Need advice on very hard water - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-29-2018, 06:36 PM Thread Starter
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Need advice on very hard water

My water hardness parameters are off the charts. My fish (assorted tetras) are healthy so I'm afraid to try to change it. Plants are ok but slow growing so I'm guessing it's the hard water. What parameters can I post to get some advice on improving plant growth? I have tried to post a detailed explanation but I think the post is getting flagged since I'm new??
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-29-2018, 06:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jennation View Post
My water hardness parameters are off the charts. My fish (assorted tetras) are healthy so I'm afraid to try to change it. Plants are ok but slow growing so I'm guessing it's the hard water. What parameters can I post to get some advice on improving plant growth? I have tried to post a detailed explanation but I think the post is getting flagged since I'm new??
Post all parameters gh/kh/ (specifically), pH, phosphate (not so important) nitrate, ammonia, nitrite

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-29-2018, 07:06 PM
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Yep, for hardness:

gH (combo of Ca and Mg)
kH
pH
TDS
Ca (use the API reef Ca kit, google search how to apply it to freshwater)

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-29-2018, 08:01 PM
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I also have very hard water. I haven't had any problem keeping fish in the 7 years I have been in the hobby. However, I never really had much success growing plants until started using CO2. That has made a world of difference.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-29-2018, 08:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Goose54 View Post
I also have very hard water. I haven't had any problem keeping fish in the 7 years I have been in the hobby. However, I never really had much success growing plants until started using CO2. That has made a world of difference.
Well yeah co2 will help even the worst tanks, but you can grow the right plants without it, I actually am increasing my gh for plant growth to 8

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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-30-2018, 12:19 AM Thread Starter
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Here's what I've got: Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

temp 78 degrees
25% water change weekly
PH- 8.2
Ammonia 0 ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Nitrate 2.5 ppm
GH 27 drops ( 0ver 400 ppm) (same straight out of the tap)
KH - 14 drops (over 200 ppm (same straight out of the tap)
light: Fluval 2.0 on 4 hours, off 4 hours, on 4 hours
I run paintball canister CO2 but I could never get a dropchecker to change color. I set it a 2 bubbles per second.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-30-2018, 01:39 AM
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I also have very hard and very alkaline water from the tap and it does give some problems with some plants as many of the shop plants are aimed at the group who have softer water. But that just means I have to sort out which plants and which fish do like hard water. Many will say that you can't grow plants in hard water but that is pretty well ignoring that there are plants in almost all water of all types. Think of the springs in Florida and Texas where the water is coming straight out of limestone?
But for better growth without changing plants, I might look to ferts and CO2. Those are major food groups for plants, so maybe bumping it up is the simple start.
Point to keep in mind is that we kind of use the drop checker as a guide to what we might be getting in the CO2 line as it indicates we are getting enough to drop the PH one full degree. That's based on the idea that 30 PPM is good for CO2 and we will get that much with a full point drop in PH. There are some charts but those charts do some assumptions that may or may not be true, depending on what and how much of each mineral we have in the water. Assumptions, guesses, guides or estimates only? The idea is to give us a starting point and then we may need to adjust from there.
Feeding the N,P,K macros and a bit of micros? If not consider feeding the plants but if that is okay, also look at more CO2 as it should be pretty easy to just turn it up a bit, while watching the fish for a few days as it does reach a stress point at some level. Work it slow, if all is okay, bump it a bit more but watch the fish!
Expect either to get more growth or the fish begin to stress with obvious breathing problems. If neither of those try boosting the ferts. Farming is not a simple thing, but more a matter of simple observation and adapting to what we see.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-30-2018, 08:54 AM
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If your fish are doing well, don't panic over it. Keep doing what you are doing. Low tech plants tend to grow slow.... the question is are they growing healthily - no stunting/damaged leaves etc. Even if they are not, the issue is more likely the food available to them than water hardness.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-30-2018, 02:38 PM
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My water is just as hard as yours and my plants grow pretty well. Hardness doesn't really matter all that much. Getting the right amount of light, co2, and ferts is what you really need to focus on.


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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-30-2018, 02:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elusive77 View Post
My water is just as hard as yours and my plants grow pretty well. Hardness doesn't really matter all that much. Getting the right amount of light, co2, and ferts is what you really need to focus on.
But hardness = Ferts

Ca and Mg anyway.... my tap water has a gH of 17 but guess what... I still have to gH boost. Why? Because my 17 degrees of gH is made up of 15.5 degrees from Ca and only 1.5 degrees from Mg (might be less than that -- testing accuracy, testing errors etc.) .

Hardness matters a lot. I saw a huge response to a bump in Mg concentrations in 2 of my tanks.

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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-30-2018, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Quagulator View Post
But hardness = Ferts

Ca and Mg anyway.... my tap water has a gH of 17 but guess what... I still have to gH boost. Why? Because my 17 degrees of gH is made up of 15.5 degrees from Ca and only 1.5 degrees from Mg (might be less than that -- testing accuracy, testing errors etc.) .

Hardness matters a lot. I saw a huge response to a bump in Mg concentrations in 2 of my tanks.
Yes you are right. It does matter in that respect. It does help to know what makes up that hardness, to make sure you have enough Ca and Mg. In fact I should get a test kit for Mg and test mine. Maybe I need it too. But having really hard water won't prevent you from growing plants. That's all i was trying to say. You just have to make sure they have everything they need.
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-02-2018, 01:24 AM
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What fertilizers are you using? At a PH of 8.2 most iron salts used in fertilizers break down and as a result the iron may not be available to your plants. Your high KH may also play a role in nutrient availablity for your plants. GH is strictly a measure of calcium and magnesium. So you have no problem with calcium or magnesium. however iron or other micro nutrients could be a problem as well as CO2. you could try every couple of days to see if that helps your plants. Many people use a PH change to indicate if the CO2 is adequate or not. You want to PH to drop of 1 with CO2 on. However with your high KH that may not wok. As to your drop checker try changing the indicator solution.
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-02-2018, 03:10 AM
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Vallisneria seems to like hard water. Plant a bunch of that!


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Last edited by JJ09; 12-02-2018 at 05:42 PM. Reason: why did it repeat what I said- removed redundant text
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-02-2018, 02:31 PM
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Rather than go through getting a kit to test MG, I found it easy and cheap to just try some Epsom salt as it is always on hand for the garden. Some it was obvious, others, not. My water is primarily from limestone and the MG seems low but calcium extreme.
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 12-03-2018, 01:56 AM Thread Starter
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Italian Vals won't grow??

Thanks for all the advice. I'm dosing Aquarium Co-op's Easy Green Fertilizer once per week. After obsessively reading about plant nutrients I think I ended up overdosing, and my aquarium wasn't thriving. I have tried dosing iron, potassium, trace minerals, used Purigen, etc....I decided to start fresh and only dose the Easy Green and see what happens. It's been about 4 weeks and other than some algae in the water column (turned the water slightly green, but I eliminated it with a UV Sterilizer).
I'm including a picture of some of my Italian Vals. They send runners but don't grow tall. Is it possible I could use some Ntirogen?
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