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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-05-2014, 01:43 PM Thread Starter
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ph confusion now

You have all been very helpful in helping me with my cycling questions. Now I could really use your help in understanding my pH. My pH out of the tap reads 6.4, but in my tank it consistently reads 7.8-8! I'm thinking it has to do with the tap running through a water softener (well water). Is this bad? What should I do? I was really wanting angelfish, buy I'm reading they prefer a much lower pH. Is my soften water bad for fish in general????
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-05-2014, 02:51 PM
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Hi fishfiend,

First to get a 'true' reading of your tap water PH allow the water from your tap to sit for 24 hours to allow all of the dissolved gasses to dissipate; then take the PH reading.

It is possible that your water softener system is changing the PH of your water. Do you really need to soften the water from your well? Do you know the PH, dKH, dGH of your well water? Possibly you do not need to use the 'softened' water.

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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-05-2014, 02:55 PM Thread Starter
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The softening system was here when we moved here. No, I don't know any of the numbers without the system, but I do know that when it stopped running once, or when we accidentally run out of salt, we get lots of iron staining in the toilet.

Now I'm learning too late (after just planting $100 worth of plants, that they may not like the softened water???

I thought this was going to be fun, but am finding it is just stressing me out.

Last edited by Darkblade48; 06-07-2014 at 04:45 PM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-05-2014, 03:30 PM
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Most of the time, when you have a water softener installed, the outside hose bibs are still unsoftened water. That is the water you should probably be using. Softened water is high in sodium, and not good for plants, which is why hose bibs are not connected to the softened water. It is possible that your unsoftened water has too much iron to be good for an aquarium. If so, you will need a RO/DI system to clean up the water for the aquarium.

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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-05-2014, 04:01 PM Thread Starter
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Oy vey! Ok. Do you have any recommendations for a system? Will it remove sodium from the inside water, or will I still have to use the outside hose? Outside would cause a problem in the winter when the hoses freeze.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-05-2014, 05:01 PM
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RO/DI will remove almost everything from the water. I got mine from AQUA FX and have been satisfied with it.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-05-2014, 09:49 PM
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The recommendation about surpassing the water softener because of the sodium is definitely spot on!

But as for the ph - unless you are going with wild caught/altum angels, you should be fine. The majority of fish, especially domestic raised, can adapt to just about any water conditions as long as they are stable. I've kept quite a few angels over the years in water that has a ph of 8.3 straight out of the tap and in the tank, and they've adapted perfectly fine (big, fat, healthy, spawn regularly).
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-05-2014, 10:11 PM Thread Starter
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Well ok. But what if my water is really hard without the softener? My GH/KH kit comes tomorrow, so I'll test then. Pretty sure it's really har though. When we were without electricity for a few days during hurricane Sandy, we had significant iron staining without the softener.

RO system I guess? Do I need something fancy and expensive or will cheaper do if I am only altering aquarium water? (55 gal.)

Last edited by Darkblade48; 06-06-2014 at 12:34 AM. Reason: Back to back posts
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-05-2014, 10:24 PM
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My water is really hard too. I can't remember my gh measurement off hand, but kh is up around 18. Again, most fish will adapt. All of my tanks are on my tap water and the only fish I've tried to keep that I truly believe were a casualty of the water were cardinals - which are known to be especially sensitive to water like mine. But I do keep rams, neons, lemon tetras, diamon tetras, angels, plecos, several types of blue-eyed rainbows, guppies, swordtails, blue velvet shrimp, cories, etc. without issue.

Now other minerals that might be in well water could be a different story, I don't honestly know as that's not something I've dealt with. I'm on rural water, but it still goes through a rural water company/treatment vs. an actual well on my property.

I can't offer advice on an RO system as I don't use one.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-05-2014, 10:59 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you! I appreciate any and all help and advice! I'll get this figured out at some point. I just don't want to put fish under stress if I can help it. I am an over-the-top animal lover and want a good comfortable life for the fishies.
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-07-2014, 01:24 AM
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I have a few suggestions for you ff. First off, don't jump in head first into a new pond. Start smaller until you get the basics down. $100. on plants?!
Second, I wouldn't invest in any new system until you find out just what is in your water, both tap & well. Check with your neighbors & other fishkeepers in the area if there are any for local advice. Aquarium club maybe? There may also be a place inside where you can access your well water if that proves to be a better bet. Look around where your softener is located for a spigot. Maybe even install one if the water is worth it.
Third, if your tap water is indeed 6.4 and your tank 8, something in your tank is probably leeching minerals. Rocks, substrate, shells???
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-07-2014, 01:38 AM
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If you decide to use a RO system, use it on the softened water. That will put a lower load on the RO filters, since the calcium and magnesium will already be removed. You won't need a very big RO system unless you have a really big tank, like 75 gallons or bigger.

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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-07-2014, 02:26 AM
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I would like to see the results of all the tests on both the well water and the softened water, and the aquarium. Lets see what is really going on!
Have there been any recent tests on the well water by professionals? Might be a good idea for the family, not just the fish.

pH: Do this on water right out of the tap/hose bib, and on some water that has sat out 24-48 hours. Also the aquarium (no need to do 2 tests unless you are adding pressurized CO2).
GH
KH
TDS
ammonia
NO2
NO3
other... especially if you have tests for iron and phosphorus.

Basically:
Well water might be hard, soft or some combination. The minerals that make it 'hard' or 'soft' can exist in varying levels so there might be high GH and low KH, for example. The well might have some form of nitrogen in it.

Sodium exchange water softeners add sodium to the water and remove a certain amount of the calcium and magnesium, and some other minerals. Most of the minerals they remove are plant nutrients, and fish can use some of these minerals, too.
Fish from soft water in nature are generally going to want less minerals overall in the water, but a certain amount of Ca, Mg is good. If these are removed and sodium is added this is not in their interest.
Fish from hard water in nature need a much higher level of minerals, but again, they want the Ca and Mg and related minerals, not sodium.
Fish from either extreme that have been bred in captivity can handle a wider range of conditions than their ancestors, but they still need Ca and Mg, and not Na.

Possible solutions will depend on what you find out about the well water.
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