water test results, references for parameters?
I constantly have trouble balancing my overeducated, scientific self with my desire for a low maintenance aquarium. Thus, I sent the water from my LOW TECH tank to a professional lab for testing.
If it helps justify it, we were sending the house water to the lab anyway... but really, I just wanted to know!
Low tech 30 gal, moderately to heavily planted
Moderate to low stocking density (6 bloodfin tetras, 1 oto, 2 habrosus cory cats, assorted shrimp and snails)
Monthly(ish) approx 40% water changes. I refill with 50% tap and 50% RO water
Dose dry ferts after each water change- N, P, and Plantex CSM + B
Water test results (sorry, I know these aren't all the ideal aquarium parameters, but it was the best package of tests available!)
pH - 8.5
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est, ppm - 283
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm - 0.47
Cations / Anions, me/L - 5.4 / 5.5 ppm
Sodium, Na - 21
Potassium, K - 7
Calcium, Ca - 68
Magnesium, Mg - 11
Total Hardness, CaCO3 - 216
Nitrate, NO3-N - 5.5
Sulfate, SO4-S - 10
Chloride, Cl - 4
Carbonate, CO3 - 15
Bicarbonate, HCO3 - 235
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 - 218
So, I'm just looking for general information here:
1. Does anyone have a good reference for what range these parameters SHOULD be in? What's a good source of information so I can learn more about ideal ranges for these?
2. Does anything pop out as a big red flag that I should be concerned about?
3. The biggest thing that *I* noticed (and, with reference to question #1, I know very little about where these things should be) is that the pH seems way high. What sorts of things might cause that? The tap water pH is 7.7 to 7.8. What's raising my pH?
4. And then, NOT related to the water tests- we are getting a water softener. Should I use the softened water for my aquarium? Do I need to add something? Should I take water from outside? Etc...