filter bag and let it float in about 3.5 gallons of water. In 24 hours, the pH came down to 7.0-7.2. The kH is still 6. Of note, the ammonia is at 0.25 so I am glad I'm testing this before I expose fish to it. I've read peat can release ammonia and I see here it has. What is the work around to this?

In my experience, a properly cycled tank should be able to deal with that pretty quickly. I wouldn't add anything except maybe plants if you are going to. I normally add about that level of ammonia when I cycle a filter and add fish when the tank can get rid of it in 12-24hrs.
 

Strong Style

New Member
So I experimented with a bag of this peat in the my 20 long. It hasn't budge the week since it's been in there (about a week) and might have let out trace ammonia (water is tannin stained so I am not sure if the slight change from yellow in test tube is due to ammonia or water color). As Darrel pointed out, seems like my KH is too high. As such, I'll be buying some RO/DI from my LFS. What would be the best ratio of my water to RO/DI? Perhaps 1:2 or 1:3 my water to RO/DI? Also, if I understand correctly RO/DI is neutral, so mixing it with my water would likely alkalize it. As such, I still need to run it through peat to get acidity, correct? Thank you!
 

dw1305

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Hi all,
Also, if I understand correctly RO/DI is neutral, so mixing it with my water would likely alkalize it.
It is slightly acidic, because of the small amount of dissolved CO2. If you add your tap water the pH will go to pH 7.8 ish, because of the CO2 ~ carbonate ~ pH equilibrium.

If you use RO you just need to add a very small amount of tap water and some botanicals to lower the pH.

cheers Darrel
 
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