Treating soft tap water - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-11-2015, 07:27 PM Thread Starter
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Treating soft tap water

My tap water is very soft 30 ppm gh and 35 ppm kh. I have a med light 29g with soy co2 gourami tetras otos and amanos. Also a low light guppy tank 55g. I would like to increase hardness to 5dgh and kh enough to prevent ph swings for the plants in the 29 and up the 55 to around 10dgh for the gups.

I bought a small jar of seachem equilibrium but that's gonna cost an arm and a leg to maintain. I'm a hot tub tech and can get calcium chloride (not sure if it's 100% but I think so) and either sodium carbonate or sodium hydrogen carbonate(same as sodium bicarbonate or baking soda?) for dirt cheap. Add some Epsom salt and should be good right? Is there anything else that's missing from this cocktail? What ratios would I use, I can experiment in a bucket to find the right levels and have a test for kh gh calcium hardness but cannot test mg or sodium.

Would you keep a big trash can of treated water ready to go or mix it in buckets or the tank itself? How long would the water be ok in the garage and would I need filtration or a power head to keep it moving?
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-11-2015, 08:49 PM
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I'd avoid the calcium chloride... I don't think plants will respond very well to high concentrations of chloride ions in the water. Small amounts, fine, but if you want to add enough to go from 30ppm of hardness to 87.42ppm (5dGh) that's probably going to bring a bit too much chloride to the party..

The usual "GH booster" blend is Calcium sulfate (gypsum), Magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt), and Potassium sulfate. You could do without the potassium in the GH booster, but you'll need to have some supplement of it somewhere to keep your plants happy.

The sodium hydrogen carbonate is sodium bicarbonate, aka baking soda, and that should be fine for KH boosting. Some folks use Seachem Alkaline buffer, which has a bit of potassium bicarbonate in it. I'd avoid the sodium carbonate, which will cause some more agressive pH swinging (hence hot tub folks use it for pH up, and the bicarb for alkalinity up).

Be very careful with KH/GH swings, and work your levels up slow. Fish really don't like sudden changes in these parameters, as it messes with their osmotic balance with the water.

You can also slowly raise both KH and GH by adding some crushed coral to your filter.

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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-12-2015, 04:48 AM Thread Starter
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The coral sounds a lot easier but what about wc? Wouldn't adding soft tap water cause weekly drops which wouldn't be good for the fish? Would you still need to add the mg and k?
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-19-2015, 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Lazlo View Post
The coral sounds a lot easier but what about wc? Wouldn't adding soft tap water cause weekly drops which wouldn't be good for the fish? Would you still need to add the mg and k?
I don't think that your fish will suffer the swing between removing water and refilling with the subsequent dose of Ca/Mg. This is quite a common process and generally you're finished within an hour. That's a short period.

I use Gypsum and Mag sulfate as a pre-mixed solution/slurry at about 1000 times the concentration of the final result. The slurry I make has 107 grams Gypsum and 55 grams of Mg sulfate added to a final volume of 1 liter. When you make it up you need to mix the bottle continuously for about an hour to prevent the gypsum turning into a solid plater. After this it remains dispersed. Don't be tempted to heat the water to dissolve it. The stock slurry/solution is stable indefinitely at room temperature.

To raise the GH by 2dH in your 25 gallon tank, add 20 mls of the well mixed slurry solution to your tank. It will fog out but clear very quickly.

The gypsum is completely in solution within 15 minutes of addition to the aquarium. Now I don't even check the GH after addition as it has always been consistent on earlier measurements. Rarely do I check the KH as I haven't observed fish or plant stress and previously this was also consistent. pH changes are not so significant even if they occur.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-22-2015, 01:22 AM
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Yes, the swing when you do a water change is something to be concerned about. Prep the water right before doing the water change. You could add the various minerals.
You could filter the water through coral sand, limestone sand, dolomite sand, oyster shell grit and then fine tune it with the chemicals.
Adding any of these materials (coral sand, limestone sand, dolomite sand, oyster shell grit) to the filter can help stabilize the parameters, but should not be depended on to raise the hardness of the water after a water change.
If you prepare more than you need for a day or so then I would run a fountain pump on it or almost anything you have to keep the water moving.
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