Welcome to Our Community

Wanting to join the rest of our members? Feel free to sign up today.

Is this hard or soft...Water? And other ?s

Discussion in 'New to the Hobby Questions and Answers' started by HazMatt, Sep 11, 2017.

  1. HazMatt

    HazMatt New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2017
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi folks,

    I have been out of the hobby for about a decade. I now know a bit more now than I did back then. I never tested pH, Gh, or KH in the past. I did test for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate in my previous round is of fish keeping though. I guess I just got lucky with the fish I chose to keep back then.

    This time around, I'm going to try to be more conscientious of my water quality. I contacted my local water company trying to get some idea of the water conditions and this is the best information they could provide...
    pH average is 7.12
    combined finished water hardness average is 163 mg/l

    I will buy a full test kit before I set up my tank but, if this is enough info to help me decide on possible species, it can help me narrow the list of possibilities.

    I've read that the pH will be different after the chlorine has been neutralized. Does it normally raise or lower? I have also read that driftwood can lower the pH. Is it a significant drop?

    There are also products for sale that promise to reduce the amount of time needed to cycle an aquarium, particularly gravel and bottles of beneficial bacteria. Do they actually work? I might also be able to get my hands on some filter media from a cycled tank.

    I only have a 29g tank currently, the ex-wife got the others. But, knowing myself, I may have 3 or 4 tanks by the end of the year.

    Thanks for your time,
    Matthew

     
  2. Byron

    Byron Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2009
    Messages:
    5,319
    Likes Received:
    697
    Location:
    CA
    Welcome to TFF. :hi:

    First on the general or total hardness of 163 mg/l (which is the same as 163 ppm, and equates with 9 dGH) this is moderately hard water. Unless you specifically target this somehow, it will not change much if at all in an aquarium. By target I mean things like diluting it with "pure" water to make it softer, or making it harder by adding calcareous mineral in some form.

    The pH is just above neutral. Here you need to find out the carbonate hardness (KH, also called Alkalinity), as this serves to buffer the pH preventing fluctuations. The KH is generally close to the GH, so until we know the exact number let's assume it is moderate. This will keep the pH fairly steady.

    Which brings me to the question about wood. Organic matter such as wood, peat, dried leaves, any dead fish/plant matter and fish excrement will as they decompose acidify the water, thus lowering pH. This is where the KH's buffering works to prevent this. Without knowing the actual KH we cannot guess at its effect, but I would tend to think you are not going to see much fluctuation in pH.

    As to suitable fish, there are a number of fish that will manage. Soft water species that are wild caught will have some difficulty, and there are some of the hard water fish that will also have issues.

    I've never heard that pH is subject to chlorine levels; certainly mine is not. That may have been the natural acidification from organics rather than chlorine.

    On cycling, using existing bacteria-laden substrate or filter media can speed this up, but be careful where you get this; from your own tanks is safe (well, relatively) but not from someone else's tank or a store tank. All sorts of pathogens can be present. We quarantine new fish for the very same reason.

    The bacterial supplements can help. Dr. Tim's One and Only, if used according to directions, will instantly cycle the tank (in the time required for the treatment). Tetra's SafeStart is Dr. Tim Hovanec's original formula, and speeds up the cycling. I have also used Seachem's Stability which certainly worked the same way, quickening the establishment of the various bacteria (even though the "bacteria" are not the actual nitrifiers). I primarily use live plants which is instant.

    Byron.
     
  3. StevenF

    StevenF Member

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2015
    Messages:
    1,019
    Likes Received:
    119
    Location:
    US
    Chlorine reacts with water to form hydrochloric acid which will push the PH down. However not a lot is needed to sterilize the water. Most PH test kits don't have enough sensitivity to detect the PH increase that would occur after the chlorine has been neutralized. Unless they add a lot of chlorine

    If you include a decorative sea shell in the aquarium the water should stay stable at about 7 due to the calcium carbonate in the shell. Calcium carbonate stays solid until the PH drops and the water becomes acidic. At that point it will dissolve, boost your KH and Push the PH put to 7. Once the PH reaches 7 calcium carbonate doesn't dissolve and it will not push the PH above 7.
     
  4. HazMatt

    HazMatt New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2017
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for the information. It may be a while before I set up the tank but, I will definitely buy tests for GH and KH before I even try to cycle the tank.

    I'd like to have live plants over fake plants. In a small 29g I'd imagine 2 or 3 tall plants and 2 or 3 short plants would be plenty, especially considering I have a nice piece of driftwood and some rocks to decorate with. Can you recommend some easy to care for plants?

    My only experience with aquarium plants were the bulbs bought in a blister packs, from Walmart, many many years ago. Some never sprouted and some grew quite quickly producing large leaves that floated on the surface, like some sort of lilly pad.
     
  5. TekFish

    TekFish Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2012
    Messages:
    694
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    GB
    If you want live plants, you might want to post your your light specs, watts and lumens, if you can find them. Then we can help you with those too.
     
  6. HazMatt

    HazMatt New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2017
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    I currently have one of those standard hood lights that uses an tubular shaped incandescent bulb. I'll have to check the wattage, I think it is a standard 15w. I have no idea of the lumens. I'll probably invest in a newer hood light with florescent or LED lights.
     
  7. Byron

    Byron Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2009
    Messages:
    5,319
    Likes Received:
    697
    Location:
    CA
    This may work, but we need to know more about it. Does the fixture have sockets (to screw in regular incandescent bulbs) or does it take fluorescent tubes? And how many of whichever? I am assuming this is the 29g mentioned, so it would be roughly 30 inches length by 12 inches width?
     
  8. HazMatt

    HazMatt New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2017
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'll have to pull it out of the basement to double check. I remember that it uses an incandescent bulb. It might use 2 incandescent bulbs. Those lilly pad type plants grew very well with this light.

    Is there a light that is most recommended for live plants?
     
  9. Byron

    Byron Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2009
    Messages:
    5,319
    Likes Received:
    697
    Location:
    CA
    To answer this question I'll explain about light and plants. Light drives photosynthesis, and this involves both the intensity and the spectrum (colour wavelengths) of light. Different plant species have different requirements for intensity, so we have in very subjective terms high light, moderate light and low light. Once we know the light intensity over the tank, we can select suitable plants.

    Spectrum is also important, because photosynthesis requires red and blue wavelengths, especially red. But interestingly, plants respond better when green is added to this mix. Plants appear a certain colour because they are reflecting that colour of light, so adding the green likely intensifies the red and blue for the plants photosynthesis. And of course, it is not surprising that red, blue and green are the primary colours of mid day sun and plants have evolved under this light.

    Intensity we can work out once we have the type of tube or bulb that emits strong red, blue and green. Using either the Kelvin temperature of light or the Colour Rendering Index, this is fairly easy to achieve. I use Kelvin, and tubes/bulbs from 5000K to 7000K work best. The "daylight" with 6500K is ideal, and studies have proven that this light does cause the best growth response in aquatic plants.

    It is fairly easy to find 6500K tubes/bulbs. Once we know the type of fixture you have, this will follow.

    I'll just add something about watts, because one still sees some sources referring to "watts per liter" or "watts per gallon" as important. False, basically. Watts is the measurement of the amount of energy a tube or bulb uses to produce the light it emits; it is not in itself an indication of the intensity of that light, except when comparing identical tubes/bulbs. Example, a GE Daylight CFL bulb of 13w will be more light intensity that a GE Daylight CFL bulb of 9w because the two are made the same. But note that these CFL bulbs of say 9w are equivalent in light output to an incandescent (normal) bulb of 40w. So watts here is meaningless as a comparison because we have two very different bulbs.

    Byron.
     
  10. hobby5

    hobby5 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2013
    Messages:
    594
    Likes Received:
    27
    Location:
    DE
    Welcome back to the hobby :)

    One important hint ;) Informed people don't use gravel anymore, sand has many advantages!
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  11. HazMatt

    HazMatt New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2017
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    Again, thank you for the information. I found a LED light bar, 1500 lumens, 6500k, 15w (30 X 0.5w LEDs). Sounds like this would be a good light source.

    I noticed more talk of sand over gravel. That's why I was looking at new substrate. I said gravel earlier but, the stuff I was looking at is definitely more like sand than gravel, 0.2-0.5 mm in diameter.
     
  12. Byron

    Byron Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2009
    Messages:
    5,319
    Likes Received:
    697
    Location:
    CA
    Definitely sand for the substrate. It allows you to have fish that require this, plants go well in it, and it looks more natural. A dark colour, never white which is not good for fish. I use play sand which is very inexpensive, natural in appearance, and highly refined so it is not rough (rough sands like most industrial sands can cause damage to fish).

    I have not had success the few times I have tried LED lighting, so I won't comment. But you didn't answer my earlier questions...the fixture you have might be fine with the correct bulbs.
     
  13. HazMatt

    HazMatt New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2017
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    Play sand, like you would buy from a hardware store? That definitely sounds like an inexpensive sand. I just hope I can find some that is dark enough for my liking. My old gravel was a mixture of half tan/brown and half black gravel. My previous experience did teach me that dark substrate and a dark background helps bring out the best colors in the fish.

    No luck with LEDs? That's disappointing. I'll probably have to buy a new light fixture. My old one has been sitting in a damp basement for nearly a decade. I have not dug it out yet. I do know that it has a normal screw in socket and a normal bulb shaped light would not fit in the fixture. It takes the tubular shaped incandescent bulb, maybe 2 bulbs.

    I just looked up the bulbs that would fit, it appears as though they are available in 15w, 25w or 40w and each bulb is less than 300 lumens even for the 40w I have not seen any color rating for them at all.
    They look like these. [​IMG]

    I found a florescent light fixture that can use 24" light, 1400 lumen, 6500k. I'll probably buy something like that.
     
  14. HazMatt

    HazMatt New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2017
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    Oops, that pic was larger than I expected.
     
  15. Byron

    Byron Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2009
    Messages:
    5,319
    Likes Received:
    697
    Location:
    CA
    Yes, play sand from a hardware or home improvement store. I don';t know where you are, but here in North America both Home Depot and Lowe's carry Quikrete Play Sand which is what I use. There is a dark grey mix (black, grey, buff & white) and a buff tone version (my area stores have the grey). Either will do. Main thing is to absolutely avoid white.

    The LED's I tried were useless and went back to the store. You can get good LED lighting, but you need to know exactly what you are getting. Some members here have had success. Good LED is very expensive; I repaired my T8 fixtures so I could stay with what I know and what works. For $30 I put a shop light into the housing, which is less expensive than $400+ for a good LED for the 4-foot tank.

    It is up to you, if you want to buy a new fixture for fluorescent or LED, but you can use the existing two socket incandescent with good bulbs. I have this over my 10g and 20g tanks. I use two of those Compact Fluorescent (CFL) spiral bulbs. GE makes a Daylight 6500K which is perfect light. They come in various wattages from 9w up. I use two 9w CFL's over each of the two tanks, but over a deeper 29g you would want to up the wattage. This is where higher wattage is brighter, as we are dealing with the exact same bulb in its manufacture. The 9w is equivalent to 40w of regular incandescent (the long bulbs you pictured), the 13w is the next up (I think this is 60w but not sure), and there is a 20w--I'm attaching a photo of a card of four of these to illustrate. The 20w should do you. I have very good plant response in these two tanks. Another thing, I have so far left these until they burn out, and have not noticed any issues with the plants. Fluorescent tubes must bee replaced long before they burn out, and they weaken significantly as they burn, I replace mine every 12 months and I do notice a difference. My other six tanks all have T8 fluorescent. I have a single T8 24-inch 201 fluorescent over both of my 29g tanks, and with the best single tube there is, a Life-Glo 6700K, it is low to moderate light. I can grow the same plants in the 29g or the smaller tanks with CFL, swords, crypts, ferns, mosses and floating.
     

    Attached Files:

Share This Page