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Unable to verify pH with tester
#509844 08/05/19 10:17 PM
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I'm having a cry-baby moment here.. I have had the most massive explosion of FA I've ever seen in a 3-day period.
I'm just short of 5/8 acre. Due to snow melt runoff through my tall grass buffers in early march, it turned my water to Ice tea as it was melting the ice covered pond. In early April I shot 350lbs of Alum followed by 150lbs hydrated lime in hopes of locking up some Phos.
Around the first part of June I started seeing some patches of FA but not alarmed-expected some. As it became worse, I was removing quite a bit and also using copper sulfate near shore until I hit the max recommended dose for Total acre feet. That was around first part of July.
Since then I have removed 16 boat loads which equates to 2 pickup beds full after dry-down. 3 days ago it blew up like I've never seen before-anywhere except maybe a sewage pond.
I've had no rain inflow event so I decided I best be doing some chemistry samples. Ammonia-0, Nitrates-0, Nitrites-0, PH-Well, I'm undecided because if I test with std pH solution it is close to Max color of 7.6, if I test with High solution, it is close to Max color of 8.8..SH*%T.
Tested for 3 days, am & pm with same high-end of both scales. I brought a sample home tonight, had my wife look at samples and she agrees, whether std or high test, both colors match high end???????????
I would take loader and cut a drain through Dam but set traps last night and today they were LOADED with fish. Loads of YP, several YOY SMB and lots of BG and RES, Crawdads in numbers that are scary. fish look REAL good and healthy.
Not sure what to do if anything, but thought I would Cry here to you guys and hope for a reasonable suggestion.

Edit: I might add QA had mentioned, or someone in the nutrient thread about WH not blooming in high nutrient situations. I've seen 2 plants bloom, last for the day and gone. My WH really look like crap for what I assumed was a nutrient rich water body.

22-24" vis, been consistent all summer since first bloom.

Last edited by Snipe; 08/05/19 10:23 PM.

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Re: Unable to verify pH with tester
Snipe #509848 08/06/19 05:59 AM
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The post about the WH blooming/not blooming was from me based on a quick google search. I posted a link to a YouTube video in QAís thread, but we were all posting within minutes and I think it got buried. Having said that! Iím definitely no botanical guru. Please donít judge your nutritional level based on my account.

What did your ph run normally before the lime addition? I use it for a treatment process at work (not water related) and it is very caustic, 10+ pH when dissolved in water.

How did you apply the lime?


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Re: Unable to verify pH with tester
FLX Muck Man #509857 08/06/19 09:15 AM
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When I had a pool and used a test kit, I had the testing solution go bad on me. Could your test solution be contaminated or compromised?

Re: Unable to verify pH with tester
Snipe #509872 08/06/19 12:45 PM
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I've had the kit since May.. Date code on bottles says 2023 and it's been in a dark closet closed up. Std and high pH solutions are 2 separate bottles so I'm hoping both wouldn't go bad, not sure.
The pH before treatment was 7.4 to 7.6. about a week after treatment it was back to 7.5, it actually went down to 7 and slowly rebounded to 7.5.


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Re: Unable to verify pH with tester
Snipe #509880 08/06/19 02:13 PM
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Did you spread granules or spay liquid? The stuff i have at work is a crushed fine powder that makes a slurry, but never dissolves quickly. the quicklime for lawn is like cat litter consistency. i bet it would take a while to fully incorporate.

I wonder what your alkalinity readings would be. I've never really understood the difference between high pH and high Alkalinity. can anyone explain it?


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Re: Unable to verify pH with tester
Snipe #509882 08/06/19 02:26 PM
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Alkalinity has been between 110 and 200 since May.
Alum was mixed in water tank and sprayed out over pond. I followed the guidelines of "Rainman" here on the forum, he does this as a business and is quite successful with it. We discussed in detail before I applied it.

Last edited by Snipe; 08/06/19 02:28 PM.

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Re: Unable to verify pH with tester
Snipe #509889 08/06/19 04:24 PM
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You would be better able to determine/eliminate a cause for the pH cycle, if you tested at about 3pm and 3am. If the pH issue is caused by organism activity/photosynthesis, the pH should peak in the early/mid afternoon. Conversely, it should be at its lowest, late, late at night/before sunrise.

Just curious, are there any sources of lime in your pond? Cement walls? Crushed cement? Bricks? Mortar?


2.5 acres, 87' Deep, Previously a Quarry
Re: Unable to verify pH with tester
Snipe #509890 08/06/19 04:28 PM
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SH&*T tons of concrete riprap around entire pond..
But, would it make sense to "assume" alkalinity would be higher than the last checked 127 if the chunk concrete was the cause of high pH due to hydrated lime??
Appreciate the help.

Last edited by Snipe; 08/06/19 04:31 PM.

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Re: Unable to verify pH with tester
Snipe #509891 08/06/19 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted By: Snipe
SH&*T tons of concrete riprap around entire pond..


That is most likely the cause. The solution however, is up to you.


2.5 acres, 87' Deep, Previously a Quarry
Re: Unable to verify pH with tester
Snipe #509892 08/06/19 04:34 PM
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That being said, what is a possible solution??


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Re: Unable to verify pH with tester
Snipe #509893 08/06/19 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted By: Snipe
That being said, what is a possible solution??


At this juncture, I haven't a clue? I am not sure how all those chemicals reacted or if they reacted with one another? Did you create aluminum sulfate? Did that, or some other component, react with the lime in the rip rap?

I would still try to determine if photosynthesis is at work by testing at 3am and 3pm. It's easier to throw darts at one bullseye.


2.5 acres, 87' Deep, Previously a Quarry
Re: Unable to verify pH with tester
Snipe #509899 08/06/19 05:09 PM
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Joey, I'll get a 3am reading tonight.
Rex (rainman) knows what I have in the pond, we talked for several hours before I pulled the trigger on the Alum treatment.
I haven't heard a word out of Rex for some time here, maybe I'll give him a call.
I'm also going to try some simple pH strips and see if maybe that answers another question...
EDIT: I still have to go back to one fact that seems consistent-fish health, and hoards of fry everywhere you look. Fry are very susceptible to high pH and my observations are fry are everywhere, shallow, deep, middle of pond-solid. Every size imaginable.

Last edited by Snipe; 08/06/19 05:13 PM.

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Re: Unable to verify pH with tester
Snipe #509902 08/06/19 05:36 PM
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I think, and this is usually when I am wrong, it isn't really the high pH alone that kills fish, it is the ammonia issues that follow. If ammonia is present at sufficient levels, when the pH rises, NH3 is produced, which is highly toxic. Your ammonia levels may not reach that level, plus it is usually in the 9 range of pH when that begins to occur.

There is a lot going on here and I wish I could be more help. No matter what your pH level is, what you need to be more concerned with is your ammonia levels and phosphorus.

You don't really need 3am, although it is optimum, you just need well after sunset to compare the readings to mid day.


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Re: Unable to verify pH with tester
Snipe #509903 08/06/19 05:37 PM
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i Didnít really consider the concrete and the lime. I have access to a lot of busted up concrete. without this, I wouldnít have thought twice to put it all around.


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Re: Unable to verify pH with tester
Snipe #509905 08/06/19 05:46 PM
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Don't give up hope here, FLX, Concrete in the right situation can buffer pH and lower the pH swings. Mine is a bit higher than I'd like right now but I don't think I'm lethal by any means.
I have aeration running sundown to sunrise so my DO levels look good and no trace of measurable NH3 yet.


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Re: Unable to verify pH with tester
Snipe #509958 08/07/19 02:51 PM
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Did you dissolve your copper sulfate and spray in pond as a liquid?

Take a water sample to a local swimming pool place and have them test the Ph of your sample.

I don't the Ph is much of an issue. FA might be able to be handled with a trash pump if you can put the discharge above the pond, and let the water flow back into the pond.


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Re: Unable to verify pH with tester
Snipe #509974 08/07/19 10:17 PM
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Yes, dissolved copper sulfate first.
2pm pH 8.3, 2am 8.2 per my sons boss at the city pool today.
I have some paperwork on Phos level, I just have to find it now, lol... I had our local City water dept check all parameters they could and their check of pH samples was nearly identical to city pool admins pH numbers.

Ok, Found it. Says PO4 profile 0.015 and a note "This is first readable value above zero".

Last edited by Snipe; 08/07/19 10:39 PM.

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Re: Unable to verify pH with tester
Joey Quarry #509980 08/08/19 05:43 AM
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So, the pH is high-ish, but not causing fish health issues at this time, and weíre trying to figure out if is even a cause for alarm?

I like JQís line if thinking for possible future issues, but want to understand the chemistry a little better.

JQ, you still following?
Originally Posted By: Joey Quarry
If ammonia is present at sufficient levels, when the pH rises, NH3 is produced, which is highly toxic.

can you clarify your thoughts here? In my experience, NH3 is ammonia. Ammonia is also used to neutralize acid, and is caustic when dissolved in water, so it contributes to a high pH, but Iím not sure how it is produced by high pH.... it is a very real byproduct of aluminum -> aluminum oxide in nitrogen rich environment, But the alum is not metallic, and shouldnít make that reaction.

It may be that you will see ammonia levels increase if there is high alkaline because the fish continue to make it as waste, but itís not being neutralized by the pond? Which could get the toxicity levels too high in some time period if left unchecked?

I wonder if a real good rain will bring it back to to normal, like a water change in an aquarium. Add some CO2 from rainwater,and itís ďRight as rainĒ.

Last edited by FLX Muck Man; 08/08/19 06:00 AM.

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Re: Unable to verify pH with tester
Snipe #509998 08/08/19 10:33 AM
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Considering the test results, most likely, photosynthesis can be ruled out as a cause for the high pH. That does not infer excess lime is the issue, it just means, most likely, photosynthesis is not the cause.

Ammonia exists in two states, depending upon pH and temperature of the water, ionized ammonium (NH4), or un-ionized ammonia (NH3). I am not sure of your temperature but your pH isn't dangerously high, independent of temperature.

It may be wise to limit your feeding until you do have a good rain, just to keep ammonia levels low and there is a drop in pH.

https://www.patroutintheclassroom.org/docs/default-source/resources/how-to-calculate-your-unionized-ammonia-levels1-(2).pdf?sfvrsn=ba831777_2


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Re: Unable to verify pH with tester
Snipe #510038 08/08/19 09:48 PM
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We had a 3" rain last night which is double the amount we've had all summer so far. I checked pH today expecting to see a slight drop beings pond is up 6-7" but no change, showing about 8.3.
90% of my FA was just GONE this am so I am expecting a huge DO crash.
Back out this evening and probably half of the FA was back on the surface in chunks everywhere. Not sure what to think about all of this. Barely measurable Phos with a massive FA problem and high pH..
This is not what I had in mind when I built this. :-))


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Re: Unable to verify pH with tester
Snipe #510046 08/09/19 05:37 AM
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When you say your fa is gone, are you referring to the floating stuff or the stuff on the bottom?

If your referring to the matts on the surface, my understanding is that they float because of the bubbles they make from photosynthesis. If you squeeze the matts and release the bubbles, it can sink until it makes more bubbles. If it came back to the surface, it is still doing itís thing.

It probably didnít die, so maybe no do crash in your near future.


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Re: Unable to verify pH with tester
Snipe #510076 08/09/19 06:07 PM
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Patience, Snipe, patience... Phosphorous levels are dynamic, so your snapshot in time, was only that, the phosphorous level when tested. The addition of lime unlocks phosphorous that wasn't previously available to the FA. It's a common agricultural practice.

Give it time and your pH will return to normal levels. 8.3 isn't anything to fret about. However, you should remove FA, dead or alive, and take it easy on the feeding, just to be safe.


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Re: Unable to verify pH with tester
Snipe #510087 08/09/19 10:15 PM
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Yeah, I quit feeding, and just a note here.. Do you know how darn hard I worked to get SMB, RES and YP to eat pellets?? :-)) I'm really struggling with that. My new SMB recruits were really tearing up the feed, and to have so many RES come in, I gotta say I was so pleased to see that. In my eyes I'm loosing growth potential here but I guess anything that helps..
As of tonight only about 35-40% of the FA coverage noted before the rain has come back up. I filled the boat to dangerous levels tonight again and hauled it out. Don't know how much longer I can keep doing that.


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Re: Unable to verify pH with tester
Snipe #518479 03/27/20 05:07 AM
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I've had bad experiences with tests that gave the wrong pH. Do some more research and you'll find one you can trust. Here is a source you could try out https://www.optimainstitute.com/water/ph-strips.html, there's quite a few selections to pick between.


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