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Old 09-16-2007, 09:35 PM   #1
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tap water

hey, i just called our town's tap water supplier. They said there was .005 mg/l of nitrate, .011 mg/l of phosphate, and 540 micro mg/l of silicates. These levels look good to me, is there anything other level i should have asked them for. Our tap water is pretty clean and i found out it has only gotten a violation once, i am also assuming that i am right in believing a mg/l= 1ppm. Now, i get this water through my refrigerator filter that claims to filter out 99% of cysts, 75% of chlorine (maybe chloromine as well,) turbidity, particles, and lead. I then treat it with tap water conditioner to get rid of chloromine and supposedly zinc, copper, and lead as well. I also stick in an airstone for 24 hrs and run carbon. I hope this is safe enough because i am still kinda trying to skimp along by not buying ro, di, or distilled water. opinions?
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Old 09-16-2007, 10:15 PM   #2
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Welcome to AquariumAdvice.com!!!
I can not OVER-EMPHISIZE the importance of high quality source water in relation to the overall success of your tank. No mater how good your tap water is...an RO/DI unit will make it better. When I first started in this hobby I thought people were crazy recommending an RO/DI unit. Experience has taught me that it is one of the single best investments you can make for your tank. While this hobby can be expensive, it does not need to break the bank. But, in order to save yourself trouble, time and money down the road, an RO/DI unit is a must. There are several sites that offer inexpensive units. Check out ebay, our sponosors of this site or www.thefilterguys.biz for some great units.
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Old 09-16-2007, 10:24 PM   #3
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BELIEVE ME i know, i hate to sound rude, but i just want to know if those levels are acceptable. I have been researching alot and i do understand the importance of changing with pure water. also, does 1mg/l=1ppm?
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Old 09-16-2007, 11:04 PM   #4
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The fact of the matter is that nitrates and phosphates are in the water. They will cause problems with nuisance algea. Read this

http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/jan2004/chem.htm
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Old 09-16-2007, 11:26 PM   #5
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Yes, AFAIK 1 meg/l = 1 ppm.
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They said there was .005 mg/l of nitrate, .011 mg/l of phosphate, and 540 micro mg/l of silicates.
Have you checked the water coming from your tap to be sure? I'd imagine things could change some between the water plant and your faucet. You could ask a LFS to test for you if you don't have all the test kits. I know it only takes very small amounts of silicate to cause problems, ie. diatoms, but I'm not exactly sure what level is too high.

FWIW RO/DI units are fairly inexpensive these days, many people get them on e-bay for ~$100.
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Old 09-16-2007, 11:47 PM   #6
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thanks melosu, that was an EXTREMELY helpful article. Though, still, the water levels i was given do not come close to the ones explained there. .005 ppm of nitrates is almost absolutely nothing for a swt, .011 ppm of phosphate i believe is still not very important and both of these nutrients will more likely serve as food for my chaeto than algea, also it is an FO tank so i do not really have lighting so photosynthetic algea is not really an issue as of yet and i hope to ensure at least a little so i can throw in some snails and hermits. That article talks about silica in ranges of 1-80, i do not even have near 1ppm. As far as lead and copper go, like i said it goes through drinking water filtration, then i treat it to neutralize these heavy metals, and i run carbon. I also understand that these reports are not completely accurate in every place at every time, but still even a 5x increase does not come close to the toxic levels described. I do know that you are all completely justified in encourging ro water and i am just defending my cheapness and that ultimately you are right. But i dont imagine it will lead to the immediate demise of my fishies. Also remember that i am just setting up a 20 gl fo tank and am not investing thousands on a large reef tank with extremely sensitive corals, fish, and invertabrates.
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Old 09-17-2007, 01:32 AM   #7
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Wow... sounds like you're pretty set on using your tap water, so why ask about the levels to start with? You asked for opinions, no? Not that it'll make a difference, but there are two problems that I see...

Local water providers are only required by the feds to test their water once a year. Once. And those are the nifty results they send out to you and tell you over the phone. I'm not saying they don't test it more often - I'm sure they do. But the results that are for public consumption are those yearly tests that they have to submit. Just because the water is "perfect" when they test, doesn't mean it will be "perfect" the following week. When I started my tank, I tested my tap water - 0 nitrates. Within 6 months, for whatever reason, I was getting 5-10ppm nitrates in the tap.

The other problem is that there's a lot of pipe and miles between wherever your water provider tests, and your tap. Your pipes within your house could be leaching material into your water that won't show up in the water provider's test. For example... I use a Kold-Steril unit for one of my first stages of filtration. One of it's stages uses PolyFilters, which change color depending on what it is adsorbing. After a year use, the PolyFilters in my unit are a very pretty blue color. They turn blue when sucking up copper. According to my water department, I have no copper in my water. It's not hard to imagine that with the amount of copper piping in my house, that this is where it's coming from.

Obviously, you'll do whatever you choose. The filtration you describe is better than nothing - for sure. But those fridge filters or the Pur/Brita type filters really don't take out as much stuff as you'd think. I have 88ppm TDS (total dissolved solid) water coming out of my tap. After trickling it through a Brita, I still have a TDS reading of around 40-45ppm. Better than nothing, but not pure by any means.

No... your fish won't die from using tap water, even without any of the filtration you mention. In my opinion, in the long run, you will end up costing yourself more money buying tap water conditioner, and replacing the filtration cartridges in your fridge versus getting a cheapo RO/DI unit.
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Old 09-17-2007, 03:09 PM   #8
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Just as an alternative opinion, I have never run anything other than tap (water softener) with numbers much higher than what you have posted nor have I ever run into health concerns in regards to degradation of water due to the main supply (our city, I believe, is one of the worst). However, that does not mean there aren't contaminated areas not suitable. If you cannot purchase an ro/di then there are cost efficient ways around it.
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Old 09-17-2007, 10:53 PM   #9
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youre right i am stubborn but i posted this thread to see if there was anything completely flawed in my approach or if there was another measure i could take. Costwise though i would have to say you are wrong though, unless it somehow caused an immediate crash, buying a ro/di unit is a far greater cost about $100 up front and frequent filter replacements. (i also do not have a location to buy the water.) and i already had tap water conditioner thats $10 for 1000 gallons. also, could you please explain that again innovator its unclear to me. you said you use tap water? water softener? what are the other cost efficient ways are there? sorry i just dont understand the way you wrote it.
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Old 09-18-2007, 01:30 AM   #10
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just throwing my two cents in here... i used to think like you. At my old place I decided I didnt need to use ro/di water, i tested my water and found it to be very very low on 'trates and 'phates so I said screw it, ill just get tap conditioner and away I went.

then I moved and was setting up a new tank and decided to go all the way and fork out $100 for an ebay unit.

Holy. Mother. Its like night and day. My water parameters are perfect (my old pH problems are solved btw if anyone was reading my recent thread on that lol) and I think a lot of it is due to ro/di water.

What I actually ended up doing is putting a line directly from my ro/di unit to the sump, and connected a float valve, and now I never deal with water at all. water level gets low, it adds on its own. Its the greatest thing ever. (But im a lazy bastid so not everyone will go thru the trouble of setting that up. I get bored and end up thinking the one-time effort is worth getting rid of the long-term effort.)

But getting back to the unit. Unless your working with a pico-tank(1-3 gallons) your probably spending a LOT of money relative to the cost of an ro/di unit. In that regard, its so much better to just get the unit and not have to deal with all the extra crud that comes along with the less-than-great quality water.
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Old 09-20-2007, 03:38 AM   #11
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Doesn't RO/DI make water acidic? I have an RO/DI system to drink out of, and I tested the Ph of the end product and it was around 6.0 with the tap being around 7.6. My tap water is very HARD with calcium, Phosphates are practically nil, and my Ph hangs around 8.2 all by using tap water. Very little diatoms and no cyano. Will I need to add calcium to get the Ph where I need it from using RO/DI?
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Old 09-20-2007, 04:44 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darrinf15e
Will I need to add calcium to get the Ph where I need it from using RO/DI?
IME I dont add calcium to keep mine at 8.4. Just do frequent PWC`s. Salt mix has alot to do with it also.
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Old 09-20-2007, 09:05 AM   #13
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Calcium has no affect on pH. You can raise your pH by adding baking soda, if necessary.

@koolaidman3 - just curious, have you tested the TDS of your tap water? Not what the water co. told you, but what your actual reading is at the tap.
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Old 09-20-2007, 09:33 AM   #14
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One thing to keep in mind... this is a very expensive hobby and $100 on an RO/DI system is a very minor investment in the grand scheme of things. It's one of the best ways you can spend $100 on your tank. Besides, you'll probably spend more money correcting issues like algae, cyano, etc that you could have prevented through an RO/DI unit.
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Old 09-20-2007, 11:40 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darrinf15e
Doesn't RO/DI make water acidic? I have an RO/DI system to drink out of, and I tested the Ph of the end product and it was around 6.0 with the tap being around 7.6.
As it was explained to me by some folks that know alot about RO/DI, doing a pH test on "pure" water (either RO/DI or just DI) is pretty much pointless because the water has been stripped of everything. The 6.0 reading is kind of a false reading because the testing relies on the presence of electrolytes in the water. With RO/DI water, you've stripped it of everything so it's really neither acidic or alkaline, but it isn't really neutral either. Even the tiniest of impurities that may sneak through can throw it off one way or another.

I'm pretty sure I didn't relay that information 100% as I heard it (!), so please correct me water chemistry gurus if I misstated something in there.

Either way, your salt mix will take the pH right back to where it needs to be with nothing extra.
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Old 09-23-2007, 01:04 AM   #16
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no cccapt, i havent checked the tds, how would i go about doing that?
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Old 09-23-2007, 09:02 AM   #17
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Quote:
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You can raise your pH by adding baking soda, if necessary.

.
Adding baking soda can cause precipitation and crash . If adding it do so just a small ammount at a time and monitor closely never dose till you get it where you want it at once do so over days/weeks. You would be better off keeping the water airated with ph's pointed to the surface and an open top , as well as water changes .
You really dont want to add if you dont have to , also a couple other things , if the tank is new it will also be a bit lower , when testing with the lights on/off it will make a diffrence in your readings as well ...
I use to dose Baking soda till I changed the top for egg crate pointed the power heads to the surface, placed a fan to move air , opened the windows and then upped my h20 changes , I have NOT once had to dose . My tank is nearly 3 years old now and I have a ph of 8.4 consistantly with out doseing
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Old 09-23-2007, 10:29 AM   #18
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@koolaidman3 - you need to buy a TDS meter. They run aprox $20. You can check Ebay or just about all the online places carry them too.

@Sadielynn - FWIW, baking soda (or baked baking soda - soda ash) is what's used as a buffer to raise your alk. If you ever dosed anything to raise your alk, you dosed baking soda or soda ash. Baking soda will raise your pH, while soda ash has little to no affect on pH. I would not use it just to raise pH, but it definitely will.
I never heard of a tank crashing because of alk dosing...which is what you are doing when dosing baking soda.
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Old 09-25-2007, 11:18 PM   #19
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Baking soda will raise your pH,
Just too clarify for anyone who maybe trying this, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) will only increase PH after it is baked for an hour or so at ~300 deg. to drive off the excess CO2(basically it becomes sodium carbonate AKA washing soda after baking). If used right out of the box, and not baked, it will actually lower the PH of the tank slightly. Either way, it is a great, cheap way to increase Alk.
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Old 09-25-2007, 11:20 PM   #20
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If adding it do so just a small ammount at a time and monitor closely never dose till you get it where you want it at once do so over days/weeks.
Not sure if you know about this, but you may find it useful when dosing in the future-

http://home.comcast.net/~jdieck1/chemcalc.html
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