Lousy water conditions - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-13-2016, 08:38 PM Thread Starter
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Lousy water conditions

So:
This is what I have got out of the tap.
8.6 pH and 443 TDS.

Texas limestone HARD A** water.

Aquariums are naturally the same but I added large chunks of Mopani wood to each and we have dropped down to 7.9 thank god.

So my question is this. Since I am operating purely as tropical and not keeping cichlids should I get some pantyhose and natural peatmoss and make up some peatballs for my canister filters or is 7.9 workable for plant and fishy life.

I have had no die offs or anything but plant growth has been a bit stunted though I am now using O+ DIY tabs and various Flourish line products.

Thoughts and recommendations RE the above.

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post #2 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-13-2016, 10:47 PM
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Seems to depend on how much work you are willing to do on a regular basis.
Likely the local petshops are using this water so the fish are already used to it.
Getting real ferts and seeing that the plants have all the nutrients they want
may or may not speed up their growth. But it likely will cause them to be as
healthy as possible. Then after a few months of good healthy growth you can
decide if the extra work of forcing the PH to change seems worth it.
Diana(member on here) has multiple tanks which she uses a home made
blackwater extract in which she makes. I feel fairly certain that if you contact
her she would give you a how to make list.

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post #3 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-13-2016, 10:53 PM
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Holy crap! That is some nice water you have there!!!
Running 7.6 ph here (de gassed) with around 230ppm tds. KH = 7 and GH = 12. My problem is tap is fairly high in nitrates (15-20ppm per API test).

Now for your questions - is 7.9 pH ok? I get the opinion from others that fish seem more tolerant of pH issues as long as they are given time to adjust. Plants - I have no idea. Would think the 7.9 would be acceptable.

My guess is your plant growth might have as much to do with your rock hard water as it does with the ph issue. Assuming the plants are ok with living in concrete, the question for the real experts would be "how can I change my fert regiment to better suit living in liquid concrete?"

Guess I need to read up on peat and how it effects water chemistry - not sure if it will lower your ph or just add tannins.


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post #4 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-13-2016, 11:06 PM
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Hard a** water is right.

Seeing how the wood has brought the pH down a tad, if you're willing to experiment a bit I'd try the peat and see what happens. I'd only buy as much as you're going to use just in case it doesn't work out as well as you may have thought it would.
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post #5 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-13-2016, 11:31 PM
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You could also try adding a small amount (1 Tablespoon) of cider vinegar to your fertilizer solution to make the nutrients more bioavailable to the plants.

Bump: You could also try adding about a tablespoon of cider vinegar to your fertilizer solution to make the nutrients more bioavailable to the plants. Hard water, high mineral content and alkalinity go hand in hand. There is no soft water with high mineral content and low pH (acid). There is an excellent article in the AquariumFertilizer.com website about Water Chemistry. Good information.
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post #6 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-13-2016, 11:39 PM
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I have hard water from a limestone well. Ours is just under 8 out of the tap. My coffee pot will plug up with lime in a month or two. I did a lot of research and I decided it wasnt worth the hassle to add peat. For me it added a management component I just dont have time to deal with. That said about any plant I have tried to grow, and that list is not real extensive mind you, has grown just fine. I have had the typical issue like bba fought some bga, same stuff any other planted tank enthusiast is liable to deal with. I will add that with a moderate bio-load and fairly heavy feeding so I make sure that my cory get enough food I dont have to fertilize the water column, I do however add root tabs in my dwarf sag carpet, my vesuvius sword, and my amazon swords. My tank looks like a jungle. My 10g was the same way, other than the scud population took off and put a hurting on my moss which I am in the process of dealing with.

In my opinion unless you want or have some plants that are just impossible to keep in anything but acidic water, you have the time to manage the water chemistry, or you just want to experiment, go with what you have. The mopani breaking down has dropped the ph to about what mine is. I think like I said unless you have some difficult must have acidic water to do anything plants this water will work for you. Look at the bright side you wont need to add dolomite and you will never have a Ca deficiency.

Edit: A more practical solution would be mixing ro water with your tap to achieve your target.

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Last edited by thedood; 06-13-2016 at 11:41 PM. Reason: content added
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post #7 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-14-2016, 01:37 AM
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When you start with that high TDS, peat moss will not do much for you.

As noted by Julie, all the parameters are found in a grouping in nature. Rare to find isolated parameters way out of line compared to the others.

Liquid rock is usually:
Very high GH, which is high levels of calcium and magnesium, usually accompanied by other minerals.
Very high KH. Carbonates act as a buffer to hold the pH very high. Adding acids from any source (wood, peat, vinegar etc) is usually only a temporary change in pH, then it is buffered right back up.
Very high pH. (see KH)
Very high TDS. This is all the salts and minerals that are dissolved in the water.

To make it 'not liquid rock', that is, to change any one of those parameters, you have to change them all.

Run some tests.
Buy a bottle of distilled or reverse osmosis water.
Make a few batches about a cup or two in each:
25% RO + 75% tap
50/50
75% RO + 25% tap.
See which of these comes closest to the parameters of the fish you want to keep.
If you want black water fish, then add a handful of peat moss the the correct sample. Stir well and test in 12-24 hours.

If this creates the water your fish need, then you will have to do this every time.
Make up enough of this water to fill the tank.
Make up enough of this water for every water change.
Top off with RO or distilled. Never tap water.

Get a quarantine tank (should have one anyway).
When you buy new fish test the water in the bag. Make the Q-tank water match whatever is in the bag- GH, KH, TDS.
During the month or so that fish are in quarantine do small, frequent water changes with gradually softer water. End result is that the water in the Q-tank will match the water in the main tank, and the fish will have had a month to acclimate to significantly softer water.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Otherwise keep fish and plants that are suited to liquid rock.
Many live bearers, Rainbow Fish, and some other fish.
Some plants are especially good in hard water: Hornwort and Valisneria are two of them.
Many other plants are worth trying.
Fertilizer: Make sure the chelated minerals (iron and others) are in a chelator that is especially good in hard water.
Do not bother with the harder to keep plants that demand very soft water.
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post #8 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-14-2016, 02:04 AM
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As always, another good response from @Diana


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post #9 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-14-2016, 05:38 AM Thread Starter
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Good answers all. I'll have to decide clearly how much effort I want to put in fighting nature I guess.
Given I run about 185 gallons worth of tanks having to buy water for them is pretty much out.
The iron etc will be Sechem Flourish brand.
Right now I am only using the reg flourish. Other flourish line still enroute.
Are you saying they won't be effective in this water?
Lucky I only bought 250ml size of all the rest just to test....

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post #10 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-14-2016, 11:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lonestarbandit View Post
Are you saying they won't be effective in this water?
Lucky I only bought 250ml size of all the rest just to test....
It isn't so much about Seachem products being effective, but rather how much work and time you are willing to put in to keep tank parameters the way you want them so you can have what you want.

Some people are okay with doing this, others are not and develop a sense of burnout after awhile. I speak from personal experience on the burnout side of things and I have water that is the polar opposite of yours. My fix was simple though. Small amount of crushed coral in the filter keeps my tank stable and I'm no longer wasting time and money on other products at every water change.

It's a personal thing, but one certainly worth giving some thought. You know what your limits are so only you can decide.
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post #11 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-14-2016, 12:19 PM Thread Starter
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My limits are about dosing some liquid ferts and using some DIY root tabs. I've got too many tanks @ 3x55 and 1 x 20 to be fiddling with water chemistry constantly in addition to keeping up with water changes and filter cleanings. Wife already gets on me about time and money on fish/plants/ferts etc.
I suppose I'm not trying to keep anything too difficult.
Various tetra, rcs, amanos, variety of cory, Various catfish, giant danios, clown loach and variety of snail like nerite and mystery.
This isn't an exhaustive list and isn't each tank listed individually but you get the idea.
Plants, have not had good luck with stems. Have some struggling red AR stuff which I love and want desperately to grow but it really struggles. That was what started me trying ferts. And then some anubis nana and contorted vals, Various swords and crypts and 2 large marimo and some water lettuce thanks to the post office losing it got cooked and its trying to come back slowly.
Everything is surviving as is if not thriving.



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post #12 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-14-2016, 12:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lonestarbandit View Post
My limits are about dosing some liquid ferts and using some DIY root tabs. I've got too many tanks @ 3x55 and 1 x 20 to be fiddling with water chemistry constantly in addition to keeping up with water changes and filter cleanings. Wife already gets on me about time and money on fish/plants/ferts etc.
I suppose I'm not trying to keep anything too difficult.
Various tetra, rcs, amanos, variety of cory, Various catfish, giant danios, clown loach and variety of snail like nerite and mystery.
This isn't an exhaustive list and isn't each tank listed individually but you get the idea.
Plants, have not had good luck with stems. Have some struggling red AR stuff which I love and want desperately to grow but it really struggles. That was what started me trying ferts. And then some anubis nana and contorted vals, Various swords and crypts and 2 large marimo and some water lettuce thanks to the post office losing it got cooked and its trying to come back slowly.
Everything is surviving as is if not thriving.



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My tanks are nothing special. They're not 'scaped" although I have been working on that and all of them are low light as I don't feel like messing around with CO2, higher light, more ferts, ect...

Again, this entirely your decision, but I would look into plants that can take your water parameters and see how it goes. You know what your limits are, so instead of making yourself frustrated, see what else is around that will work for you. You'd be surprised what you think may be a total fail and it turns out okay.

I bought a emmersed temple plant the other day which I found out later had all rotted stems. I figured it would shrivel up and die, but it hasn't. It has new leaves sprouting, so apparently all it needed was a little TLC.

I know all of this is easier said than done. I'd love to have my tanks stocked with all kinds of wood, but it causes pH issues and I'm over it. I'm okay with stone and plants, I just need to decide on the kind of stone. All I know is that it is going to be inert because I've read too many horror stories around here lately with kinds of stone that mess with pH and GH too much. My end goal is always to have my tanks stable and clean.

Good luck!
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post #13 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-14-2016, 05:29 PM Thread Starter
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Yes, I am already stocked and have what I have that hasn't died I just wondered if example the ARmini is doing poorly because of water parameters (pH) or just it doesn't have the perfect nutrient blend yet.
I am relatively new to the dosing of ferts and probably despite directions being a starting point don't have the needs of each tank nailed down yet or if its more of an unavoidable water quality issue (pH and TDS) I cannot truly compensate for.


I will say not unexpectedly the neons and glowlights seem happier with the slight drop brought on by the Mopani.


Also what do we think of this chart correct/incorrect?
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post #14 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-14-2016, 06:08 PM
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I think it should be mentioned that Seachem Flourish, IIRC, is chelated with Iron Gluconate? Am I right? Iron Gluconate chelation that makes the Iron bio-available, and functions better in neutral to slightly acid pH waters.

Also IIRC, the ETDA and EDDH based Iron chelates are supposedly better for higher pH and harder waters. Maybe if you can discuss this with someone local in your area that does Hydroponic gardening and what they recommend to get iron more available to your plants.

I would strongly think about seeing if changing your Iron fertilizer to a different chelation, within what's reasonable viv-a-vis your domestic finances, peace, situation, etc.

Also consider that a healthy substrate, in any tank, will tend to lightly acidify high pH waters locally, at least in the areas that plant roots would be working. So a tank that has been in operation for a few months, if not a year or more with a bit of mulm and bacteria beds in the gravel or sand base will tend to locally help the plants with nutrient uptake, vascular, rooted plants prefer to get their nutrients through their root hairs. If you are doing lots of gravel vacuuming it might be better to let the gravel be for a few months, maybe concentrate on getting plants that grow well in your water as the predominate plant group(s).

It's not going to be just one thing that's the problem, sometimes things are systemic. Observation, knowledge and patience.

Starting small, keeping it simple..(?)
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post #15 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-14-2016, 06:17 PM
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Just to extend on what GrampsGrunge said, do you have a LFS near by that you can talk to?

If you have a fish store locally that knows what they are doing, go to them and explain what your situation is. Since they too share the same type of water issues they may have suggestions and or ways of working with your liquid rock.

I'm sure there are also members here from Texas that have similar water, so resourcing things they have done may also be helpful.

As far as ferts go, I wasn't happy with Seachem so I switched to PPS-Pro. Since my tanks are moderately planted and each tank is stocked differently in terms of fish, I spent a few weeks figuring out what worked for what tank. Long story short, all three tanks have been doing well with lean dosing so that is how it will stay until something changes.

There is nothing wrong with fine tuning and you should whenever possible.
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