Making the switch from tap to RO water?
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Old 01-13-2014, 03:03 AM   #1
ponyo
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Making the switch from tap to RO water?


I feel like I am posting so many "help me" threads and for that I am sorry! But I really do need the help. I've been reading and reading but getting a lot of mixed messages.

My water is weird that is all I can say. It's well water. It starts out soft and at a pH of 6.0 and after sitting in a bucket for a few days in the warmer months (few weeks in the colder months) it goes up to a pH of 7.6 and becomes hard both the GH and KH increase.

I know people say you don't really need to worry about it unless you want to have some especially sensitive fish or if you want to breed certain fish. Except almost everything I've put in my tank dies and my plants are not looking good and I have a ton of algae. I don't know if the plant/algae issues are related to the water quality but obviously there is something going on about the fish.

So for whatever reason it is that is causing my weird water params and my fish to die, I think it might be time to bite the bullet and switch to RO water. Even if it just means that at least I'll have a consistent source of water that isn't going to have multiple personality problems like my well water does.

My questions are the following:

1. Should I invest in an RO unit or buy water from a store? Is it worth it to buy your own system? I know there is the initial purchase cost and then you have to replace 1 filter every year and something else every 2 years? Any more hidden costs I'm missing? (I know about the waste water...was thinking I could use for laundry maybe?)

2. Do I just add the Seachem Equilibrium to the RO water or should I also be adding other dry ferts for my plants in addition to the Equilibrium... or instead of the Equilibrium?

3. Anything else you can tell me about using RO water?
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Old 01-13-2014, 04:20 AM   #2
Diana
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1. Should I invest in an RO unit or buy water from a store? Is it worth it to buy your own system? I know there is the initial purchase cost and then you have to replace 1 filter every year and something else every 2 years? Any more hidden costs I'm missing? (I know about the waste water...was thinking I could use for laundry maybe?)

If you have only a small tank, then buying a few bottles from the store is probably OK. But a larger tank, or several tanks will take a lot more water and it is much more cost effective to have your own unit. Filter and membrane replacement schedule is more a combination of what you are removing and how much RO water you are making. Get a TDS meter and monitor the water. When the TDS starts rising it is time for maintenance.
Not sure about doing laundry with the waste water, but it is OK to irrigate the garden with it.

2. Do I just add the Seachem Equilibrium to the RO water or should I also be adding other dry ferts for my plants in addition to the Equilibrium... or instead of the Equilibrium?

Depends on what sort of water you want to end up with.
Seachem Equilibrium has potassium, calcium and magnesium, plus a very low level of a few other minerals. It is basically a source of the minerals that the fish and plants need that we measure as GH. (The calcium and magnesium are GH) There might be enough potassium to help the plants some, if you are running a low tech set up, but I just added ferts, including K, even in tanks where I was adding Equilibrium. Plants will need nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium and traces. Some of this will come from fish food and Equilibrium, but I would be prepared to supplement with plant fertilizers. I also add baking soda for the carbonate. The amount depends on what pH the fish want. 1 teaspoon per 30 gallons adds 2 dKH. There are other sources of carbonates, for example potassium bicarbonate, if you do not want to add the sodium from the sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).

3. Anything else you can tell me about using RO water?

Make the change slowly. Top off with pure RO, but when you do the first few water changes make the new water a blend of RO + well water. Then a few more with a greater % of RO in the mix. It may take a month or longer to get the water in the tank in better shape, to get rid of the largest amount of the well water.
Once the GH, KH, TDS is where you want it, but maybe you suspect that there is still too great a % of well water in the tank you can do larger water changes, always making sure to adjust the RO to the right mineral levels.
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Old 01-13-2014, 04:24 AM   #3
Michiba54
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Can't say for sure if an RO unit will fix your woes or make new ones, but...

- How much water do you need to make a week? Under 5 or 10 gallons at the most I'd probably just buy it if the store isn't out of your way. Think most places around here are 2-3 dollars for 5 gallons.

- Replacement filters aren't much money, the RO membrane is $30-$50 but only needs to be replaced every few years. I've only replaced my sediment filter and I've had the unit since 2011, maybe i'm neglectful but it seems to function like it should.

The one thing I will note is that without a pump my unit didn't have enough pressure, I have a well also, sadly the pump cost about the same as the RO unit

- Seachem Equilibrium adds GH back to the water, it doesn't add ferts or anything else. You can buy/make "home made" equilibrium for a fraction of the price. Highly suggest that.

- One other thing to remember is you don't really need a big fancy system, I have a cheap prefilter before the pump then the actually RO unit is just two sediment filters 1 and .5 microns and the membrane. This takes my well water from 1000+ TDS down to 40-50 TDS with zero GH and 1 KH.


Hope that helps, I have the flu an a upper respiratory tract infection so if the following info wasn't coherent I apologize.
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Old 01-13-2014, 05:23 AM   #4
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Thanks both of you very much for your help! Michiba54 I hope you feel better soon!

My tank is low tech (did I already say that?) with no CO2 and it is a 29 gal tank. I'm also starting another tank that is 17gal--but will fill it only 2/3 of the way because it will be a riparium. I guess I would probably change about 5 gal for the big tank per week and 1 or 2 gal for the smaller tank. I don't have a big fish load (since most of them have died). Right now I just have 6 ocelot danios who are doing pretty good and some japonica shrimp.

I do think part of why I killed everything off before was that I didn't realize my tap water was so different than my tank water. It wasn't when I first set up my tank but now it is. I don't understand! So I was merrily adding water with a pretty big difference in pH and hardnress when i did water changes and then a day or so later my fish would start croaking. I have since gotten into the habit of letting the water mature in a bucket but let me tell you it is a PITA because it takes forever for it to get to 7.6 now. It used to be just 3 days in the warmer months. Meanwhile, by the time it is ready my tank is so low, I'm constantly playing catch up trying to get the tank back up to full. But I run out of water. I could just buy a bunch of other buckets I guess.

But anyway, it's becoming a pain in the bum and I want to be able to get fish that aren't so hardy they could live in sludge. LOL I don't know if this will solve the problem but I'm hoping it will at least give my water some consistency I hope.
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Old 01-13-2014, 01:15 PM   #5
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I would buy RO instead of buying the water. It may be okay buying water a few times but it gets old and expensive. and in case of emergency water change, you can pull or already have water stored. I have RO from BRS and it's the most reliable and money saving equipment.
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Old 01-13-2014, 01:48 PM   #6
sswon1
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I made the switch to RO water because of the poor quality of my water. I have sand point water, it comes from approx 25 feet below the ground. I live in a rural farm are with heavy fertilizer and pesticide use. Nitrates straight out of the tap are well over 100ppm. We had installed a R/O system several years ago for drinking purposes. When I had just my little 29 gallon I would save water up from the kitchen unit for water changes and it worked really well. When I bought my 55 I quickly realized I need a entire system just for aquarium water. What my husband did was buy a system (came from Lowes) just like what we had in the kitchen. I know you can buy other systems that make a ton of R/O water really fast, but I only need about 40 gallons once a week and I don't care it takes almost three days to make it. I do about a 50% water change once a week. My husband put the system down in the basement, and ran the waste water into the standpoint pump hole. I would assume if you do not have a standpoint you would have some other type of drain. The R/O water goes into a huge 45 gallon trash can. When it's I'd time to do a water change, I drain the water and then turn a pump on the is wired to a switch upstairs and fill my tank. I drop a heater into the garbage can a day or two before the water change so it is close to the temp of my tanks. It was a Sunday of work for my husband, and he is super handy, but so well worth it. All my water issues are over. The fish are thriving and no more deaths. The plants are great and I only have a bit of algae. I am sure there are many people who do just fine with tap water, but for our particular region, it was a huge problem. Municipal water does not have the same problems as rural water that is not treated. I would advise find out what your particular problem is and see if R/O will fix it. I then mix in Seachem Equilibrium and Seachem acid and alkaline buffer. My understanding is the Replenish if for non-planted aquariums. If you require just a bit of water it might be easier to buy at the pet shop, but for my tanks I never want to haul over 40 gallons once a week. Hope this is helpful!
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Old 01-14-2014, 02:41 AM   #7
ponyo
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Thanks again everyone.

I think the main concern now is if we have enough water pressure for an RO system. My mom thinks our water pressure is good. But I'm of a different opinion.... Is there a way to figure out what kind of pressure is needed?
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Old 01-14-2014, 09:53 AM   #8
Texan78
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ponyo View Post
Is there a way to figure out what kind of pressure is needed?
Depends on the type of RO unit you get. the BRS ones require 75 psi if I remember correctly. If you have low water pressure you will need to also get a booster pump. They also have units that come with TDS meters or you can buy the later.
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Old 01-16-2014, 06:02 PM   #9
ponyo
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Ugh. Looks like, if I'm reading the gauge correctly, we have like practically no water pressure. Which is kind of what I thought. It's a little over 20 before the pump kicks on and then I think it goes up to 40 when the pump kicks on. Why is everything a hurdle with this place?!
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