Best way to soften water

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momar

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Jan 6, 2006
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What is the best way to soften tank water, aside from buying a water softener? Really I mean in terms of using peat, bogwood, indian almond leaf etc? Is there any way to do so without a major effect on the pH (the tank would be housing some guppies, which I think prefer a higher pH, or does this matter?)

Thanks,
momar
 
Apr 2, 2002
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The following comes from FINS

Softening Your Water (i.e., lowering GH)
Some fish (e.g., discus, cardinal tetras, etc.) prefer soft water. Although they can survive in harder water, they are unlikely to breed in it. Thus, you may feel compelled to soften your water despite the hassle involved in doing so.
Typical home water softeners soften water using a technique known as ``ion exchange''. That is, they remove calcium and magnesium ions by replacing them with sodium ions. Although this does technically make water softer, most fish won't notice the difference. That is, fish that prefer soft water don't like sodium either, and for them such water softeners don't help at all. Thus, home water softeners are not an appropriate way to soften water for aquarium use.

Fish stores also market ``water softening pillows''. They use the same ion-exchange principle. One ``recharges'' the pillow by soaking it in a salt water solution, then places it in the tank where the sodium ions are released into the water and replaced by calcium and magnesium ions. After a few hours or days, the pillow (along with the calcium and magnesium) are removed, and the pillow recharged. The pillows sold in stores are too small to work well in practice, and shouldn't be used for the same reason cited above.

Peat moss softens water and reduces its hardness (GH). The most effective way to soften water via peat is to aerate water for 1-2 weeks in a bucket containing peat moss. For example, get a (plastic) bucket of the appropriate size. Then, get a large quantity of peat (a gallon or more), boil it (so that it sinks), stuff it in a pillow case, and place it in the water bucket. Use an air pump to aerate it. In 1-2 weeks, the water will be softer and more acidic. Use this aged water when making partial water changes on your tank.

Peat can be bought at pet shops, but it is expensive. It is much more cost-effective to buy it in bulk at a local gardening shop. Read labels carefully! You don't want to use peat containing fertilizers or other additives.

Although some folks place peat in the filters of their tanks, the technique has a number of drawbacks. First, peat clogs easily, so adding peat isn't always effective. Second, peat can be messy and may cloud the water in your tank. Third, the exact quantity of peat needed to effectively soften your water is difficult to estimate. Using the wrong amount results in the wrong water chemistry. Finally, when doing water changes, your tank's chemistry changes when new water is added (it has the wrong properties). Over the next few days, the chemistry changes as the peat takes effect. Using aged water helps ensure that the chemistry of your tank doesn't fluctuate while doing water changes.

Hard water can also be softened by diluting it with distilled water or R/O water. R/O (reverse-osmosis) water is purified water made by a R/O unit. Unfortunately, R/O units are too expensive ($100-$500) for most hobbyists. R/O water can also be purchased at some fish stores, but for most folks the expense and hassle are not worth it. The same applies to distilled water purchased at grocery stores.
Hope that helps some.
 

Roan Art

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Oct 7, 2005
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momar said:
What is the best way to soften tank water, aside from buying a water softener? Really I mean in terms of using peat, bogwood, indian almond leaf etc? Is there any way to do so without a major effect on the pH (the tank would be housing some guppies, which I think prefer a higher pH, or does this matter?)

Thanks,
momar
I'm a little confused, momar, why do you want to soften the water when guppies prefer harder water? Is there another type of fish in there?

Roan
 

momar

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Well, I was planning to maybe house some rams. However, I have since discovered that the tank is too small. Ergo, the soft water will not be essential. However, I do appreciate the help and I am sure it will be useful in any case :)

I figured that as guppies are hardy fish they would be perfectly happy in a range of water conditions, whereas rams need softer water.

Thanks for the help.
 

msouth468

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Nov 29, 2005
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There really isn't a fast easy way to soften water without affecting the ph. When you reduce the hardness of your water you start to loose the buffering capacity of your water. And peat moss I belive lowers your ph.

The best way IMO to soften water is to get a RO/DIY unit. They sell them on ebay for around 100 dollars. It is a high initial cost, but overall the filter will last for decades if you only use it for aquarium water. Plus it softens your water as far as possible. This allows you to customize your water for your fish to get the best possible quality. They are easy to maintain and easy to hide.
 

Fantods

Registered Member
Aug 24, 2019
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I didn't understand why you are not preferring a water softener to soften the water. I am having a Fleck Water Softener with which I am really impressed with. In the future, if you change your mind have a look at it.
 
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