How to make water soft? how does it affect plants?

tanker

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I recently got some tonina fluviatilis, and thus need soft water. Now the question is how do i make it soft? First, forgive me that i have weak understanding of GH and KH and am trying to see if there was any previous discussion. so can someone explain in some layman's term? :D

If the water is soft, does it affect other plants?

the nerites in my aquarium has really sad looking shells so i added a small amount of calcium carbonate 2 days ago without knowing that it will make the water harder. so i guess i'll have to make a massive water change later today... any other substance that will make the water hard?
 

tanker

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by the way, i just read about zeolite being able to soften water. should i use it to condition the water for tonina fluv?
 

Tom

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I wouldn't worry about forcing your water to turn soft, as once you start, you'll spend a lifetime and a lot of money trying to do it!

Not everyone would advise it, but I use rainwater. It's perfect as far as I can see, and has a pH of 6.4 ish and 0 detectable hardness. The only problem is if you live in areas where the rain may contain too much pollution. I have been fine using it so far. I mix it with a tiny bit of tap water to bring the hardness up slightly and use it for water changes. I'm using it for marine too, going great :)

Alternative is R.O. water, which is filtered to remove more or less everything. You can probably buy i by the barrel in fish shops, or buy an R.O. unit and do it yourself, which might be cheaper in the long run.

Tom
 

JamesC

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If you wish to grow tonina fluviatilis successfully then it's the KH (CO3, HCO3) you are mainly concerned with. A KH of less than about 3 seems to work well. Easiest way to lower KH is cutting your tap water with either RO or rain water. Peat will also lower KH but it's not that easy to control if you do lots of water changes.

James
 

Ed Seeley

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Before you start messing with the water get a set of good test kits and find out what you've got at the moment! If your snail shells were looking ropey then maybe you have soft water already.
 

tanker

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thats a good point.... after 5 days, tonina is pearling well, but leaves are showing some signs of decay. it also looks like roots are growing out all over, or worse, its hair algae! looks pretty messed.
i read somewhere that potassium carbonate soften water hardness, is it true? but james mentioned that its more important to have low KH, so potassium carbonate may not be useful after all...
 

ceg4048

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tanker,
As James mentioned KH is a measure of the concentration of carbonates (CO3) and bicarbonates (HCO3) in the water. If your goal is to decrease the concentration of carbonates in order to lower the KH then as you surmised it doesn't make sense to add Potassium Carbonate (K2CO3).

Many confuse Carbonate Hardness (KH) with General hardness (GH). GH has more to do with the concentration of Calcium (Ca) and Magnesium (Mg). What James is saying is that this plant responds more to the lowering of KH rather than to GH. When people talk about hard water they are generally discussing the Calcium/Magnesium content. This is what appears as hard crust on exposed surfaces which is essentially chalk. It's more accurate to discuss KH as Alkalinity since KH is reflected in the dynamics of the waters pH. So you want to lower the waters alkalinity (KH), not necessarily it's hardness (GH). This cannot be accomplished by adding alkaline salts.

Tissue loss and hair algae are normally symptoms of poor CO2. Try increasing the injection rate.

Cheers,
 
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