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Safe rate to raise GH?

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I am having issues with GH....well i didnt realize i was because i have been lazy about testing my water params....until my fish began looking unhappy and water changes werent helping...It all started with running out of the Buff it Up from goldfish connection...

Just realized my GH from the tap is 0-17 ppm...ughhh...so now i realize thats why my anubias are melting...

After i ran out of BIU i started adjusting Kh with baking soda, which doesnt unfortunately help my GH at all...but i figured it was probably fine (like an idiot)...so my question is at what rate can I safely raise GH so i dont cause my fish even more stress or osmotic shock or whatever?

I have Barr's GH booster from my attempt at keeping plants days...also have equilibrium too...also have epsom salt on hand if needed (i have options, but i think i will stick with Barrs GH booster as it has a 3:3:1 K:CA:Mg ratio...unless you all tell me otherwise)...

If it helps, to know my basic params they are as follows: (tank/tap)

pH: 8 / 7.4-7.6

Ammonia: 0-0.25 / 0.5 ppm (just did a 30% water change after i took these measurements and doing another tomorrow)

Nitrate: 20-30 / 0 ppm

Nitrite: 0 / 0 ppm

KH: 140-150 ppm / 17 ppm

GH: 17 ppm / 0-17 ppm

3 fish/55 gallon tank with 2 AC110 and an AC70, and air pumps.

I am currently aging ~25 gallons of water with an airstone in anticipation for tomorrows water change.

The other issue i am concerned about is i wanted to treat with 0.1-0.3% salt because my poor fish are looking ragged...but i read that having too much sodium in the system will cause the other minerals too precipitate out...so maybe i should skip the salt until i can get a decent GH in the tank?

i also think that there may be orthophosphate in the tap water...i read somewhere else that kaolinite/montromillionite clay may help bind orthophosphate? Has anyone else heard of this? I have both on hand (i use it for face masks!) and they also may help raise hardness i think...

Sorry this was so lengthy but thanks for the help!!

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Oh i should also say that i know there are alternatives such as aragonite, and cuttlebones to aid in raising GH gradually..if it really is super neccessary i can go out and get it...but im really trying to not have to (money is tight)!

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Do you have a water softener?   Can you bypass it?

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No water softener...unfortunately that is just the regular tap water in my area....someone else recently posted about the water being off in the same area too so its not my test kit

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I suspect that most people here have softened water and use it in their tanks without problems.  The goldfish don't care, but I don't know about your plants.  You can certainly add clay, which makes your water sparkle. 

 

What source suggested that 0.3% salt precipitated other minerals?

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Anubias need calcium so a GH booster is good for them. What kind of lighting do you have and how long do you keep on the lights? The longer the photoperiod and depending on the type of lights you have, the anubias may need some ferts or you can reduce photoperiod.

 

My tap is also very soft. When I boosted the GH, I added what I thought I needed then tested after 24 hours. If it wasn't where I wanted, then I added more GH booster. Then tested after 24 hours. Repeat until I got the level I wanted. I probably didn't need to wait until 24 hours, but I wanted to make sure the GH booster had dissolved.

 

Now the GH booster will help your anubias. With regards to your fish, there maybe other issues there. You can up your GH and then see how your fish are doing. If not any better, then post in the D&D section. Or you can just post in the D&D section straightaway.

 

Here is the GH booster that I buy: http://greenleafaquariums.com/aquarium-fertilizers-supplements/gh-booster.html

 

I buy 3 to 4 bags at a time.

 

I hope this helps!

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Wait, sorry I am confused...I don't have a water softener...I suspect that my water source softens it before distribution and adds orthophosphate to the water supply as well to regulate pH...this is why I think my KH/GH and pH readings are confusing. But I could obviously be wrong.

 

You said that goldfish don't mind about living in soft water? It was my understanding that goldfish actually preferred harder water and that some hardness is obligatory for proper osmoregulation?

 

Either way, here is an article on the relationship between "temporary hardness" (carbonate hardness) and non-carbonate hardness (magnesium). It delves into the chemical processes that occur for water softening via precipitation (obviously the opposite of what I want though): http://www.gewater.com/handbook/ext_treatment/ch_7_precipitation.jsp

 

Another article I was reading that is less chemistry focused states the following about domestic water softeners

"...domestic water softeners...remove the temporary hardness(such as carbonates) that potentially furs up pipes and heaters by replacing it with permanent hardness (such as chlorides) that does not. While you can pass this softened water through a reverse-osmosis filter to remove the permanent hardness as well, until you have done so, you shouldn't consider the softened water as being suitable for soft water fish.

In fact, aquarists are divided on whether the resulting softened water is safe for keeping fish at all. The odd balance of minerals in softened water is not typical of any of the environments from which tropical fish are collected. While the chloride levels are much higher than those soft water fish are adapted to, the levels of carbonate hardness are too low for the health of hard water fishes like Rift Valley cichlids, goldfish, and livebearers."

http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwh2oquality.htm

 

This one is about calcium in the aquarium, though it is specifically about marine aquariums there is valuable information about the precipitation process, particularly about supersaturated molecules. It also discusses the role phosphate plays in inhibiting dissolution:

http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2002/3/chemistry

 

Here is more on phosphate and its relationship to precipitation of carbonates and algal blooms:

http://yyy.rsmas.miami.edu/groups/jmc/fla-bay/fbay.html

 

Here is what I read about the importance of GH and redox:

http://www.fishbeginner.info/home/aquarium-gh-kh-ph-chemistry-what-to-know/

http://www.americanaquariumproducts.com/AquariumKH.html

   The latter article is interesting because it provides reference links for additional information however, does pitch product sales so take with a grain of salt

 

 

I am still trying to relocate the information I found on sodium preventing the dissolution of other minerals in the aquarium. I ended up doing a salt dip in the meantime with the fishies. I don't want to add or mess with the water too much.

 

And I could also be simply really confused...I studied Geobiology and Environmental Ecology in college, which had a lot to do with water hardness etc., but it has been a while since I took chemistry. So maybe I am just completely wrong.

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Anubias need calcium so a GH booster is good for them. What kind of lighting do you have and how long do you keep on the lights? The longer the photoperiod and depending on the type of lights you have, the anubias may need some ferts or you can reduce photoperiod.

 

My tap is also very soft. When I boosted the GH, I added what I thought I needed then tested after 24 hours. If it wasn't where I wanted, then I added more GH booster. Then tested after 24 hours. Repeat until I got the level I wanted. I probably didn't need to wait until 24 hours, but I wanted to make sure the GH booster had dissolved.

 

Now the GH booster will help your anubias. With regards to your fish, there maybe other issues there. You can up your GH and then see how your fish are doing. If not any better, then post in the D&D section. Or you can just post in the D&D section straightaway.

 

Here is the GH booster that I buy: http://greenleafaquariums.com/aquarium-fertilizers-supplements/gh-booster.html

 

I buy 3 to 4 bags at a time.

 

I hope this helps!

Thanks Lisa! I may post in the DD section still but my main goal was to get my water parameters in check first, as historically they have been the problem for me and to see if that helps first, and I think it is. I am guessing (lots of guessing over here :/ ) my GH has been off for a few months now...because I got lazy with measuring my parameters and switched to pure baking soda for KH. So due to long exposure to non-existent GH, that is what I suspected was stressing my fish and susceptible to disease. I have been routinely changing my water, but that itself wasn't helping my fish...

 

I am confused because Shakaho seems to be suggesting that goldfish aren't really bothered by low GH? (Although in my case nonexistent GH straight from the tap), in which case fixing the GH won't help? 

 

I did a 30% water change yesterday with water with 7 dKH (GH 125 ppm) keeping KH/pH consistent. I am going to do another 30% water change today with the same to bring my GH up hopefully.

 

I also did a 3% salt dip yesterday (in lieu of a bath), and luckily the fish that was more lethargic, is much more active today already.

 

It is a shame my anubias are looking pathetic, but I wasn't too concerned with them yet. They are still growing, but a couple leaves are beginning to melt. I haven't used my lights in months actually (plus they need replacement bulbs). But I have a lighting fixture that holds 4 x T5 45W 6500K daylight tube bulbs.  The tank is near a window and gets some indirect sun there. The lights in combo with phosphates were giving me an algae headache. Unfortunately, the tank has no where else to relocate to in our house, so I "control" the amount of light it gets with the blinds.

 

Maybe I should just switch over to the D&D thread?

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...

I am confused because Shakaho seems to be suggesting that goldfish aren't really bothered by low GH? (Although in my case nonexistent GH straight from the tap), in which case fixing the GH won't help? 

...

 

Here is what I believe, based on something I've read from the past (which I can't point to right now): If the minerals in a GH booster are being supplied by a food source then the harder water may not be necessary. The minerals are important for a fish for various functions.

 

If I didn't have anubias, would I still use a GH booster? Yes, and I realize it may not be necessary.

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I like the websites you posted about GH. In the past I have read the americana one and others which have helped to form my opinion about the importance of a GH booster.

 

Shakaho is quite knowledgeable about water quality, and I look forward to reading her response on this line of inquiry.

 

As for D&D, if you feel your fish are not well, I would post there. You'll be asked to fill out a "form" that will provide fish tank system info to the moderators and disease assistants. Having this more comprehensive view of your system will help them to provide guidance. You can also refer to this thread about GH in your first post in the D&D section or continue the GH conversation there. If it gets to confusing to have both conversations there, something may be said to separate the conversations. In any case, if I were you I would post in the D&D thread about my fish.

Edited by LisaCGold

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Hm thanks for the input! I wonder if the food does make a difference? I used to feed them ProGold from Goldfishconnection...ughh I am so sad he retired...its thrown off my whole maintenance schedule!!! Now I am feeding them ShoImpact sinking pellets...it does says it includes zinc, manganese, copper, potassium, and vitamins too...I also give them spirulina occasionally and krill. 

 

I cant seem to locate that article about sodium impeding dissolution...ill keep an eye out for it...I could have read it wrong though anyway and misunderstood and got it mixed up completely!

 

Yesterday I did a 30% water change and this morning my parameters for KH/GH were 6/4, then today I did a 60% water change and now KH/GH are 6.5/6. So the water is now at what I think it is supposed to be. I just hope I didn't do it too quickly...plus I have ammonia in my tap water (0.5 ppm), so I keep adding ammonia back in to the system when I change the water. My filter takes care of most of it in a reasonable amount of time though.

 

Hopefully someone can input on whether GH matters or not! 

 

Either way, the guy I was worried about hasn't been lethargic at all today. I think the salt dip helped a lot.

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Whether you have hard or soft water from your tap depends on whether it comes primarily from deep wells (typically hard) or from shallow wells and bodies of surface water (typically soft).  My water comes from the Central Floridan Aquifer. It has a high GH and and a high KH.  Goldfish do fine in this water.  Some cities use a river or other body of water as their water source.  This water is usually soft and goldfish do well there.  Any time someone says that goldfish require/do best at/like... some hardness, ask for a link to the research supporting that statement.  The silence will be deafening, because the research does not exist.  My best guess as to why someone said that goldfish like hard water is that;they were comparing them to koi.  The people who groom koi for shows find that they get the best skin and color in soft water.  They say that for grooming the GH should be less than 50 ppm =  5d.  

 

Now if you listen to people who breed and show goldfish, you will find no such problem fish from hard and soft water may not look the same (I don't know if they do) but one group does not look better than the other.  In fact, these people say you should adapt the fish to the water rather than adapt the water to the fish.  If one continually works to get and maintain some "ideal" water chemistry, one will sooner or later screw up.  No research has Identified an ideal hardness for goldfish in general, but we know the ideal hardness for a specific goldfish -- the hardness to which it has become adapted.  We can say the same about temperature and pH.  Goldfish can adapt to a wide variety of conditions, but they don't like change.

 

Now where do goldfish live in the wild?   Mostly in shallow lakes and ponds fed by rain and surface (or near surface) water.  Such water is typically soft.  However there are lakes that have very hard water, and goldfish can live there too.

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I don't want to sound argumentative, because clearly I am not sure whether GH does have an impact on goldfish specifically and I am sure you are more knowledgeable than me, however, there is one comment you made that is more than likely true for your specific area in Florida but cannot be universally applied.

"Whether you have hard or soft water from your tap depends on whether it comes primarily from deep wells (typically hard) or from shallow wells and bodies of surface water (typically soft). "

"Some cities use a river or other body of water as their water source. This water is usually soft and goldfish do well there."

This I can definitely see as being true as Florida is essentially at/below sea level and has very little topography. Also because Florida substrate is composed of calcium carbonate, deeper aquifers logically speaking would be harder than rain-fed surface ones. However, like I mentioned, this cannot be universally applied. The hardness of water is determined by the local geology and that varies by location. I have done local water tests as part of my studies in college in central Pennsylvania for example. Pennsylvania has part of the Appalachians and a much greater variety of substrate and topography than Florida. Simply put, there are parts where surface water is very hard, because the water flows past an area that is rich in calcium carbonate deposits (at one time in the geological history of the area, it was below sea level)...however in other areas granite predominates. Granite doesn't dissolve as readily in water, and therefore, the water is less hard. This alone doesn't tell the whole story however. Distance traveled also plays a part. Therefore, you can have areas of water that are hard in granitic substrate. Hardness also increases with distance traveled. The longer traveled the greater erosion and dissolution of minerals.

I guess what I am trying to say is surface water can indeed be hard and is dependent upon the local geology. It cannot be assumed that all surface water is softer than deeper aquifers universally, although it may be true for Florida. You did allude to this as well

"Now where do goldfish live in the wild? Mostly in shallow lakes and ponds fed by rain and surface (or near surface) water. Such water is typically soft. However there are lakes that have very hard water, and goldfish can live there too."

Just putting a reason to why lakes with hard water do exist. It's just too general of an assumption to say that most shallow bodies of water are typically soft.

Also the point can be made moot by the fact that many water sources, treat their water in plants extensively before distribution. Some places with very hard water soften it before distribution as hard water causes calcification in pipes and therefore increases the city's maintenance. So sometimes it doesn't even matter where your water is sourced from because it has already been artificially altered from its natural state.

I think it is important to note that it is true that water drawn at the surface does fluctuate a great deal more than deeper aquifers. If it rains a lot a week or few days before you change the water in your tank, it can drastically alter your water chemistry (lower GH/KH), so another reason to promote smaller more frequent water changes over less often one large ones (something I'm notoriously guilty of recently ).

So I know I have deviated from the point of your post, it seems you are saying that goldfish are adaptable to a wide variety of conditions including water hardness and can survive in both hard or soft waters and that stability is more important than numbers. That clearly makes sense. Fluctuation in conditions is stressful even for humans!

But recently my tap water has had maybe even 0 GH (1 drop turns solution green)...and I can't imagine goldfish doing well or flourishing long term without any Ca/Mg hardness, even if they are adapted to softer water. Every animal can certainly adapt to the environment in which they live to an extent, but it doesn't mean its optimal living conditions. And if I have to mess with my GH anyways, barring human error, isn't it better to have conditions closer to the ideal than not?

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My GH fluctuates a significant amount based on rain and even season (melting snow, amount of vegetation preventing erosion, freeze/thaw of the ground etc etc), so this is reflected in my water supply...and causes my GH to fluctuate unhealthily perhaps during my water changes...since Goldies like consistent parameters I'm going to have to mess with my GH anyways to keep it more or less consistent even if I have aragonite substrate in the tank...so what are my options then?

Smaller, more frequent water changes to minimize the difference in change of GH between water changes,

Switch to RO water for consistancy and adjust it with the same dosages each time (limits human error)

Add aragonite substrate and an undergravel filter for additional assistance and/or a cuttlebone

Monitor GH and dose carefully with a GH booster

Move to Florida to an area that receives water sourced from a deep aquifer that fluctuates little in composition and has a high natural alkalinity and is rich in minerals (I wish!!)

Any other thoughts?

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Do what you please.  

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I hope anything i said wasnt offensive to you?

you said fish dont like change... because my GH fluctuates a fair amount, i was curious to see how you would handle solving the fluctuations? Unless you think i should just ignore it...?

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No, I wasn't offended. 

 

I use "continuous" water change in all my ponds.  I drip new water in from a container (~1/10 the pond volume) of dechlorinated water. and overflow excess.  When we had toxic water the summer before last,  all the fish I lost came from ponds that had experienced a large water change.  Those that received 10% new water per day had no problems whatsoever. 

 

You can do the same thing in an aquarium.  I just made Joey's overflow system  and dripped fresh water from a container just as I did outdoors.  Water changes consisted of dumping the overflow container and filling the fresh water reservoir with water.

 

Goldfish don't like changes they can detect.  I don't know that they can detect a change in GH.

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