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Old 01-21-2008, 01:52 PM   #1
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Need some help with Tap Water

I'm a newbie here, and I'm hoping for some advice. Y'all definitely seem to know what you're talking about. I guess anyone else that lives where I do, just north off Philly, would have the same problem.. I just set up a 29 Gallon freshwater (I'll list my full set-up at the end), and I'm worried about the water I have coming out of the tap. Using an API Master Test Kit, there's no ammonia, nitrites, or nitrates, but it's got a high pH of about 7.8-8.0. I also got a quick dip test from Jungle, and it's telling me that I do have Nitrates (barest pigmentation on the stick, might be eyes playing tricks on me), the Nitrites are pretty much the same (might be eyes playing tricks), the total hardness (GH) is about 300 (which, it says, is VERY hard), there's NO chlorine, the total alkalinity (KH) is between 180 and 300 (closer to, if not, 300. Which is, of course, high), and again, a pH of between 7.8 and 8.2. Now, I just set the tank up YESTERDAY, and haven't tried to cycle it yet. What the **** can I do?
I repeatedly read that it's better to not do anything to change the chemistry of your water, that all it does is stress the fish. But, what the heck fish is going to thrive in water like that? The local fish store (pet smart, I live in a burg. Closest true aquarist place I've heard of is in South Philly) says that they condition all their water. I really do want a thriving fish tank, but I'm worried that with my water chemistry, or without dumping gallons of chemicals in there with the poor fish, anything I put in there will be dead within the day. Am I worrying too much? Will things change after I cycle the tank? If they will change, how bad will the swings be when I do my water changes? Thanks people. Any help would be awesome.
The set-up
29 Gallon freshwater
Penguin 350 biowheel filter
2 visi-therm 100 Watt submersible heaters
four live plants, several "dead" plants and rocks
Medium gravel
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Old 01-21-2008, 02:33 PM   #2
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As long as you cycle your tank and watch the spike of ammonia then nitrite and then nitrate you should be ok. even if your water is not perfect just make sure that it is cycled so that there are beneficial bacteria to digest the fish waste. After the Nitrates drop and your tank is cycled just add 1 fish preferably a hardy fish. And slowly add 1 fish at a time as to increase your bio-load. At first the bacteria are babies it takes a little while for them to mature enough to handle a large bio-load that is created by several fish. The trick to this hobby is PATIENCE consistency taking it really slow and not getting carried away even if that means your tank is empty for a while. Before you can have a healthy tank that fish can thrive and grow in you must build-up your bacteria to handle the fishes bio-load. if you Google fishless aquarium cycle and do some reading on the subject it will help you a great deal. hope this helps And Dont dose your tank with anything without asking about it on this forum most of the products on the market are a gimmic and not needed they will make things worse. All you really need is a dechlorinator such as Prime or Aquasafe
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Old 01-21-2008, 05:07 PM   #3
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7.8 pH is not that bad ... my water is just like yours & my fish are just fine.

I would trust the API test kit ... dip tests are notorious for being unreliable.

When PetSmart says they condition their water - they mean adding a dechlorinator, not altering the pH & such. I would expect that all their fishes are acclimatized to your tap pH. However, to be safe, you can do a drip acclimatization. <Put fish & lfs water in a container, slowly add your tank water - using a very small (airline) hose, or just dump in a bit of water at a time using a cup. Your aim is to add your tank water (may be 4-5x the amount of the lfs water) slowly, over 1-2 hours so the fish can gradually adjust.>

As a rule, almost all fish can be acclimitized to pH of 7.8 as long as it is stable. Some have reported success even with sensitive species like discus. If youa re into breeding sensitive fish & such, then you may need to mess with your water. You can soften water using peat or more effectively, mixing your water 1/2 & 1/2 with R/O water. But messing with water chemistry is really for the advanced aquatist & usually not needed for the usual Petsmart fish.

I woudl simply add dechlorinator (I like Prime) and be done with it..... BTW - reading zero chlorine on your test does not mean you can skip the dechlorinator - most cities use chloramines (rather than chlorine) as water disinfectant, so you still need to condition the water (plus a good dechlor will also remove heavy metals & other nasties).
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Old 01-21-2008, 08:03 PM   #4
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I will second both posts prior to this post. My ph is 7.6 and all my fish thrive in it. I have discus, angelfish, rams, apistos and cichlids. The "perfect" conditions for them is all different from each other. They all live in the same unaltered water.
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Old 01-21-2008, 09:31 PM   #5
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I have hard water with a PH 8.2 and all the fish are doing fine. I take a bit longer to acclimate them when I first get them home. You will be fine once your tank is cycled.
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Old 01-21-2008, 09:57 PM   #6
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7.8 pH? Ha, I laugh in your face. Try this: 8.4!
Fish are fine, the most important thing is for the pH to be stable. Do NOT mess with pH "adjusting" chemicals.
My crabs also love the high pH and hardness. I haven't seen healthier specimens
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Old 01-22-2008, 12:31 PM   #7
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Thanks guys

I'll definitely add Dechlorinator to my water. I found my township's water quality report on-line, and they add chloramines. I was talking to my dad, and he said when he had his tanks, he would just leave the bucket of water out for two days before putting it in the tank. He said the additives would just evaporate. Anyone ever hear of that working?
Anyhow, that all sounds like good advice. I'm just a worrier, that's all. I'll probably reconsider which species I put in the tank. I was looking through a book I bought on various fish species and what they like/dislike (I'm not gonna trust the kids at Pet Smart!) and am thinking about switching to a cichlid tank, although that's not really a beginner tank.
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Old 01-22-2008, 12:34 PM   #8
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That is not true. Additives react with the water, they do not "stay by themselves" and just evaporate.
I cannot recommend Seachem PRIME enough. It is one of the best water conditioners out there, if not THE best. Besides neutralizing harmful metals, chlorine and chloramine, it also converts toxic ammonia and nitrite into a non-toxic form. It also promotes the natural production of fish slime coating. It really does a lot of stuff. It's not expensive, go pick some up.
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Old 01-22-2008, 01:18 PM   #9
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Thanks FishbOne, I'll do that. I'll pick some up on my way into work today. One other question about that though, just to be sure, I should use it while I'm cycling, right?
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Old 01-22-2008, 01:29 PM   #10
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You can, it will not affect or prolong the cycle, but it will not be an excuse to not do PWCs either. The fish will still be relatively stressed by the ammonia and nitrite [if you are not doing a fishless cycle] but Prime helps ameliorate the effects.
Note that Prime is safe to use in doses as much as 5 times the regular dose, so don't be overly concerned with your dosing. Also, Prime is only active for 24 hours iirc. If you have fish in there during cycling, you'd have to do daily PWCs and dose again.
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