Will Plants Lower pH In Aquarium (And Which Are Best)

From beginners to experienced aquarium owners, filling and arranging a tank can be a rewarding experience. Adding plant life to an aquarium will not only enhance the beauty of your tank but it can also provide a safe and healthy environment for your fish. Plants can help regulate water quality while giving your tank a more natural environment in which to live.

Finding and maintaining the correct pH for your aquarium is critical for the health and happiness of your fish. Using natural methods to maintain the correct pH in your aquarium is preferred. Using plants such as peat moss, almond leaves, and driftwood will help lower the ph levels in your tank and maintain them at the levels appropriate for your type of fish.  

A well-maintained aquarium that supports the health and growth of fish is easily achievable with the use of the right plants. They absorb carbon dioxide, produce oxygen, combat algae, and add more life to your tank. Let’s look at how plants can help us lower and regulate our pH levels.

Is pH Important In A Planted Aquarium?

The pH levels are crucial in a planted aquarium. Stable pH levels in the range of your fish are necessary to maintain the water quality of your aquarium and the health of your fish. Sudden changes in pH levels outside the recommended range could be harmful or fatal to your fish. All changes should be done gradually to not upset the delicate balance of your aquarium.

Will Plants Lower pH In Aquariums?

Plants are highly effective at naturally lowering and maintaining pH levels. Plants such as peat moss, driftwood, and almond leaves are efficient in reducing pH levels and maintaining them in a range that will keep your aquarium and your fish happy and healthy. They reduce the need to add unnecessary chemicals to achieve the balance your aquarium needs to survive. Your fish will thank you for that.

What Is The Ideal pH For Planted Aquariums?

The pH levels in aquariums are measured in a 1-7 pH range. Although most fish can tolerate ranges from 6.5 to 8.0, the range of your tank will depend on the type of fish and plants you wish to maintain in your aquarium. It is important when choosing fish that you consider the recommended pH level of the fish and be able to match them to the levels attainable in your tank due to the quality of water available to you. 

A green beautiful planted tropical fish tank.

How Do I Lower The pH In My Planted Aquarium?

There are a few methods to lower the pH in your aquarium. The natural methods include driftwood, peat moss, and Indian almond leaves. Additional methods can include reverse osmosis and CO2 reactors. Below we can look at some of the pros and cons of each.

Natural Methods:


Driftwood can help lower the pH levels in your tank by releasing tannin into the tank. The downside to using driftwood is that it can contain pathogens and discolor the water. It also may float on the top of the tank until it becomes waterlogged and sinks to the bottom. Boiling the driftwood in salt water for an hour can alleviate these issues and make the driftwood safe and ready to use in your tank.

Peat Moss

Peat Moss lowers the pH levels in your tank by releasing gallic and tannin into the aquarium. Much like driftwood, it can cause discolored water, which can be overcome by soaking the peat moss in a separate container for 3-4 days before use. You can also boil it to remove any contaminants. It must be left in the tank to be effective in reducing pH levels. Dipping the moss and removing it is not an effective method. It can be placed directly in the tank or added to the filter. Alternatively, you could use the water from soaking instead of the moss during a water change.

Indian Almond Leaves

Almond Leaves are a great addition to an aquarium due to their antibacterial and antifungal properties. They can reduce pH levels; however, it also turns the tank’s water yellow or brown, so soaking them before adding them to the aquarium is recommended. They can be left in until their leaves disintegrate, which can take up to two months. They also can be used as a substrate. Combine them with oak and magnolia tree leaves to create a leaf litter substrate. Also, if you are looking to create or maintain a blackwater environment, they are the perfect addition.

Additional Methods

Reverse Osmosis

Reverse osmosis is a very precise and effective way of filtering out impurities, especially if you reside in an area with hard water. The major downside is that these systems are expensive and require a lot of maintenance, making them impractical for most home aquarium use. These systems are also ineffective in removing bacteria from the water and require remineralization before the water is used in your aquarium.  

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Reactor

CO2 reactors introduce a constant flow of co2 in the aquarium, which will help plant growth. It is effective in lowering pH levels as long as the system is operating. The pH levels will return if the system is removed.

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How Often Should I Test the Water in My Aquarium?

How often you are testing your water depends on the health and age of your tank. Newer tanks should be tested every few days to ensure there are no water quality issues. The same would apply if you have algae growth or there are concerns with fish health. Established tanks should be tested every month to ensure there is no need to change the established routines. 

What Is the Ideal PH Level for Planted Aquariums?

It would depend on the fish and plants you are maintaining. Most aquariums are kept in the 6.0- 8 pH range. The water in your aquarium should be tested at least once a week to maintain quality and fish health.

What Would Be the Best Plants to Lower PH Levels in My Aquarium?

The best plants to lower and maintain pH levels would be driftwood, peat moss, and Indian almond leaves. Driftwood can be added directly to the tank and would be the most visually appealing option. Peat moss can be added to the filter system or soaked separately. Alternatively, after soaking you can add the water during water changes. Indian almond leaves offer antibacterial and antifungal benefits in addition to lowering pH levels. 

What Are Tannins and How Do They Affect Your Aquarium?

Tannins, also known as tannic acid, are released by the decay of driftwood and plants in your tank. They are found to be very beneficial in increasing the immunity, growth, and lifespan of the animals in aquariums.


Plants can provide a natural alternative to adding chemicals to achieve a happy and healthy tank. They also provide a natural environment for the animals in the aquarium to enjoy. Driftwood, peat moss, and Indian almond leaves help lower and maintain your pH levels to make your aquarium a place for your fish to grow and thrive.

Please remember that any changes to pH levels should be done gradually over time. Any sudden changes to your aquarium can be harmful or fatal to your fish.