Need some educated opinions on water quality. - The Planted Tank Forum
 10Likes
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-05-2020, 05:00 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Dec 2019
Location: Edson, AB
Posts: 27
Need some educated opinions on water quality.

So... I have a relatively new 135gal tank that's three weeks old and medium planted. Fish seem to be doing very well, slight to medium haze as expected so far. re entering the hobby after 25 years.

Now keeping in mind the nearest decent LPS is 2hrs one way (trip has to be combined with other business) I probably introduced a sensitive species to soon- but with lots of researching after the fact I think the nerite snail is just not for me.

I do run a water softener- this small town is well water supplied and is unpalatable, the softener uses little sodium ($6/bag) so I switched over to potassium ($35/bag), the four snails lasted a week, first day the roamed around then shut up in their shells until expired- such a bummer. Some bladder snails that hitched a ride on the new plants are doing great, the plants are doing very well. cory's, cardinals, pleco's, siamensis, betta, otto's are doing ok, very lightly populated- trip was for algae control crew but since the trip is so long I got some extra's.

I have not checked raw water parameters but the softener does have a bypass valve, current tank water shows 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 5ppm nitrate.
First fill was house water, +25 gallons purchased RO water, Seachem acid base added to bring KH down.
- raw softened water from memory, PH 7.8, GH 2, KH 25. RO and chemically corrected PH 7.1, GH ?, KH 8. Want to avoid RO water going forward. Plan is for a heavily planted tank with CO2 and minimize water changes.

I just don't want to avoid killing livestock if the conditions are unsuitable. Running Hydor 600 and at the time some air stones to boost oxygen for cycling, new tank, no carbon, no medications, one small brass fitting for CO2. Wanted to add some Amano or similar shrimp but will they last. Seems like the Nerites are hit or miss- was never really big on snails anyway as they can be a mess when expired.
dfarr67 is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-05-2020, 10:17 PM
Are these real?
 
Wasserpest's Avatar
 
PTrader: (195/100%)
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Monterey, CA
Posts: 15,666
Softened water introduces a lot of imbalances that can be difficult for fish, invertebrates, and, matter of fact, for plants as well. It doesn't "soften" the water per se, like R/O or distilled, it just replaces Calcium with other minerals, be it Sodium or Potassium. I know you know that, just mentioning it here to preamble my reasoning in the next sentences.

I would "bypass" the softener. Of course I don't know what exactly is in your well water which makes it unpalatable (maybe ok for fish and plants though?).

If the water is harder than what some consider optimal, not really a problem, just shifts your animal and plant choices a bit. You would not necessarily get Discus and Madagascar Lace Plants, but instead choose from the wide variety of things that thrive in hard water.
My water is fairly hard (>10GH and kH) and I can't grow many "softwater" plants, but that leaves a whole lot of others that love it with CO2 and a few nutrients. Also, most fish that come from softer waters (say Tetras and Rasboras) do really well in hard water, even if they may not spawn all the time.

So there... my opinion, educated or not.
fishie777 likes this.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
Wasserpest is offline  
post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-05-2020, 10:43 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Dec 2019
Location: Edson, AB
Posts: 27
I'm not sure if there are water quality maps out there, I looked on our local municipal site and doesn't say anything about water chemistry- more about water safety. I stopped by the business where I bought the softener from and we were talking in two different languages it seems. I will test the raw water and see what's up. It doesn't smell but it tastes like sodium. Located 2 hrs east of the Rockies, coal country and limestone quarries. I did read the town has an excess of naturally occuring fluoride from one of the 8 wells that supply which they try and dilute in the main res.

Just finished testing raw water bypass.

PH 8.4
Nitrate 0
Nitrite 0
KH 20 drops= 20dKH
GH 3 drops= 3dGH

Last edited by Darkblade48; 11-08-2020 at 02:48 AM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
dfarr67 is offline  
 
post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-06-2020, 03:49 AM
Planted Tank Guru
 
Zoidburg's Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Nevada
Posts: 3,246
Even the raw water bypass seems like it's gone through a softener....


I would say that your tank isn't good for any shrimp except maybe amanos. Neos would most likely die as the water is too soft. After that would be tigers, but water might still be too soft and if "regular" snails didn't make it, wouldn't recommend them... so maybe amanos might survive? They would be the only ones suitable to go with the fish anyway...
Zoidburg is offline  
post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-06-2020, 01:49 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Dec 2019
Location: Edson, AB
Posts: 27
Bladder snails and mini ramshorns seem happy as heck. I should recheck the bypass- I can also try to grab a sample from before the softener.
dfarr67 is offline  
post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-06-2020, 04:14 PM
Planted Tank Guru
 
PlantedRich's Avatar
 
PTrader: (2/100%)
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 12,363
Easy to get the wrong ideas on softened water as well as the bypass. This is an area that I worked maintaining the more common ion exchange softeners for a few years and it did give me a much different view of them.
First is the amount of salt in the water and that is often confused. Doctors often recommend heart patients not use sodium but change to potassium.
But it is true that few doctors really study water softeners and they are as confused as most of us!
When the softener does it's thing it does not add the salt to the water and send it out to us but it is much more involved. If you have a softener, you may have noted it has a timer and that should be set so that the process is done at a time when you will not be using water, often set for 2 AM for most folks.
Then when you have used the set amount of water to expect the resin bed to need renewed, the timer sets internal valves to let water through the resin to flush out the old minerals first, then brine is drawn from the tank where we add the salt. This brine is sent through the resin to do the ion exchange, making the resin ready to accept more CA and MG from new water. Then as a final step the salt is rinsed out of the resin and down the drain.
Bottom line is often confused and folks think that all the salt they add to the softener winds up in what we use. WRONG!
What we get in our water, is the amount of salt which is not totally rinsed out of the resin in the rinse cycle, much the same as the detergent we add to the dishwasher.
Any rinse is never total but done to acceptable levels. The same goes for when you wash your hands with soap, you don't get it all rinsed off but that's okay for most folks.
There are always different ways to talk when speaking of how much is left but for most of us to understand easily, it is often described this way. If we drink/eat the "normal" amount of water we get the same amount of added salt as we get if we eat a single slice of white bread! Some small number of MG but compared to eating a hot dog or the other foods we eat, barely none. Look at the contents of a can of soup and you see a really tremendous amount of salt is there. Heaven forbid you consider eating a bag of chips!
There is a tremendous wave of misinformation, so before taking what we read as true, it is very important to look for facts from places which are NOT trying to sell you something but do know how things work.
It is always important to watch things in our tanks and follow carefully any trends we see but looking at fish meds, we often see they have salt added. One of the most popular cures for ich is SALT!
So if we add salt in meds and use it to cure fish with ich, how much does the tiny amount in softened water harm our tank?
Often when folks test the water on bypass, they fail to let the water in the pipes get totally flushed out before taking the sample and they are still getting softened water! In the states there is often a tap installed immediately before and one after the softener, so that testing can be done without the time needed to wait for lines to be flushed. It depends on the install but it is designed so that guys like me could get in and get it done without waiting around.
I do not use the softened water but not because of the salt but because fish and plants need the Ca and MG that is removed in soft water. When soft water feels slick, it is because you are used to wiping CA and MG particles on your skin!
I don't like to take it out, only to have to add it back? A shrimp tank without CA is not going to do well. Same with RO water , if it is not there, it needs to be added back in.
Deanna and en7jos like this.
PlantedRich is offline  
post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-06-2020, 05:43 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Dec 2019
Location: Edson, AB
Posts: 27
Pretty much as I understand things- the resin bed does hold a residual amount after the flush- my question was pointed to how sensitive nerites are to potassium with my 100% mortality. I have a 23 gallon pail I use for water changes and I figured after the pail was filled with cold water only on bypass without any initial flushing that it would be a realistic sample. The softener installation was lazy in that the guy had 100% of the house softened, I later took the outside hose bibs out of the loop for bulk water use outside and because this is cold country (-30C) I wanted to be able to shut down and drain said bibs- the drain valve has a bleed where I could grab a small sample. Living in other parts of the country I had much better water to start off with and although I won't cut corners in livestock health- it's nice not to have $$ invested in useless additives or unneeded softened water. Right now I'm thinking to continue with Seachem Acid Base to bring down KH/PH and maybe bump the GH, CO2 should help with PH.
I do have hypertension, haven't noticed any difference in switching from sodium to potassium except cost. And yes out food supply is absolutely loaded with salt and sugar.
dfarr67 is offline  
post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-07-2020, 06:28 AM
Planted Tank Guru
 
Zoidburg's Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Nevada
Posts: 3,246
Many people do not recommend using anything to alter pH that's "chemical" based.... i.e. pH Up/pH Down, Acid Buffer/Alkaline Buffer.

Not in shrimp tanks at least.
Blue Ridge Reef and fishie777 like this.
Zoidburg is offline  
post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-07-2020, 04:24 PM
Planted Tank Guru
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: PA
Posts: 2,154
Adding some more detail to @PlantedRich's info on what the actual source of sodium in softened water is, below is a way to calculate the burden and potential effect. TDS meters can help here, as well. However, if your pre-softened water is truly 3 dGH, then you may not need a water softener, as that is quite soft already. Your note that the softener uses very little salt also indicates that you may not need a softener. Further, if you have switched to potassium chloride (which is expensive as compared to sodium chloride), there would be none of the possibly harmful sodium involved anyway. If you ever decide to go back to sodium chloride, here is how to estimate sodium pass-through from the softening process:

Sodium added by a water softener is a function of total grains per gallon of general hardness.

Water softening references are usually GPG (grains per gallon) of GH, which is close enough to dGH to be equivalent. When softened, the GPG of GH is converted to the sodium component with this formula: GPG of GH x .46 = sodium GPG. to convert the sodium GPG to ppm, use this formula: sodium GPG x 17.1 = sodium ppm.

So, your dGH is 3, which is 3 x .46 x 17.1 = ~24ppm sodium. If you do a 50% w/c weekly, that 24ppm will stabilize at ~47ppm in a few weeks. In hydroponics, sodium levels of 30-100ppm are considered toxic, depending upon the plant.

As you can see, it is better to not use softened water. It may be better to have the 3 dGH (54ppm) in Ca and Mg than it is to have the 47ppm of sodium. I don't know if the potassium contribution from KCl softened water would contribute the same ppm of K as is the case with NaCl. There is a good freshwater potassium test kit available from Salifert. You may want to try it to see how K you are adding weekly.

Incidentally, adding Seachem acid base is a very short term solution to the alkalinity issue and is somewhat unstable. The best way to address all issues is with an RO unit, although some members have been playing around with more powerful acids.
Blue Ridge Reef likes this.
Deanna is offline  
post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-08-2020, 12:54 AM
Planted Tank Guru
 
PlantedRich's Avatar
 
PTrader: (2/100%)
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 12,363
I would second the idea that your water is so soft to start that a softener doesn't seem the right tool for making the water more palatable as most folks do like the mineral content. A far more simple and less expensive charcoal filter is one alternate which would certainly pay for itself quickly if one stopped using potassium in the softener.
One point to think over is how little the softener seems to be doing. If I were to test your setup, I would turn it in for repair as only taking one degree off the GH is very near not working!
There is a plastic screen in the bottom of many softener resin tanks which can break down and get a hole after a few years. This hole then lets the resin be flushed out and down the drain on the rinse cycle. After that, the softener is doing very little more than running water around in a circle as the ion exchange is not done. If you have the softener before the water goes to the water heater, one way to check the loss of the resin is to drain and flush the water heater and look for a slimey pile of resin where the water drains!
Also if the water coming out of the heater is white colored, it is collecting way too much CA and things are not right with the softener.
Most softeners also have settings for the hardness of the tap water and those settings can sometimes get off so that there is not brine pumped in or the timing of the various cycles may need to be set better. There are times when DIY folks change out the unit but don't know what settings to do and simply leave them on the factory setting!
I might lean heavily toward looking at a charcoal filter if taste/odor is the problem or a simple sediment filter if there is debris from a surface source of water. Or is it possibly an iron content which makes the water seem bad? Different solutions for different problems! Chlorine pre-treating before the softener is one solution for high iron content but pretty expensive for homeowner use. A red toilet tank is a sign of this.
Something like this can be a very cost effective way to go with changing the filter for $7-15 once or twice a year.
https://www.homedepot.com/p/DuPont-S...003B/203444288
But then I am a guy who has always kept fish in hard alkaline water without worry but simply adapted the plants and fish to what the water fit. Currently my water is PH of 7.8-8.0 with GH and KH hard to read but above 300 PPM. My tap before the softener is 21 grains of hardness and we can tell almost immediately when the softener is not working right due to the feel when showering.
The problem with using PH up/down, etc. is that it will only be very temporary if we don't first change the GH and Kh that buffer the PH. Consider a read on the buffering aspects of your water, for more info than I could ever give!
PlantedRich is offline  
post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-09-2020, 12:31 PM
Newbie
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 1
So the water softner is used because your water is too hard? or because it makes it taste better? I don't know if I'm missing something or confusing myself here. But, my .02. I keep discus. I have a couple breeding tanks and one 67 gallon rimless show tank. My water here is city water and it is hard (suburbs of philadelphia). I know you said your trying to stay away from r/o water.....but hear me out. You can get for 60 bucks on amazon a 3 stage r/0 system that nets 100 gallons per day. I fill up one of those big heavy duty trashcans once every couple weeks to use with my water changes. I mix it 1:1 with my tap water and I couldnt ask for better results. As far as I'm concerned, its been mentioned above, never use any kind of chem softner in a fish tank. For starters they are a waste of money......you need to constantly with every water change add it. Fish dont like softners......snails and shrimp REALLY dont like softners. As far as your dead snails.....I think you just put them in too soon. Ive been keeping planted tanks and reef tanks for over 20 years, and if there is one thing I learned about livestock, fish are more tolerant then mollusk/crustaceans by far. I wouldnt put any ornamental/amanao shrimp into an immature tank. You might want to try some ghost shrimp....they are cheap as dirt....who cares if you kill them, better them then 4 dollar amanos. IMHO, amano shrimp are very overpriced nowadays......I was never a huge fan becasue no matter how perfect you keep your parameters, they will never multiply in freshwater....kind of a bummer to me. They will also get eaten by larger fish, along with pretty much all shrimp. I use ottocinclus, dwarf plecos and a rather large colony of hitch hiker snails that reproduce like they are living in the projects...clog my return pump, use my sump as a water park. I considered the amanos at one point, so i put in some large ghost shrimp just to see how they would make out. They didnt, eaten up within a week. Something else you might want to think about concerning your dead snails....how different is your water from the stores water where you got them? Sometimes snails need to be drip acclimated, like I said, differences in water chemistry seem to really throw them out of whack sometimes. A big tank like that though, its gonna take some time to really get it established. Id definitely wait it out a couple months....try the ghost shrimp, if they do well, then go for the ornamental/ and or amano ones. Dont keep any fish bigger then 3" though, they will probably eat them.
Parodi1 is offline  
post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-09-2020, 11:02 PM
Algae Grower
 
Roboto's Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Mar 2020
Location: Santa Cruz
Posts: 101
That kh seems incredibly high.
I know you said you don't want to mess with RO, but I personally wouldn't even try keeping a tank without an RO system at my house with that type of water.
They aren't that expensive nor hard to set up. Spend $100-$200, attach to faucet and you're good to go.
dfarr67 likes this.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.



To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
Roboto is offline  
post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-09-2020, 11:44 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Dec 2019
Location: Edson, AB
Posts: 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parodi1 View Post
So the water softner is used because your water is too hard? or because it makes it taste better? I don't know if I'm missing something or confusing myself here. But, my .02. I keep discus. I have a couple breeding tanks and one 67 gallon rimless show tank. My water here is city water and it is hard (suburbs of philadelphia). I know you said your trying to stay away from r/o water.....but hear me out. You can get for 60 bucks on amazon a 3 stage r/0 system that nets 100 gallons per day. I fill up one of those big heavy duty trashcans once every couple weeks to use with my water changes. I mix it 1:1 with my tap water and I couldnt ask for better results. As far as I'm concerned, its been mentioned above, never use any kind of chem softner in a fish tank. For starters they are a waste of money......you need to constantly with every water change add it. Fish dont like softners......snails and shrimp REALLY dont like softners. As far as your dead snails.....I think you just put them in too soon. Ive been keeping planted tanks and reef tanks for over 20 years, and if there is one thing I learned about livestock, fish are more tolerant then mollusk/crustaceans by far. I wouldnt put any ornamental/amanao shrimp into an immature tank. You might want to try some ghost shrimp....they are cheap as dirt....who cares if you kill them, better them then 4 dollar amanos. IMHO, amano shrimp are very overpriced nowadays......I was never a huge fan becasue no matter how perfect you keep your parameters, they will never multiply in freshwater....kind of a bummer to me. They will also get eaten by larger fish, along with pretty much all shrimp. I use ottocinclus, dwarf plecos and a rather large colony of hitch hiker snails that reproduce like they are living in the projects...clog my return pump, use my sump as a water park. I considered the amanos at one point, so i put in some large ghost shrimp just to see how they would make out. They didnt, eaten up within a week. Something else you might want to think about concerning your dead snails....how different is your water from the stores water where you got them? Sometimes snails need to be drip acclimated, like I said, differences in water chemistry seem to really throw them out of whack sometimes. A big tank like that though, its gonna take some time to really get it established. Id definitely wait it out a couple months....try the ghost shrimp, if they do well, then go for the ornamental/ and or amano ones. Dont keep any fish bigger then 3" though, they will probably eat them.
My email notifications don't seem to be working.
Looks like we are on the same page tho..I'm probably not quite understanding the hard/soft water vs PH thing and the salesman wanted to sell me a softener- but I have to say the showers are much more pleasant. My education long ago was civil engineering- but the settings on that softener are NOT user friendly- I think they design it that way intentionally. I haven't moved it off the original install settings except for checking the time occasionally. No issue with odor or iron and we drink RO water from the cooler- same guy want $500 for a RO unit, not going to happen for that price. In making that 100gallons a day- how much wastage is there?
Will likely start bypassing the softener and just start using regular salt.
So far I have been using acid base to tone down the KH with the PH usually following down on it's own. I have to agree the more I screw around with chemicals the worse things get. I talked to the LFS here and they have an issue with MTS overpopulation but they cannot keep the fancy snails either, as much as I would like to keep them maybe just not possible here- doing searches, there seems to be a lot of failures with nerites. The pond snails are doing extremely well as well. Will read all this agin to soak in.

Bump:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roboto View Post
That kh seems incredibly high.
I know you said you don't want to mess with RO, but I personally wouldn't even try keeping a tank without an RO system at my house with that type of water.
They aren't that expensive nor hard to set up. Spend $100-$200, attach to faucet and you're good to go.
Looks like I'm starting to think this way.
Any favored models common to both markets with ongoing cost of ownership in mind? (cheap filters)
Roboto likes this.
dfarr67 is offline  
post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-10-2020, 12:00 AM
Algae Grower
 
Griznatch's Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Nov 2020
Location: Idaho
Posts: 17
We run off a well here and the water is really hard. I finally switched to an RO system and love it. Whole system ran me about $150. In spite of the wife and I just about killing each other, we got it installed ourselves guys who installed the water softener last year wanted to charge us 1200 dollars for an RO system plus install.

In my experience (by no means extensive), I've found Nerites to be more sensitive to water parameters than a lot of other snails. Plus you'll get a few overzealous females, that will pepper everything in your tank with eggs.

That big tank is going to be awesome when the plants grow in. Good luck!
Griznatch is offline  
post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-10-2020, 12:54 AM
Algae Grower
 
Roboto's Avatar
 
PTrader: (0/0%)
Join Date: Mar 2020
Location: Santa Cruz
Posts: 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by dfarr67 View Post
Bump:

Looks like I'm starting to think this way.
Any favored models common to both markets with ongoing cost of ownership in mind? (cheap filters)
I'm no help there. I spent $500 for an undersink system that remineralizes the water for healthy drinking. It's great, but $$$.
I've seen a number of them at aquarium supply websites with positive reviews so it shouldn't be too hard to find a reliable one.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.



To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
Roboto is offline  
Reply

Tags
None

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the The Planted Tank Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in










Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode



Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome