Is spring water safe to use in aquariums? We live in a small town that uses well water mixed with water from the next city. It is very soft water with a high ph of about 8.4. I test the water everyday with the api master kit and I do not get any readings for ammonia, nitrate, or nitrites. We have had 3 fish for the last 3 weeks and I show nothing on my test. I took the water to have it tested at our closest pet store and they said that because of the well water I will never get stable water conditions and that I need to change out 8 gallons with spring water. The tank is 29 gallons. Any help will definitely be appreciated as we have had a few fish die.
Hey Vicrtoria, quite the opposite actually - well water is one of the most stabile waters to use. It has natural buffering agents in it to maintain a constant Ph and Kh levels.
What kind of fish are in the tank? If they are small bodied fish they may not be producing enough waste to register any ammonia. Of course I would guess the opposite since you said you have previously lost some fish. How long have you had the tank running for?
In my opinion, adding the spring water will only cause unstable water conditions, ultimately ending up where you started.
We have 2 glofish right now. The tank has been running for 3 full weeks but the fish have only been in for 2. I am really confused as what to do. We have been told just to add driftwood(which we did)to lower the ph, then I was told we shouldn't have used driftwood because my kh is way off the charts! What should we do?
The driftwood will not raise your KH and may lower your PH slightly so you can leave it in. The easiest thing would be to stick with fish that do well in hard high PH water. Most livebearers like guppys, platies, mollys, and swordtails should do well in your water. If you want to soften your water and lower the PH then it's going to take a bit of work on your part to maintain a stable PH. You can use distilled water, R/O water, or rain water mixed with your tap water to get the desired PH. Another option is to use peat moss in your filter to lower the PH. The down side of that is that it can color your water.
The tank probably hasn't gone through the Nitrogen Cycle. You can learn a bout it here: http://www.myaquariumclub.com/the-nitrogen-cycle-for-beginners-358.html
I should have asked this earlier, but what size tank is it?
Driftwood works great to soften the water, but you need a large amount of it to really serve it's purpose. Your Glofish are pretty hardy fish and arent too picky about Ph/Kh levels. As long as they don't fluctuate!
I would stick to keeping fish that like your type of water, instead of adjusting your water for the fish .
Ah, you got two for one. Must have been typing the same time as you Fry Daddy. lol
Thanks for the advice! I guess what I'd like to know though is if I have really soft water shouldn't the ph be low also? The ph has always been high. I tested water from the tap after I let it set for over 24hours first and the ph is still that high. I tested the water before I added fish and it is still the same. Actually, ph stays the same no matter what. It is a constant 8.4. That is when we got advice to add the driftwood. When I had the water tested today she said that the kh was so high that she couldn't even guess what it was at. She said that was the reason my fish were dying because my water parameters would fluctuate?? Oh, the tank is a 29 gallon and I understand about the nitrogen cycle. Would have preferred to cycle this way however my son(it's his tank) got it for his birthday and he decided not to wait - it was his money. At this point I just want to make sure we have no other casualties. I will definitely talk to him about what fish are good for our water!
I just wanted to add that the person at the store wasn't telling me the kh was high because of the driftwood. She just said that the driftwood wasn't needed because the water is already soft. I guess the water here just has a high kh?
Well, My Ph is about the same as yours, maybe even a little higher. My KH readings are also off the chart. But I've never had a problem with any fish that I put in there. I've had everything from Glofish, White Cloud Minnows, most tetra species, Puffers, you name it. They all did fine.
The only reason I could think of your water fluctuating is the addition of spring water to your tank. If it's Ph/Kh was drastically lower than the water in your tank, then it may have caused the fish to die.
All of this may be over my head here, so someone with greater knowledge may want to chime in.
Thanks ChaosReborn. I haven't added the spring water yet because I wanted to find out if this was the right move to make. Hopefully we will get this figured out soon.
While it is usual for well water to have a high General Hardness GH and often a high KH too, it does sometimes happen that there is a high KH and a low GH.
It is a common mith that the KH needs to be high when the GH is (or visa versa), however it is true that they usually are high together. This is often because the conditions that create high KH (calcium carbonate) involve water running over (or slowly dripping through) extinct reefs or other sections of earth that were once ocean floor. These "rocks" have a high mineral and salt content as well as coral skeletons and shells, etc...loads of calcium carbonate.
However it is possible to have calcium carbonate (or other carbonic acid) deposits in the earth's crust without high salt levels and this may be what you have there, rocks that contain freshwater shell deposits, i.e. a low salt content.
Also the fact that your water is combined with water from the town over may be diluting what GH further!!
You are right to think along the lines of diluting the KH by introducing other water and Fry Daddy was right to suggest RO water or rainwater.
Can you access rain water, this is often easiest, but has a very low GH and may lower your GH even more.
By "spring water" do you mean bottled water?
If it's bottled water then I believe there are risks involved as the bottles can leach chemicals into the water especially BPA's. A posioning of this kind may be slight and not show up in the short term, but may accumulate if you use bottled water frequently. There are supposed to be some safe plastics and if you're sure that they are a safe type (I'm not 100% sure which is safe) then I say use the spring water, but test its pH, GH and KH too.
If you mean spring wate rthat is comming from the ground near your place, then test it and try and find it's mineral content from you local council or such!!
I'd still prefer that you add rainwater (or RO water) over bottled, but if you do add anything to dilute the KH then you are lowering your GH furhter. I suggest you look at raising your GH with mineral salts, one ideal product (by brand) is "Mineral Salt" by "Sera"...there are many more products.
Diluting your KH a bit should still mean that there is enough KH (carbonate hardness/carbonic acid) to buffer your pH. Obviously how low your KH goes will depend on how much you dilute it. Also the lower your KH goes the less it will buffer you pH. Another factor here will be the KH of the water you're adding.
Just keep track of how much water you use to dilute the KH and if the KH drops too much or the pH becomes too unstable, adjust the amount of rain, RO or bottled water you're introducing and add some of the water with the high KH.
Finally I also noticed that others have suggested peat moss to lower your pH, this will work and I've observed that peat moss does lower the KH slightly too. Still adding water from another source (that has a low KH) will be quickest.
Aslo do all adjustments very slowly (e.g. add the new water slowly) as radically different water types, esp. like yours, can cause sudden changes in water parameters and this can stress fish out.
I hope this has answered your question(s).
Please feel free to ask more, anytime !
P.S. Despite all the claims about "Natural Spring Water" in all these bottled products, a good number of them are just filtered tap water and may contain chlorine/chloramine.
I recomend that you still use a dechlorinator even if it says "Fresh from a New Zealand Glacier"... we have water treatment plants on this side of the world too!!!
Thanks SC. First, to answer your question - pet store recommended the spring water that is sold in bottles. But I have found a place locally that sells RO water for what I think is a good price so I am thinking I will start with that. I am not to sure what the GH of my water is but I will test that in the morning. This may be a stupid question but I'll ask it anyway, when you say to add the water slowly, exactly how slow? Like a gallon an hour? If so that's fine, just want to make sure we do it right. Also, with RO water is it necessary to add anything before putting it in the tank?
I have heard of pet stores suggesting bottled water and it probably works...I'm just not too sure about plastics and any chemial leaching????
The RO option sounds great. Yes it is probably best to look at adding some mineral salts to the RO water, it will have a low hardness (be soft water). Just measure it's hardness, then you'll know how much mineral salt you should add to get the right GH.
I only use rain water atm and it's comming in with a GH of 1-2 degrees (20-30ppm), to get this water to the correct hardness I add 1 (heaped) teaspoon for every 10 litre (around 2.5 gallons) bucket I replace...Of cause follow any instructions given by product you buy.
Add new water over hours, one gallon an hour might be a bit slow.
Lets see, you should change 20-30% weekly.
so (average) 25% of 29 = 7.25 gallons
So add that at about 2 gallons an hour (and imagine you're changing 8 galons...make the math easier)
When you're adding new water keep an eye on the fish to see if they start to breath heavy. If they do ease up and wait a few hour, maybe test the water again and look at what to add, maybe plain RO or RO with mineral salts...depending on how the readings are.
BTW One good thing about a higher GH is that fish tend to pick-up less disease if the water is hard...even trace mineral salt treats a lot of illness.
P.S. There are no stupid questions, also it's better to ask than to not ask and make a mistake. We've all had questions when we start out and we've all made mistakes too!!
I was told that my water was to soft and to use spring water. I have just added the spring water and will be adding the fish tomorrow. If that is what the pet store say way would they be wrong? If the fish die I will be taking them back for a refund.
Hi there Jo and welcome to the forum,
There is a good chance that things will be OK when you add "spring water", however not all pet stores give the best advice, I learnt that the hard way.
I'm wondering if you have test kits?
If you do could you please post your water parameters for us to see. Ammonia levels and nitrIte levels are key, but nitrAte and pH and GH are good too.
BTW what fish do you have?
And how big is your tank?
Again welcome to MAC
I have alway used bottled spring water and I add conditioner/stress zyme. I have four fish in 30 gallon. Small gold Celestial and Bubble eyed fish. They seem to do fine and swim happily. The test that keeps me watering changing is the ammonia test. But I am not sure I trust this liquid Ammonia test. I took water from faucet and tested and then from bottle and tested. both without fish whatsoever turned green showing ammonia. What's up with that? When I do a strip test of tank water, the strips show it all okay except a little high on the KH. So what's up with the liquid Ammonia test? I followed the directions to a T.