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Old 08-03-2017, 09:34 PM   #1
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Hard Water Dilema

Hi Everyone,

Very happy to be on this forum and to continue learning about this life long obsession of mine in keeping freshwater aquariums. Until recently I had been out of the hobby for the last 15 years or so and I'm busy catching up on all I need to know and learn. After being gone so long, I have just enough knowledge to be dangerous.

So here's my first big and pressing question regarding soft vs. hard water.

I started my 90 gallon freshwater community aquarium about three months ago and never once thought anything about the hardness of the water. The fish (see below) are thriving and have since day one. About six weeks ago I introduced a decent number of aquatic plants, mostly amazon swords of different varieties, marimo balls, java moss and several java ferns.

I have been studying aquarium care and maintenance, water chemistry, fish care voraciously and the tank looks amazing.

Then I added 8 nerite snails and as I was studying how I should care for them learned that calcium is critical for them. I know, I should have checked first! Upon testing my water I came to find that my hardness was non existent and according to my test strips was at 0 ppm. I have a water softener and the laundry room mop sink I do my water changes from use the soft water for cold and hot. I tested a bathroom sink that I know to be untreated and it shows 300 ppm.

Now the million dollar question.
  1. Do I leave things alone and leave the tank with soft water?
  2. Do I supplement with chemicals, crushed coral, etc.?
  3. Do I start doing water changes with the hard water and slowly over time change out all the water to be hard water?

Any advice here would be appreciated. Thank you!

My inventory:

Platties - 3
Gourami - 1
Bleeding Heart Tetra - 2
White Skirt Tetras - 6
GloFish Tetras - 5
Plecostomus - 2
Siamese Flying Fox - 6
Neons - 4
Rainbows - 2
Angels - 2
Barb-Odessa - 2
Cat Fish - 4
Nerite Snails - 8
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Old 08-03-2017, 09:46 PM   #2
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In my opinion and experience in freshwater I would leave things as they are. When you go start chasing specific parameters you risk causing more damage. I have a 40 gallon planted tank that is thriving with only water changes from my tap. All I do is dechlorinate my water before the water change. The tank has been running for about 2 years now and I haven't had any problems. But every system is different
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Old 08-03-2017, 10:02 PM   #3
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Great advice. Any thoughts on getting the snails their calcium?
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Old 08-03-2017, 10:16 PM   #4
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The water from a standard water softener may have 0 dGH but it still probably has high TDS. It is nothing like soft water to a fish. The snails, of course, need the calcium that is missing. For a point of comparison, an RODI unit would remove almost everything from the water.

I would simply start you doing your regular water changes with water that hasn't been through the softener. The fish should not notice a huge difference and the snails will appreciate it.
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Old 08-03-2017, 10:17 PM   #5
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What is the ph? Anything under 7.2-7.4 and the water will leach minerals out of the snail shells faster than a high calcium diet can replace it.
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Old 08-03-2017, 10:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
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Great advice. Any thoughts on getting the snails their calcium?
I honestly don't keep snails because every time I've had them my cichlid devours them. But I know people who feed their snails egg shells. You need to boil the shell for a couple minutes and then remove the membrane that's inside the shell. After that you add some pieces to tour tank and the snails will eat it. It's good for shrimp too. I've also heard of people using crushed coral but I'm not too sure how you would use it. I've also heard of people using Tums tablets since they contain calcium carbonate. Hope this helps
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Old 08-03-2017, 11:14 PM   #7
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I use 100% pure cuttle bone for my snails tied to a rock.
I also use cuttle bone for my turtles they devour it.
I use so much cuttle bone I have to buy it in bulk.
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Old 08-04-2017, 06:31 AM   #8
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It's runs very consistently at 7.8.
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Old 08-04-2017, 08:54 AM   #9
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Hard Water Dilema

Quote:
Originally Posted by toddlavine View Post
It's runs very consistently at 7.8.

That's great. Calcium rich diet should solve it for you. Blanched Kale is a big favorite in my tanks. Click image for larger version

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I use glass weight/bead with fishing line to sink it.

But I have never checked to see if my nerites are hitting it? Maybe if it is clipped on the glass where they hang out.
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Old 08-04-2017, 09:52 AM   #10
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Awesome! Thank you so much for the insight!!

Gorgeous snails by the way. What are they?
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Old 08-04-2017, 10:40 AM   #11
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Those are baby mystery snails. I like the Mystery's because they are a bit more "out there". You get to see them where nerites all you see is the shell.

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Nerites also leave egg graffiti all over. But they can't reproduce in fresh water so that is a plus to control numbers.
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