Where to start with my water?
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Old 03-28-2013, 04:41 AM   #1
send2steph
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Where to start with my water?


Hi, I'm a total noob. Starting a 20 gallon planted tank. Been reading but don't know where to start with my water. I have well water. I have access to the water straight from the pump (unfiltered, unsoftened), or after both but not in between.

I have a small 2.5 gallon tank that I have really struggled with in keeping fish alive/clear for the last few months. The kids have really enjoyed it and want a bigger tank. It's finally doing good because I have started using store bought distilled water in it. Don't know that I want to do that for 20 gallons. lol

I have test kits. So, could you all help me figure out what to do? What results do you want to see on what water (meaning, do I need to let it sit a day or whatever before testing it)?

IIRC, before going distilled, my little tank was okay on gh and high on kh or the other way around?

Thanks, and I can't wait to become part of this community.
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Old 03-28-2013, 06:43 AM   #2
Darkblade48
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Welcome to the forums

Please do the standard array of tests (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, kH and gH; phosphate if you have it) on your water, straight from the well (not before water softener treatment) and get back to us.

Chances are it will be fine.
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Old 03-28-2013, 04:10 PM   #3
send2steph
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Default Oh, you optimist you...

This is straight out of the well. The test kit I have is the API Freshwater Master Test Kit and also the API 5 in 1 Test Strips (for GH/KH).

ph 8.0 (shows higher on the strip)
Ammonia 1 ppm (shows less on strip)
NO2/3 are zero (same on strip)
GH - darker than range which tops at 180
KH - WAY darker than range which tops at 240

Now what?
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Old 03-28-2013, 09:03 PM   #4
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Hm, that is quite a bit worse than I expected (the ammonia is clearly too high).

What about your filtered water? I take it you only soften the water (or do you have an RO machine in between, etc)?
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Old 03-28-2013, 09:26 PM   #5
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Not to be a salesman but I would highly reccomend Neutral Regulator powder from Seachem. I add it to San Diego's 8+ pH tap during water changes, and I get an end result of 7.0 with the added bonus of chlorine, chloramine & ammonia removed. It has been much easier to use than Prime IME too.
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Old 03-29-2013, 12:40 AM   #6
send2steph
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Default Post-softner

This is from the kitchen faucet which would be post water softener and particulate filter. No, we do not have a RO system.

ph 8.0 (shows higher on the strip, almost 8.5)
Ammonia 0.25 ppm
NO2/3 are zero, although NO3 is slight on the strip
GH - 0
KH - darker than range which tops at 240 but lighter than directly from the well


Curious - we have a pretty good sulfur smell to our water at times (not all the time though). If we got an RO system for the whole house, would that get rid of that smell? Is that something people even do?
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Old 03-29-2013, 01:11 AM   #7
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The water is obviously very hard. You can reduce that by mixing with R/O water albeit can be a pain lugging 5 gallon jugs around. Most supermarkets have R/O units outside. The one I use is $1.50 for 5 gallons. Make sure you read the inspection dates and last service date though. Many are not serviced appropriately.

The ammonia has to be dealt with first. This is most likely why you've had death of fish in the past. The first thing that comes to mind, are your test kits in date? Outdated ammonia tests generally will read high. If that's not the problem, I would use a product that removes or even binds ammonia such as Seachem Prime before using it. Any amount of ammonia is toxic so that has to be corrected before adding it to you tank.

EDIT: R/O units are generally for the drinking water. In your case I would consider it if it's in your budget. Another cause of ammonia can be contamination from septic tanks although uncommon. It is most likely run of from agriculture.
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