For a lot of people dealing with hard water is nothing new. Many fish tank owners go the extra mile to soften water for the sake of their pet fishes but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Before you go ahead to fill your fish tank with water and go ahead to soften the water, find out whether or not the fish or fishes you intend to keep can deal with the water flowing in from the faucet or if you really need to soften the water.
A hard water primer
When we talk about the hardness of water, we are referring to the amount of minerals dissolved in it. The hardness of water is measured in two ways; carbonate hardness (KH), and general hardness (GH).
The general hardness method measures the amount of calcium since magnesium on the water while the carbonate hardness measured the level of bicarbonate and carbonate ions in the water. When you are measuring the level of water hardness for fishes, it is referred to in the degree of hardness (dh) and parts per million (ppm).
When the dh of the water in between 0 to 6, and the ppm is between 6 to 30, the water is classified as soft or very soft. When the dh of the water is between 6 to 30 and the ppm is also between 6 to 30 then the water falls into the category of slightly hard and hard.
Finally, when the dh of the water is 30 and above, and the ppm is 450 and higher the water is called liquid rock or very hard.
The KH of the water in your fish tank is related to the tank’s pH level. The less the pH of your aquarium fluctuates, the higher the kh level of the water in the tank and that’s very good for the fish.
Choosing hard water fish
Here’s one good news you should always have in mind when setting up a fish tank, unless you have undergone an investment in specific tropical species of finned pets that must absolutely spend their lives in soft water such as the wild-caught Discus, your pet fishes will eventually adapt to the kind of water in their aquarium.
The fact remains that when if you carry out much research on a specific kind of fish and the kind of water it lives in naturally, chances are that the fishes you buy from the pet store was neither born not raised in that kind of environment.
In fact, if the fish you are interested in happens to be one of those fishes that are commercially bred, the chances that the fish was raised in water that leans a lot towards the hard alkaline side are very high.
However, instead of worrying about whether or not your fish will survive hard water, you can simply bypass the trouble by opting for natural heard water fish species. Below are some examples of fishes that thrive well in hard water.
- paradise fish
- live-bearers such as platies, guppies, mollies, and swordtails.
- Central American and African cichlids
- Brackish fish such as monos, archers, subs scats.
Hardening or softening the water
There are a few ways you can easily soften hard water of at all it is necessary. This can be done with the driftwood method, peat method, and the water softening pillow method.
If the specie of fish you choose to take care of genuinely must live in soft water, you should consider changing your source of fish tank water instead of spending a fortune on all that expensive water treatment.
Reverse osmosis water is one clever option and it’s very easy to do. all that is required is the combination of distilled water since tap water. Quite a number of industrious aquarium owners have been known to fetch and use rain water for their fish tanks and rain water is naturally soft and acidic.
Also, there are times you may feel like your tank water is way too soft for your fish and you need to find a way to harden it. There are are few tips here you might find helpful.
Some option you can explore is the use of crushed corals, buffer additives, since finally limestone.
If you are going to harden it soften your water using any kind of additives, you should ensure that they have been properly since thoroughly cleaned so that you don’t mistaking do more harm than good to your fish tank.
Endeavour to ask experts about hard water fish
Before you order order take home any kind of fish for your aquarium, make sure to talk to your local pet shop owner so you can find out what the kind of hardness and pH level would be right for your fish tank.
It may surprise you to discover that most of your local pet store owner have their aquariums filled with neutral, hard, or alkaline water even though they have fishes that are supposed to be kept in soft water in these fish tanks.
Even though it seems counter intuitive to keep any specie of fish in the wrong kind of water, but these pet store fishes are bred in captivity and also in hard water conditions. Therefore, it is best for you to make sure that you keep them in water that is similar to the kind they were bred in.
If you are wondering what effect the pH level of the water in thought fish tank would have on your critters, check out our article on matching pH of aquarium water.