How Water pH Level Affects Guppy Fish?

The water’s pH level is crucial for guppies. These fish are native to the freshwaters of South America, but they’re well adapted to many biotypes and water conditions. From my research, I can say that guppies are quite hardy and resilient to varying ranges of pH levels.

But they thrive best in pH levels between 6.7 and 7.6. That’s when their lifespan reaches its absolute peak. They’re healthier, happier, and they live longer.

In this article, we’ll talk about the proper way of measuring the water pH level, and how to increase it. Moreover, I’ll also point out several factors that influence the water’s pH level in the aquarium.

You’ll need to watch out for them if you want the pH level to stay constant. Guppies are not that sensitive to small changes in the pH level but if it adds up, they won’t like it.

Ideal Water pH Range for Guppies

The ideal pH level for guppies is between 6.7 and 7.6, as I said. Any lower or any higher and they’ll become stressed. The more stable the pH level is, the healthier your guppies will be. A measurement of 7 is neutral for water. Measurements higher than 7 are alkaline and lower are acidic. As luck would have it, guppies can live in slightly acidic and alkaline water, though extremes are deadly for them.

Fish are especially sensitive to any changes in their water. They’ll feel the slight alterations to the pH level, and if these alterations are too extreme, the guppies will become stressed. Usually, tap water has a slightly alkaline nature so it’d be a good idea to lower the pH level. How do you achieve that? Well, it’s good that you asked. I was just about to get into that. Be patient!

Measuring Water pH Level

It’s pretty easy to measure the pH level in the water. Just use a pH tester strip or a digital pH meter. Using them is not quantum science, I assure you. I personally recommend a digital pH meter because it’s easier and more accurate to use. But it’s also more expensive than the strips. Still, they’re a good choice when the water at your disposal has varying pH levels.

You can buy pH test kits at any pet store or you can order them online, after a thorough search. Test strips are easy to use – just dip them into the aquarium water, and then notice the measurement. Other tools require you to get a sample of water and put a few drops of test solution. Then, you’ll compare the color of the test solution with a chart provided to you. This gives you the approximate pH level of the water.

I recommend testing the pH level in the guppy’s tank once a week. As you’ll soon see, many factors directly affect the pH level. Once the pH level changes, guppies will instantly feel it and become stressed. As you’ve seen in my other guides, stress is a silent killer for guppies.

How to Increase Water pH Level?

Let me begin by saying that it’s rare for an aquarium to have a low pH level. Usually, the pH level is too high and you need to lower it. But it does happen for water to be too acidic, and you need to make it more alkaline. To do this, follow the steps below:

  • Add 1 tablespoon of baking soda per 5 gallons of water. This will increase the pH of the water efficiently. Of course, you should remove the fish from the aquarium when doing this. Only after the baking soda dissolves should you put the fish back. Usually, 30-60 minutes are needed for the soda to dissolve. Before adding the fish, make sure you measure the pH level again. It might be too high now, depending on how much baking soda you added. That is, if you didn’t listen to what I said about 1 tbsp per 5 gallons of water.
  • Remove the substrate and then add limestone, coral, and Texas holey rock. The substrate greatly influences the pH level, so removing it should do the trick. Coral and limestone are great ways to increase the pH level. I also recommend putting the fish in a different aquarium until you’re done changing the substrate.
  • You can add 1-2 seashells per gallon of water to increase the pH level of the water. There’s a lot of carbonates in every seashell. These carbonates will quickly dissolve in the water and increase the pH of the water. Go to any pet shop to get seashells. However, don’t ever use decorative seashells because those ones are likely painted and contain poisonous substances.
  • Remove the driftwood in the aquarium
  • Regularly change the water in the aquarium. pH levels drop significantly with live plants around that inject CO2 in the water.
  • Add aquarium salt to increase the pH level. One teaspoon of salt per gallon of water is more than enough. It will also raise the salinity of the water, but guppies are perfectly fine with that. However, don’t use any iodized table salt. It’s just bad for guppies.

That’s about it if you want to increase the pH level. But what if you want to decrease it? Up next!

How to Decrease Water pH Level?

Usually, tap water has a pretty high pH level and is quite alkaline. If the pH level is above 7.8, then you should consider lowering it. You can easily do so by keeping the water in unsealed buckets for a couple of days. Aerated water becomes less alkaline and more acidic the more you leave it out in the open. A more efficient alternative is to put live plants in the aquarium.

Plants will stabilize the pH level in the aquarium. Plus, guppies absolutely love plants because they can hide there. From personal experience, I can say that aquariums with live plants in them have a much lower pH level than ones without any plants. Plus, guppies are generally happier and less stressed with plants around.

You can lower the pH level in the aquarium with chemicals, as well. Use Seachem Prime (2-3 drops per gallon of water) to reduce the pH level. As an addition, this chemical will also eliminate chlorine, chloramine, and various heavy metals present in the tap water. Add driftwood to the aquarium as an extra step in lowering the pH level.

Lastly, you can mix the tap water with RO/DI water, which has a pH level of 6. Slowly add the RO/DI water to your aquarium and perform tests to check for the pH level. Of course, you’ll need a RO/DI water system if you want to produce some at home. But it’s a great way of efficiently lowering the pH level in your aquarium.

Factors That Affect Aquarium Water pH Level

Like I said in the beginning, many things influence the pH level of the water in your aquarium. Some of them include:

  • Water aeration to lower the pH level
  • Aquarium salt to increase the pH level
  • High nitrate levels that can lower the pH level
  • An overcrowded tank can lower the pH
  • CO2 and plenty of live plants can lower the pH level
  • Aquarium salt with increase the pH level
  • Driftwood will lower pH
  • Limestone substrate and seashells will increase the pH level

Keep these factors in mind for when you need to stabilize the pH level. Most times, you’ll need to lower the pH level because tap water generally has a higher pH. At times, though, you’ll need to increase it. And the techniques outlined above will help you do it efficiently and without a hassle.

Wrap Up

No one wants their pet fish to suffer because of inadequate pH levels. That’s why I wrote this article – to help everyone understand the importance of pH in aquarium water. If it’s too high or too low, the fish can become stressed and may develop incurable illnesses like dropsy or tuberculosis.

Its immune system is much weaker when stressed, so a guppy is in more danger. I recommend paying maximum attention to the pH level in your aquarium!

avatar Noah
I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets. read more...

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