Using Baking Soda in Aquariums



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Can you safely use baking soda in your aquarium?

Yes, you can! There are quite a few benefits to using baking soda in your fish tank, including adjusting the pH level in your tank, cleaning decorations, buffering acidic water, and more.

This guide explains everything you need to know about the safe use of baking soda in your fish tank.

What Is Baking Soda?

Baking soda is also known more correctly as sodium bicarbonate or bicarbonate of soda and is a chemical compound with the formula NaHCO3. Baking soda comprises a bicarbonate anion and a sodium cation and takes the form of fine powder or crystals.

Sodium bicarbonate first appeared around 4 million years ago when huge salt lakes evaporated, forming trona deposits. Trona is a rock that’s processed to form the naturally occurring mineral soda ash or sodium carbonate. Soda ash is then further processed to create baking soda.

Did you know that the planet’s largest trona deposit is in Wyoming? Well, that’s true, and in 2018, this area produced over 17 million tons of soda ash for export worldwide.

Baking Soda Uses

In addition to its benefits for fish-keeping hobbyists, baking soda has many other applications, including the following:

  • Baking soda is used as a leavening agent in cookery, for example, in muffins, cakes, and cookies. Often, recipes including baking soda also have an acidic ingredient, such as buttermilk or lemon juice. When the baking soda comes into contact with acid, carbon dioxide is produced, which makes baked goods rise and become fluffy and light.
  • Baking soda is sometimes used as an antacid to treat heartburn and indigestion since it neutralizes stomach acid.
  • A baking soda solution can be used to wash pesticides from fruit and vegetables.
  • Baking soda is an excellent natural cleaner and deodorizer that can be used around the house, including as a carpet freshener.
  • You can use baking soda in your weekly wash to freshen up your clothes without using other chemicals.
  • A paste made of baking soda and tap water can be used to soothe insect bites.
  • Baking soda has antifungal properties and can be used as a soak to treat mild nail infections.

Baking soda is a cheap, readily available product with many household and health uses. But what can this amazing chemical do for your fish tank?

Uses of Baking Soda in Your Fish Tank Water

So, why do aquarium hobbyists use baking soda?

Raising Aquarium Water pH

Probably the most common use of baking soda in the aquarium hobby is to raise the tank water pH by adding a small amount of the chemical to the water.

However, it’s necessary to do that regularly to prevent the fish tank water pH from fluctuating and falling again.

It’s recommended to use 1 teaspoon of baking soda per 5 gallons of water. However, you must do that slowly so that you don’t stress your fish. Alternatively, you might prefer to put your fish in a quarantine tank while you make the necessary adjustments to your main setup.

  • Put some aquarium water into a bucket, and add sufficient baking soda as per the recommended levels.
  • At first, the water will start bubbling, but that should stop after a few minutes.
  • Gradually add the baking soda solution to your tank. Use an aquarium water testing kit to check the pH levels until the desired chemistry is achieved.

The baking soda produces sodium hydroxide ions that neutralize hydrogen ions present in the water. Hydrogen ions make the water more acidic, so once they’re neutralized, the pH level in your fish tank will rise.

Of course, you need to check the water chemistry in your fish tank regularly. Eventually, the effects of the baking soda will wear off, and the pH level will rise again.


When you take down a fish tank for routine maintenance or to start over in a secondhand tank, you often discover the glass is stained with mineral deposits. The quickest, easiest way to get rid of those stains is by using baking soda.

Baking soda is also great for absorbing unpleasant odors, leaving the tank and decorations smelling fresh and clean again.

Make up a paste, using:

  • 2 tablespoons of baking soda
  • 1 cup of alcohol
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon of vinegar

Mix all the ingredients together, and use a soft sponge or cloth to apply the paste to the stain. Allow the paste to soak into the stain for a few minutes, and then wipe away the paste with a soft, lint-free cloth.

How Can pH Affect Water Chemistry?

Water pH is measured on a scale ranging from 0 to 14, with a pH of 7.0 being neutral. Numbers below 7.0 is regarded as more acidic, whereas above 7.0, the water is more alkaline.

If the pH in your fish tank falls below 6.0, the beneficial bacteria that are responsible for processing ammonia, nitrites, and other toxic chemicals begin to weaken. That can lead to an ammonia spike, which could take out your fish.

Most fish and other freshwater creatures can tolerate a pH between 6.8 and 7.6, depending on the species. However, the water chemistry preferred by your fish varies. Some fish prefer a more alkaline environment, whereas others like the water to be more acidic.

For that reason, you need to research the needs of the fish you keep and create an environment to suit them as closely as possible.

What Are the Benefits of Using Baking Soda in Your Fish Tank?

best filter for 20 gallon aquarium

Aside from raising the pH in your aquarium, there are quite a few unexpected benefits to using baking soda in your fish tank.


Baking soda can help to stabilize oxygen levels in the aquarium. How so? Well, the bicarbonate of soda helps to break down ammonia and nitrates that would otherwise consume dissolved oxygen in the water.

The chemical also removes carbon dioxide from the water by breaking it down.

Heavy Metal Removal

As your tank becomes more acidic, you’ll notice more iron in the water. Baking soda can help to remove heavy metals by converting them to salt and water, making it easier for your chemical filter system to remove the harmful substances from the tank.

Clears Cloudy Water

Sometimes, particulate and dust can make your aquarium water look cloudy. Adding baking soda to the water can help to break down those organic substances, making it easier for your mechanical filter system to remove the particles, leaving your tank clean and clear.


In this part of our guide, we answer some of the most commonly asked questions regarding the use of baking soda in your aquarium.

Q: Will Baking Soda Harm Fish?

A: It’s safe to use baking soda in your aquarium, provided you use it in the correct quantities. Baking soda can have a sedative effect on your fish, so be careful how you use it.

Q: Can Baking Soda Raise or Lower the Temperature in My Fish Tank?

A: No. Baking soda has no effect on the water temperature in your fish tank.

Most tropical fish need a stable water temperature in their environment, so you need a reliable water heater and an aquarium thermometer in your tank so that you can monitor the temperature daily.

If the tank temperature varies, check your heater, as temperature fluctuations could mean the thermostat is faulty and the heater needs replacing.

Q: How Can I Raise the pH in My Aquarium Fast?

A: You can raise your aquarium’s pH by adding baking soda to the water.

However, before you begin raising the pH, we recommend removing your fish and placing them in a quarantine tank. Once you’ve tested the water pH and you’re happy it’s returned to the ideal level, you can return your precious pets to your main tank.

Q: How Much Baking Soda Does It Take To Raise Alkalinity in a Fish Tank?

A: To raise the alkalinity in your fish tank, it’s generally recommended that you use 1 teaspoon of baking soda per 5 gallons of water. Once you’ve added the baking soda to your tank, wait 24 hours and retest the pH levels.

Be careful not to raise the alkalinity too much, as that can kill your fish. For that reason, we recommend removing your fish from the tank and returning them once you’re sure the pH level is stable and correct.

Q: How Much Baking Soda Do I Need To Raise the pH in a 10-Gallon Tank?

A: As mentioned above, you should add 1 teaspoon of baking soda per 5 gallons of water to raise the pH in your tank in small, incremental measures.

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed our guide to using baking soda in your aquarium. If you found the article helpful, please remember to share it!

Baking soda is a common household product that you can use to raise the pH in your fish tank, and you can use it for cleaning your tank and decorations.

However, too much baking soda in the water can kill your fish, so remove your pets to a quarantine tank first, returning them only once you’re sure the pH level is correct and the tank is safe for your fish.

How do you keep the pH level stable in your fish tank? Tell us in the comments box below.

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