my water is toxic and very confusing - Page 2 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #16 of 27 (permalink) Old 07-30-2013, 02:48 AM
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Private well water can be a gamble. Perhaps there is something in the water we aren't thinking about, but I don't know what it is. Bad tasting water can be from sulfur compounds, and some of them can be a problem. Also, well water can be saturated with CO2, and that would definitely kill the fish. The fact that the water fresh from the well can be at 6.2 pH suggests that it does contain lots of CO2. An easy thing to do different is age the water for a day before using it for a water change. That eliminates most of the CO2, and some other dissolved gases.

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post #17 of 27 (permalink) Old 07-30-2013, 03:19 AM
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Does the water smell sweet? The bad taste could be from the old pipes. When you say you live near the old town center what do you mean? You live near where there used to be a community in the 1800's or do you mean 1920's +? Interestingly your well doesn't need to be near something to get contaminated by it. Put simply, most things either readily dissolve and are carried by the ground water or have a smaller molecular structure and weight than water which allows the contaminant to freely move where the larger molecules (h2o) have already forged a path. Basically if your well is between your septic tank and a creek it is probably contaminated. The hydrology of the land is what is important. You can usually guess the direction of the ground water flow based on the topography. The geology can play an important role as well. For instance some places in Florida the sediment is about 10x higher in radioactive isotopes than the national average. The ground in some places would not meet the standards that the sheet rock used to build there would have to. Other geologic formations are high in arsenic or other heavy metals (cadmium, chromium, lead, barium, mercury, silver, selenium). All these things find their way into the drinking water where these geologic formations occur and for other reasons. I would be concerned about the water but that is just me. You probably have an extension office that can do testing and they should be knowledgable about the subterranean geologic formations in your area.
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post #18 of 27 (permalink) Old 07-30-2013, 04:14 AM
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I think the problem comes down to...

Something in the well that you can fix (like CO2- simply age the water and it is fine).

Something in the well that you cannot fix (like many of the toxins byork deals with).

The reason I think it is a well water problem is that you describe fish dying with water changes. Something enters the tank at that time, and kills the fish.

Another possibility that would explain why newly purchased fish die is that the GH, KH & TDS are different from what they were used to. If the water they came from had more minerals or salts in it than your (soft) well water, then the new fish could have died from osmotic shock. Acclimating them will take a couple of weeks, not a couple of hours. Set up a quarantine tank for new fish. Test the water in the bag for GH, KH and TDS. Make the Q-tank match the water in the bag. Then drip acclimate.
While the fish are in quarantine you are watching them for diseases and parasites, and altering the water chemistry so that they are slowly getting acclimated to your main tank's water chemistry.

Here is what I would do:
If there is any way of getting the well tested for anything and everything they can test for, then do that. If you have old reports that may help. But sometimes the water in the well comes from different layers in the earth. The well water can change. This happened to someone I know. For several years they had somewhat hard water, but not too bad. Then it changed and there was so much iron in it they could not drink it. Really bad. It smelled, all the plumbing got stained, it was impossible to do laundry.

If you cannot get the well tested then I see a few possibilities.
1) Buy bottled water. Safest for the family and fish.
2) Treat the water with a reverse osmosis system. This does not take out everything, but can take out a lot of things. If you can find out what is in the well, then you can see if RO will take care of it. Often a prefilter before the RO itself will remove a certain amount of stuff, but you need to know what you are removing for the best arrangement.
3) Try a couple of fish store products. One is a chelator. The bottle will say something like 'locks up heavy metals'. Try other chemical media that are specially designed to remove different things.
Activated carbon has a pretty strong affinity for organic molecules, but will remove other things. This is often used in simple drinking water filters, too.
Filter media for aquariums are available that will remove many things- Phosphate, copper, ammonia and other things. Best if you know what you are removing, though, rather than guessing, and trying a lot of different things.

Get a few more aquarium test kits. GH, KH, TDS (a meter) would be the first ones I would get.
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post #19 of 27 (permalink) Old 07-30-2013, 04:42 AM Thread Starter
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I will dig up the water report tomorrow--the one done on the well. It is a few years old, although my mom said she just had one done last year and all the numbers were the same. I will try to look for the more recent test just in case there are any differences.

The water smells ok. It just has a sort of after-taste. But if you let it run then it is fine. So perhaps the pipes need to be replaced? My parents would know if they have been or not recently. By old center I mean a community from the 1800s. There is an old church and a town meeting hall and some old large houses/barns but that is all.

I think the only thing that could contaminate the water would be from the horse manure.

I checked the pH of the bucket of water which was 6.2 a few hours ago (after I filled up the bucket) and now it's maybe a little less than 6.4. I will check again tomorrow.

I don't know the gH or kH of my tank but I will order the test solution for that. The stores have tested those for me and did not tell me a number, only that it was on the soft side.

I do have a 10gal tank with a heater and filter I can use for quarantine. Actually I had set it up before I went to buy the danios. I had put the filter material in with my tank's filter and then used water from my tank to fill it most of the way up. But the store guy convinced me I was being over-crazy. I do get accused of over-thinking/micromanaging my animals so I gave in. Although maybe it wouldn't have made any difference since I hadn't adjusted the Q tank to match the store's water. They said they keep their water at 6.8 but when I tested the water in the bag when I got home it was 6.4 One would have thought it would be higher from the ammonia right?
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post #20 of 27 (permalink) Old 07-30-2013, 06:43 PM Thread Starter
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I tested the pH again of the bucket and it has gone up a little bit. It's about 6.5. I tested the tap water without letting it run first, just taking it right away. And it was 6.2 So my tap water appears to have changed from when I originally set up my tank, because I do remember testing my tap water and it being 7.6.

Perhaps this is because my dad just changed the filter on the tank a few days ago? Perhaps in a few months it will slowly become more basic until it's time to change the filter again.
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post #21 of 27 (permalink) Old 07-30-2013, 09:12 PM
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try aging the water in a bucket for 24 hrs with an airstone,,, test ph before and after.
i use well water too (for the last 6 yrs) and so far my fish are fine
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post #22 of 27 (permalink) Old 07-31-2013, 12:14 AM
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What sort of filter did your dad change? And yes, that might affect the water chemistry.

Water from a well that is contaminated with animal waste will usually show nitrates.

If your water is 'soft' per the store's tests, then the pH will be easily changed. If you ever have someone else test the water, write down the numbers and the units.

I am not sure that I would go along with the fish store guy when he says not to quarantine. I always quarantine, and have stopped Ich, fish lice, and internal parasites before they got into the main tank that way.

Fish water in the bag is usually more acidic because of the CO2 from the fish. Yes, there is also ammonia in there, but because the pH is often fairly low the ammonia may be in the form of ammonium. Safer for the fish, though not great.
When you open the bag the CO2 leaves, the pH rises and the ammonium turns back into ammonia.
There is an acclimation method that includes adding some ammonia locking material to the bag the moment you open it. Then drip acclimate. Then net the fish out of the water and put them in the tank. Fish also produce stress hormones when they are caught, bagged and so on. You do not want these going into the tank.
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post #23 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-01-2013, 11:33 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Diana. The funny thing about the water is that it acts like hard water--the tests results never fluctuate.

Latest update, one of my madagascar fish just died. I had him for 1.5 years which, aside from my shrimp, is the longest a fish has lasted. I don't know what happened. He seemed fine. I didn't change anything in the tank. I haven't done a water change yet. I was about to. I have the bucket ready which has been sitting for 3 days now I think. I was trying to figure out what the best method of adding some water would be--how slowly to do it I mean since the bucket is still 6.4 pH and my tank is 7.6

My poor fish. I really like my madagascars, too.
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post #24 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-03-2013, 01:17 AM
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There are other buffers in water than the few we have tests for.

I would drip the water into the tank over several hours, and not do too large a water change at any one time.

Get a TDS meter. Do water changes that will result in a change in TDS of not greater than 10% less, or 15% higher than what is in the tank.

The pH is not the test for this. It can vary quite a bit depending on so many things.

The fish are more interested in the osmotic difference between their cells and the water. This difference needs to be adjusted slowly.

If one water has a lot of salts (not just NaCl) and minerals and the fish are acclimated to water with a low level of salts or minerals, then a big water change will shock them, no matter what the pH is.

On the other hand, water with a way different pH (as long as it is in the safe range for the fish) but has the same TDS is just fine for a very large water change.
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post #25 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-05-2013, 07:23 AM
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Have you stopped the Excel? Being a low-tech tank, you should use a lot less of any fertilizer. I have a 29G I add 1/2 dose (5ml) of fertilizer to my tank once a month. Too much fertilizer can pose a health risk to your fish.

Do you know anything about your filter? brand, age, how often it cleaned and media is replaced?

Get a couple of 5 gallon buckets. Fill them with your tap water and let them sit for week, use that stall water for your water changes. Our city water (Honolulu) is good stuff but I age it before using it. I wonder if you have heavy metals (lead, copper, etc) in your water. Might be in low enough numbers not to effect the big animals, but could harming the fish.

I was thinking that maybe you should try keeping guppies, they are hardy fish and very beautiful. They are the fish are started with and in a number of why I miss them. While my fancy and costly fish are pretty, they can be so much more work. The guppies are just happy being guppies and put up with a lot of my mistakes, that would kill my stock.

Many I suggest a booK:
Aquarium Plants Aquarium Plants
. I've read dozens of fish books, this was my favorite. I learned more and made better choices with this book, than the others.

Not everyone starts out with a perfect tank, where all the fish thrive, the plants grow and everything is perfect. I struggled and still do with my tanks. I finally after a month rid my big tank of algae (new filter and water near total changes). I lost two neon tetras this weekend, after adding 10 cardinal tetras (not sure if its related - but now I worried I have added sick fish to my tank). It can be a royal pain, but when I'm able to just set back and watch my tank, its one of the greatest feelings.

Father of the Princess Zelda.
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post #26 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-05-2013, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by ponyo View Post
About 2 weeks ago I got 10 ocelot danios 6 of which died almost instantly the moment I added some water to their bag (it wasn't even a lot of water) but 4 managed to recover. And did I mention I have plenty of algae?
How long were these ten fish in the bag? If over an hour, the amount of ammonia in the bag was the issue. The moment you open the bag the PH plummets, and the ammonia becomes toxic.A few drops of Prime added to the bag may have helped even. I do not drip fish or add water from my tank.I get all of my fish online, so they have been in the bag at least a day{but anything over an hour is too long, especially with ten in one bag}
I temp them{with bag closed} and move them immediately out of the bag when it is opened.
Using a quarantine tank for new arrivals is also a good practice.
I hope you can find the problem.
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post #27 of 27 (permalink) Old 08-07-2013, 07:28 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone once again. Yes they had been in the bag for about 1 hour and 20 minutes. It was a larger bag because I did tell the store person it was a drive. I brought a cooler to keep the bag in as well.

I did stop the Excel. I was using it because Tom Barr had said it allows you to do water changes without worrying about the CO2 levels in the new water causing a spike in algae.

My filter is an aquaclear HOB filter. I did just change the carbon componant two weeks ago. It has been a while since I changed them before so perhaps that is part of the issue.

I will try to get a TDS meter. I do have water in a bucket right now. The pH is 6.0 so I'm a little nervous to put it into my tank but I will just added it slowly I guess over a day. Thank you again.
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