01-21-2010, 02:49 PM
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Welcome to the forum. And especially as you are in Vancouver; I'm in this area, Pitt Meadows specifically.
Greater Vancouver's water comes from three reservoirs in the Coastal Mountains in North Vancouver. It is very soft, close to zero degrees GH and KH, and direct from the reservoirs quite acidic. This is caused by its source, it comes from rain and snow melt and runs over organic matter, not mineralized rock. The Water Board treats it to raise the pH, they've been doing this since 2001 as a result of complaints from many residents about the acidic water eating through pipes and appliances. I was told what they add to raise it, and I've forgotten because it has no bearing on the hardness and doesn't harm the fish at all. Depending where you live in the region, the pH can vary; my tap water is 6.8-7.0 constantly, but as there is no carbonate hardness, in an established aquarium the pH will fall. I keep my tanks at 6.0. I'm intrigued by your hardness reading, it has always been < 1 dGH and < 1dKH for me. I'd be interested in knowing where in the area you live.
Anyway, with our water, your best choice in fish would be the soft and acidic water fish from South America, SE Asia or West Central Africa. Aquarists in many parts of NA with hard water would almost die for water like ours, so you have lots of choices. Livebearers do not fare well in our water, unless you are prepared to adjust the chemistry to provide some mineral and basic pH; even more so for African rift lake cichlids. It is possible, but unless you have a particular desire for these fish, it will be less effort to provide excellent water conditions for the soft acidic water fish. And as you mention plants, they do tremendously well in this water.
You may want to check out my Aquarium photos for some ideas. I don't like suggesting specific fish to others because I think your aquarium should have what you want in it, not what I like particularly. But if you have any specific questions on the above or my fish, I'll do my best to answer.
Last edited by Byron; 01-21-2010 at 02:52 PM..