I am SO confused!! (water questions) - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 5 Old 10-24-2011, 07:59 PM Thread Starter
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I am SO confused!! (water questions)

So here comes another newbie question. Finally got my API testing kit tonight and tested my PH (out of faucet and in tank). PH is around 7.5 I think (goes over 8 on the PH and is around 7.4 on the High PH). So that means I have fairly alkaline water, right? Now, is water hardness/softness related to PH or is that something totally different? My husband tells me that we have soft water (he puts softener in, said we would be around 18 without it and with it we are about 2). Does this makes sense? So does that mean I have soft, alkaline water?

If I am completely wrong, please correct me. If I am right, would keeping the following fish be alright?

Platys, peppered corycats, kuhli loaches, dwarf gouarmis, blue rams, harlequin rasboras.

Thanks so much for helping out this total newbie.
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post #2 of 5 Old 10-24-2011, 08:09 PM Thread Starter
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Ok, went and checked out fish profiles, and it looks like most of them will work, except the Blue Ram.
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post #3 of 5 Old 10-25-2011, 07:07 AM
Water chemistry can be daunting and something I have been fortunate not to need to adjust - my fish seem to do just fine in my (country well) tap water.
There are others here much more involved in adjusting pH, alkalinity and hardness.
I would not be concerned with a pH of 7.5. HOWEVER, it is my understanding that you should not use water from a water softener in an aquarium as the salts used in typical softeners are bad for your fish. If you have hard water, you would might naturally soften with rain, distilled or RO (reverse osmosis) water.

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post #4 of 5 Old 10-25-2011, 01:14 PM
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Yes, hardness and pH are connected. You can read how here:

Assuming your hardness numbers to be dGH (ppm with such low numbers would make little sense), you have hard water originally and very soft water after it goes through the softener [you mention putting a softener in the water, I am assuming you have a water softener but correct me if this is an incorrect assumption]. But as AD mentioned, some softeners can be trouble. Some soften by taking up the calcium and magnesium (the principle minerals that cause hard water) but the process can release other minerals such as sodium (salt) if something like zeolite is used. This could be as bad or worse than the hard water. See if you can find out how the softener you have works.

The pH measures acidity, and a pH above 7 is basic; this used to be termed alkaline, but that gets confusing with true Alkalinity which has to do with bicarbonates (the KH). The latter acts as a buffer to maintain a stable pH at whatever it is in the source water, so unless the softener is somehow affecting the KH [and I've no experience with softeners so can't say] it may be softening the water in terms of GH (general hardness) but the water might still be high in KH which would tend to prevent any shifts downward. That linked article will go into this a bit more, how to lower GH and KH.

To the fish, they may be fine with what you have. Rams are very sensitive to all these things. Rasbora less so but still a concern, as they are soft water fish that thus do not tolerate salt well. Neither do cory, though the pH will have less effect on the species mentioned. We can go into this more when we know something about the softener. It would help to know the GH and KH of the tap water before softening; you can probably get this from the water supply people, many have a website.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #5 of 5 Old 10-25-2011, 03:02 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for your quick replies. Yes we have a water softener device, I'm not sure how it works. I know is that it is a big tank and hooked into our water, and my husband adds salt to it every few months. I will ask him how it works (he's a plumber, so he should know!!) I will get back to you once I understand it better!
I love this site, so informative!
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