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What exactly is so bad about water softeners?
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keeno
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Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Location: San Jose, CA

PostPosted: 2008.06.29(Sun)19:22    Post subject: What exactly is so bad about water softeners? Reply with quote

A lot of people here seem to be saying that running your water through a water softener can be fatal for softwater fish, but if it makes your water softer, then why is it harmful??

All of this is making my poor, messed-up head spin, can anyone help me?
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Darkblade48
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Joined: 21 Jun 2004
Location: Yokohama, Japan

PostPosted: 2008.06.29(Sun)20:27    Post subject: Reply with quote

Water softeners work on the principle of ion (specifically cation) exchange. For us (humans), "hardness" refers to the amount of calcium and magnesium cations that are present in the water. When these cations are removed, then the water is considered "soft".

A water softener accomplishes this by exchanging each magnesium and calcium cation for two sodium cations. Since the magnesium and calcium cations are no longer present, we (humans) think that the water is "soft." However, for fish, the total dissolved solids (TDS) is an important factor, especially in maintaining proper osmotic balance. By using water that comes from a softener, you are effectively doubling the TDS, which may stress out fish.
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keeno
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PostPosted: 2008.07.01(Tue)0:55    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, I get it now!

if you run that 'softened' water through an RO system or if you distill it, then does that remove enough solid to make the water ideal for fish?
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Darkblade48
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PostPosted: 2008.07.01(Tue)17:39    Post subject: Reply with quote

keeno wrote:
OK, I get it now!

if you run that 'softened' water through an RO system or if you distill it, then does that remove enough solid to make the water ideal for fish?


It sure would, but remember that you can't use RO/distilled water alone, you'd still have to mix it in with a bit of tap water.

Also, remember that you'd be paying more for two systems (a water softener and an RO system), when an RO system alone would be cheaper.
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keeno
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PostPosted: 2008.07.01(Tue)18:48    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, the water softener was installed before we bought the house and there is also a distiller(?) or RO system already attached to one of the sinks.

How much defines 'a bit' of tap water?
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Darkblade48
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PostPosted: 2008.07.02(Wed)18:22    Post subject: Reply with quote

keeno wrote:
Well, the water softener was installed before we bought the house and there is also a distiller(?) or RO system already attached to one of the sinks.

How much defines 'a bit' of tap water?

It's probably an RO system, and not a distiller.

You might want to check if your water softener has a bypass; the water softener that I have has a lever/switch that you can flip from "treated" to "untreated" water. That way, you wouldn't have to worry about grabbing RO water from the tap (because you can only get a limited amount of water per day).

If you want to use RO water with tap water, you could always start off with half and half. Personally though, I just go with a water softener bypass and don't bother with the mixing (I.e. in your case, you'd be mixing RO water with water that has already passed through a water softener....)
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number6
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Joined: 07 Feb 2003
Location: Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: 2008.07.04(Fri)21:31    Post subject: Reply with quote

Darkblade48 wrote:
It sure would, but remember that you can't use RO/distilled water alone, you'd still have to mix it in with a bit of tap water.
For 99% of the fish out there, this is true... but just to have some fun with you Darkblade, there are fish out there who would love pure R/O! Very Happy

Darkblade48 wrote:
Also, remember that you'd be paying more for two systems (a water softener and an RO system), when an RO system alone would be cheaper.
Most R/O systems will last 10x longer though if the source water is softened before the R/O system so there is merit to owning both!
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keeno
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PostPosted: 2008.07.04(Fri)22:39    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also heard something about softened water having salts in them and I don't want to reintroduce salts after I've just filtered them out Confused

Are there any buffering chems, etc. that will work instead of mixing tap and RO?
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Dawn
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Joined: 05 Feb 2003
Location: Raisinville, MI, USA

PostPosted: 2008.07.05(Sat)0:17    Post subject: Reply with quote

number6 wrote:
For 99% of the fish out there, this is true... but just to have some fun with you Darkblade, there are fish out there who would love pure R/O! Very Happy


Yep, I have a few species myself that wouldn't mind pure RO water, but I feel more comfortable mixing atleast a bit of tap water into it. Call me chicken, if you like... *Dawn has nightmares about pH crashes* Laughing

Keeno, it sounds more like you're worried about salts in the water from the water softener. If that's the case and you're not trying to adjust the pH this type of buffer may be what you're asking about, if you'd like to use RO water only.

You would also want to adjust the fish slowly with several water changes and test the water to be sure it's staying stable.
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keeno
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PostPosted: 2008.07.05(Sat)5:46    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I am also trying to lower pH to around 6 or so, but I felt that removing salts for apistos and such was more important.
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