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Old 10-10-2011, 10:12 PM   #1 
Lissbirds
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Join Date: Oct 2011
Is water-softener water safe to use?

I just bought two bettas from Petsmart and the saleslady told us to use distilled water. Which after reading through your forums is apparently no good.

I tried searching for whether softened water is safe to use but couldn't come up with a definitive answer. We have a well that is softened with a water softener that uses solar salt. We also have a tap of reverse osmosis water. Which would be better to use? There is of course no chorline with either our softened tap water or reverse osmosis water--do I still need to use water conditioner?

Unfortunately my bettas are sitting in distilled water so I guess I need to start changing it. But I wanted to make sure which was safter before doing so.
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Old 10-11-2011, 03:21 PM   #2 
tf1265
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Bettas prefer soft water. As far as whether that alone is safe, I can't say.

Water conditioners are not terribly expensive. They remove both chlorine and chloramines, as well as other harmful trace chemicals. If you have live plants, many plant fertilizers come as a combined water conditioner. I would suggest getting some to be safe. As I said, they are not very expensive and if you are wrong, your will likely do irreparable damage to your bettas before you realize it.
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Old 10-11-2011, 06:59 PM   #3 
Lissbirds
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Originally Posted by tf1265 View Post
Bettas prefer soft water. As far as whether that alone is safe, I can't say.

Water conditioners are not terribly expensive. They remove both chlorine and chloramines, as well as other harmful trace chemicals. If you have live plants, many plant fertilizers come as a combined water conditioner. I would suggest getting some to be safe. As I said, they are not very expensive and if you are wrong, your will likely do irreparable damage to your bettas before you realize it.
Thank you! I stopped at an aquarium store today and they said try adding aquarium salt to our reverse osmosis water to give them some electrolytes. I had read here that R/O Right or Seachem Equilibrium can be used but they didn't carry either. There's zero chorline in our water (both the RO and our softened water) since it's a well, so I guess this means I don't need the conditioner? I have the little trial packet of conditioner that came with the tank. I don't have any live plants. (Yet.)

I'm worried that even the water conditioner + our softened water might not be safe because our water has some iron in it and I don't know how much iron the conditioner will take out. I'm also concerned with the salt the softener puts in and if it's too much.

Hopefully the reverse osmosis water + aquarium salt will be okay for them.

Thank you!
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Old 10-11-2011, 08:05 PM   #4 
tf1265
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Iron is actually OK - it's common in plant fertilizers. Even though you don't have live plants, many people do and therefore add small amounts of iron to the tank water anyway. I can't give you precise figures for how much is OK though.

I can't help much more than that - I use city tap water and a water conditioner, so I don't know much about RO water or well water. Always interested in learning more though, so hopefully someone in a more similar position to you will chime in.
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Old 10-11-2011, 08:14 PM   #5 
Lissbirds
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Originally Posted by tf1265 View Post
Iron is actually OK - it's common in plant fertilizers. Even though you don't have live plants, many people do and therefore add small amounts of iron to the tank water anyway. I can't give you precise figures for how much is OK though.

I can't help much more than that - I use city tap water and a water conditioner, so I don't know much about RO water or well water. Always interested in learning more though, so hopefully someone in a more similar position to you will chime in.
Oh, good to know that iron isn't a problem. I was worried that it was considered a heavy metal.

It's tough to know exactly with well water because it varies so much depending on where you live. City water is regulated so it's probably a lot simpler to deal with. :-/
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Old 10-12-2011, 12:36 AM   #6 
Thunderloon
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Softened water has had a large proportion of the iron and other minerals removed and replaced with sodium, this can play some games with your pH but honestly I've never had a problem. You can actually use purified chlorine gas diffusion to turn the sodium back into salt in the water then treat the water for chlorine if you feel like spending a couple thousand dollars just to get rid of the sodium. I'd not worry about it. Check your tap water's pH without aquarium treatment, if its under 7.4 and above 6.8 it's fine. If its over 8.0 then its not being softened very well.

Don't drink softened water or boil it down for cooking, its primarily done for clothes washing, showering and to keep house pipes clean of hard deposits.

(Ion exchange resin, what is used in softeners, is treated with salt brine. The resin will pull iron and iron-like materials out of the water. When the brine is washed over it the iron is displaced by sodium and then iron chloride, a green mineral, is rinsed out in the waste water. Because the sodium is released into the "for use" water it literally replaces whatever ppm the iron of the source water was with ppm of sodium in the water.)

API sells little $5.00 pouches of ion exchange resin which you can stick in your tank's filter or - as I prefer - stick in a filter and run in the replacement water bucket. These pouches are regenerated using a container of water mixed with aquarium salt. The longer you process the water the softer it gets, the two I've gotten seem to be limited to about pH 6.4 down at about 10ppm hardness (half drop in test kit)

Last edited by Thunderloon; 10-12-2011 at 12:39 AM.
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