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My water is incredibly hard. We have to use Lemi-shine with every dishwasher load or we get deposits after a single load. Using the API GH and KH test kits it took 13 drops on both to get it to change color, which is off the scale offered in the kit. My pH has never been below 7.8 and is sometimes up to 8.0. I believe that’s why I have had little luck with freshwater fish. The only things that have flourished have been African cichlids and mollies, both of which need hard water. I’ve had various tetras and barbs, all of which have died for seemingly no reason. Right now I’ve got a 75 gallon with cichlids that are thriving and breeding and a 90 gallon reef setup where everyone is also doing fine. However, my oldest tank, a 36 gallon bowfront, sits empty. It originally had community fish which all died, then had the cichlids which worked out well enough that I had to move them due to increase in size and population, then went back to community fish which all died again, except for the mollies which ended up going in the saltwater tank since I was tired of keeping an extra tank just for three mollies. I would really love to fill that tank with either freshwater or saltwater fish. The equipment I have available is a Penguin 200 Bio-wheel filter (up to 50 gallons), a Reef Octopus HOB skimmer, and an Eheim 2215 canister filter that I’m trying to get working. My questions are as follows:
1. Are there any other interesting fish I can get that will live comfortably in hard water? My wife says I can’t get any more cichlids and I’m not too thrilled with mollies, though the ones in my marine tank have been hammering the hair algae like you wouldn’t believe.

2. Is there anything I can do to soften the water for freshwater fish? Perhaps run some sort of media in a canister filter? Would the protein skimmer help (or even work) in a freshwater tank? I’d love to get some Bolivian rams (don’t tell my wife they’re cichlids) and pair them with a ton of cherry shrimp in a heavily planted tank. Plants also don’t seem to do that well in my tanks, but I don’t know if that’s the water or my crummy lighting.

3. Are there any interesting saltwater fish I could keep in a 36 gallon? It seems like most marine fish have a 50 gallon or more requirement when fully grown and I don’t like to get fish with the intention of having to rehome them. I’m also not interested in keeping coral in this tank since I have the aforementioned 17W 30 (28?) inch fixture the tank came with and I’m not interested in breaking the bank to upgrade. Obviously, if I went saltwater with this tank I would leave off the HOB and canister filter and go with live rock and the protein skimmer.
 

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Bah, you don't really have hard water unless you can float a penny on it...

Seriously though, my water starts out at 23 dGH (23 drops with the API test kit). With lots of plants the water will tend to soften a bit (I had it down to about 16 once I think). I just went with fish that could handle hard water and came up with cherry barbs and emerald catfish. Pepper corys can work but they are listed as up to 15dGH but seem to make out OK (longer time will tell). Whiptail catfish are decent with harder water. Other fish that made it to my really hardwater list were bloodfin, blackwidow, flame, silvertip and pristella tetras. My daughter has her eye on a lepard catfish (I think that's what it is) but it is more nocturnal and not really on my list. I discounted many as they were larger, more aggressive or fin nippers (had to mix with a betta).

With only 13dGH in your case you could easily find more by just scanning the profiles here and looking for every fish that fit size wise and have a good hard water tolerance, most will also have a higher pH range as a result as they do go hand in hand, generally. My pH rides the high 7's but as long as it is close, a stable pH is more important that bang on pH.

Actually, I looked at the list that Bored posted, it looks pretty thorough.

Jeff.
 

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You can have loads of fun with that tank in the aslt water world. As far as fresh water you could lookinto some of the odd ball killi fishes or maybe a puffer or two. You could soften your water with a peat product or you could utilize a RO filter.Is this city water that is so hard or is it a well? You could ,if its a well, get your water from a city source with buckets or collect rainwater.
 

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You can have loads of fun with that tank in the aslt water world. As far as fresh water you could lookinto some of the odd ball killi fishes or maybe a puffer or two. You could soften your water with a peat product or you could utilize a RO filter.Is this city water that is so hard or is it a well? You could ,if its a well, get your water from a city source with buckets or collect rainwater.
It's city water. What could I put in there for saltwater? As I said I can't find much that will fit in a 36 gallon.
 

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many types of shrimp gobies and the pistol shrimps that are symbiotic with them. There are also some small blennies like tail spot, two spot and the likes. There are some nice clowns nowadays all morphs of the percula or ocelaris. I have a little toby puffer and a valantini puffer that work well in tanks of that size.Possum wrasse or some of the faerie wrasses. Fire fish are pretty sweet too. The list goes on and on man.especially if you like inverts...oh and some of the hardier pipefish once its really established,possibly dragonets.
 

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It's city water. What could I put in there for saltwater? As I said I can't find much that will fit in a 36 gallon.
Ha! That's funny:) well to me it is...I have a 2.5 gallon reef tank soooo ya. There's lots you can do with a 36! That is a pretty standard size for saltwater!
Mollies do really good in super hard water freshwater. To soften it up you should add lots of plants and driftwood it really helps:)
 
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