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How to Adjust the pH Level In Your Aquarium

By J W Chase

There are several parameters you need to monitor frequently to keep healthy and happy fish in your aquarium. One of these parameters is pH that needs to be measured on at least weekly. But if it is to low or to high, how do your adjust it in your aquarium to keep it within the range needed for your fish?

What Is pH

To determine the acidity or how alkaline (basic) your aquarium water is, you use a measurement called pH, which has a range of 1 to 14. A pH of 7.0 means the water is neutral, neither acidic nor basic. If the pH is less than 7.0, then the water should be considered acidic and greater than 7.0, then the water is considered basic.

Most fish that you have in your aquarium prefer a pH from 6.0 to 7.5. But if your pH gets out of range how do you adjust it?

Adjusting Your pH

When I was in the Navy I was responsible for maintaining the pH in the steam generators that helped power our nuclear submarine. We used sodium phosphate to keep the pH in a basic condition. I do not recommend using this to keep your pH within the range your fish need.

Your local pet store will have chemicals that you can add to your aquarium to get the pH within specifications. But read the directions carefully because you do not want to change the pH to rapidly. A rapid change in pH by as little as.2 could stress your fish.

Here are some ways to lower your pH slowly:


  • Driftwood – Add a piece of driftwood to your aquarium. Wood will release tannins to your aquarium that will lower the pH.
  • Peat Moss – Adding peat moss to your filter medium will lower the pH of your water.


If you need to raise the pH you can try the following:


  • Baking Soda – This can be used to adjust the pH up.
  • Crushed Coral – Used as a substrate, this can also be used to raise the pH.


Though there are several methods to adjust the pH in your aquarium, the method I would recommend is to use the chemicals available at your local pet store. The reason is that you can control the rate of increase or decrease without stressing your fish.

You probably will not need to adjust your pH, since you will have a large range of pH your fish will live in. Constantly adjusting your pH to keep it at a certain level by adding chemicals could be detrimental to your fish.

Just let your pH drift and it should stay in the range your fish prefer naturally.

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