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Water Softner Salt And Gf Tanks?

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My sister lives in the country, and I gave her some of my fish after telling her how to take care of them properly. I gave her a twenty gallon with two fancies in it complete with filter pump and all......

Well, she asked me if it was safe if she could add water softner salt into her...err... system thingy.... I told her that I would come here and ask if it was safe.... She wants to do this because the water where she lives turns her sink and bath tub orange....

As of right now, I know that her kh and ph are high. I tested her kh and it was

12 drops times 17.9, which equals 214.8........ Now I couldn't test the ph properly, because I have a mid-range test kit and it doesn't go high enough, but her ph is definetly over 7.4

She keeps her nitrates below 20 ppm...... and ammonia and nitrites are at zero...

Is this safe for her to do? what would happen if she did this? it all seems tricky to me.... because, what if it went over the .3% salt solution---eeek or ARE THEIR ANY CHEMICALS (There has to be) in water softner salt?


Also, she lives in the country so chlorine isn't a problem, but she has been using prime. She figured it'd make their water even better. I told her it would be a good idea while the tank cycled, because it detoxifies ammonia and nitrites. That was about two months ago. The tank is cycled now, do you think she should still continue to use the prime?


& I know she can't afford a reverse osmosis purification system right now....

Infact, that brings me to my third question.

My brother, who has a reverse osmosis purification system also has 5 little kids who want a betta. I figured I'd write out instructions and give them one of my five gallon betta set-ups as a gift along with the betta who resides in it.... My question is:

reverse-osmosis systems are good, right? (just double checking)

With many thanks and good health to your fish,


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Guest cshepard

Ok, heres the simple answer - water softener water isn't very good for fish. It doesn't remove any TDS's (total disolved solids) from the water, it just converts them to a different form, and screws up your test results for PH, KH and GH. In the new form it's great for laundry etc. but not for fish. Usually you can bypass the softener to get untreated water or sometimes there are taps in the house that don't carry the softened water.

RO water is not good by itself because virtually ALL of the TDS's are removed so there is no KH, no buffers, and very low PH in the water. It needs to be mixed with regular tap water to get the correct levels. People with very hard water and high PH mix in RO water to bring their levels down.

And again, usually the RO system is just on one tap in the house, so your brother can get test kits and figure out the right mix (or just use the regular tap water).

This is my undertanding of these issues, anyway, if someone out there has any better way of putting it, that would be great! And if you want, I'll try to find some of the articles I've read, for a more technical answer.

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For such a small system as a 5 gallon betta tank, using RO water is not going to be a difficult procedure. As stated above, though, the water should be ammended to include the needed minerals and such that have been removed during filtration. They sell commecial products at the vvvv and PEtCos and such for just this purpose - it is not very expensive and would last for months in a tiny betta tank. RO water and that additive could work fine. For that matter, many groceries and the like around here sell RO water for about $2.oo for 5 gallons - that would be about a dollar a week for water and additives for the betta tank. Not too shabby. Distilled water, though, is exceptionally devoid of, well, anything. It is difficult to properly ammend distilled water adequately enough. I would not recommend using distilled water.

As far as softener water - as stated above, a water softener is an ion exchange. The resin bed of the softener has charged sodium ions infused onto it by a salt brine. As the magnesium and calcium ions pass through the resin, they replace the sodium ions - and stick to the resin. The sodium ions are washed into the water. You can accomplish this with the "water softener pillows" sold at the pet stores, but it is a very ineffective method.

This does place a very small amount of extra sodium into the water. But in a salt tolerate fish like the goldfish , there is no real problem in that. It is less than the .1% salt that many of us run our tanks on. With non-salt tolerant aquatic creatures this would not be good - (snails etc.). If bettas tolerate salt like goldies, there should be little problems.

Remember that water containing high amounts of chlorides, sulphates, or iron needs to have these removed with water treatments, preferably before softening treatment, but treated before the water is added to a fish tank. Standard water condtitions generally will do this for you.

You sound like you are an exceptionally kind auntie! :)

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