First off, I'd like to give a huge thank you to this community, as my betta got pretty sick with ick and velvet when I first got him, and you guys literally helped me save his life. My words are not enough to express my gratitude.
So I have a few water quality related questions. First off let me say that my tap water is both pretty hard (close to 200 ppm straight out of the tap) and of a relatively high pH (fluctuates between 7.5 and 8.3)
I used to filter all the water through a Brita filter, and then add 1 tablespoon of aquarium salt for 5 gallons to add in anything crucial that may have been filtered out. However, I was told here that the practice of filtering the water, though it lowers the pH in my case, was potentially not so healthy for my betta, so I have stopped doing this, and am gradually adding in more and more tap water with each water change (dechlorinated first).
I was wondering if there is ever any benefit to adding aquarium salt regularly to the water. I have read here that too much salt for more than 2 weeks can harm the fish, but what about at a low level?
If you guys do add aquarium salt routinely, how much do you add?
The package for the aquarium salt I have says that it adds essential electrolytes or some such thing -- this sounds essential, no?
Also, since my tap water has a naturally high pH, I was thinking of using peat to bring it down, but I don't know how to use it. Do I put it in my filter behind the carbon (I have a Tetra Whisper filter that uses those carbon filled bags)?
Also I have peat as both peat moss and peat pucks, which one should I use? And how?
Lastly, the peat moss I have is sold as a gardening product, is this okay to use? I have never seen a pet store carry peat for aquarium use around here.
I am a bit concerned as ever since I have started switching my betta's water from filtered to more and more tap i see him swimming up to the surface and taking big gulps of air, opening his mouth really wide. He seems otherwise fine, so maybe it's nothing?
Thank you all for your help in advance!