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FAQs on Dips/Baths pH Adjustment

Related Articles: Dips/Baths, Methylene Blue, Formalin/Formaldehyde, Quarantine, Tank Troubleshooting, Toxic Tank Conditions, Environmental Disease (incl. Lymphocystis), Nutritional Disease, Infectious Diseases, Parasitic Diseases, Wound Management (/aquarists), A Livestock Treatment System

Related FAQs: Dips/Baths 1, Dips/Baths 2, Dips/Baths 3, & FAQs on Dip/Bath: Rationale/Use, Methods, ToolsAdditives, Iodine/ide/ate, Lugol's Use, Methylene Blue, Formalin/Formaldehyde, Dangers Will Robinson, Products, & Best Quarantine FAQs, Quarantine Acclimation 1, Acclimating Invertebrates, Acclimation of Livestock in the Business

Simple carbonates or even just bicarbonates if the pH desired is low... to raise the pH... And simple inorganic acids (e.g. Sodium biphosphate) to lower...

after Ich outbreak 1/21/13
first please let me state one more time just how important your site is, especially for someone living in Romania where the closest LFS is 5 hours away by car and it might just be the only serious one in the country ( at least for marine aquariums) and  the ocean is even further away.
<Aye ya. You're a brave aquarist>
So, I am 8 months in the hobby, set up a 250 gallons ( 1000 litres) tank with 80 gallons sump. The idea was a mix reef tank and I was in heaven:
corals ( no SPS for now but the coraline is growing..) thriving, and fishes all the way from a beautiful Achilles to a mated pair of Auromarginatus triggers, Zebrasomas and Naso tang. All eating and doing great. Then, the disaster: the guy from the far away LFS that installed everything and brought the fishes forgot to instruct me on one tiny detail: quarantine.
The Ich outbraked, the guy recommended me some "reef safe " product that of course did nothing and I spent my holydays watching my fishes die.
<Frustrating for sure. Yes, there are no such things as "reef safe" antiprotozoal agents... why would they just select parasites?>
My 2 problems now : I manages to save one Xanthurum and one Veliferum Zebrasomas that are in a hospital 25 gallons tank with hyposalinity now. It has been 21 days with no sign of Ich but I cannot keep the water quality right. I change 50% of water every day but still the nitrates readings are horrible. I don`t even compare them on the chart anymore, they are ruby red.. At the beginning I introduced a sponge filter that was in my sump for months, I also introduced filter media already cycled, I am putting in bottled bacterias, but nothing.. The fishes are eating, but I don`t know how long will they survive in there. What should I do?
<I'd pH adjusted freshwater bath them, w/ formalin if you can get it... and move back/forth twixt these tanks for a few days... w/ dumping, bleaching, rinsing and refilling in-between, to break the cycle. Please read here:
and the linked files above for areas where you need further information>
Maybe the hypo is causing the bacterias to not develop, after 21 days should I increase the salinity slowly and introduce them to a empty but cycled tank that I was preparing for the Quarantine of my future fishes ( lesson learned !!!! ) ?
Second problem : in my display tank with all the rock and the corals, anemones, shrimps, cleaning crew, etc which I still love to admire and dream about the fishes there are still 3 Firefish gobies left... They have absolutely no sign of Ich, I have bought a fish trap and not feed them for 5 days hopping I would catch them, I have tried even the smallest hook I could find with Mysis in it, nothing... They can disappear under the rocks for 2 days and then appear again. What should I do?
<I would (risk) leave/ing them there... and hope to have the Crypt infestation lose its pathogenicity. Please read here re:
 Taking down all the rock and corals to catch them is like a nightmare. Are there any chances they being resistant to the parasite that would be like not being there? ( I think I know the answer but I am throwing a desperate line here..) If I put back the 2 Zebrasomas that probably are immune now is there a period in which the Ich wears itself out?
<Of a kind, yes... loses virulence>
Sorry for the long email, and I know that this is not the first time you answer to these questions, but I am alone here on this one and quite disappointed. I knew what amount of time and energy will this activity consume, and I am ready to commit, we ( my wife and our 2 children) all enjoyed it, but now these are rough times aquarium wise for me.
thank you, Andrei
<You're welcome Andrei. Please do write us back re your further efforts, results. Bob Fenner>
Re: after Ich outbreak 1/21/13
hello again,
thank you for the quick answer.
ok, now is time for less writing and more action. Just some quick clarifications:
1) I will try the freshwater bath, but what concentration of blue Methylene,
<Archived/posted on the site... very non-toxic... I add till the water is very blue>
and also, the tanks they will move in will have normal salinity or hypo?
<... this is also gone over and over on WWM>
If normal, how do I get there, progressively or not? In the meantime can I use with success Seachem Prime to take down the nitrites?
<Not really; no... Only good for spot/immediate treatment>
2) After the days, you suggest to move them into the DT?
<Up to you. I would>
3) If I somehow manage to get the 3 remaining Firefishes out of the display tank, then it`s better to leave the tank fallow and wait with the other Zebrasomas in a quarantine of some sort with normal salinity? For 6-8 weeks?
<The tangs will more likely perish in quarantine if kept there this long>
4) Last one: I begin to get the crazy idea that it is probable that I will never get rid of Ich completely even if I follow the procedures, so I will have to "live with it" ??!
 How can I do that when I plan to introduce Acanthurus Japonicus and maybe other very susceptible fishes, when this outbreak, ( that I have tried to live with ... ) killed all my fishes ?
<... please read where you've been referred to... I/we can't help you unless you are willing to follow directions>
The only "good" thing out of this is that now I can plan my own researched livestock, not what the fish store sold me, that guy put inside my tank Acanthurus Leucosternon, Achilles, Lineatus,
<... these three are very poor choices>
Triostegus, Vroliiki, Naso, Centropyge Loricula, Bicolor, a pair of Auromarginatus triggers, 10-15 gobies and  wrasses, Chelmon Rostratus  and more. I would say it was a little crowded, and not totally compatible. I have a general idea of what I want, but I will ask advice on this matter when the time will come.
thank you for now
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: after Ich outbreak - 1/25/13

Thank you, you are right, I will have to read more.
But I encountered another problem: I set up a new tank with 100% new water, 1.009 salinity, ph buffered with Baking soda, temperature ok, and prepared the dip: RO water, baking soda, Methylene blue, the temperature 2-3 degrees higher than the source tank and begin. In the instant that I introduced the Xanthurum it froze and turned upside down. So after 3-5 seconds I took it out and put it in the new tank. For some seconds it hit his head on the glass than regain normality. Same thing with the Veliferum.
What has happened ? What did I do wrong?
<Mmm, maybe the baking soda wasn't completely dissolved... burning the fishes>
Before asking I have searched WWM but didn't find any similar situations.
Thank you in advance,
<Welcome. BobF>
Re: after Ich outbreak -update - 1/25/13

After 2 hours all the fishes have died after the 5 seconds dip. I really don't understand what happened ! But I would like to know for the future.
<Please see WWM re dips/baths... the associated FAQs files; am out of the country and can't load the site, find references for others. BobF>
Re: after Ich outbreak -update   1/29/13

thank you,
yes, the problem probably was a ph shock. I did put the baking soda in the water 20-30 minutes before the dip, but relying on the fact that I could not overdose the baking soda I did put a small teaspoon in only a small 4-5 liter container with water that I prepared for the dip. Maybe it was too much too soon..
<As long as it was all in solution (dissolved completely) there should not have been a problem/issue>
Well, it was the worst possible start of my reef tank, and I feel sorry that my stupidity and bad advice that I received ( overstocking, not quarantining, rushing ) translated in the death of all these beautiful fishes. This is really not me.
Now the next stage has to be prepared. The display is fishless, ( and is going to stay like that for 6 weeks - for the last 4 there were only the 2 Firefish in there anyway, that had no sign of the disease) I took everything out, re did the aquascaping and took the 2 remaining Firefish gobies out. (The corals are doing great.)   I have 4 quarantine tanks in my garage that are cycling now, I have some more questions:
1) Sensitive fishes like Chelmon rostratus can go through a quarantine process in a 100 liters relatively new ( even cycled ) tank ?
<Yes; if selected, received in good initial health>
Or should I just make a bath and then 2-3 days in the q tank and then in the display? ( maybe if is the only fish in the display while the others are quarantining ..)
<Commercially we dipped/bathed all... hobbyists often just quarantine, or quarantine THEN dip/bath enroute to the main display>
2) In my 1000 liters reef tank can I house a Paracanthurus hepatus with an Acanthurus japonicus, Naso elegans and 2-3 Zebrasomas ( Xanthurum, Desjardinii, Flavescens ) ?
<Likely so; yes>
I shouldn`t even dream of a Sohal in there, right ?
<I would not, with these other tangs here... OR would place last, as a small specimen, AFTER the other fishes had been present for a few months>
3) Should I make baths of all my new fishes even if they would go into quarantine right after?
<Up to you... again, in the business we (our companies) did so w/ most all (but not Clownfishes, some other families)>
Once again, thank you very much for your support.
<Glad to help you. Bob Fenner>

Re: Dip, 1/9/11
Thank you Chris,
Two follow up questions (in larger text) listed below for clarification.
<Moved up here for easier posting.>
Ok, lets say the "bag's" PH is 8.2 and I adjust the dip water to 8.2, how do I acclimate the fish to the QT tank which is 8.4 to 8.5 (like my display tank)? At some point I have to get the fish adjusted to 8.4/8.5.
<If the numbers are as close as you show here then I would just make the dip 8.3 and use that as the adjustment. If the numbers are more spread apart adjust the QT to the bag as well and slowly bring that up to the display's pH level.>
Agreed, but I do I get the "bad things off my QT corals before going into the display tank.
<If you find the "bad things" during QT then treat appropriately, but I would not treat without a diagnosis.>
Also, can you tell me a make and model for an accurate PH tester, maybe digital. Price is not real critical, I just want one that works. I have two PH test kits, one by Instant Ocean and one by Red Sea . One reads 8.1 to 8.2 and the other reads 8.5 to 8.6, (very subjective).
<I use a Hanna pH tester and have been pretty happy with it.
http://www.hannainst.com/usa/prods2.cfm?id=002003&ProdCode=HI 98128 >
Thanks again for your help,

Methylene Blue and Fresh Water Baths -- 01/30/10
Hi there,
I wanted to do a dip/bath for an incoming fish and had a question. I read here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dips_baths.htm but found I still was a bit confused about the process.
<Let's try to make it less so>
When it says to use Methylene Blue and fresh water for dips is the fresh water supposed to be matched in Ph as well as temp and other parameters or is it just the temp?
<Better to try matching pH if possible/practical... Simple Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda), will get you close enough here>
Also I found this product http://www.fishyfarmacy.com/products2.html but it says that its not for use on scale-less fish. I have an Arothron Puffer coming in and wanted to use this method before I put him/her in the QT. My question is, are they saying not to use it for scale-less fish to cover themselves or is there some other reason (change in the chemical maybe) that makes it not safe for scale-less fish?
<A bit of both. Whatever dip media is employed, best to "stand watch", be ready to move the fish/es>
Thank you for your assistances with all of my fish questions. Your time and help is greatly appreciated.
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>

Re: Yellow Tang   12/6/09
Thanks Bob making preparations now, have RO heating up the ph is low 6.5 so need to bring that up 8.2 both QT and display same so that's a plus, I have bicarbonate of soda , can't find any info on how much bicarbonate to use ?
many thanks,
Regards Chris.
<Mmm... a tsp. or so in a gallon or so will likely do here. Sodium bicarbonate will not dangerously over-elevate pH...
Maybe give a read here if interested in its applicable chemistry:

API pH Product Question/FW Dips 10/3/09
<Good morning>
I must say you guys are a great service.
<Thank you.>
I always feel I get my answers when I read your website. Anyways, I have a quick question that I could not find an answer for.
I plan to give my SW fish a FW dip. So I purchased RO water from a reputed fish store. They said the pH of that water is in the range of 6-7. So I also purchased an "API pH Up" bottle that claims to raise the pH level.
Instructions say I need to add 2 drops for every US gallon to raise pH.
My question is:
1) How much will it raise the pH of the RO FW that I have?
<Difficult to answer, a pH test kit must be used to determine.>
2) Does it automatically raise it to 8.2 assuming I start with 1 gallon and add 2 drops.
<No, depends on the pH of the water it is being added to. API's pH Up is basically a 10% sodium hydroxide solution which in effect is Kalkwasser.>
3) Or do I need to keep adding till it reaches a pH of 8.2?
<Yes, but allow 30 minutes to stabilize before adding more. Again, do use a pH test kit to monitor.>
4) If #3, then will it be stable or keep on fluctuating? How long do I wait? (I plan to dip the fish as soon as I see a range of 8 - 8.2)
<It will/should remain stable provided no acidic compounds find their way into the water.>
Btw, do you guys support FW dips? And by what percentage does it rid the fish of ich etc...any guesstimate???
<Yes, we support FW dips, is a good first stage in treatment. Do read here.
Thanks for your help.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Measuring pH for a FW dip  4/29/08 I wrote to you a few days ago regarding my ich infestation. I've been following the advice I received here and my fish have been symptom free for days now (now just need to wait out the 6 weeks for the main tank). So thank you! <cool> The bad news is that the last of my charges to capture and move to the hospital tanks, my shy Royal Gramma, and my lightning fast Purple Firefish (*Nemateleotris decora) *were "treated" to a FW dip that, for the first time, was being prepared using a brand new Hanna pHep 5 digital meter. I used the same heavily filtered (4 stage filter w/ sediment, heavy metal, carbon for chlorine, chloramine, organics, etc) tap water that I've used very successfully for other FW dips. Then I matched temp and proceeded to add Sodium Bicarbonate (simple Arm&Hammer) until the Hanna meter read the dip water at 8.1 as well. I let it sit for 30 minutes to make sure it had stabilized, and then read the pH again. It had crept higher to 8.4 so I dumped part of the solution and started over. Eventually I managed to produce a reading of 8.1 that was stable for an entire 30 min.s. <Not long enough... should have waited at least an hour.> Then I dipped the fish and they immediately went catatonic. Of course, their gill breathing looked fine and I'd read that should be my primary determinant so I foolishly pushed onward with the dip. Long and short of it is that my fish spent the good part of last day lying on their sides (classic pH shock), completely rigid taking massive breaths in their hospital tank. I'm hopeful albeit realistic about their chances since I know how damaging pH shock can be. I later measured the pH using my old Quick dip sticks, and if I had to guess I would say the color indicated a pH more like 9-10. I calibrated the meter before all of this. It read the 7 buffer correctly, the 10 buffer correctly, and it read my tank at 8.1. But somehow it seemingly read 9-10 pH FW as 8.1 as well. Additionally, it reads aerated, agitated, 1 day aged synthetic salt water (instant ocean) mixed with DI water as having a pH of 7.5. I am now terrified to use it for anything and am more than a bit down that family members I've had with me for a while suffered so badly as a result of this debacle. <I'm sorry for your lose. I do not think it is the pH meter. When adjusting pH using baking soda, you should wait *at least* an hour to get an accurate measurement after adding.> In short, have you seen these types of errors with pH meters before? Is the pH meter fine but there is something about water chemistry and pH fluctuations that I am missing here / must not understand? <Yes, as mentioned above... next time do things more slowly.> I have no idea what I might've missed. I researched how to do this properly for such a long time before I attempted it. I feel like I've read every page on WWM regarding this over and over. <Yikes, I'm sorry.> Thank you so very much for your help. -Fred <Best, Sara M.>

Re: Measuring pH for a FW dip 4/30/08 Thanks Sara. I think I'll try out what you were saying and setup another batch of dip water (not to use, just for instructional purposes) and observe the measurements over the course of 2 hours as the solution stabilizes. <good idea> I want to become comfortable with this since I'd like to dip these guys again in 6 weeks when they come out of the treatment tank and I certainly want their stay to feel more like a jaunt at the Ritz than a trap from the movie Hostel. <:-) Also, if you're not already, use an air stone too.> No more questions, just wanted to thank you for your help and let you sincerely know how much I appreciate it. The guys who were pH shocked seem to be doing better as well. They've continued to recover and hopefully with good care they'll make it out of the woods. <They should, yes.> Best, Fred <Best, Sara M.>

pH drop during freshwater dip Hello Crew, <Tom> Tonight I put a new Longnose Butterfly into our display tank after an apparently successfully crypt treatment. It had broken out with crypt spots just hours after bringing it home from the LFS and placing in QT. Must have had a latent infection because it looked spotless at the LFS... and they claimed it would be parasite-free since they had had it for a couple of weeks. <Mmmm, right... Very few stores (I know of three in the U.S.) have the facilities, discipline... to keep new livestock apart from general...> Anyway, copper and a few weeks of observation cured that problem. As an extra precaution I FW dipped this fish before placing in the display. I used "Proper pH 8.2" to match the dip to the display water. <Mmmm....> Right after I put the fish in the dip, the pH reading on the monitor dropped like a rock, from 8.3 to 7.7 in about a minute. <Glad to see you were monitoring... but how?> Not wanting to risk it, I put the fish into the display after just the short dip. My question is, why would the FW pH drop like this? Not enough buffer? This product supposedly buffers in addition to raising the pH, and if I add too much the pH will rise to 10+. <Mmm, first off... I'm concerned with the test/er... Some part of the API product may have affected it/this... assuredly this degree/suddenness of pH drop is anomalous> Could you recommend a more stable buffer/pH adjuster to use next time? <Just simple sodium bicarbonate... aka baking soda... Won't raise the pH more than about 8.0... is very safe, effective... Am sure you understand my points/drive here...> How about Seachem's Reef Buffer, is that a good one to use to prepare FW dips? Thanks, Tom <I'd stick with Armand Hammer's product... Though Seachem's line of pH, alkalinity products is excellent... Bob Fenner>

Re: pH drop during freshwater dip  2-14-08 Hi Bob, <Tom> I was monitoring this FW dip with a Reef Fanatic pH unit <Mmm, this looks to be a good re-packaged product... I see they provide some standards for pHs of 4.0 and 7.0... Did you calibrate this device to a higher pH than this?> I bought recently. I always used to use just a simple API color pH test when preparing FW dips, but inadvertently killed a nice Solorensis wrasse not too long ago with a dip that was pH and temp adjusted, and aerated... he just seemed to have a stroke/seizure and died within seconds. <Can/does happen at times... particularly with "tightly wound" species as this> After the wrasse died I tested the dip water with a color test and the pH was in the mid 7's. I couldn't think of anything else I did wrong, <Had you added some other product to the water? Formalin perchance?> so this time around I pulled the electronic monitor out of the display to watch what happened with the butterfly. Sure enough, the pH started dropping as soon as the fish hit the water. <Some drop might be expected... from carbon dioxide from the specimen/s... but nothing this vast...> Very strange, but I've now seen this happen twice, using two different pH test methods. I won't be using this API product any more... even though I've dipped other fish at least a half-dozen times using the same method. <I have done these dips... tens of thousands of times... "Sold" the practice to MANY wholesale, collector and tranship companies as a friend, consultant... This is a tried and true "technology"> As always, your time and comments are much appreciated and I just made a long overdue donation on your Amazon payment system. Tom <Thank you, BobF>

Re: pH drop during freshwater dip  2-14-08 Hi Bob - answers to your questions: <Welcome> This pH monitor only calibrates to 4 and 7. I liked this feature since the main reason I got it was to monitor the calcium reactor. But you bring up a good point in that I should get some ph 10 fluid and see how accurate it is at higher pH. <Yes> The FW dip was pure RO water with a TDS of zero. <Oh! This could be "it"... no buffering capacity either...> No formalin or anything else, other than what might be in the API pH conditioner. I tried to find out what's in it, but their material safety data sheet only says that it contains three different "trade secrets". <Mmm, not so secret... these are "the usual suspects" used in such admixtures> Thanks again for sharing your experiences. Loads of great things about this hobby, but killing animals with my own ignorance has to be one of the low points. Tom <Mine too Tom... my efforts here are likely to some degree made out of a sense of recompense for the many errors of my past. Cheers, BobF>

Fresh water dip question I've been trying to simplify my Fw dip (for marine fish) procedure by changing from baking soda to "Proper PH 8.2" to adjust the PH, however, I'm seeing something bizarre, and I was hoping you could shed some light on what is going on. <I'll try my best>  I use R/O water (and verify its TDS is < 5ppm), and it usually has a ph in the 6 - 7 range (I understand this slightly acidic reading is expected due to carbonic acid - found this in your FAQs). The problem with baking soda, is it requires a lot of trial/error to get a ph of 8.0 or slightly higher. I tried Proper ph 8.2 (and hoped it would 'lock in' on 8.2 w/o overshooting), but it always kicked my freshwater ph up to 9.8-10.2. I verified this with 2 separate ph pens (and recalibrated them with 7/10 solutions to verify their accuracy. Even fractional doses of proper ph 8.2 shot the ph up to 9.8 +. I thought this could be a bad 'batch', but even a separate container of proper ph 8.2 (from a different store) gave the same results (and the pH 8.2 was shaken well before using). I though maybe something was reacting with it in my RO water, but it had only 4.8 ppm, so it seemed 'clean', and I got the same result if I used bottled distilled water (with a ppm of ~1 ppm).  I had always assumed proper ph 8.2 was foolproof - even if overdosed, it would lock in on 8.2. Am I missing something here? any ideas on what could be causing this? <No chemical yet can analyze your water and dissolve the correct amount of ions to make your water 8.2 no matter what the original pH was - we need nanotechnology for that! In the meantime, use your proper pH or another buffer (aquarium systems or SeaChem make quality buffer products) and dose in small amounts until the desired pH is reached>  also, 2 other questions for you:  1) what are the symptoms of ammonia poisoning: I've seen 'gill burn' in the FAQs, but does this basically mean 'rapid gill movements'? Are there other symptoms? <Lethargy, instances of "flicking" or other sporadic and quick movements, followed by lethargy, and red gills are some common signs. Also depends on the species>  2) what are the symptoms of nitrate poisoning? I've seen this discussed on the FAQs, but couldn't find the set of symptoms - looks like the fish can invert, bounce into things, etc - poor motor coordinate/almost tranquilized? <same as ammonia poisoning>  Thanks! <No problems, good luck. M. Maddox>

I killed a tang. pH adjustment Hi Crew! How do you get fresh water ph to equal your system water ph? It is impossible to do with test kits.   <Pre-mix your tap with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)... a very safe material, as it will not elevate pH too high> I did my best with a couple test kits and fresh water dipped a tang and killed a very healthy beautiful fish. <Not likely with just this error> I had aerated distilled water for 24 hrs,  matched temp and tried to match ph, I dipped for 5 minutes, he made it through the night but when I got home he was dead.  I know it was the ph, I had a feeling I was way off.   I get the feeling that fresh water test kits don't work so well when dealing with pure water. The scale colours don't match at all. I have many different kits and all do this when dealing with distilled water.   <Don't use distilled... other problems here... with osmotic shock principally> Is there an exact amount of baking soda I can add to  1 gal of water that will bring it out to 8.2? <Yes... with the use of an alkalinity test kit and your mind> I am now afraid to dip fish.  My tang had a few black spots..   I know formalin works, does copper? Thanks so much! <Please read on www.WetWebMedia.com re Yellow Tang Disease. Bob Fenner>

Re: I killed a tang Thank you so much Mr.. Fenner,  I will in the future use tap water and prepare it  ahead of time. <Ahh, good. You will find that this preparation is actually quite simple> I  have TCMA and will likely receive your other book for Christmas. You are my reference that I trust  much more than anybody else. Thanks for being there and I sure hope to be able to repay you <You have done so here. Thank you my young friend. Bob Fenner> Flipping About Dipping (FW Dip Questions) 8/6/05 After reading over the site for a couple of hours I still have a couple of questions regarding a dip for my Yellow Tang that has recently (within the past 18 hrs or so) been afflicted with Turbellaria. My concern is the water, I have read tap water (de-chlored, ph checked, a degree or two above his current saltwater temp, with the addition of Methylene blue...or do I use RO/DI? I read another issue where all 4 of the guys tangs died using RO/DI. Should I just use tap water? <I have always used buffered RO/DI water for my freshwater dips...Essentially, the same water that I use for mixing my replacement saltwater, minus the salt. There is really no great magic to it, IMO. Freshwater dips are a potentially traumatic experience for marine fishes, no doubt about it. However, if executed carefully and observed keenly, there should be no problems. In all of the years that I have been utilizing FW dips, I have only lost one fish, and that was due to my own carelessness (the fish jumped out of the dip bucket when I wasn't paying attention). A properly executed dip will create no lasting negative effects to otherwise healthy fishes. Many potentially problematic parasites and protozoa don't tolerate the dip process as well as the fishes, hence their effectiveness.> This is the only confusing thing for me. <Just read up on dips in our articles section on the WWM site for all of the details.> I do plan to quarantine him after using water from his "old tank" should I just mix up fresh salt water for the quarantine instead. <Personally, I'd use water from the existing tank. The process is traumatic enough without the unnecessary extra stress caused by brand new water after the dip, IMO> Also, as far as aerating the dipping water??? Is this necessary with tap water w/ Methylene blue. <You could, but I never have. The fish will only be in the dip for a matter of minutes.> Thanks in Advance...your site is sooooo helpful. Amy <My pleasure, Amy! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> 3 of my fish have ick and I need to find out how to do a freshwater dip.  7/11/06 Hello, <Hi Nancy - Tim answering your question today!> 3 of my fish have ick and I need to find out how to do a freshwater dip. The question I really have is how do I match up the PH level in the freshwater? <Have a look at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i4/When_things_go_wrong/Oh_no.htm under the section entitled "Sick Corals" - this gives relevant instructions on adjusting the pH for a freshwater dip, applicable also to fish.> Thanks for your help! Nancy

Lowering pH of Fresh Water for FW and Methylene Blue dip  7/12/06 Hi Bob, <Art> I read on the 'Dips FAQ' page that Baking Soda  (sodium bicarbonate) could be used to raise the pH of fresh water for a FM/methylene blue dip for marine fish, <To a pH of about 7.8 tops, yes> but how do you lower the pH of the fresh water for the dip? My RO fresh water is 8.4 <... something's amiss with your reverse osmosis device...> and the water of the destination tank is between 8.0 and 8.2.  Thanks for your help, Sincerely, Art <Mmm, likely the use of a safe, commercial sodium bi/phosphate based "downer" of aquarium pH here. Do have someone check your RO membrane... it's shot. Bob Fenner> Question regarding ph of freshwater for SW dips  -- 4/10/07 Bob, I was going to take a pass at this, but not being a (tropical) marine  fish guru, I hesitated. My assumption would be that an approximate pH would do, in which case making up freshwater using Tanganyikan pH 9.0 / Malawi pH 8.0 buffer  would be fine for this purpose. That would get the pH and TDS "close  enough for government work". <Yes, very likely so... in fact... if the Querior had continued to simply aerate the water with either the sodium bicarbonate alone, or the commercial buffer, the pH would settle near 7.8 for the first... 8.4 or so for the latter> So going from 8.4 to 8.0 surely wouldn't  be enough to kill a marine fish. Especially not if we're already  doing the salinity shock treatment here anyway. <We are in agreement> I'm basing this on the logic behind marine dips for freshwater fish,  which is basically add marine mix or (iodine-free) cooking salt to a  bucket of aquarium water. Cheers, Neale <And to you, BobF>

Re: Adjusting Ph of de-ionized water for FW-Dip 4/11/07 Hi, <I'll summarize, since our server just erased the paragraph I typed to you on my lunch-break at work. Drop a line back with the names of the buffering products you are using, and try to familiarize yourself with the differences between de-ionized water and tapwater, specifically lack of buffering capacity.> I have a basic question that has been a major point of frustration for me.   I'm trying to do freshwater dips on marine fish, and am having MAJOR problems controlling PH when I try to adjust the freshwater from 7 to 8-8.4.  I've searched and read many FAQs on WetWeb, but haven't seen any that dealt with my problem - this makes me think I'm doing something obviously wrong, but just can't seem to figure out what.  I've had a coral reef tank for several years, and have never had problems controlling the ph on it, but I would like to be able to do freshwater dips on new fish (currently, I'm only able to quarantine because I can't properly ph-adjust my freshwater).   I start with freshwater obtained from a R/O with Deion canister.      I  aerate my R/O water to get rid of the Co2 and get a ph of right around 7.0.  I also use a TDS meter to ensure that the TDS of my freshwater is below 4 PPM.  (it usually is either 0 or 1 - the TDS from my R/O-Deion seems to be a little lower in PPM than store-bought distilled water).    So, I start with freshwater with a ph of 7.0, and around 0-1 ppm in TDS.   I then try to buffer the water up to around 8.0 - 8.4 and this is where I have my problem.  No mater what buffer I use (baking soda oar marine buffer from multiple manufacturers, or products designed for adjusting the ph up or down) I always WAY overshoot the PH.  Usually, the PH slams from 7.0 to right up to 9.0-11.0.   I've used multiple PH meters/pens to measure the PH, and these have been calibrated repeatedly with calibration solutions, and they seem to read saltwater fine.  I've tried different canisters of the buffers (to eliminate bad batches)    I've tried slowly adding the buffers (i.e., just a few grains at a time) to the freshwater, but I just can't seem to get a ph of 8-8.4.   The ph starts to move off of 7.0, but then it suddenly jumps to 9.0 or higher.  I've tried to lower the ph by adding more freshwater and even bubbling CO2 (from a calcium reactor), but I just can't seem to get the granularity of control on the ph - it seems to jump by 2 or 3 points even when I make small adjustments - targeting the 8-8.4 range seems extremely difficult.  (I think I'd have problems getting my freshwater to the 8-8.4 range if I spent an entire day in the attempt).    The volume of the freshwater I'm working with ranges from 1-5 gallons. However, when I try making adjustments to saltwater - either freshly mixed or from my tank, I seem to have no problems - the buffers seem to work properly and don't give me the large ph swings.  This makes me think I'm doing something wrong with freshwater I'm using, but I have no idea what it is.   Either that or all of my ph meters/pens aren't reading the ph of freshwater correctly (although I doubt this, because they all read the same values for the freshwater when I'm attempting the ph-adjust, and they calibrate correctly). From the FAQs/files on WetWeb, it looks like the freshwater, ph-adjusted dips should be easy and trivial to perform, but the ph-adjusting step has proven to be almost impossible for me to control.   My questions are: 1) Is ph-adjusting freshwater really this difficult?  Shouldn't the buffers just move the ph to the 8-8.4 range and avoid under/overshooting unless greatly under/overdosed? 2) If ph-adjusting IS really this difficult, what am I doing wrong that can be corrected? 3) If ph-adjusting ISN'T supposed to be difficult, any ideas on what's causing my problems? Thanks! -- Tony <Welcome, sorry for the web-trouble! -GrahamT> Re: Adjusting Ph of de-ionized water for FW-Dip (reprise) 4/11/07 Wet Web Crew, Thanks for the response.   <Welcome. Sorry again for the curt reply. I was at work and the server cut me off mid-reply. That'll learn me to use an external word processor to do my editing.> Here are the products I've tried: - baking soda (sodium bicarbonate - Arm and Hammer) - Reef Buffer (SeaChem) - Marine buffer (SeaChem) - marine aquarium buffer (Kent) - proper PH 8.2 - several others <Mmm-hmm.> I realize that the products I'm using are probably working properly (and I think they are - they seem to work fine in saltwater both fresh mixed and from my tank) and that its something I'm probably doing incorrectly.   You mention that I should familiarize myself with the buffering capacity of deionized - I believe I have (I know that deionized water has almost no buffering capacity).  My problem is even after doing a large amount of web/WetWeb searching and trial/error, I can't figure out why I'm having so much difficulty with the 'ph-adjusting' step of a freshwater dip - if you combine the research and freshwater attempts I've made, I've easily put in weeks of time on this problem.    <I think there is someone here (on WWM) that could explain the chemistry behind this better than I. I won't get into that. The way I go about adjusting de-ionized water for FW-Dips is to use API "Ph Adjuster" and "Electro-right". I originally used these products on a lark because they were packaged with my D.I. filter, but they worked! AS with any Ph adjustment, however, you need to be patient while the water stabilizes. You can't expect to change the Ph of the water (any water) as quickly as the stuff dissolves. It takes time for the water to reach equilibrium. I think I did this a few times when I was first trying the FW-Dip without a stable, Ph-adjusted source of water that had been that way for a few days. I tried to adjust, waited a few minutes for the test results to develop and added more buffer, thus over-dosing.> Your response implies that you know what is causing my problem - can you tell me what you think is causing my problem ph-adjusting the deionized water?   <Sorry, I didn't mean to sound like I knew what was up and didn't feel like sharing. Not the case at all.> Should I be using tap water instead of deionized water - is that the cause of my problem?.   <Could, the Dip doesn't last long enough for any contaminants to do any real harm, but we usually try to make this as stress-less as possible, so I think you are doing the right thing by using treated water. Perhaps you could try skipping the D.I> stage?> Or is the ph-adjusting step of a freshwater dip actually a very complex and extremely difficult thing to complete (I doubt that it is - I think I'm missing something extremely simple)? <I think you already know more about adjusting Ph than me, so you're off to a good start.> Thanks! -- Tony <Good luck! -GrahamT> Question about a FW dip How do I increase the PH in the FW dip without adding any salt mixture? <aeration for several hours first (O2 saturation and drives of carbonic acid) then a small amount of baking soda if necessary. Anthony>

Question about a FW dip How do I increase the PH in the FW dip without adding any salt mixture? <You can add baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) or a commercial preparation like "pH Up"... This is discussed on WetWebMedia.com under "Marine pH, alkalinity". Bob Fenner>

pH in marine dips WWM Crew I want to thank you for your past help you have giving me, and the great service you provide for the hobby. Could you please tell me the best method to use when trying to match the PH for a fresh water dip? Should I buffer with baking soda then test with a freshwater ph test (if so then where do I get one that reads high enough?), <Most all will go to the 7.8 or so that sodium bicarbonate will raise the pH to> or should I test with saltwater ph test, or should I just do as my LFS says, and dump a couple of tsps of Arm & Hammer into a bag of fresh water and go for it? <A seawater assay would work... the amount of baking soda is as you state not likely to be overdosed> I am confused. Thanks for your help. Rick <Keep studying my friend... the KOH of this compound is not high enough to be problematical. Bob Fenner>

- Clarification on pH Shock - Hi guys! <Hello.> I've read so much of your site that if I was making minimum wage reading it I'd be rich. I also set up my tank using CMA as the supplementary guide along w/ WWM. Indispensable both, & I could not have done my setup without it. My question is, I cannot find a single thing anywhere about what to DO about pH shock. I see it mentioned occasionally & a few dire hints about it, but not what it exactly is, is caused by, or most important, how to TREAT it. <Hmm... well, without going any further, I can answer those questions - pH shock is simply a drastic change in water conditions [specifically pH] encountered by some living organism to whom the pH is important. So... let's talk about marine fish who are used to a range of pH 8.2 to 8.4. Because pH is a logarithmic scale a change from 7.0 to 8.0 is in fact a change of 10 times greater - moving in tenths of points [0.1 to 0.2] is a doubling of the factor, as moving down in tenths of points [0.2 to 0.1] is a halving of the acid/base quality of the water. Because the ocean is so large, these numbers rarely if ever change so marine fish aren't really equipped to deal with sudden, and potentially large changes in pH. If a fish has been in a bag for shipping for a day or so, the pH of its water typically drops into the high sevens... if you were to move the same fish immediately into traditional holding water of pH 8.2, it would experience pH shock. And no, there's nothing one can 'do' to remedy the problem. There are plenty of things one can do to avoid it. The pH shock becomes a source of stress which will go onto the existing pile of stress - depending on the individual, this can either tip the balance in the wrong direction or the fish will make it through to the other side. It depends a lot on how much the fish has been through up and to that point.> I had a Volitans Lionfish who died just now & I'm 99% sure it's due to pH shock. I say this because he was fine for a week or so in his tank. Water conditions were fine (obsessively measured w/ Salifert tests for pH, ammonia, nitrites & nitrates every day or two). Water had been running a bit hot (sometimes climbing to 83.5 or so but never more than a degree a day change). The temperature thing has been remedied (not enough evaporation/eel-proofed tight glass top). I got a Foxface Rabbitfish & decided as per CMA to dip him prior to introduction. I used RO water from LFS I had matched to the tank's temp, w/ some "AP Quick Cure" (Formalin/Malachite Green dip mix) & buffered the water with Kent Marine Superbuffer dKH (which per the label is for raising & buffering pH & building KH). I mixed this up & let it sit a while then dipped the Foxface, who had been in panic coloration on his way home from the store. He went limp & drifted almost instantly. <Many fish do this in the bath... is sometimes more stressful for the person doing the dipping work than it is for the fish - think you could have skipped the quick cure though - you are not exposing them to the treatment long enough for it to do any good. Better to just run the fish through a pH-adjusted freshwater dip - perhaps with Methylene blue if you'd like, but not necessary.> I spooked & netted him out & put him in the tank after MAYBE 30 seconds (he'd already been slow-drip acclimated). I had planned to dip the Lion as well since he had not been when he was introduced a week & a half ago (my only other fish) & went over the instructions for freshwater dips as per CMA. I convinced myself that it was normal for the fish to freak out a bit & that I had to exercise some "tough love" & that he had to stay in there for the 2-10 minutes. I nabbed him & put him in the dip. He sat on the bottom lazily & was breathing regularly. I set a timer for 2 minutes & watched him the whole time. Put him back in the tank & he seemed ok. Well, he spent the entire afternoon & night on the sand bed, breathing seemingly regularly but listless (which is pretty usual for him anyway minus the being on the sand part). I figured he was aggravated & stressed but nothing unexpected from being dipped in freshwater, etc.. The next afternoon he had not improved, having merely moved to different positions on the bottom two or three times. When I came back an hour later & checked on them, the Foxface seems a-ok, swimming around, nibbling algae, back to his normal coloration. The Lion was floating nose-down dead along the bottom & his fins had already started fraying off! <I'm sorry to hear of this loss.> Sorry for the long email but I'm upset & trying to provide all possible pertinent detail. I can only assume the Kent buffer did not work (or have time to work?) or at least that was my first instinct. <Takes time to work - I usually prepare my freshwater dips before I head to the store so that everything has evened out by the time I make it home with a bag in my hand.> I looked on various forums & came up with the info that "people assume buffering the water then dipping is ok...it's not". Was it pH shock that killed the Lion, & if so how could I have saved him, if at all? <Hard to say for certain - it could have also been the Formalin in the quick cure you put in the bath. This is actually really 'bad' [toxic] stuff and I've had similar results as you - dip one fish and it does fine, dip the next fish and it turns stiff almost instantly.> I feel like I killed a healthy fish through sheer gross idiocy & messing with what would have been ok had I left it alone. <Maybe so, maybe not... there is an old(?) axiom in the trade that if the fish didn't make it through the dip, it wasn't going to make it anyway. I'm sure this is no consolation to you, but it's quite possible that this fish was compromised long before you got a hold of it. Considering the Rabbitfish is still around - and I'd consider it a less hardy fish than a lionfish - I'd say something was already brewing with the lionfish and the dip just accelerated the process.> I now see that a lot of people (mainly reefers?) seem to revile freshwater dips period. <Not me... I think they are quite useful.> I guess my questions is threefold: was it the dip, was it pH shock, & how should pH shock be treated? <Again, hard to be certain it was any of these, and pH shock can only be avoided, not treated but also is rarely the single cause of mortality, but one factor among many that bring around the end of the fish.> I think this info would aid some people greatly & at the least it should be added to the database at WWM to make sure people are aware of this. <Well, we do try to get the word out, and most certainly this will go into the collection.> I consider myself very well informed & research everything before doing it & still I fell face first onto this one somehow. ;( <Don't be too hard on yourself. Cheers, J -- >

Adjusting Freshwater pH for Dipping  >I have searched and searched (various search engines, sites, worded a thousand different ways) and the directions for preparing freshwater dips say to adjust the pH, but nobody says how.  >>Ah, quite the conundrum my friend.  >I have been trying Proper pH 8.2, which is supposed to buffer water to 8.2 automatically, but it does not work. It always makes the pH way to high!  >>Well, what's the fresh water's pH BEFORE you try to adjust it? That would make a difference.  >Is this because it's for use on saltwater, not fresh?  >>I'm not familiar with this product, so I couldn't speak to its efficacy in salt vs. fresh water.  >If so, what AM I supposed to use? I've heard of using baking soda, but nobody says what ratio to use.  >>That's because all freshwater is NOT the same.  >What is the best way to buffer regular filtered water up to 8.0?  >>Filtered in what way? If it's RO/DI, then many folks recommend using Aquarium Systems SeaBuffer and Seachem's Reef Builder and Marine Buffer are all good products. However, it's important to test prior to using this. When performing freshwater dips, unless your municipal water is just terrible, I would adjust its pH in small increments (for instance, experiment a teaspoon at a time with about 2 gallons of water), I would go the sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) route--simple, always available, and CHEAP.  >Please help, my fish has ich and I am desperate.  >>As I see, for which I apologize for the lateness of this reply. The person in whose inbox this was is having computer troubles, I've discovered this evening that it hadn't been answered. Marina  thanks. Erin Rodriguez 

Adjusting Freshwater pH for Dipping II >Thanks Marina.  >>You're welcome, Erin.  >The water is RO water, fresh, no salt.  >>Ok.  >pH is 7.4 to start with. I was reading closer in the buffer's instructions and it said to add the salt first then use the buffer, so apparently, it is not for use in fresh water.  >>I'm not sure what buffer you're using, but I'm positive that it's best to buffer your RO water *before* you add salt.. I believe I posted to you a couple of good brands (recommend by Anthony Calfo).  >So I guess I can go the bicarbonate route.  >>Hey, absolutely! It can get expensive using other stuff, especially for a freshwater dip.  >I've heard other people say, don't bother adjusting the pH for a 4 minute freshwater dip.  >>Oh my God, NO! Adjust it, make SURE you adjust it. Most folks don't understand how QUICKLY pH shock can kill, I think in part because it's difficult for us terrestrial creatures to wrap our minds around what it feels like to be immersed in this life-giving liquid. Osmotic pressure differences, due to salinity levels, are another one many folks surprisingly have a hard time getting their minds around as well.  >I've also heard people say that adding too much bicarbonate will pollute the water in some way.  >>Oh bugger that. It's plain wrong, and shows a misunderstanding of water chemistry.  >My other question is, when I am adding top off water, do most people adjust the pH, or do they just dump it in at the current pH?  >>If you're topping off with the RO water, you really MUST buffer it so as to prevent shifts in pH. Once buffered, especially if using a quality product, little pH adjustment is necessary beyond that. A pH of 7.4 from RO isn't very bad at all, should be very easily brought up with a good buffer. Look into the B-Ionic, it's getting RAVE reviews quite often on the net by other hobbyists.  >I have done that in the past and my pH has always stayed stable, I was just wondering if/how most people adjust their top off water's pH.  >>Those who've done research, I would say always do. Of course, there's no way to actually quantitatively figure out actual numbers or percentages. If you've been able to go this route with no changes in pH, well.. on one hand I say "If it ain't broke, don't fix it", but on the other I would be wary. I'm thinking that you probably do enough water changes on a regular basis that you've prevented any dangerous episodes.  >Any help is appreciated, thanks.  >>Well, I hope I've answered you pH adjustment questions, it's really a very simple procedure to adjust with the sodium bicarbonate for a dip of several minutes. The issue with playing with pH with products that can't hold it is that the pH will shift, and as I said before that can kill very quickly. Marina 

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