Moving to a House with Well Water

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Jurupari Man

The Masked Tortilla
May 29, 2001
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New York, NY
After sitting for 6 hours, the pH values hardly changed at all in the two samples. There must be something going on with the softener. Hopefully Culligan will have answers for me. We'll see I suppose...
 

Jurupari Man

The Masked Tortilla
May 29, 2001
82
3
8
New York, NY
Well, Culligan customer support was not exactly helpful. They could only say that I need a technician to come out and look at the unit, and next availability is Oct 11. No tips on what might be wrong or anything. So that sucks. Anybody have any tips on how to service a water softener? Could there be a clog somewhere? Annoyed.
 

dudley

Eheim User
Feb 9, 2005
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Dee
I'm not aware of any way to clog up a water softener unless it's internal to the unit which is not usually serviceable by the owner.

Usually there is a model number located somewhere on the unit, not the salt container if it's separate from the main unit. Can you see any attached labels anywhere? A label may even be behind the unit at the top or if it has a lid covering the control head it may be underneath the lid.

Maybe post up some pics of what you have.
 

Jurupari Man

The Masked Tortilla
May 29, 2001
82
3
8
New York, NY
OK... Picked up some of those strips they use for water testing, just to double check all readings... And these are considerably better. Hard to be completely accurate with matching the colors on the chart, but I'm getting this for water direct from the well and then straight out of the tap (without sitting over night):

RAW:
GH: 50
KH: 120 ppm = 7 dKH
pH: 8.2

SOFTENED:
GH: 0
KH: 100 ppm = 5.8 dKH
pH: 8.2

So these numbers sound a lot better don't they? And according to these readings, hardness IS reduced by the softener. And it's clear that the softener has no effect on pH. My fish are mostly CA and SA cichlids. Nothing overly delicate (i.e. no discus or other sensitive stuff). I have one 3-4" Calophysus cat here that is sort of my guinea pig/cat. I've got him in a 10g with about half tap water and half distilled water. pH is about 8.1 and he's doing just fine. I'll be gradually introducing more and more tap water and see how he does. Fingers crossed but I'm cautiously optimistic that everyone will adjust well...
 
Apr 2, 2002
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New York
Here is still the problem. Salt does not show up on a GH test. It does show up in conductivity or TDS.

In freshwater aquariums, most of water's buffering capacity is due to carbonates and bicarbonates. Thus, the terms ``carbonate hardness'' (KH), ``alkalinity'' and ``buffering capacity'' are used interchangeably.
Things like calcium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate will create KH. So do things like crushed coral.

To raise both GH and KH simultaneously, add calcium carbonate (CaCO3). 1/2 teaspoon per 100 liters of water will increase both the KH and GH by about 1-2 dH. Alternatively, add some sea shells, coral, limestone, marble chips, etc. to your filter.

To raise the KH without raising the GH, add sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3), commonly known as baking soda. 1/2 teaspoon per 100 Liters raises the KH by about 1 dH. Sodium bicarbonate drives the pH towards an equilibrium value of 8.2.
General hardness (GH) refers to the dissolved concentration of magnesium and calcium ions. When fish are said to prefer ``soft'' or ``hard'' water, it is GH (not KH) that is being referred to.
As a rule of thumb harder water and higher pH usually go together. But for sure higher KH is always needed for higher pH.

Let the softened water sit over night and recheck it. Or if you have an air pump, bubble it in a glass for 10 to 15 mins,
 

Jurupari Man

The Masked Tortilla
May 29, 2001
82
3
8
New York, NY
GH and KH both are both being lowered by the softener. GH is obviously lower because calcium and magnesium are being turned into sodium. pH remains the same, which is to be expected from all I'm hearing/reading. In an ideal world, I'd want the pH to be more like 7.0-7.5, but I think there's a good chance CA cichlids and likely even most SA cichlids (not discus or that sort of thing, of course) will be able to adjust well to 8.0. I'll acclimate everyone slowly and observe.

One thing I was wondering about was running peat in the filters. Since my water isn't as hard as I initially thought, I wonder if this might be effective. My worry though is that the peat would cause the pH to drop and then it would go up again. I think it's better to keep the pH stable at 8.0 than to have it bounce up and down. Curious if anyone has had any experience with it. May experiment in an unoccupied tank for awhile and see.
 

fishorama

AC Members
Jun 28, 2006
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SF Bay area, CA
Yeah, the peat thing...It might be better to run it in a trashcan/tub & use it for partial water changes rather than in the filters. You don't want big "bounces" in either pH or GH... or KH. I like your "experimental" idea before you add fish. Most CA cichlids are far more forgiving than wild caught SA tetras & cichlids...but not including tank raised angels, apistos & tetras...so what's your fish plan again?
 
Apr 2, 2002
2,950
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New York
I still believe that your best bet will be a mix of pre-softener and RO or RO/DI water. The reality is that TDS are more important then pH in most cases. RO will have TDS of about 10 ppm and RO/DI close to 0. They will have no KH. You probably can mix up to about 3-1 RO to well water. I think you will not need that much RO.

Next, a lot of the SA fish live in seasonal waters. Parameters can change rapidly when the rainy season starts and the fish handle it. I am not sure om the CA, but I believe many of them can handle harder water than the SA?

Fishorama is dead on re the peat, plus it will stain your water.

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.
I have peat. I have not used peat in ages as I much prefer alder cones and almond leaves. Both of these also stain the water. Most SA/CA fish do not live in stained water.

In the end what you really need is a solution that is easy to implement and fairly stable. It must do what you need it to. Making RO or RO/DI water is easy. You can make it from your well or your softener water. I would want an RO/DI unit for softened water. You would then mix it in a known ratio to your well water. You can fiddle with the ratio each week based on where the tank's number is. You can check the pH with and APO kit as long as you do not stain the water. That makes colors hard to use.

If you want to go crazy, you can buy a continuous monitor for the tank and a big Rubbermaid to batch your changing water next to the tank. You can move the probe from the tank to the can and back to the tank. What you need are pumps and hoses. I run all my stuff for water changes etc using garden hose connections. I even have a utility sink with its faucet able to accept hoses. I have 5 gal cans to store ro/di as well a gal. jugs. You can find a choice of containers.

I realize what I am suggesting is not cheap. If you go all in you will probably be spending over $500. But in the long run this may be the cheapest solution. Losing fish you replace can be costly. Spending much more time than might be needed adds up. I am a big fan of the KISS theory- "Keep It Simple, Stupid." The least complex solution that solves the problem is usually the best one to choose. The less that can go wrong the better.
 
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Jurupari Man

The Masked Tortilla
May 29, 2001
82
3
8
New York, NY
I agree on the KISS approach. And I certainly don't want brown peaty water. :oops: My goal with this tank is to put in place a system that would essentially run itself. I can go the RO route and don't mind spending money on it. But I don't want to have to mix water in bins and buffer it, etc., and then pump it into the tank. What I want to be able to do is implement a continuous drip system on the tank. I want to change over, say, 200% of the volume per week. Now, RO is produced slowly, but this works perfectly with the drip system, so that's no problem. I run a line from my cold water line through the RO (or RO/DI) and that's wonderful... But how do I then get that water buffered to the right level automatically? I can't just add RO water directly to the tank.

So if there's a way to accomplish this, I'm all in! :) Otherwise, I'm going to just have to hope my fish are able to acclimate, and if they aren't I'll reassess. So any ideas as to how I could make my idea work using RO water?
 
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