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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all ...

I'm relatively new to the planted tank hobby and I've found this forum very very helpful in my endeavors to improve my planted tank. And now I'm discovering a local crowd of plant aficionados, just when I thought I was all alone in this hobby!

I do have some questions for you about San Antonio water. I believe the water that many of us get comes from the aquifer system. Limestone tends to harden water quite a bit and I was wondering how you all are doing well with your planted tanks and fish on tap water ...

My first tank (current one) is not doing very well. I've been able to get some plant growth with CO2 and OK lighting ~3wpg. I've simply had many many plants just die on me. Particularly stem plants. That may have something to do with contaminated Eco-Complete that I had been using. Phosphate levels were off the scale and I had tons of algae problems. It seems better now after many many many significant water changes.

My question comes as I plan to revamp things a lot and go to a larger tank (120 gallons). While I'm expending a lot of effort to make sure things will go smoothly with the new tank (still looking forward to a THRIVING tank), I've done a lot of reading about water quality.

The tap water here has a GH of 20 and a KH of 16. I just measured it myself. We have a softener on the house water, but all my water change water has come from outside spigots that are not on the softener circuit. Do you guys have problems with the hardness and are you using some RO/DI water mixed in? I'd like to keep discus in the new tank and have heard that they like soft acidic water, at least for breeding. That might be hard with my water.

I'd really really like to NOT use RO/DI water if I can. It really complicates things a lot and takes up a lot of space that I don't have. But I'll try to work it in if you think that it is necessary with these water parameters.
 

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i didnt know our water was THAT high i thought the gh/kh was around 12? nevertheless i am using that same tap water from edwards aquifer. i dont have any problems with fish, my rummies, cardinals and discus are all doing fine. now of course they wont breed in it but thats another story. are you also dosing ferts? you mentioned lights and co2 but you need ferts too. i dont use eco complete (yet) so i cant help you there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
i didnt know our water was THAT high i thought the gh/kh was around 12? nevertheless i am using that same tap water from edwards aquifer. i dont have any problems with fish, my rummies, cardinals and discus are all doing fine. now of course they wont breed in it but thats another story. are you also dosing ferts? you mentioned lights and co2 but you need ferts too. i dont use eco complete (yet) so i cant help you there.
Maybe the kit I'm using is not that accurate, but those were the measurements right from the spigot. I'm glad to hear you are keeping traditionally soft/acidic water fish without difficulty.

I am dosing ferts, in a slightly modified EI sort of way. No phosphates, though. Those are still almost 10ppm without added potassium phosphate. And I thought EI was designed so I didn't have to make any measurements.:icon_roll
 

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are you using ferts from greg watson? all my plants have symptoms of low phosphates so i dose like 5x the amount and they still show the same symtpoms so i donno what im doing and will revert back to 2x amount. the sympotms are darkened withering old leaves with green spot algae. anywyas where exactly in sa do you live? im in the medcenter but im sure we all have teh same water if its from teh city
 

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Dipan,
San Antonio water is hard, you can tell right away when yo get out of the shower and your skin feels like the first layer has been stripped off.
Although, you mentioned you have a softener so that problems might not come across you ;)
I havent tested the GH or KH in a while but the last time i checked it the KH did read to be at 11-12 and the GH was considerably above that in ppm.

I have read that ec-complete might have ran a bad batch and others were experimenting other spikes in different catagories. Not sure if those that manufacture it will admit to such an acusation.
Does your phos test have an experiation date on it? I know alot of the LFS here in town have expired tests in turn giving you unaccurate results.
What brand of ferts are you dosing, and what exactly?

EI is designed to help you measure less offten but measuring your levels is a MUST in the start up phase. If your plants arent growing and wont stay alive long enought o monitor their growth then you have come to a dead end. EI method will allow you to monitor your plants progress and adjust your dosing once a steady growth pattern and absorbtion of nutrients is noticed. PLants will tell you everything you need to know by symtoms of dificiency.
Get your plants to grow and then worry about not measuring the levels. Different plants absorb nutrients different ways, most stem plants do it through the water. Others like swords and foreground are heavy substrate feeders and require a fertile substrate to grow.

What method are you introducing cO2 into your tank? Excel, pressurized,diy?

I have been growing plants quite well in SA tap water for years now. Although some of the "neater" plants we will never be able to keep beacuse they favor softer water. Most plants can thrive in our conditions, i have had some truoble growing moss in the hard water but going to give it another try in my new setup. I will be going 50-50 on WC.
Feed your plants, give the cO2, and light and youll notice an incredible diffeence.

As far as fuana go, like Fusqer mentioned, most can do pretty well in tap water conditions.

-Pete
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
are you using ferts from greg watson? all my plants have symptoms of low phosphates so i dose like 5x the amount and they still show the same symtpoms so i donno what im doing and will revert back to 2x amount. the sympotms are darkened withering old leaves with green spot algae. anywyas where exactly in sa do you live? im in the medcenter but im sure we all have teh same water if its from teh city
Yeah, GW ferts. Phosphates deficiency doesn't seem to be my prob, though, because of the phosphate buffer contamination in my eco-complete. I'm on the northwest side near Wurzbach/NW military. Probably the same hard water. I'm really thinking of going RO/DI, but am not too happy with the complexity that entails.

Dipan,
San Antonio water is hard, you can tell right away when yo get out of the shower and your skin feels like the first layer has been stripped off.
Although, you mentioned you have a softener so that problems might not come across you ;)
I havent tested the GH or KH in a while but the last time i checked it the KH did read to be at 11-12 and the GH was considerably above that in ppm.

I have read that ec-complete might have ran a bad batch and others were experimenting other spikes in different catagories. Not sure if those that manufacture it will admit to such an acusation.
Does your phos test have an experiation date on it? I know alot of the LFS here in town have expired tests in turn giving you unaccurate results.
What brand of ferts are you dosing, and what exactly?

EI is designed to help you measure less offten but measuring your levels is a MUST in the start up phase. If your plants arent growing and wont stay alive long enought o monitor their growth then you have come to a dead end. EI method will allow you to monitor your plants progress and adjust your dosing once a steady growth pattern and absorbtion of nutrients is noticed. PLants will tell you everything you need to know by symtoms of dificiency.
Get your plants to grow and then worry about not measuring the levels. Different plants absorb nutrients different ways, most stem plants do it through the water. Others like swords and foreground are heavy substrate feeders and require a fertile substrate to grow.

What method are you introducing cO2 into your tank? Excel, pressurized,diy?

I have been growing plants quite well in SA tap water for years now. Although some of the "neater" plants we will never be able to keep beacuse they favor softer water. Most plants can thrive in our conditions, i have had some truoble growing moss in the hard water but going to give it another try in my new setup. I will be going 50-50 on WC.
Feed your plants, give the cO2, and light and youll notice an incredible diffeence.

As far as fuana go, like Fusqer mentioned, most can do pretty well in tap water conditions.

-Pete
CaribSea did admit to the problem and refunded more than my purchase price. I don't have any complaints about customer service with them. Because of that, I wouldn't hesitate to buy CaribSea products in the future. Problems can occur with almost any company. It's what they do about it that matters more, at least for me.

I'm not doing the best that I can do with EI. I dose when I can and when I remember. I also have a hard time putting the effort in for a water change. This happens once every two weeks or so when I do 50%. I suppose that this could be part of my problem. I can get most bulbs growing well, like lotus and aponegetons, but some other plants like swords just end up dying slowly but surely. Other rooted plants, like Lobelia cardinalis, seem to do pretty well, though ... Slow growth (as expected), but positive growth.

I'm injecting CO2. I have a 20lb tank and the bubble rate is about 1/sec with lights on. CO2 off with lights out. I have a pH controller, but haven't set it up yet.

I'm seriously thinking about going with RO. I'd like to mix it with tap in order to keep some nutrients, though. The softer water would also help in keeping limescale off of the tank/equipment. I just have to figure out where I'm going to put the equipment ...
 

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EI and water changes go hand and hand. Water changes help to "reset" fert levels that way you have a good starting point on what and how much ferts to dose.

Buying your own RO would be "cheaper" in the long run. I bought one a few years ago and it saved me from driving to the LFS here and paying 50 cents per gallon.
It also has its draw backs, if you pay your own H2O. My water bills severely increased as soon as I started using it. RO units waste alot of water during the process. The units throw out more waste water than it makes RO per mintue. I know a guy who rigs it to where he lines the watse water hose back into the unit for a second run but it seems complicated.

Have you calculated your co2ppm reading in the tanks yet?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
EI and water changes go hand and hand. Water changes help to "reset" fert levels that way you have a good starting point on what and how much ferts to dose.

Buying your own RO would be "cheaper" in the long run. I bought one a few years ago and it saved me from driving to the LFS here and paying 50 cents per gallon.
It also has its draw backs, if you pay your own H2O. My water bills severely increased as soon as I started using it. RO units waste alot of water during the process. The units throw out more waste water than it makes RO per mintue. I know a guy who rigs it to where he lines the watse water hose back into the unit for a second run but it seems complicated.

Have you calculated your co2ppm reading in the tanks yet?
Nope ... I just decided to see how it goes and turn it up slowly until the fish seem stressed, then turn it back down. I just started with the injection. Prior to that I was using yeast, but I can tell that at even one drop per second, that's more CO2 than I was getting with the yeast. I got one of those Dupla CO2 checkers but got fed up with it when it showed nothing but blue (low concentration).
 

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My idea...

Hello all ...

I'm relatively new to the planted tank hobby and I've found this forum very very helpful in my endeavors to improve my planted tank. And now I'm discovering a local crowd of plant aficionados, just when I thought I was all alone in this hobby!

I do have some questions for you about San Antonio water. I believe the water that many of us get comes from the aquifer system. Limestone tends to harden water quite a bit and I was wondering how you all are doing well with your planted tanks and fish on tap water ...

My first tank (current one) is not doing very well. I've been able to get some plant growth with CO2 and OK lighting ~3wpg. I've simply had many many plants just die on me. Particularly stem plants. That may have something to do with contaminated Eco-Complete that I had been using. Phosphate levels were off the scale and I had tons of algae problems. It seems better now after many many many significant water changes.

My question comes as I plan to revamp things a lot and go to a larger tank (120 gallons). While I'm expending a lot of effort to make sure things will go smoothly with the new tank (still looking forward to a THRIVING tank), I've done a lot of reading about water quality.

The tap water here has a GH of 20 and a KH of 16. I just measured it myself. We have a softener on the house water, but all my water change water has come from outside spigots that are not on the softener circuit. Do you guys have problems with the hardness and are you using some RO/DI water mixed in? I'd like to keep discus in the new tank and have heard that they like soft acidic water, at least for breeding. That might be hard with my water.

I'd really really like to NOT use RO/DI water if I can. It really complicates things a lot and takes up a lot of space that I don't have. But I'll try to work it in if you think that it is necessary with these water parameters.
I had the same questions as you a while back and decided that the best way to decide on which plants would do good in our "native" water would be to collect plants from our "native" stream. Therefore, there shouldn't be any problems with hardness, etc. There are lots of aquatic plants growing in our waters around San Antonio. I've put several in my 29G Biocube and the Hygro, eel grass and Fanwort (from the san marcos river) seem to be doing the best. The Hygro and eel grass (val.) with no ferts, CO2 and just over 1 watt per gal has taken off in eco complete. The fanwort is doing good too but just isn't growing as fast as the other two. The Ludwigia (sp) spps. that I collected just seems to sit there with no growth, but it hasn't died either. I have a blast collecting my own stuff and to tell you the truth, of all the neons, prestillas, H. Rasboras and Red Cherry Shrimp that I have in my tank. I think my most useful and interesting fish that I have is an Amazon Molly that I caught by accident with plant collecting. It chows down on the Algae and eats like a nut from my hand. Cool fish! We live in a great area for this hobby.
Jason
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I had the same questions as you a while back and decided that the best way to decide on which plants would do good in our "native" water would be to collect plants from our "native" stream. Therefore, there shouldn't be any problems with hardness, etc. There are lots of aquatic plants growing in our waters around San Antonio. I've put several in my 29G Biocube and the Hygro, eel grass and Fanwort (from the san marcos river) seem to be doing the best. The Hygro and eel grass (val.) with no ferts, CO2 and just over 1 watt per gal has taken off in eco complete. The fanwort is doing good too but just isn't growing as fast as the other two. The Ludwigia (sp) spps. that I collected just seems to sit there with no growth, but it hasn't died either. I have a blast collecting my own stuff and to tell you the truth, of all the neons, prestillas, H. Rasboras and Red Cherry Shrimp that I have in my tank. I think my most useful and interesting fish that I have is an Amazon Molly that I caught by accident with plant collecting. It chows down on the Algae and eats like a nut from my hand. Cool fish! We live in a great area for this hobby.
Jason
Thanks Jason. That really is inspiring and a great idea! I've been tubing before in the Guadalupe River before my planted hobby addiction and now you got me wondering what's growing in there! Maybe I'll hold off on complicating things further for now with RO/DI and make a trip out to the rivers in the area and see what's there! Fantastic ... I just never thought of doing that!
 

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The Guadalupe has some great plants and so does the Comal river.

I actually have quite a few in my tank right now and they are thriving.
 

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Hey guys quick question on the water here in SA. I am using an API liquid test kit on my Ph reads 7.4-7.6. It has two different kits, one for low ph one for high. The low kit always maxes at 7.6 and the high range kit shows about 7.4. I am thinking about purchasing 2 ram cichlids but the prefer a lower ph. What readings do you guys get? Or is this kit accurate?
 

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Well..

Hey guys quick question on the water here in SA. I am using an API liquid test kit on my Ph reads 7.4-7.6. It has two different kits, one for low ph one for high. The low kit always maxes at 7.6 and the high range kit shows about 7.4. I am thinking about purchasing 2 ram cichlids but the prefer a lower ph. What readings do you guys get? Or is this kit accurate?
It sounds about right for Edwards Aquifer water. At least thats the range I usually get. I originally wanted rams too but according to everything I read, they just won't "thrive" in our water without major adjustments. I spoke to a few folks "in the know" and the answer I kept getting was, they'll live just fine but don't expect them to breed, etc. without lowering your PH. So I opted for some other spps. The water is even considered hard for them too so unless, I go for some local small spps like Mexican Tetras, darters, and gambusia spps. I don't expect to have much luck in the breeding dept.
Jason
 

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our local tap water from edwards is around 8.0 . that being said the fish do fine in it once acclimated. RO systems are not very expensive (if you're not paying the water bill). they are very well worth the $150 investment or so. i have a spectrapure myself
 

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Thanks for the response. So if breeding is not a desire of mine do you think the cichlids will survive without to much stress?

Not quite ready for a RO yet. :)
 

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the blue rams like softwater, just acclimate slowly they'll be fine. ask the LFS or wherever what type of water they are kept in and match it slowly
 
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