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Old 03-06-2013, 10:56 AM   #1
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Will a water softner effect my fish

I just bought a new house that is on well water. We will have a whole house filter for particulates as well as a water softner that requires salt. Will the water softner salt cause a problem with our fish? We have a basic community 55g tank with a variety of tetras, platties, swordtails and cory's. My understanding is that the softner will add minimal salt to our water but we want to make sure before we move the tank. Any advice is appreciated.
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Old 03-06-2013, 11:56 AM   #2
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Since you are basically replacing some minerals with salt, you'll slowly increase the salt levels in your tank. Proper PWC's would be needed to keep the salt concentration at an acceptable level, just not sure how much.

There is a member .. Aquachem ... who's very knowledgable on this. Usually members that have to resort to water softeners go with RO/DI water for PWC's instead. Or figure a 50 / 50 RO to tap mix.

Your best bet is to test the kH and gH of your tap .. kits are available at your LFS ... and then let us know your numbers. It may be possible your water ... while hard .. may not be at such a level to need softened water. Fish, plants and even some bacteria / other necessary microbes do need minerals in the water for proper life functions.
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Old 03-06-2013, 12:03 PM   #3
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Thanks Jcolon. I will have to check on getting a test kit. Pardon my lack of knowledge but what do the shorthand notes PWC and RO/DI mean? I think PWC is partial water change but not sure.
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Old 03-06-2013, 12:11 PM   #4
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That's ok ... your right on PWC's and RO / DI = Reverse Osmosis / Distilled. Probably the better alternative for VERY hard water. Unfortunately, since it does strip water of minerals, members often have to add those minerals back into the water.

Let us know what your kH and gH numbers are, but you may luck out and your water hardness may be fine for fish.
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Old 03-06-2013, 12:16 PM   #5
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You could also set up a tap before the water softener so you can just use the hard water and not have to worry about the salt at all. That would be my choice, if it's possible.
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Old 03-06-2013, 12:39 PM   #6
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YOur Well Water

Quote:
Originally Posted by ladytriker View Post
I just bought a new house that is on well water. We will have a whole house filter for particulates as well as a water softner that requires salt. Will the water softner salt cause a problem with our fish? We have a basic community 55g tank with a variety of tetras, platties, swordtails and cory's. My understanding is that the softner will add minimal salt to our water but we want to make sure before we move the tank. Any advice is appreciated.
Hello lady...

Unless you have some rare fish species, then the well water will be fine. Just treat it as you used to when you were using public supplies. Fish adapt very well to the vast majority of tap water conditions.

A trace of salt in your water isn't a problem either. Up to a teaspoon or so in every 5 gallons of your replacement water won't hurt the fish or your aquarium plants, it actually boosts the fishes' immune system and most pathogens that can affect the fishes' skin don't tolerate even a trace of salt in the water.

I've used this much standard aquarium salt in my large, planted tanks for quite a few years and have never had a problem with diseases of any kind. I keep "Livebearers" and several species of Corydoras too. There could be other reasons for my healthy tanks, but I like to think it's the trace of salt in the water.

Just be sure to treat the tap water, keep up with your weekly water changes and your fish and plants will be fine.

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Old 03-06-2013, 08:22 PM   #7
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Thank you everyone. The water filter and softener are not hooked up yet. Once they are I will get the test kit and come back with some numbers. I will also see about adding a tap between the units while the plumbing is being done as that sounds like a good way to avoid the problem all together. I appreciate all the help!
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Old 03-06-2013, 10:43 PM   #8
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The issue with water softeners is that they exchange divalent ions, ie magnesium and calcium, the components of GH, with sodium or potassium. This drives up your TDS/specific gravity, which may or may not be a problem depending on how much your water is softened and how hard is originally is. Your live bearers will probably laugh it off, but amazon species and plants might not appreciate the added salt.
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Old 04-18-2013, 03:47 AM   #9
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I used to use a salt base water softener in my house before I replaced it with a salt free water conditioner/whole house water filter combination. I did not want to ever hassle with the replacement salt and get the same benefits. It costs more upfront but saves money and time in the long run without effecting my fish.Be aware that salt based water conditioners are already banned in some localities and in two states as the salty back wash residue is hard on the environment and water treatment plants. I would not be surprised to see more limitations going forward.
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