Well water with water softener - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-22-2016, 09:36 PM Thread Starter
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Well water with water softener

Hello all. I'm new to the planted tank world and trying to do my research before I set my new tank up. I have a well with a water softener. I wanted to see if this water is ok for a planted tank. I haven't done any water test. If someone can direct me on what to check for or if their is a kit I can purchase I have no problem doing that. I would also greatly appreciate anyone telling me what the ideal water conditions should be in a high tech tank. Thanks for the patience on the new guy.


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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-22-2016, 10:09 PM
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You'd be better off using the water from your hose, which should not be connected to the softener. The softener replaces calcium and magnesium (which plants need) with sodium (which most plants cannot tolerate much of). Api master test kit is the way to go plus you might want to pick up gh/kh tests
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-22-2016, 10:46 PM Thread Starter
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Ok thanks for the reply. My hose isn't connected so I'll test that water and post the results for some guidance. Is R/O water the way to go?


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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-22-2016, 11:22 PM
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Ok thanks for the reply. My hose isn't connected so I'll test that water and post the results for some guidance. Is R/O water the way to go?


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it depends on your well waters pH, gh, & kh. You can't use only ro water because it is stripped of everything that is essential to plants and fish. It also depends on the plants and fish you are planning to use.

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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-23-2016, 12:13 AM Thread Starter
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Ok thanks. I can see hours of reading and lots of trial and error.


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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-23-2016, 01:16 AM
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+1 to testing your well water . If ok , I use a softener ,but I just turn it off...bypass it ...when doing WC's .
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-23-2016, 03:52 AM
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Test the well water.

We use only well water now.
Filter the water with a filter sock contraption.
We catch the water before it hits the softener.
The Bubble bee gobies like the hardness of the water with fresh water changes.
The fat supposed females are usually colorful, but the thinner bodied bumblebee gobies get more color back from the fresh well water for sure. The fresh minerals have to have salts as well. I need to find out where I'm at as for salts in the well water for curiousity's sake and the gobies. We've had them for about 2 years now with well water.

Sooo, In the Johnny-rigged contraption-
An old pump pumping water over a big clean Brute trash can.
Garbage can and a sock basically.

Our well water stained orange filter sock cleans out in the wash machine.
We tried using foam hydro sponges to clean up the orange grit, but the gritty orange stuff (possibly iron) was getting iffy to deal with in comparison to the sock.

A simple sock holder will work, but our stronger pump blasted the sock too much.
Lots of clean water for the tanks required a double stuffed sock and a pvc end cap in the bottom of the sock to help with the harsh blasting water for a quick fix.
The socks were getting a white unused section from the pump.
As stated before the socks do get orange where they are doing the job filtering well water.

Some reef sumps have a great 1st section called a Berlin method I believe.
The idea is to get the water to fill up a small flooded section first and passively pour into the socks next (see pics).

We were so tired of going to the 5gal jug fill up at the store, well water was a must win operation.

If the Berlin method as I think they call it, can be rigged, the sock extraction is done in seconds.
I like it.

I need this little 1st box in my sump as well.
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-23-2016, 12:10 PM
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I use well water that has run through a softener. I made a decision a long time ago to deal with it the best i can with what I have. RO seems like too much work for a larger tank, and the same with getting with it before the softener, I would need to install new plumbing to somewhere on the first floor. Also, would be concerned with the odor/color of untreated water.

My treated water comes out a kh of about 18, and the gh is pretty much zero. I add gh booster after every water change to bring it up a bit. Some plants like high kh/low gh, and some don't like it at all. It's pretty much trial and error, and I stick with plants that do well with I have to offer. Of course, I think this is the same for all planted tanks. Some things grow great, others not as well. Every tank has it's own nuances.

And in no way am I advocating that softened water is the way for everyone with a well to go. I can only speak to my personal experience, and in the end I am too lazy to try anything else.


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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-23-2016, 03:06 PM
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I noticed recently at the LFS they now sell a resin product to soften water. I'm still of the opinion you can't reduce TDS by adding stuff to water. Maybe I'm wrong.

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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-23-2016, 03:53 PM
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If you really wanted to use RO water, you can. However, you will need to re-mineralize it with something like Equilibrium as any plants will not do well without it.

I too have well water, but mine doesn't go through a softener. My KH and GH with crushed coral in the filter runs at around 2-3 KH with a GH between 5-6.

I agree with Greggz. Stick with plants that grow well for you and forget the rest unless you enjoy spending all of your time fudging with water chemistry. Some people don't mind, I can't stand it. I'd rather do water changes along with whatever else needs doing and go about my business.
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-23-2016, 06:40 PM
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I noticed recently at the LFS they now sell a resin product to soften water. I'm still of the opinion you can't reduce TDS by adding stuff to water. Maybe I'm wrong.
If what you add to the water precipitates out some of the TDS it might reduce the TDS, otherwise I think you are correct.

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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-23-2016, 08:19 PM Thread Starter
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If you really wanted to use RO water, you can. However, you will need to re-mineralize it with something like Equilibrium as any plants will not do well without it.



I too have well water, but mine doesn't go through a softener. My KH and GH with crushed coral in the filter runs at around 2-3 KH with a GH between 5-6.



I agree with Greggz. Stick with plants that grow well for you and forget the rest unless you enjoy spending all of your time fudging with water chemistry. Some people don't mind, I can't stand it. I'd rather do water changes along with whatever else needs doing and go about my business.


Since I am new at this can you explain the crushed coral in your filter? Is it in addition to the media as well and do you put it in a bag? How long does it last? Thanks for the input on this.


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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-23-2016, 08:24 PM
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test your well water!!! My well at the farm is high in nitrates!
I would also try to research to see if your ground water is know for heavy metals or other contaminants. API does not make test kits for that stuff!

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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-23-2016, 09:04 PM
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Since I am new at this can you explain the crushed coral in your filter? Is it in addition to the media as well and do you put it in a bag? How long does it last? Thanks for the input on this.


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My water is really soft with little to no carbon hardness to keep my pH stable when I do water changes. To prevent the pH from bouncing all over the place, I use small amounts of crush coral in a media bag, in the filter so I don't have to add chemical pH adjusters to my tanks. I've tried the whole baking soda thing and didn't like it. The pH would be okay for a few days, then would sink back down to where it started.

I can't say for sure when the amounts I use exhaust as I haven't reached that point yet. I added crushed coral to my filters over 2 months ago and have yet to either add more or swap out what I started with. 2 of my tanks get 50% water changes once a week, the other gets 2 because it is a small tank.

When I say small amounts crushed coral, I do mean small. The amount used is literally measured in a teaspoon.
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-27-2016, 04:13 PM
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Just a update. I was asked how long crushed coral lasted in my tanks and I now have a answer. It lasts roughly 9-10 weeks for my water.

I just tested all tanks after water changes this morning and the average pH was in the low to mid 6 range. The crushed coral maintains the pH between 6.8-7.2 when not exhausted.
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