from hard to soft water?

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cicatriz

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hi all,

i never took chemistry in high school and i am probably paying for it now...

is it possible for one to alter water from hard to soft?

i only ask this because i have hard water where i live and would really like to get some rams. though i guess they do just fine in the fishstores around here (except for the ones i saw covered in ich the other day (PJ pets - they also sell dyed fish).

any thoughts on this matter would be appreciated.

cicatriz
 

COBettaCouple

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there are products you can get to soften your water.. try the DFS website or your local LFS/LPS.
 

Isabella

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Yes, there are commercial products that can lower your pH / soften your water. But using commercial products to change the pH is a very unsafe way of maintaining your aquarium. The product is a chemical, however you look at it, and it cannot be good for fish's health. Besides, constantly adding chemicals to change your pH will create pH swings. And pH swings are more likely to cause disease in fish than a stable (but higher) pH. Stable pH is always best, even though it's lower or higher from what you want it to be. Yes, some fish are more delicate than other fish and may not do well in pH that is way too low or way too high for them. For this reason, why not just get fish that will do well in the pH that you have naturally occurring in your tap water? Besides, what is your pH exactly? Is it generally stable or do you see it change often or over time?

There is one natural way though to lower your pH. It is Peat Moss. You should be able to buy it at your local fish store. If I really really had to lower my pH, I'd prefer to get a natural product rather than a commercial chemical product. So Peat Moss would be my choice. You insert the Peat Moss into your filter so that it helps filter the water together with the other filter media. I don't know how often Peat Moss needs to be changed.

Besides, regular water changes should help you keep your pH stable. Sometimes, when you don't perform enough water changes, the pH will increase or decrease over time. And it is no longer the same as the pH of your tap water. Just to be sure, measure your tank pH and your tap pH and see if they differ.

Good luck.
 

COBettaCouple

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Actually, i was thinking of a product that's like a 'pillow' that goes in the filter and is only meant to soften the water, but not alter the pH. Something like:


You might want to look elsewhere for your rams if that store sells dyed fish, even online at places like the DFS website.
 
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cicatriz

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my pH is pretty consistent out of the tap at about 7.8 - 8.0 (this variation is probably caused by the method of testing rather than the water itself)

i am generally wary of using chemicals in the tank and would like to go the natural route.

as for the pillow product, it seems like a lot of work (needs to be soaked in salty water every 48hours). but definitely something to consider. it seems peat moss will be the way to go - if anyone has any experience with using this in their filter please let me know!

FLbettacouple :: i do not buy fish or supplies from PJs having realized they sell dyed fish - i just happened to be near the store and decided to give it a look.

isabella, while i understand your reasoning behind getting fish suited to the water in my area i am confident i (with the help of this forum!) can find a natural way to have the tank meet the standards rams require
 

COBettaCouple

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yea, it does seem like a pain.. one reason we have just stayed with hard water and high pH. :-\ But our fish are more tolerant of the hardness & pH than the rams.

Is PJs a small shop or a chain in the area? crazy thing - dying fish.. doesn't make sense to me.. plenty of REAL color to be found.
 
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cicatriz

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PJs is a chain (but may be owned as franchises, not sure) in Canada, i know they have stores here in alberta and some in ontario not sure if they exist elsewhere...

i clued into the dyed fish when my girlfriend pointed out some pretty 'fruit tetras'... once i got home i looked up these fish and discovered they are actually a variety of tetra (the type escapes me) dyed. these ones were really interesting colors - pastel blues, pinks, yellows, etc. too bad these pretty fish are having such an awful life (if any are still alive) and will undoubtedly disappoint their owners by dropping dead.

this PJs place is pretty useless - for instance they claimed that dwarf puffers like "a little bit of salt", they advise customers that a tank can be cycled in days (sure fooled me when i was starting out... cost the lives of several fish, hours of my life spent doing large water changes daily). they dont even have a quarantine tank and seem to not care that the fish they sell are diseased. this is the same place that sells puppys and kitties, which, unless you are a competitive shower (in which case you wouldnt be getting your furry friends at a store like this), is as unethical as dyeing fish.
 

raptors_4

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You can soften water by simply boiling it. It will lower the gH without altering the pH. I don't know if its worth the time for you though and don't know how much it actually softens the water.
 

Luniyn

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The "pillow" will only work well on small amounts of water and isn't practical for larger tanks. Boiling water is even worse and not suitable for more then a 5 Gal tank and even that's a lot of work. Your main options are either peat (cheaper but will color your water like tea) or using RO water (expensive but it is a blank slate that you make as hard or as soft as you like). RO water you can make yourself by getting your own filter system (not cheap) and making as much as you need. You can also buy it at either a local grocery store or fish store. This is cheaper in the short term but gets more expensive over time and I'm not sure if it would ever overtake the cost of your own filter with having to buy filter replacements, etc. Also with RO water you will have water that is basically nothing. By itself it's not suitable, so you will need to create your own buffer either through chemicals or mixing some RO water with your tap water (you will have to find out what ratio of RO to tap water works best through trial and error). As for the peat option, as I mentioned it will color your water to a brownish tea color. It will only be softer water if you allow this to happen. You can remove this tea color with carbon in your filter, however, that will stop the softening process and only serve to lower the pH of your water. You can buy peat moss at most hardware stores and the kind you want is brown not green. Also you want one that doesn't contain any soil additives. Sphagnum peat moss is one that will work, but be careful because they also make a brand called Sphagnum moss which is for use with plants in hanging pots (i.e. you don't want that one). Now you can either boil it or rinse it VERY well and put it into a hang on back filter. Now just wait and monitor the pH of your water over the next few days. If your pH also drops you can bring it back up by adding crushed coral or seashells to your tank. Put some into some pantyhose so you can remove it as needed. After a few days you will get that tea color and your water should be ready to go. Other then all those options you are back to chemicals, but most of those end up adding phosphates to your water which isn't great for the fish.

Of course I ask this after that long ramble, but what is the kH and gH of your water now? As mentioned, fish can get used to a lot of things. It might be worth trying to get the rams used to your water over time starting with a RO water mix and slowly increasing the ratio of your tap water to RO water over time until your tank is only your tap water. All methods have draw backs but these pretty much sum up what they are.
 
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cicatriz

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as i dont have a test kit for hardness at the moment here is what my cities water is like according to the company that provides it:

EPCOR water fluctuates between 130-190 mg/L expressed as Calcium Carbonate, with an average of 165 mg/L. Washing machine manufacturers often refer to "Hardness in Grains"; the hardness in grains per American gallon is 7.5-11. Edmonton water is classed as moderate in hardness.

as i dont have a kit for kH and gH i dont know what unit of measurement to translate these numbers to (if they are even relevant - kH is carbonate and gH is general hardness right?)

any thoughts on this?


i am pretty much limited to peat moss due to cost... a few questions: why does carbon impact the use of peat moss negatively? would boiling the peat be sufficient to remove this yellowing effect (i assume this would probably also limit the softening effect, but is still worth asking)? i think i recall hearing or reading about peat based filter media or pellets... would these have a similar yellowing effect, and would it lower the hardness of my tank?




all this is seeming like a lot of effort and i am now much more inclined towards acclimating the fish... does anyone have experience with this process (that is slowly altering hardness over time)?



i know these are lots of questions, but i am sure that i am not the only one wondering how they can broaden their aquatic horizons beyond the constraints of what comes out of the tap!
 

COBettaCouple

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probably the dyed tetras were the xray tetras. the see-through fish seem to get dyed a lot.
 

Luniyn

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Actually at the levels stated, you are already in the range of hardness that the Rams require. It's the upper part of their range, but you are still there as you are of moderate hardness. By the way 1 mg/L = 1 ppm so your water is an average of 165 ppm gH or roughly 10 dH (that's a guess based on the normal range for moderate hardness which is 135ppm-200ppm/8-12dH). Since rams like 5-12 dH you are good to go for your water hardness, however, it's your pH that might be a problem at 7.8-8.0 as rams like a more acidic pH of 5-6 though they can tolerate as high as 7 if you can keep it steady. If you plan to bread them then you'll have to deal with the brown water because you would need softer water and low pH, but if you just want to enjoy them you can just deal with getting your pH lower. You can try using to get into the more acidic range. Note that you really have to be diligent when altering your pH. If you lapse in your duties at all, you can get a spike or drop in pH that will be very stressful to the fish. Now if you want to go with the peat method, you can try to use it () along with activated carbon in your filter to help lessen the color tinting. This will modify the pH but as the peat gets older the pH will start to rise back up. So again you must be constantly checking your pH to be sure it is steady. Also if you want to try, you can get your tank to a steady low pH and put in the fish. Then in the course of weeks/months, slowly let the pH rise and monitor the behavior of the fish to see if anything changes. Then up a little more and keep watching them. It may be possible that you could eventually get them up to your tap water pH over time. This may or may not effect their life expectancy as it's not their 'norm' and if you wanted to replace any or add more you would have to start all over again with the new one's.
 
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cicatriz

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thanks for all the info people (especially you Luniyn) i am happy to hear my hardness is okay... i will most likely be adding co2 to the tank before i get any tricky fish like the ram. hopefully this will help to lower the pH, if it does not i will try out those buffers. again, thank you for so much information - i look forward to being able to use it in a couple of months when i get my much anticipated rams (and maybe even a discus).

cicatriz
 
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