I suppose the point I am really trying to make is that you don't need to spend a great deal of money or have a degree in chemistry to be a successful aquarist.
It is hard for people my age who have been keeping fish for many years not to harp on about the past but remember we have made the mistakes and wasted the money and are just trying to pass on this experience.
Back in the 1960s fishkeeping in the Uk was not very advanced and the equipment was basic; few expensive power filters and diaphragm air pumps and no knowledge of water chemistry. The amaricans were well ahead on the equipment but the suprise came in the mid 1960s when the East Germans published their results. Books written by authors such as Sterba and Frey debunked the euipment myths; the East Germans had so little they were even trying to heat their tanks with gas heaters on a slate bed but they did know about fish. Many hard to breed fish such as egglaying tooth carps and characins were being bred by them at home when in the Uk we could barely keep them alive.
We use the tank water when rinsing out the filter materials in the fry rearing tanks. It is a while since I tested for A ammonia and nitrates and then they were very low; with the plant growth in our tanks and the regular water changes bacterial overload and ammonia, nitrate, problems just dont arise.
Believe it or not all our fish die of old age after many years; granted they were born here in local water and thus did not have the stress of importation and dealers tanks.
At one time I was very involved with fish importation and the losses were horrendous but home bred fish have a much better survival rate.
We change half the water in our tanks every week (except when we are on holiday); water is pumped out and replaced with tap water from the outside cold tap using a hose pipe (summer and winter). We also rinse out the filter materials under the tap at the same time as we change the water and change the nylon wool about once every three months; sponge filter material we never change.
We never clean out the gravel in the tanks and it has been in use for 10 years now; however we have a very thick growth of crytocoryne plants in the tanks which have to be thinned out about once every 6 months. After thinning the plants the tanks become very cloudy with sediment but an hours filteration with a powerful external filter clears them.
Re: Hard Water Fish - suited to tropical set up
At one time I lived in a hard water area and used to collect rain water from my garage roof. I collected it in a white barrel so that I could see if it was clear before using it; and let it rain heavy for about 30 minutes before collecting. After collection I filtered the water with a diatamous earth filter before using. Then in 1976 we had a long dry summer and I ran out of rain water (I had about 60 tanks going in the fish house) so I built myself a water softening unit using ion and anion exchange resins. This worked well.
Now many years later and maybe a bit wiser I again live in a very hard water area; however we only keep fish that will live happily in my tap water. We change half the water every week by pumping the water out with an electric pump and filling up with the hose pipe on the outside coldwater tap (summer and winter).
We only keep a few tanks now but have bred a number of species successfully both egg layers and live bearers in the local tap water. At present we only breed angel fish.
My point in all this rambling is don't get too hung up on water PH and hardness.
Hello just to introduce my self; or actually ourselves because we come as a pair; Jenny and Ernie. I have been keeping and breeding tropical fish since I was a lad; over 50 years. These days we only run 3 or four tanks and only keep angel fish of which we have three breeding pairs. We breed them regularly but only rear around three broods a year because of space restrictions.