Adjust the water for the fish or the fish for the water...
Did our first water testing yesterday, the full gambit master and the GH and KH. Pretty much what I expected, pH 7.8 and GH and KH are off the chart... something like 21 and 22 drops which, If the scale continues, one drop is one degree of hardness.
Ammonia, nitrate and nitrates are all zero... should be as there is really nothing in there to mess with them yet.
Now for the great debate. Get fish that work in this water or figure out how best to lower the levels and keep it consistent.
My first choice would be to go with hard water fish, I like the idea of not having to mess with the water. I don't expect a great wide range of fish but, seeing as we are up in tank size it does widen the range a little bit. Neither one of us is fond of live bearers though. I haven't scanned all the fish (although its a good thing I'm still on holidays) but there are some cichlids and a few catfish... not certain if any loaches are suitable.
Second is to cut the water with reverse osmosis to bring into line. Trouble would be in figuring out the ratios. I expect just starting at a 50% water change with straight RO water to get a baseline. It would be too easy if it ended up being good at 50% but I don't know how the hardness and pH will change. I assume that RO is pH 7 and hardness near zero... but that's just a guess. Somewhere around $3 per 5 gallon jug... or a few hundred dollars in filtration plus filter changes.
Next up is to use town water, treat it for chlorine and do the same basic thing... cheaper, but I wouldn't drink the stuff (carted well water for years while living in town) so I would not be fond of having fish live in it.
Kate is up for RO water treatment as she wants some tetras... or at something small for a reasonable sized school. Kierstyn is up for adjusting the fish(she likes the research too) so it's 2 to 1... or does the wife's vote count for 2?
I'd vote to first test the tap water and see what option this gives you. Don't forget to shake ;-)
That is the tap water, albeit sitting in the tank for a full day. I had it professionally tested two weeks ago and was pleased to see the API testing does corroborate the results darn closely.... even if that does mean the levels are off the chart. At least the pH isn't too high.
I thought it was well because one of your option was "use town water"
Well balancing and trying to perfect your PH is very hard to do. I only know that a big swing can kill your fish. And water will find it's way back to it original PH (I know not how) so it is not something I would ever try to do. Finding fish on the basic side of things would be best... mine is 8.2, so I'm not about to have Discus in my tank or South American Cichlids. I have Rainbowfish and live bearers. I've done Rusty Cichlids but I'm not really into African Cichlids but they are a good choice for basic water. Remember when acclimating them from the store to trickle into the bag a little tank water every 5 min. to equalize any differences in PH from where you bought them. (my LFS is about 40min away in a diff city... they are on a diff water system than we are.)
Keep us posted on what you choose.
I would need to cart town water from work or RO from a store in town... I'm only a few minutes out but just having to setup water to use for changes is just a complication.
My other concern might some of my plants are outside of their zones.
I had thought of the water trick with the new bag of fish, but thanks for reminding me. I have no idea what kind of water they might come in. One of the last times I was at the LFS they were prepping 14 tanks for a shipment of fish being received. I doubt that they perfect any chemistry specific to the fish for the expected short duration of their stay.
Either option is possible, so it really comes down to your decision. The relevant factors are effort and cost. Turning on the tap at water changes is obviously the least effort and lowest cost, which means one is more likely to maintain a necessary schedule of regular partial water changes. I change half my tanks every week, which with 7 tanks amounts to a lot of water changing; if I had to spend money on special water and set up tubs to store it or adjust it first, I would have to re-think fish. I would not compromise the health of my fish to save money or effort.
If one decides to adjust the water, the initial setup is fairly easy; but providing suitable water for subsequent water changes is where things get trickier. There are of course some ways to reduce this; tons of live plants with a minimal fish stocking does help a lot.
No one has yet raised the issue of soft water fish miraculously adapting to hard water. Some fish can do this, to some degree anyway. But many cannot; they can appear healthy and fine, but the inevitable shorter lifespan is a sign that all is not well along the way. And it is the GH or rather the amount of "hard" mineral in the water combined with the TDS that is far more relevant than pH, as we now understand.
What about 9 spawns later..... that fish wouldn't even know of (I know....) hardware, but yet it's still a hardwater fish? Or is it??
I know we say we can't force fish to adapt etc.... but are we doing anyway?
I know some fish won't breed in soft if there hard, but I'm willing to bet breeders can make it happen, and do so.
Why can't you use all RO water? Distilled or otherwise??
I doubt that a few dozen breeding cycles will change the nature of the fish... while they MAY adapt to our imposed water it doesn't mean it's ideal for them.
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