Bolivian Rams (Mikrogeophagus altispinosus) are more likely to succeed, or the Cockatoo cichlid (Apistogramma cacatuoides). I haven't seen any good quality ones (of either) for sale a while though, so you would probably need to get hobbiest bred ones.Is there any thing similar that I can keep?
That one. We have a water softener and it gets through <"a lot of salt">.Water softeners replace calcium and magnesium (which are what we measure as hardness) for sodium, which increases the total dissolved solids, and therefore doesnt really make the water less hard. It's more about taste and how easily soaps lather etc so far as we humans are concerned... but this is totally unnatural so far as the fish are concerned which would not encounter sodium rich water in the wild and so are not adapted to deal with such conditions.
Depends on the cartridge, the <"Brita C type swap a H+ ion for a Ca++ ion">, other types swap a potassium ion (K+) for a calcium (Ca++) ion. They all have an activated carbon pod as well.Things like Brita filter cartridges replace the calcium and magnesium for hydrogen. As pH is ultimately a measure of the number of hydrogen ions in a given volume of water - the more there are, the lower the pH - this lowers the pH quite significantly. Again of course this affects whether the water is suitable for fish species in question.
your rams are beautifulI'm guessing it depends if they were captive bred in local water or not, like a lot of so called soft water fishes. I've kept captive bred in hard water and they seem to have thrived. I also had a pair of wild caught rams back in the day and they didn't seem to mind either. But the guys are right generally they probably do better in soft water.