What is pH
pH is the condition of the water that is either acid like vinegar or basic like baking soda. Plants require a balanced pH so they can absorb nutrients and stay healthy. pH is a scale from 0 to 14 where 0 is acid and 14 is basic. 7 is right in the middle and that is a balanced pH. Our goal will be to keep the pH level right in the middle at 7.
Why does pH change?
As time goes by decayed material at the roots tend to cause the pH level to go down to acid. Therefore our goal is to bring the pH up. Water from the tap is usually a bit high. This is because the water municipalities want to help prevent corrosion in your pipes. This will sometimes bring the pH level up but rarely will it make a significant difference so we will need to add a product that will ring the pH levels up to the healthy desired levels.
How can I check my pH levels?
There are many ways to test for pH levels. There are test strips and also swimming pool kits that use drops where you compare colors to a guide. The easiest to use is an electronic pH testing pen. This pH meter is low-cost and easy to use.
Digital Ph Meter Tester ($15)
Simply turn it on and place it in the water. It will quickly tell you on the digital display what the pH level is. There are more detailed instructions that come with the unit.
How do I adjust the pH levels in my tanks.
Typically your tanks will lower in pH over time so your goal will be to raise the pH. To do this you will need to use a product called pH Up.
General Hydroponics pH Up ($13)
Why do I need to use pH Up instead of baking soda?
pH Up is made from a substance that contains phosphorus which is also an important nutrient that plants require to stay healthy. pH up also contains buffers that help keep the pH at the desired level over a longer period of time.
How do I keep the pH levels maintained?
We have found the easiest way to manage pH is to follow these steps:
- Use the pH pen to test the water
- Note how much the pH is below 7
- To adjust, add small amounts of pH up to the water in the tank
- Add less if it’s not very far below
- Add a bit more if It’s very far below
- pH up is very strong so use very small amounts at a time
- It’s best to transfer the pH up to a pump bottle to make dosing easier
- Wait a day or two then test again and add pH up as required
- After 3 to 4 days you will begin to see the pH approach seven
- Try carefully not to over correct
- If overcorrection happens it will be best to train the tank and refill to try again
- With fresh new water, wait a couple weeks for the system to balance before you begin pH adjustment
It takes time and practice to get the pH levels correct. Take your time and go slowly to get a field of the long-term effect of your adjustment actions. There is no urgency to have the pH perfect. It’s a fine tuned adjustment that Will enhance the health of your plants over the long term. You will notice that the plants will look greener and healthier because they will begin to absorb nutrients from the soil around them as well as the supplemental nutrients you provide.