Filtering Through Peat

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Sherolyn-Basement Bettas

A good way to naturally lower the parameters of you water [pH, gH and kH] is to run your tap water though peat moss. You will still need to add a water conditioner like Prime to remove chlorine and chloramines as peat will not do anything for those. Peat will also not remove heavy metals so if you have these, choose a water condition for them as well.  A local garden center should be able to provide a bale of peat. I found [in 2010] a 1 cubic foot bag and it was priced about $10. It was a  bit more expensive than the 2.5 cubic bale of stuff from Lowe’s that cost about $6, but it was also Canadian Sphagnum that I read was preferred.

Creating  your Filter

This method is for filtering water that will go into a large water holding tank. This tank is often a 55 gallon drum or a 32 gallon trash can. Pick up a bucket at your local grocery or hardware store. Turn the bucket upside down and drill several holes in the bottom. Flip it back and put put several large filter pads across the bottom and over the holes.

 Now you need to add peat. But you do not want to add dry peat because when water is added, the peat will expand and float and will make a big mess. Use a large bowl or another bucket without holes in the bottom to add water to the peat and allow it to soak until wet completely through. Once the peat has soaked up water you want to add 3″ to 4″ of peat over the filter pads. Spread it out and you should be ready to add water. If you find the water pressure stirs up the peat, add a small saucer or bowl on the top of the peat to take the brunt of the water force. 

How to Filter

Now you need a way to suspend the bucket over the water holding tank. I used a ladder back chair with the holes in the bucket lined up with the space between the back of the chair. You can also use 2 x 4’s, or make some screen to sit the bucket on. What ever you can create that will allow water to flow through the bucket and into the holding tank is fine. 

Now you are ready for the tap water. Add water conditioner to the holding tank and start running your tap water into the bucket and through the peat. Adjust the flow so there is a little standing water over the top of the peat the entire time. Water will soak down through the peat and out the holes and into your holding tank. For a 32 gallon trash can I found it took close to 30 minutes to fill the can. Considering a 150 gpd Reversed Osmosis filter will take about 6 hours to filter the same amount of water, the peat filter is is a quick and cost effective way to get lower water parameters if your water is good, just a little high in these values.

How to use Peat Filtered Water

You can start with 1/4 of your tap water being filtered though the peat moss and increase it to become more of the total water volume. You want to test it each ratio to see what your water parameters are and if you have reached your target for these parameters. Another reason for starting with a portion and building up is the changes your fish will feel. If they are currently in tap water, the sudden change in the pH alone can cause stress and possible loss. You should be doing partial water changes and adding your mixed water in until gradually they are in water with the parameters you desire. 


My original values were Ph 8.1; GH 358 ppm; KH 286 ppm. Filtering all my water through the peat gave me readings of Ph 7.2; GH 232 and KH 179. Not bad for a quick fix. I found you can use the peat for quite a while before it stops lowering your water parameters. A good habit to get into is regular testing of your water, even in your holding tank. When the parameters are not being reduced simply soak some new peat moss to saturate it, remove the old and spent peat and replace it with the new. The old peat can be added to your garden to improve the soil there.

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