Moving into house, worried about water quality. - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-03-2012, 08:20 PM Thread Starter
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Moving into house, worried about water quality.

The place we're moving to has a well with a system you dump a ton of salt into to soften it otherwise everything starts turning brown in the house like the toilet and tub.

Does anyone have any experience with these systems and keeping shrimp and fish with them?

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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-03-2012, 11:45 PM
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Just a basic concept:
You will need a 2-stage or more water system.
First steps remove debris (sand, silt) and a lot of the minerals (Sodium exchange water softener does some of this) perhaps more pre-treatment.
Then reverse osmosis. The RO will remove things like the sodium from the water softener, and any remaining things that the other treatment(s) did not.

When you use RO the water will end up with almost no minerals at all, and you will have to add a small amount. It will depend on what fish you want.

Can you get a report about the well water quality?
There are a couple of ways to do this.
One is to pay, and have as complete a report as you want.
The other is to talk with water treatment sales folks and see what they recommend and why. Speak to a couple of them that are familiar with your area, and probably have set up systems for the neighbors. Talk to the neighbors and find out which service or company they are happy with.

If the well water is turning everything brown then you probably do not want to wash with, cook with or drink the water without treating it.
How much you can afford to treat vs how much bottled water you are willing to buy may mean yes you can keep fish, or no, all you can manage is one little tank.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-04-2012, 12:13 AM
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Wait...how does salt keep dirt out of the water?
Have you tried to run the water and see if it clears? Have you cleaned out the water heater and/or filters?
Have you had the sump pump raised and see if that fixes the mud issue?
I don't bother with 'softening' the water, fairly pointless to us, I just want the water to be clean of dirt. We use the Whirlpool Whole House Water Filtration System. It self cleans!
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-04-2012, 03:48 AM
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I'm not certain, but I'm guessing that the staining is due to a dissolved mineral precipitating out of solution, and not due to mud/dirt in suspension. maybe something involving iron? I'm sure you've seen similar stains on an old sink or tub - the water comes out perfectly clean and clear, but if there is someplace where it has slowly dripped over the years, there will be mineral build up there.

I believe the water softener works by exchanging the ions present in the ground/well water with more soluble ions
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-04-2012, 04:54 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
Just a basic concept:
You will need a 2-stage or more water system.
First steps remove debris (sand, silt) and a lot of the minerals (Sodium exchange water softener does some of this) perhaps more pre-treatment.
Then reverse osmosis. The RO will remove things like the sodium from the water softener, and any remaining things that the other treatment(s) did not.

When you use RO the water will end up with almost no minerals at all, and you will have to add a small amount. It will depend on what fish you want.

Can you get a report about the well water quality?
There are a couple of ways to do this.
One is to pay, and have as complete a report as you want.
The other is to talk with water treatment sales folks and see what they recommend and why. Speak to a couple of them that are familiar with your area, and probably have set up systems for the neighbors. Talk to the neighbors and find out which service or company they are happy with.

If the well water is turning everything brown then you probably do not want to wash with, cook with or drink the water without treating it.
How much you can afford to treat vs how much bottled water you are willing to buy may mean yes you can keep fish, or no, all you can manage is one little tank.
Well crap, I'll be moving within the next couple weeks and I already own shrimp and fish. Now I'm extra worried about this move.

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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-04-2012, 04:55 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lochaber View Post
I'm not certain, but I'm guessing that the staining is due to a dissolved mineral precipitating out of solution, and not due to mud/dirt in suspension. maybe something involving iron? I'm sure you've seen similar stains on an old sink or tub - the water comes out perfectly clean and clear, but if there is someplace where it has slowly dripped over the years, there will be mineral build up there.

I believe the water softener works by exchanging the ions present in the ground/well water with more soluble ions
You'd be correct. The faucets aren't gurgling out mud.

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-04-2012, 02:41 PM
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Two different issues that may at work here. One is the water may have sediments that make it brown. Two is it may be a high iron content. You will need to find which it is. For sediment, whole house filtering may be the answer. Iron content may be more difficult and need a system to chlorinate the water to drop the iron out. Then a it may need to run to a softener. All this is not something most can deal with on their own.

I recommend checking with some neighbors for what they do. This is not always the best answer as water from different wells even a hundred yards away can be sucking from different water supplies. But it does give some clues. Next I would look for some company that does area water treatment. Not necessarily the large nationwide company as their business practices are sometimes pretty shady. Look for someone who can do some minor testing and really explain what is happening. Not the guy who walks in and says you need this and this.
Your current system may not be as bad as it sounds. You do dump a ton of salt in but that salt does not wind up in your drinking water! It is used to exchange ions in the water and is then flushed out of the resin and down the drain. There will be a minor amount left in the water but not what you see put in the barrel. I've heard it compared to what sodium one might get from eating a slice of white bread.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-04-2012, 03:41 PM Thread Starter
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This all sounds pretty discouraging...



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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-04-2012, 08:12 PM
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It can be, but getting good quality water is not just for the fish, but for the whole family.

My Aunt and Uncle lived in a place with a well. The first couple of years the water was OK. Lots of granite, not limestone, so it was soft, and no major amount of iron. Then something shifted, (drought, earthquake... both are common in their area) and probably they started getting water from a different layer.
So high in iron they could not use it any more.
All the fixtures were very badly stained. They could not even do laundry in that water. It smelled horrid.

So, ditto the comments above: The water your neighbor has may not be the same as the water you have. The water you have today may not stay the same.
However, the best thing to do is to talk to the local experts. The ones who have been working in the area long enough to know the local conditions. Get references from the neighbors.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-04-2012, 11:46 PM
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For anybody fighting a well with the rotten egg smell, there is now a much better understanding of what is causing the problem. Years ago it was just assumed to be a bad stream of water. Now it is understood that it is really due to a number of things coming together to make the smell. If there is iron in sufficient quantities underground, there mya be a group of bacteria settle in to live on the iron. This is what causes the rotten egg smell. It is pretty simple in most cases to "cure" the well. Best to let somebody with experience do it but it is often a matter of pouring a few gallons of bleach down the well casing and then flushing the house pipes. The buggers don't really live in the underground stream but they do find it agreeable in the iron well casing!
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-05-2012, 12:07 AM
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Dont be discouraged. Many people here have well water and are successful fish keepers.

My well water is worse than yours and I do just fine. The first thing to do is get GH/KH test kits and measure just how bad things are. The water softener will take all GH out of the water and most of the iron but will leave KH alone. In my case, I use all softened water and I add GH booster to add back some GH. You could also use a blend of pre-softened and post softened water to get the desired GH level.

Since the softener doesnt touch KH, it will be rather high, mine is around 20dKH but I've never noted any problems.

So well water isnt the end of the world. Ooops, maybe for shrimp it is... I use RO water for my shrimp but its only a 5gal tank so its not a big inconvienence. I installed an RO unit in the kitchen because even after a softener my water had an irony taste. So I also use the RO unit for shrimp.

On the plus side, there's no need to add water conditioner to get rid of chlorine. I really like that...
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