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I've used softened waters in my African cichlid tanks (110 & 30 gallon) for years without negative effects. On occasion, I use the pre-softener faucet from the front of my home via hose especially on very large water changes. So. Cal water is hard. On initial setup of the tanks, I filled the tanks with the unsoftened water. In my 110 I have 100 lbs of sand and 100 lbs of rocks. My H2O hardness always tests as very hard which I believe is due to the substrate and rocks. The initial years I had Malawi cichlids but the last few I'm 90% Tang. (Fronts, Tropheus, etc). My pH is usually around 7.8 without additives. I rarely test the hardness anymore.
 
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