Page 1 of 1

Hard and Soft

PostPosted: Sun Sep 07, 2014 9:57 pm
by DrDiana
We live in an area with very hard, alkaline water. Our fish have all done well with it. Our only problem is nitrates, which is present in the tap water in this agricultural community. We have seen no problems from it. Now: We want to buy a commercial water softener. I'm tired of all the mineral deposits around our taps. How do we keep our fish from having problems when we switch over? All we can think of is small partial water changes daily, but that still means in a week or so they will be in an entirely different environment. Do you think this will be ok? Do you have suggestions? :shrug:
DrDiana

Re: Hard and Soft

PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2014 12:33 am
by thefishman84
Where are you placing the water softener in your water line? For example our house has the softener right after the meter as soon as the water enters the house. My father's water softener was more in the middle of the basement so there were a couple taps going to outside and the utility sink in the basement before the water went through the softener. If you have a tap before the softener, you can use the water from there if you run into issues when changing the water in the aquarium.

Re: Hard and Soft

PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2014 8:54 am
by ballpc
Your fish will be fine. Without going into all the details, commercial water softeners DO NOT make soft water, at least not that the fish would consider as soft. My Ohio well water is hard like yours, and my fish do fine in either the well water or the water from the softener.

Enjoy your new "Soft" water!

Dennis

Re: Hard and Soft

PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2014 11:50 am
by Diana
Make sure that there is at least one tap that is water from before the softener.
You will also want to run garden water before the softener, so hose bibs, irrigation valves and similar items will not go through the softener.
Then just pull the fish water out of one of the unsoftened taps.

In general if you want to make such changes to the fishes' environment it takes them about a month to alter their metabolism to the new parameters. I do this when I buy fish from stores all over my area. Water varies from very soft (San Francisco) to very hard (San Jose). Test the water in the bag and set up a quarantine tank to match, then do water changes while the fish are in quarantine to acclimate them to the main tank. Since they are in the quarantine tank for a month, it is just fine that they take this long to acclimate.
I go by the TDS, GH and KH tests.
In any one day change the parameters by no more than 10% softer, or 15% harder. You can do 2-3 of these changes per week.
These are very conservative values, safe for delicate fish.

Example:
Lets say you want to breed a soft water fish that has been doing OK in hard water, but needs softer water to successfully breed.
If the fish are currently in water with GH of 10 degrees, then a water change that creates a GH of 9 degrees is safe. (10% softer)
2-3 days later another water change could make the GH 8.1
couple days later GH 7.3.
The next week, 3 water changes could lower it to about 5.3.
Next week, get the GH to perhaps 4 over 2-3 water changes.
In the 4th week you could get the GH down to about 2, and that is about as low as you might want it for fish and plants.

Re: Hard and Soft

PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2014 1:49 am
by freshfish
I agree, I'd probably do gradual changes. The water softener won't *really* be "softening" your water, but most are set up to add salt to the system, and just about any water chemistry change is tolerated better done slowly than quickly.

When you say your nitrates run high, how high is "high"?

Re: Hard and Soft

PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2014 9:53 am
by lou zello
As Freshfish just said if your "softener" uses salt your water is only temporally soft. :shrug: there are ways to make it always soft but they REALLY,REALLY cost a lot !!!!!!!!! as everyone else said just have a tap before the softener.

Re: Hard and Soft

PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2014 9:10 pm
by Diana
Reverse Osmosis is the most common way to make the water really soft, permanently. They are not all that expensive.

Not sure I understand about a sodium exchange water softener making the water 'temporarily' soft?
It is removing the calcium and magnesium. These minerals will not magically reappear to make the water hard again.

On the other hand, this is not the best mineral set up for fish. Fish and plants need calcium and magnesium, and do not need sodium.

Re: Hard and Soft

PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2014 8:58 am
by tjudy
Fish do not have problems with the salt content of softened water, which can actually help out with the prevention of protozoan parasites. Gradual water changes over a few weeks will acclimate the fish for you. Invertebrates, especially some snails or soft-water shrimp species may not like the salt content, and plants will not like it at all. If you are keeping planted tanks, use the advise of having a hard water tap available for water changes. If you are only running the softener on the hot water line (rare these days), then using a mix of hot and cold for water changes will still provide hard water. You can also use a reconstitution product like Seachem's Equilibrium to add KH back into the softened water.

Re: Hard and Soft

PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2014 7:48 pm
by freshfish
Ted,

I don't know how different salinity levels might differ between different pieces of well equipment, but I never had any issues with keeping plants back when I was on well water with a water softener. I do mostly stick to hardy plants anyways, though. But I suspect that as long as a person is keeping up with big regular water changes, it should take a really really long time for salinity levels to build up to where plants might start having problems?

Re: Hard and Soft

PostPosted: Fri Sep 12, 2014 1:00 am
by Diana
Seachem Equilibrium is a GH booster. Main ingredients are Ca, Mg and K (potassium). It does not alter KH. (Carbonate Hardness)

Re: Hard and Soft

PostPosted: Fri Sep 12, 2014 9:07 am
by ballpc
The amount of sodium a water softener adds to tap water depends on the "hardness" of the water. Hard water contains large amounts of calcium and magnesium. Some water-softening systems replace calcium and magnesium ions with sodium ions. The higher the concentration of calcium and magnesium, the more sodium needed to soften the water. Even so, the added sodium doesn't add up to much.

That said, if your softener is adding noticeable salt to your water, then it is not working correctly. As for the salt effecting the plants, I've never had any problems.... of course if there is one thing I've learned after keeping fish for almost 50 years, different folks often have very different results. :twocents:

Dennis

Re: Hard and Soft

PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2014 8:14 pm
by tjudy
I should clarify... it is not the presence of the sodium ions that plants have a problem with as much as it is the absence of the Ca+ and Mg+ ions.