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  1. #1

    Question Best way to maintain slightly acidic, soft water conditions?

    0 Not allowed!
    Hi All,

    I am getting ready to set up my first community freshwater aquarium (29-40 gal). Many of the fish I would be interested in choosing from prefer slightly acidic, soft water conditions. My question is what is the best way to maintain the acidity and soft water? My water from home is neutral in all respects and I do have an RO/DI system (my husband has a saltwater aquarium we bought this for). I also plan to make this a planted aquarium if this makes a difference. If I'm leaving out helpful info just let me know!

  2. #2


    0 Not allowed!
    Honestly, when it comes to most fish now a days, they are bred in the home aquarium. Unless you are looking at wild caught fish, the need to match ph and tds is only relavent when breeding fish like Discus (and thats only sometimes). What fish are you wanting that require these parameters? Ro/Di water might hurt the plants with lack of nutrients that the ro takes out... Instead I would just use the discharge from the unit which has been dechlorified for you.
    FW: 1 45gal, 1 40gal, 3 10gal, 3 30gal all community tanks of different species
    Sw: 1 55gal, 1 30gal show, 1 29gal show, 1 20gal and 2 10's

  3. #3


    0 Not allowed!
    Thanks for the info! I am definitely going to be putting some species of cory cat into the tank (not sure which yet). I am considering some rams, chocolate gouramis, or hachetfish...but haven't decided for sure. I am waiting for a reply from my local aquarium and livestock supplier as to the source of the fish (I know that many of their saltwater fish are wild caught). I can be a very literal person so when looking at the parameters for different water conditions for fish should I be thinking of those parameters more as guidlines than strict numbers?

  4. #4


    0 Not allowed!
    I so disagree with this common sentiment!! I've seen time and time again how these common tank bred species perk up and colour up when their water is softer. Especially when there's an RO system already in the house there's no reason not to do it.


    Get a baseline on your tap water. Depending on that you can mix with part RO or go for all RO. If the latter then you need a good buffering salt mix. Anyone going to work with RO water will really appreciate an handheld TDS meter (check ebay!). Your aim is to create a water mix with a stable but low hardness, let's say about 50-60ppm on your handheld meter for starters. Now when you do get your fish after you cycled the tank you will need to drip acclimatize the fish.

    Acidity can be done in various ways, leaf litter will help, peat in the filter is another common way (have a look here and see if you can get the coconut based alternative)

    Plant's won't mind. Ok, initially you'll get some melt, especially on crypts but they will certainly adapt. A good plant substrate capped with something nice to look at it will provide a lot of nutrients and you can always add some more to the water column (but this will also add to the TDS so do take that into account)

  5. #5


    0 Not allowed!
    Thanks for the links! I saw the peat doing some research and that will be easy to do with a canister filter. My husband may have the meter but I have to check! Great advice! I've learned how to drip acclimatize from him as well with the saltwater tank. Thanks for the link too!

  6. #6


    0 Not allowed!
    If he's succesfull with his tank then he can be a lot of help. Buffering RO for freshwater is basically the same thing he does with marine salt (only much lower levels of course!)
    There's only one big differnece between fresh and marine, marine tends to use live rock as filtration, we use filters.

  7. #7

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    0 Not allowed!
    another method of lowering ph (especially with plants) would be a co2 injection.... but then again im one of the people who think fish require stable living conditions verses ideal conditions. for most of the fish you mentioned, neutral water should be fine with them. especially if you buy them from a LFS, they are working with the same water conditions as you so the fish will be adapted to that water.
    I wonder if i plant one of my tiger barbs would the demon seed grow to a full tree?
    gotta love them bunnies!
    I.R.S.: We've got what it takes to take what you've got!

  8. #8


    0 Not allowed!
    PH lowering with co2 would certainly work but it's tricky to keep stable, not something for a newbie I think.

    I respectfully disagree with some of your post. I think you should try to provide good conditions for your fish and in this case it's relatively easy to provide ideal. The LFS angle I don't agree with. An LFS wants to keep stock alive, a fishkeeper wants to keep them healthy and happy for a long time.

  9. #9


    0 Not allowed!
    Quote Originally Posted by talldutchie View Post
    I so disagree with this common sentiment!! I've seen time and time again how these common tank bred species perk up and colour up when their water is softer. Especially when there's an RO system already in the house there's no reason not to do it.
    Dutchie, to you I mean no offence when I say this but you and I will be at odds on this point as long as we breathe. No need for your exclamation. Show me some documentation to refute my years upon years of breeding s/a cichlids, gbr, wild altums, wild appisto's etc and Ill change my stance. Until then, I find it hard to tell every potential GBR owner or new person to the hobby that they should match wild standards unless they are keeping wild fish. Even if the equipment is at their hands, mixing r/o is a huge variable if not needed.

    To the OP. I still stick with my origional comments. It is not manditory to go through the lengths of an RO system. You have a lot of versatility at your hands but its not something that should really hurt the fish you want to keep. The most important thing is a stable water chemestry as genocidex brought up.

    You want to be able to replicate your water changes day in and out. Also, depending on your tap water, you may be ok going neutral and the discharged water from the RO unit will be detoxed of the major additives that cause hardness counts. If im wrong with that, please correct me.
    Last edited by Sandz; 06-18-2013 at 09:08 PM.
    FW: 1 45gal, 1 40gal, 3 10gal, 3 30gal all community tanks of different species
    Sw: 1 55gal, 1 30gal show, 1 29gal show, 1 20gal and 2 10's

  10. Default

    0 Not allowed!
    + to Sandz and with no disrespect to TD, IMO once you start messing with PH you're in for a constant battle to achieve stability. Fluctuating PH (which you are certain to have once you start altering it) is much more harmful to fish than a PH that might be a bit outside the fish's preferred range. For example - PH in my LFS water runs 8+. Mine is 7.2. I merely drip acclimate. My fish and the LFS fish all adapt and thrive in the environment once they are acclimated.
    30 g FW planted:corys, ABNP, blue angel, harleys, zebra danios, apple & nerite snails
    15 g FW planted:crown tail betta, neons, pygmy cory, clown pleco,apple & nerite snails
    90 g FW planted:congos, rainbows, roseline sharks, swordtails, ottos,krib pair, ABNP, peppered cories, apple snails
    90 Gal Journal:
    fishless cycling:
    fish in cycling:

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