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FAQ: Raising/Lowering Hardness (GH and KH)
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Sand
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Joined: 04 May 2004
Location: Florida U.S.A,

PostPosted: 2006.01.28(Sat)12:53    Post subject: WaterSoftener,now I have one! help Reply with quote

I moved a few months ago and we have a water softener. Anyone have a product to recommend to ADD hardness back to the water
I'm open for suggestions.
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Faya
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Joined: 19 Nov 2005
Location: Vermont, USA

PostPosted: 2006.02.26(Sun)7:02    Post subject: House with water softener in plumbing - OK? Reply with quote

My friends are thinking about setting up an aquarium but they are wondering about the water softener they have plumbed into their water system. Does anyone have any experience with these? Are there some fish that would work well for them or is it not a good idea for any fish? I'm not sure if they can by pass the softener or not. I hope it works out for them because they would be very responsible fish keepers. I am thinking about suggesting a 3-5 gal tank with a Betta to start with - just to "get their feet wet" but they might want a community tank.
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YuccaPatrol
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Joined: 05 Feb 2006

PostPosted: 2006.02.26(Sun)22:25    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know about the water softener, but I would always suggest that people start with a larger aquarium.

It is just so hard to maintain a stable environment in a small aquarium that it makes it very hard for people to have the initial success that will keep them interested in the hobby.

I suggest a 29 gallon as the best size to start with. They are cheap enough for starting out, but are large enough to have a lot of choices when it comes to choosing fish.
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number6
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Joined: 07 Feb 2003
Location: Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: 2006.02.27(Mon)11:14    Post subject: Reply with quote

water softeners replace calcium and magnesium with salt. (Some sales people will claim that there unit does not add salt to the water but it's a fib)

This can lead to water that is too low in Ca and Mg for some species or too high in NaCl for othrs.
Plus, those instances where you forget to put salt n the Water softener, you can suddenly add very hard water to previously soft which can stress the fish.

A betta would have no problem with water softener tap water.

Your house should have a pre-water softener tap as well that could be used instead of the other taps.
HTH
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Faya
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Joined: 19 Nov 2005
Location: Vermont, USA

PostPosted: 2006.02.28(Tue)11:36    Post subject: Reply with quote

number6 - If water softeners add salt would that suggest that fish like mollies, which prefer brackish water, would do better in that environment? Your other comments suggest that diligent testing of the tap water before water changes would be important. I'm were pretty sure they could get to a fauwcet that bypasses the softener but that would mean lugging buckets full of water up a flight of stairs, something they might want to avoid. I don't know. I'm just gathering information to pass along so they can make a more informed decision. I appreciate all comments. Thanks!
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Steve Hampton
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Joined: 05 Feb 2003
Location: Jacksonville, FL

PostPosted: 2006.02.28(Tue)13:23    Post subject: Reply with quote

Faya wrote:
number6 - If water softeners add salt would that suggest that fish like mollies, which prefer brackish water, would do better in that environment?


The water softener won't add sodium chloride, it will only exchange the calcium and magnesium ions for sodium and at a two to one rate of sodium to Mg and Ca. The chloride is flushed away in the rinsing during the brine regeneration cycle. There is a much better option, using a potassium chloride water softener. Potassium is tolerated by plants and fish must better than high levels of sodium. Obviously the harder the water the higher the sodium levels of the softened water. But the point is that because fish that need "salt" actually benefit from the chloride portion they won't receive much if any benefit from high sodium water.


Last edited by Steve Hampton on 2006.02.28(Tue)20:45; edited 1 time in total
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jkjm
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Joined: 20 Jan 2006
Location: Ontario Canada

PostPosted: 2006.02.28(Tue)18:46    Post subject: Reply with quote

I live in a region of Ontario that has very hard water. Houses that do not have softeners end up having plumbing problems. Depending on your region and the type of softener used, different chemicles and substances may be present. The key is to have your water tested. My softener, using sodium chloride, and based on consumption levels, is set to cycle once every 6 days. I have tested enough times at different stages in this cycle to be confident that I can do a 5 gal water change (in a 20 gal tank) using 2.5 gal from a soft water fed line and 2.5 gal from a hard water line and not have problems for community tank. I have not followed the complete chemistry, but do know that too much hard water also increases the pH level and buffering capacity goes high and unstable. I have not experienced too much soft water as I have worked from too hard down to manageable and accceptable level. Too soft would mean that I dumped more money into the brine tank.

Test your water, know what you are starting with and how to make it acceptable. Everything you do to change one thing will most often change something else. Find the best water chemistry for your particular region. It may determine if some fish species are best or if others are not a good idea.
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number6
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Joined: 07 Feb 2003
Location: Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: 2006.03.01(Wed)9:11    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steve Hampton wrote:
The water softener won't add sodium chloride, it will only exchange the calcium and magnesium ions for sodium and at a two to one rate of sodium to Mg and Ca.
Steve, you are probably the best person to fill this in for me... with Chlorine in the tap water does this not turn back into NaCl? Given that its a ionic bond between Na and Cl I would think it would form pretty readily in our tap water no?

Thanks in advance..
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Steve Hampton
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Joined: 05 Feb 2003
Location: Jacksonville, FL

PostPosted: 2006.03.01(Wed)21:41    Post subject: Reply with quote

number6 wrote:
Steve Hampton wrote:
The water softener won't add sodium chloride, it will only exchange the calcium and magnesium ions for sodium and at a two to one rate of sodium to Mg and Ca.
Steve, you are probably the best person to fill this in for me... with Chlorine in the tap water does this not turn back into NaCl? Given that its a ionic bond between Na and Cl I would think it would form pretty readily in our tap water no?

Thanks in advance..


I'm not sure we are on the same page, but I'll try to make my point and address your question at the same time.

Water softeners act primarily in this fashion.

Resin beads or media are held in a chamber. The resin beads are coated with sodium from soaking in a sodium chloride brine. The positive charge sodium (Na+) ions coat the beads the negative chloride (Cl-) ions remain in solution. After a period of soaking the brine is flushed into the drain and the water softener is ready to use. As water passes through the beads Ca++ and Mg++ have a greater charge and force the Na+ from the beads into solution and the Ca++ and Mg++ stick to the beads, but to since the overall charge must remain the same each Ca++ and Mg++ will forces two Na+ ions into solution. This continues until all the sodium ions have been displaced and the beads need to be regenerated with a soak in brine. During the brine soak the Ca++ and Mg++ are forced again into the brine solution in the chamber (due to the heavy brine) and flushed down the drain with the chloride and the system is recharged and ready to use again. Regeneration usually occurs in the middle of the night while everyone is asleep. None of the chloride from the brine of sodium chloride ever enters the water that is sent to the homes water pipes. Can chlorine that is already in solution make the water "salty"? Yes. When the ionic compound of sodium chloride dissolves in water the sodium ions and chloride ions separate from each other and are surround by water. As a salt crystal it was an ionic compound it become two separate ions in a aqueous form.

NaCl(s) ---> Na+(aq) + Cl-(aq)

Hope that makes sense. The truly important point is that fish don't feel this heavily filled sodium water as being softer.
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number6
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Joined: 07 Feb 2003
Location: Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: 2006.03.01(Wed)22:33    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steve Hampton wrote:
I'm not sure we are on the same page,

Smile same page... when we bought the water softener, salesman said it doesn't add salt to the water... OK, so it adds sodium ions that turn into salt with our chlorinated water... technically correct, effectively not correct for my fish and plants Very Happy

this is why I called it a fib that they don't add salt to the tap water.
TDS reads about the same pre and post water softener, just the GH drops and the hydrometer reads saltier...
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