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Water conditions and what new world cichlids

Discussion in 'New to the Hobby Questions and Answers' started by RunRedRunner, Jul 10, 2019.

  1. RunRedRunner

    RunRedRunner New Member

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    I’m redoing my 36 gallon bow front. I want a big school of neon tetras. What test kit do I need get to see my water is right for neons. My ph is 8.0. The water in my tank that hasn’t been changed for almost two weeks read above a 7.5 on the low solution and a 7.4 on the high solution. ?? I would like to eventually have a school of 15, I’m reading that I need around 4 dwarf cichlids, if possible some shrimp.
     
  2. Metalhead88

    Metalhead88 Fish Fanatic

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  3. essjay

    essjay Moderator
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    The main thing you need to know is the hardness of your tap water. This information should be somewhere on your water provider's website. You need a number rather than some vague words, and also the unit (as there are half a dozen units they could use).

    Neon tetras are soft water fish, but if you have hard tap water you will need to mix it with a source of pure water such as reverse osmosis water or rain water.
    If you have soft water, that will suit neons fine, and also south American cichlids. In 26 gallons, I would not get anything other than one of the dwarf species. These include rams (in all its colour and body forms, though they do need warmer temperatures than neons need), Bolivian rams, Apistogramas and Nanacaras. All of these can be kept as pairs, and with some Apistos, one male with several females. I would only have one species of cichlid in a tank this size, and just one male.
    These cichlids must choose their own mates; getting any male and any female will not necessarily be successful. The way to buy a bonded pair is to watch the shop tank while motionless for several minutes until the fish forget you are there. Males will push at each other; females will just pootle around. If a male allows a female near him without chasing her off they are likely - but not guaranteed - to be a bonded pair.
     
  4. Byron

    Byron Member

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    I agree with essjay and won't repeat. But one thing is certain, if you do have neons (if the GH turns out to be OK here) they need cooler temperatures than any of the dwarf cichlids. But let's get the GH sorted.

    To your question on the pH. pH is tied to GH and KH. CO2 (dissolved carbon dioxide) also affects the pH, and in tap water there may be a fair bit of CO2 that can dissipate out over 24 hours. When testing tap water for pH you need to let the water sit 24 hours before testing to ensure a more accurate reading. Another thing about pH is that the water authority may add something to increase pH (this is especially common in areas with a low pH as it can prevent corrosion in the water pipes) and this can be temporary. Also, thee natural biological processes in the aquarium tend to lower pH, and this is affected by the initial pH, GH and KH. Then there is the normal diurnal fluctuation of pH that occurs during every 24 hour period. So there are several issues involved in pH.

    The pH is not stand alone, so before doing anything about the pH you need to know the GH and KH of your source water.
     
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  5. RunRedRunner

    RunRedRunner New Member

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    Ok then let me this way. I bought a water filter that goes on the end of a water hose. I know it has a carbon filter, I don’t know what else. So I’ll need to se how that changes the water first. I’m waiting for it to come in. I will be placing some drift wood in my tank. As far as I know other than those two things I will not be chasing the ph. My tank is 36 gallon, that’s a little bigger than 26... not much though. I do want the Apistogramas. As of now I have no place to put a ro system or can afford to pay for bottle water all the time. Maybe I’ll collect rain water. My water is 79-80 year round.
     
  6. RunRedRunner

    RunRedRunner New Member

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    Is there a gh and kh kit? So what schooling fish that does well with cichlids and 80F water?
     
  7. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    You can buy a GH and KH test kit from most pet shops or online but you don't use them very often because the GH and KH rarely change. Just get the local pet shop to test it for you a couple of times a year and don't bother with a GH or KH test kit unless you really want to.
     
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  8. Byron

    Byron Member

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    A "filter" using carbon will not change the GH/KH or pH of the water. Water softeners are sometimes used in homes but these can be even worse for fish because many of them use sodium chloride (common salt) to exchange for the calcium and magnesium salts and common salt is detrimental to freshwater fish long-term [by this I mean it can be a good treatment for some diseases but not permanently in the tank water].

    Let's get the GH (and KH but GH is the more important here) of your source water before we get involved or think of fish. See next response.

    As Colin said, don't waste money on a GH/KH kit that you may only use the once. If you are on municipal water, check their website. Or call them. The GH is general or total hardness, and we need the number and their unit of measurement. This is a one-time thing unless of course you do decide to adjust water parameters but let's deal with one thing at a time. There may be no issue here.

    As for suitable shoaling fish there are some but I hate to suggest them without knowing the GH. Same for the Apistogramma. Most species are still wild caught, or locally bred, and soft acidic water is going to be needed. However, species like Apistogramma cacatuoides are fine in moderate water, or seem to be. Same with the rams. Temperature needs to be moderately warm to warm depending upon species.

    Edit. Just noticed I said a filter would change GH, it should have been will not change, it's now correct; sorry. B.
     
    #8 Byron, Jul 10, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2019
  9. RunRedRunner

    RunRedRunner New Member

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    So I’ll have to find out from local pet store. The water supplier has know idea about hardness, etc.
     
  10. RunRedRunner

    RunRedRunner New Member

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    I got this kit. I don’t know how accurate it is.
     

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  11. Byron

    Byron Member

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    That will do. Use a strip to test your tap water on its own and let us know the GH, and whatever else. I believe these strips usually test several things at once? So use one with some fresh tap water and record the values of all things tested for. On the pH, the CO2 needs to be out-gassed, so put a bit of water in a small jar or something with a tight fitting lid and shake it for a few minutes very hard. Make sure the vessel is clean, no residue of anything (soap, chemicals, food) as that could falsify the results.
     
  12. TwoTankAmin

    TwoTankAmin Member

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    There is an easier and, imo, better way to test how much "stuff" is in your water that goes beyond GH and KH. To explain requires a short bit of info on water.

    Pure water has no GH or hardness or anything else for that matter. As a result pure water is also a poor conductor of electricity. When "stuff" accumulates in pure water, it conducts electricity. The more stuff, the more electricity it conducts.

    The best way to measure what sort of things, in total, are in your water is to test the conductivity. This is done with a digital device with two small probes. You submerge the probes and one probe emits a known electrical charge into the water. The other probe then tests what amount of electricity it receives. Usually, the measurement scale used for this is microsiemens. However, there is a simpler way of expressing this, TDS aka Total Dissolved Solids. TDS is measured using a ppm scale.

    A TDS tester is actually measuring conductivity, but then it uses a fixed formula which converts the microsiemens to PPM. I find PPM a lot easier to understand than the actual conductivity numbers.

    One important consideration with TDS. It includes a lot of stuff in water including ions. Nitrate is an ion, ammonium is an ion. Literally anything whose chemical formula has a + or - at the end is the ionic form of something else. While this tester will not tell one how much of any individual thing may be present. It tells you about the total of all things present. This includes things like organics, calcium, GH, KH etc.

    Now comes the good part. You can buy a usable hand held TDS Tester on Amazon for about $10. I have used this tester for a number of years. It will also measure Temp. Some are in C and others in F.

    https://www.amazon.com/SHOPPERs-CHO...t=&hvlocphy=9004218&hvtargid=pla-805388294794
    [​IMG]
     
  13. RunRedRunner

    RunRedRunner New Member

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    I use to have a bluelab tds meter/stir stick. I gave it away. It’s been a long time but my memory tells me the water was 345 tds. That was over 10 years ago. This test I just took said my GH is between 25 and 75 ppm and KH at least 300.
     
  14. TwoTankAmin

    TwoTankAmin Member

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    Your water is soft re GH but the KH is high relative to that GH normally. You can translate ppm into degrees by dividing the ppm by 17.8. Your water has 4.21 dg hardness.

    General Hardness:
    0 - 4 dH, 0 - 70 ppm : very soft
    4 - 8 dH, 70 - 140 ppm : soft
    8 - 12 dH, 140 - 210 ppm : medium hard
    12 - 18 dH, 210 - 320 ppm : fairly hard
    18 - 30 dH, 320 - 530 ppm : hard
    higher : liquid rock (Lake Malawi and Los Angeles, CA)

    I have a bluelab Guardian continuous monitor on my Altum angel tank. I run TDS (ec x 500) and temp. in F. I keep the tank at 50-60 ppm TDS, pH 6.0 or a tad lower to 6.3 and temp at 85/86F.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. RunRedRunner

    RunRedRunner New Member

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    Well I’m guessing this is good news. My tank water that hasn’t been changed in a week and a half or so has dead on 25GH, 120KH, 7.8 ph. Well according to the test kit
     

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