pH, You Don't Need to Change It
Randal Bogarth January 18, 2003

It seems that one of the most common questions that I see in the Water Works section is on how to modify pH. For the most part there is absolutely no need to change your pH.

If growing out baby or juvenile discus, there is no need to change it unless it is acid or basic enough to melt them.

If you are trying to breed adults, you might have to modify pH to induce them to spawn but probably not!

I make RO units and help people with water questions very frequently. I have talked to people that have tap water with a wide range of pH values and hardness from soft to rock hard. People with pH of 8.5 report the same sucess with raising and keeping discus as people with 6.0 out of the tap. I personally keep all my discus (except my breeding pair) at a pH of 7.8 with GH of 8 and KH of 6. The breeding pair is at 7.2 due to the addition of RO water that I use to lower TDS.

There is no magic pH value or TDS reading. Consistency in the quality and parameters is more important than anyone's arbitrary set values for water chemistry. There is no absolutely exact value for raising and keeping discus. Giving them consistent pH of 8.0 is better than bouncing your water's pH around with chemicals and additives trying to get that magical 6.8. It's a lot cheaper too, both in chemicals and the health of your fish.

If your tap water pH changes with aging, age your water and do your water changes. If it stays the same and high, just use it as is and do your water changes. Your fish will be happier in the long run.

I personally killed quite a few angelfish and assorted tropicals (dozens in fact) when I was starting out because a local fish store employee told me I had to have a pH of 7.0 for a community tank. So I bought the pH Up and pH Down and the Proper 7.0. I added it and the pH went all over the place. I couldn't figure out why my fish died after I did a water change. It's a miracle I'm still into aquariums it was so frustrating. But a good store owner (trying to sell me discus, in fact) told me that was crap and my fish stopped dying almost immediately. So here I am today, nine tanks with more on the way just waiting for my first pair to get it right (fourth spawn on the 16th! Not yet, but they keep trying!)

A good rule of thumb: If you can drink your tap water your fish will be fine in it.

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