Softened water and plants

Kev3666

Good evening all!

I've had my new 75g hardscape planted tank up and running for about a month. It has been cycled and I have been slowly adding some fish. The one issue I have noticed is my plant growth or lack thereof. The plants were bought from a local vendor off of Facebook. The plants came in nicely packaged and appeared to be in good shape. They were all supposed to be low tech plants since I'm not running CO2. I knew going into this that some of the plants would "melt" while getting used to my water parameters. Some have just up and died altogether. I see very little new growth with the plants that I have left and even my anubias nano petites that are attached to rock and driftwood all look horrible. There is a lot of browning, yellowing and/or transparency of the leaves.

Here is what is used in my tank;
Eco complete substrate
Finnex planted 24/7 hcl
Driftwood
Lava rock

The tank stays heated to around 78-79 degrees. I've placed osmocote plus gel caps into the substrate. I dose with EZ Green , EZ Carbon, EZ Iron and API Leaf zone.

I'm at a loss as to why my plants aren't taking off. My only hunch is that I have a water softener installed in my house due to the hard water terrorizing my appliances. I did a KH/GH test along with a Phosphate test from the tap.
KH-10 drops
GH- i stopped at 18 drops due to no change in color
Phos- .5-1.0

Is the softener causing my plant growth issues? If so, is there anything I can add to the tank to help them out.

Thanks in advance,
Kevin
 

kellerjake2004

i'd assume that dosing stuff would add back minerals? maybe there's a lack of ammonia in the tank for the plants to grow with? what type of light are you using?
 
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Kev3666

i'd assume that dosing stuff would add back minerals? maybe there's a lack of ammonia in the tank for the plants to grow with? what type of light are you using?

Finnex planted 24/7 hcl
 
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kellerjake2004

how many hours do you keep the light on for? what are your water parameters?
 
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Nessaf

I would say that you are correct that your softened water is killing your plants. Water softeners work by exchanging sodium for the calcium and magnesium in your hard water. And using water that has been “softened” to water terrestrial plants can kill them.
 
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Kev3666

how many hours do you keep the light on for? what are your water parameters?
It runs on a 24/7 cycle. 8 hours of that are complete darkness. The other 16 acts like a real day. Starts off dim and gradually gets to like sunlight conditions then slowly fades into a sunset.

Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 20
Ph 7.6-7.8
I would say that you are correct that your softened water is killing your plants. Water softeners work by exchanging sodium for the calcium and magnesium in your hard water. And using water that has been “softened” to water terrestrial plants can kill them.
Is there anything that I can add to help out the plants?
I forgot to mention. I have noticed some growth...Algae. Some green algae on the glass lid and some algae on the glass. At least something is growing
 
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Nessaf

For gardeners they suggest either diluting with distilled or rainwater, or seeing if there’s a bypass installed and to use the non-softened water. I would also be concerned with sodium build up over time as water evaporates, wouldn’t be good for a number of freshwater fishes.
 
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kellerjake2004

If you think the soft water is causing your problems, which I'm sure it's not helping, you could buy some fertilizers to try and put some minerals back into the water. The 16 hour daylight cycle may not be helping, your tank is using more co2 in 16h than what it can produce over 8h so your plants are just sitting there until next morning where they can photosynthesise again. This is likely to be causing the algae because algae uses co2 more efficiently and therefore slow down your plants growth.
 
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Kev3666

If you think the soft water is causing your problems, which I'm sure it's not helping, you could buy some fertilizers to try and put some minerals back into the water. The 16 hour daylight cycle may not be helping, your tank is using more co2 in 16h than what it can produce over 8h so your plants are just sitting there until next morning where they can photosynthesise again. This is likely to be causing the algae because algae uses co2 more efficiently and therefore slow down your plants growth.

I've noticed some products that may help but I have no experience with them. Seachem equilibrium and wonder shells. Any thoughts?

Even though it's not a full 16hrs of full strength light, I should dial it back? During the sunrise and sunset period, there's less white light and more red, blue and green light.
 
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Mudminnow

Some homes have hose bibs on the outside of the house that receive water before it gets to the softener. If you're lucky, your house will have one like this.

On the flip side, I have seen at least one nice, heavily planted tank using water out of a water softener. It's not optimal, but it's not absolutely always destined to fail. I suppose it would have to do with just how much salt is in your water after it gets softened.
 
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kellerjake2004

I've never used seachem equilibrium but after some reading it seems like it'll get what you're looking for done. I've used aquarium co-op's easygreen and it'll probably work as well.
 
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