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Byron, what is a good and cheap method to soften water?
The only safe way is to dilute it with pure water, to the point where you want it (GH). Distilled water, RO water or rainwater will work. If you mix tap and poure water half and half the GH should be half what the tap is, so it is proportional. This also reduces the KH obviously, so the ph may lower a bit too.
 

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Discussion Starter #22
The only safe way is to dilute it with pure water, to the point where you want it (GH). Distilled water, RO water or rainwater will work. If you mix tap and poure water half and half the GH should be half what the tap is, so it is proportional. This also reduces the KH obviously, so the ph may lower a bit too.
What is RO water?
 

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Water that is shot at high pressure through several very fine meshes, so that impurities, including minerals are removed. Some specialty fish stores will sell it by the gallon.
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What is RO water?
I believe it is Reverse Osmosis water, here is a wiki link

Reverse osmosis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Most good LFS's will sell it along with salt water for marine setups, they just fill up big 25g containers with the stuff for a couple of dollars I should think, but you need to this stuff EVERY TIME you water change! I have thought about it, but not sure I can be bothered with it all.... you can buy RO systems to fit at home, so that way you don't need to go to the LFS every time you need water. not sure how expensive these systems are though?? at least you would have purer water coming out of your tap!
 

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A cheap RO system runs about $100. Note that about 80% put in is waste.. For every 5 gallons put in, you only get 1 gallon of RO (in our inefficient home systems that is).
I remember someone saying RO runs 39 cents/gallon at their store, cheaper than distilled water. Remember you aren't buying 20 gallons every water change if your tank is 20 gallons, for example... A 50% WC will run you 10 gallons, for which a 50/50 mix will only use 5 gallons. So a 25 gallon jug will save you 5 trips to the fish store.
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Discussion Starter #26 (Edited)
A cheap RO system runs about $100. Note that about 80% put in is waste.. For every 5 gallons put in, you only get 1 gallon of RO (in our inefficient home systems that is).
I remember someone saying RO runs 39 cents/gallon at their store, cheaper than distilled water. Remember you aren't buying 20 gallons every water change if your tank is 20 gallons, for example... A 50% WC will run you 10 gallons, for which a 50/50 mix will only use 5 gallons. So a 25 gallon jug will save you 5 trips to the fish store.
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Yeah it would not be too bad if I found a LFS store that sells it. PetSmart is the closes big chain to me.

This along with the softening pillow are the cheapest more realistic softening options.

Also, what do you think about this: Water Softener Pillow

or would buying a bag of Pear be cheaper?

Peat
Peat is often used by tropical fish keepers to help soften the water. Many still put the peat in their aquarium filter so that the water flows through the peat and back into the tank. Others prefer to get a large container or bucket and soak the peat for 1-2 weeks. Many put the peat in a pillow case and submerge it in the bucket of water. You will need to add an airstone so the water is aerated and constantly moving.



Read more: Aquarium Water Hardness

?? I would really have to watch that though.


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Edit: I am really starting to think that the deionized / R.O. water will be the best option. Mainly because I wont have to constantly keep watch, I can get it in bulk decent cheap ($2 for 5 gallons). So $2 per water change.

Edit Again: I called the LFS and they do not sell R.O. water.

hmmm.
 

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The water softner, not sure what it's made from.. It's rechargeable so you could use it for a while.
Peat is great, it will release tannins however.
With these methods I'm not sure how controllable they are, but they will work if you can't get RO water.
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I am going to be bold, and say..... Just don't bother with soft water fish!

Get rid of all the small tanks and buy one big one and keep a nice african cichlid tank, they love hard water! simple.
 

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Discussion Starter #29
I am going to be bold, and say..... Just don't bother with soft water fish!

Get rid of all the small tanks and buy one big one and keep a nice african cichlid tank, they love hard water! simple.
My main issue is the $$. If I could keep a bigger tank I would. Maybe in the future.

I would rather get distilled water every time for water changes than give up on the Rams ;-)

I have been thinking a lot about this and I think the most plausible solution would be to use either distilled water or the peat. Those will most likely be my final solutions. The peat I don't want to use because of the tannin but that is whats going to make the change. The distilled water I don't want to use because I don't want to get new water for every water change I do.

Regardless before I change my water, i have to wait another week until I can retreat my 29 for possible parasite eggs from Camallanus. Then I'm moving over the rams and kribensis (swap).

I am getting a control variable for the nitrate today and testing bottled water. I will post results when I get home. Depending on the results, I will act accordingly. If I get a reading of 0ppm from the bottled water, I will retest the tap and the tanks. If I don't get 0ppm from the bottled water then I can't rely on the API Test.

I am going to deal with the nitrates first, as I think this will be easier to deal with and a bigger problem then the hardness. The PetSmart keeps them in our local high nitrate hard tap water, so it is no different from them being at the store (other then my tanks are cleaner).
 

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The issues with peat are the tannins discolouring the water, which some don't mind but others do; but moreso it has to be continually replaced. The peat will "wear out" as it leeches tannins softening the water. The time depends upon the initial hardness, the amount of peat, and the degree of GH you want in the end. And it is not cheap, if you are using lots of it.

The best way as I said is to dilute the tap water with some form of pure water. Depending where you are, rain water can be used. Or consider a RO unit. Long-term this may be less expensive than buying water, plus you will be able to have a steady supply without running out.
 

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Discussion Starter #31
The issues with peat are the tannins discolouring the water, which some don't mind but others do; but moreso it has to be continually replaced. The peat will "wear out" as it leeches tannins softening the water. The time depends upon the initial hardness, the amount of peat, and the degree of GH you want in the end. And it is not cheap, if you are using lots of it.

The best way as I said is to dilute the tap water with some form of pure water. Depending where you are, rain water can be used. Or consider a RO unit. Long-term this may be less expensive than buying water, plus you will be able to have a steady supply without running out.
Thanks byron, I think the pure water mixture will be the solution as it appear to be less expensive and not as high maintenance.

I got home and tested a "Acadia Natural Spring Water" Bottled water with the Nitrate test.

I shook the regent to for 2 minutes.

I got a result of 3-5ppm in the bottled water. It is not zero, but its below 5ppm which I have never seen.

So my test could be giving me heightened nitrate results? The kit is not expired. I made sure of this.
 

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Very interesting! Well. . . I DO know that many brands of bottled water aren't all they're cracked up to be. I wonder if this particular brand was one of the ones tested for quality. Have to do a google search to see if you can dig any other test info on them. . . I wouldn't be surprised if it's accurate (and I really want to be able to rely on the API tests) - but I'm also hoping it isn't! I'll be watching to see where this goes. I think you may be testing a few different brands of bottled water!!!
 

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That's one way to be SURE. But you can't get RO water! What a dilemma!

MY tap water tests with 0 nitrates. It went up for a while, and tested steadily within that time frame, until it fell back to 0. My tank's nitrates also rose slightly during that time. . . so for what it's worth, our tests are at least consistent. . .
 

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Discussion Starter #36
I sent an email to the Faculty/Environmental Marine Sci. Coordinator who works for the University I work for and a conservative group around the area.

I sent her an e-mail explaining my test results and I got this in return:

We do nitrate testing of Wicomico River water every 2 weeks. The river water is never over about 10 and usually right near 5 ppm. Unfortunately, last night was the night, so it’ll be 2 weeks, but we can certainly test the tap water then.
I somehow am not so surprised, as we filled a large tank with tap water and it grew algae like you would not believe!
I have a LaMotte kit I can check with in the meantime; I’ll let you know what I find there.
So the river is normal as well as the water plant. I am waiting to see if her tests appear like mine in the tap water tests.

She will test with her kit and the schools kit.
 
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