WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PH IN MARINE AQUARIUMS
What is the pH Scale?
Why is pH Important in a Marine Aquarium?
What Causes Low pH in a Saltwater Tank?
Tips for Resolving pH Problems
- Use of CO2 Reactors – The use of a calcium carbonate or CO2 reactor is a common cause for low pH in marine aquariums. These devices work by using acidic carbon dioxide to dissolve calcium carbonate as a means of increasing the acidity of tank water. Unfortunately, sometimes the used CO2 doesn’t get blown back out of the tank as it should, so it becomes concentrated in your tank water and lowers the pH. To resolve this issue, you need to adjust your CO2 reactor properly as your first step. You can also use limewater or another alkalinity supplement to raise the pH.
- High Indoor CO2 Levels – If the carbon dioxide levels in the air in your home are too high, it could become concentrated in your tank water. Excess CO2 in the air may be the result of unvented appliances burning natural gas, or it could be caused by respiration of people and pets in the household. To resolve this issue, you can try opening a window near your tank to get rid of excess CO2. Another option that requires a little more work is to run tubing from the outside and connect it to the air input on your protein skimmer. Just be mindful of using this option in an area where there might be insecticides or other toxic chemicals in the air.
- Low Alkalinity – If the alkalinity level in your tank is too low, it could lead to low pH. The calcification process in a marine tank removes alkalinity from the water and, if you don’t supplement the alkalinity as fast as it is being depleted, you could end up with low pH. The ideal solution for this particular problem is, of course, adding more alkalinity to the tank.
- Nitrogen Cycle – Another cause for low pH that hasn’t been mentioned yet is the nitrogen cycle. This is the cycle through which beneficial bacteria convert ammonia, a byproduct of the process through which organic wastes are broken down, into nitrites and then nitrates. If you add inhabitants to your tank before it has finished cycling, it could throw your water chemistry out of whack and the excess acid being produced in the tank might lead to the degradation of CO2 and lowered pH. The solution here is to fully cycle your tank before adding inhabitants.
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