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Water softener
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nikelodeon79
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Joined: 08 Nov 2007
Location: Wisconsin, U.S.A.

PostPosted: 2012.02.17(Fri)13:17    Post subject: Water softener Reply with quote

The water I have been using in my tanks goes through a water softener. Basically, if I understand the concept of a water softener correctly, it takes out the calcium ions in the water and replaces them with sodium ions, which I would imagine is not good for fish (particularly corydoras) and even worse for plants.

There is one spigot in the laundry room that apparently does not run through the water softener, but only has cold water. My plan is to store up water in large rubbermaid trash cans purchased for that purpose. The night before a water change, I will run an airstone and heater in the containers to bring the water up to the tank temperature. I will then use a submersible pump to get the water from the containers into my tanks.

The biggest problem I face is that my 26g tank is upstairs and about 100 feet from where I plan on putting the containers (I am not keen on large water containers in my living room, so they're going in the basement. This is also more practical because they will be next to the largest tank). Obviously, I'd need a pretty strong pump to get the water from the containers to the 26, so I'm contemplating just using buckets for now, though that doesn't sound like a whole lot of fun.

I'm looking for ideas on doing this as economically as possible.
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unissuh
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Joined: 29 Mar 2005
Location: Melbourne, Australia

PostPosted: 2012.02.19(Sun)15:50    Post subject: Reply with quote

What is the temp drop when you use cold water & what's the hardness difference pre/post water softener?

Just thinking if you've gotten by with using the softened water for so many years it can't be that bad.
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nikelodeon79
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Location: Wisconsin, U.S.A.

PostPosted: 2012.02.20(Mon)8:57    Post subject: Reply with quote

unissuh wrote:
What is the temp drop when you use cold water & what's the hardness difference pre/post water softener?

Just thinking if you've gotten by with using the softened water for so many years it can't be that bad.

The water's coming directly from a well, so the temp of it is probably close to freezing in the winter (around 34*F or so). My mbuna tank is at 80*F, and the other two are at 74*F.

If I leave water sit out in containers, it will probably be around 65*F since that's the temp we keep our basement at. I was thinking of running a heater and airstone the night before to bring the water up to tank temperature.

The only tank I'm really having problems with is my 20g with the habrosus cories... I have had a few mysterious deaths and had difficulty keeping them for too long in the past, as well. Maybe I'll just do that tank with un-softened water to start out with, since I'd only need a small container and no pump.

Of course, I am having issues keeping the 26 stable with CO2 injection... and I've been told my problems likely relate to the softened water.

I haven't gotten around to testing hardness/pH of the softened vs. unsoftened water but will do that and come back and post the results.
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unissuh
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PostPosted: 2012.02.20(Mon)17:44    Post subject: Reply with quote

Was just curious what sort of sodium levels you would get - the exchange rate should be 1:1 with calcium etc so you can make a guess at the sodium concentration by seeing what the hardness difference is.

Agreed, it's probably not worthwhile using unsoftened for the mbuna with the amount of water you have to drag around.

Whats the issue with softened water & stability? If it's pH, I wasn't aware water softeners affected KH (unless they're chloride exchangers).
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nikelodeon79
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PostPosted: 2012.02.22(Wed)9:21    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I tested my water but left the piece of paper with the values on my kitchen table, and I'm at work. I'll see if I can remember, however.

pH and KH were the same for both the softened water and the unsoftened water.

GH of the unsoftened water was 17

GH for the softened water: IMMEDIATELY turned color... so I guess that means it is 1.

Here's the interesting part: GH of my tank water ranged from 3-4. The 26 and the 20 were both 3, the 75 was 4. So, something in my tank is actually raising/stabilizing my GH.

In the mbuna tank, it is likely the substrate because I have blasting sand (coal slag) in there (or the slate I am using for my caves).

The 26 has Seachem Flourite Black Sand, driftwood, and plants.

The 20 has regular old playsand, driftwood, and plants.

ETA: I double checked and the GH of the unsoftened water is indeed 17.
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unissuh
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PostPosted: 2012.02.25(Sat)17:41    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm, could be worse - don't think thats an unreasonable level of sodium. Would definitely not bother with the mbuna tank.

What I'm not sure about is whether your water (incl KH and pH) is ever really going to suit fish like Boraras and/or habrosus regardless of whether you use it softened or unsoftened. Don't think these do too well in high hardness, salinity and/or pH environments. If you can, might want to look into a source of distilled or RO water instead of how to get unsoftened water.
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nikelodeon79
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PostPosted: 2012.02.27(Mon)10:11    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm.... if I can find a source for distilled RO water, would it be a good idea to do both the 26 and the 20 with that water? I'm assuming I would need something like Seachem Equilibrium or Kent's R/O Right?

I do have "Grumpy's GH Booster..." would that suffice? It contains calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and manganese. I believe it's essentially the same thing as the commercial products.

Would something like this work? http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?c=3578+4395+4484&pcatid=4484

I also tried to look it up without much success... would something like a Brita filter remove/reduce the sodium ions? I'm thinking no... but figured it wouldn't hurt to ask and see if you know for sure.
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nikelodeon79
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PostPosted: 2012.02.27(Mon)10:23    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also: I'm considering just purchasing a RO system... but I am CLUELESS as far as what would be a good (yet relatively inexpensive) system. Any recommendations?
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unissuh
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PostPosted: 2012.02.27(Mon)16:51    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unfortunately, I have no idea about which RO systems are good - maybe someone local can give you an idea. My tap water comes out at 30-40 ppm TDS so I've never really needed it.

I guess whether you need to do both the 20g and 26g depend on your fish choice in there. If you're putting in wild Bettas and Corydoras (assuming my memory serves me right), then yes - definitely switch to RO!

No point in buying a hardness booster (though all of them work pretty much as well as each other). Just add a little bit of tap water until you have a hardness of 2-3 degrees (or whatever desired), that should cover it.

No, Brita filter doesn't do much - offhand I think it's just a particle filter plus a tiny carbon filter that runs out pretty quick. What could work to a certain degree is using peat to filter/treat your water before using it - but this is a pain and results in very tannin stained water.
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nikelodeon79
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PostPosted: 2012.02.27(Mon)17:01    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was also recommended that I switch to using KCl instead of NaCl in my water softener unit, which would put in potassium ions instead of sodium ions... seems to be the simplest solution!
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