Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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Bluetangclan 01-23-2010 05:53 PM

Dealing with hard/ high ph water in new tank
I am doing cost analysis right now between turning my 90 gallon drilled tank into either a SW grassbed tank or a planted discus tank. I currently have a successful SW reef tank with lots of SPS corals and a African Tropheus colony in a 55 gal which I am taking down so I am not new by any means to the fish keeping hobby.
Heres my first issue. As you can tell from the history above, both of my current tanks require hard water and high PH, in fact I buffer my tropheus up to 9.0 and dont have to touch my SW PH since I use RODI water off my tap from the aquafer. I know most fish locally bought are used to the local high PH and hardness, so if I go discus, that wont be an issue. What will be an issue is the substrate and the drift wood I plan on using will be dropping the PH and soften the water in the tank as they sit there so when I do a water change, its going to shock the system. Are those powders that supposedly drop PH actually work and is there a more economically feasable way to drop my WC water? I raise my PH with baking powder and a few other things currently for my tropheus and thats not an issue. Could I use Morton's Water Softening salt for its obvious use to soften the water a bit? What to use for the PH? When I do water changes they will be fairly large so buying ten buck powders every couple weeks is a no go. Whats a good home remedy for this as well?

My second issue is lighting. I have a 4 bulb T-5 system with all the bangles. I havent really researched into what plants I want but should be able to cover about everything. What color 54w bulbs should I use. Currently I have 2 actinic and 2 daylight bulbs(no idea what the K rating is without opening it up.) I really want to use the blue to bring out the blue on the discus and rams I plan on having. So there is one bulb. What should I use for the other bulbs with K ratings, please? Also if someone could mention a place to buy said bulbs if they are outside the normal marine ranges (6500k-10k + actinic)

Thanks for the help.

Angel079 01-23-2010 07:40 PM

Welcome to the forum!

You mention your parameters for your current set up, but what is your actual tap water readings for hardness & ph????
Discuss need pH 5-7 and Hardness < 10 degrees, just because your store houses them temporarily in ANY water does not make a difference to the fish needs if you want to have long term, healthy & happy fish, please don't let the aspect of what a fish store does fool you.
Substrate will not mess with your pH unless you are planning on using crushed coral or something which I'd not recommend with Discus. Driftwood, if boiled properly neither, it may give of a LITTLE but in relation to 90g you won't even be able to detect this change with a normal test kit (eg API).

The 2 actinic you have are prop far too hgih in the blue's for plants so I'd not recommend them. Bulbs named Daylights are generally in a range of 5-6500K which is perfect for plants. So I'd suggest you exchange the other 2 bulbs, go to the home store near you, pick up a 2-pack of Daylights or Ultimate daylights (always get something ideally @ 6500K for plants, thou a mix of 5K and 65K does well too)available by Phillips, GE, Bright effect, cost you around 10 bucks or less. And then the plants will thrive. With t% I'd get a wattage that'll equal in total of your bulbs ~1 watt per gallon in the end.
Like I said go to the home store, Lowes, Home Depot they all carry these bulbs. Feel free to check out my tanks here under my name on the tap called "Aquarium" lists all my planted tanks and all these are ran with "home store light"

Bluetangclan 01-23-2010 08:20 PM

So whats the easiest way to keep PH and hardness down? Mortons salt? I couldnt tell you what my current tap water is exactly except its hard and roughly 8.3 PH. Like I said, I add enough baking soda powder to my Africans to bring it to 9 and dont touch it for my reef tank.

Probably if the weather continues to be nice and warm, I will go up to the Santa Fe river and collect some driftwood. Boil it? Doesnt that destroy all the beneficial bacteria and stuff that comes in on it? To me thats like boiling fresh live rock and getting rid of the cool stuff that comes in on it.

Out of curiousity I know bushy nose plecos are different in behavior and eating habits than their bigger normal pleco cousins, will they go for vascular plants or stick to algae?

Angel079 01-23-2010 09:24 PM

I'd then - if in fact your tap ph is that high- use RO water that way you can mix it EXACTLY the same each time; otherwise you'll wind up with swings allll the time and that's worst for the health then having them live in a stable high ph.

Uhm lil different in FW....When you collect your wood out on the salty shores in FL you'll be picking up a whole bunchhhhhh of invisible stuff (bacteria parasites etc)that you do NOT want within your freshwater set up...unless of cause you'd find it "cool" to get your fish sick that way then go for it.

They won't touch your plants; look at all my tanks here to the left under the tap "aquarium" all these tanks are planets well and all the bigger one's have various kinda pleco and BN in them.

iamntbatman 01-24-2010 12:05 AM

I'm a little confused. You say you're using RODI water from your tap? Do you have a home RO unit? If your local tap water has a pH above 8.0 and is hard, I would suggest using RO/DI water if you plan on keeping discus. You can lower the pH using driftwood and peat.

Bluetangclan 01-24-2010 08:29 AM

Yes I have a RODI unit I run from my sink when I need to. Its one of Melev's Reefs models. When I buy a house in a year or two I plan on getting one installed permenantly. I have heard Peat thrown around, how does that work and wouldnt it turn the water yellow pretty quick? Hang it in a mesh bag in the replacement water bin? The other guy just told me that driftwood would not affect PH much? Which is it?
Sorry for all the questions about this subject, this is easy for salt water and cichids heheh, add rock, add aragonite sand, there you go, instant correct PH. I am trying to figure out if the hassel if worth it compared to a SW tank and if there is a way to make it simpler, cheaper.

iamntbatman 01-24-2010 12:36 PM

The tannins in driftwood and peat are acidic and will bring down pH but only mildly so (perhaps not even in measurable quantities) if your water is very hard. If you soften the water (or find a softer water source, such as RO/DI) then adding things that give off tannins will gently bring your pH down. Sometimes peat is added to the substrate but for your purposes it's probably easier to put it in a filter media bag and put it in your filter. You'll also want peat sold for aquarium use, not stuff from a home improvement store as this often contains additives that could be toxic to your fish.

Angel079 01-24-2010 12:59 PM

I used peat successfully...However I dealt with a pH of 7.6-7.8 from tap. Peat only works so much and so long and with this kinda hard water it would not be a sufficient solution to you also not with the tank size you have there. You're farrr better up to also keep it a constant low to use your RO for the Discus.
Driftwood much like peat gives of SOME...for it to make a noticeable difference within your tank size you'd need a BUNCH dw to achieve what you need there and that will not happen even if you pack your whole tank FULL with DW (ps I'm a gal:-)
IMO you'd be far better up with a cichlid set up with this water.

Bluetangclan 01-24-2010 05:16 PM

I have a tropheus cichlid colony now, and it bores me to tears. The fish are fine but I cant tinker. Thats what I love about my salt tank is I can mess with this or that and things change. My FW tank has a canister filter and a heater, yay. I decided since I am moving in the next 8 months a FW tank is much easier to move than the 6" sand bed I was planning. That and I saw some adult cobolt discus and must have some. I have two local fish stores in the area, one has been operating forever and deals in alot of discus and upscale clients so I will ask him what his customers do and how he keeps his planted discus tank. If there isnt much leaching from the DW then I shouldnt have much of a shocking problem when I change out the water. He has told me the local breeder he gets his discus from use local water as well for that reason too.
(ps. sorry about that lol. I did that saluting and greeting an officer once, called him a Sir! She quickly responded "Im a mam" and I turned a bright shade of red. She looked like a guy in BDUs and a hat, not my fault lol)

Angel079 01-24-2010 06:27 PM

Sounds like you're set on Discus - Have a RO machine at home...Set it up with RO water, bunchhhhhh plants please and there ya go :-)

:rofl:lmao...i hear ya I seen some freaky *things* running around in BDUs before...can't blame ya on that one; I would have busted laughing thou would I have been around there :lol:

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