Ph, Kh And Gh: Need Help With Tap To Tank Problems

Guppypuppy

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Hey guys, first post, here it goes:

I have a 55gal cichlid tank and 10gal guppy tank. Guppy tank lightly planted, unsure of plant type. Cichlid is not. Looking at guppy tank specifically:
-Aqueon filter for 20gal
-6 guppies, 4 kuhli loaches
-has bubble wall
-lightly planted but with gravel
-tank is gifted from previous owners suspicion it was a salt water tank beforehand? Cleaned well.
-using API stress coat water conditioner

Tap water, without filter tests over the high limits of the High pH tester in the master kit. Litmus, the kit and a generic chemistry test all confirm it is over 8.2, I am guess 8.6 to even 8.8. The gH and kH is relatively low, using the tests, gH was 4 drops, kH 10 drops.

I did a 20% water change a few days ago and noticed the fish today showing signs of what I suspected to be high alkilinity. The tank water tested a lower pH (~7.6), kH of 4 drops, but gH of 22 drops! Not sure why these levels aren't necessarily closer together, but I am newer to the master kit testing and monitoring of this. There are no nitrite/nitrates/ammonia changes, lowest rating possible there.

I feel as though I should adjust the alkilinity. In the past I used dehumidifier water mixed with tap to control pH, considering how high my municipal tap reads. This only provides a temporary fix, takes a lot of time, and doesn't strike me as a healthy solution bacteria wise for fish. I can't necessarily justify high expenses, or excessive water changes unless you have proposals that make those more reasonable.

Tl;dr - how can I drop the hardness of my water, tap or tank? Are there water pitchers that can filter it, could I consider particular substrates(which due to slow plant growth I have been considering), or am I missing something simple? I feel buying distilled water repeatedly isn't the best option. Trying to make it, even less so.

Note: Cichlids love their water. 55 gallons seems so much easier to maintain. Thanks for any responses!
 

Alex Pasquale

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Okay little piece of advice for you, DO NOT CHASE pH or Alkalinity! A steady pH/kH is a lot better than trying to chase a certain number. Major fluctuations in pH/kH can cause major problems for your fish, stress them out, and in turn could kill them. Trust me your fish can adjust to anything. I have all kinds of fish from around the world and they are all 100% healthy. Everyone's tap water is different. If you are worried about adding new fish, then do drip acclimation when you bring them home instead of just floating. Again though, DO NOT chase pH/kH in your tank, steady is better than chasing.
 
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Guppypuppy

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I don't believe I am chasing? The fish seem to live okay with water changes, except these gradual rises in alkilinity. If it gets too high, I notice some lethargy and strained breathing in the guppies. They still eat and swim lively but definitely refuse to reproduce now. Loaches don't react nearly as much. Still concerns me my tap is so incredibly high.
 

sfsamm

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Have you tested your tap after aging it in a bucket for 24-48 hours? Straight from the tap may read high but after setting for a while your true pH maybe that 7.6 you are reading in the tank several days later. Being a 10 gallon tank of that's the case I'd recommend to try aging the water one to several days prior to adding it to the tank. Should alleviate the stress of it dropping once in the tank for the guppies.
 
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Guppypuppy

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I usually age about 2.5 gallons, as that's my biggest storage. Haven't tested the aged water, that is a really good idea. Could also explain why some changes are more dramatic if I have to add fresh tap. Thanks! I will post back what I find!
 

RyRyTheAquariumGuy

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Just add some small pieces of driftwood! It will naturally and slowly lower the pH. But yes consistency in pH is more important than chasing it and having it fluctuate!
 

Mick Frost

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A water softener will lower GH, a Brita filter (or a ice maker filter) will lower both GH/KH.
I only suggest looking into it if you can make the commitment to change over slowly, and then use it consistently. I have a sticker on each of my tanks to remind me how many gallons to remove, how much filtered Tap to add, and how much RO, and the test parameters I used to make the calculations in case I need to sub a different filter or RO source.
 
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Guppypuppy

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That was the goal, to find a more consistent source I could slowly adjust with. Water softener as a unit would be too expensive for the house, as I plan to move soon anyways. Thinking about a brita but didn't know if that would actually work or if someone had experience with it.

I just started a spreadsheet on water testing. I am planning some big tank changes in the future, so I wanted to be certain I had everything else win order before changing things up. Really appreciate the feedback everyone!
 

Mick Frost

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I wouldn't trust a Brita for removing anything important (chlorine, phosphate, etc) but it's **** good for lead and will lower TDS (and GH/KH) a bit. How much of what is removed will depend on what's there, as well as PH, water pressure, and temp.
 
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