"Ideal" water perameters. Harder to find than I thought.
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Old 08-31-2013, 01:18 AM   #1
mahicks1976
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"Ideal" water perameters. Harder to find than I thought.


This is a fairly long read. If you care not to read it, here are the very specific questions I am trying to get generalized answers for:

1. If you had perfect RO/DI water with 6.5PH to start with and could not use a drop of tap water to alter, what GH, KH, PH would you be shooting for in a high tech planted tank with various plants and fish including rams, angels, cory's, neons?
2. How would you get there? IE..what products would you use?

For those that wish to read the whole post; Thank you. Here goes......


After searching on the forum and on the net; I have had a very difficult time really locking down the answer to my question of best overall water param's for a community planted CO2, High Light tank.


So all of that being said; Can you help me out and let me know what and how you would do/do it?

Thanks in advance!
Michael in Tallahassee FL


I know there are many factors, so let me tell you what I have, and where I want to go and how I am trying to get there. Please help me along the way if you can in anyway!

What I have:
I am setting up a 55G high tech planted tank. I have lots of experience with marine reef aquariums and very little on planted tanks other than my little 20L.
I live in Tallahassee, FL. The water quality has many attributes that are good but too many undesirables to make it suited for marine or fresh use. Therefore I use a 6 stage RO & DI system to purify the water for my reef tanks. My little 20 planted gets half and half but I really do not like the water param's much and REALLY do not like some of the other nasties not usually listed in regular water params going in my fresh water tanks.

Therefore; I am very decided on using nothing but RO/DI water for the new system and reconstitute all water other than top off for the new system.

The new 55 will have:
-2 fluval 406 filters
-UV
-Compressed CO2 injection via a Co2 reactor.
-Build My Led lighting
-Neptune Apex controlling
-Aqua Soil Amazonia substrate
-Various plants for a pretty heavy plant setup. Added over time.
Fish will include:
-Cory's
-Neons
-Tetras
-A couple of Angels
-Rams
-Octo's
-A few fancier guppy's (wife loves them, and contrary to popular believe, they seem to care less about the water temps I have run them in.)
-Maybe a couple of Amano shrimp for clean up.


Where I want to go:
I would love to have some ideas on a good baseline average of standard water parameters to support the above system/plants/fish. Since I am very set on reconstituting RO/DI water, here are the Params I would very much like to get a ballpark rang on:

1 Temp ( I usually run the 20 planted at 78 and it has rams.)
2. GH. (should I shoot for 2 or 3 or something else?)
3. KH (should I shoot for 1 or 2 or something else?)
4. PH (not as important as the other two in regards to my plants.)

How do I get there?

My RO/DI system makes water that is 6.5 PH with Zero anything in regards to all normally tested parameters including KH,GH, TDS, Nitrogenous wastes/bi products, silicate, etc.

-I really like Seachem products and purchased some equilibrium and Alkaline buffer but I have not used them or experimented with them.
-I have heard of others using dry minerals and things like epsom salts and enemas to reconstitute water but never any listing of the actual param's they are shooting for.
-I have seen others use other products commercially available to reconstitute water but never any listing of the actually param's they are shooting for.

Last edited by mahicks1976; 08-31-2013 at 01:22 AM.. Reason: more info.
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Old 08-31-2013, 01:36 AM   #2
Jack Gilvey
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I also use R/O water and use GLA's GH Booster to get to 5dGH. This mixes very quickly and clear for me but I still run it overnight before a water change. I compared it to Seachem Equilibrium side-by-side in two 5 gallon buckets of R/O and the EQ wound up murky with some brownish precipitate (the iron?) so I've stuck with the GLA. KH is 0 as no one seems to worry about it. PH is whatever it is.

This provides K2SO4, CaSO4, and MgSO4 for the plants as well so those get "dosed" when I do a weekly water change and I only add KNO3/KH2PO4 as ferts and Plantex CSM + B for traces.
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Old 08-31-2013, 01:36 AM   #3
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I will say that the Aquasoil Amazonia is going to buffer your ph to between 5.8-6.5 from what research I have done. This soil will pull any kh out of the water column. It is also packed full of nutrients for plants! It also leeches ammonia for give or take 2 months. This will help you cycle it. Temp wise I would go 78F. And my opinion on gh is a level of 5-6. Hope this helps
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Old 08-31-2013, 02:04 AM   #4
mahicks1976
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Thank you both for your insights! It looks between the two of you that GH around 5 is what you want and one of you thinks 78 degrees is good for temp.

I really appreciate you both! who else has some thoughts on the matter??
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Old 08-31-2013, 10:06 PM   #5
Diana
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Quick answer, without reading more than the first part of the post:
The fish you list are soft water fish, but have been in the hobby for a while, and will tolerate a range of conditions. Lets assume the most extreme: You want to breed them.

1) Set GH using Seachem Equilibrium to 2dGH.
2) Set KH using baking soda to 2 dKH.
3) Filter the water through peat moss to add organic acids.
4) Check the GH and KH again. Some peat moss can act like an ion exchange water softener and remove positive ions. Correct GH and KH back to the values you want.

5) Maintain the tank at 78-80*F.

Skip the Neons. They prefer cooler water. Go with Cards, if you want that look. Select Cories with care. Many are also cooler water fish. Brochis splendens is one cory relative that will handle that heat.

Note that that low GH and KH will slow down the fishless cycle. To cycle the tank I would skip the peat moss and set the GH and KH over 10 degrees. Then, when the cycle is done, the massive water change that will remove the nitrate will be done with pure RO, let it circulate at least an hour, perhaps overnight. Then check the parameters. There might be enough hard water stuck to the substrate that adding pure RO will give you the low mineral level the fish will want. If it is still too soft (after circulating) then you could add Equilibrium or baking soda or both. Add the peat moss to the filter, then you can change it out as needed.
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Old 09-01-2013, 02:14 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
Quick answer, without reading more than the first part of the post:
The fish you list are soft water fish, but have been in the hobby for a while, and will tolerate a range of conditions. Lets assume the most extreme: You want to breed them.

1) Set GH using Seachem Equilibrium to 2dGH.
2) Set KH using baking soda to 2 dKH.
3) Filter the water through peat moss to add organic acids.
4) Check the GH and KH again. Some peat moss can act like an ion exchange water softener and remove positive ions. Correct GH and KH back to the values you want.

5) Maintain the tank at 78-80*F.

Skip the Neons. They prefer cooler water. Go with Cards, if you want that look. Select Cories with care. Many are also cooler water fish. Brochis splendens is one cory relative that will handle that heat.

Note that that low GH and KH will slow down the fishless cycle. To cycle the tank I would skip the peat moss and set the GH and KH over 10 degrees. Then, when the cycle is done, the massive water change that will remove the nitrate will be done with pure RO, let it circulate at least an hour, perhaps overnight. Then check the parameters. There might be enough hard water stuck to the substrate that adding pure RO will give you the low mineral level the fish will want. If it is still too soft (after circulating) then you could add Equilibrium or baking soda or both. Add the peat moss to the filter, then you can change it out as needed.
THANK YOU!

I appreciate the details. I have a few questions though if you do not mind answering them:
1. Is this setup really good for the plants too?
2. Is the baking soda ok for the plants since it contains sodium?
3. Can I use the Seachem alkaline buffer I already bought in place of the baking soda or do you prefer the baking soda?
4. To keep it simplier, can I skip the peat or do you really recommend it? If so, can I later use carbon and seachem purigen later to clarify the water?
5. Also, if I do use the peat, how long should I filter it with it?
6. I currently have a planted 20L that I keep at 78 degrees. It only contains Cories, a Panda Garra, an Otco and a school of 9 neons. The neons and Cories are almost a year old and seem to be doing fine. Do you think it would be ok to keep them at that temp in the new setup since they have acclimated?

Sorry for all the questions but I wanted to get your expertise while I have your attention :-)
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Old 09-05-2013, 02:25 AM   #7
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Are you going to be using aquasoil amazonia for this tank? If so, a lot of this advice changes. It will pull any Kh out of the water, so adding any would be redundant. With aquasoil, you shouldnt need to use moss. The soil will make the water acidic (ph6-6.5).
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Old 09-05-2013, 06:20 AM   #8
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Tallahassee water: Calcium 45. Magnesium 8.4. Sodium 3.3. Chloride 6.5. Sulfate 1.7. Alkalinity 143. Hardness 156 pH 7.5

So you have decent GH and a KH about 8 degrees. A bit high for some species of plants, but hardly "bad". I've had 2x this.

I'd maybe cut it in 1/2, blend 50% RO with the tap.
This would give you a nice mix and a KH of 4.

Now if you want to make your life harder and mess with using more RO, then, well..........But it's not needed/required nor really any benefit to you for plants and most fish. That's the 1st thing you should really question/consider. Assuming it is bad, that's a bad assumption right off the bat.

Looks decent enough to me.

Focus on CO2
Add a lot more than 2 little Amano shrimp, that will have virtually no impact on algae, consider maybe 30-40.
The other advice folks gave you is good. Take it.
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Old 09-05-2013, 07:25 AM   #9
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My personal take on all of the above: the more you mess with your water the more headaches and problems you will have throughout the life of your tank.

You water is not terrible, live with it.

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Old 09-05-2013, 10:49 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meppitech View Post
Are you going to be using aquasoil amazonia for this tank? If so, a lot of this advice changes. It will pull any Kh out of the water, so adding any would be redundant. With aquasoil, you shouldnt need to use moss. The soil will make the water acidic (ph6-6.5).
Yes I will be using AS Amazonia. Thanks for the response.
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Old 09-05-2013, 11:15 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plantbrain View Post
Tallahassee water: Calcium 45. Magnesium 8.4. Sodium 3.3. Chloride 6.5. Sulfate 1.7. Alkalinity 143. Hardness 156 pH 7.5

So you have decent GH and a KH about 8 degrees. A bit high for some species of plants, but hardly "bad". I've had 2x this.

I'd maybe cut it in 1/2, blend 50% RO with the tap.
This would give you a nice mix and a KH of 4.

Now if you want to make your life harder and mess with using more RO, then, well..........But it's not needed/required nor really any benefit to you for plants and most fish. That's the 1st thing you should really question/consider. Assuming it is bad, that's a bad assumption right off the bat.

Looks decent enough to me.



Focus on CO2
Add a lot more than 2 little Amano shrimp, that will have virtually no impact on algae, consider maybe 30-40.
The other advice folks gave you is good. Take it.
Thanks for the detailed input. I do not get readings exactly like the ones you listed except during the winter. I can deal with the swings that I do see for the parameters you listed. I feel what you posted and the best/worst of what I test are actually pretty good. Those were the ones that I said were "good attributes." It is the many others that I was concerned with:
I (and our water testing report.) test and find:
PERC
Lead
Copper
High Iron & Manganese
While I know most of these are generally low enough for us to drink, I have personally had my water tested at the north monroe facility and seem to test higher than the report shows for copper, iron and PERC. It was the PERC that made me purchase my R.O. system a couple of years ago.

FWIW, I just tested from the tap for manganese and copper. Cu was .25 PPM and Mn was closer to .50 PPM than it was to .20 (I have dip tests for this and they are probably not super accurate.) I do not have a home test for the lead and PERC. The copper is not coming from my pipes. I am a newer home with the flexible water piping throughout my home.

HOWEVER, I AM VERY OPEN to your input regarding these. It would be SO much easier to just blend the R.O for the freshwater tanks but it is the above nasties that have me the most worried. My R.O system does allow me to install a fitting and take water AFTER the Sediment filter and carbon blocks BEFORE the R.O. membrane. Do you think this would be a good place to start and use my tap water to mix with the R.O? I can test the GH/KH & PH of the water each time I make a 50 gallon can so the varying numbers of the normal tank params is not really an issue. What do you think??

Also, as for the Amano's!! I meant to say "Maybe a couple DOZEN of Amano shrimp" My bad :-)

Last edited by mahicks1976; 09-05-2013 at 11:29 PM.. Reason: added specific testing details for manganese
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Old 09-06-2013, 11:08 PM   #12
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!UPDATE!

OK, I think I did it!! I went a bought some mur-lok tubing, a murloc y and a murloc shutoff valve and installed it after my sediment and dual carbon blocks. I just did a trial run and though I haven't degassed my 5 gallon test sample I am getting:

PH: 7.3
GH: 7
KH:7
Mn: ZERO :-)
Cu: ZERO :-)

I am sure after some degassing that the PH will come up some but I DO NOT CARE! I am happy about the copper and manganese. I also did a little reading and the though I cannot test for it, the blocks should remove lead and PERC. The other two nasties I was a little concerned about!

I am very very happy! I think I am DEFINITELY going to try to mix my R.O. with this filter/block water and shoot for a GH/KH of around 2 and 2 or 3 and 3 and let the PH settle in to whatever it may be.

What do you think??

I am also going to order another dual inline TDS meter and put one on my new carbon block output and one on the main water input. Then I can monitor:
-Total fresh water TDS (since a single tds meter is almost as much as a dual)
-Sediment/Carbon TDS output (since it will be going in the tank.)
-R.O. output TDS (To determine how well my R.O. membrane is working.)
-Post DI stage TDS (To determine the life/performance of my D.I. cartridge)
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Old 09-07-2013, 01:21 AM   #13
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My post was geared to the most extreme qualities of the water: To breed the soft water fish. As I noted in my post the species you have were in the trades for so long they have adapted to living in a much wider range of conditions.
Tom Barr is right, that for many general purpose sort of tanks a middle-of-the-road approach works just fine, and often a lot better than a system of constantly altering the water to try to make it 'perfect'. That sort of work can be required if you are breeding certain fish, but is overboard for a community tank.
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Old 09-07-2013, 06:02 AM   #14
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I'll say this, RO water taste good, so you will have a use for it either way.

I think the Dual Carbon blocks are good idea for homes, drinking water and for many fish keepers. I use them. My tap is awesome though, so is SF', NYC and many other locations.

Some are hard water, but still in good shape.

So you might be just fine using 50% RO for tank changes.
The prefilter will help the RO last longer also.
Since you do not want to take EVERYTHING out of the water change water, a blend of 50% is simple and easy to do/remember etc. And you can use warm tap and mix with cool RO container water to add to the tank. Cheap this way vs a heater stick etc.
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Old 09-07-2013, 07:43 AM   #15
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I have to say that I find setting ideal parameters fairly easy (with time and patience/practice).

Starting with pure RO/DI unit, add SMALL amount of GH booster of your choice( seachem is just fine), every 2 or 3 water changes, And a small amount of KH booster ( baking soda mixture as needed).

The chemistry is pretty straightforward, and pH management is not required if you do not have any substrate that leaches anything into the water. Photosynthesis/Co2 addition will swing this during change of photo cycle.

DI does has functionally neutral pH, but as it is Unbuffered, it will assumes hat is in the aquarium automatically.

For 240 gallons, I change about 30% of the water with direct feed DI overnight weekly, and end up with 2dGH, 2-3dKH, 6.8 pH and keep heaters set at 75F, utilizing room temp to end near 78f. The cold DI water is fed in at about 4-5 GPH with a 100 gallon per day unit, so the temperature of the aquarium is not affected at all over the course of 14-16 hours. The concentrate I run right into our lawn (grass loves it).

Our local water comes in at 6-8 dKH, 400-600 ppm hardness, 8.1-8.3 pH, and after DI you have 0-1 dGH, 0-1 dKH, and neutral pH with 100 micron, 50 micron, carbon, 98%RO membrane, then DI resin filters. This whole unit can be purchased for $200 or less, with filter replacement costing $100-125 every 7-9 months with heavy use.

With heavy plants, and EI dosing, all fertilizer levers (N/P/K) will be just right all week, get functionally reset at weeks end.
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