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Adopting a stocked tank!

Discussion in 'New to the Hobby Questions and Answers' started by IndiaHawker, Jul 3, 2018.

  1. Byron

    Byron Member

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    This will not be your last question, never fear. :fish:

    Water conditioner is necessary if using tap water that has chlorine and/or chloramine added by the water authority. This is the safest way to dechlorinate instantly. If you are using source water like rainwater, RO, or well that does not go through any treatment, you don't need the conditioner, but then there might be other stuff in the water to deal with.

    As for the amount, follow the instructions as to how much (1 drop for each "x" gallon/liter or whatever) but only use the amount required for the volume of fresh water being added. There is no need to use more, and in spite of what the manufacturer's will say, it is not all that safe to use more than necessary. Any substance added to the water will get inside fish, and the fewer chemicals the better.

    Check what conditioner you have, and check what is in your tap water. Some conditioners add stuff that is either "safe" but not necessary, or in some cases not safe at all long-term.

     
  2. IndiaHawker

    IndiaHawker New Member

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    I've been using the AquaCare Water Conditioner that I was given with the tank - the measurement is something like '1 capful per x amount of litres' - I forget the specific amount of litres but read carefully at the time. How do you measure the large volume of litres used in water changes? Can you get cheap buckets with measuring scales on them, or do you use a smaller jug and a bit more time and patience?

    Hahah funny you should say that! As soon as I posted it I thought I should have added "for now" :p

    I see - so are the chlorine/chloramine levels vital, whereas the hardness isn't? Do the two things exist separately from one another?

    I will definitely bear in mind about not purposely adding more conditioner than necessary with the belief that it's safe. I haven't done this but believe I have read multiple things online in my recent research saying that it's okay, so glad you told me before any damage could be done!

    Two more newbie questions (clearly acknowledging that I'll have more questions has lead to an outburst here):

    1. Are 'water conditioner' and 'water softener' the same thing?
    2. How sensitive are test strips (ph, KH, GH, Nitrate, Nitrite, Ammonia) stored in a closeable tub - I assume the one they came in - to water/moisture etc? Had my first newbie fail yesterday (luckily one that didn't harm the fish, directly at least) - went to test the water, and every single strip has been activated, the tub of 5-in-1s and the tub of ammonia test strips. No idea how as to my knowledge I haven't got any water in the pots... could a wet fingerprint left overnight have caused them to change colour? Heat, condensation inside the tubs? No idea, but bought more due to arrive tomorrow so would like to prevent this from happening again!

    Please and thanks for everyone's patience! :)

    EDIT: Also my floating plant came today - never had a floating plant before now! Had a bit of a giggle as was worried I'd ordered too much... see attached image! Anyway I'm pleased with it and the fish seem to like it, the platy in particular was very inquisitive and kept butting into it, and my finger :D
     

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    #32 IndiaHawker, Jul 11, 2018 at 1:52 PM
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018 at 2:00 PM
  3. seangee

    seangee Member

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    Chlorine and hardness are unrelated.

    Everyone will tell you liquid tests are more accurate than strips but IMO strips are adequate most of the time as long as they are properly stored.

    The Aquacare is a dechlorinator. You should use it according to the instructions. It also claims to contain herbal extracts which are probably aloe vera. This is not needed so when your bottle is finished try to find a brand that only deals with chlorine / chloramine and doesn't contain any unneccessary stuff because in the long term it may harm your fish (finishing the bottle is ok though).

    Get yourself a couple of buckets from B&Q, homebase, poundland etc etc. Keep these for your fish only and use a measuring jug to measure how much water it holds. Either choose a point on the bucket or make a mark on the outside of the bucket so you always fill to the same place. This is not actually critical but it makes water changes easier, e.g. if you take 20 liters out you know you need to put 20 litres back in and you know exactly how much de-chlorinator you need for each bucket.
     
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  4. Byron

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    Chlorine/chloramine is added to most municipal water supplies to kill bacteria. Chlorine is hit and miss at this, depending upon factors we needn't go into, but it will burn fish gills rapidly; chloramine also does this, but chloramine is a more potent treatment to "purify" water for domestic use. Most good water conditioners instantly negate these.

    Hardness (for the purposes of aquarists) is the measure of certain "hard" minerals, primarily calcium and magnesium, dissolved in the water. These do affect fish, depending upon the species. Some need these in the water, some do not. Often you can live with the GH of the tap water, provided the fish are suited to that level of GH.

    No. Aquarium water conditioner is intended to dechlorinate primarily, but some go beyond this [I explained this somewhere, can't remember which thread]. You want a conditioner that does only what you need doing, basically. The less messing with chemistry, biology, or additives getting inside fish, the better.

    Water softeners soften the hardness level of the water. However, these can do this in various ways, and some are even worse for fish. In very hard water areas, people sometimes install a water softener for various household reasons; it is best not to use water that goes through a softener.
     
  5. IndiaHawker

    IndiaHawker New Member

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    Thank you both! Found some cheap buckets online with a measuring scale on them so will be buying them soon!

    And omg, I feel exceptionally stupid now! No wonder the hardness wasn't going down since I was using a conditioner, not a softener. So now I've figured that one out, would it be good for me to buy a water softener providing I look into what's added to it in regards to being harmful to the fish? Or should I stand by what was said about the fish being happier if I leave it as is, and avoid fluctuating the water too much?

    And now for the newbie question to end all - made worse by the fact that I only need to ask it because of a lapse of memory: Are unused test strips meant to be all white (as in, the pads are all white)? Or are they meant to be coloured already?

    The 6-in-1 strips and the Ammonia strips I ordered came today. However the pads aren't white, they're coloured. And I'm now wondering if the other day, when I re-opened my strips and thought both tubs had been activated, they actually hadn't been (thankfully haven't thrown them out!). The first couple of times I did the tests, I had it in my head that they'd been all-white before contact with water - but maybe they hadn't been and I'm just getting myself mixed up?? I must have looked at them and noticed if they'd been coloured or not beforehand - but I can't for the life of me remember, may be going mad! Does fishkeeping have this effect on all fish-lovers?! Baby brain :p

    On a brighter note, the rest of my plants came today and I've stuck them in roughly today as when the rest of my sand/driftwood/rocks come, I'll be arranging everything really nicely (and also because my pitiful layer of substrate very much limits me as to where I can plant them)! But I'm really pleased with them, they look nice despite the lack of good arrangement!
     
  6. seangee

    seangee Member

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    Don't try to change the hardness. It is a fairly advanced excercise, especially if you have hard water. Many softeners contain harmful (to fish) substances and it works out pretty expensive.

    Some strips start out white and some don't, it depends on the brand (sorry :)). IIRC the tetra ones are white. I currently use the JBL ones and they do start out coloured. Test your tap water and compare your readings to the ones on the water company's website. If they are similar your strips are ok.

    Hint: If you cut your test strips in half lengthways you will have twice as many strips. Make sure your hands and scissors are clean and dry when you do this.
     
  7. Byron

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    It all depends upon how the softener "softens." Many use sodium chloride (common salt) to negate the hard minerals (calcium, magnesium) salts. This is even worse for freshwater fish. General advice is not to use water that has been through a softener, though I cannot say if there are any "safe" softeners or not.

    When aquarists want softer water, the safest method is diluting the hard water with "pure" water, such as RO (reverse osmosis) or rainwater if it is otherwise safe. RO gets expensive as you waste a lot of water. And as always, if water parameters are adjusted initially, water changes--especially emergency ones--become more involved.
     
  8. IndiaHawker

    IndiaHawker New Member

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    Thank you both! Genius tip on cutting the strips in half - sometimes the most simple ideas are the best!

    I was looking into using peat to soften the water, but would this make the water cloudy? Was thinking about ways of adding it into the filter media, maybe just starting with a little bit at a time, but would this still shock the fish/be dangerous for them? I did also read something about the API Water Softener pillow but no idea if it could harm the fish and said it needs recharging (does that mean replacing, or what?) every two days so at £10 a time I don't think that's an option (and could possibly lead to the dangerous fluctuations anyway?).

    I feel bad keeping the fish in hardwater despite knowing they should be in soft - so it doesn't directly hurt them, but mineral deposits can build up inside them and shorten their lifespans, right? RO doesn't sound like an option for me, the rainwater would be a possibility but although I live in rainy England we do get hot dry spells like what we're going through currently (don't think it's rained in weeks), so from what has been said this would be a concern as if I run out of rainwater it could be worse for the fish as the sudden increase of hardness in water could be dangerous for them?

    Still toying with what to do but can't help but feel from what's been said that I should just leave the hardness as is and give the fish the happiest lives I can, and with future aquariums, try to buy fish that thrive in hard water.

    If in future (talking a fair bit down the line, but doesn't hurt to ask now!) I start planning for a new aquarium and want to get any fish in advance - would hardwater fish thrive alongside softwater fish in a hardwater environment, or not?
     
  9. IndiaHawker

    IndiaHawker New Member

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    The last ones I had, and the ammonia strips I have now, were/are API. The new 6-in-1 strips I bought were Tetra which started off coloured like the API - but changed colour in what seemed to be an accurate manner based on the results from the last strips - and they were coloured when I opened the sealed container so I'm hoping they are meant to be that way? If I need to, I will try the tap water test though, thanks!
     
  10. Byron

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    Adjusting water parameters is generally not easy, and often very involved. It is easier to harden soft water than it is to soften hard water. The former is readily accomplished by using calcareous substances in the filter or as the substrate, depending; you can also purchase mineral salts (not common "salt" but the salts of minerals like calcium and magnesium) and mix in the water. This hardening obviously implies the water is soft to very soft to begin with, and that brings me to the softening of hard water.

    Hard water will naturally have a high GH, due to the presence of dissolved hard minerals (calcium and magnesium primarily). This usually (with a few exceptions) also has a higher carbonate hardness (KH, or Alkalinity). The KH serves to buffer the pH, and the higher the KH the stronger the buffering, which means the pH will not fluctuate even if acids are added to lower it. Peat is organic and thus acidic, so it is going to acidify the water, lowering the pH. But this depends upon the initial GH and KH. So with a higher GH and KH, the peat will have less if any effect, or if it does, the lowering will not last.

    As I mentioned previously, the only way to effectively and safely soften hard water is by diluting it with some form of pure water. This reduces the dissolved mineral (GH), along with the KH, and then the pH accordingly.

    I will leave the water softening pillow for those members who have experience using these. Fluctuations are harmful, so a stable environment even if outside the preference will be better overall than messing with adjustments that are not consistent.

    Yes, with perhaps some exceptions. The degree to which a species can adapt to water parameters outside its preference for which is has evolved is debatable. Some species certainly cannot adapt successfully. Many of those that can, or seem to anyway, are often species that have a wider tolerance in their habitat. Freshwater fish have evolved over thousands of years to function best in a very specific environment; this is absolute. Some species have no tolerance outside this, other species do to some degree. Some species will not spawn in parameters outside their preference, others will; lifespan is often the key, and many soft water fish do not live to their normal life expectancy, and studies have shown that it is due to calcium blockages in the kidneys. What this does to the fish day to day we cannot say; the fact that a fish just like any animal can live in adverse conditions does not mean it is not somehow being impacted or affected in ways we cannot assess.

    Solely from the perspective of water parameters and ignoring all other requirements/traits, there should be no problem if the species themselves can manage. As I said above, some seem better able to adapt than other species. Hard water species tend to not adapt to soft water at all, because the essential minerals they need for their physiology to function are missing and cannot be otherwise supplied; remember, water is continually entering the fish's bloodstream and internal organs, so this is a significant matter.
     
  11. IndiaHawker

    IndiaHawker New Member

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    Thank you for all your help. I think unless/until I can find a way I can safely soften my hard water, I will keep as is for now. Not to say I won't continue looking into methods though!

    I've now re-aquascaped my tank and I'm pleased! Waiting for cloudiness to fully disappear after adding more sand but it's getting there! A bit worried about one thing now though - I thought I saw a leak in the base of my tank, on closer inspection I don't think it's actually leaking hopefully. However I have my aquarium on a foam pad - I had trouble getting the positioning of both pad and aquarium accurate at the time, so about 1cm of the tank on the left hand side is hanging off the pad - could this lead to leaking long term/short term even? Or will it be alright for now? Please and thanks!

    I'll post a pic of my new habitat shortly :)
     
  12. IndiaHawker

    IndiaHawker New Member

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  13. IndiaHawker

    IndiaHawker New Member

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    All of a sudden they all seem to be staying at the top of the water - have I harmed them in some way? Are they lacking in oxygen? I've tried moving the adjustable pump outlets to create more of a surface disturbance and hopefully oxygenate the water more
     
  14. IndiaHawker

    IndiaHawker New Member

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    Even my plec seems to be staying near the top more than normal :/
     
  15. seangee

    seangee Member

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    wipe off the water and keep a very close eye. Leaks only ever get worse, they do not go away.
    If it is an aeration problem turn your filter outlet nozzles so the water comes out slightly above the tank level. this will cause surface disturbance which will help oxygenate the water. At very least the water coming out should cause ripples on the surface.
     

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