RO or tap water
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Old 08-25-2014, 02:54 PM   #1
Bob B
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RO or tap water


Which would you use. I live in Mn. The water is great for central or African cichlids. But a planted I don't know, thoughts?
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Old 08-25-2014, 06:49 PM   #2
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What is the ph? Unless you have liquid rock, you can probably work around the water out of the tap.
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Old 08-25-2014, 07:25 PM   #3
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have you tested your tap water? Do you know the type of water the fish you want to have need to live in?

Step 1:test tap water
Step 2: report back here
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Old 08-25-2014, 08:01 PM   #4
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7.2

I am thinking cardinals, guppies and mollies or sword tails. I understand the Amazonia substrate is supposed to lower the ph. The thing about RO is you have to buffer the water. For me another mistake waiting to happen. Trying to keep it simple.
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Old 08-25-2014, 08:03 PM   #5
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Unless you have some crazy heavy metal or something in your water (unlikely), you're good to go. Just dechlorinate it with a chlorine and chloramine remover and let er rip.
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Old 08-25-2014, 08:07 PM   #6
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I started off my tanks thinking I needed R/O water, then it went to blending my tap and r/o, to now just using the r/o for top offs.
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Old 08-25-2014, 08:07 PM   #7
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Thanks. The hobby used to be simple now it has been stripped of its fun with greed. You have to have this that and everything and just wait till next year.This is what drove me out of Salt Water.
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Old 08-25-2014, 08:09 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob B View Post
Thanks. The hobby used to be simple now it has been stripped of its fun with greed. You have to have this that and everything and just wait till next year.This is what drove me out of Salt Water.
No you don't, unless you have the $$ to spend the fish/planted tank world is still the same, you just have more options to get techy with it than before. Still the same basic principles, some just choose to make it more advanced than it often times needs to be.
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Old 08-25-2014, 08:27 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob B View Post
Thanks. The hobby used to be simple now it has been stripped of its fun with greed. You have to have this that and everything and just wait till next year.This is what drove me out of Salt Water.
Dude, tell me about it. I just got off the phone with Catalina Aquarium because my Coralife PC fixture just blew. It was only ten years old!
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Old 08-25-2014, 10:34 PM   #10
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Cardinal Tetras and some other soft water fish cannot tolerate high GH. Their body accumulates calcium until it kills them.

Here is how I approach this issue:

1) Set the GH to suit the fish. In this case it probably means blending tap water + RO, but until we know the GH, we cannot suggest a recipe.
2) Make the KH equal to the GH. When the KH is really low this will allow something else to control the pH.
3) Filter the water through peat moss for black water species. Cardinal Tetras are not black water fish, but are OK with peat filtration.

Ignore the pH. After you have done steps 1-3 the pH will be in the right range for your fish. It is much less important than the GH.

Plants do not much care. There are a few specialty plants that really do require low mineral levels, low pH, but they are few. By far the majority of aquarium plants will grow in whatever water suits the fish.

Stocking list:
Research it! Note the optimum GH for the fish.
Make your selections this way:
Do you want to do the water prep required to make the water right for the specialty fish that really demand soft, acidic water? Then go for it! But do not mix hard water fish into this tank. Cardinals are the only thing on your list that need this sort of water.
Do you want easier water changes? Select fish that suit your water. Most Live bearers, many Rainbow fish, Rift Lake Cichlids and some others are just fine with hard water.
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Old 08-25-2014, 10:48 PM   #11
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IME hard water can complicate a planted tank. Various plants will struggle in hard water (rarer Rotalas, Erios, etc.), and high GH encourages algae growth. And then there's the fact the vast majority of the fish people keep in planted tanks are soft water fish.
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Old 08-25-2014, 11:08 PM   #12
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What's the best way to soften hard water? Is there a good, simple method other than blending RO?
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Old 08-25-2014, 11:13 PM   #13
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Quote:
Still the same basic principles, some just choose to make it more advanced than it often times needs to be.
So true. We use to have to only keep up with the neighbors. Now with the internet we have to keep up with the entire world.
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Old 08-26-2014, 01:25 AM   #14
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RO Is the simplest, best method of softening water.
Adding peat, almond leaves, oak leaves, etc is an inexact science and will not soften water appreciably in my experience if the tds levels are high to begin with.
On the other hand as others noted, unless one is breeeding soft water fish the water out of municipal source will probably be just fine for most fish and plants.
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Old 08-26-2014, 02:05 AM   #15
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Hard water is water with a lot of minerals.
We measure Ca and Mg as GH.
We measure carbonates and bicarbonates as KH.
All the other minerals and salts can be estimated with a TDS meter.

Soft water is water with low levels of all these.

To make hard water into soft water you need to remove the minerals and salts.

The best way to do this is with reverse osmosis or distilling. (There are systems that do both). As far as aquarium use goes, these are essentially the same. So where I write 'RO' I actually mean either or both treatments.

RO can be very efficient, removing close to 100% of everything (hospital level RO equipment, used for kidney dialysis and other procedures).
Home/hobby level RO is not quite that efficient, but you can get models that are not too far off 99% efficient, and 95% is adequate for what we do.

Fish and plants cannot live in water this pure.
You do need to add some minerals and salts for them.
The amount you add depends on the species, where they or their ancestors came from.

Most of the minerals in natural water came from limestone and related materials, dissolving as the rains wash over and through rocks and soils.
Limestone and its relatives are pretty much pure calcium carbonate, magnesium carbonate and similar minerals.
So, the streams, rivers and lakes start gaining Ca, Mg and carbonates. That is the things we measure as GH and KH. Traces of other things end up in there, too.

In high rain areas the minerals are highly diluted, that is, soft water. (Amazon, Congo and several Asian river systems)
In areas with granite or other rock that does not dissolve well the water will be fairly soft. (Many temperate zone river systems, including major parts of California)
In areas with a lot of limestone the water tends to be harder. (Texas Holey Rock & Kharst are examples of this type of rock. Well water is often high in minerals where the water table is in limestone)
In areas with a lot of evaporation, and low rainfall the minerals accumulate in the lakes as the water evaporates. Also, places that geologically came from coral reefs: Deserts, Rift Lakes of Africa, many streams and rivers in Australia, also many of the Caribbean Islands, Florida.
The extreme example of the last is the ocean. It collects all the minerals from all over the world, and LOTS of water evaporates! Similarly, salt lakes have a lot of minerals from the surrounding soils.

So:
Research the fish.
Many of the soft water fish have been bred in captivity for so long they can live in water that is much harder than their ancestors. Wild caught, or just a couple of generations away from wild usually need the water to be more like where their grandparents came from.
Similarly, hard water fish might also be kept in somewhat softer water.

In choosing fish for a community tank it is safer to select fish with similar requirements. If you mix fish with very different needs, with just a narrow range of overlapping requirements you might be walking a tightrope to keep the parameters exactly in the middle, no leeway.
By selecting fish with similar requirements, and similar range of needs, the water can vary a bit, and still be well within the safe range for all the fish.
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