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Peat, Chlorine, carbonates, green water (Re:APD V3 #618)

> Date: Sun, 1 Nov 1998 16:27:48 EST
> From: Dyanksb at aol_com
> Subject: Re: Aquatic Plants Digest V3 #617
> I read alot about using peat moss as a substrate.  Can you use the regular
> peat moss that you buy in the garden center, or is there a special kind.  Also
> do you have to prepare it in any way.

Plain old Canada sphagnum works well. I also use a lot of Jiffy peat
pellets for small amounts.  Boil the peat to drive out air, so it will
sink quickly. The pellets microwave in water easily. Rinse well in a
fine fishnet, but save the "tea" as black-water extract if you ever need
it. Be sure it doesn't have fertilizer or pesticides added (rare). Read

> Date: Sun, 01 Nov 1998 13:50:27 -0800
> From: Dave Gomberg <gomberg at wcf_com>
> Subject: Comments on carbonates in gravel

> Karen explained:
> Much of the country (if not most) has water that is already TOO hard.  I'd
> rather deal with too soft water as a separate issue than setting up the
> substrate.  You can always add hardness, it's impossible to solve the
> problem if you've got too much calcium carbonate containing material within
> the tank.

I disagree, hence the usual YMMV disclaimers. Soft water is *not* that
easy to harden in any quick, stable uniform way, unless you have a
swimming pool to do it in. ;-) I have become quite comfortable with hard
tap water and RO added to it as needed to get a softer proportion. It's
easier to control exactly. I had more problems when I tried to
*increase* hardness for my Tanganican killies.

After long railing about the shortage of "shell-free" gravel in the SF
Bay Area, I have found that it just isn't that big a problem over the
long haul. Yes, it *does* harden very soft water at first. As the bits
of shell dissolve, they seem to develop a skin that resists further
erosion, and the process slows way down after a few water changes. If
you add a lot of peat and make the water more acid, it tends to fight
back and dissolve more -- pushing the pH back up. That, too seems to
slow fairly quickly, but I haven't pushed it that much. I just don't use
gravel with carbonates in acid, soft tanks.
> ------------------------------
> Date: Sun, 01 Nov 1998 13:57:49 -0800
> From: Cliff Lundberg <cliff at noevalley_com>
> Subject: Cl
> Is it necessary to dechlorinate
> before adding the water or can it be done in the tank when
> changing water? Obviously I'm interested in avoiding the labor
> of dealing with buckets.

It works just as well to do it in the tank, if it is chlorine. If it is
chloramine, hypo dechlorinators can release substantial amounts of
ammonia, so don't try that. Use a true ammonia neutralizer like "Amquel"
or "Prime" and it then works OK to do it as you change water. BTW, very
few US water districts still use chlorine. EPA requires chloramine, now.

> Date: Sun, 1 Nov 1998 21:41:05 EST
> From: IDMiamiBob at aol_com
> Subject: Re: Chlorine
> Cliff writes:
> > Does chlorine only dissipate though evaporation? I always
> >  presumed a lot of it combines with stuff in the tank water.
> I'm not a chemist, but it is my understanding that it forms Cl2 and
> evaporates. 

It does combine with any ammonium/ammonia to form chloramine in the
tank. Chlorine evaporation comes to a screeching halt when that happens.

> I keep hearing about chloramine, how dangerous it is, and how hard it is to
> eliminate, but I suspect that it establishes an equilibrium with free ammonia
> and free chlorine.  As the free chlorine evaporates, the chloramine would them
> break down to return to the equilibrium, and the total choramine would then be
> eliminated in not much more time than straight chlorine would.

Wrong. One purpose for requiring chloramine is the combination is way
more stable than chlorine alone. Instead of 24 hours to dissipate, it
takes several *weeks*. This inhibits the chlorine from combining quickly
with other organics to form carcinogenic trihalomethanes o/e. That is
exactly why EPA mandates its use. Unfortunately, it burns fish gills
just like chlorine. If pH is high, the ammonia left behind is even more

> ------------------------------
> Date: Sun, 1 Nov 1998 21:49:10 EST
> From: IDMiamiBob at aol_com
> Subject: Re:75 gal and water changes
> Over time the chloramine breaks down to free ammonia and free chlorine. This
> seems from my experience to be fairly quick.  IMHO, those with commercial
> interests in overcharging for photographer's "hypo" solution continue a
> campaign of disinformation to convince newbies that they have to cough up
> three bucks a bottle to protect their fish from a painful death, when in
> reality, a couple of buckets, or better yet a barrel, left full of water for a
> couple days will more than suffice.  

Not a chance that will work. BTDTABTTS. I have no commercial interest,
but sad experiences. For some friends it was far, far worse.

>  And once the tank is running, 10% changes
> every week or even 20% every 2 weeks will be more likely to stress fish if the
> temperature or other parameters is too far out than chlorine or even
> chloramine will.

I disagree strongly with this, and have had the fish kills to base my
opinion on. At least two major Betta breeders I know also nearly wiped
out their entire fishrooms by trying to treat their fish with the same
old hypo products, when chloramine first came into use. The
ammonium/ammonia will stay in the barrel for a long, long time, at
lethal concentrations.

Several killie breeders lost all egg output, for months, when tiny trace
amounts of chloramine contaminated their water. 

> ------------------------------
> Date: Sun, 1 Nov 98 22:03:49 -0500
> From: Adam Weingarten <javablue at concentric_net>
> Subject: Re: Green water
> My new planted 75 gallon gallon tank has green cloudy water.I have read
> that daphnia are a good, stable, natural soloution to the problem. Do any
> boston people know where I can find these little critters? Really
> appriciate your idea's. Thanks.

They only work if you have no fish in the tank to eat the daphnia. I
keep Paradise fish in my outdoor green-water culture tanks for exactly
that purpose. [Otherwise daphnia contamination always kills the green
water because I'm too careless with feeding nets.]

> Date: Sun, 1 Nov 1998 22:13:28 EST
> From: IDMiamiBob at aol_com
> Subject: Re: Chlorine
>  My approach
> is for a minimum of chemicals in the tank, which along the way saves a buck or
> two.  YMMV

I have always felt that way, too, particularly when breeding wild-type
rain-forest fish. Recently I measured the effect of adding "Amquel" to
my RO water. At the suggested dose, it (*and* "Novaqua") raised it from
30 ppm tds to 40 ppm tds! That was so insignificant that I decided to
use it in all my water, rather than risk failure of the carbon filter on
my RO unit. BTW, RO does *not* remove chloramine or chlorine. Only a
good carbon filter (which most use) will do that.

BTW2, I recently killed all my Dwarf Neon Rainbows by failing to catch a
worn-out carbon filter, during a leaking-tank emergency. I even use 2 in
series, so I can toss the first when it is depleted. Just didn't check
often enough. :-( BTW3, running the water through too fast is what
actually did it. Time of contact with carbon is critical, I find.

> ------------------------------
> Date: Mon, 2 Nov 1998 02:58:55 EST
> From: Cbbgthdr at aol_com
> Subject: Dying Fish
> I recently moved to the Bay Area.  I set up an aquarium and all the fish died.
> Sort of dumbfounded I went over to the LFS to buy some more fish and maybe
> figure out what the heck happened.  The sales guy told me that the municipal
> water district puts chloramine, not chlorine, in the water.

> PS I HATE chloramine.

All of us do, for our fish. For us, tho, it is a significant reduction
in the cancer-causing stuff they have been putting in our water for
years. Without *any* disinfection, we would have cholera plagues or
worse. It is better to have chloramines than carcinogens, tho, IMHO.

Around the SF bay we have a dozen or more water providers, so not all
use the same treatment. So far, SF itself has never had anything but the
mildest of chlorine treatment. If you are in East Bay MUD, Alameda
County WD, or Santa Clara County WD, you may always get chloramine,
sometimes in pretty high doses.

With apologies, for seeming to resend all of #618, :^)


Wright Huntley, Fremont CA, USA, 510 494-8679  huntley1 at home dot com
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