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Old 03-24-2004, 09:50 AM   #1
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Soft water

I just set up my 30 gallon tank with a Magnum 350 canister filter and will soon put a bio-filter on it. When I went to Petsmart and had my water tested prior to putting in any fish, they told me that I had pretty soft water. I told them I had a water softener in my house and was told it would be ok to use softened water in my tank. He said in the short term the fish would be ok but in the long term it would be detrimental to the fish.

My question is, was he right? If he was, is there a way to fix this problem other than a complete water change? The fish I put in seem to be doing fine: Mollies, Platy's & a goldfish that my is my daughters and can't give away. All are showing alot of movement and eating.

Is soft water a problem with certain species or is it detrimental to all?

Thanks for any help you can give me.
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Old 03-24-2004, 10:24 AM   #2
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Read some of the articles on water quality here..
however...brief and skinny:
it is detrimental for long run because softened water has many trace mineral and electrolytes fish need being removed as well as bad stuff. And it buffers poorly while means a swing in ammonia level or Nitrites can be fatal fast.

Add to that the most the species you have like thier water on the hard side of 7 and you get health issues. The fish will never be at their most colorful and vital, as well as possible unexpected (if your were not aware) death.
you have one brackish livebearer(=messy and likes it with salt)
you have one fresh water livebearer(=messy amd likes it way fresh)

What I know of mollies and platys is above. That is it

and you have a goldy (=messy x10 and likes some salt and cooler temps than others )who will out grow that tank just by itself.A single oranda should be in a minimum 35 if that gives you any idea. And comets and feeder types need MORE space.
Goldies should never be mixed with most other species for very long.
They can ruin water quality if not in a huge tank, they are oxygen hogs which is the biggest reason they need so much space (mess alone can be filtrated or changed out) and the warmer the water the less oxygen there is. Also if it fits in a goldies mouth. It will likely eat it, so smaller gravel is not good. they eat many plants. And small tankmates. Specially carp bodytypes and koi. ^_^ And PS..golds do not STOP growing to fit a tank size..it can stunt and slow their growth because the lack of good water, but they WILL keep growing. Any time you here a retail pet store employee talking on ease or convienience of a animal? Think the stereotype snobby gay clerk telling the fat lady the prom dress with lace and bows is "SoooYooouuuu!"
And think this, if goldfish in small space (bowl/10 gal) are a good thing..how come the sitcom stereotype goldfish ALWAYS ends with a burial at sea?

This thread has SCADS of info on many fish and water issues. Specially goldie info, links, opinions, etc. Easier than going over it all again.

http://www.aquariumadvice.com/viewforum.php?f=8

One of the livebearer fans will tell you why platys and mollys , while
socialable are not the best mix.

Hopes this helps you start sorting your muddle.
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Old 03-24-2004, 10:41 AM   #3
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Is there a way to harden the water where it will be acceptable levels?
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Old 03-24-2004, 11:06 AM   #4
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Er, what is the water like before the water softener?

Problem with water softener is that the Ca++ is exchanged with Na+. So even though the water can be called soft (low Ca++), it is not the same as naturally soft water. The anions are not exchanged (as far as I know), and you end up with high Na+ levels. All this create osmotic stress for the fish so is not the best. Adding stuff to this to make it harder would compound the problem.

If your tap water is not too hard - it would be preferable to use that. If you can get the pH, KH & GH reading of your un-softened water, we can give you better advice. You can either test the water, or ask your water co. for the numbers (mine post the result daily on their web site).
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Old 03-24-2004, 11:49 AM   #5
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So, in your opinion the water should be completely changed out, and refilled with water before it goes thru the softener or bottled water?
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Old 03-24-2004, 04:55 PM   #6
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If your water is good, I'd change over to plain tap water - ie take it before the softener. However, I would not do a complete change all at once, Fish don't like major changes in the water. So I would do 20% change each week (ie just do your regular water change, but with the "new" water), and in a couple month you tank will be just plain tap.

OTOH, if your tap is really bad, you might have to do something else. More detailed suggestions if we have the numbers...
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Old 03-26-2004, 06:12 PM   #7
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What about water softeners that use Potassium rather than Salt? Do the same problems still exist with that type of softened water?

With the potassium based water softener in my house, I've found that the GH is reduced from the 6ish range to 1, but the KH stays at around 7, so I still have a good PH buffer.
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Old 03-26-2004, 10:14 PM   #8
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As far as I know, all ion exchange softeners have the same problem. The GH is down because the Ca/Mg is gone, but this is replaced by Na (or K) in your case. The anions are not removed, so the KH stays the same.

Having a high KH is good for pH stability, but the osmotic load (all the ions, that is KH plus GH plus Na/K & anything else in the tank such as phosphates, etc.) might be bad for some fish.

The only "good" way to soften water for fish is to remove some of the ions - such as RO or peat filtering.

More info here if anyone is interested:
http://fins.actwin.com/mirror/begin-chem.html#altering
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