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Old 10-27-2012, 09:56 AM   #1
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TDS readings

Hi all, I have just checked the tds on my RO water from the lfs and it is reading 265ppm!! I have had the water for a while, does it deteriorate with time? Also I am testing it cold because I haven't yet started to heat it, does that affect the reading? I do get quite a lot of green hair algae and I lost 3 shrimp in a few days some weeks ago, could this be why? I always ask the lfs to check the reading when I buy the water and they assured me their membranes are checked regularly and that the tds was good. What should I do? I used another lfs which was further away and got another awful reading so I find myself in a difficult position because I don't really know where else I can go for my RO water. Any suggestions? PWC is overdue but I don't want to use bad water and make the problem worse! Thanks everyone
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Old 10-27-2012, 10:07 AM   #2
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TDS is total disolved solids. What those solids are, we aren't really sure unless you get it tested. I have water with crazy high readings just like you do. We run out water through ro/di machines to remove these solids, mostly phosphates but there are other things that can come in our water that we don't want either, like maybe floride for example. If you have water sitting around for awhile uncovered then things could get in there to raise tds. If the filters or resins need changed, then the ways we remove the disolved solids from the water aren't there anymore which obviously will give you water with a tds reading.

As a general rule of thumb, I don't trust anyone with my tank maintenence besides me. I'd do your water change. Worse you can do is have some more algae growth? Shouldn't be a problem if you are manually removing as much as you can prior to doing your water changes.

What are your actual parameters? If you are losing inverts, since they are pretty sensitive to parameter issues, then you either have a nitrate issue, unstable parameters, or they just weren't acclimated to the difference in water and that difference shocked them to death.
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Old 10-27-2012, 10:37 AM   #3
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Hi Sniperhank

Thanks for your quick reply The water is stored in covered containers - I use water carriers (the ones used for camping) and I do rinse them out after each use with boiling water. Do you think that would be sufficient to clean them before I take them to the lfs for filling? The lfs have assured me that they carry out regular maintenance so their membranes etc are regularly replaced. I didn't take my tds meter with me last time but it has been several weeks since I got the water. I was told that storing it with a lid on would not affect the readings. Is that wrong then? I haven't got room in the house for an RO meter of my own and I run my own business so I can work for 50 hours a week plus study and paperwork on top of that so I wouldn't be able to maintain one even if I could fit it in somewhere.
I do try to clean the plant I've got in the tank plus I wipe all the sides down - it is a marine biOrb so it's round! I'm thinking that the water might contain nitrates though and perhaps that's why I can never fix the problem because I'm compounding the problem every time I add new water - it just pushes up the nitrates for example each time I do a water change. I've actually tested the nitrate levels after doing a PWC and found they are high!!! The only other place that will sell good RO is too far for me to travel. I think the algae problem will be improved now that my light has stopped working - the tank only gets natural daylight so hopefully this will reduce the amount of algae produced. I'm not sure why the light has stopped working. It is an intelligent LED and Reef One has replaced it already for free so I'm not sure whether they would do that again. Perhaps it is the water spitting up at it that eventually ruins it. I'm not sure. I thought these lights were made to work in wet conditions - it is surrounded by plastic?
With regards to my shrimp, I had them for several months before they died so I'm guessing it's not an acclimatisation problem. I thought it was the nitrate levels but that's just a guess. I'm not sure what my parameters are atm. I was told my test kits were no good so all I have is a Salifert Nitrate test kit so I would only be able to give you that reading until I can get to the lfs. My other livestock (2 clownfish and a royal gramma) are perfectly fine. The royal gramma was sick and lost weight/hid etc but I was recommended a fab product for anorexic fish which fixed the problem. I never realised fish could be anorexic!!! Amazing product, the fish is healthy again and eating normally. I have lost turbo snails in the past and various other inverts but now I try to keep only hardy species because the biOrb doesn't really support the more complex lifeforms with its current equipment (i.e. light restrictions, lack of water flow etc). The fish I have are doing fine and I have kept shrimp successfully before aswell as hermit crabs. I even had a firefish which lived happily for several months but the air pump failed overnight and it killed it
So you think I should be safe to change the water even though the tds is through the roof?! I could go back to the lfs for some more water and ask them to test this water to see if my meter is working correctly. They are usually pretty good but I'm concerned that their water isn't really clean enough. I'm really surprised you are using water with a high tds reading - I thought it was a complete no-no.
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Old 10-27-2012, 10:53 AM   #4
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Always clean your containers. I didn't for several months (was really busy at work and didn't get around to it) and it caused not only TDS levels but also had leftover salt in them.

As for the water you have, why would it hurt anything? You already have been changing the water with it without much problem really... If nitrates are coming out of the water your lfs is providing you then you should look into your own RO/DI unit. It'll save you money, frustrations, and provide you with a clean tank.

When I say that I'm using water with a high TDS, i meant that it originally has a high tds reading and is taken to 0 through my ro/di. But the resin, which is supposed to last for several months, only lasts a month for me before it turns brown and my tds begin to creep up again. When this happens and I'm out of resin, I buy the cheapest distilled water from my grocery store I can find. Considering my grocery store gives me fuel perks...this month alone I have got 60 cents off every gallon of gas since I'm out of resin.

Overall though, you are running a fowlr setup. You can have nitrate and phosphates in your tank. You don't have to have the perfect water like I do for my reef. Hence why I think you'll be fine until you can address the water issue in general and battle your algae problem.
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Old 10-27-2012, 11:32 AM   #5
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Thanks again for your message. Is boiling and rinsing enough to clean them? This is what I was advised to do. Because the hole in the top is only a few inches wide, I can't really get my hands inside the container to scrub it. I daren't use water purifier tablets to clean it off because they might leave a poisonous residue. I totally understand being busy - it does make it difficult to keep on top of everything.
I think the water might be harming things - the shrimp all died within a few day. Admittedly my fish are fine but the algae is not so good - it's not covering everything though so I guess it could be a lot worse. Just concerned that nitrates are not good for the tank and inhabitants. I will test my tank water and the RO water for nitrates just to see what is happening. I was recommended the Salifert test kit because it's supposed to be quite accurate, but it is hard to read.
I haven't got anywhere to put an RO unit - I am a childminder so my house is full and I haven't got places to store things like that. If the resins and membranes need changing then presumably it could cost me to maintain it? I only have a 60litre tank too. I'm happy to pay for my RO as and when I need it but not if it's dirty!! I guess we don't know what those dissolved salts are. One lfs said they don't worry about it because they don't know what is in the tds reading anyway!! Their water was quite a high tds so I stopped going there, plus they had quite a bad reputation. Distilled water is pretty expensive here and I don't think I get the same benefits as you by using a particular store. Maybe it's something to do with living in America? I live in England - offers and savings are different here.
Yes I see what you mean about water quality being important for your reef setup. Mine is a simple system but I am concerned that I have lost inverts before, especially as the cleaner and fire shrimp were the life and soul of my tank when paired with the fish You mentioned sorting out my water quality issues - how would you suggest I do that, taking into consideration the algae issue aswell? Just going to get those readings. Thanks again.
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Old 10-27-2012, 11:37 AM   #6
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Well, your nitrate test will prob come up 0 because the algae is currently consuming it. But levels going too high could have killed things off for you. How often are you feeding? That might be pressing the issue if you are feeding too much.

And we are sorting them out right now, lol.
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Old 10-27-2012, 11:40 AM   #7
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IMO, your best bet would be to get your own RODI unit. Then you know your getting quality water, no more hauling jugs back and forth to the LFS, and you will save $ in no time! www.purewaterclub.com has the cheapest units around, and mine has worked awesome for me for year and a half. There's also more expensive units out there, but I got a 100gpd unit from purewaterclub for about $109 with free shipping. Good luck!
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Old 10-27-2012, 11:41 AM   #8
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Second the above stated. They are small enough to fit under your sink.
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Old 10-27-2012, 11:45 AM   #9
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Oops! Sorry I chimed in late! I'm at work and got half way through writing that, then had to do somethin and didn't get back to it for about an hour and seen that you already said an RODI unit was out of the picture. My apologies! It's wat I get for stalling lol
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Old 11-10-2012, 05:57 PM   #10
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Thanks everyone for the advice about getting an RO unit - I would if I could afford it and had the room!! But thanks anyway Just wondered, is boiling water enough to clean my empty water container to ensure that it is clean before I go to collect more water? I can't get inside the container to scrub it because it only has a hole in the top with a lid. What would you recommend to remove the algae in the bottom? My husband accidentally left it in sunlight. I tested my water today and found the nitrate level is between 50 and 100ppm I tested the RO water and I found it had a nitrate reading of 10-25ppm. I would be interested to know what the phosphate reading is too, but I don't have a kit. Can anyone recommend a good, accurate test kit range which is not too difficult to read. The Salifert kit I have is quite difficult to read but I was told it is accurate. The other ones I have are quite old now so I'm not sure they are reading right. Any further help greatly appreciated.
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