All aquarium pets and plants need water of a specific pH level to survive and grow. Differences in pH can affect their health and even put their lives at risk. Hence, aquarium owners should ensure that the pH level of their aquatic setting is consistent. However, most of the things added to a tank will affect the pH. One of the most common ingredients used by fish tank owners is aquarium salt. So, will aquarium salt raise pH?
Adding aquarium salt increases the salinity of the water, but it does not raise the water pH. However, other types of salts like sea salt will change the pH. Even ingredients like crushed coral and seashells will alter the pH of the water. So it’s essential to take the type of salt into account.
But why is water pH so crucial for an aquarium?
The Importance Of Water pH In Aquarium Settings
The term pH denotes how acidic or basic a substance is.
Water with a pH of 1 to 7 is acidic, while a pH of 7.1 to 14 denotes basic.
When the pH changes, the important parameters affecting the health of aquatic life also change.
This affects the well-being of fish and other aquatic creatures in the setting.
So, the pH of the water affects the health of aquarium pets and plants.
In the wild, different water bodies have different pH levels.
The same water body may even have different pH levels at different depths.
Aquatic creatures have developed adaptations to survive in the pH conditions of their water habitat.
So, when you keep these animals as pets, you should recreate a similar environment and tailor the water chemistry to suit their pH needs.
For instance, goldfish thrive at pH levels of 7.2 to 7.5. Meanwhile, tetras and angelfish prefer a pH level of 6.0 to 7.0.
While some fish like discus thrive in a very narrow pH range, others are hardy and can tolerate a wider range of water pH levels.
When choosing fish and other creatures for a tank, you should pick species with similar pH needs.
Unless their water chemistry needs overlap, their health and well-being will be compromised.
When you force fish to live in water with higher or lower pH levels, their immunity, fertility, and even lifespan can be affected.
It can cause immense stress to the animal.
Why Is pH Adjustment Needed For Aquariums?
The pH level of an aquarium changes over time due to various reasons.
The breakdown of organic material in an aquarium can lead to pH changes.
It will also change when you add medication to the tank.
Other causes for pH variations include pollution of the water due to the death of fish or other factors, decrease or increase in aeration, or even the use of a water purifier.
So, it is important to continuously monitor the pH of the aquarium and ensure that it matches the needs of your pets and plants.
Fluctuations in the pH can stress the aquarium creatures and even lead to their death.
The pH level of an aquarium also affects other water quality aspects.
For instance, it has a significant impact on the nitrification bacteria in the tank.
Nitrification bacteria keep the ammonia and nitrite levels in the tank under check.
These creatures ensure that the water is not toxic for your fish.
When the pH level decreases, it can kill these bacteria and disrupt the balance of the nitrogen cycle.
The water will become toxic and affect the health of your pets.
You can restore the pH balance of your fish tank by regularly cycling the water.
Partial water changes and constant monitoring of the pH level using a pH meter or testing kit will help you track and maintain a constant pH level.
Related Further Reading:
- Can Aquarium Salt Kill Snails? (How Salt Can Harm Snails)
- Are Aquarium Snails Nocturnal? (Mystery, Nerite, Pond Snails, Etc.)
- Do Aquarium Plants Need Light? (5 Plants That Survive In Low Light)
- How To Stop Aquarium Plants From Dying? (11 Different Ways)
How To Adjust The pH Of An Aquarium?
You can adjust the pH of water by adding certain ingredients to the fish tank.
Depending on whether you want the water to become more acidic or alkaline, these agents will differ.
Higher pH levels are associated with marine habitats.
So, you can increase the pH of water by adding substances that belong to these environments.
Crushed coral and marine salt will increase aquarium pH levels. You can also add baking soda to raise the pH of water.
Similarly, you can add peat moss, driftwood, or RO water to lower the pH of the water.
Other methods are to decrease the aeration of the tank or inject carbon dioxide.
Whether you must raise or reduce the pH of your aquarium, do it gradually.
Remove the fish from the tank before adding an agent to alter the pH of the water.
Check if the desired pH level is achieved using a testing kit or pH meter before reintroducing the fish into the tank.
To help your fish adjust better to a change in pH, alter it incrementally.
You can even add the agent over several days to give the fish time to acclimatize to the new conditions.
Why Doesn’t Aquarium Salt Affect The pH Of Water?
Many fish tank owners keep aquarium salt handy to treat fish diseases.
It is a cheap but effective remedy for various health conditions.
Aquarium salt aids in the healing of wounds, prevention of infections, and eases fin rot and other external conditions.
It is sometimes also used as a tonic to keep the fish healthy.
By using aquarium salt, fish tank owners use the principle of osmosis to eliminate harmful disease-causing pathogens from the aquarium.
Most external fish diseases are caused by tiny parasites like bacteria.
These microorganisms are much smaller than their host fish and cannot even be seen by the naked eye.
When you expose a fish to aquarium salt, the process of osmosis causes the fluids inside the parasites to be sucked out.
It makes them dehydrated, and the harmful microorganisms eventually die.
Meanwhile, their large size allows the fish to tolerate the increased salinity.
Once the pathogens die, the fish can easily recover from the disease.
Now, you may wonder why aquarium salt does not affect the pH of the water.
Aquarium salt is pure sodium chloride. When you add it to water, it dissolves and makes the water salty.
However, for the pH of the water to increase or decrease, the additive should cause a chemical reaction.
Sodium chloride merely dissolves in water. There is no chemical reaction and hence no change in the pH level.
Meanwhile, if you were to add marine salt, it would be different.
Marine salt introduces trace elements to the tank and thus alters the pH of the water. It also increases the salinity of the water.
Interesting Further Reading:
- Is Aquarium Salt Safe For Shrimp? [Ghost, Amano, Cherry, Etc.]
- Is Aquarium Salt Safe For Bettas? [How Can It Help Bettas?]
- Can Aquarium Plants Carry Ich? (How To Treat Plants With Ich?)
- Do Aquarium Plants Need CO2? (Yes And No, Here’s Why…)
Will Epsom Salt Raise pH In An Aquarium?
Another type of salt that is often used by fish tank owners is Epsom salt. Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate.
It is useful to treat conditions like dropsy, constipation, and swim bladder disorders in fish.
Epsom salt is also added to aquarium settings to adjust the water hardness.
Hard water contains more dissolved magnesium and calcium than soft water.
So, if your fish prefer hard water but you live in an area of soft water, you can use Epsom salt to make it suitable for your pets.
Epsom salt has a negligible effect on the pH of an aquarium.
Nevertheless, it alters the hardness of the water and helps fish balance their osmoregulatory systems.
However, to change the pH level of your fish tank to a significant extent, use stronger agents like baking soda.