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Re: Water levels during "the cycle" period. (apd v4 #889)

Andres <amumma at tampabay_rr.com> wrote:
> My tank has been running for a week now.  I just tested the water for the
> first time for Hardness (Kh/Gh) and was quite surprised.  Here are the
> results of my tests, and input as to what they should be and how to get them
> there for a community tank (37G) would be appreciated.
> PH=7.6
> Nitrites= 0ppm
> Ammonia= 0ppm
> KH= 12dKH (214.8 ppm)
> GH= 14dGH (250 ppm)
> Obviously my water is...ehem...abit hard.  What is an easy and inexpensive
> way to soften it to a lvl for a community tank?  Again it is still
> 'cycling', so I'm sure the levels will change.  Should I just go and get a
> softener 'pillow'?  and if so where is this pillow placed in the tank?

   No doubt others will also respond, but my main thought is that something from your
substrate is slowly raising the hardness.  _If_ that's the case, you could either tear
down the tank since it's only been up for a week, replacing the substrate, or concentrate
on fish which don't mind higher hardness levels.  I beleive Tom Barr has previously
suggested the levels you report won't bother most plants.  And I think he'd probably say
that softening your water via reverse osmosis or deionization would be costly &
unnecessary.  My understanding is that most or all of the softening pillows are ion
exchange resins which wind up putting a lot of sodium into your water, which is
undesirable at least for the plants.  Before tearing your tank down though, test a bit of
the substrate with acid (I think the Krib suggests dilute muriatic = hydrochloric acid,
but other suitably strong acids would also work).  If the combination bubbles, this is a
marker for materials that will raise your hardness levels.
   As to your other questions, I keep my tanks around 72-3 degrees, so it sounds like a
heater should not be a priority for you at the moment.  And if you have lots of
fast-growing plants in your tank, you may find there's never an ammonia/nitrite cycling
spike (not a bad thing).  My understanding of the recommendation to limit the number of
fish in a newly set up tank is that it has at least as much to do with keeping algae from
becoming a problem as avoiding NH3/NO2 levels toxic to early fish inhabitants.  You could
just wait 2-3 months before increasing the fish load, and then do so gradually.