Hardness - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-09-2016, 03:59 PM Thread Starter
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Hardness

A confusing topic for me for some reason...lol
Would it be better for general plants to have slightly hard water, or is it more beneficial to try to soften it? What I do know is that hardness has to do with how much minerals are in the water, that all plants prefer different hardness levels, that a good portion of them can adapt pretty well, and that it can also affect fish..

This is pretty much what I'm growing (that I can think of right now):
Rotala indica, cardamine, various hygros, some swords, moss balls, ludwigia repens, cabomba, African fern, corkscrew val... lol it's all over the place. I used to have a low light set up which sort of just crashed after 5-6 years or so, so now I'm trying something like a medium set up... Not high light and no co2. I am using some ferts though.

125 gallon planted tank, Fluval FX5 canister, Finnex planted+ 24/7 LEDS, NO Co2, Flourish - comp, excel, iron, potass, EcoComplete subst, Driftwood, large Rainbows, Clown Loaches, Rosaline Sharks, German Rams, Flying Fox, Small Plecos, Farlowella
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-09-2016, 04:58 PM
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I think neutral-slightly hard is best for the majority of plants.
From what I have heard, soft water plants can tolerate harder water better than hard water occurring plants can adjust to soft water conditions.

List your GH, KH, pH and TDS if you have the results.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-09-2016, 05:17 PM Thread Starter
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Ah ok I thought I read that somewhere...
Well that's part of it with the testing... I just ordered the hardness test kit so I don't even know what it's at, I live in the city in Michigan though so I'm assuming it's relatively hard, I haven't tested in a while but the ph is usually around neutral.. what's TDS?

125 gallon planted tank, Fluval FX5 canister, Finnex planted+ 24/7 LEDS, NO Co2, Flourish - comp, excel, iron, potass, EcoComplete subst, Driftwood, large Rainbows, Clown Loaches, Rosaline Sharks, German Rams, Flying Fox, Small Plecos, Farlowella
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-09-2016, 06:30 PM
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Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) are the total amount of mobile charged ions, including minerals, salts or metals dissolved in a given volume of water, expressed in units of mg per unit volume of water (mg/L), also referred to as parts per million (ppm). TDS is directly related to the purity of water and the quality of water purification systems and affects everything that consumes, lives in, or uses water, whether organic or inorganic, whether for better or for worse


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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-09-2016, 08:21 PM Thread Starter
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That was such a perfect definition, thank you.

So without knowing my levels just yet, I'm basically just asking because someone is suggesting to get a softener pillow for the canister because "most plants do better in softer water"... But I'm starting to think that isn't true because the plants need the calcium and magnesium which are supplied by the hard water.. otherwise I would probably have to supplement then anyway... Correct?

125 gallon planted tank, Fluval FX5 canister, Finnex planted+ 24/7 LEDS, NO Co2, Flourish - comp, excel, iron, potass, EcoComplete subst, Driftwood, large Rainbows, Clown Loaches, Rosaline Sharks, German Rams, Flying Fox, Small Plecos, Farlowella
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-10-2016, 03:32 AM
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Correct. Softener pillows just replace useful Ca++ and Mg++, for Na+ (sodium (salt)). Good for washing powders, not so good for aquariums.

Feel free to edit.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-10-2016, 01:37 PM Thread Starter
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So Ive read up a little on TDS.. any simple advice on how to figure out the total amount? Also what would be considered a good range for plant tanks?

125 gallon planted tank, Fluval FX5 canister, Finnex planted+ 24/7 LEDS, NO Co2, Flourish - comp, excel, iron, potass, EcoComplete subst, Driftwood, large Rainbows, Clown Loaches, Rosaline Sharks, German Rams, Flying Fox, Small Plecos, Farlowella
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-10-2016, 02:11 PM
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Have you looked up your water company's water quality report? Pretty much all of them seem to be on line. Some are more informative than others.

TDS is measured with a meter. I got one several years ago on line for about $20, including shipping.

Here is how I manage this:
A) Know what I am starting with: Test tap water parameters.
B) Know the goal: Good water for the fish will grow most plants. If the goal is to grow a specific plant that is very particular, then target that. I have several tanks, so I can have hard water fish and plants in some, and soft water fish and plants in another. Most plants don't care.
C) If the tap water already has too many minerals (too hard GH or KH, too high TDS) then blend reverse osmosis or distilled or rain with the tap water until these test results are in the right range. I happen to have pretty good tap water. If yours has something in it that makes it a problem you may have to do something different in this part, perhaps start with pure RO.

1) Set GH to suit the fish. Since I am starting with fairly soft GH, I add Seachem Equilibrium to set the GH for fish that prefer harder water.
2) Set the KH about equal to the GH. I use potassium bicarbonate, but sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) works just fine, too.
You may have to adjust the recipe- raising the KH generally will raise the pH. Most fish that thrive in hard water (high GH) also prefer higher pH, but research your fish. When in doubt test a batch and add small amounts and dissolve it well to see what effect it has. While pH is not as important as GH to the livestock, it should not be totally ignored. You do not control the pH directly, you alter the KH, and this controls the pH.
3) If it is a black water fish, filter the water through peat moss to add tannic acids.

Do not try to adjust the water after it is added to the tank. This would mean that every time you do a water change the fish are subjected to whatever it is you are removing from the water for however long it takes for the 'water softening pillow' to do its job.
Do whatever you need to outside the tank (I use Rubbermaid Brute garbage cans) so a water change means the water is already at the correct parameters when it enters the tank.
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