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Are There Any Livebearers Suitable For Softer Water?

Author Topic: Are there any livebearers suitable for softer water?  (Read 1514 times)

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Offline Helen

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Are there any livebearers suitable for softer water?
« on: September 18, 2017, 10:00:51 PM »
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I'm at the beginning of the process of restocking my tank. This time around I'm also trying to include fish that would have interest for my two small children (4 and 2). The livebearers in my lfs drew their attention, however I have a few concerns.

I have softer water (don't know the exact parameters at the moment as I'm still resettling everything). I've not done a large amount of research yet, and the community creator didn't bring up any alerts, but I get the impression that livebearers are more hard water fish. Are there any that would thrive in a soft water tank?

My other concern, and the reason I've never had livebearers before, is their reputation for breeding. With my new (developing) low maintenance routine, I wouldn't be rescuing any babies, (not that I was very good at spotting and protecting babies when I was trying to rescue the odd ones I did get). Will I become over run with livebearers, or will my other fish be overfed? Will I be guilted into rescuing livebearer babies? (I'm not at all averse to using it as a teaching tool - my kids know all the animals they eat)

Offline Sue

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Re: Are there any livebearers suitable for softer water?
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2017, 10:07:33 PM »
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As far as I'm aware, all livebearers - or at least the species available in shops - are hard water fish. They come from Central America which has hard water unlike South America which has soft.


You can find your hardness somewhere on your water company's website  :)

Offline Helen

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Re: Are there any livebearers suitable for softer water?
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2017, 10:15:01 PM »
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Thanks Sue. I know my tap water is slightly soft, but with all the plants and wood in my tank, the tank water is softer. I've not yet started adding the salt fertilisers that I've previously used, so I'm unsure exactly how soft my water is now, but also whether it'll stay the same once I've developed my new maintenance regime (as few additives as possible!)

Offline Matt

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Re: Are there any livebearers suitable for softer water?
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2017, 10:18:39 PM »
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I dont know of any with the colours of the classic livebearers but the Butterfly Goodeid and Celebes Halfbeak are soft water tolerant livebearers.  I suspect this is not what your kids are interested in though.

Only other options would be to harden your water either by using an cichlid salt (not actually salt as in sodium chloride but a mix of chemicals which are found in hard water) which you would have to add at every water change.  This is too much faff for many people.  Or if your water is not massively soft you could try adding rocks to the tank which increase hardness slowly over time (though others would have to advise how much difference this would make in real terms).  I think Fcmf does this to prevent pH crashes but I dont think she gets any where near livebearer hardness levels! Depends how much rock you have though i suppose... 

Offline Helen

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Re: Are there any livebearers suitable for softer water?
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2017, 11:51:36 PM »
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Thanks @Matt. I definitely do not want to harden my water, I'm trying to reduce my maintenance burden.

I think I'll be giving the livebearers a miss. There are lots of other interesting fish that like soft water. I came back from the fish shop with a list of fish to research suitability of. I just hope I don't end up crossing them all off!

Offline Sue

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Re: Are there any livebearers suitable for softer water?
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2017, 08:50:01 AM »
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Just to check since you've been otherwise occupied for a while - you do know about Seriously Fish for looking up fish?

Adding wood doesn't actually soften water, it just lowers pH a bit provided KH isn't too high. Unless you add Rift Lake salts to harden it, or mix tap water with RO to soften it, your tank hardness should be the same as the value given by your water company.

Offline fcmf

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Re: Are there any livebearers suitable for softer water?
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2017, 07:10:50 PM »
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Only other options would be to harden your water either by using an cichlid salt (not actually salt as in sodium chloride but a mix of chemicals which are found in hard water) which you would have to add at every water change.  This is too much faff for many people.  Or if your water is not massively soft you could try adding rocks to the tank which increase hardness slowly over time (though others would have to advise how much difference this would make in real terms).  I think Fcmf does this to prevent pH crashes but I dont think she gets any where near livebearer hardness levels! Depends how much rock you have though i suppose...

This link https://forums.thinkfish.co.uk/fishtank-filtration-and-cycling/ph-kh-gh-readings/msg20402/#msg20402 might be helpful to show what the differences are with some Tufa/limestone rock in the tank. In a nutshell, it does help but it certainly doesn't increase it by a vast amount. (I've not been as diligent about checking KH and GH lately :-[- I ought to do so, just to check that nothing is untoward...)

Updated to add: KH from tap is 2; KH in tank is 2 or 3 immediately post- water change (I tend to do 40% water change due to a vigorous syphon), 3 mid-week and end-of-week just prior to a water change. GH from tap is 3; GH in tank is 4 immediately post-water change, 4-5 mid-week and 5 end-of-week.

Offline Helen

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Re: Are there any livebearers suitable for softer water?
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2017, 08:26:34 PM »
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Thanks @Sue. It is literally years since I last researched fish and I think I've also forgotten a lot of what I did know! I was aware of Seriously Fish, but didn't recognise the page when I followed your link. Will add that to my research resources.

Does anything soften tank water then? Why do I think that my tank water was softer than my tap water?

I quite like that I've got softer, more acidic water than average. It opens up a different selection of fish.

Offline Matt

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Re: Are there any livebearers suitable for softer water?
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2017, 09:46:19 PM »
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Not a lot you can do to significantly soften water other than by using RO water.  You would use this in a mix with your tap water or add cichlid salts to it as it's effectively got no hardness.  It is very expensive and wasteful to produce so it's quite a commitment, especially as you'll need to purchase or make it for every water change!!

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