Planted Tank Guru
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Contra Costa CA
cjacob, Rams and Apistos will breed better in water that has low GH. Best way to get this is to start with RO water. Add just enough tap water or minerals to make the GH and KH no higher than 3 degrees, and add peat moss to the filter.
To create this water at home without an RO filter is not easy. You will filter the water though some of the resins sold in fish stores that say they soften the water. You can also filter the water through peat moss. Soil Master Select and Turface will remove KH from the water. If you feel like messing with all that you would set up a filter (perhaps a small canister) and filter water in a small garbage can to prepare water for water changes. Much easier to buy RO water!
Jtothes, Justin at Ocean does a lot of things that are not so great for the rest of us that do not have Hetch Hetchy water. Do water changes. Start slow, like you say, perhaps 10% 2-3 times per week. You can do slightly larger changes as the GH in your tank starts coming down. I have found that dropping the GH by 1 degree with each water change, up to 3 times per week is about the fastest that fish can handle it.
My GH and KH also climb during the summer when evaporation and lack of rain water make me top off with tap water. I tend to do larger water changes in the summer, too, but still it creeps up.
Do not confuse pH with water hardness, or GH and KH. Each is measuring something different. Altering the pH without changing the GH or KH is not the way to make the appropriate water to breed the soft water fish.