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Old 12-05-2002, 04:42 PM   #1
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Truth About R/O Water or Pure Water

I want to clarify something that has come up several time in previous post that has been bothering me since the first time I read it. The answers I was getting when I asked them to explain their theory did not make sense. So I did a lot of research which involved talking to a lot of different people and e-mailing several people and this is what I found out.
Several people are telling people that R/O or Pure water will pull nutrients and minerals from the gills of the fish. I spoke with people from labs, water companies, even a University for Marine Biology and even Marine Biologists, and I have received several e-mails back from different places that I requested information on this matter from, and the bottom line is: R/O or Pure water does not draw the minerals and nutrients from fish. Water can dilute and dissolve, but it does not absorb the way the people in these posts are saying it does. The only problem I'm being told that R/O or pure water seems to create with fish is that it doesn't have enough nutrients and minerals for the fish to survive. Listed below are some of my replies from my requests for information to back up what I am saying.



We do not have information about fish, but I can tell you that RO water or pure water is not harmful to the human body. It does not leach minerals nor does it make the blood acidic. As soon as pure, RO, or distilled water is ingested, homeostasis in the body immediately and effectively adjusts all body fluids to the correct salt content. You will need to check with a fish expert to see if fish have the same homeostatic ability.

Kelley Thompson
Public Affairs Assistant
Water Quality Association




Dear Elaine,

Thank you for your inquiry. When RO water is produced, has almost zero elements and minerals in it besides the H2O. If you put this water in with fish without adding trace elements back in will harm the fish because they don't have the required nutrients from the water. It won't strip the elements from the fish though.
If you are using RO water for saltwater, most aquarium salt will have many of the trace elements needed by most marine life, of course you would have to add additional trace elements as needed.
If you are using it for freshwater, you will need to add freshwater trace elements or water stabilizers like RO Right, to get some of these minerals back into the water. If we can be of additional assistance, please contact our Live Aquaria Department at 1-800-334-3699 or via email. If you should need assistance while on our web site please feel free to contact our Live Help. Our Live Help is available Monday through Friday 11 A.M. 2 P.M. CST.

Sincerely,

Greg
Drs. Foster & Smith
Aquatic Services



From A Marine Biologist

Because water has a natural tendency to move from area of high concentration to low concentration (across a simi permeable membrane = osmosis) Fish face several problems:

Fresh water fish -------- water enters bodies
salts are lost

Fresh water fish:
produce high volumes of dilute urine
Salt absorbing cells (on the gills) actively transport salts into body
Cover themselves with mucus

Marine fishes -------- water leaves bodies
Salts are accumulated (taken in)

Marine Fish:
drink lots of water
excess salts secreted by special cells located on the gills
Produce concentrated urine


The ocean has a much higher concentration of salt in it than in the fish's body, so the osmotic pressure is constantly trying to draw water out of the marine fish. Therefore, to keep from dehydrating, a marine fish is always drinking water to replace lost water. Marine fish have ways of getting rid of the excess salt. So next time someone asks you Do fish drink? now you know the answer and it depends on if you are talking about freshwater or marine fish.



Response from the University of Iowa School Of Marine Biology

The only information that I found that stated R/O could be a health risk
was on websites and in articles that were advertising a competitive
product or an additive that would solve this problem. I did not find any
warnings on sites like the EPA drinking water website. This leads me to
believe that these companies are preying on peoples lack of knowledge and
attempting to scare people into their product. However, I also couldn't
find a research article that debunked the commercial sites.

I even found one site (recommended by the EPA) that stated R/O water is
better than soft water for the breeding of some tropical fish because of
the low total dissolved solids.

As adults, we don't get a significant amount of any nutrient from our
drinking water. You may want to look at the following websites for more
information and a list of water treatment options.

http://www.epa.gov/safewater/wot/whatcan.html EPA Drinking Water Site

http://www.wqa.org/ Water Quality Association
From Tropical Fish Article:
"Note: While soft water is an improvement in that it reduces the clouding
and scaling of the glass panels of an aquarium, it does not of itself
necessarily provide a suitable environment for the breeding of tropical
fish. Authorities indicate that water of low dissolved solids and pH
control my be more desirable for breeding, though this depends on the
species. Since total dissolved solids content of a softened water is the
same as that of the untreated raw water, a supply with a lower dissolved
solids content must be gained in some other way. Blending of softened
water with reverse osmosis or distilled water may produce the conditions
conducive to breeding."


Take care,

Marcy
Marcy M. Seavey
Education Director

Iowa Academy of Science
175 Baker Hall, UNI
Cedar Falls, IA 50614
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Old 12-05-2002, 08:21 PM   #2
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Hi SleeplessLwd,

Great research work. I've been getting mixed messages reading all the topics about RO water.

Thanks for "distilling" the information. Makes sense to me now.

PS. Sorry for the bad pun.
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Old 12-06-2002, 01:31 AM   #3
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Well done
Thats alot of information, Should help out quite a bit.
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Old 12-06-2002, 04:34 AM   #4
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Wow, great research, but now i am confused.

When i was a teenager and had fish, i used tap water and never had a problem, now i use bottled water because of the high chlorine in our tap water. I have used it for over 3 years now and have had no apparent problems with my fish. But i didnt know about the nutrients aspect of it.
So now i am wondering is this lacking in my tank? I have 3 types of natural plants in my tank and was told that they are a good supply of nutrients to my fish. Can they replace the nutrients lacking from the water?

The other issue is how good is boiled water? Does it get rid of the Chlorine and still keep the other nutrients that fish need?

Please shine some light on this,
Katfish
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Old 12-06-2002, 02:46 PM   #5
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Obviously the plants are supplying the proper nutrients to your fish if the fish are still thriving. I have been using regular tap water, but I put in Stress Coat the night before I do my water change to dechlorinate the water and this has been working great for my tank. The Stress Coat also helps to detoxify heavy metals in the water and replaces the slim coat on the fish. So overall, it's a pretty safe product. I'll have to research the boiled water to see what I can find on that and get back to you. On the reef tank I was running I was using R/O water with elements added and I also added vitamins to the tank for extra nutrition.
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Old 12-06-2002, 03:17 PM   #6
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Hi Katfish,

Quote:
The other issue is how good is boiled water? Does it get rid of the Chlorine and still keep the other nutrients that fish need?
From what I have read... Boiling water will not remove the Chlorine but it will kill any bacteria and other creepy-crawlies. Chlorine isn't that much of an issue because if you leave it out over night it will dissipate. Chloramine, on the other hand, doesn't. You water utility may (or may not) add Chloramine to the water. Chloramine bonds to the Chlorine to keep it in the water, where it can do the disinfecting that it is suppossed to do.

You can purchase a Chlorine/Chloramine remover from your LFS and add it to the tap water.

EMS503 wrote;
Quote:
I have been using regular tap water, but I put in Stress Coat the night before I do my water change to dechlorinate the water and this has been working great for my tank. The Stress Coat also helps to detoxify heavy metals in the water and replaces the slim coat on the fish.
Good Call !!! STRESS COAT is a far superior product than just a plain Chlorine/Chloramine remover.

I hope this helps.
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Old 12-06-2002, 06:23 PM   #7
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Excellent work. Thanks for taking the time to benefit everyone.
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Old 03-14-2003, 05:01 PM   #8
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If I got a PUR water filter for my tap... would that be okay to use for SW top-offs?
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Old 03-14-2003, 06:46 PM   #9
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I would still use the de-chlor-cloramine remover just in case... The PUR Premium filter is designed to get rid of heavy metals and 99% of other impurities.. They are however not designed to get rid of cloramines effectively...They Sure make great drinking water though... I use one for top off and have had no problem and it is also cheaper to buy and operate than a RO/DI, although "questionably" not as good...
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Old 05-05-2003, 06:02 PM   #10
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Timbo,

I am wondering where do they say 99% and do you know (by any chance) what they consider an impurity? Like chloramine is not removed by the PUR, maybe the chlorine componet, but not the ammonia.

Do they have a website?

Marianne
www.aquafx.net
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