How to Get the Alkalinity Up in an Aquarium

Fish can become stressed or ill, or even die, if water is too acidic for them.

Fish can become stressed or ill, or even die, if water is too acidic for them.

Your aquarium is either acidic, neutral or alkaline. You can measure the level of acid in the water by checking the pH. If your water is too acidic for your fish to thrive in, you will need to adjust its alkalinity.

Test your water with a pH testing kit. Determine how much you need to increase the pH in the tank, but remember that you cannot drastically raise the pH of a tank in a short period or you will stress your fish.

Add a specially designed aquarium product that contains sodium bicarbonate to increase the alkalinity of your tank. Read the instructions on the product to determine precisely how much you need to add per liter of water in your aquarium. Do not increase your tank's pH by more than .3 units per day.

Allow the product to flow through the filters and thoroughly dissolve into the aquarium water. Recheck the pH of the tank. Continue adding sodium bicarbonate as needed for as many days as it takes to raise your tank's alkalinity to the proper level.

Items you will need

  • pH test kit
  • Sodium bicarbonate product specifically for raising aquarium pH


  • Most pH testing kits require exposing a testing strip or meter to water from your tank for a brief period. The testing strip will change colors depending on the pH level of your tank.
  • The pH can be rated on a scale and will be between 1 and 14. A pH of 7 is considered neutral. A pH of less than 7 is acidic. A pH of more than 7 is alkaline, or basic.

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About the Author

Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.

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