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    Thread: New Pond with High PH issues

    1. #1
      hypersushi is offline Junior Member
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      Question New Pond with High PH issues

      Greetings,

      My concrete pond (roughly 12ft x 10ft x 4ft excluding filter dimensions) was built, soaked for over 2 weeks, drained, then water jetted to remove loose sand and dirt, then refilled and has been running for over a week now (fishless). Here are my source water parameters: PH 7 and (rather high) Nitrates at 20ppm. Ammonia and Nitrites are 0ppm from the tap. Once it goes into the pond, PH goes up to 9+? (Max reading of tester is 9), ammonia and nitrite is 0ppm but I haven't got around to reading Nitrates. I am getting green water (I do not have UV).

      So I have put some water lettuce and duck weed to hopefully soak up Phosphates and Nitrates. I also put in some mature bio media hopefully to seed the new biorings and japan mat. The green water does not bother me but the high PH does. I have yet to put my oyster shells in and am concerned as it might cause the PH to go even higher. Am I correct to assume the cement is still leaching alkalinity into the water and I just need to keep flushing the pond a few times and that should do the trick? What should I do? Put the oyster shells in to stabilise/ buffer the water at the expense of raising PH?

    2. #2
      icu2's Avatar
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      My block pond did the same. My source water pH is about 7.5 and after filling it shot up to over 9...
      but a couple of weeks of time (no water changes) and it was back to about 8 and has always remained
      there. I think a little time is all the concrete needs.

      Left is after filling the pond, right is after 2 weeks:

      Name:  pH lower pond.jpg
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    3. #3
      RichToyBox's Avatar
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      When concrete hydration reaction occurs (supposedly forever, but diminishing rapidly) the products of the reaction are what is known as calcium silicate hydrate gel (the part that provides the strength), calcium hydroxide and heat. The calcium hydroxide has a pH of 14. If there is sufficient bicarbonate (HCO3), then the bicarbonate gives up a hydrogen to combine with the hydroxide and make water, leaving behind calcium and carbonate which combine to form calcium carbonate. The problem is that the calcium hydroxide has two hydroxide ions and the bicarbonate only has one hydrogen, so it takes two bicarbonate ions to neutralize the hydroxides in the calcium hydroxide, yet there is only one calcium ion left to react with two carbonate ions, but it will only react with one, so there is one carbonate left. The carbonate ion has a high pH also, but if it is bonded to calcium, it is no longer an ion that contributes to the pH. To consume these additional carbonates, additional calcium is needed in the water column. The way to get the calcium is to add calcium chloride (either pool or spa hardness increaser, or some of the ice melts are pure calcium chloride). Test the water for both GH and KH. The GH will let you know when the calcium is increasing, and becomes stable, and the KH is a measure of the bicarbonates and needs to be over 100, preferably during the cycle, over 200ppm, about 12 drops on the drop type test.

      When you add the calcium chloride, you may see some cloudiness as the calcium reacts with the carbonates to make a fine powder form of limestone (calcium carbonate), but it will settle out and the water will clear again fairly quickly. Having adequate bicarb is needed for the establishment and survival of the bio bacteria and the maintenance of a constant pH.

      "Our goal is to assist with emergency and Koi health issues, as well as educate on best practices. Please help us gain a clear picture by giving the original poster time to answer our questions before offering opinions and suggested treatments."

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    4. #4
      hypersushi is offline Junior Member
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      Wow Rich,

      Thanks for the very scientific explanation. Unfortunately, I am just dumb in that department on these matters. Can I use these items and dump them in the pond to get this calcium chloride or I need to buy this from a koi shop?

      1. Oyster Shells
      2. 1 small can of expired Baking Soda
      3. Over 50 expired calcium tablets (for human consumption)

      I think I should just put in the oyster shells? I was advised by one kichi to not put oyster shells first as it would shoot the PH up the roof...

    5. #5
      RichToyBox's Avatar
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      The oyster shell will not dissolve at the high pH levels. The 50 expired calcium pills, if you look are probably calcium carbonate, which is where we want to end up, not where we want to start. For increasing the KH, baking soda is the way to go, but buy it in larger quantities. I had not looked at your location, so I doubt that you would have the deicer, but I would think that you would have swimming pools and possibly spas, and the stores that handle their chemicals would have the hardness increaser and the sodium bicarbonate. You can probably find baking soda in large containers at a restaurant supply. Usually here a 13 pound bag costs about the same as a 4 pound box, which is about twice the cost of the 1 pound box.

      "Our goal is to assist with emergency and Koi health issues, as well as educate on best practices. Please help us gain a clear picture by giving the original poster time to answer our questions before offering opinions and suggested treatments."

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    6. #6
      DragonFireSG is offline Senior Member
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      In Malaysia, a common treatment for high pH in a new pond is to soak chopped up banana stems and pineapples in the water.

      The acids produced as decomposition products help season the new concrete pond. I vaguely recall fellow koiphen member medicine2 who is also MY based did that for his pond.

      I have seen Tesco sell baking soda in bulk bags also, so it might be worthwhile visiting your nearest outlet. I actually bought some like that in JB a while back. Luckily customs didn't disturb me about the large bags of white powder when heading back into Singapore.

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      DragonFireSG,

      Thanks for the low-tech suggestion. Going to chop my banana tree(s) this evening and buy some pineapples at the grocer. I did soak with pineapple skin during the two week initial soaking but I guess it wasn't enough.

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      Quote Originally Posted by RichToyBox View Post
      When concrete hydration reaction occurs (supposedly forever, but diminishing rapidly) the products of the reaction are what is known as calcium silicate hydrate gel (the part that provides the strength), calcium hydroxide and heat. The calcium hydroxide has a pH of 14...
      Rich, what happens when pool acid (hydrochloric acid) is added?

    9. #9
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      The acid will consume the hydroxide ions, but any KH (bicarbonate) will have given up the hydrogen ion, leaving carbonate ions, and a lack of calcium ions means there are lots of carbonate ions floating around. The acid converts the carbonate back to bicarbonate, pushing the pH back to the 8.3 but if too much acid is added, or hot spots of acid act on the bicarbonate ions, they are converted to hydroxide ions and carbon dioxide which will be driven off by aeration. Adding the calcium chloride allows the calcium to combine with the carbonate ions and precipitate them out without converting any of the bicarb that has already been converted and the precipitate is non reactive at high pH, so just a solid. The pond is calcium starved, and the addition of the calcium chloride provides the necessary calcium without adding any acid or base. Because the reaction of the bicarb with the hydroxide, the KH does need to be measured, because the KH could be consumed completely and the pH will crash with the addition of even slightly more acid than needed. So be sure to measure the KH and be sure that there is plenty to maintain the pH regardless of the method.

      "Our goal is to assist with emergency and Koi health issues, as well as educate on best practices. Please help us gain a clear picture by giving the original poster time to answer our questions before offering opinions and suggested treatments."

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      Richard

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      Thanks for the explanation as well. Chemistry is now fun!

      I fed my pond/tank cycling system ~1500 gal) approx 3oz of a PH reducer it had very little effect on the initial reading after say 5 hours.

      Furthermore, my sources of water all had varying degrees of PH. I'll write down

      I also had a 5 gallon jug for water change that the PH was 7.02 when filled, but over 8.09 when it sat for an approximate 24 hour period overnight.

      It took me an entire bottle of liquid PH increaser to get my 60 gallon tank to rise up (opposite of OP query) from its 6.54

      I am going to town today so I'll p/u some CaCl and see if that limits the rebound effect.

      Is there a recommendation for dosage?

      Adam

    11. #11
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      Quote Originally Posted by RichToyBox View Post
      When concrete hydration reaction occurs (supposedly forever, but diminishing rapidly) the products of the reaction are what is known as calcium silicate hydrate gel (the part that provides the strength), calcium hydroxide and heat. The calcium hydroxide has a pH of 14. If there is sufficient bicarbonate (HCO3), then the bicarbonate gives up a hydrogen to combine with the hydroxide and make water, leaving behind calcium and carbonate which combine to form calcium carbonate. The problem is that the calcium hydroxide has two hydroxide ions and the bicarbonate only has one hydrogen, so it takes two bicarbonate ions to neutralize the hydroxides in the calcium hydroxide, yet there is only one calcium ion left to react with two carbonate ions, but it will only react with one, so there is one carbonate left. The carbonate ion has a high pH also, but if it is bonded to calcium, it is no longer an ion that contributes to the pH. To consume these additional carbonates, additional calcium is needed in the water column. The way to get the calcium is to add calcium chloride (either pool or spa hardness increaser, or some of the ice melts are pure calcium chloride). Test the water for both GH and KH. The GH will let you know when the calcium is increasing, and becomes stable, and the KH is a measure of the bicarbonates and needs to be over 100, preferably during the cycle, over 200ppm, about 12 drops on the drop type test.

      When you add the calcium chloride, you may see some cloudiness as the calcium reacts with the carbonates to make a fine powder form of limestone (calcium carbonate), but it will settle out and the water will clear again fairly quickly. Having adequate bicarb is needed for the establishment and survival of the bio bacteria and the maintenance of a constant pH.
      Hi Rich, will this reaction still occurs with the xypex coatings integrated in the concretes molecular structure? I thought xypex makes the concrete impermeable? Just wondering thanks.

    12. #12
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      Quote Originally Posted by BroHay View Post
      Thanks for the explanation as well. Chemistry is now fun!

      I fed my pond/tank cycling system ~1500 gal) approx 3oz of a PH reducer it had very little effect on the initial reading after say 5 hours.

      Furthermore, my sources of water all had varying degrees of PH. I'll write down

      I also had a 5 gallon jug for water change that the PH was 7.02 when filled, but over 8.09 when it sat for an approximate 24 hour period overnight.

      It took me an entire bottle of liquid PH increaser to get my 60 gallon tank to rise up (opposite of OP query) from its 6.54

      I am going to town today so I'll p/u some CaCl and see if that limits the rebound effect.

      Is there a recommendation for dosage?

      Adam
      The calcium chloride can be added at one pound per 1000 gallon and see where you stand with the pH. Be sure to add baking soda either 12 hours before or 12 hours after to try to establish a KH of over 100ppm, preferably over 150ppm with 200ppm not being too high. Do not add them both at the same time.

      "Our goal is to assist with emergency and Koi health issues, as well as educate on best practices. Please help us gain a clear picture by giving the original poster time to answer our questions before offering opinions and suggested treatments."

      Zone 7 A/B
      Keep your words sweet. You never know when you may have to eat them.
      Richard

    13. #13
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      Quote Originally Posted by ckoi View Post
      Hi Rich, will this reaction still occurs with the xypex coatings integrated in the concretes molecular structure? I thought xypex makes the concrete impermeable? Just wondering thanks.
      Yes, the same reaction takes place, and the same hydroxide leaches out of the concrete into the pond, but the amount is significantly reduced as it is the calcium hydroxide that causes the Xypex to build the internal structure that does the waterproofing. The thing is that very early in the hydration reaction, the reaction moves very fast, achieving up to 50% of the 28 day strength in just 3 days, 70% in 7 days, 85-90% in 14 days, but the strength continues to build forever, if there is nothing else breaking it down. The reaction with the Xypex won't start until there is hydroxide available and increases with increasing levels of hydroxide, so there is always some available for leaching into the pond. The rate of leaching goes down quicker than with straight cement mixes, so the need to remediate is lower, but I would suspect that it is still present.

      "Our goal is to assist with emergency and Koi health issues, as well as educate on best practices. Please help us gain a clear picture by giving the original poster time to answer our questions before offering opinions and suggested treatments."

      Zone 7 A/B
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      Richard

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      Quote Originally Posted by RichToyBox View Post
      The calcium chloride can be added at one pound per 1000 gallon and see where you stand with the pH. Be sure to add baking soda either 12 hours before or 12 hours after to try to establish a KH of over 100ppm, preferably over 150ppm with 200ppm not being too high. Do not add them both at the same time.
      Is the baking soda added in the same quantity?

      Adam

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      Quote Originally Posted by RichToyBox View Post
      Yes, the same reaction takes place, and the same hydroxide leaches out of the concrete into the pond, but the amount is significantly reduced as it is the calcium hydroxide that causes the Xypex to build the internal structure that does the waterproofing. The thing is that very early in the hydration reaction, the reaction moves very fast, achieving up to 50% of the 28 day strength in just 3 days, 70% in 7 days, 85-90% in 14 days, but the strength continues to build forever, if there is nothing else breaking it down. The reaction with the Xypex won't start until there is hydroxide available and increases with increasing levels of hydroxide, so there is always some available for leaching into the pond. The rate of leaching goes down quicker than with straight cement mixes, so the need to remediate is lower, but I would suspect that it is still present.
      I had a friend build a regular concrete pond without waterproofing or any treatments have high pH for 5 years. Hopefully if I build a concrete pond with xypex I won't have to deal with high pH for very long.

    16. #16
      icu2's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by ckoi View Post
      I had a friend build a regular concrete pond without waterproofing or any treatments have high pH for 5 years. Hopefully if I build a concrete pond with xypex I won't have to deal with high pH for very long.
      Mine with Xypex didn't last long fwiw:

      http://www.koiphen.com/forums/showth...81#post2649481
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    17. #17
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      There is a calculator at the top of the page that will give a good estimate of the amount of baking soda needed for a pond to increase the KH from one level to another. As long as there is both calcium and KH, the calcium will react and bring the pH down to about 8.3, but if the KH is consumed by the conversion of the hydroxide to carbonate, then you not only have very high pH but a very unstable pH, with anything that acidifies it potentially causing a pH crash into the 5's. Be sure the KH is there first, add the calcium and watch the pH come down pretty quickly.

      "Our goal is to assist with emergency and Koi health issues, as well as educate on best practices. Please help us gain a clear picture by giving the original poster time to answer our questions before offering opinions and suggested treatments."

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      100% Calcium Chloride obtained. Best I could find in the city yesterday (KH/DH strips - liquid kit coming next week) along with some Arm & Hammer baking soda.

      Understand that what I am doing is at my own risk - but thankfully the system is fish less and I am going to further protect my aging media (~3 months old) by adding another loop so things are isolated and I don't lose its capability if something happens.

      I'll test hardness, and then add the baking soda and work on completing my sieve filter today.

      Adam

    19. #19
      BroHay is offline Senior Member
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      Test strip

      My KH is between 80-120 ppm
      GH is above 180 ppm

      TDS IS 201-203 ppm (meter)

      PH (pond master high) =8.2
      PH meter (not calibrated recently (8.3-8.4)
      Test strip = 8.0-8.5

      Added to the 6.1 grams of baking soda to volume of 1650 gallons as of 9:00 this morning and letting it cycle.

      Edit@12:00
      Added another 6.1 oz (baking soda)
      KH - 100-120ppm
      TDS - 224 ppm
      PH - 8.2-8.5 from x3 different tests

      Edit @ 4:30
      KH - 120-180 (maybe 150 between colors, more blue than green)
      TDS - 211
      PH 8.4 (meter only)
      Added 8oz CaCl (total volume ~1650 gallons)

      226, 796 mg/6237l = 36.36 mg/l (36.36ppm)

      Adam
      Last edited by BroHay; 12-21-2017 at 08:28 PM.

    20. #20
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      The pH being at about 8.3 is good, and the addition of baking soda will only lock it in at that level, and the calcium chloride will not change the pH as the pH is the level established by the bicarbonate. Many of our ponds are run at this pH and it provides a very stable value with the KH values you have.

      "Our goal is to assist with emergency and Koi health issues, as well as educate on best practices. Please help us gain a clear picture by giving the original poster time to answer our questions before offering opinions and suggested treatments."

      Zone 7 A/B
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      Richard

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