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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there,
I recently set up what I wanted to be a planted 20 g blackwater riparium. I took a PH, GH, and KH test. Ph is 7.4 (I'll be lowering that with catappa leaves and detritus) which I know is a little high, but the KH is 2 and the GH is 12! my city tap water is GH 9 so I know my tank is probably raising it (using sand and rocks, those are definitely a factor) but even still the GH is way too high for the tank. I'm planning on adding neons to it. How do I go about lowering it? I know RO and distilled are the ways most use but I don't really have access to that for cheap at all. I heard the API water softening pillows would do this? I can top off the tank evaporation with distilled water since that's not too expensive (and will help reduce the amount of waterchanges since the GH won't raise as quick) but a full waterchange/ whole tank full of distilled will be a good bit of money for me. Would the almond leaves I'm putting in reduce the GH too? I'm frustrated because the GH is so unbelievebly high and I can't find much to solve my problem.


Also off topic but the water is cloudy even though it's been set up a few days which is making me a bit uncomfortable too, since usually anything in it that is floating should have settled by now. I am not dosing ammonia or anything and have added a whole mature filter sponge to it so I know it's not in the middle of a cycle. Waterchanges don't seem to help with it either which is annoying as hell.
 

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Do you know what type of rocks are in there?


If you use inert rocks, they will not change the GH of the tank. If you are using rocks that do degrade because they are made of calcium/limestone, then that will raise the GH.


Remove whatever is causing the rise in GH, and then doing a large water change (if no tank inhabitants) would help bring the GH back down.


The cloudy water could be a bacterial bloom. Just leave it be, no water changes. It should take care of itself given a bit of time.
 

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I don't know about the API water softening pillows, but this is a basic conservation of matter problem. The gH is physical matter (ions mostly) and it all has to go somewhere. That can be down the drain or on the lawn usually.
Basically, as far as I know water changes with low-gH (RO or DI water from say the grocery store) is the only way to lower gH. Removing the source should keep the gH from going back up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I believe it is Koke stone in the aquarium, but I could be off. I'm not really able to remove it without destroying the hardscape and plants in the tank. I put in some of those water polishing pads into the filter and they seem to be working a bit, but I'll take your advice and leave it alone otherwise for the next few days.

And I was hoping it wouldn't have to come to that. I don't really have a source for RO or DI water that isn't a few bucks a gallon. I was just wondering if there was some sort of filter insert I could use that removes the ions from the water.
Would adding plants/peat help at all? I'm turning it into a riparium so I'll have a lot of roots soaking nutrients from the water column.
 

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IIRC there are a few ion removal products but they would be inconsistent (leading to fluctuating parameters) and potentially affect other mineral nutrients. 12 dGH is probably fine for neons, especially if they're from Florida. Only surefire way to lower GH and keep it stable is with RO/DI.
 

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Many grocery stores and some pharmacies do sell RO water for 28-50 cens a gallon. Bring your own containers or buy them there. (if they sell empty containers separately) I use 5 gallon buckets myself and spend $3 for 10 gallons of water. Some people like to use the 5 gallon upright water coolers instead, as they have a spout to draw water out of the container.


I'm not familiar with Koke stone, but doing a quick search, I see that it's basically volcanic rock and should be inert. Someone did report that their stones were not inert however, so maybe they have false koke stones? Which I would not be surprised if someone is selling a different type of stone as something it's not.


Can you take any of it out and test it with vinegar?



If it is indeed the rocks, and you don't remove them, then you may always have a problem with high GH in the tank. Even doing water changes will cause fluctuations in the parameters, which would be stressful for the inhabitants. Even if you were to use straight RO water, that GH will still climb.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
IIRC there are a few ion removal products but they would be inconsistent (leading to fluctuating parameters) and potentially affect other mineral nutrients. 12 dGH is probably fine for neons, especially if they're from Florida. Only surefire way to lower GH and keep it stable is with RO/DI.
you think it would be okay for neons/glowlights? Granted those are some of the cheapest fish out there, 75-99c per fish so it wouldn't be a big monetary loss, I'd just feel bad because they are living creatures. I was thinking of adding cherries or kuhli loaches to it sometime too but I'm also a little worried it could hurt them. The PH is going lower since the almond leaves just got here today, and they're already starting to leach into the tank, and it's at 7.1 now. I'm guessing it should teeter off t around 6.2 or so.


I tested the rocks with vinegar, they are inert, I saw no reaction whatsoever with them. I'm stumped on what could be affecting the level.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·

As you can see I haven't added the riparium planters yet, I'm still trying to figure them out heh. You can also see the tank is a bit cloudy too, I'm hoping that clears up in a day or two. I added water polishing pads and they did a bit of a job but it's still very visible.

I have guava and almond leaves soaking, anubias, crypts, and java fern. All low light plants that would do okay in a blackwater setup. The almond leaves have been in there for an hour or so and are already making the water faintly tea colored. I'm hoping they at least make the water slightly softer, someone I read online said that tannins "break down" or absorb the ions. I don't know if I believe that though.

plants going as riparium plants are dwarf palm, maidenhair fern, peace lily, and polka dot plant, and I'll be adding some duckweed and water spangles too. I'm going to have some pitcher plants hang off the back, they'll get a separate water since aquarium water will kill them, but they've gotten too big for their terrarium. They're actually the sole reason I'm starting up this tank, so they have more room to grow. I just want them to look pretty growing over an aquarium too ;).
What I was planning on stocking before I noticed the absurdly hard water are 7 neons, 7 glowlights, a betta, and a bunch of cherries.

I'm thinking add a peat bag ot water softening bag to the filter, toss in a few more leaves, and check and see how it affects the water. If they end up making the GH go down I'll probably toss in a leaf to the bucket whenever I do a waterchange and let it soak overnight, which would bring the GH to a lower level.
 

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Blackwater tanks are always tea stained from leaf litter and or wood tannin's.
Always easier,more stable to match fish to the water you have than to adjust water to some perceived need.
Agree with other's that only stable way to alter your water is to mix the tap water with R/O water and have enough stored for weekly water change so that sudden changes do not occur .
 

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Not what you're going to want to hear but for a true blackwater tank you really need at least RO. You'll never get the water acidic enough with your tap unfortunately. You can get cheap ro systems from pure water club that work well. Maybe 65 bucks or so. I'm actually setting up a 48g amazon blackwater tank now myself and have some a lot of research lately.

All the leaves in the world and peat won't be enough to make that high of a gh acidic. Know your tds also?

Sent from my Nexus 6P using Tapatalk
 

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you think it would be okay for neons/glowlights? Granted those are some of the cheapest fish out there, 75-99c per fish so it wouldn't be a big monetary loss, I'd just feel bad because they are living creatures. I was thinking of adding cherries or kuhli loaches to it sometime too but I'm also a little worried it could hurt them. The PH is going lower since the almond leaves just got here today, and they're already starting to leach into the tank, and it's at 7.1 now. I'm guessing it should teeter off t around 6.2 or so.


I tested the rocks with vinegar, they are inert, I saw no reaction whatsoever with them. I'm stumped on what could be affecting the level.
I'd say it's at the upper end of their range. The captive-bred ones from Florida will be accustomed to the harder water. Cherry shrimp are fine in 12 dGH.

Vinegar test isn't a sure-fire thing. Only way to know for sure is to place them into an inert bucket with some water, and measure the TDS/hardness.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Dang, well I guess it'll just be a simulated blackwater setup then ;)
If people are saying that the fish I'm planning on keeping should be fine than I guess I won't worry about it too much, since having to mess with DI/ RO water plus the tap water constantly seems like a bit more effort than I need. I'm trying to make this almost a "set it and forget it" tank with as low tech/maintenance as possible, save the water changes, cleaning, and feeding.

Also if anyone wants to suggest any fish that would work with this level of GH that would be most helpful, I'm dumping neons off the list even though they're my favorite fish. And probably glowlights too, although I've heard they're pretty hardy and could probably withstand it easily.
PH-6.8-7
KH 2
GH 12
 
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