GH is a measure of calcium and magnesium in the water. It is more important to the fish than pH.
GH and KH are measured in several ways. German degrees of hardness, and parts per million. There are 17.9 ppm in one German degree of hardness. Milligrams per liter is another common way, and is equal to parts per thousand.
KH is a measure of carbonates in the water. This is a buffer that stabilizes pH. Generally but not always high KH and high pH are found together. When the KH is low the pH can be more variable. Easier to change. KH is not so important, except that if you want to change the pH you really need to start with the KH.
TDS is a measure of all the salts and minerals dissolved in the water. This one also is very important for the fish.
Here is what I would do:
1) Get test kits for GH and KH, and a TDS meter if you can.
2) Test and post the test results for both tanks and your tap water:
GH, KH, TDS, pH and repeat the pH test on some tap water that has sat out for 24-48 hours.
3) Try this:
Set up a 5 gallon bucket with 3-4 gallons of water and a handful (1/2 cup or so) of peat moss. I fyou have a small pump or a bubbler add it. If not, then just stir the mix several times a day by hand. Test GH, KH, pH and TDS at the start and every few days for a week or so.
Report the results.
Fish are not as concerned about pH by itself.
The more important levels are GH, TDS and KH.
If you can get the GH and KH within a degree or so and the TDS within 10% of each other in these tanks, then it is safe to move the fish, even if the pH is not the same.
Fish can adapt more easily to slightly harder water than to
There are 2 ways to handle this:
a) Make the water in the new tank match the old.
b) Make the current tank water match the new. Go slowly! A little bit of change at a time. It may take a week or even up to a month to make these changes. Post the numbers and lets see where we are.
How to move fish:
Fish live in balance with the nitrifying bacteria in the filter and all over the tank. A new tank does not have much in the way of these bacteria, so you cannot simply dump all the fish into the tank. Without the nitrifying bacteria they will be killed by their own wastes. Ammonia is the worst of these.
Best if you can grow the bacteria in the new tank before adding the fish. Have a look at the fishless cycle. You can do this while you are working on the water hardness issues.
Another way is to add the bacteria as you move the fish. For example, if you move 25% of the fish, then you want to move 25% of the bacteria. Kinds hard to count the bacteria, though.
Here is what I would do:
Move the old, established filter to the new tank, and run the new filter on the old tank so it will start growing some bacteria, too.
Move about 50% of the fish.
Add one of the 'bacteria in a bottle' products that has Nitrospiros species of bacteria. Do not waste your money on any other products. There are only 3 that I know of with the actual species of nitrifying bacteria: Dr. Tim's One and Only, Microbe Lift's Nite Out II and Tetra Safe Start. I would add this to both tanks, since you cannot really tell how much bacteria you have moved.
Run the tanks for at least a week, and longer is better. Monitor it, doing water changes as needed. If you can run them for closer to a month then the bacteria will be better established in the new filter, an on all the other surfaces in the new tank.
Then move more of the fish, probably all of them, and add the new filter to the new tank. Run both filters for another month on the new tank. Add more of the nitrifying bacteria.
Move the fish in this order:
Most timid, least aggressive fish first.
Higher ranking, or more aggressive fish later.
You can sure do variations on that moving schedule, moving as much as all the fish in one day, if you want (both filters on the new tank, and a big dose of Nitrospiros) or move them more slowly, perhaps 25% at one time.
You can do other variations such as splitting up the populations, keeping some in each tank and adding more fish to both tanks (and more Nitrospiros!)
It is all about balancing the bacteria and fish populations.
ROUGHLY 50% of the bacteria live in the filter. The other live on all the surfaces in the tank. Especially on the substrate, but also everywhere else that meets their needs. There is almost no bacteria in the water itself except when you add one of those bacteria in a bottle products, or the tank is cycling. Then there is bacteria in the water while they look for a new home.
Happy fish keeping!
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