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Hi,

I'm sorry if this is a stupid question, but I don't have any past cichlid experience.

I just got a Bolivian ram and German ram today (they are the only dwellers in my 20GL now). I told the guy at the store that my water is *very* hard and asked if I should add anything to it to soften it. He asked about my pH and I said to the best of my memory it looked between 7.0 and 7.5 on my test strips. He gave me some chemical to make the pH go down and said that it will help the water hardness. But, the package doesn't say anything about making the water softer.

So, did I get bad advice? Is there something else I should add to make the water softer? Or should I start using bottled water for the tank? I wouldn't mind having to do that; I've done that in the past.

Thank you :)
 

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If your water's hard then adding a pH down chemical will only change the pH for a short time. Within a few hours it'll be right back up again and will stress the fish out real bad having bouncing water parameters.
Get a kh (carbonate hardness) and gh (general hardness) test, the liquid tube test kit is best). Experiment with mixing RO water with your tap water. I know I have to mix it 50/50 in order to get a kh of 7 and a gh of 14. But it all depends on what the readings are of your particular tap water. You can get 5 gal jugs of RO water about anywhere nowadays. Refills are like $2 for 5 gal. My LFS only charges $3 per 5 gal jug. It's easier to do it that way unless you've got a huge tank and do big water changes. I don't have Rams, I've got Discus. But the whole "gotta have softer water" is the same.
Oh, and don't bother with strips or what your pH is. If you get your kh and gh right for your particular fish, that's what matters. Fish don't feel pH, they feel TDS (total dissolved solids). Which is what you're lowering by mixing with RO water.
 

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Not a stupic question at all. I remember the LFS telling me the same thing (and selling me the same pH down and test kits) when I set up my first tank 25 years ago. As if the LFS down the street from my house didn't have the same hard, alkaline water as me :roll:

Rams don't need soft acidic water to do well.

The easiest thing to do is to add some driftwood to the tank and do regular partial water changes with tap.

Trying to adjust the water parameters is just too hard (for me at least).
 

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So, did I get bad advice
Ramirezi and Altispinosa aren't the best mix for a 20 gallon tank. Rams do require very clean water and have the same needs as Discus. Rams are definitely the more demanding fish. Bolivians are quit tolerant but don't do that well on high temps. Besides that Bolivians do best in small groups.

I suggest to keep away from the chemical stuff. Lots of troubles begin with adding chemicals to a tank. Like suggested a RO unit solves all the problems if it comes to soften the water. If your tap water is close to PH=7 you can bring it down with peat. For harder water and a PH of 8 I realy suggest a RO unit.

Rams don't need soft acidic water to do well
Depends if they are local bread or WC fish. Local bread fish might be fine but when you would like some fry you probably will be disappointed. Bolivians feel fine on PH=7.5 and don't need soft water.
 

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How much does peat normally drop the pH? I've heard the reverse osmosis but don't really understand the kh/gh (nor recall ever seeing tests for that). :eek:

TIA
 

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If you've got hard water peat won't drop it even the tiniest bit.
Kh is 'carbonate hardness' and gh is 'general hardness'. It's basically a measurement of the minderals in your water. Do some google searches on it.
The API liquid test tubes kits that most use for ammonia/nitrites/nitrates also has the kh and gh tests you can buy seperately.
If you don't understand about hard/soft water, etc then my recommendation is either research until you understand it or just leave it alone and don't try to change stuff.
Google is your best friend, there's only so much that people on forums can tell you.
 

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I would first look at the parameters of your tap water. I agree that both species of rams will live in moderately hard water with a neutral pH but I wouldn't call that ideal for them. I also agree that for a mixed species tank they may not be the greatest choice but I can understand the desire to keep them as they are beautiful fish.

As far as using chemicals to lower the pH. It is correct that if the GH and KH are high then using the chemical will have little effect at all.

I use RO water solely in my apisto tanks. I bought a product called acid buffer because I wanted to get the pH low for spawning some of the fish I had. While I did get the pH to go lower I also succeeded in killing most of the fish in the tanks. The stress of the changing water conditions seemed to cause a bacterial of fungal infection in the fish. My apistos lived but all of the other fish died. I haven't used the chemicals since.

I have found that adding Oak and Indian Almond Leaf will help lower the pH. I would start there and if you find your tap unsatisfactory, try mixing in RO water until you get the water conditions you are shooting for. Adding leaves and wood to the tank will help as well. I would only use the chemicals as a last resort.
 

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I would first look at the parameters of your tap water. I agree that both species of rams will live in moderately hard water with a neutral pH but I wouldn't call that ideal for them. I also agree that for a mixed species tank they may not be the greatest choice but I can understand the desire to keep them as they are beautiful fish.

As far as using chemicals to lower the pH. It is correct that if the GH and KH are high then using the chemical will have little effect at all.

I use RO water solely in my apisto tanks. I bought a product called acid buffer because I wanted to get the pH low for spawning some of the fish I had. While I did get the pH to go lower I also succeeded in killing most of the fish in the tanks. The stress of the changing water conditions seemed to cause a bacterial of fungal infection in the fish. My apistos lived but all of the other fish died. I haven't used the chemicals since.

I have found that adding Oak and Indian Almond Leaf will help lower the pH. I would start there and if you find your tap unsatisfactory, try mixing in RO water until you get the water conditions you are shooting for. Adding leaves and wood to the tank will help as well. I would only use the chemicals as a last resort.
 
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