Water Softener Question
I've got a question on water chemistry that has been bugging me for a while now. So at my house, we have well water. So the water is very hard. We have a water softener that uses salt that all of the water goes through. I might be wrong, and if so somebody please correct me, but I think this is how it works. Hard water runs through the water softener, sodium ions get attached to all of the minerals (through some complicated process), which makes the minerals, metals, etc. "null". When I test the gh, it comes up as 0. I have always turned a valve so the water bypasses the softener, taken a shower, and done a water change. The result was a gh of around 7 (the natural hard water is 11). The pH is always 8.2. This has worked well for almost a year now. I have only kept/bred platies, a hardy fish. But i want to get into some tougher stuff. So I was thinking of using RO mixed with equilibrium (RO suppliment). But could I just mix equilibrium with the softened water, and treat it like RO? Because the minerals and such are all null. Would the salt effect anything? Would the pH be too high? I hope somebody can answer all of this for me. Thanks!
hardness describes the amount of Ca and Mg present in the water and this is what the tests measure
in the type of softeners you describe, sodium cations from the salt (NaCl) are exchanged for the Ca and Mg in the water, as a result the water will test as being soft, but chemically it is quite different from most natural fresh water (where usually Ca>Mg>Na) and is not at equivalent to RO, which has very little dissolved solids at all
the best thing to do would be to use tap before it passes through the softener and dilute it with RO or distilled to get to the desired level of hardness
Is the exchanged minerals (sodium) bad for the fish or plants at all? If not, then couldn't you just add RO suppliment on top of everything so that the minerals can be used. Or should I just add Ca and Mg?
You should not use water from a softener that uses salt. This article that Byron wrote may be helpful:
soft water will generally not just be low in Ca and Mg, but in all dissolved solids, so fish that have evolved in such conditions will struggle in water with high levels of TDS, some are more adaptable than others, but most natural fresh water is low (relatively) in Na
in addition to the article linked above, I think Byron has also written one regarding salt in freshwater aquariums
Well, if I could I would totally exclude the softener all together. But, that is not really feasable because the water softened water needs to be there for the rest of the house (according to my parents), so there isn't a convenient way to exclude it. So I was trying to figure out how to make the softened water work the best for my fish. At this point, I think I'm just going to use RO water (mixed with equilibrium). More expensive, but I guess it's the best option, am I right?
You 'can' use RO, RO/DI, or DI water, but in addition to a supplement for minerals like Equilibrium or Replenish, you'll also need to adjust for pH. Considering the combined cost, I'd sure explore getting water before the softener first.
Good suggestion. I'd heard that elsewhere, but when I asked my dad he said that ours wasn't. But, he didn't seem very sure of his answer. I'll look for a spigot inside the house and I'll test the water at the spigots outside.
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