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Author Topic: Peat Moss effects in water  (Read 30179 times)
joesaysso
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« on: April 25, 2014, 03:20:11 PM »

My 75 gallon, planted tank has been progressing nicely. The blue rams have settled in nicely and the cherry shrimp have learned to seek refuge down the in dwarf sag carpet, which is starting to get thick. I think one of my Jungle Val plants is trying to flower. The next steps to be taken in this tank will be to add a few discus and increase my cardinal tetra numbers.

Now, I have been exploring the possibility of using peat moss to soften the water a bit. I think my water is just a tick too hard for the rams and discus to spawn. I have pressurized CO2 on this tank that is regulated by a solenoid and a PH controller and a fluval 405 canister as the filtration. I don't want to put the moss in the filter as I want to maintain "control" over it, I also don't want my water constantly tannin stained, and most importantly I don't want a massive PH crash.

My wife always has peat moss on-hand for gardening. I'm consider just putting some in an old stocking and making a "moss ball." Every week after my water changes, I'll just stick the ball directly into the tank for a few seconds to get some peat into the water. There is carbon in my filter but I doubt it's active since I haven't changed it in over a year. I'm wondering if this method will be effective. Will just a little bit of peat last the week until the next water change? Will the filter just remove it in a day or so? Is the peat still effective if the water isn't stained completely brown?

Anybody got any experience in this department? What should I look (look out) for with my setup? Any advice will be greatly appreciated?
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Spuds
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« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2014, 06:01:36 PM »

Hi,

I haven't used peat moss in a couple of years... i use Indian almond leaves instead now...

I used to just put a clump in a stocking and replace it every 6-7 months or so... PH was around 6.5. Normally my PH is around 7-7.5. I also added a carbonate Rock to the tank just to keep the tank a little buffered and stable (You gotta be careful doing this because the rock can cancel out effects of peat)... If your tap water is well enough buffered you wont need to add rocks.

For the Peat moss to be effective it needs to stay in the tank.... Its the decomposition of the peat moss that creates acids and lowers the PH... Dipping it in the tank wont do a thing.

Just start off with a small clump and monitor PH. You can then add more if PH hasn't lowered enough. This is the best way to 'control' it.

Its always going to release some tannins but after a few water changes the major colour will clear up. Personally i love the tea colour... and peat moss doesnt really colour the too much compared to indian almond leaves =D.

Even after a year the peat moss should keep PH down well enough. Just monitor PH every few weeks to make sure its doing the job. Keep in mind the quality of peat moss varies... if its cut near the top layers of the bog it wont be much good. The good stuff is cut from the lower layers =D.

You can make little moss balls with stockings and hide them around the tank.... or if there is room in the filter just stick a clump in there in a stocking.

What are your current hardness and PH readings? ID say around 3-4 handfulls in a stocking should lower it a tick if your water isnt too hard  proud.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2014, 06:09:20 PM by Spuds » Logged

joesaysso
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« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2014, 08:17:05 PM »

My PH is usually 6.7-6.8 but keep in mind it is altered by CO2. The adding of the peat would be strictly to soften the water. Exact readings will have to come later, as I don't have a test kit handy. The last time I measured hardness was to set the ranges of my PH controller and I remember it being medium-hard.

Visually speaking, I wouldn't have a problem with the tannins coloring the water. But the plants need light and I imagine the tannins make things difficult for the light to get to the plants. How "stained" are we talking if I were to add a small amount of peat into my canister. Pictures of the tea effect are sparse on the internet.
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russ
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« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2014, 09:16:42 PM »

I recently gleaned some interesting information on softening water using peat. The FAQ is attributed to rec.aquaria, alt.aquaria and The Krib FAQ team.

"Softening Your Water (i.e., lowering GH)
Some fish (e.g., discus, cardinal tetras, etc.) prefer soft water. Although they can survive in harder water, they are unlikely to breed in it. Thus, you may feel compelled to soften your water despite the hassle involved in doing so.

Typical home water softeners soften water using a technique known as ``ion exchange''. That is, they remove calcium and magnesium ions by replacing them with sodium ions. Although this does technically make water softer, most fish won't notice the difference. That is, fish that prefer soft water don't like sodium either, and for them such water softeners don't help at all. Thus, home water softeners are not an appropriate way to soften water for aquarium use.

Fish stores also market ``water softening pillows''. They use the same ion-exchange principle. One ``recharges'' the pillow by soaking it in a salt water solution, then places it in the tank where the sodium ions are released into the water and replaced by calcium and magnesium ions. After a few hours or days, the pillow (along with the calcium and magnesium) are removed, and the pillow recharged. The pillows sold in stores are too small to work well in practice, and shouldn't be used for the same reason cited above.

Peat moss softens water and reduces its hardness (GH). The most effective way to soften water via peat is to aerate water for 1-2 weeks in a bucket containing peat moss. For example, get a (plastic) bucket of the appropriate size. Then, get a large quantity of peat (a gallon or more), boil it (so that it sinks), stuff it in a pillow case, and place it in the water bucket. Use an air pump to aerate it. In 1-2 weeks, the water will be softer and more acidic. Use this aged water when making partial water changes on your tank.

Peat can be bought at pet shops, but it is expensive. It is much more cost-effective to buy it in bulk at a local gardening shop. Read labels carefully! You don't want to use peat containing fertilizers or other additives.

Although some folks place peat in the filters of their tanks, the technique has a number of drawbacks. First, peat clogs easily, so adding peat isn't always effective. Second, peat can be messy and may cloud the water in your tank. Third, the exact quantity of peat needed to effectively soften your water is difficult to estimate. Using the wrong amount results in the wrong water chemistry. Finally, when doing water changes, your tank's chemistry changes when new water is added (it has the wrong properties). Over the next few days, the chemistry changes as the peat takes effect. Using aged water helps ensure that the chemistry of your tank doesn't fluctuate while doing water changes.

Hard water can also be softened by diluting it with distilled water or R/O water. R/O (reverse-osmosis) water is purified water made by a R/O unit. Unfortunately, R/O units are too expensive ($100-$500) for most hobbyists. R/O water can also be purchased at some fish stores, but for most folks the expense and hassle are not worth it. The same applies to distilled water purchased at grocery stores."


I have used peat in the past and have never had to place it directly into a filter compartment.
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gunnered72
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« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2014, 10:16:20 PM »

Side note!
I would take that old carbon out of the filter..After carbon has exhausted it's absorbing qualities it starts to do the opposite and starts leaching the nasty stuff it has absorbed back into the tank
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gunnered72
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Theres more water than air in here :P


« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2014, 10:23:46 PM »

Actually why not put the peat into the carbon section of the filter..if you find it stains your water just take it out...most people put the peat into a pair of tights (pantyhose) that way it doesn't make a mess and can easily be removed if ya don't like it's effects...I do know that to have any effect the peat has to be in the filter so the water is passing through it
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joesaysso
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« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2014, 10:33:22 PM »

Gunner, that is my exact plan once I make this decision final and decide to try it. I will be taking the old carbon out and put a small amount of peat into the mesh sock that the carbon sits in. Rubberband it closed. No mess, no filter clogging.

Russ, can you elaborate on your past experience? You say you never put in directly into your filter. How did you use it? Were your results satisfactory? How bad did the water stain? Do you think the stained water was bad enough to harm plants?
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Tinker
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« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2014, 01:16:07 AM »

Peat moss softens water and reduces its hardness (GH). The most effective way to soften water via peat is to aerate water for 1-2 weeks in a bucket containing peat moss. For example, get a (plastic) bucket of the appropriate size. Then, get a large quantity of peat (a gallon or more), boil it (so that it sinks), stuff it in a pillow case, and place it in the water bucket. Use an air pump to aerate it. In 1-2 weeks, the water will be softer and more acidic. Use this aged water when making partial water changes on your tank.

Peat can be bought at pet shops, but it is expensive. It is much more cost-effective to buy it in bulk at a local gardening shop. Read labels carefully! You don't want to use peat containing fertilizers or other additives.

Although some folks place peat in the filters of their tanks, the technique has a number of drawbacks. First, peat clogs easily, so adding peat isn't always effective. Second, peat can be messy and may cloud the water in your tank. Third, the exact quantity of peat needed to effectively soften your water is difficult to estimate. Using the wrong amount results in the wrong water chemistry. Finally, when doing water changes, your tank's chemistry changes when new water is added (it has the wrong properties). Over the next few days, the chemistry changes as the peat takes effect. Using aged water helps ensure that the chemistry of your tank doesn't fluctuate while doing water changes.

Hard water can also be softened by diluting it with distilled water or R/O water. R/O (reverse-osmosis) water is purified water made by a R/O unit. Unfortunately, R/O units are too expensive ($100-$500) for most hobbyists. R/O water can also be purchased at some fish stores, but for most folks the expense and hassle are not worth it. The same applies to distilled water purchased at grocery stores."[/i]

I have used peat in the past and have never had to place it directly into a filter compartment.

The first bit tells you how the rest why. Read Russ previous post carefully it is very informative.
I had used this method  with my gourami tanks while breeding they where heavily planted and the small staining that it had caused had no effect on my plants. However if you have very high light requiring plants they may be affected. I have also hung peat in my tanks but found my fry struggled during water changes due to fluctuating chemistry. Thus why I employed a method such as Russ mentions above.

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joesaysso
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« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2014, 01:26:11 AM »

I appreciate everyone's advice. I think I am just going to leave the peat alone for now. I have developed some pretty good fish keeping and maintenance habits over the years and I don't feel that changing up now is for the best. The tank is doing well now and I think I'll just ride this out for a while.
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Spuds
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« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2014, 04:47:37 AM »

Its actually the properties coming from the peatmoss that can Trigger spawning with some fish.... The hardness itself doesnt really matter if its between around 6.5-7.... Unless its a wild fish and needs more acidic water....

I like to add Indian almond leaves to my tank just for its benifits... I like to think it helps boost immune system  nerd. I never worry about PH because i know my tank water is well buffered and i dont add enough leaves to significantly lower PH.



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russ
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« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2014, 09:32:43 AM »

Joe,

Preparing water in advance allowed me to control the water properties. Peat-softened change water can be added and adjusted at different amounts to your tank. It is much easier than  trying to figure out and adjust the amount of peat to place in your filter. Once it is in your filter, then that amount is in a near-permanent state that will be a pain to adjust. Also, you can take reading directly from the peat pail/bucket and not have to wait for the peat effect to occur inside your aquarium. Add the softened water along with each water change. If you find that you need the water a bit sifter, just add more of the peat water.

As far as tannins, I did not notice too much of a change. Almond leaves can work the same way. I also used Oak leaves and almond leaves in the past. Creates a somewhat natural ground layer in the tank....until you need to clean the stuff. I switched to pre-preparing in a separate container and then adding to the tank.

But, this is a hobby and not all tanks and methods may work the same way. Whatever works in one situation, may not work in another. If one has been using a certain method to perform an action or process, it is good to share that.  happy
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"For every difficult question, there is an answer that is clear and simple and wrong."
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