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Safe ways to raise pH, hardness

This is a discussion on Safe ways to raise pH, hardness within the Axolotl tank set-ups, filters, substrate forums, part of the Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) category; I've seen a few threads lately where people have experienced prolonged cycle times associated with very low pH (like 6.0 ...

Axolotl tank set-ups, filters, substrate Discussions on tanks, temperature, filters, gravel, lights etc.

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Old 7th January 2015   #1 (permalink)
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Default Safe ways to raise pH, hardness

I've seen a few threads lately where people have experienced prolonged cycle times associated with very low pH (like 6.0 or below). That is somewhat outside the optimal range for axolotls and is often associated with very soft water, which is also not optimal for axolotls. While some times the problem is simply insufficient water changes, sometimes it is actually the water itself. In this care, it would seem to be best to adjust hardness to raise and stabilize the pH.

So, my question is, what are all of the axolotl-safe ways of raising pH/hardness? What pet-store products are safe (or suspected to be not safe)? What dangers do people need to be aware of?

And, to start the list, the tried-and-true Holtrefeter's Solution is here Axolotls - Requirements & Water Conditions in Captivity but I consider it too intimidating for the casual axolotl owner.



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Old 7th January 2015   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Safe ways to raise pH, hardness

I'm having this exact problem in my tank, so I would really appreciate any help on how to fix this.I did a quick google search and found this article: How To Increase Aquarium pH - Naturally! | Home Aquaria
I don't know how accurate the information is, however, or how safe any of these possible solutions are for axolotls. Anyone know or know of definite safe ways to raise PH/Hardness?



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Old 8th January 2015   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Safe ways to raise pH, hardness

Limestone and crushed coral is supposed to work, I don't know the dosage though.



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Old 8th January 2015   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Safe ways to raise pH, hardness

If I got some at the pet store (they'd sell it there, right?) and added a small amount to my filter it wouldn't hurt, would it? I'm at about 6.0 in PH, (haven't gotten a chance to check the hardness/softness because no one's told me which product to use for this test), and I'm just worried about raising it too much/too quickly since I've been told that too much of a PH change and too fast will hurt my axie. D:



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Old 8th January 2015   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Safe ways to raise pH, hardness

A pH level of 6 is okay in your tank, just don't let it get any lower.
I don't know if they sell either of those at a pet store.
Adding a small amount to the filter would probably be fine, just start with a very small amount, as fluctuations in pH aren't safe. Test your pH before you put it in the filter. Then, after putting it in the filter and letting it run for a few hours, test it again. Hopefully there will be a increase that is very small. Let it run for a day or two, then test again. By this time I would think that it would have raised the pH a bit, but not too rapidly. So seriously, start with just a little bit and see how it goes, and make adjustments accordingly. -Seth



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Old 8th January 2015   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Safe ways to raise pH, hardness

Thanks. :) Would increasing aeration in the tank by adding an airstone also work? Someone mentioned that to me somewhere else but wasn't sure.



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Old 8th January 2015   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Safe ways to raise pH, hardness

I am not sure about that one. Maybe though, since some air stones are made out of porous stone.



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Old 8th January 2015   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Safe ways to raise pH, hardness

An air stone should help a bit. Build up of CO2 in water causes it to become more acidic. Better oxygenation decreases CO2 buildup. Crushed coral or oyster shell should cause a gradual rise in pH, as they will dissolve relatively slowly.



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Old 9th January 2015   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Safe ways to raise pH, hardness

Can any of the experts speak on the safety (or lack thereof) of pH buffers? A few are

API Proper pH Welcome to API Fishcare: PROPER pH® 7.0

Seachem Alkaline buffer Seachem. Alkaline Buffer

Seachem Replenish Seachem. Replenish

===> Note: I do not know that any of these are safe for axolotls (but I hope/suspect they are.)



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Old 9th January 2015   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Safe ways to raise pH, hardness

Scroll down a bit and you will see that on the "Reasonable pH" subject it says "never use “pH UP” and “pH DOWN” solutions to adjust your pH." Caudata Culture - Frequently Asked Questions

And I can tell you right now, that wasn't written by any novices

EDIT: These being buffers and not being made to raise or lower pH, I suppose it could be different ( safety wise ). Though I doubt it is all that much different.



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Old 9th January 2015   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Safe ways to raise pH, hardness

I'm not a chemist, so I had to Google it ... a buffer is a combination of a weak acid and its conjugate base that resists changes in pH caused by addition of a strong acid or base. Buffer solution - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

API pH Down is sulfuric acid (definitely a strong acid), and API pH Up is sodium carbonate. I don't know why they continue to sell those products, since they aren't really safe for typical aquarium use - it is easy to overdose and change your pH too much too fast. (And in the case of pH Down and hard water, the pH will just rebound again anyhow.)

I assume that pH Down and Up are not recommended for axolotls for the same reason that they are not recommended for fish - pH whiplash.



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Old 11th January 2015   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Safe ways to raise pH, hardness

I used crushed coral in both of my tanks, i have around a fist sized amount (held in the foot of a stocking) that sits on the floor under my filter.
Ive had it for around 2 years and it steadily keeps my PH at around 6.8 or so, but before i added it my ph was below 6!
I originally added a tiny anount but it wasnt enough to raise my PH much, if you keep it in a stocking you can easily just undo the knot and add more if you dont have enough.
Be careful not to swish it around too much and i reccomend a rinse before adding to that tank as it has a lot of dust
i have mine in a 20 denier stocking and it just looks like a rock sitting in my tank

I wouldnt reccomend PH up or down as its chemicals and axies dont go well with chemicals, crushed coral is reccomended and is natural



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Old 11th January 2015   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Safe ways to raise pH, hardness

Is it safe to keep it IN the tank like that or would it be better inside the filter itself? (I have an external cannister).



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Old 11th January 2015   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Safe ways to raise pH, hardness

That is a good question. :-)

I know (the hard way) that cotton will rot. (Who would have thought? An organic material rots in water? ) So, to put it in the tank, you need something like a nylon stocking.

It seems to me that the advantage of putting it in the canister is that you get a steady flow of water through it. The disadvantage would be that it is hard to adjust the amount (unless you put it in a stocking in the filter).



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Old 16th January 2015   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Safe ways to raise pH, hardness

I was stumped like that for ages, swings & crashes of every sort, finally figured out that the water from the tap was extremely soft.
I need to add conditioning salts for freshwater aquariums for the Gh & bi-card soda for the Kh. I tested in tubs first while I was experimenting with levels so that I was not stressing the animals. The guide on the salts works well & I use half a teaspoon of bi-carb per 100 Litres to bring the Kh up 1 degree of hardness at a time. It's a logarithmic scale as far as I can tell, so going any faster than 1 degree at a time will swing the levels, for example 2 teaspoons of bi-carb will not increase the hardness by 4 degrees but will push the Kh through the roof, so take it slowly. Kh can also directly affect the Ph as well so depending on what your aquaria eco systems contain it is something that needs to be thoroughly tested before use.
I am very happy with the Aquarium Salts for Gh as it is also antibacterial & helps with the slime coating axolotls need, but I am not sure if the bi-carb is the perfect option, for now it is holding parameters steady while I continue to look into alternatives or any one else can suggest a better product, which would be truly appreciated.



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Old 17th January 2015   #16 (permalink)
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Default Re: Safe ways to raise pH, hardness

It doesnt matter where in the tank you have the coral. It will still increase the ph, mine is in the stocking under my filter as its near the water flow but is easy to remove/change ect.
I suppose you could put it in the filter. I would recommend still placing it inside a stocking though as its really little bits and may damage your filter otherwise



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