5 Ways To Raise pH In An Aquarium (& 5 Causes)

A dip in the pH of your aquarium’s water can be worrying, especially if you don’t know what is causing it. If the pH falls too low below the optimum level (between 6.8 and 7.8), it can bring about many health problems in fish, so you need to act fast.

There are several ways to raise the pH in your aquarium. These include changing and aerating the water, adding baking soda, boiling pieces of driftwood, and adding crushed coral to the filter.

Read on to find out more about raising the pH in your aquarium and how you can check and monitor the pH levels. Happy reading!

What Causes Low pH in an Aquarium?

There can be many reasons behind a low water pH in your aquarium. These range from excess tannins in the water to poor maintenance and cleaning. While the reasons can be many, it is important to diagnose the problem behind low pH correctly so that you can work on the solution as soon as possible. Here are some common reasons.

1. Lack of Maintenance and Cleaning

Not maintaining and cleaning your aquarium properly is one of the most common reasons behind a low pH. Cleaning your tank regularly is something you shouldn’t skip as it can cause many other problems besides lowering the pH. 

So how exactly does a lack of maintenance lower the pH of the aquarium? Over time, fish waste, leftover food, and other contaminants can accumulate in the aquarium. If they’re not removed on a regular basis, they can lower the pH of the water.

2. Acidic Tap Water

Another cause of low pH in the aquarium is acidic tap water. This problem isn’t common in the US since tap water is rarely acidic, but in some places, it can be an issue. This happens when you’re replacing the water in your aquarium with tap water, and the tap water is acidic. Once acidic water enters the aquarium, it can significantly lower the pH of the aquarium as well. 

To avoid this problem, make sure you get your tap water’s pH tested before using it to change your aquarium’s water.

3. Poor Air Flow and Regulation

If the air in your aquarium isn’t properly circulating throughout the water, it can lead to a decrease in the pH of the water. This happens when carbon dioxide (which is acidic) produced during fish respiration builds up in the water.

You can easily solve this problem by using a filter in your tank and making sure it works properly. Filters facilitate the movement of water and allow gas exchanges to take place, keeping pH levels stable.

4. Excess Tannins in the water

Tannins are acidic organic compounds that can lower your aquarium’s pH. These compounds are produced by wood decoration pieces, particularly those made from driftwood. If your aquarium has an excess amount of tannins, the water will turn slightly brown, and the pH will drop.

To prevent the water in your aquarium from turning acidic due to tannins, make sure you boil driftwood before putting it into your aquarium. Boiling driftwood will release the tannins.

5. Not Changing the Water Regularly   

If you don’t change your aquarium’s water regularly, the water can turn acidic slowly over time. Fish waste, dead plant matter, and leftover food can accumulate over time and lower the pH of the water. Thus changing the aquarium water is necessary, and ideally, 15 to 20 percent of the water should be replaced every week. If your tank is lightly stocked, you may change the water once every two weeks.

How To Check The Ph Levels Of A Fish Tank

Having a steady pH in your fish tank is important in allowing the fish to grow and thrive. The pH of the water can change due to a number of reasons, and monitoring it regularly is important. Here, we mention some ways in which you can check the pH levels of your fish tank. We’ve also included some signs that indicate a higher-than-normal or a lower-than-normal water pH.

1. Using a Digital PH Meter

Using a digital pH meter is one of the easiest and most accurate ways of measuring the water pH in your aquarium. Digital pH meters have probes or electrodes that dip into the water and measure the pH of the water quickly and accurately. These instruments are easy to use and give you a clear picture of the pH conditions in your aquarium. Head over to Amazon if you want to buy one, as it has a large variety of them.   

2. Using Test Strip Tests

The next method for testing the pH of your fish tank that we’re going to talk about is using strip tests. As the name suggests, strip tests come with a special strip that can be dipped into a sample of your tank water. The strip will then change color, and you can refer to the color chart in the strip test kit to find out the corresponding pH for that color change.

3. Using Reagent Tests

Reagent tests can be used to measure the pH of your aquarium’s water too. Like strip tests, they’re easy to use and produce quick results. To use a reagent test correctly, fill the provided container with some water from your fish tank and add the specified number of drops of the reagent to it. Wait for a few minutes while the color change takes place. Refer to the provided color chart to find out the pH of the water.

4. High pH Signs

If your aquarium’s water has a high pH, you’ll be able to observe changes in the fish and the environment of the tank. Your fish might try to swim near the surface of the water and swim in a random and chaotic manner. They might also appear to be tired and may have trouble breathing. In the tank itself, you’ll notice a rapid increase in algae growth, particularly on the walls of the tank.

5. Low pH Signs

If the pH in your aquarium is too low, it can make your fish stressed and bring about other health issues. You might also observe that your fish move, swim, and eat less. A high pH can also negatively impact the ability of your fish to grow and reproduce. Another common symptom of low pH in an aquarium is the build-up of dirt and sludge at the bottom of the tank. This accumulation of sludge can bring about more problems, such as a blocked filter and restricted water flow.

Is Low pH Bad for Fish?

Now that we’ve talked about the possible reasons behind a low water pH in your aquarium, it’s time to find out the impact a low pH can have. So, is low pH bad for your fish? The answer depends on how low the pH is. If the pH is slightly lower than the optimal pH (between 6.8 and 7.8), then your fish won’t be affected. In fact, some species of your fish might be able to withstand slight fluctuations in the pH.

But if the pH in your aquarium is too low below the normal level (below 5.5), then it can bring about many health problems in your fish if prompt action isn’t taken to fix it. In the previous section, we shed light on some signs of low pH in the aquarium. These include health problems in fish such as decreased physical activity and movement, stunted growth, and a decreased appetite. 

To sum it up, a low water pH makes the fish stressed and can adversely impact their health and growth.

How To Raise Your Aquarium’s pH

If your aquarium’s pH is too low, it can bring about a host of health and environmental problems. We’ve discussed how a low pH is bad for fish, and now we’ll explore some tips and techniques for raising the pH of your aquarium if it falls below the normal level (between 6.8 and 7.8).

1. Change the Water of the Aquarium

One of the most common reasons behind a low pH is not changing the water regularly. If you have a low pH, you can fix it by changing the water. To get the pH level back to normal, you can change as much as 50 percent of the water every day or once every two days. Once the pH reaches the normal value, you can reduce the frequency of water changes to once every week and replace about 20 percent of the water. 

2. Aerate the Water

Aeration refers to the steady circulation of air in an aquarium. Aerating the water in your tank is important as it removes carbon dioxide from the water and increases the concentration of oxygen. Carbon dioxide is produced by fish during respiration and is acidic, so removing it is necessary. For aeration to take place, your aquarium needs to have a filter that works properly. Adding water pumps or air pumps to your aquarium might also be a good idea since they create water currents, helping air move around. 

3. Add Baking Soda to the water

Adding baking soda to the water is a great way to raise its pH. It is a great solution since it works fast, is easily and cheaply available, and doesn’t harm your fish or aquatic plants if used moderately. For an average-sized aquarium, 2 to 3 teaspoons of baking soda can be added in an effort to raise the pH of the water. You might have to add baking soda every 2 or 3 days until the pH reaches its normal value. 

4. Boil Any Pieces of Driftwood

As we discussed before, pieces of driftwood are commonly used in aquariums for decorative and other environmental purposes. But if driftwood is not boiled before it is put into the aquarium, it can release tannins (acidic compounds) into the water, resulting in a decrease in the water’s pH level. If your aquarium has pieces of driftwood sitting at the bottom that weren’t boiled, taking them out and boiling them before putting them back in can help raise the pH.

5. Add Crushed Coral to the water

Crushed coral contains the compound calcium carbonate and is quite effective in raising the pH of water. To increase the pH of the water, put crushed coral in a bag and add it to your filter. It will raise the pH of the water gradually, provided there’s nothing that is lowering it. Besides adding crushed coral, you can also use aragonite sand as a substrate to raise the pH.

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How To Raise Ph In Saltwater Aquarium?

There are several ways to raise the pH in a saltwater aquarium. We’ve listed some of them below.

  • Using decorations that release alkaline compounds into the water
  • Change the water regularly
  • Add an alkaline buffer to the water
  • Use carbon dioxide scrubbers to absorb the gas

For more information, check out this guide.

How To Raise Ph In Aquarium Without Chemicals?

Raising the pH in an aquarium without chemicals is certainly possible, and there are many ways to do it. In the previous section, we’ve mentioned several ways you can raise the pH of your aquarium without using chemicals. These include changing the water, aerating it, boiling pieces of driftwood, and adding crushed coral to the water. For more information, have a look at this article.

Final Thoughts

A low pH in an aquarium can be worrying as it can lead to many health and environmental problems in the tank. There are many reasons behind a low pH, including lack of cleaning and maintenance, not changing the water regularly, and a lack of air circulation. There are many ways to fix this and raise the pH, such as replacing the water, aerating it, and adding baking soda and crushed coral.

In this guide, we’ve included everything you might want to know about raising the pH in your aquarium, and we hope you find it useful!