I normally mention checking pH levels through winter. After the dreadful heavy rain last weekend when many of us saw terrible flooding in parts of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire I thought this would be a good time to bring it up again.
pH is a basic water parameter that needs to be checked on a regular basis. It is easy to monitor with a simple inexpensive test kit. The pH test measures acidity or alkalinity with 7 being neutral higher readings alkaline, lower readings an Acid. In general a pH of 6.5 to 8.5 is perfectly acceptable but readings outside this range will almost certainly cause issues and need to be rectified.
A common problem that can occur with pH is that it suddenly drops and forms a strong acid. This is referred to as a pH crash. It can happen very quickly and often results in the mysterious death of your fish. pH crash is a major problem in soft water areas where the water is lacking carbonate minerals and has very little in what is referred to as buffering capacity.
To prevent the pH from crashing we need to maintain a level of carbonates This can be done by adding treatments of KH buffer powder which is available from most aquatic outlets.
I would also recommend that you add a bag of crushed Oyster shells to the filter or pond. Oyster shells slowly dissolve if the water is acidic and raise the buffering capacity.
pH crash often occurs during the winter months when the pond is being topped up by heavy rainfall. Rainwater is soft in nature and lacks the necessary minerals. In general using rain water to keep a pond topped up is not a good practice for this reason. Ph crash can have devastating consequences, but it is easy to remedy and prevent.
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