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Old 03-03-2021, 10:19 PM   #1
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Water softener and plants

Good evening all!



I've had my new 75g hardscape planted tank up and running for about a month. It has been cycled and I have been slowly adding some fish. The one issue I have noticed is my plant growth or lack thereof. The plants were bought from a local vendor off of Facebook. The plants came in nicely packaged and appeared to be in good shape. They were all supposed to be low tech plants since I'm not running CO2. I knew going into this that some of the plants would "melt" while getting used to my water parameters. Some have just up and died altogether. I see very little new growth with the plants that I have left and even my anubias nano petites that are attached to rock and driftwood all look horrible. There is a lot of browning, yellowing and/or transparency of the leaves.



Here is what is used in my tank;

Eco complete substrate

Finnex planted 24/7 hcl

Driftwood

Lava rock



The tank stays heated to around 78-79 degrees. I've placed osmocote plus gel caps into the substrate. I dose with EZ Green , EZ Carbon, EZ Iron and API Leaf zone.



I'm at a loss as to why my plants aren't taking off. My only hunch is that I have a water softener installed in my house due to the hard water terrorizing my appliances. I did a KH/GH test along with a Phosphate test from the tap.

KH-10 drops

GH- i stopped at 18 drops due to no change in color

Phos- .5-1.0



Is the softener causing my plant growth issues? If so, is there anything I can add to the tank to help them out.



Thanks in advance,

Kevin
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Old 03-04-2021, 02:13 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin78 View Post
Good evening all!







I've had my new 75g hardscape planted tank up and running for about a month. It has been cycled and I have been slowly adding some fish. The one issue I have noticed is my plant growth or lack thereof. The plants were bought from a local vendor off of Facebook. The plants came in nicely packaged and appeared to be in good shape. They were all supposed to be low tech plants since I'm not running CO2. I knew going into this that some of the plants would "melt" while getting used to my water parameters. Some have just up and died altogether. I see very little new growth with the plants that I have left and even my anubias nano petites that are attached to rock and driftwood all look horrible. There is a lot of browning, yellowing and/or transparency of the leaves.







Here is what is used in my tank;



Eco complete substrate



Finnex planted 24/7 hcl



Driftwood



Lava rock







The tank stays heated to around 78-79 degrees. I've placed osmocote plus gel caps into the substrate. I dose with EZ Green , EZ Carbon, EZ Iron and API Leaf zone.







I'm at a loss as to why my plants aren't taking off. My only hunch is that I have a water softener installed in my house due to the hard water terrorizing my appliances. I did a KH/GH test along with a Phosphate test from the tap.



KH-10 drops



GH- i stopped at 18 drops due to no change in color



Phos- .5-1.0







Is the softener causing my plant growth issues? If so, is there anything I can add to the tank to help them out.







Thanks in advance,



Kevin

It could well be. Excess sodium isnít good for fish or plants. Simple test is to collect some rain water (if you can) and use that for the next few water changes.

Alternatively you could purchase some RO (assuming the shops are open) and remineralise that.

The other thing I would do is reduce the light intensity and/or photoperiod as more light means more carbon dioxide which could be depleting too quickly. Lack of carbon dioxide can cause melting.

Having said that, a month really isnít a long time at all and theres going to be a lot of instability issues as the tank matures. Algae will likely be one such issue but that will pass with time.
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Old 03-04-2021, 05:22 AM   #3
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I'm definitely going to keep an eye on the tank.

Thanks,
Kevin
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Old 03-06-2021, 05:49 PM   #4
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All (or at least every one I've every seen) water softeners have a bypass valve installed where the main plumbing enters and exits at the top rear. Probably plastic bodied push type thing with "Press to Treat" written on one "button" and "Press to Bypass" on the opposite. Older ones use a brass lever valve that if I remember properly is perpendicular to the pipes to bypass and parallel to treat.

Anyhow you set the valve to bypass run a reasonable amount of cold water to flush the lines and you'll have untreated water in short order. Either mix in some hot water (it will be softened) to temper the water or bring a pot of the cold water just to the boil and add to a 5-gallon water cooler jug which is the best friend of an aquarist with a good-sized tank

As someone who has maintained their softener installed in 1983 I know that the mechanics are unchanged. The brine valve is the first thing to go bad but it does so sneakily and the new ones are LUCKY to last for 8-10 years. You'll notice you use a bit more salt than normal. As it gets worse you'll notice the water level in the salt tank is higher than normal and you use even more salt. The worse that condition the more brine salt goes into the drinking water as it's not going ONLY into the resin tank during the regenerate (not rinse) phase where the ion exchange occurs during regeneration.

If you've noticed it seems louder than when new during regeneration (a high pitched whine) the piston and/or its seals that are integral to regeneration are in need of replacement. This, when combined with brine valve that doesn't seal properly will allow some brine from the tank to enter the fresh water.
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Old 03-07-2021, 10:54 PM   #5
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I turned on the bypass and ran the cold water for a minute or two to flush it out. I tested the cold water and got
Kh 12 drops
Gh 10 drops

I then turned on hot and cold until I got around 78 degrees and tested it again

Kh 11 drops
Gh 7 drops

Will this work ok?
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Old 03-08-2021, 05:48 PM   #6
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That difference between 18 drops (when you stopped) in the initial Gh test using pure tap water and what you got in your second tests using both untreated water and a mix of such with treated hot makes me think the water softener is malfunctioning.

Specifically I suspect the piston and/or its seals need to be replaced as this will allow minerals removed during "softening" to get into your water piping during regeneration instead of going down the drain. Run water to fill the aquarium at just the right time (right after regeneration) and you'll get some crazy hardness readings until it's completely flushed. If hot water is the first thing used after a regeneration with this problem it can persist for quite some time in the tank.

It's only from doing my own repairs to my old Hostess Water Care softener that the parts guy says, "Was so good the company went out of business" that I know what happens. The first brine valve lasted 25 years with the replacements little more than five. I just replaced the piston and seals a month or so ago (getting slugs of crazy water some mornings) but considering how quiet it now is when regenerating probably should have done it at least a decade ago. Strange how you really don't notice gradually increasing noise until you hear what it's supposed to sound like!
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Old 03-08-2021, 07:27 PM   #7
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I'll have to call the service guy out to give it a once over.

I know it usually Regens around 1am and I usually do my water changes later afternoon or evening. I just figured that the initial test when I stopped at 18 drops was because it was softened water and it wouldn't read on the test.
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Old 03-09-2021, 07:59 AM   #8
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I wasn't aware you could get Gh to zero!

Sounds like you should always bypass the softener and flush the cold line. Any reasonable way to collect rainwater? Mixed about half and half with your tap water things should be good. Remember that pure rainwater is not good because it lacks the ability to buffer ph allowing it to drop suddenly and deeply. It also lacks trace minerals required by the fish.
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