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Re: NFC: pinestraw as a acidifier?

I agree with Chris.  Conifer limbs/roots/needles are not a safe bet.  All 
contain resins that to one degree or another are toxic.  In nature, the 
effect is countered by the amount of water involved.  But in a small 
environment such as an aquarium with limited water changes...

As a dwarf cichlid keeper with a few years of experience, I can say that 
soft water is a real blessing to those that have it straight out of the tap! 
  For those of us saddled with hard tap water, our first challenge is always 
to make the water habitable. Hard water is fine, even beneficial for some 
fish, of course, but can be deadly to others, over time.

Among dwarf cichlid keepers, there are four principle methods for obtaining 
appropriate water for 'blackwater' species:

1.  Buy Rerverse Osmosis water from a vendor - this is the method I use.

2.  Buy your own RO unit - can be costly

3.  Collect rain water - most workable in rainy areas, requires rain barrels 
or other collection media

4.  Soften and acidify the water with peat moss

The first three are pretty straight forward, the last is the most 
labor-intensive.  You need to buy peat that has not been treated with 
fungicides, etc.  Be aware, too, that some of the gardening peat moss has 
been de-acidified, and so is virtually useless for this purpose.  The big 
bales of Canadian peat moss that can be purchased from Home Depot, Walmart, 
etc. are usually appropriate.  You just 'condition' the water by filtering 
it through the peat for a few days, monitor the pH and hardness, and stop 
the filteration process once the desired water parameters are met.

Oak leaves do work well to acidify water that is already on the soft side, 
but don't have much effect on the liquid rock that comes out of my tap.

An additional benefit of both oak leaves and peat is that the humic and 
tannic acids that they contain seem to have a tonic effect on fish from 
blackwater habitats.  These acids are apparently essential for proper egg 
development and hatching of dicrossus and some apistogramma species.  I'll 
bet they are equally valuable to black-banded sunfish and other North 
American natives that inhabit soft water.



PS:  I've read that you should always use dry, aged oak leaves in your 
aquarium, rather than fresh ones.

>From: "Chris Hedemark" <chris at yonderway_com>
>Reply-To: nfc at actwin_com
>To: <nfc at actwin_com>
>Subject: Re: NFC: pinestraw as a acidifier?
>Date: Wed, 11 Jul 2001 15:05:01 -0400
>I can't comment authoritatively on the appropriateness of pine straw.  One
>thing I would investigate though is the toxic properties of pine straw.
>Just like you wouldn't cook over a fire made of pine logs (unless you like
>the taste of creosote) I would be suspicious of any pine byproducts in the
>The *safe* media to use for creating tannic water is pin oak leaves.

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