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Let me start this out by saying, I have super hard well water.  There's tons of limestone in the area.  I'm fact, about 5 miles down the street is a limestone quarry.  On a well water testing kit the GH reads 450 ppm. PH is 8.4.

We have a water softener, it sort of works. An RO system is not an option.  

Fishkeeping started as my pandemic hobby last year.  Anyway, my first tank was a 3 gallon with one Betta and some plants.  I used UNS Controsoil in that tank.  Aquasoil only buffered my water for about 3 months.  My biggest struggle with that tank was keeping it balanced.  It was an algae filled mess.  In January, I bought a 5.5 gallon tank, and switched my substrate to Seachem flourite.  This tank has been easier to balance.    

Yesterday, was tank maintenance and water change day.  I looked at my tank and decided to rescape it a bit.  Then because I had the day off, I decided to visit two lfs.  I bought some limnophila (can't remember what variety), water sprite, and luduwigia repens.  After talking to the employee at the first lfs I visited, he thinks the only plant that will make it is the luduwigia.  He did say I could set up an African Cichlid tank and they would breed without me having to anything.  I really don't want to breed fish lol. 

 I've run peat in a HOB filter before.  Currently I only run a sponge filter.  Louie my betta can't handle 2 filters running.  Sir Nippy Fins (my first Betta) had no issues.  Sadly, I lost him after jumped out of a gap in the lid. 

Indian Almond leaves and Adler cones don't do too much.  Mostly, I use them for the tannins.  I could mix in a some distilled water every week. 

Anubias grows well.  I have an aponogeton that's pretty happy in my tank. I struggle with crypts.  Amazon swords and Java fern merely exist.  They don't really grow at all.  Java moss and bucephalandra turned into a melted mess.  My biggest surprise was red tiger lotus.  It did so well, I had to trade it in after it outgrew the tank.  The plant had two leaves when I brought it home.  Three weeks later it had taken over half the tank.  Floating plants are hit or miss.  I've tried red root floaters twice.  One lfs sells them by the giant handful for $3.  My frogbit is doing alright.  

What other plants that like hardwater should I try?  

Sorry for the novel length post but I figure there are people who would find a discussion on hard water planted tanks useful. 

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My water isn't quite as hard as yours (8.2 ph GH 10-12 KH 10-12), but water lettuce is a great floater for us. It'd be a little large for your betta tank, but something to consider for the future.

Water sprite grows a bit too well for us, so I don't see why it wouldn't work for you. Ludwigia Repens also grows like a weed. Red Dwarf Aquarium Lily will grow just as well as your tiger lotus (which also grows wonderfully for us). I had success with 1 out of 2 Amazon Swords, so it's a 50/50. Java Fern looked terrible in my tank for 3 months before it started looking okay. I'd try some vallisneria, though mine doesn't actually grow as fast as my other plants. Pogostemon Stellatus Octopus will overwhelm your tank.

For mosses, Taiwan Moss grows really nicely in my tank (I pull out trimmings every week), and I recommend that over Java Moss.

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On 6/24/2021 at 10:59 AM, Stephanie I said:

What other plants that like hardwater should I try?

Besides the Anubias & Java Fern (which you've already mentioned), I have these to suggest:

Don't expect fast growth from any of these, but they should establish.

I would also suggest adding a media reactor, which could be charged with peat, and easily - along with frequently - replenished.

Oh... and you don't have to breed to enjoy the African Cichlids, they would thrive in your conditions, plus Anubias and Java Fern are pretty much the only plants they will tolerate.

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On 6/24/2021 at 11:03 AM, tonyjuliano said:

Besides the Anubias & Java Fern (which you've already mentioned), I have these to suggest:

  • Bacopa Caroliniana
  • Giant Hygrophila
  • Marsilea Hirsutu

Don't expect fast growth from any of these, but they should establish.

I would also suggest adding a media reactor, which could be charged with peat, and easily - along with frequently - replenished.

Oh... and you don't have to breed to enjoy the African Cichlids, they would thrive in your conditions, plus Anubias and Java Fern are pretty much the only plants they will tolerate.

 

I forgot, I've had both Bacopa Carolina and Moneywort.  They grew in the aquasoil but not the flourite.  

An African cichlid tank would be fun but right now I really don't have the space for the appropriately sized tank they would need.

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On 6/24/2021 at 10:56 AM, laritheloud said:

My water isn't quite as hard as yours (8.2 ph GH 10-12 KH 10-12), but water lettuce is a great floater for us. It'd be a little large for your betta tank, but something to consider for the future.

Water sprite grows a bit too well for us, so I don't see why it wouldn't work for you. Ludwigia Repens also grows like a weed. Red Dwarf Aquarium Lily will grow just as well as your tiger lotus (which also grows wonderfully for us). I had success with 1 out of 2 Amazon Swords, so it's a 50/50. Java Fern looked terrible in my tank for 3 months before it started looking okay. I'd try some vallisneria, though mine doesn't actually grow as fast as my other plants. Pogostemon Stellatus Octopus will overwhelm your tank.

For mosses, Taiwan Moss grows really nicely in my tank (I pull out trimmings every week), and I recommend that over Java Moss.

How large has your dwarf aquarium lilly grown? 

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On 6/24/2021 at 1:11 PM, The Goatee said:

Pogostemon stellatus octopus is an insane grower in my hard water. It truly takes over tanks and requires a lot of trimming. I have a small tank that I put guppy fry into and the pogo is an insane jungle. Great for fry and preventing algae blooms. Just higher maintenance than slow growers and may outcompete some plants.

I have to trim mine today. It's absolutely insane how much it's grown.

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On 6/24/2021 at 12:11 PM, The Goatee said:

Pogostemon stellatus octopus is an insane grower in my hard water. It truly takes over tanks and requires a lot of trimming. I have a small tank that I put guppy fry into and the pogo is an insane jungle. Great for fry and preventing algae blooms. Just higher maintenance than slow growers and may outcompete some plants.

 

 That is a very cool looking plant.

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This isn't an answer to your question but may be helpful anyway.

I'd cut back on water changes. There shouldn't be any reason why a single betta in a 5 gallon would need weekly 50% water changes but maybe I missed something and you have more that the betta in there. 

If you reduce water changes to as needed due to nitrate buildup you could go a very long time or even indefinitely with a heavy plant load with only doing top offs. 

With that strategy you could start off with moderate hardness by cutting in RO water from the store which should allow any plant to get well established, and then your top offs would slowly increase your hardness giving the plants time to adapt. 

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I never thought about cutting back on the water changes.  When I had the 3 gallon, I would do 50% and it just carried over to this tank.  There is a nerite snail in the tank as well, but even with all the snail poop, nitrates usually sit around 10 ppm at the end of the week.  Maybe I should just syphon out excess snail poop once a week and then top off the tank.  I'll pick up some distilled water this evening.   

 

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If nitrates are sitting at 10ppm at the end of every week and you're doing 50% that means you are only accumulating 5ppm per week. You could probably go over a month between water changes easily.

The plan I outlined earlier should work beautifully for you. Just do top off until your nitrite reach 30 or 40ppm then do a large water change, and each water change you can reduce the amount of RO water you use. As the plants grow in your time between water changes will get longer and longer and your hardness will slowly increase. At a high enough plant load the plants may consume enough that hardness actually goes down. 

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