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Old 11-14-2014, 11:22 PM   #1
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How to keep soft, acidic water

I have figured out how to keep soft water with pH in the mid to high sevens, but want to try keeping soft acidic water.

My tap is pH 7.5, KH and GH of 0.1 degree or less. I use (as many of you are probably tired of hearing) Seachem Equilibrium for GH, and low doses of cichlid buffer for KH. This gives me stable pH, but it's on the alkaline side.

I presume I'd still need to bring GH up, and probably some KH but how far? And using what, that won't also raise pH? Or does soft acidic water remain healthy with just a little GH and minimal KH?

You're going to ask what fish I want to keep. This is mostly just to learn how to keep soft, acidic water. I want to practice that for a long time, along with keeping my neutral community tank, and in a few years try discus.

In the mean time I'm thinking of keeping some of the shrimp that need more acidic water. Small tank.


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Old 11-15-2014, 12:11 AM   #2
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Have you tried or thought about trying a filter with peat moss? That and drift wood tend to keep waters soft and on the lower ph side.
As for the Discus, discussion, depending on which Discus you get, you may not need to alter your water so much. Wild Discus come from areas with soft and very acidic water. In fact, on a collecting trip, my former boss said he was in water so acidic that not only did bugs not live in it but it made his skin tingle but he collected some fish in it. With Domestic Discus, I have heard breeders doing all PH/ hardness types so you would need to know where you were getting your fish from to best match what they are in.

Hope this helps
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Old 11-15-2014, 01:07 AM   #3
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I keep mostly soft, acidic tanks. In order for your tanks to be acidic your KH will need to be low as well. In order to maintain a pH of ~6.0 I typically try to keep my KH ~2. As you have already discovered it is not easy to use cichlid buffer, baking soda or similar things to raise your KH as the drive pH up too quickly.

I have found a couple of things that work. The first is a mix of acid buffer/alkaline buffer. You will need to figure out the exact mix of these that produces the appropriate pH in your water. Start with the guide on the bottle but you will probably need a variation since you are using tap water. You then must be careful to dose that ratio in a specific amount that will keep your KH low. If you dose too much your KH and pH will climb. Too little, and your KH will be too low and your pH will crash.

Another method is too use phosphate buffers. This is frankly a lot easier if the presence of small amounts of phosphates doesn't bother you. Since your pH is fairly high you could probably just use Discus Buffer or a combination of Discus Buffer and Neutral Regulator. The dosing with a phosphate buffer is less exacting than with the buffers noted above.

Either way, it takes some trial and error to learn to get it right.

On the GH side, feel free to use whatever you want as long as it does not effect KH. You just add less of it. I think you will find when keeping fish from soft acidic waters that you need very little of it.
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Old 11-15-2014, 01:56 AM   #4
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Phosphate will buffer soft tap water really well from about pH 5.3-7.3. It's what I'd use if I wanted to keep really soft, acidic water. I would not go below pH 6.0, as your BB may begin to lose function.

You may or may not have success with over-the-counter buffers. What I would do is what I know will work: Find yourself some sodium dihydrogen phosphate (NaH2PO4), dilute hydrochloric acid (HCl) solution, and dilute sodium hydroxide (NaOH) solution. Dissolve some of the sodium dihydrogen phosphate into your tank, wait 15 minutes, and measure the pH. If it's higher than 6.0, add some HCl (a couple of drops). If it's lower, add some NaOH (again, a couple of drops). Measure the pH again and repeat as necessary.

I'm not sure how much phosphate I'd add. Maybe 70 ppm? You may also have algae problems with these phosphate levels. Or maybe not. You get to find out!
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Old 11-15-2014, 11:21 AM   #5
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You may also get airborne fungi growing in your tank if you have too high of a concentration of phosphate. I'm not sure when that becomes an issue.
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Old 11-15-2014, 08:30 PM   #6
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If you intend to try keeping crystal or other shrimp that need soft, acid water, are you aware of the substrates that are available now for these guys ? They are made specifically to alter the water so it's very acidic and soft. From what I understand, they also tend to leach a lot of ammonia for the first couple of months you have them, so cycling with them is more waiting for the ammonia to leach out.
I'm not sure of the exact brand names, but a look on some of the shrimp keeping sites should give you plenty of info.
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Old 11-15-2014, 08:38 PM   #7
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Thanks for all those suggestions.

I have acid and alkaline buffers, they were my first attempt at keeping water that has a KH of 3-4 and will remain pH neutral for a week. They made me really angry (and are probably why I love cichlid buffer for my community tank) but since I still have them I may start trying them out in empty 5 gallon buckets.

I'm not sure if phosphates are something that bother me. Since I also stuff my aquariums with plants, a touch of phosphate could be good.

I don't think peat is a good idea, since my water is already so soft? As I understand it my water is too soft for even soft water species ... So I have to supplement it, but my current supplementing method leaves me with water that is soft with a pH close to 8.

I figure I can learn to be a good water keeper by starting a 10 gallon and trying to breed some picky yet inexpensive softwater shrimp. Plants and their fertilizers make it more complex, I imagine.

But first ... I'll experiment with Empty buckets. Lol. Since my water isn't RODI I expect I'll discover there are things in it I didn't know were there.


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Old 11-15-2014, 08:40 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishfur View Post
If you intend to try keeping crystal or other shrimp that need soft, acid water, are you aware of the substrates that are available now for these guys ? They are made specifically to alter the water so it's very acidic and soft. From what I understand, they also tend to leach a lot of ammonia for the first couple of months you have them, so cycling with them is more waiting for the ammonia to leach out.
I'm not sure of the exact brand names, but a look on some of the shrimp keeping sites should give you plenty of info.

I think ADA aqua soil does this. I can buy it by the pound locally. I have one small tank with it, and its pH does run a tad lower than my community tank with inert substrate. Both tanks get the same water.

The tricky part really may be to not soften the water any further.

I haven't checked whether my tap water gets more acidic after sitting. I suspect that's good to know.


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