What types of fish for my tap water?


Junior Poster
Feb 22, 2008
Meadville, PA
Hi all,

Let me start by saying I will be humbling honest about my situataion. I'm not entirely new to the hobby but fairly new to planted aquaria & I've received a LOT of bad advice (some of which I've followed) via the internet before finding these boards.

I am thinking about resetting up my 55 gallon aquarium with all new inhabitants in order to simplify my life. Read on & find out why please.

I have been fighting my city water parameters (I know now, not very intelligent) and I believe I am finally ready to give in. My tap water is, according to the Meadville Area Water Authority, about 14 grains per gallon of hardness with PH of 7.3 and .01 mg/liter iron. When I last tested from a spigot in my house not in line with my water softener the tests read: KH 11° & GH 16°, PH 7.8(possibly higher), Nitrates 0, Phosphate 1.0.

Please don't laugh at me when I tell you that I have been using filtered rain water collected in a rainbarrel off a gutter & am tired of lugging buckets of it up my basement steps. :eek: All this for the love of Amazonian cichlids & the desire to see them have families. I am the proud owner of 7 (some breeding) Laetacara Curviceps, 1 pair of Angels (possibly both females), 1 Keyhole Cichlid, 4 Bristlenose, 2 Otos, 5 Tetras & 2 Cardinals.

First & foremost I am wondering if any of these fish could live in my tap water if I gradually switch over from what it is now, KH 4 & GH 7, PH 6.6 - 6.8 using CO2 injection (that's another story)?

I realize they will most likely not spawn but will I have to find a new home for any/all of them?

Also, I'm looking for some input on what types of fish other people would put in this tank if they had this type of tap water.

Finally, any tips or suggestions on how to go about making the water switch would be great!

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Humbly yours, Susan


Plant Guru Team
Lifetime Member
Sep 23, 2007
South Florida
Hi Susan,

Noone will laugh at you... We have all gone to 'crazy' lengths for our fish...

I would say that they all can live at those parameters, but may not be at their best coloration or be able to breed.

I have water of GH: 140-160 MG/l CaC03, KH: 90-100 mg/l, and WITHOUT C02 7.8. I use c02 to lower to 6.6.

Other than the keyhole cichlid, I either have now, or had the same fish list as you with no issues. Angels have been so domesticated and bred commercially that they will breed in many 'unnatural' water parms.

I realize your water is much harder than mine, but maybe this will serve as a benchmark.

I would gradually do 25% water changes with the new water, every 3-4 days and monitor all fish for stress, not eating, etc. Doing this for a couple of weeks, should enable them to acclimate with no problems.

When the tank water matches the tap parms, acclimation is done. Then do 50% weekly water change to keep them healthy.

I know you love your fish, but you may want to switch to fish that come from water similar to the new parms. African cichlids, rainbows, and a lot of live bearers would do very well with your water. Just a thought as you have found it is not easy to change the water to match the fish :)

Hope this all helps.

Great choice on the curviceps. I have 12 L.Dorsigeri and they spawn in my tank, but no fry yet. However, have almost 150 other fish (mostly cardinals and some large Bosemani, with some African butterfly cichlids) in the tank (180g) so they wouldn't last long anyway.

I have one large L.Curviceps male that is lonely for others of his kind :( Where did you get yours? They are hard to find in my area. Mine is now at least 2 yrs old.


Junior Poster
Feb 22, 2008
Meadville, PA

Thank you for the reply! I have decided to do a 50% water change today using half filtered rain water & half tap. Part of the tap water will have to be hot water softened by the water softener sitting in the hot water tank. I hate to do that but the tap is extremely cold this time of year here. Hopefully I won't have to use much. I may try to stick to this method for a while & see how it goes. If I decide that this is too much work for me then I will definitely consider different fish since I hate the idea of them not being in their optimum condition & health.

I just recently started EI dosing & I didn't need to do such big water changes before. Now, of course, I need too and don't want to "make water" in 20 gallon amounts but maybe 10 gallons won't be so bad.:eek:

The Keyhole is my favorite as far as personality goes and I'm hoping to get another sometime, but the L. Curviceps have been a lot of fun! They have actually spawned with resulting fry three different times in the last 2 months now but I believe the fry were eventually all eaten by other fish or starved :( because I didn't feed them properly. They only made it for about a week & a half after wiggler stage each time. I just received some brine shrimp eggs, hatcher gadget, etc. in the mail Friday so I am hoping to remedy that.

I bought the "Smilies" from a seller this past summer at Aquabid.com. If I remember correctly he is located in LA. I didn't win one of his auctions. I just emailed him and asked for some if he had any left. I bought 6 juvies at a very good price & affordable shipping (middle of summer) & he sent me seven. I'm not sure about the rules of this board so I will PM the contact info. to you.

Your 180g aquarium sounds wonderful!

I will actually be in Northern FL. over Easter vacation. Will be visiting my parents in Bushnell for 2 weeks, visit Caladisi (Sp) Island, taking in the sights, etc.. I would actually be willing to part with an adult L. Curviceps or two but I'm not sure the trouble would be worth it to you. You might be better off contacting the guy at Aquabid. What do you think?