Hard Water and Aquarium Fish

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What fish do well in hard water?

For many people, hard water is a reality. However, doing everything you can to soften the aquarium water for the sake of the fish it contains doesn't have to be.

Before you make war on the specific parameters of your tank water, take a moment to consider whether the fish you have selected really need milder conditions or can adapt to what flows from the tap.

A hard water primer

The hardness of water refers to the number of minerals dissolved in it and is measured in two ways: General hardness (GH) and Carbonate hardness (KH), also known as alkalinity.

The first measures magnesium and calcium, while the second measures carbonate and bicarbonate ions. When hard water is measured for fish, it is called the degree of hardness (DH) or parts per million (ppm).

A general degree of hardness (DH) is defined as 10 mg / L CaO, which is equivalent to 17.85 ppm.

    • When the DH is 0 to 6 and the ppm is 0 to 100, the water is soft or very soft.
    • When the DH of the water is 6 to 25 and the ppm is 101 to 449, it is a little hard to hard.
    • When DH is 30 or more and the ppm is 450 or more, the water is considered "liquid rock" or very hard.

The KH of the water is related to the pH level of the aquarium. The higher the KH measurement, the less the aquarium's pH will fluctuate, and that's best for your fish.

Choosing hard water fish

Here's the good news: Unless you've invested in specific tropical species that absolutely must live in soft water, like a wild-caught discus, your fish will likely adapt to the hardness of the local water in your aquarium.

Even if your fish research accurately establishes a fish species' original native habitat, perhaps the fish you bring home from your local pet store was not born or raised in that environment.

In fact, since most species of fish are now raised commercially, it is most likely that they were raised in water that leans toward the hard alkaline side.

However, you can avoid the whole problem of whether your fish will thrive in hard water simply by choosing a hard water fish species. These include:

      • Life Carriers such as Guppies, Mollies, Platies, and Swordtails
      • Paradise fish
      • African and some Central American cichlids
      • Brackish fish such as archers, monkeys, and scats

Soften or harden the water

There are several ways to soften hard water if necessary, including:

    • Water softening pillows
    • Peat
    • Driftwood

If your chosen fish species really must have soft water, consider changing the water sources rather than using costly and continuous water treatments. Using reverse osmosis (RO) water for mixing is an option, as is using a combination of tap and distilled water.

Some diligent aquarium owners have been known to collect rainwater, which is naturally soft and acidic.

On the other hand, if you find that your water is too soft, there are also ways to harden it, including:

    • Crushed coral or oyster shell
    • Limestone
    • Buffer additives

If you use any kind of extras to harden or soften the water, make sure they have been thoroughly cleaned, so you don't do more harm than good.

Ask the Experts About Hard Water Fish

When buying fish, check with your local pet store to find out what the hardness and pH levels of their tanks are. You might be surprised to find that most of their tanks are filled with hard, neutral to alkaline water, even though they keep fish that are supposedly soft water species.

It seems counterintuitive to keep fish in the "wrong" type of water, but these fish were bred in captivity in hard water conditions. So it makes sense to keep them in water that is similar to what they were raised in.

Enjoy The Video Tutorial about the Top 10 Aquarium Fish That LOVE Hard Water

Source: Aquarium Co-Op

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