Originally Posted by Perseusmom
I would be very careful as I have heard many times is best to leave it alone and not to start adding stuff to your water like that. I think you can add things like seashells to help soften the water but let me check on that and get back with you. Hard water is not bad unless you have a Crowntail Betta and it can cause their tails to curl.
If her PH is off the charts alkaline wise it might not be so good there is a good range and bad range for PH. Bettas prefer acidic water. Her water is super Base, higher than 8 most likely. Beneficial bacteria will stop developing below 6.6 ph I believe the ammonia eating ones, and the nitrite eating bacteria will begin to stop reproducing in ph over 7.8. So her tank will never cycle if she doesn't fix the issue. Also Bettas will probably not like having PH above 7.4. Most fish do not like ph higher than 7.8.
There is nothing normal about tap water anyways. Chlorine, Chloramine, fluoride etc. are added to tap water. Not to mention all the crap that can't be filtered out with the conventional water treatment systems the water companies use, medications, female hormones etc.
ALso you are not adding any chemicals using a water softening pillow. A water softening pillow uses resins, special plastic beads, to remove calcium from the water, thus softening. It will release salt or magnesium salts depending on what was used to recharge the pillow. In essence this is an Ion exchange process and does not involve adding chemicals.
Sea shells will only make the water harder by leeching calcium into the water. So that's not gonna work eithe because this will only increase hardness thus raising buffering capacity. If you consider adding small amounts of salt bad, yea then don't use a water softening pillow, but its not adding any chemicals to the water.
Reducing the hardness of the water will allow for easier PH adjustments. I think the bigger problem is having a high buffering capacity. With a high buffering capacity you will lower the ph then it will suddenly spike back up. These large swings in PH are harmful. This is the reason most people do not recommend messing with PH. If you are able to soften the water enough to allow for PH adjustments then this does not become an issue.
I hope this clears things up better for you.
BTW if she is able to lower the buffering capacity, she can add Indian almond leaves to lower PH naturally.