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Old 10-04-2012, 07:24 AM   #1
kiera
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My tap water scares me


Sooo I finally got around to testing my tap water because I'll be ordering plants this week. My results weren't surprising given the water report from my local water authority, but I am concerned about plants and especially fish.

My pH direct from the tap is 7.6. The fish I want to keep prefer a pH of 5-7 and the plants I'm interested in prefer about the same. The general advice seems to be that consistent pH is more important than the right number, but since the pH scale is logarithmic I'm a bit worried that my water is much too basic to use right out of the tap. (According to OCWA, my water authority, the pH can be as high as 8.4). Our water is moderately hard.

This is my first aquarium, and it will be low-tech (no CO2, EI fertz, light is probably about 70-75 PAR.) I'd like to avoid monkeying around with pH because I'm fairly certain that in a nano aquarium I'm likely to do more harm than good, but I'd also like to have happy, colorful fish and plants.

I've taken several chemistry classes and I can balance equations like a boss, but somehow the only thing I learned about pH was how to measure it and change it using acids and bases. Is it likely that the pH in my tank with plants and substrate will be different from the tap water I condition and put into it? Can pH change if water has been left out for 24-48 hours? Should I consider buying water from a grocery store or something? Am I worrying too much?

Maybe Buddhists shouldn't have fish tanks. I swear I have nightmares of burning, gasping, pale little fish swimming around in brown and yellow plant detritus. And I haven't even flooded my first tank.
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Old 10-04-2012, 07:41 AM   #2
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PH is only part of the equation. To get an accurate reading on how soft or hard your water is, you're going to have to test for GH, KH, and TDS. Also, unless you're breeding soft-water species or keeping rift lake cichlids, most fish available in the aquatic trade can deal with PH values from 6.0 to 8.0. What kills the fish most are rapidly swinging PH values. Keep the PH stable and you should be fine. I think the only time you should have to worry about PH and water hardness is if and when you decide to keep dwarf shrimp.
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Old 10-04-2012, 07:52 AM   #3
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Well the first thing I want to point out is that you cannot have such a strong light without co2. Otherwise you will farm algae.

If you want to be low tech you need to be low light. Do you mean low budget or low tech?

With low light you dont need to dose EI.

Why you need co2? Well, light will dictate the growth rate in the tank, co2 favors plants as it allow nutrients to be used by them. Algae can fix nutrients without co2. So, your light will determine the growth rate (photosynthesis=use of light) and co2 will determine who grows better, plants or algae.

Things work a lot better in colder water by the way. Gasses stay there.

Let your tap sit overnight and then test.
Usually ph drops.

Substrates like Ada or akadama will buffer the water to an specific ph... 6.5- 5.9ish respectively.

Don't worry so much about plant preferences. They are usually fine.
Livestock may be more picky.

The ideal is to choose the set up first...a good substrate to determine your ph and back up with nutrients. Then choose what to put in there.

When you have mastered the hobby a bit more you can do it the other way around easier. Choose the species first and then the set up.

Whatever you do, start planting as heavy as possible. The common mistake is to start a tank lean on plants or with slow growing plants. Guess who is gonna do photosynthesis then? Algae of course.

Use your 30 days of nitrogen cycle to play around moving plants and hardscape. Only after 30 days test the water to see if its safe to add critters otherwise you will hurt them.
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Old 10-04-2012, 08:02 AM   #4
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Do you know what the rest of the water's parameters are?
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Old 10-04-2012, 08:07 AM   #5
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I probably should have mentioned that I'm doing a dry start--once I get things going I'll probably have to do a shortened photoperiod or change my bulb/distance from substrate to avoid creating an algae farm. I also live in a garden level apartment (read: basement) that gets hardly any ambient light because I keep my curtains closed all day.

I'm gonna try to relax. I've got some tap water in a clean glass that I'll test in a day or two, and then I'll panic about parameters after I've flooded and cycled. (I'm doing a fishless cycle.)

This info has been very helpful.

Bluek24a4: Which parameters specifically? I only have my water report and the basic freshwater test kit, but I'm thinking of ordering some of the more exotic kits because I like spreadsheets and tracking things and titrating. And stuff.
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Old 10-04-2012, 08:16 AM   #6
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Get a GH and KH test kit, and a TDS meter.
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Old 10-04-2012, 08:21 AM   #7
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Get an API freshwater master test kit and and API GH/KH test kit.
Get a TDS meter with ATC from no ebay links allowed
That should suffice.
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Old 10-04-2012, 08:22 AM   #8
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Lol! we wrote about the same time!
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Old 10-04-2012, 08:30 AM   #9
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What is this ATC from ebay you speak of?

I do have the freshwater master test kit and I just put the KH/GH kit in my cart. Yay, science.
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Old 10-04-2012, 08:32 AM   #10
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A TDS meter with ATC:
Is an instrument to measure total dissolved solids besides h2o. Water quality control.

ATC is a feature that means automatic temperature compensation. So it's more accurate.
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Old 10-04-2012, 08:33 AM   #11
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I Pmd you a link where I explain all that. Sorry.. I'm a lol tired to write it all again here
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Old 10-04-2012, 08:33 AM   #12
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Automatic Temperature Compensation. It's to make sure that the TDS meter gives you an accurate PPM reading without being affected by the temperature of the water.

Dang, you ninja'd me. lol
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Old 10-04-2012, 08:34 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kiera View Post
I probably should have mentioned that I'm doing a dry start--once I get things going I'll probably have to do a shortened photoperiod or change my bulb/distance from substrate to avoid creating an algae farm. I also live in a garden level apartment (read: basement) that gets hardly any ambient light because I keep my curtains closed all day.

I'm gonna try to relax. I've got some tap water in a clean glass that I'll test in a day or two, and then I'll panic about parameters after I've flooded and cycled. (I'm doing a fishless cycle.)

This info has been very helpful.

Bluek24a4: Which parameters specifically? I only have my water report and the basic freshwater test kit, but I'm thinking of ordering some of the more exotic kits because I like spreadsheets and tracking things and titrating. And stuff.
You have nothing to freak out about. The mistake I see people make on this forum is asking these questions after the tank is filled and has live stock in it. You didn't make that mistake. DSM offers you all the time you need to hammer out all these details.

I keep track of all my parameters for each of my three tanks in their own Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. I think its a great idea to do so.

As stated by Monster and pejerry, you should have test kits for the following: pH, GH, KH, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate and a TDS meter is helpful especially since they can be had for around $10. I went a little overboard and got those test kits, as well as Phosphate, Copper, and Calcium.

So what we need to know now is what are you looking to keep in this tank?
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Old 10-04-2012, 08:39 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluek24a4 View Post
You have nothing to freak out about. The mistake I see people make on this forum is asking these questions after the tank is filled and has live stock in it. You didn't make that mistake. DSM offers you all the time you need to hammer out all these details.

I keep track of all my parameters for each of my three tanks in their own Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. I think its a great idea to do so.

As stated by Monster and pejerry, you should have test kits for the following: pH, GH, KH, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate and a TDS meter is helpful especially since they can be had for around $10. I went a little overboard and got those test kits, as well as Phosphate, Copper, and Calcium.

So what we need to know now is what are you looking to keep in this tank?
+1 to the stuff in bold. I did this for my 5 gallon when the nitrates were over 200 ppm. I kept a record of what I tested, when I tested, how much water I changed, and what I added to the tank. Took about a month or so to get the parameters in check but it was good having a record of what I started with and how I got to the present parameters. Good record keeping keeps the guesswork away from unknown parameters.
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Last edited by Monster Fish; 10-04-2012 at 08:40 AM.. Reason: changed something
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Old 10-04-2012, 08:47 AM   #15
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It's a great tool and completely worth the effort. I use these as my spreadsheet fields:

Date/Time pH Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate Calcium Phosphate GH KH TDS Temp

as well as a section for notes such as when I did a water change and things like that.

I don't always test for everyone every time, but I try to do a full round of testing every once in a while.
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