07-03-2012, 06:10 PM
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I found the API GH/KH test tricky at first, I just couldn't see the colour changes as they were with the first drop. My tap water is near-zero GH and KH, the actual number from the water board is around 8 or 9 ppm, which is about half of one degree. But since i have been increasing the GH via Equilibrium, up to around 5 or 6 dGH, the colour changes with the test are very obvious; it suddenly goes from orange to green with the 5th or 6th drop. Which brings me to your water supply people; I would check their numbers for GH and KH just to confirm the test. This will give you confidence that it is accurate.
I don't bother at all with KH, leaving it at zero because of my fish, but that is a lengthy explanation that I won't get into unless we need to later.
The livebearers must have the "hard minerals" which are calcium and magnesium, or they will not be at their best. Molly are especially prone to health problems in soft or acidic water: fungus, skin lesions, internal organ failures, and always premature death. Aside from fungus patches, shimmying is another possible external sign of water problems. Other livebearers seem somewhat less sensitive, but soft water still impacts their physiology and they will have a shorter lifespan due to stress and the internal problems. Much the same happens only in reverse if soft water fish are maintained in hard water.
Fortunately it is easier to harden soft water than the reverse, and the safest way is with dolomite or aragonite as someone mentioned previously. This will add the mineral and raise the pH. If you want livebearers, this must be done. Many years ago with my soft water I had a tank of molly that were very healthy, and even rift lake cichlids (very hard water fish), and back then I had a dolomite substrate. We can discuss this more if you want.