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Alkalinity, PH, and water softness questions!?

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Alkalinity, PH, and water softness questions!?

Post by RVandermeer on Sat Apr 21, 2018 1:32 am

I'm attempting to set up my 10gal as a planted aquarium. The water I use is from our well but runs through a softener before it reaches our tap. When I test my water the PH is somewhere off the charts at 8.3+ is this considered ok? The water is also very soft and highly alkaline. I have been running cycle through the tank but I understand that affects ammonia and Nitrate levels. My Nitrates and Nitrites are both at 0 by the way. Should I be making efforts to lower the PH? Should I bypass the tap and use the very hard water straight from the well? On testing it is identical to the tap water except for hardness. Any advise for how I should proceed would be greatly appreciated thank You!

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Re: Alkalinity, PH, and water softness questions!?

Post by Fores41 on Sat Apr 21, 2018 3:41 pm

Well if your plants do OK then your water is ok probably although it is a little on the Alkaline side. Hopefully one of the other members will also chime in as this is not my area of knowledge. PH of 7 or 7.5 is more normal and acceptable to most fish.
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Re: Alkalinity, PH, and water softness questions!?

Post by Sbenson11 on Sat Apr 21, 2018 6:30 pm

I have no experience in dealing with high alkalinity water, actually the exact opposite. My water has almost no alkalinity and is susceptible to wild fluctuations in PH. As far as adjusting PH is concerned, I am a firm believer in a stable PH is better that trying to get it into a range that is perceived to be ideal for the fish. trying to adjust you PH will ultimate case a roller coaster in PH levels in your tank. That being said 8.3 is kind of on the high side.

I am routinely guilty of over populating my tanks and this would be a serious problem if I was dealing with water at such a high PH level. Ammonia becomes more toxic to your fish the higher the PH. While my PH can change greatly during the day(because of the lack of alkalinity) it is always be below 6.

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Re: Alkalinity, PH, and water softness questions!?

Post by alexmtl on Sat Apr 21, 2018 7:26 pm

Hi. This is a loaded question. "Soft" water is often misunderstood, as it is used as an interchangeable term to "softened" water. Your source is a well, so you have high dissolved salts, therefore the water softener is usually sodium which means that you will trade out the calcium and potassium salts for, sodium. Your water could be salty in fact.

However if you have a reverse osmosis system (!!!) then you are in a great position. These are expensive and you would know that you have to make water every day... so I assume you use salt bags into a salt resin exchange system.

Anyways, the practical part here is you have 10 gallon tank. If you want to spend tons of money to condition your water, then you can get a perfect 7.0 pH and perfect alkalinity. For me I prefer to try to grow my fish and plants in the water I have from source. Unless you are into exotic high price plants and fish, try your soft water from the tap (not well). Using chemicals and water tests may only get you frustrated and discouraged, so try the easiest most accessible water that you have. Heck you can even get pharmacy water (distilled) and go half tap and half bottle. Don't get discouraged, try what you have and don't go crazy with the chemical unless you really like fiddling with chemicals and diving into the internet.

Ten gallons is small. There will be a lot of fluctuation in such a small tank. 50 gallons would be more stable but more cost. A planted tank is a great way to start, live plants, start with crypts and easier plants. CHECK OUT THE PLANT GUY. He has great beginner plants.

Plants would help to keep the 10G tank stable and if you are patient, would be a beautiful biotope scape. Watch for the lighting and control the algae since the water will be crazy for the next few weeks. Best of luck.
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Re: Alkalinity, PH, and water softness questions!?

Post by RVandermeer on Sat Apr 21, 2018 8:46 pm

Thank you all very much for your replies. I have had trouble with growing plants in my water possibly because of the excessive salt? The water is softened by salts in this home. I have a few plants already in the tank but almost immediately all of the leaves melted off. They do seem to be sprouting new growth though so that's encouraging. I've ordered some Java ferns and some monosolenium tenerum moss, my hopes are that they will be a bit more hardy than the leafy plants I picked up from the local pet shop. I do have some driftwood in the tank as well but it doesn't seem to have affected the PH at all. The high PH concerns me, I'd like to stock the tank with some small schooling fish like rasboras or tetras once the ecosystem is more established. Do you think they can acclimate to such a high PH?

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Re: Alkalinity, PH, and water softness questions!?

Post by alexmtl on Sun Apr 22, 2018 6:20 pm

Plants will experience what is called "melt". Many (like crypts) are grown out of water (emersed form) and then sold at the aquarium stores in water (funny, huh?) and many think these are the immersed versions. So that could explain the apparent death, but don't worry, they will come back if they are emersed, and will be the immersed form (sounds complicated but true) so that seems to be what has happened.

Yes, ordering from THE PLANT GUY will give you good success as these are plants that will be hardy. Java ferns are excellent and very well adapted and if you are getting the true pelia then you are well set up.

Driftwood can be interesting and if you have the right kind can naturally "soften" the water. This will bring down your pH. Other naturals softeners are oak leaves, almond leaves but they have to come away from road oils and pesticides. Many others here use dried pine cones. With your water changes the tannins and leaching will balance your water and stabilize. You may wish to use a large barrel or plastic bin 50L or so to condition your water that you use.

If you have a high pH and your source is well water then your ideal fish are African cichlids but you will have to get the shell dwellers or small Lamprologus. I like the julidochromis as well. However forget about the planted tank. Maybe something for you to consider when you get a larger tank 35 to 50 g.

Yes this sounds really involved if you want to get picky about water. On the other hand most fish will adapt quite well to a wide range of pH. If you are just starting out, don't get too technical and keep it simple. A planted tank sounds great and then after a month, your plan to try some store bought rasboras or tetras sounds great.

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Re: Alkalinity, PH, and water softness questions!?

Post by alexmtl on Tue Apr 24, 2018 10:21 pm

Thought I would add a little more colour to the conversation.

A 10g planted with a relatively high pH and conditioned water poses an interesting fish keepers dilemna. I like the idea of natural plants and I forgot to mention that there is gravel that can condition your water (check out aquascaping gravel).

As for smaller schooling fish, why not the blue-eye rainbowfish, like Pseudomugil spp, P signifer and P cyanodorsalis. A small group would look stunning, although they are surface dwellers.

As well many livebearers can suit the pH, however you will have to stay on the smallish side, like Endlers.

Looking forward to some pics when you get a chance
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Re: Alkalinity, PH, and water softness questions!?

Post by RVandermeer on Tue Apr 24, 2018 10:30 pm

The substrate I've chosen is actually well rinsed pool sand. The plants I have currently aren't exactly thriving but they are still hanging in there. I've purchased some plant food along with the Javas, I'm still waiting on their arrival. I'll also be buying a more accurate water testing kit so I can get a better idea of my actual water parameters. I'll absolutely post some pictures once I get it all set up. I'll ask at my local pet shop and see what variety they have in small fish. I've had guppies before but I was hoping to go with something a little different this time.

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UPDATE

Post by RVandermeer on Wed May 23, 2018 11:49 am

Finally here to update on how my 10gal is doing. I've managed to stabilize my PH around 8 so I feel it's doing much better, my Java is thriving. I've added a new plant and a couple Ottos today, hopefully they enjoy their new home


Last edited by RVandermeer on Wed May 23, 2018 11:53 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Alkalinity, PH, and water softness questions!?

Post by RVandermeer on Wed May 23, 2018 11:51 am


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Re: Alkalinity, PH, and water softness questions!?

Post by alexmtl on Wed May 23, 2018 8:18 pm

Love the subwassertang (spelling?), or is that java moss. Nice looking tank and I bet a joy to watch. Congratulations !
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Re: Alkalinity, PH, and water softness questions!?

Post by RVandermeer on Wed May 23, 2018 8:48 pm

Monosolenium tenerum (pellia) I believe anyways. They look practically identical either way. Thank you

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Re: Alkalinity, PH, and water softness questions!?

Post by Fores41 on Fri May 25, 2018 9:04 am

Nice Aquascape on your tank.
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