here are other methods of reducing
hardness and I have mentioned the use of Ion-Exchange
Resins. These exchange sodium for calcium and magnesium
and thus increase the sodium content of the water. Although
this practice is becoming more common I am doubtful that
the increase of sodium is desirable so I do not use it.
The method described above is that based on what takes
place naturally in the wild and so I will keep in line
with Mother Nature who seems to have done a good job for
a long time. No mention has been made to the correction
of carbonate hardness or KH. This is because I have generally
found that the above process tends to adjust the KH at
the same time and the only problem may be if it falls
too low. Some KH is required to act as a buffer against
the normal conditions in the tank. I suggest a final KH
test, If this falls below 2 oKH this may be adjusted by
the addition of a small amount of Sodium Bicarbonate preferable
dissolved in water previously. A final result of 2-4 KH
is desirable. You will notice I have not mentioned a target
to aim for when making an adjustment. This can vary with
the species to be maintained and detailed information
can only be found by consulting the specialist books on
the subject. As a general rule I would say that if you
obtain a reading of 6.8-6.9 PH and about 5.5-7 GH you
will not be too far out as a general rule. As I mentioned
fish are fairly adaptable and this range will be found
suitable for most of the Anabantoids from S.E.Asia though
those from Africa may prefer slightly harder and and more
Since at present you probably have
your fish in normal tap water another word of warning
is called for. Although we are aiming for ideal water
conditions your fish should not be transferred into a
new tank of water containing your ideal mixture. Your
fish have become adapted to the qualities of your tap
water and a sudden change from this will do more harm
than good. There are several ways of carrying out a gradual
adjustment but I think that the easiest is by finding
out your correct mixture as detailed above and then carrying
out a weekly water change, siphoning off about 10% of
the tank water and replacing it with the new mixture.
Keep a check on progress by carrying out a water test
the day after after doing the water change, this will
allow for a thorough mixing of old and new water and give
a reliable result. If you treat all your tanks in this
way you will have no problem in setting up a breeding
tank as your fish have already adapted themselves to the
water quality involved. Remember that when adding water
to a tank it should be at the same temperature as that
in the tank. The other necessary warning is to avoid the
danger of becoming a PH fanatic. You will find that you
take a reading from a sample of tank water at sundown
and another at dawn they may vary due to the process which
is used by the plants in your tank. During daylight they
give off oxygen but darkness this changes to Carbon Dioxide.
As this gas is slightly soluble it means that the tank
conditions at dawn following a build up through the night,
will be at their most acidic.
While at sunset reverse conditions
will be found. This is a normal state of affairs and should
cause no alarm. What can cause trouble is if one tries
to correct these small changes and thus upsets the natural
balance in the tank. If possible it is a good habit to
carry out any necessary tests at the same time of the
day and therefore at the same tank conditions in this
respect. Once your tank is set up continual monitoring
is not necessary. The best guide will be the condition
of your fish. If they show good colour, are active and
feed well there is little wrong.
I think that once you have established
these conditions this will be the case and you will find
that the slight amount of work and inconvenience involved
in producing them has been worthwhile. lt is always a
good idea to make a record of how tanks are set up and
any changes made. The use of a note book for this purpose
is recommended. In this way a useful reference can be
built up, especially if later one wishes to refer to the
conditions under which a species has successfully bred.
Suppose for example you found that
it took .5 peat water and 1.5 to produce the desired result,you
now have a permanent record of the proportions required
to carry out the necessary adjustment of your tap water
as this remains fairly constant. You know that two pints
of water, 5 pint of peat water and 1.5 pints of plain
rainwater produce the correct mix of 4 pints of aquarium
water. Thus for a 20 gallon tank, 160 pints,you would
need 80 pints of tap water, 20 pints of peat water, and
60 pints of plain rainwater. This record not only can
be used to set up future similar tanks but also gives
the required mixture to be used when topping up your tank
while carrying out normal water changes. Thus a quarter
of an hour spent in taking a few Careful measurements
and recording them will save you the hassle of having
to go through this procedure each time.
Perhaps I should mention that the
results may not be exactly the same each time that you
carry out an adjustment but the resultant mixture will
only vary slightly and will be near enoUgh for our purposes.
In the unlikely event of you finding that your tap water
is too soft and acidic the adjustment can be carried out
by the use of hard alkaline solution made from dissolving
dehydrated Lime. This again may be obtained from a garden
centre but make sure it contains no other chemicals. Put
a few pounds into your container and then fill with rainwater
and allow to stand for a week before use.
I am old fashioned and work in pints and gallons, for
those who prefer to work in Litres a conversion table
is found below.
1 x Imperial Gallon = 4.5
Litres of Water.
1 x Pint. = 0.87 Litres.
1 x Litre. = 0.22 Imperial Gallons.
Pints i.e. aprox. 1¾ Pints.
This article first appeared in
the Greenock & District Aquarist Society newsletter
"The Angelfish" January 1996. no 5. and is also
duplicated on the Help index on Water