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Help!! My water is super hard!!


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I just got a gh and kh test kit, and when I tested one of my betta tank's water, it read 21 dGH 😰!! I also tested my tap water and it read 17 dGH. I live in California and the water is supposed to be really hard, but that is still super high. When I used the test strips before, the water tested 180 ppm but that was the max reading on the testing. I'm really freaking out right now, and I'm also highly discouraged because I was really excited to get corydoras and other fish for my new 20 gallon but the gh is way too high I think😭😣. Does anyone know what I should do about my betta tanks and also know any fish for really hard water?? If there is a way I still want to get corydoras.

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8 minutes ago, Chlo said:

I just got a gh and kh test kit, and when I tested one of my betta tank's water, it read 21 dGH 😰!! I also tested my tap water and it read 17 dGH. I live in California and the water is supposed to be really hard, but that is still super high. When I used the test strips before, the water tested 180 ppm but that was the max reading on the testing. I'm really freaking out right now, and I'm also highly discouraged because I was really excited to get corydoras and other fish for my new 20 gallon but the gh is way too high I think😭😣. Does anyone know what I should do about my betta tanks and also know any fish for really hard water?? If there is a way I still want to get corydoras.

That's really high! If you add a ton of plants, wood, run some CO2 . . . maybe get an RO unit and mix water into your tap . . . these steps could help.

If it were me? I'd choose different fish. What about African Cichlids? Bunch of photos below . . .

Or Guppies? Or Rainbowfish (I think they're OK with high GH)? 

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Yeah I was thinking about mixing RO water, but how would you make sure it is the right temperature? Also, my betta looks and has been acting really healthy, but 21 dGH is really high. I'm also not sure what could be making the water harder in his tank. It's also kind of weird because my friend has a betta who she keeps in a tiny, unfiltered fish bowl and she doesn't have a heater or use dechlorinator, but her betta has been alive for 2 years.... She has the same tap water as me so maybe my betta will be fine in it???? But then again it is really really high. Also..... I don't really like african cichlids (unfortunately) but would platies survive in that high gh?

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1 hour ago, Chlo said:

Yeah I was thinking about mixing RO water, but how would you make sure it is the right temperature? Also, my betta looks and has been acting really healthy, but 21 dGH is really high. I'm also not sure what could be making the water harder in his tank. It's also kind of weird because my friend has a betta who she keeps in a tiny, unfiltered fish bowl and she doesn't have a heater or use dechlorinator, but her betta has been alive for 2 years.... She has the same tap water as me so maybe my betta will be fine in it???? But then again it is really really high. Also..... I don't really like african cichlids (unfortunately) but would platies survive in that high gh?

Well, if the Betta's happy, go with it!

Platys usually enjoy harder water I think. We've raised them on pretty soft water.

What's your water's pH?

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Hi @Chlo, I am from California also. My water has a fairly high pH and is in the hard range as well. I posted my test strip results from today here for you to see (from a platy tank). I have difficulty seeing the colors well but I would say my hardness is a purple color or in the hard tier but is not as hard as yours. I keep both platies and corydoras in my aquariums. And neon tetras and red cherry shrimp. I have never had an issue (sterbai corydoras have actually spawned as well). I think you would be able to keep both corydoras and platies in your water. I also think your betta will be fine. If you want to reduce your gH, live aquarium plants will do that over time as they grow. 

I would imagine that your local fish store that sell and keep these fish have similar water parameters to yours as well. 

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6 hours ago, Chlo said:

I just got a gh and kh test kit, and when I tested one of my betta tank's water, it read 21 dGH 😰!! I also tested my tap water and it read 17 dGH. I live in California and the water is supposed to be really hard, but that is still super high. When I used the test strips before, the water tested 180 ppm but that was the max reading on the testing. I'm really freaking out right now, and I'm also highly discouraged because I was really excited to get corydoras and other fish for my new 20 gallon but the gh is way too high I think😭😣. Does anyone know what I should do about my betta tanks and also know any fish for really hard water?? If there is a way I still want to get corydoras.

Distilled water has dGH of zero and can be your friend, mix in with your tap water and it will lower your dGH. Im not sure how much you would have to mix to get the dGH you are looking for but its an idea for you to think on. I think a gallon is less than dollar.

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So Cory just mentioned in his live stream that plants reduce hardness....well, my one tank I forgot to put CC back in and everything dropped, pH and kH....but not the hardness. It's still way over 300. So I had to add CC back in, which I'm sure added more hardness to the water. I have a java fern that takes up half the tank.... literally. Im not sure exactly what it does take out of the water....but it's a beast. Someone please explain. Cause I'm really just done with the hobby. How can my water be so hard and yet my pH and kH bottom out? Not just be low....totally bottom out. I'm fine with it for my Swordtails/guppies....most other fish in fact....but now I understand why my bettas and shrimp kept dying. There is something very wrong with my water....I don't live in the middle of the country on a bed of limestone. I'm on the east coast...but on municipal water.

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Hi @YIACrazy, General hardness is measure of calcium and magnesium in the water. As a result, you can have water with high gH and low kH and low pH. For hardness, it is also possible that you have more magnesium than calcium or vice versa. Java fern is a relatively slow grower so Cory was speaking more on plants that grow faster. And generally it will still take some time for the plants to consume the calcium/ magnesium so if you keep doing water changes or topping off the tank, you may be adding back in more gH than the plants are removing.  

For your tank/ water in particular, tests will need to be done to find what is going wrong. 

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14 hours ago, Chlo said:

I just got a gh and kh test kit, and when I tested one of my betta tank's water, it read 21 dGH 😰!! I also tested my tap water and it read 17 dGH. I live in California and the water is supposed to be really hard, but that is still super high. When I used the test strips before, the water tested 180 ppm but that was the max reading on the testing. I'm really freaking out right now, and I'm also highly discouraged because I was really excited to get corydoras and other fish for my new 20 gallon but the gh is way too high I think😭😣. Does anyone know what I should do about my betta tanks and also know any fish for really hard water?? If there is a way I still want to get corydoras.

In situations like these, I have to just recommend an RO/DI unit. You can grab one of the best systems for 150 bucks and solves all your worries near instantly. You can "cut" your tap water or just build your water from scratch to match ideal parameters for your fish. The materials to build water are dirt cheap and a plethora of tools are available online on how to mineralize water. It's so easy, and if you are in for the long hall...is money well spent!

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12 hours ago, Fish Folk said:

Well, if the Betta's happy, go with it!

Platys usually enjoy harder water I think. We've raised them on pretty soft water.

What's your water's pH?

My tap water pH is 8.2, and also my KH is 6. My betta tanks usually read 8.0, but during cycling the pH changed a lot, one of my betta tanks went down to 7.4 (or it might have just been because I read the color wrong). Also, I did a water change on my betta's tank, because in the API test kit it says that when water evaporates, the minerals are left behind, increasing the gH. The gH went from 21 dGH down to 19 dGH. 

 

10 hours ago, Isaac M said:

Hi @Chlo, I am from California also. My water has a fairly high pH and is in the hard range as well. I posted my test strip results from today here for you to see (from a platy tank). I have difficulty seeing the colors well but I would say my hardness is a purple color or in the hard tier but is not as hard as yours. I keep both platies and corydoras in my aquariums. And neon tetras and red cherry shrimp. I have never had an issue (sterbai corydoras have actually spawned as well). I think you would be able to keep both corydoras and platies in your water. I also think your betta will be fine. If you want to reduce your gH, live aquarium plants will do that over time as they grow. 

I would imagine that your local fish store that sell and keep these fish have similar water parameters to yours as well. 

Yeah, my tap water is around 300 ppm I think. A couple of my local fish stores use RO water for their tanks, but I'm not sure about my local Petco. I might ask them and if they use the same water, I might buy fish from them because they are used to the water

9 minutes ago, Mmiller2001 said:

In situations like these, I have to just recommend an RO/DI unit. You can grab one of the best systems for 150 bucks and solves all your worries near instantly. You can "cut" your tap water or just build your water from scratch to match ideal parameters for your fish. The materials to build water are dirt cheap and a plethora of tools are available online on how to mineralize water. It's so easy, and if you are in for the long hall...is money well spent!

 I thought about getting one..... The only thing is that I'm still in middle school so I don't exactly have $150 laying around... But my local fish store sells RO water for 5 cents per gallon. That's pretty cheap but I'd have to buy a lot.

 

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4 minutes ago, Chlo said:

 I thought about getting one..... The only thing is that I'm still in middle school so I don't exactly have $150 laying around... But my local fish store sells RO water for 5 cents per gallon. That's pretty cheap but I'd have to buy a lot.

I certainly understand. Before I went the RO system route, I bought food grade 5 gallon buckets from Walmart. I would do a weekly run down to the LFS and fill up. But at the age of 46, that was a killer on my body! Christmas is only 7 months away? And what parent wouldn't want pure water in their home, and push how much plastic they would keep from going into the environment!

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So you’re wanting to set up a new 20 right? You’re worried about having a limited number of fish species to choose from in your hard water?

I’d go and get 5-10 gallons of RO water from the local fish shop. Make your initial tank water with a 50/50 mix. To avoid buying water very often you’ll aim for a lightly stocked tank with as many plants as you can get. When you do water changes (maybe once a month) keep the same 50/50 mix, but if needed you can use distilled water from the grocery store instead of the RO. 

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25 minutes ago, Mmiller2001 said:

I certainly understand. Before I went the RO system route, I bought food grade 5 gallon buckets from Walmart. I would do a weekly run down to the LFS and fill up. But at the age of 46, that was a killer on my body! Christmas is only 7 months away? And what parent wouldn't want pure water in their home, and push how much plastic they would keep from going into the environment!

Yeah, I'm planning on asking for money on my birthday and Christmas to buy lots of fish supplies😅 My family kind of thinks I'm crazy with all this fish stuff haha. When I literally had a meltdown when I found out how high my pH and gH was, my brother was like, "I didn't even know water hardness was a thing!"

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1 hour ago, Patrick_G said:

So you’re wanting to set up a new 20 right? You’re worried about having a limited number of fish species to choose from in your hard water?

I’d go and get 5-10 gallons of RO water from the local fish shop. Make your initial tank water with a 50/50 mix. To avoid buying water very often you’ll aim for a lightly stocked tank with as many plants as you can get. When you do water changes (maybe once a month) keep the same 50/50 mix, but if needed you can use distilled water from the grocery store instead of the RO. 

Yeah, I might just buy RO water from my local fish store. I calculated the price per year, and it will probably be less than 20 dollars. I'll also try to lightly stock my tank.

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I'm still a bit confused by your concern at the readings you're getting. Your fish is currently healthy and behaving normally, yeah? If I were in your shoes I'd keep going with the water you've got readily available. Your water parameters might prevent you from keeping extra-sensitive fish but it doesn't sound like you've got any plans for that at the moment. Keep things simple, add lots of plants to consume the high mineral content in your water and maybe seek local, tank-bred fish, rather than wild caught specimens.

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2 minutes ago, Schwack said:

I'm still a bit confused by your concern at the readings you're getting. Your fish is currently healthy and behaving normally, yeah? If I were in your shoes I'd keep going with the water you've got readily available. Your water parameters might prevent you from keeping extra-sensitive fish but it doesn't sound like you've got any plans for that at the moment. Keep things simple, add lots of plants to consume the high mineral content in your water and maybe seek local, tank-bred fish, rather than wild caught specimens.

Well, I'm not sure how the hard water is affecting my bettas. My female betta has always been kind of a nervous  fish and a crazy swimmer, but her ripped pectoral fins and her scales haven't really healed (she is a dumbo betta), and I'm wondering if that is related to how hard the water is?? I'm not exactly sure how water hardness affects bettas, but because it is so high I guess I just freaked out. I guess if I get fish used to my tap water, it shouldn't be a problem, but I'm worried that the water hardness will rise really high in the tank like my betta's.

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I am with @Schwack, I do not understand the concern. If your pet store has similar water parameters, everything will be fine. Unless you are trying to keep and breed discus or fish similar to that, I think your fish will do great. The only thing I would add is that I would add a top to your aquarium to minimize evaporation so you do not need to top off which will increase the gH. But a heavily planted (lots of fast growing stem plants and floating plants) platy aquarium with corydoras does not sound impossible to me. 

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3 minutes ago, Isaac M said:

I am with @Schwack, I do not understand the concern. If your pet store has similar water parameters, everything will be fine. Unless you are trying to keep and breed discus or fish similar to that, I think your fish will do great. The only thing I would add is that I would add a top to your aquarium to minimize evaporation so you do not need to top off which will increase the gH. But a heavily planted (lots of fast growing stem plants and floating plants) platy aquarium with corydoras does not sound impossible to me. 

I guess that makes sense. Hopefully my local Petco uses tap water for their tanks so that I can get fish there. I'm not sure if I will get stem plants, I was only going to get java fern and anubias nana petite (to glue onto my driftwood). I'm not the best at keeping plants and I think stem plants need root tabs and seem harder to keep. But maybe I will get some floating plants. 

9 minutes ago, Isaac M said:

 But a heavily planted (lots of fast growing stem plants and floating plants) platy aquarium with corydoras does not sound impossible to me. 

Ahhhh doesn't sound impossible? I'm still a newbie so that sounds a little iffy 😂😅

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😂 I did not mean it to come out that way, I was just saying that a high gH is not the problem it once was. There are fish that are acclimated to those conditions now in your area most likely since you have fish stores there. I imagine it would be difficult to stay in business there if everyone that kept fish in your area needed RO water. I would just ask for the water parameters of the tanks at the store and discuss the high gH concern with them. 

As for stem plants, they typically prefer a water column fertilizer like an easy green. Root tabs are more for plants like crypts and swords that are heavy root feeders. You can actually float most stem plants and they will grow like that. 

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2 minutes ago, Isaac M said:

😂 I did not mean it to come out that way, I was just saying that a high gH is not the problem it once was. There are fish that are acclimated to those conditions now in your area most likely since you have fish stores there. I imagine it would be difficult to stay in business there if everyone that kept fish in your area needed RO water. I would just ask for the water parameters of the tanks at the store and discuss the high gH concern with them. 

Haha that's good, I'll have to find sometime to convince my parents to bring me to Petco and our local fish store, lol. My mom is always saying, "Geez we are going to Petco every week!" 🤣

3 minutes ago, Isaac M said:

As for stem plants, they typically prefer a water column fertilizer like an easy green. Root tabs are more for plants like crypts and swords that are heavy root feeders. You can actually float most stem plants and they will grow like that. 

Oh ok, I'll definitely check them out! Any recommendations for easy ones that are hard to kill?? 😛

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I feel your pain, I started keeping aquariums when I was about 14 or maybe even younger and all I had was a petco in my area. I would always be asking my aunt to take me 😂 

And well it depends on your tank setup really. And if you will be using a fertilizer like easy green or even root tabs. 

Most hygrophilas are easy, pogostemon stellata octopus from the co-op is an easy one. The basic rotalas are pretty easy I find. If you want to do others that are not stems, crypts and amazon swords are generally easy. If you just want lots of plants (and no snails) to make the aquarium look nice, aponogetons are super easy and usually available in bulbs at petcos. 

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50 minutes ago, Chlo said:

Well, I'm not sure how the hard water is affecting my bettas. My female betta has always been kind of a nervous  fish and a crazy swimmer, but her ripped pectoral fins and her scales haven't really healed (she is a dumbo betta), and I'm wondering if that is related to how hard the water is?? I'm not exactly sure how water hardness affects bettas, but because it is so high I guess I just freaked out. I guess if I get fish used to my tap water, it shouldn't be a problem, but I'm worried that the water hardness will rise really high in the tank like my betta's.

I'd guess the fin tears are totally unrelated to hard water. Probably just caught on some decor in the tank. I've seen people add a small amount of salt (1tsp:gallon, if I recall correctly) to help speed healing and act as a mild anti-biotic. You're probably fine just monitoring her injuries and treating if you see anything specific.

There are a wide variety of anubias to add if you like their look. I think petco typically carries a. barteri in their tubed plant section. I've had some fantastic success with their tubed plants. The sword I purchased on clearance from them has gotten absolutely massive in only a few weeks, so don't shy away from them if they're your easiest option. Crypts are also relatively easy to keep, even without root tabs. They'll grow slowly, but they will grow and consume minerals from your water in the process.

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