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[APD] water hardness questions

I finally invested in a water test kit after many years of owning tanks.  My
water in the tanks is tremendously hard GH: 11-17 and KH: 9.  My tap water
if only GH: 4 and KH: 1.  What could be increasing it so much?  Is that
really bad and how do I lower it.  I know there are softener pillows, but
they say that removes Calcium and Magnesium and I thought my plants need
that.  What else softens water?  I add Amquel, neutral pH buffer and
aquarium salt to my tanks.  Filter medium only has charcoal.  I am slowly
trying to get more into plants and am going to try adding CO2 (via the yeast
method) to some of my tanks.  I know the KH and CO2 affect the pH, but the
adition of CO2 won't actually change the kH will it?


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