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Re: pH and Hardness adjustments


I'm not so sure you have to lower the hardness of your water for optimal
plant and fish health, depending of course on what species you are
interested in keeping, and if your interest is in keeping the fish in good
health, or trying to spawn and rear them. If, for example, your goal is
breeding discus, then conventional wisdom would agree with your assessment
that you need to lower the hardness of your water (though no less than Jack
Wattley cites a case of a beautiful strain of green discus that was raised
for many years in water with a total dissolved solids of 630 ppm!) , but
there are an awful lot of other species of fish out there to choose from. 
Many of them will flourish without you doing a lot of messing around with
your water chemistry.

By way of comparisson, my own water, pumped from 118' down in the Canadian
Sheild, comes out of our tap at 317 ppm CaCO3, and a pH reading of 7.0,
which goes up to 8.2 once the dissolved CO2 reaches equalibrium with the
atmosphere. I add CO2, bringing the pH back down to the 7.2 to 7.4 mark, and
everything in the tanks seems quite happy, even some plants and fish that
supposedly "require" softer water. I have every intention of eventually
getting a RO unit and mixing my water to something a little less extreme,
but in the meantime, I haven't found the water I'm dealing with to place too
many limits on what I can enjoy keeping in my tanks, given the huge
selection of species we have from which to choose.

Another interesting point of note is the difference between what European
and North American aquarists generally (but somewhat arbitrarely) consider
soft, medium, hard or very hard. Baensch's figures (converted here from dGH
to ppm or mg/l by multiplying by 17.9) are as follows: very soft = 0-72 ppm,
soft = 72-143 ppm, medium hard = 143-215 ppm, fairly hard = 215-322 ppm,
hard = 322-537 ppm, and over 537 ppm as very hard (!!!!!). In my experience
here in Canada, most aquarists feel we are dealing with "liquid rock" at
anything over 300 ppm.

IMHO, if you are not interested in going the RO route and the idea of peat
stained water disturbs you, I'd stick to growing and keeping species that
will be happy with the water that you have. There are more than you can
probably keep in a lifetime.

Hope you can take this as encouragement from a fellow "hard water sufferer".
Now if I could only get rid of the spots on our drinking glasses...   

Ron Barter
Perth, Ontario

>Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2000 22:57:16 -0800 (PST)
>From: Greg <red_house_painter at yahoo_com>
>Subject: Ph and Hardness adjustments
>    I am new to this list and aquariums. I happen to
>have very hi PH from my tap water 8.3ph with a total
>hardness of about 250 ppm. Good old San Jose tap
>    I know I need to lower these down for optimal
>plant and fish health. I was curious what options I
>have. I am not a big fan of peat in my filter cause it
>turns my water tea brown. And whenever I do a water
>change the PH will fly up until the peat gets a chance
>to lower it again. I know RO units will lower ph and
>hardness and then I can mix up part RO and part tap
>water to get the PH and KH I want, but Ro units are a
>bit pricey. I was curious if anyone has tried
>something cheaper that works? I could try chemicals to
>lower the PH but I am not a big fan of adding
>phosphates to achieve this. I have seen Tap Water
>Purifiers but I am not sure they will have the effect
>I am wanting. Thanks in advance.