Driftwood Textures #2 by photosynthesis Photography …

However it is not correct to state that just because one does not take extra measures, others should not as well.
It is noteworthy that even experienced aquarists may not be maintaining the best environment possible, as statements such as: prove absolutely nothing!
Good science states otherwise to such statements, the reason being that many fish adapt to poor environments but do not thrive as well as they could.

Also as noted earlier in this article (the KH section); there are NO EXACT ratios as each aquarium is very unique; so testing is 100% required and even then testing should be performed hours or even a day later after addition of mineral and/or buffering products to allow the chemistry to "settle".
With the use of peat, pillow moss, Indian almond leaves (such as Atison's Betta Spa), driftwood and similar; this "settling in" may take weeks.

Driftwood Textures #2 by photosynthesis

. A higher temperature will lower pH readings at higher values (more alkaline, so it is important to compare pH readings at the same temperature, otherwise readings can be inaccurate.
HOWEVER; "as the pH falls as temperature increases, this does not mean that water becomes more acidic at higher temperatures. A solution is acidic if there is an excess of hydrogen ions over hydroxide ions. In the case of pure water, there are always the same concentration of hydrogen ions and hydroxide ions and hence, the water is still neutral (pH = pOH) - even if its pH changes."

Above Referenced/Quoted in part from:

KH as noted earlier is a stabilizer of pH (towards the alkaline side) whereas peat, Aquarium Drift Wood, Pillow Moss, and dried almond leaves (such as Bio Lif) will aid in lower stabilization.
As well, for really troublesome high pH aquariums, cutting pH/KH with blended RO water may be necessary (see later in this article).

Please note that Natural Buffers such as Peat, Driftwood, Pillow Moss, etc. generally lower pH via a release of acids such as Tannins.
If your carbonates are high (KH) your pH will remain high until a slow balance is reached (please read more about this in the ).
To reach an acid/carbonate balance more quickly, products such as SeaChem’s Acid Buffer can be used.

If using Indian Almond Leaves, Pillow Moss, or Peat, I suggest at least temporarily suspending the use of carbon, you can still use it, just not after initial use of these natural acid buffers, as Carbon can remove Tannins. If the water gets too brown from these products, then slowly re-introduce the carbon back in.


Order California Grapewood and Driftwood

The use of products such as SeaChem Stability which uses facultative bacteria that can still "eat" wastes at lower pH of 6.5 or less where nitrification starts to slow substantially.
SeaChem Prime would be a good product to bind ammonia (NH3).
See this reference for more:



First start by testing your tap or well water (as stated earlier this can gas out so wait for 1 hour before testing).
If your tap/well water is low in pH with little buffering KH, you will have problems maintaining stable or higher pH if that is desired. Areas that draw their water from rivers, especially that flow in boggy areas or are of volcanic origin may have very low pH/KH.
If tap/well water is the problem or part of the problem you will need to add a buffer.

A buffer such as AAP/SeaChem Malawi Buffer is a blend of carbonate salts designed to increase carbonate hardness, buffer capacity, & pH.
For planted aquariums I prefer the AAP/SeaChem Alkaline Buffer, although this product is not as stable as marine or rift lakes buffer as this buffer is more basic like Baking Soda so regular checks of KH are more important when this buffer is employed.

However, as noted in the KH section, the use of phosphate based products such as neutral regulator SHOULD BE AVOIDED!

While Wonder shells will help with Calcium, GH, & essential positive mineral ions; these are NOT a solution to a unstable pH/KH. At best these only aid in KH maintenance, however they are not as useful for water that is already very low in KH/pH and needs to be brought up., when a buffer is added to an aquarium with a KH below 50-100, while at the same time there are little acid buffers (either natural or chemical), the pH may bounce.
DO NOT Chase the pH, simply add some form of acid buffer (many are described later too) and/or accept your new pH.
A tank with stable pH of 7.3 and KH of 50-80 for a Betta than one with a KH of under 50 and pH of 6.8!!

caused by organic debris/mulm, high fish loads, etc.
This can be spotted by a KH of (for example) that starts out at 80 ppm after cleaning, addition of buffer, and/or correct out of the tap, however KH drops rapidly after the initial measurements.
As well, another symptom is that often ammonia, nitrites, and eventually nitrates will spike or be unstable.

Increasing the frequency of filter media rinsings (in cool de-chlorinated water though, so as to preserve nitrifying bacteria). This may mean rinsing as often as twice a week and this includes filter media inside bio bags (Whisper), carbon inserts (Aqua Clear, Internal Wet/Dry), etc.
Also increasing the amount of buffers added to maintain a stable KH will help (assuming ammonia spikes do not indicate a more serious issue).

Lowering fish levels or other aquarium animal inhabitant populations will most certainly help. As well, watch for snail population "explosions", especially small snails living in filters, under gravel, etc. as these can be a hidden cause of acid producing nitrification and decomposition. under rocks/décor and in canister filters/ Wet-Dry filters. Canister filters in particular if let go without a cleaning more than 6 weeks can buildup a lot of decomposing mulm that will add acids to your water.
The use of SeaChem Purigen can absorb organic compounds prior nitrification and/or decomposition.
As well SeaChem Matrix added to filters can balance the nitrification process with de-nitrification.



; Some driftwood in particular can be full of tannins that will lower pH/KH.
Also decomposing (rotting) driftwood will lower pH and KH more than normal cured driftwood, often a symptom of this besides pH drops includes ammonia, nitrite and eventually nitrate spikes.

, this again can add to decomposition that leads to acid build up (sand tends to worse than gravel here, however gravel can cause this too when too deep.
Even an otherwise normally good #3 grade of gravel that is regularly vacuumed may still harbor organic mulm, this is particularly true of many epoxy coated colored gravels as this coating often starts to loosen and allow organic mulm to be trapped there resulting in rapid KH depletion!
The solution is to often remove ½ the gravel at a time (so as to cause as little interruption of the nitrogen cycle) and either change (usually in the case of colored gravel) or thoroughly wash it.

Further Reference: .
Please see this article for more:

After correcting these problems, you still may need to add a buffer or aragonite bag to your aquarium.

This section not only discusses method for lowering pH & KH, but providing for a more "soft" mineral water environment, assuming this is truly necessary based on what has been explained and documented to this point in the article, especially since much of the concern over GH in particular has not been scientifically proven, and in fact quite the opposite has been shown as per needs for mineral Cations and how GH truly affects fish.
From the of this article:
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