Leaves, RO Water, iron carbonate precipitate - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-19-2010, 08:03 PM Thread Starter
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Leaves, RO Water, iron carbonate precipitate

Long story, think of it as a cautionary tale.

I use RO water for all my tanks. One reason is that I don't trust the local water system. The quality of the water varies and sometimes it is deadly. My RO system produces water that is between 0 and 1 ppm TDS, virtually distilled.

For years I have done water changes without adding any electrolytes. The TDS of my tanks was usually low, between 100 and 120 ppm but the KH was usually around 5 or 6. It seemed that carbonate was leaching from the Eco-Complete. Or something.

I like the idea of waterlogged tree leaves in the bottom of a tank. Many of the fish we raise (especially riverine fish) would have been raised in environments where leaves like that were common. It gives a good place for baby fish to hide and provides micro-organisms for them to feed on.

I had some liveoak leaves that had been soaking in water for about a year. I put a handful into my 55 gallon, which had been setup for at least a year, and more than a handful in my 90 gallon, which had been setup for perhaps two weeks at that point.

I failed to monitor water chemistry, which had been stable for a long time.

Over the next week, the pH crashed in the 55. I didn't really notice it until fish started dieing. I lost 9 out of 10 Golden White Clouds, and my albino bristlenose. All fish that I had had for a long time. The green neons, glowlights, and corydoras were not affected.

The pH dropped below the point where my test kits could measure it (below 6.0). I added a bunch of electrolytes to the two tanks. Some Barr's GH booster, Seachem Neutral Buffer, RO Right. Finally got the pH stabilized in the 55. The 90 never dropped much, probably because the substrate was newer and so leaching more carbonates. Both of these tanks ended up with a TDS near 900 ppm from all of the additives but the fish did not seem to mind. Everybody who was left seemed happy and healthy (even my one surviving Glolden White Cloud).

Last night I put in some Flourish Iron into all three tanks, and I added too much (5ml per 10 gallons, should have been 5ml per 50 gallons). I got a white precipitate in the 90 and the 55 (iron carbonate). Nothing noticable happened in the 125.

Is there a point? I guess the point is that there are a lot of ways to kill fish, and most of them start with good intentions.


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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-19-2010, 09:09 PM
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Good read for those of us using RO thanks.
I mess around some with Mg and various Ca materials but have for the most part 'reset' with Rex Griggs grumpy booster after larger water changes and baking soda for KH. Noticed GH, KH values dropping on non injected systems and Hoppy posted that Vals and Swords were chewing through them.


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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-19-2010, 11:46 PM Thread Starter
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Potash not backing soda for KH

I think people should use potash instead of backing soda. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, potash is potassium carbonate. The difference is that you add potassium ions, which plants can use, instead of sodium ions, which plants do not tolerate well.


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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-20-2010, 10:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by houstonhobby View Post
I think people should use potash instead of backing soda. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, potash is potassium carbonate. The difference is that you add potassium ions, which plants can use, instead of sodium ions, which plants do not tolerate well.

Yes second that. Seachem's Alkalinity Buffer is pure potassium carbonate.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-21-2010, 02:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RLee View Post
Yes second that. Seachem's Alkalinity Buffer is pure potassium carbonate.
Where did you find this information?
The problem with Seachem products is that they rarely state any of the ingredients, so you don't know what you're adding. Alkaline Buffer and Acid Buffer are two products that don't list ingredients. Also the company's stated direction is to use both for a pH less then 7.8
Copied quote from Seachem support;
04-13-2005, 15:51
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Re: Seachem Alkaline Buffer vs. Baking Soda
Alkaline Buffer is similar to baking soda in the respect that much of the buffering ability comes from bicarbonate. However, there are other ingredients in this product other that can not be revealed for fear of being duplicated as we are a very pioneering company.
Link to the posted qoute;
http://www.seachem.com/support/forum...hread.php?t=81

Found three other posts stating the ingredients are carbonates and bicarbonates of sodium, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. The normal practice of most companies listing ingredients this way is to list in order of volume while not printing actual percentages. Either way I cannot find anything on Alkalinity Buffer being pure potassium carbonate.


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Last edited by wkndracer; 03-22-2010 at 08:40 PM.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-23-2010, 01:40 PM
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Let me see if I understand. You added soaked oak leaves to a tank with no buffers? And that's why the pH was lowered?

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-23-2010, 02:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bulrush View Post
Let me see if I understand. You added soaked oak leaves to a tank with no buffers? And that's why the pH was lowered?
That's what should happen. I use oak leaves for in my discus tanks instead of R/O water. In large enough doses (think heavy tannin coloration) it will also kill bacteria and fungus which I use in fry tanks.
Lowing pH with oak leaves is what they used to do before R/O filters were invented there's allot of information out there on oak leaves via Google if you want to research it a bit.

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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-23-2010, 03:19 PM
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Goes to show that even 'natural' and 'organic' may not be any safer than 'chemical' means of conditioning aqauriums.

No matter which way you are handling the tanks, regular testing should be part of the system. When you see some test result just starting to drift you can catch the problem early, and perhaps correct it before it reaches the stage of dying fish.
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