Water softener pillow OK for plants? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-20-2005, 03:40 PM Thread Starter
JRJ
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Water softener pillow OK for plants?

I am starting to use a water softener pillow to reduce General hardness (my tap H20 is 10¡dGH) that is made by Rena for it's Filstar filters. It is quite effective but to recharge it you soak it in a strong salt solution. I'm wondering if after a strong rinse with tap water if it would be bad for freshwater plants. Rena/Aquarium Pharmaceuticals' instruction sheet states that it doesn't release salt into the water, but only "sodium ions."

Anybody really know if this is OK for plants?

thanks,

-Russ
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-20-2005, 05:00 PM
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I don't really know, because I haven't tried it, but nevertheless...

Replacing Calcium and Magnesium with Sodium Ions might be good for your showerhead and coffee maker, but I doubt that it will be beneficial for plants. If you want to reduce hardness, you should look into RO/DI solutions.

(Table salt is Sodium Chloride, that's what you use as ion exchange medium)


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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-20-2005, 05:19 PM Thread Starter
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I have some plants I would like to try that require or prefer soft water. I tried this pillow once and it lowered the GH so low that I had to do a partial water change to bring some buffering capability back into the water. I'm presently trying Rotala wallichii and it's growth went way up and looked lush. After some regular water changes the hardness has gone back up to 9¡dGH and the wallichii is looking pretty thin suddenly. The pillow seems like a low time/money solution, but I'm new to water chemistry so I don't really know what I'm doing. I would rather not have to invest in a r/o unit, not to mention that I would have to carry the water up a flight of stairs. I have limited time to invest, etc.

Solutions, suggestions, comments welcome.

thanks,

Russ
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-21-2005, 02:04 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wasserpest
If you want to reduce hardness, you should look into RO/DI solutions.
Doesn't DI do the very same thing that this "pillow" does? Here is the URL for a description of the RENA water softening pillow: http://aquariumpharm.com/media.html#
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-21-2005, 02:15 AM
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Exactly, water softener works on the principle of replacing calcium and magnesium ions with sodium ions. I don't know if plants are fine with elevated level of Na, but there are reports that indicated fish don't like Na any more than Ca or Mg.

I don't know what kind of fish/plant you have, but my water is pretty hard too. At the beginning I tried to mess with water softener pillows to reduce the hardness, but later gave up on it. Comparing the before and after stopping the use of softening ions, I don't see any differences in my tank.

I keep lace plants and cardinals. Without messing with water hardness, my cardinals are very active and all fat and happy, with strong coloration of neon blue and redness.

Maybe you should try to stop using softening pillow for a month and see if you noticed any differences in your tank. If there are no differences, chances are you don't need the softening pillow anymore.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-22-2005, 02:27 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for input. I'll post how it all turns out in a few weeks.


-Russ
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-22-2005, 02:48 AM
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I know there is a lot of negative feedback on water softners and planted tanks. We had tap water with 10 grains per gallon, right on the border of hard and very hard. We had problems in the house, shower heads running slower and slower, we also had iron problems too, the kind that after you water the flowers for 15 minutes a night during the hot summer months only to see them turn brown with rust. We put a 48,000 grain softner in and use salt pellets with iron out, and its the best thing that ever happened to my tank. It did'nt touch the Ph or Kh but the Gh is zero, so I just add a couple of tbls. of Seachem's Equilibrium and it's perfect. I've seen no negative reaction from fish or plants, if it adds any salt ions or chemical residue from the iron out I have yet to see the negative result. I always see posts putting down the water softner, but until you do the 24 hour water change with a R/O unit or the D/I unit that the cartridge on lasts for one water change, you can appreciate the softner. Now I suck out 65 gallons of water, then mix a little hot and cold water to fill the tank back up in 20 minutes and throw in my 2 tbls. of Gh and I'm gone.


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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 03-22-2005, 03:55 AM
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i agree, softner pillows arnt that bad, ive just tried one which took my hardness from 12 down to 2, the same API one.. it could have proberly done better if i used it for longer. people allways assume you can just go and 'get' a DI/RO unit when either there to expensive, to big to store, or either you dont wanna spend about 100 dollars maybe less maybe more for something that wastes more water than it cleans, and the fact that all that money is just for clean water... and in some cases pointless.. watch out for heavy metals they kill your fish... yeh they do but whos killed there fish in tapwater before? with chlorine and all the crap before treatment..

normaly people wanna lower there hardness when they dont need to they just see everyone else doing it. i think ro's should be left alone unless for discuss or something of the like which actually would make a significant difference if heavy metals and crap are present... and for mass use.

otherwise buy it or use distilled for breeding and such. i didnt really need to buy it because i can get distilled.. but i thought ide try it.
your hardness of 10GH is IMHO not bad at all.

however im not trying to change general instruction.. im not trying to tell people to not treat there fish and plants good. and im not saying the sodium isnt bad, as it might well be... and im not saying there ro units are worthless .

you either wanna shell out for it.. or you dont. have u tried collecting rainwater..

55US Gallon Medium Planted | 36x15x24Tall
PH 7.0 - 7.2 GH 11
Ehiem 2232 Thermo
2.7WPG 160W 10,000k 5xNO T8's
Sand+Eco Clay, CSM+B Baby Steps + Pres.Co2
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-22-2010, 10:36 PM
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water softner pillows only exchane NA ions which do not alter the chemistry of your water in any other way then lowering you gh. it does not add any salt to your water nor does it take any out. nacl and na ions are 2 different principles. whether to use a pillow or not is your choice. i was skeptical about using one too, but collecting rain water and buying distilled was way too much of a hastle for me having to change my water every week with my piranhas


p.s. my plants are fine and show no change
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