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Water Question


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I am looking for some help with my water. I have well water but it does have a water softener/brine tank as well as a sulfur filter. I have a heavily planted tank that is heavy on fish as well. CO2. 120 G tank. I can’t seem to get plants to thrive. Sometimes I’ll notice some darker green on the leaves of the plants. I have the Fluval lights as well on my tank. I’m not sure if my mistake is that I use a generalized plant fertilizer or sometimes I don’t use anything. Doesn’t seem to make a difference either way. 


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Hi @Bri

Water softeners are great for showers, washing clothes and dishes, and appliances.....but not for plants.  Why?  Because they remove all of the calcium ions and magnesium ions from the water and replace them with sodium.

If you want to grow plants, especially with well water and a water softener, knowing the water parameters is a must so a few test kits to pick up would be:

pH Test Kit

dKH & dGH Test Kit

Nitrate Test Kit

You also should have a good All-Purpose Aquarium Fertilizer.  Typically I would recommend Nilocg.com Thrive C if the pH of your tank is alkaline or Nilocg.com Thrive or Aquarium Co-op Easy Green if your water is acidic.

Once we know the water parameters of your well water as well as your tank we can make some suggestions as to how to mix them to minimize the amount of sodium and how to add the needed calcium and magnesium.

Your light is probably fine for growing many species of plants however due to the depth of your 120 gallon the plants that require high light may be difficult.  Which Fluval lights to you have and how many?

A beautiful planted tank is not impossible with well water but it does take a little extra effort!



Edited by Seattle_Aquarist
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KH and GH are 6 drops which appears to be soft water. My pH is off the charts really high and I have no idea why. My hot tub tends to how a low ph when I fill it. Attaching all other values. I have two Fluval plant light strips. They are I believe the longest sizes and they span the length of the tank. What can I do due to the depth? 




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With a KH of 6 degrees, you could try adding peat to your filter or even just tucked away in a bag somewhere in the tank, or add botanicals like leaf litter (Indian almond leaf is a popular option) and/or alder cones, or enough driftwood that the tannins can affect the pH. But 6 dKH isn't that low, and any acids you add will have to wear down that KH buffer first, and every water change would replenish it. So if you really want to bring your pH down (and just how high is "off the charts really high" exactly; the chart goes pretty high!), your best bet might be to mix your tap water with reverse osmosis (RO) water. You can buy a reasonably affordable system nowadays, or maybe buy some from your LFS.

Maybe @Seattle_Aquarist or @Mmiller2001 have better (or cheaper!) suggestions.

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