The correct level of pH plays an important role in keeping the water critters healthy. If your reef tank has a low pH level than required, and you want to raise the pH level in the tank, this is the post you need to read.
There are different ways to raise the pH level in a reef tank. The most common ways are adding baking soda to water, using crushed corals, changing the tank water regularly, using dolomite chips, and aerating the water.
Apart from the ways mentioned here, there are other solutions as well. In this post, we will dive deeper to let you know most of the effective and proven ways to raise pH levels in the reef tank. Would you love to know and test all the methods to find which works best for you? Great, then keep reading.
What is pH?
Do you know that an imbalance pH can kill your pet in the water? Yes, too much pH or too little pH in the reef tank than required can be fatal for the aquatic creatures. So, maintaining the balance in the pH level is one of the most crucial things you should ensure to keep the inhabitants of the reef tank alive. Do you know what is pH? Well, let’s start by knowing about it in detail.
pH stands to mean the power of Hydrogen. It measures the alkalinity or acidity of any liquid solution. In any water body, the pH level of 7 is considered neutral. When the level goes above 7, the solution becomes base or alkaline. On the other hand, if the pH level is lower than 7, the liquid solution is categorized as acidic.
When it comes to saltwater, one of the most common issues is the low level of pH. The level of pH in the reef tank can be acidic due to the low level of pH.
What are the Sources of Acids in the Reef Tank?
One of the core reasons why pH level decreases rapidly is the intensity of the acid. There are a lot of sources responsible for acid formation in the reef tank. Here are the most common ones that add acid to the reef tank and lowers the pH level than normal:
- Excess amount of CO2 in the water due to respiration.
- Nitric acid from nitrification (biological filtration).
- Organic acid produced from metabolic wastes.
To be precise, metabolic wastes and respiration are integral parts in the saltwater of the ocean as well. However, the pH does not drop much because of the existence of some chemicals such as borate, carbonate, calcium, bicarbonate, and hydroxide.
Why is Maintaining the Right pH So Important?
Maintaining the balance of pH in the saltwater and freshwater is very important for the growth of the aquatic animals and plants. As you can use a heater to keep the water ideal for fishes, you can also maintain the right pH level in the water naturally by following some techniques that we will be discussing below in detail.
If your reef tank does not come with the right level of pH in the water, the fishes and other plants in the water will be affected negatively. They will start dying instead of growing and thriving. If the water has a very low level of pH, living creatures in the saltwater might get their skin burnt.
Moreover, low pH level makes the water toxic that cause a variety of health issues to the critters. That’s why you should always keep a careful eye on the pH level so that it remains stable without getting too high or low.
How to Check the pH Level in the Reef Tank?
Checking the pH level in the saltwater or freshwater is not complex. You do not need to be a scientist to check the level of pH in your reef tank. What you all need is just a simple but working pH testing kit. No, you do not need to develop the kit by yourself. You will find them available in pet stores. You can also buy a pH testing kit online if you do not have time to visit a shop physically.
The price of the pH testing kit depends on the type and brand of the kit. However, most of the time you will find them inexpensive.
Still, if you think that you do not need to buy a testing kit of your own, some stores might offer the pH testing facility for free. You have to take the water as a sample to them and they will do the rest for you. However, it is just a short-term solution as it takes much time and it is not possible to do it every week.
If you have a good budget for buying a pH testing kit, we would recommend you to go for digital ones. Though they are quite expensive, they are way more convenient. Just dip the end of the testing kit in the water and the pH value will be shown in the digital display.
On the other hand, if you do not want to spend more on a pH testing kit, you can go for manual testing kits as well. They are cheap and popular.
Dyed litmus paper can work excellently as test strips. When you will dip them in the water, the color of the paper will change and this will tell you the level of pH. Just compare the paper color you have got after dipping in the water with the color-coded chart regarding the pH level.
Usually, test strips can check carbonates, nitrates, nitrites, and hardness.
There are some manual testing kits available in the market that require to blend the sample water in a chemical solution. When both get mixed, the water changes color, and the color demystifies the pH level.
How to Raise pH in Reef Tank: 8 Effective Ways
1. Aerate the Water
Aerating the water by increasing the oxygen concentration is very effective to raise pH in reef tanks. This process in turn lowers the carbon dioxide concentration. Carbon dioxide is generally acidic and is responsible for more producing more carbonic acid. It is carbonic acid that leads to a low level of pH in the tank water.
There are some ways to aerate the water in the reef tank. The first and easiest one involves placing the outlet of the filter above the water surface. As it will help to disturb the water, the movement will work positively to oxygenate the water.
You can get a better effect if you can use air or water pumps for the purpose mentioned here. Air/water pumps come to help when you want to have movement in the water from the currents. However, the currents should be regulated as per the requirement of the aquatic species in your reef tank.
You can also keep the water level just by changing the water routinely.
2. Use Crushed Corals
The coral shells and skeletons work great to increase pH in the tank water. One of the reasons why they work is that they are enriched in calcium carbonate. They might take time to work but at the end of the day, they will improve the pH level. On top of that, it is completely safe to use crushed corals as it will not have any negative impact on fishes and other aquatic creatures in the tank.
There are two ways to use crushed corals in your reef tank. Firstly, you can fill some bags with the corals and place them inside the tank. Secondly, you can put them in the filter so that they can enrich the water.
One advantage of using crushed coral is that it is not much expensive. The next advantage is that it is easily available as you can find them in any aquarium related shops online or around you.
3. Use Dolomite Chips
You might think that dolomite chips are only for decoration. But it goes beyond being just a part of the beauty. Dolomite chips can contribute to increasing the pH level in the reef tank. It will help the growth of pH level without causing any harm to aquatic entities.
Check your nearest aquarium shop and you are likely to get dolomite chips. Just pour some dolomite chips inside the tank and then wait a few days to get the expected result.
4. Change the Water
Fish waste and decaying foods pollute the water day by day. More pollutants in the water translate into lower pH levels. To avoid building up the pollutants, changing the water of the tank regularly is important. When you remove the pollutants, the water will come back to a normal state once again.
Replace about 20% of the water every 14 to 21 days with tap water. Do not remove water drastically as that might shock the critters. Do the change regularly but not more than 20% water at a time.
5. Avoid Driftwood and Bogwood
While driftwoods or bogwoods can be okay in many aquariums, they do not qualify at all to stay in the reef tank. They are responsible for lowering the pH level in the saltwater significantly and sometimes drastically. As they release tannic acid and tannins, they are not suitable to be used in your reef tank. That’s why you should remove the driftwood from the reef tank along with other toxic substances like peat moss.
6. Add Baking Soda
Adding the right amount of baking soda in the reef tank can help you to increase the pH level in the water. What you all need to make sure is that you are very careful when it comes to the amount you use for the reef tank. Adding a small amount will help while adding too much of it will affect the lives inside the tank.
If you add more baking soda then required, you might experience a severe growth of pH level in the water that is not healthy for the fishes and sometimes can kill them.
When it comes to using baking soda for increasing the pH level, you can use about 1 teaspoon of baking soda for every 5 gallons of water.
Another important that you should keep in mind is that baking soda to increase the pH level in the water will work best only if you follow it routinely, not just once. If you use it one day and then leave using it, the water pH will get lower again.
7. Use Limestone
While some methods work well in freshwater and some work in saltwater, using limestone to increase the pH level is almost equally effective for both the saltwater and the freshwater. Being rich in calcium carbonate, limestones can help to increase the alkalinity of the tank water.
However, you might not find limestone in the aquarium shops. If you are serious to get limestone, you can expect to get them from any construction sites, as limestones are heavily used in construction work. Visit any construction store near you, get some limestones, and then use them in your reef tank to see what changes it can make to the pH level in the water.
Apart from increasing the pH level in the water, their cave-like structure also contributes to increasing the beauty of the aquarium.
8. Use Macro-algae
If you are looking for a complete transformation of your saltwater tank, using macro algae inside the tank is a great option to try. It will make the reef tank look like a real seabed. It will help increase the pH level along with adding beauty. Due to the minerals algae come with, they are truly helpful. On top of that, they are not much costly.
However, you have to make sure that the algae you are using do not overgrow. If they do, the beauty might disappear.
Important Tips to Prevent pH Problems
- Bring any major changes in the water slowly, not rapidly. If the water pH changes rapidly, it might shock the critters. Bringing sudden changes in the pH level can cause death to fishes and invertebrates in the saltwater. How do you know if you are becoming too hasty? Well, if you are increasing the pH level from 7.4 to 8.4 within just a few minutes, it can be labeled as too quick.
- Maintain the reef tank regularly. Remove the uneaten foods and fish waste as soon as they start to be counted as pollutants.
- Remove all the substances that are toxic to the tank water.
- Check the required pH level in the water tank regularly so that you notice any abnormal change in the pH level as soon as that takes place.
- Do not raise the pH level too high. Both low pH and high pH threaten the life lives in the reef tank.
Maintaining the right pH level in the reef tank will help the fishes and invertebrates in the water thrive as they should. Always keep a careful eye on the pH level to make sure that everything is going fine. We hope that you can now easily raise the pH level in the water of the reef tank following the effective ways and suggestions mentioned above.