Advice for hard water? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-10-2019, 03:48 PM Thread Starter
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Advice for hard water?

Hi all,

I am relatively new to shrimp, I have some cherries and they were breeding nicely in my tank (with aquasoil) so I moved some over to a new smaller tank for breeding purposes - been giving a lot of shrimps to my friends and selling some on the side.


However my problem is that I have very hard water. TDS approx 200 out of the tap, pH about 7.5-8. No copper thankfully...GH and DKH were both high I don't exactly remember the values, I think it was 10 and 14 respectively.

I am wondering if it is worthwhile to use mineral supplements (i.e. Fluval shrimp mineral supplement for example), or if my water is already way too hard. I top up the water with distilled water but my water changes are mostly tap water because I can't afford to use distilled water for 100% of the changes. Also if anyone has any advice on other things I should add (alder cones, etc) please let me know. I am making a trip to the not so local LFS tomorrow and they specialize in shrimp.


Also side note: Anybody have any advice for medication if things go south? I've heard paraguard sometimes works but may not be invert safe?
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-10-2019, 07:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aydemir View Post
Hi all,

I am relatively new to shrimp, I have some cherries and they were breeding nicely in my tank (with aquasoil) so I moved some over to a new smaller tank for breeding purposes - been giving a lot of shrimps to my friends and selling some on the side.


However my problem is that I have very hard water. TDS approx 200 out of the tap, pH about 7.5-8. No copper thankfully...GH and DKH were both high I don't exactly remember the values, I think it was 10 and 14 respectively.

I am wondering if it is worthwhile to use mineral supplements (i.e. Fluval shrimp mineral supplement for example), or if my water is already way too hard. I top up the water with distilled water but my water changes are mostly tap water because I can't afford to use distilled water for 100% of the changes. Also if anyone has any advice on other things I should add (alder cones, etc) please let me know. I am making a trip to the not so local LFS tomorrow and they specialize in shrimp.


Also side note: Anybody have any advice for medication if things go south? I've heard paraguard sometimes works but may not be invert safe?
would something like a brita water filter work?
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-10-2019, 09:15 PM
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Most plants do quite well in hard water and cherries thrive once adapted to it as you've seen. I've kept neos in tap water for probably ten years, though mine isn't in the neighborhood of as hard and alkaline as yours. The most important thing is that your tap is consistent. I've heard people on here say that theirs ranges drastically and feel blessed that my own does not. Not even sure I could keep most fish with the TDS swings I've seen people report that they encounter.

If you do decide to go with RO the simplest thing would be to purchase a unit. I bought one when I was into saltwater and it's been a godsend for my luck with Caridina shrimp. I don't use it on neos simply because I don't have to. If my tap was as hard as yours though, I would use it not only for top offs but probably look at a 4:1 RO to tap mix for replacement water. Guessing the soil you mentioned is an acid buffering substrate? Those work but do have a lifespan. And I would guess that in hard water like yours would be exhausted more quickly. Similarly, alder cones, leaf litter and such are great but don't expect them to change your parameters noticeably.

If using your tap, I see no reason to use mineral supplements. Wouldn't imagine there is much in them that isn't plentiful in your hard water. As medications go, I've thrown away so many that expired unused that I am loathe to buy more for problems I don't know that I will have. Just one guy's opinion that keeps aquariums, others may argue with me.

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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-10-2019, 11:48 PM
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200 TDS isn't an issue with cherry shrimp. I had a thriving colony in 300 TDS water. The old adage applies: if it ain't broken, don't fix it.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-11-2019, 07:11 PM
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However my problem is that I have very hard water. TDS approx 200 out of the tap, pH about 7.5-8. No copper thankfully...GH and DKH were both high I don't exactly remember the values, I think it was 10 and 14 respectively.

That's not hard at all! I've heard of people keeping Neos in water that's 20+ dGH! I tested the TDS of a "pond" that some shrimp and fish lived in, and the TDS was over 600! I use RO water usually out of a Primo machine, but have also used Glacier.... runs 33-50 cents a gallon. This usually has 0 GH, 0 KH and very low TDS (<5). I then add minerals to it using shrimp minerals.

I'm one of those people who can't keep Neos in tap water.... because it's too soft. I also don't recommend it, either, as you then don't really get to know how to keep shrimp. So many people hear that you can keep Neos in tap water just fine without any mention on their preferred or ideal parameters, get shrimp and the shrimp die... they have no clue what the ammonia, nitrites, nitrates GH or KH is out of tap and that can make a huge difference!

Some people are lucky and never have any issues.

And then there are others who get those parameter swings that was mentioned. I recall reading one person who lives on a farm and had no problem using their well water.... that is, until a neighbor up the way used fertilizer or something on their farm, which contaminated the water. The person who had the tanks wasn't aware and did a water change as normal on their tank. Everything in the tank died... or others who live in a city that may occasionally use heavy doses of some sort of sterilizer or cleaner that, although is "okay" to drink, is not invert safe.... and kills off a tank.


An alternative to RO water or distilled is rainwater... if you live somewhere where it's legal to collect rainwater and you are away from contamination in the air. If you used rainwater only, you would need to add minerals back into it.


I am wondering if it is worthwhile to use mineral supplements (i.e. Fluval shrimp mineral supplement for example), or if my water is already way too hard. I top up the water with distilled water but my water changes are mostly tap water because I can't afford to use distilled water for 100% of the changes. Also if anyone has any advice on other things I should add (alder cones, etc) please let me know. I am making a trip to the not so local LFS tomorrow and they specialize in shrimp.

Only if you use RO water, distilled or rainwater would you require a mineral supplement. Salty Shrimp is pretty popular, but there's several brands out there! Alder cones, indian almond leaves, birch leaves, guava leaves, mulberry leaves, bamboo leaves, etc... lots of options can be used for in tank!


Also side note: Anybody have any advice for medication if things go south? I've heard paraguard sometimes works but may not be invert safe?

I'd have to say that medications should be based on what's going on.... i.e. scutariella or vorticella, salt baths or Paraguard can be used to get rid of the 'leaches'. Bacterial infection, lots of options there and I don't know if any are ideal. Ellobiopsidae/green fungus/algae (what it actually is), again, many options, no guarantee any would work...
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-11-2019, 11:12 PM
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If your shrimp are doing well and breading you don't have to do anything. There is no need for additional calcium and magnesium. Keep in mind that iyou change something you may not get better results . In fact you could get worse results. I don't think it is worth your time and money to try RO or add minerals.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-12-2019, 01:10 AM
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Guessing the soil you mentioned is an acid buffering substrate? Those work but do have a lifespan. And I would guess that in hard water like yours would be exhausted more quickly. Similarly, alder cones, leaf litter and such are great but don't expect them to change your parameters noticeably. [/QUOTE]

I have similarly hard water, and am setting up a tank with mineralized peat potting soil capped with SafeTsorb. How much would a substrate like this buffer the GH, and for how long? What plants & fish I stock with will depends on what the eventual water parameters are expected level off.

Thanks!
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-12-2019, 04:24 PM
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You actually don't want to use a buffering substrate that lowers the pH with tap water. Doing so can greatly shorten the lifespan of the soil. I've heard it can shorten it to 3-6 months when it should last 8-12 months minimum... and some soils people have been using for 3+years. That said, they are using RO water/distilled with GH minerals.

The soils work by absorbing KH out of the water column and releasing tannins, humic acid and fulvic acids. If there's no KH in the water, then the soil doesn't have to work hard at all to lower the pH. If there is KH, then it has to work to absorb it and lower pH as KH wants to raise the pH. This in turn can exhaust the soil faster and cause a swing in parameters every time you do a water change. Not recommended.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-12-2019, 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Zoidburg View Post
You actually don't want to use a buffering substrate that lowers the pH with tap water. Doing so can greatly shorten the lifespan of the soil. I've heard it can shorten it to 3-6 months when it should last 8-12 months minimum... and some soils people have been using for 3+years. That said, they are using RO water/distilled with GH minerals.

The soils work by absorbing KH out of the water column and releasing tannins, humic acid and fulvic acids. If there's no KH in the water, then the soil doesn't have to work hard at all to lower the pH. If there is KH, then it has to work to absorb it and lower pH as KH wants to raise the pH. This in turn can exhaust the soil faster and cause a swing in parameters every time you do a water change. Not recommended.
By "shortening the lifespan of the soil", do mean its buffering capacity? I'm mineralizing the soil per Aaron Talbot's protocol, and will be adding some clay for iron as well. And per Phil Edwards' suggestion, am lowering the amount I planned to use, and will mix it with SafeTsorb before capping it with another 1-2" of plain SafeTsorb. This is my first time doing a dirted tank, and I do expect some initial nutrient spikes as the organic material breaks down (though the mineralization is supposed to minimize that.) And initially I plan to use a lot of fast-growing plants like water wisteria, hornwort, water sprite & red-rooted floaters to soak up those nutrients. But everything I've read says dirted tanks grow much better plants with less need for water column dosing (except maybe trace minerals) and are a lot more stable with fewer & smaller water changes needed--a plus since I travel a lot. I know the the soil nutrients eventually get depleted sooner or later, and when happens will just start using root tabs or Osmocote to maintain the crypts & swords that will be the backbone of my plantings.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-12-2019, 08:16 PM
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Yes, I do mean how well the soil can buffer the pH of the water down.

I'm not well versed enough with peat potting soil, to be honest, but I do know that peat can lower the pH of water. Therefore, you may still run into the issue of fluctuating water parameters.

Maybe consider 'pre-treating' new water before adding it to the tank? At least, if you plan on putting shrimp in the tank...

I've grown crypts in a tank with play-sand and coal slag with extremely minimal ferts. These were/are shrimp tanks, too. I ended up losing all in one tank (don't remember why - probably rescaped and gave up on that tank....) but still had one in a tank with the play sand in it. Switched the sand out for a buffering substrate earlier this year. Also split the plant into three. (didn't realize it had split on it's own through the root system...) Lost maybe two or three leaves? (expected more damage from change in parameters...) So they seem to be a 'minimal' plant as well that doesn't require *much*. At least, for me. Haven't kept some of the others.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-13-2019, 02:52 AM
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Thanks. It's not going to be a shrimp tank per se--probably just some amanos to help keep down the algae. We'll see what the pH does. With a dirted tank I'm hoping I can get away with smaller water changes--maybe 10% or so a week so I won't be swinging the pH back & forth with big water changes. We shall see......

Crypts are supposed to be pretty bulletproof once they acclimate and get over the initial "melt" . The bigger ones like balansae & usteriana are heavy bottom feeders, as are swords. So the dirt should give them a good start, and I can switch to root tabs once it's depleted. In the meantime I'm counting on floaters & stem plants to soak up whatever leaches into the water column. Once I get it up & going I'll start a journal thread and keep you posted.....
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