What Is The Ideal pH Level For Betta Fish?

Keeping the water pH ideal is a hard task to maintain for any betta owner. Like other aquatic living, betta fish are highly sensitive to water parameters and quality. If the water pH level doesn’t remain ideal, it may kill your betta fish.

In the wild, betta thrives in the water of 6-8 pH levels depending on their habitation. When you keep a betta fish in captivity, the ideal pH level is around 6.5-7.5.

In short, you should try to keep the tank water neutral. If you find high or low pH in your betta tank, you will still have chances to fix it.

Before getting too late, you can know the details about the symptoms of the wrong pH, effects of high or low pH, fixation of pH level, and other additional information in this article.

So, I urge all betta owners not to miss this article to save pet betta from getting killed due to the wrong pH level.

What pH Is Too High For Betta?

Betta fish thrive well when the pH level ranges from 6.5-7.5. When the pH level gets higher than 7.5, the tolerance level of betta gets slower gradually. So, pH above 8 can be termed as too high for the betta.

Is A pH Of 7.5 Okay For Betta Fish?

Betta fish can survive at a pH of 7.5. Generally, the beneficial bacteria can grow well in the pH range of 7 to 8. These bacteria colony is essential to break down the ammonia of waste. So, a steady pH of 7.5 is okay for your betta.

Does High pH Hurt Bettas?

High pH means the water of the tank becomes alkaline. When the pH becomes high, your betta may suffer from alkalosis. This disease is a result of high pH water. Also, your betta may suffer from ich in such alkaline water.

In addition, a high pH level encourages enhancing the level of ammonia. As a result, the fins of your betta will have an excess amount of mucous secreted by your gills. The effects of a high pH level may come as a sudden shock to your betta.

Besides, betta becomes stressed when the pH level doesn’t remain in the ideal range. As a result, your betta will suffer a painful death due to the water of high pH.

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What Causes High pH In Betta Tank?

It’s your responsibility to find out the root causes of high pH in the betta tank. I’ve found several potential reasons. Let’s see what may cause high pH in your betta tank.

1. Water Source

The root of this problem may lie in the water source from where you have added the water to the tank. Sometimes, the untreated water from ground sources contains higher pH.

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Moreover, tap water can have low or high pH. Tap water may undergo many chemical exposure or pollutants that increase the pH range of the water.

2. Excess Amount Of Plants

When the growth of plants becomes too high, the pH of the water becomes higher. Plants tend to deplete the carbon dioxide that’s released from the betta. The fast depletion of carbon dioxide causes a rise in pH in the betta tank.

3. Substrate

If you do not use the appropriate substrate, it may be responsible for the high pH in the betta tank. Some of these substrates release cations. It leads to making the water alkaline. Along with substrate, the décor items may contribute to rising pH.

4. Fish Food

The food of betta and their tank mates contribute to increasing the pH level. When betta leaves their uneaten food, the decomposing food creates ammonia. On the other hand, the hydroxyl ion of the ammonia increases the pH in the water of the betta tank.

What Are The Symptoms Of High pH In Betta Aquarium?

There are some specific signs to determine the high pH in the betta tank. Let’s go through the list of symptoms.

1. Algae Growth

When you see plenty of algae growing in the tank, it may indicate high pH in the betta tank. Algae can thrive well between the pH of 7-9. So, when the water becomes acidic, it encourages algae growth.

2. Increased Ammonia Toxicity

The researchers found that the toxic level of ammonia rises with the rise of pH. When the water gets alkaline, the concentration of ammonia increases. So, you’ll get a higher level of toxic ammonia if the pH gets high in your betta tank.

3. Irritability In Betta

When the pH doesn’t remain ideal for a long time, your betta fish will surely die. But, it takes some time. In the meantime, betta will scratch themselves, shim their body, swim rapidly, and so on. Such irritability in betta is a noticeable sign of high pH in the water. 

4. Betta Coming To The Surface

A notable sign of high pH in water is your betta having difficulty of breathing. Your betta will frequently come over the surface to gulp down air. They’ll act sluggish too.

How To Lower pH Level In Betta Tank?

If your betta fish hasn’t died yet, it may not be too late. There’s still a chance to save your betta by lowering the pH level. Let’s see how you can reduce the pH level when the tank water gets alkaline.

1. Add Carbon Dioxide

When you add carbon dioxide to water, it becomes carbonic acid by dissolving into water. As a result, there will be the release of hydrogen ions in the water, which can lower the pH. So, you should use this easy process of injecting carbon dioxide slowly to make the water acidic.

2. Peat Moss

Another natural way to reduce the pH level is by adding peat moss. Mixing peat moss granules will effectively decrease the pH range in water because of its acidic nature.

After all, the pH of peat moss is around 3-4.5. Depending on the water hardness, you should add peat moss in a specific quantity.

3. Driftwood

Driftwood is an eco-friendly décor item that can be used to lower the pH level. This décor releases tannins into the water reducing the pH level. Make sure that driftwoods do not have artificial colors that might be harmful to your betta.

4. Catappa Leaves

Catappa leaves work as driftwoods, peat moss, etc. The Catappa leaves release tannins and other humic substances that lower the pH level in the water.

5. Add Vinegar

Another simple way to reduce the pH level in water is by adding vinegar. You can find it in every store. Moreover, you should only use commercially distilled white vinegar.

6. Decrease The Aeration

For a heavily planted tank, decreasing aeration can decrease the pH level. It reduces surface agitation, which controls the ratio of oxygen to carbon dioxide.

7. Reverse Osmosis

Although reverse osmosis water has neutral pH, this water helps lower the pH range of the water. Reverse Osmosis water turns slightly acidic when it’s exposed to air.

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What Happens If pH Is Too Low In Betta Tank?

When the water pH becomes low, it becomes acidic. Neither acidic nor alkaline condition is suitable for the survival of your betta.

If the pH level gets too low, your betta will suffer many difficulties. There will be burns or lesions on your betta skin due to the acidic effect. It’s a prominent sign of decreasing pH in the betta tank.

Moreover, the internal organs of your betta will be badly affected when the tank water becomes acidic. Since acid damages the gills of the betta, your betta may gasp air frequently. Besides, your betta fish will swim frequently.

Not to mention, not having ideal pH can cause severe stress to your betta fish. As a result, you’ll notice unusual behavior from them. Some of them may even try to jump out of the tank. If you do not fix the pH level, your betta fish will die soon in acidic water.

What Causes Low pH In Betta Tank?

Several factors work behind decreasing the pH level in the betta tank. When you know about the reasons, you can find out the solutions. Let’s check out the following reasons.

1. Source Water

The prime reason behind the low pH in the betta tank is the source of water. You should check the pH of the water before adding it to your betta tank.

Several owners tend to use tap water as the easiest option. Several types of research show that tap water in the US retains a pH of 4.3-5.3.

This may be because of rainfall, chemicals used to purify the water, plant decomposition, etc. Also, the pH of reverse osmosis water, distilled water, and such water may not be always neutral.

2. Décor Items

You might wonder to know that décor items can be responsible for lower pH. Several décor items release tannins into the water of the tank. As a result, it’ll reduce the pH range. Such décor items are driftwood, peat moss, etc.

3. Overpopulation

When you introduce more betta fish and their tank mates, they’ll produce a large amount of waste. The waste will break down into ammonia which lowers the pH level.

4. Faulty Filtration System

Generally, a filtration system helps keep the water quality ideal. When any system of the filter remains faulty, the beneficial bacteria colony will not be able to turn out the ammonia into nitrite. As a result, the pH level gets lower.

5. Lack Of Calcium

When the betta tank lacks calcium, the water hardness will become low. It affects lowering the pH of the betta tank.

6. Dead Fish And Plants

When you let plants rot in the water, there’ll be breakouts of ammonia and nitrogen compounds. On the other hand, decomposed betta and other tank mates release ammonia into the water.  As a result, there’ll be a drop in pH.

Do Bettas Like Low pH?

The answer is a no! You must provide neutral water for your betta in captivity. These betta fish can’t survive longer in low pH or acidic conditions. This will cause severe health issues on your betta. 

What Are The Symptoms Of Low pH In Betta Aquarium?

Low pH refers to an acidic condition that shows the pH becoming under 7. To ensure the good health of your betta, you must fix the wrong pH of their water. Before taking action, firstly, you need to know whether the pH is low or high.

Let’s check out the following symptoms of low pH in the betta tank.

1. Green Water

An easy way to tell about acidic water is its green color. When the pH level becomes low, the water tends to turn green.

2. Dirt Buildup At Bottom

When the pH level gets low in the betta aquarium, there will be blue-green stains on the wall of the tank. You may notice dirt or sludge build-up at the bottom of the tank. Also, there’ll be a foul odor due to the mud-like build-ups.

3. Pale And Stressed Betta

Betta fish are highly sensitive to water parameters. When the water pH goes low, these fish tend to become stressed. You’ll notice their inactivity, less swimming, loss of appetite, and so on.

 Moreover, betta fish may turn pale when the water pH becomes low. Due to acidic conditions, the metabolism rate of betta gets slower.

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As a result, betta goes into an autophagy state where the cell of betta fish starts to break down. Hence, the betta becomes pale.

4. Betta Staying At The Bottom

You’ll notice several abnormal behaviors in your betta when the pH range becomes low. The betta fish may get pH shock. However, these fish tend to stay at the bottom of the tank when the water becomes acidic.

How To Raise pH Level In Betta Tank?

When you notice the signs of acidic water, you must take action to raise the pH level. You should make the pH level 7. Let’s check out the following ways by which you can increase the pH level in the betta tank.

1. Limestone

To raise the pH level, you can add limestone to your betta tank. The limestone consists of calcium carbonate, and its pH is 9.9. Carbon dioxide level decreases when you add limestone to the water. As a result, the tank water will get alkaline.

2. Add Baking Soda

Baking soda is an alkaline product whose pH ranges between 8-8.3. When the water becomes acidic in your betta tank, you can raise the pH level by adding baking soda. If your betta tank has 10 gallons of water, adding only 2 teaspoons of baking soda will help the water raise the pH range.

3. Add Crushed Corals

Crushed coral is another popular choice to raise the pH level in the betta tank. It increases the water hardness by slowly releasing calcium carbonate. Thus, the water becomes alkaline by raising the pH.

4. Aeration

When you aerate the betta tank, there’ll be an abundance of oxygen. Oxygen will dilute the concentration of carbon dioxide gas. As a result, the pH level will rise when the carbon dioxide decreases.

5. Boil The Driftwood

As mentioned before, driftwoods are used for decoration purposes and increasing acidity. So, when you keep driftwoods as décors, you should boil the driftwood. It’ll prevent driftwoods from decreasing their pH level by sterilizing.

6. Dolomite Chippings

Lastly, you can choose dolomite chippings to raise the pH level. Dolomite will release calcium and magnesium into the water. As a result, the water will get alkaline having higher pH.

How To Check pH Level In My Betta Tank?

To keep your betta fish healthy, it’s a must to do checking the water parameters. For this, you should monitor the pH level in your betta tank regularly. There are a few ways to test the pH level of the tank water. Let’s know more about them.

1. Using Fresh Water Aquarium Kits

There are varieties of freshwater aquarium kits which have a wide range of pH. Although these are for testing freshwater, you can examine saltwater too. Besides, there are chances to examine the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate level with these aquarium kits. 

Depending on the manufacturers, there are several test options available in these kits. Such as iron, copper, chloramine, alkalinity, and other tests. From my experience, I recommend using API Master Test Kits.

2. Digital Test Kits

One of the modern ways to measure pH levels is using digital test kits. You need to dip down the lower part with an electrode of the digital test kit into the water.

Such digital kits will show you a much more accurate result of pH than other types of pH test kits. Although digital test kits are a bit expensive, these kits are durable and long-lasting.

3. pH Test Strip

You might have experimented with the pH level using a pH test strip at your school or college level. In the same way, you can check the pH of your betta tank with litmus paper. But, these strips may not give you a specific measurement of pH.

You can take the idea of pH level using these pH test strips. Despite using this way, you must examine the pH level in any other more accurate way.

Final Words

You must monitor the pH level regularly in your betta tank. I hope this article helped you know the symptoms of improper pH levels, their reasons, and the solutions.

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Muntaseer Rahman

About Author

Hello, I’m Muntaseer Rahman, the owner of AcuarioPets.com. I’m passionate about aquarium pets like shrimps, snails, crabs, and crayfish. I’ve created this website to share my expertise and help you provide better care for these amazing pets.


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