Super Hard Water and pH - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-10-2015, 10:51 PM Thread Starter
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Super Hard Water and pH

I knew I had very hard water here, the API test strips max out at 180ppm GH and that's what I've read. I got guppies, thinking that would suit them but I've been having consistent issues with high pH (around 8.0, and I'm using liquid reagent tests from API for this, I know I just said strips, bare with me). I finally did a pH test on 5ml of my pH down solution just to confirm it wasn't defective.

Well my liquid reagent GH and KH tests came today and I now know my GH is around 270ppm (took 15 drops, and the color change was not as strong as I've seen with past tanks so I think I'm on the bubble of 15/16).

The fish are very active. My plants have only been in about a week but they are all very green. Ammonia is reading 0ppm. I don't know what to do besides do water changes with purified water? I've put like 10x the recommended dose of pH down into the tank (checking pH at 20min and 2hrs to confirm no sudden swings) and that's only been able to keep me between about 7.5 and 8.0.

Help?
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-10-2015, 11:08 PM
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Don't bother with chemical treatments to adjust pH, they are a waste of money and can cause irradice pH swings which can stress fish. If you really want to lower pH consider mixing your tap with RO or DI water, be mindful to do very slow gradual change/ratio increase until you get to desired level so as not to shock fish. With RO or DI you'll have softer water and be able to easily bring pH down further naturally with tannins from driftwood or say IAL (Indian almond leaves) which are much better than chemical additives.
Personally I don't mess with pH or hardness and just keep fish and plants that can live in the range I have (7.pH, 210 TDS, 8 GH, 4 KH).

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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-10-2015, 11:52 PM
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Unless you have a really strong desire to butt your head into the wall, look over the options of using what water you have. Much is written to tell us we need XX PH or XX hardness, but keep in mind that the fish and plants can't read!
While it is possible to change your water, run through which is more satisfied in your case, a guy who fights nature or one who has time to set around and watch the fish grow.
I have super hard, super alkaline water and find no real problems with growing both fish and plants. Look over what might work in the water first, then try a few to see how it works. If they totally refuse, I change out the plants or fish.
But then I don't have any that I can say refused on that basis. Some do refuse to live but then I have killed lots of things without it being the water's fault. When I find them dead in the floor for instance?
I go for what works far more often than what is hard. Adjusting water full time is hard.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-11-2015, 01:07 AM
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What have you found to do well on your water?
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-11-2015, 02:54 AM
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If the question was for me, I find the bigger hardy plants to be what suits for the cichlids I keep. Anacharis grows crazy but the fish eat it too much. Swords, anubias and crpyts are okay. Java fern is fine. Red tiger lotus fills the tank. Val grows too tall. I have had trouble with getting light down to the bottoms of tall slender plants which the name escapes me. The leaves shed from the bottom to top. Maybe you recognize it?


I don't work with the small plants like dwarf hair grass and things that don't root firmly but that is not a water problem as much as a fish problem.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-11-2015, 02:58 AM
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My tap water is 8.2 pH, off the scale hard.
Inject CO2 to 6.8 pH.
Plants do great. Cardinal tetras spawned, GBR spawn and babies.
As said above fish can acclimate to your conditions. If you buy local, good chance the fish are used to those conditions anyway.
I wouldn't worry about trying to change anything with additives.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-11-2015, 03:05 AM
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The fish are very active. My plants have only been in about a week but they are all very green.
Do not do anything about the GH, KH, pH.

You have selected the right plants and fish for your water.

"it ain't broke, don't fix it"

-------------------------------------------------

Now, if you want to get into raising the most delicate of soft water fish, the most demanding of soft water plants....
you would have a problem.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-11-2015, 03:11 AM
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Using distilled or r.o. water as part of your water change mix will help lower ph, but it can be a hassle, and you need to be consistant with it... chemicals are a temp fix at best...

Best bet long term is to get species that do better in hard water... softer water species can be kept, though theyll probably not do as well, locally bred will do better, and LONG drip acclimations will reduce stress on the fish

My water parameters are similar to yours 7.8ph 100-150ppm gh (dont really remember exactly but it was about that high) and I have some softer water cardinal/rummynose tetras doing just fine in my tank


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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-11-2015, 03:30 PM
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Fish are pretty adaptable unless one does choose the really "off" types. It does pay to read the info before buying but don't take it super serious if it is something you are dying to try. One of the biggest ways for me to ruin my fun is to make it too serious.
Plants are pretty cheap when you consider what many pay for a cup of Starbucks. So cut out a Starbucks and try a plant that might/might not work. I find so many that do work, that I never worry when they don't.

I more often get rid of plants when they don't stay the size I want for the space I have.
These little slips were started in a ten gallon meant for raising fry.

But they soon became too much trouble and trimming. The Mexican oak leaf was a real chore and the hornwort types did what they always do so they are gone but the crypt is a keeper.



My water runs PH of 7.8 -8.0 and GH above 300 so I find hard alkaline water to be more of a mental block than an actual problem. This little ten gallon has an LED light, no CO2 but occasional dry ferts. Excel when I thought of it but lots of water changing for the fry.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-04-2015, 09:33 PM Thread Starter
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Wanted to follow up on this.

The bulk of your advise was "do nothing" and so that's what I did. Only change I've made to the tank was replacing the came-with-the-tank bulb with a floramax bulb. Plants are really responding to that. Tried some dwarf hairgrass and it promptly died on me but I've replaced it and all the plants I have in there now appear to be thriving, new growth on all fronts.

I have had significant fish die offs though. I bought about a dozen male guppies (got 3 a week for 4 weeks to not over-stress the tank, 16.25gal total water volume in a 20gal tank) because I didn't want breeding, also they are pretty hardy fish, also they prefer higher pH and harder water, also I like having many smaller fish as opposed to fewer larger fish. Well I have 5 left. I'm not really sure as to what the issue is. A few of them I saw damage on their sides towards their tail, not on the fin itself but the body. A few of them just started swimming poorly and were dead by morning. I think my LFS had a bad crop. The ones that are left seem to have no issues. If that continues I will go to a different LFS and start replenishing.

Water parameters have been amazingly consistent (that's what a high KH will do I guess). pH is 7.8 all day every day. Ammonia goes between 0 and 0.25ppm. Nitrites have always tested 0. dGH is always 14. dKH is always 7. Nitrates stay at a healthy 10-20ppm and I do 20% water changes weekly to maintain.

But, on the whole, I think doing nothing was the right approach.

Bump: Wanted to follow up on this.

The bulk of your advise was "do nothing" and so that's what I did. Only change I've made to the tank was replacing the came-with-the-tank bulb with a floramax bulb. Plants are really responding to that. Tried some dwarf hairgrass and it promptly died on me but I've replaced it and all the plants I have in there now appear to be thriving, new growth on all fronts.

I have had significant fish die offs though. I bought about a dozen male guppies (got 3 a week for 4 weeks to not over-stress the tank, 16.25gal total water volume in a 20gal tank) because I didn't want breeding, also they are pretty hardy fish, also they prefer higher pH and harder water, also I like having many smaller fish as opposed to fewer larger fish. Well I have 5 left. I'm not really sure as to what the issue is. A few of them I saw damage on their sides towards their tail, not on the fin itself but the body. A few of them just started swimming poorly and were dead by morning. I think my LFS had a bad crop. The ones that are left seem to have no issues. If that continues I will go to a different LFS and start replenishing.

Water parameters have been amazingly consistent (that's what a high KH will do I guess). pH is 7.8 all day every day. Ammonia goes between 0 and 0.25ppm. Nitrites have always tested 0. dGH is always 14. dKH is always 7. Nitrates stay at a healthy 10-20ppm and I do 20% water changes weekly to maintain.

But, on the whole, I think doing nothing was the right approach.
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