pH in a Dwarf Shrimp Aquarium

When keeping Dwarf Shrimp in the home aquarium it often becomes necessary to modify water parameters to meet the shrimp’s requirements. The pH of the water is often one of the most important parameters to maintain in appropriate ranges.

Before modifying pH it is important to note that all changes should be made gradually if there are shrimp already in the aquarium. It is also important to not allow the pH (or any water parameters) to fluctuate.

Lowering pH

Chemicals

There are chemicals sold at almost every pet store that sells fish equipment that are intended to lower pH. These chemicals lower the pH by adding acid to the water. This is only a temporary solution as the buffers in the water counter act the chemicals and the pH will eventually return to its original state. This is a very expensive, ineffective, and dangerous method of altering pH. The inconsistent nature of these chemicals causes pH swings that can cause major problems with Dwarf Shrimp.

Co2


Carbon Dioxide injection in the aquarium is often used to aide in plant growth. Injecting Co2 causes a Co2 to bond with the water creating carbonic acid. The carbonic acid lowers the pH of the aquarium water but has no effect on hardness. If the water is fairly soft but has a high pH than desired Co2 injection using a fully automated system can be an effective method of controlling pH. Caution should be used when using Co2 as overdoses of Co2 can cause major issues.

Substrates


There are a few substrates on the market that are made to specifically soften the aquarium water and lower the pH. These substrates are often used in conjunction with reverse osmosis filtration, which lowers the water hardness greatly. The best substrate for this purpose is Aqua Soil Amazonia. Using these substrates with or without reverse osmosis is the most recommended method to maintain soft slightly acidic water. Care must be taken when using a new bag of Aqua Soil Amazonia, as it will cause an Ammonia Spike. See Cycling Aqua Soil Amazonia for more information.

Raising pH

Chemicals

There are chemicals sold at almost every pet store that sells fish equipment that are intended to raise pH. These chemicals cause a temporary rise in pH, but just like the chemicals used to lower pH they get expensive and are very ineffective. These chemicals cause fluctuations in water parameters which can be dangerous to aquarium inhabitants.

Substrates

There are many substrates that are made to increase pH in the home aquarium. Many substrates made for marine aquariums are good for raising pH. Crushed coral is one of the better substrates for this. Substrates made for African Cichlids are great at maintaining a high pH. The best substrate for this is Eco-Complete African Cichlid Substrate.

Filtration


When only needing to raise pH slightly, adding buffering substances to the aquarium filter. Adding a handful of crushed coral to a filter will buffer the waters hardness and will also cause the pH to rise. This solution is safe and works long term. The crushed coral in the filter will only need to be replaced every 3-4 months.
It is very important to prevent pH swings in the aquarium. Instability in the aquarium is often much more harmful than maintaining a stable pH outside of the ideal range. Stability is crucial!