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Water Softening


Staff member
Any way to soften water besides adding RO/DI or rainwater? Checking options before considering that route.

I know driftwood and other botanicals will lower the pH, but I don't think they can actually soften the water.


Staff member
I keep a lot of softwater fish in MoCo tapwater without ill effects. They might not necessarily breed without a rainwater change, but they tolerate our tap at 250-275 ppm and 7.6 pH.

I've found that plants help remove some hardness from water, but you need a lot of them. They utilize minerals and metals in tap water for growth.

Frank Cowherd

Global Moderators
Staff member
Distilled water is a dollar a gallon at the grocery store. It can be used in place of RO/DI or rain water.

A large container of water with a bunch of peat moss in it will slowly become fairly soft. If you add a pump to force the water through the peat , it becomes soft faster.

RO is really the way to go, You can buy a unit for under $100 (used). You still need a large container to collect the RO water. Most only make around 30 to 40 gallons a day.

Collecting rain water is cheap, but .... consider not collecting rain water until the junk is washed of the roof. And consider you may be collecting water for mosquitoes to breed in.


Staff member
I'm not worried about breeding yet, but some of the fish are susceptible to lateral line erosion in hard water. I'm not sure of my water hardness, I should look up the Baltimore City water report and see if they track that. Plants are a no go for me, I rarely keep lights on my tanks, and don't do well with them even when I do.

To Frank's point, if I were doing small tanks, I'd be ok if I were using small tanks, but I have 3 groups of fish in 2 different QT tanks for a total of 80 gallons, so spending $8-$40 per week isn't practical for me.

I might consider just having a 40 gallon used for softening water, either using peat with a powerhead, or as a reservoir for RO water. Rain water collection isn't practical until we move to our 'forever home' as I'd want the storage containers indoors.

Anyone have a RO unit for sale? I tried to win the new unit at the BFD raffle, but was unsuccessful.