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Hard water problems--

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by Captain Jim, Apr 24, 2012.

  1. Captain Jim

    Captain Jim Member

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    Hello all, new here and trying to acclimate to apistos and "soft water fish." My water seems to be 7.6 to 8. I'm having a bad time reading the chart for API's chem drop chart. This ph is too high I see from researching most of the dwarfs I like. Bought API Proper PH 6.5 product yesterday and dosed a 55 gallon twice... not too successful in changing colors. Have been told peat moss in filter may help, or buy RO unit. Or haul water across town in truck. Hoping to do it easily, chemically, maybe not? Some advice?... Bad news or not! Seachem Neutralizer? Thank you...Jim
  2. Mike Wise

    Mike Wise Moderator Staff Member 5 Year Member

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    Welcome to the forum, Jim. You seem to have a problem many apisto keepers have - excessive carbonate hardness. I guess you don't have a dKH test kit, but based on your experiences I would say that your KH is really high. Unfortunately neither pH chemicals nor ion exchange softeners that use salt are really all that effective in very hard water. Peat filtration is most effective in soft to moderately hard water. The best solution is to soften your water with distilled/RO/rainwater. If you live in an area with a lot of rainfall, rainwater is probably the least expensive option, but requires some work. Ion exchange resins that use H+ and OH- resins are effective, but the most expensive. That is why so many of us use RO units. Realize that most species of apistos will acclimate to harder water. Many will not successfully reproduce in it, however. Then there are species that come from whitewater that will breed in your water.
  3. slimbolen99

    slimbolen99 Active Member 5 Year Member

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    Hi Captain Jim.
    I have personally had a lot of success with "hard" water using peat moss (the 100% natural kind!) to lower the kH and pH. My gH is still pretty high, but every species of apisto I have has spawned and raised fry in these conditions. Our tap water is liquid rock out of the tap, but with a little bit of massaging, it works.

    There's some good info I learned in a thread about peat moss here: http://www.apistogramma.com/forum/showthread.php?11711-Peat-Moss-Methods&highlight=
  4. regani

    regani Active Member 5 Year Member

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    I live in an area with very hard and alkaline water as well (pH 7.8-8.0). to get my water to more acceptable levels I tried various things: water filters for tap water (kind of ok but too expensive for larger water volumes), peat filtration (lots of peat needed for larger volumes of very hard water), indian almond leaves in the tanks (again, not very effectice in very hard water).
    most effective was diluting with rain water (to bring down GH and conductivity/TDS) and adjusting the pH using hydrochloric acid or sulfuric acid. you can get the acids e.g. from hardware stores, but be very careful when handling them as they are concentrated and very corrosive, read and follow all the manufacturers instructions. you will also need to prepare the water before adding it to the tank as the acids are too concentrated to be directly added to the tank.
  5. Captain Jim

    Captain Jim Member

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    Finally got back to my problem solving. First of all ...Let me say I am very impressed with you for sharing your knowledge with every blessed stranger that may or may not be capable of taking care of God's animals. (Or other animals that happen to be here). Um..I can see I have some experimenting to do after I get kh and kg test kits. I will try the peat in a smaller fashion than slimbolen99 and plan to set up a capture and contain system for rainwater. Don't know anything about adjustments with acids but if that is a good way to stay stable- I like.Almost like setting up swimming pool water regani? Have been planning on investing a couple hundred dollars in RO unit - but no idea how big I should go. If I have a 40 gallon and a 55 gallon aquarium a unit that produces 15 -20 gallons per day would suffice..yes? And what brand; style? If you have time- I could use some more good advice. Thank you!
  6. regani

    regani Active Member 5 Year Member

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    same principle as with the swimming pool, you use the acid to get the pH where you want it to be. Similar to peat it will also reduce kH (as kH and pH are related to some extent) but it won't reduce GH (peat removes some of the ions making up GH from the water, just acid can't do that).
    I find the commercial acid a bit too strong, so I dilute by half, makes it easier to use. To dilute pour the same volume of water as the acid in a large enough container and slowly (!!) add the acid with some stirring. if you do it the other way round or add it all at once it may get hot and splash. use gloves in case you spill something and best do the whole thing outside or in a well ventilated place to avoid the fumes(for hydrochloric acid).
    to figure out how much you need to get the pH to the desired value, have a bucket full of water, add a couple of drops and measure pH, repeat as required and from there extrapolate to larger volumes. how much you need to add will depend on your water, but will always be the same as long as your water and the concentration of the acid stays the same. I always double-check using a pH probe.
  7. Captain Jim

    Captain Jim Member

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    Bought API gh andkh hardness test kit.. my kh is 6; my ppm gh/kh is 7; ph is still 8. Now I running into dh designations in reference to particular fish. Is this the same number as dKH?
  8. gerald

    gerald Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    "ppm gh/kh is 7" does not make sense. GH (= calcium + magnesium hardness) and KH (= carbonate + bicarbonate alkalinity or "karbonate hardness") can be measured either in ppm (same as mg per liter) or measured in degrees (German hardness scale). One German degree (either dGH or dKH) is approximately 18 ppm of hardness or alkalinity. If your GH ppm is 7 then you have very SOFT water. I think you probably have 7 degrees (about 125 ppm), not 7 ppm. In terms of relevance to fish, the KH (carbonate and bicarbonate) is what keeps your pH from bouncing around, and the GH provides the Ca and Mg needed for growth, osmoregulation, and other life processes. Anyway, to convert degrees (dGH or dKH) into ppm (or mg/l) that most local water company systems report, multiply the dGH or dKH by 18.
  9. Captain Jim

    Captain Jim Member

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    You are absolutely right gerald...degrees kh is 6 degrees; you say it is more proper to say- 6x18=108 ? And yes, I improperly refered to number of drops in test instead of conversion on chart. So you say that is soft? With a ph of 8 would I be able to keep Apistos if I introduce some peat? (with 125ppm gh)
  10. gerald

    gerald Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    A GH of 7 degrees (125 ppm) is moderately hard and would certainly be OK for some of the easy non-blackwater Apistos like cacatuoides. pH in an aquarium will drop naturally over time due to nitrification and decaying matter, but you can certainly drop it faster by adding acids and peat moss. Slimbolen and others can probably tell you more about which species do or dont adapt to harder water. My water in NC is soft; GH and KH both about 2 degrees. Both degree and ppm scales are fine for aquarium discussion, but if you're talking to water treatment staff or water quality monitoring scientists, they use ppm (mg/l) and will not likely be familiar with the German degree scale.
  11. Huck

    Huck New Member

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    I have terrible water both from my well and domestic water. I first tried peat but that did little, I then tried peat balls and that had no effect on the tanks. I lost many dwarfs trying to acclimate them to my water. Then I tried the Almond leaves and that seemed to help a bit and I like the way the leaves seemed to calm the tanks down, provide extra cover and food. I then bit the bullet and bought the RO/DI. What a difference, all of the fish are responding well with color and activity. I should have tried this in the first place. I have had the filter just over a month and have blown through the DI filter already. My water is that bad.
  12. slimbolen99

    slimbolen99 Active Member 5 Year Member

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    Here are the species I have that are thriving and breeding, parent raising babies in the fishroom, if it helps:

    Apistogramma eunotus "orangeschwanz"
    Apistogramma bitaeniata 'Río Tigre'
    Wild Apistogramma bitaeniata
    Wild Apistogramma agassizi 'red'
    Wild Apistogramma agassizi 'blue'
    Wild Apistogramma schwarzkinn black chin

    Only species I have that are not breeding in the harder water is Apistogramma rubrolineata...and I think that is because I might have three females and no male.

    I'm surprised to hear of Huck's lack of success with peat...but going with an RO/DI system, even just enough to mix it in with tap, would be the ideal way to go if one was to decide to go that direction. Is it necessary? Probably not. But in some situations it may be.
  13. Mike Wise

    Mike Wise Moderator Staff Member 5 Year Member

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    If your water is this hard, I suggest that you get a back-flush system for the R/O unit. It will extend the life of the R/O membrane considerably and easily pay for itself. New membranes aren't exactly inexpensive.
  14. Huck

    Huck New Member

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    I bought that with the unit. By reading up here and doing research I wanted to make sure I had everything ready right off the bat.
    Thanks - Good Info.