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rastapus is right, our water is very soft here in the lower mainland due to low mineral content. This is because our reservoirs are fed from glacial melt/rainwater and does not pick up much minerals on its way down.

It is also worth noting that our water is EXTREMELY LOW in chlorine, there is pretty much none left by the time it gets to your tap, you don't need to use quite as much water conditioner as the bottle suggests, in fact some people do water changes directly from their tap and just salt afterwards. This is only if your getting your water through metro vancouver tho i can't say anything about other areas.

My fish (malawi mbuna) definitely improved after salting the aquarium or using some of the kent cichlid chemistry (which is basically just salts and minerals) however they hate ph buffers and they start smacking their gill plates on rocks whenever ive used those things even with less than half the dose suggested on the bottle. i think crushed coral seems to be the best way to buffer the tank without bugging the hell out of the fish.
 

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Can't agree on the chlorine. The water board doses high amounts of chlorine, and there are stations along the route that add more because they know it dissipates with agitation.

I can't comment on what it may be like in Kerrisdale, but when I lived in the West End I once nearly lost a tank of fish because I did the water change and forgot the conditioner. And in Pitt Meadows where i am now, I can smell the chlorine when I turn on the taps. It is very high.

And even if it is low now, it can suddenly be increased at their whim to combat bacteria. I had that happen in Victoria in the 1980's, we never used conditioner because the chlorine was low, but one summer they increased it to deal with bacteria and several of us lost fish that week.

I would never not use a conditioner, for the low cost of the conditioner it is not worth the risk.
 

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Discussion Starter · #63 ·
From what I understand, when one refers to the hardness of water, it is the measure of GH, primarily the measure of Calcium and Magnesium. I prefer to measure the TDS, it picks up other elements not measurable in a GH test kit. As Grant points out, this helps in the osmoregulation process of our fish. Depending on the type of fish and tank, I may use African cichlid salts, calcium chloride, epsom salt, marine salt and R/O Right.

But how does KH fit in the osmoregulation process? For example a cupful of aragonite in my filter raises pH to 7.6, but does little for KH. As long as there is a supply of aragonite in the filter, the pH never drops below 7.6. Our low KH means that our water can be pH unstable, if I don't do anything to the water, be prepared for pH swings and possibly a pH crash if my bio load is too high. So the pH is stable with the addition of buffering materials, but does not raise KH too much with our local water.

So does KH levels really matter - does a low KH but a stable pH affect the well being of our fish?
KH is primarily the measure of Calcium and Magnesium. GH is all other elements that compose hardness. Combined they create what is known as our "buffering system". The hardness of our water maintains our pH. More importantly the minerals maintain Osmoregulation preventing Osmotic shock and potentially disease and/or death. Regardless of species kept, all fish require a minimum level of minerals to thrive. Since most fish are raised in hard water conditions, we should strive to maintain at least a minimum level of KH/GH of around 4. Many people comment on keeping fish without any adjustment at all. I can apreciate this as we only used coral in the stores for years. Yes, the pH was always stable but we routinely had issues with certain species of fish. Most issues were completely eliminated once we began adding the appropriate minerals and removed the coral. The difference in our livestock was and is overwhelming. It was at this point we began enforcing it to all of our customers who also found immediate positive results. The biggest point here is the difference between thriving and surviving. Many fish do adjust to our low levels but will never reach the coloration and health of fish in the proper mineral content. If your target is to keep some fish "alive" ignore what I am saying, your choice. If you wish to have a thriving aquarium with the least chance of disease and the best chances of long term survival, give it a try, you wont be dissapointed. Let's compare to a dog or cat mistreated, still alive, must be doing the right thing.:(
 

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Hello again Grant; Well I for one am going to follow your advice and ignore the comments from others whom seem intent on confusing the issue at hand for people like me and other newbies. Personally I think some of their comments would have been better directed to you in a PM as it may do more harm than good considering the topic at hand. And I do believe your right in saying their fish may be living, but not neccecarily thriving as they might well do following your advice. Up till now I have had some tanks do very well and the fish I thought were doing fine and then I end up losing 1 or 2 due to a PH crash or something else. I have to tell you I get pissed when I lose fish, especially after spending hard earned dollars on them.

I am not totally new to the hobby and have been keeping tanks on and off since I was 8, and a year ago after a decade out of the hobby my wife and I decided to start again with one 33 gal tank which we both have enjoyed watching. We decided just a few short months ago to expand our hobby to keep more varieties and began buying more tanks. We now have 5 33's, 3 10's, 2 25's, 1 49bf, 2 90's, and 1 120 with an eye on another 120. We also have an 1800 gal pond with Koi. It only takes 4 hours a week (SAT or Sun morn) to clean and do wc on all. We have developed a system....lol

I have started a program on all our 14 tanks as of Sunday using your suggestions. I am not making big changes all at once but rather gradually changing my water parameters. I will let you know how things progress in the coming weeks.

Thanks again for your help and to all the other members for their help as I have learned so much in just a few months and continue to learn more each day, Chuck:D
 

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Tap water conditions in the lower mainland are extremely soft....

This problem is easy to fix using products such as Replenish and Alkaline buffer. Correcting this will also stabilize pH and improve the overall health of the aquarium....

Many hobbyists in BC use crushed coral to improve and stabilize the pH. Unfortunately hardness is the bigger issue here and the coral does very little in the way of hardness adjustment. Coral only dissolves in an acidic environment and once the coral increases the pH, no more dissolving.
I have read a lot about adjusting water parameters, but most of the advice seems vague and I cant really get a feel for the step by step procedure.

Could you possibly write a post giving an example of exactly what is involved?

How involved a process is it? Do I need to keep doing water tests on every tank each time I do a water change, then another one to test the results after adjustments are made?

A step by step guide for dummies would be very useful.
 

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rastapus is right, our water is very soft here in the lower mainland due to low mineral content. This is because our reservoirs are fed from glacial melt/rainwater and does not pick up much minerals on its way down.

It is also worth noting that our water is EXTREMELY LOW in chlorine, there is pretty much none left by the time it gets to your tap, you don't need to use quite as much water conditioner as the bottle suggests, in fact some people do water changes directly from their tap and just salt afterwards. This is only if your getting your water through metro vancouver tho i can't say anything about other areas.

My fish (malawi mbuna) definitely improved after salting the aquarium or using some of the kent cichlid chemistry (which is basically just salts and minerals) however they hate ph buffers and they start smacking their gill plates on rocks whenever ive used those things even with less than half the dose suggested on the bottle. i think crushed coral seems to be the best way to buffer the tank without bugging the hell out of the fish.
I live in Richmond and for many years I topped up my tanks straight from the tap without using water conditioner but i always put salt in the tank.

About 2 years ago, my tanks were having problems when topping up, using above procedure, and a few casualties occurred at different times. Now, I use water conditioner & salt every time I do W/C or top up, and no more casualties.
 

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Discussion Starter · #67 ·
Hello again Grant; Well I for one am going to follow your advice and ignore the comments from others whom seem intent on confusing the issue at hand for people like me and other newbies. Personally I think some of their comments would have been better directed to you in a PM as it may do more harm than good considering the topic at hand. And I do believe your right in saying their fish may be living, but not necessarily thriving as they might well do following your advice. Up till now I have had some tanks do very well and the fish I thought were doing fine and then I end up losing 1 or 2 due to a PH crash or something else. I have to tell you I get pissed when I lose fish, especially after spending hard earned dollars on them.

I am not totally new to the hobby and have been keeping tanks on and off since I was 8, and a year ago after a decade out of the hobby my wife and I decided to start again with one 33 gal tank which we both have enjoyed watching. We decided just a few short months ago to expand our hobby to keep more varieties and began buying more tanks. We now have 5 33's, 3 10's, 2 25's, 1 49bf, 2 90's, and 1 120 with an eye on another 120. We also have an 1800 gal pond with Koi. It only takes 4 hours a week (SAT or Sun morn) to clean and do wc on all. We have developed a system....lol

I have started a program on all our 14 tanks as of Sunday using your suggestions. I am not making big changes all at once but rather gradually changing my water parameters. I will let you know how things progress in the coming weeks.

Thanks again for your help and to all the other members for their help as I have learned so much in just a few months and continue to learn more each day, Chuck:D
Great to hear Chuck! I am certain you will notice a marked improvement in all your fish. In particular your Koi pond as well, Koi are very hard water fish and will thrive once their levels have been brought up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #68 ·
I have read a lot about adjusting water parameters, but most of the advice seems vague and I cant really get a feel for the step by step procedure.

Could you possibly write a post giving an example of exactly what is involved?

How involved a process is it? Do I need to keep doing water tests on every tank each time I do a water change, then another one to test the results after adjustments are made?

A step by step guide for dummies would be very useful.
Tom,
Yes, I will do a step by step and add as a sticky, good idea!
 

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Discussion Starter · #69 ·
I live in Richmond and for many years I topped up my tanks straight from the tap without using water conditioner but i always put salt in the tank.

About 2 years ago, my tanks were having problems when topping up, using above procedure, and a few casualties occurred at different times. Now, I use water conditioner & salt every time I do W/C or top up, and no more casualties.
Holyarmor,
Sounds good! I also recommend raising your KH to stabilize your pH and ad much needed minerals for your fish. Again I will go over this on the next sticky.
 

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Discussion Starter · #71 ·
Saltwater is different, the salt mix is loaded with minerals so not an issue. That being said, many commercial salts are very low on alkalinity, likely to save on production costs and to encourage high solubility as a marketing tool. With most salts it is still a very good idea to add a KH buffer to improve on the salt.
 

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It was mentioned on page 7 that somebody uses salt when topping up the tank.
This really shouldn't be done. when water evaporates, it leaves the salts behind, therefore making the salt content more potent. When topping up my tank (using an auto top off device), i only use declor. This keeps gh/kh levels more constant.
I would also suject topping up the water before a water change to keep it even more stable.
After a while of topping off with salts/buffers, you should notice levels higher than desiered. What you put into the tank, will only come out when a w/c happens.

Just my opinion. It's what i've done for years and what makes the most sense to me. Hope it helps.
 

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Do you think our lower mainland water has much in the way of heavy metals that might be harmful to tank inhabitants? My saltwater buddies use r/o water for their tanks.

Most of my dechlor bottles says it removes heavy metals at normal concentrations but I have one that doesn't make that claim?
 

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Do you think our lower mainland water has much in the way of heavy metals that might be harmful to tank inhabitants? My saltwater buddies use r/o water for their tanks.

Most of my dechlor bottles says it removes heavy metals at normal concentrations but I have one that doesn't make that claim?
RO water is used in saltwater because the filter system removes mostly everything and then when you add salt, all the necessary ingredients are reconstituted. The filters take out DOCs (dissolved organic compounds) nitrates phosphates, heavy metals, etc.
The ocean reefs are very clean if they are functioning properly.
I don't think our lower mainland drinking waters have heavy metals in them. The powers that be say we have good drinking water. My TDS meter (total dissolved solids) reads only 12-15 ppm dissolved solids here in Surrey. So we are very lucky. People with wells or if you are living in Alberta wish they had such good water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #80 ·
Our water in the lower mainland has heavy metals without a doubt. When you have soft water traveling through copper pipe, you will get residual copper released into the water. Before we filtered our water for our marine systems, many years ago, the copper concentrated to dangerous levels through evaporation and top up. This is an extreme of course dealing with such large volumes of water and evaporation. Likely the same would occur in FW aquariums that had minimal water changes and a lot of topping up from evaporation. These levels are very low to be tested from the tap, but will concentrate in certain aquariums with high levels of evaporation as explained above. Our Chlorine levels remain quite low but metals are present for sure.
 
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