Hard, Alkaline Water Frustration Help

  1. inFERNal_inFERNo Initiate Member

    I've had a 20 gallon high for about 4 years. I had kept some fish for more than 3 months at a time but mostly they would die off within 3 months. I never really tested the water other than nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia which all looked fine, and it deeply annoyed me. Anyways, about a year ago a massive die-off occurred that left a singular lemon tetra alive. I kept changing the water but life got busy and I never got any more fish. Flash forward to two weeks ago and I decided to revamp the tank (and properly this time). I got a new filter, planted LED light, and scrubbed everything in the tank. I also rescaped and planted the tank more heavily along with switching to eco-complete substrate.

    The most important thing I did, however, was buy an api master test kit. When I tested my water I was alarmed to see a pH reading 8.1 in the tank and GH of 9 along with KH of 7. I think this was why I never could keep any "softwater"/"acidic" fish alive. I then did a massive water change after reading that eco-complete can make the water more alkaline. After doing this my water sat at around 7.9 pH and roughly the same hardness.

    I then did some more sloothing and tested my tap water. pH: 7.6 GH: 8 KH: 6

    I was discouraged to find that almost every fish I liked or had kept before fell outside of these water parameters.

    The fish I would really want to keep are apistogramma but it seems that that is out of reach. I have heard that pH and hardness treatments are only temporary and cause more harm than good. What are my options? RO water? Tough Acclimation?

    I'm just trying to create a happy and healthy aquarium

    Sorry for the semi-rant :) but I needed to put it all out there.

    Also is it true that aging water can help?

    tank pic
     
  2. bopsalot Well Known Member Member

    Hi there. Your water actually looks alright. Some very sensitive or wild-caught or wild-farmed soft water fish like cardinal tetras might have problems. Most tank-raised or farm raised fish should be fine. Most fish can adapt to a ph and hardness like yours. As long as the ph is stable, and yours will be. I wouldn't worry about it, but if you want softer water for ideal conditions you could mix 50% R/O with your tap and maintain that. Good luck!
     

  3. inFERNal_inFERNo Initiate Member

    Maybe should I just try with the pH and water I have now using tank raised apistos/schooling fish then adjust later if they do poorly or die?
     
  4. inFERNal_inFERNo Initiate Member

    Here is a stock I was considering:

    2 x Apistogramma borellii (Apistogramma borellii)

    10 x Lemon Tetra (Hyphessobrycon pulchripinnis)

    1 x Nerite Snail (Nerita sp.)

    5 x Amano Shrimp (Cardina multidentata)

    1 x Dwarf Gourami (Colisa lalia)
     

  5. Fishbeard Member Member

    I actually have water that sits around 7.8 or 8.0, and I keep softwater fish. These include tetras and cories.

    My water is very buffered, and maintains that level pretty consistently.

    I'd say that all the stocking you've mentioned would probably be just fine, as long as they aren't wild caught.

    If you had bad luck with lemon tetras in the past, why don't you try another species of tetra or a different schooler all together? There's loads of options, especially with apistos, to use as dither fish.

    Some species that will definitely do well in your water would be rainbow fish, and any livebearers.

    Good luck!
     
  6. OnTheFly Well Known Member Member

    I'd kill for those parameters. Here are mine...

    PH 8.3 GH 35 KH: Too high to measure with an API kit. I quit trying at 50 drops.

    I have a healthy school of lemon tetras. I believe you had a different problem. Keep the faith, there are very few fish that won't work in your water.