ro/di water and build up or tap and strip down? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-04-2010, 05:13 PM Thread Starter
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Question ro/di water and build up or tap and strip down?

i have 20 gallon planted tank and am refining my water source.

i had been using pure di/ro water from the water purifier system at the grocery store but soon realized it was way too soft and way too low ph. I was dumping ph raiser at a ridiculous rate into my water change bucket and my nerite snails started showing signs of shell breakdown. i fert with kno3, kh2po4, k2so4 and trace (flourish).

so, i switched to tap (south florida, not the best water) and dechlorinated, let sit 24 hours added some stress coat and tested. this was way too high ph and i was now dumping ph lower into my water change bucket. my ammonia levels shot way up 4ppm(had been near 0) and my nitrate levels rose to around 15ppm (had been 5-10) my tap water has a ammonia level of over 2 ppm out of tap and low (under 5) nitrate level but i saw a spike with NO FERTS added.

so my questions is what to use as my water source for water changes. Can i mix part RO/DI to tap to balance the PH? Am i going to need to start dumping ammonia remover into my change bucket with that? What am i missing adding to RO/DI water to make it more plant/fish/snail friendly?
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-04-2010, 05:37 PM
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You should never use PH up or PH down chemicals. The best way to get the PH you want is to use a combo of RO and tap. You can also use tap and then inject CO2 which will allow you to bring down your PH and provide a source of carbon to your plants (if you have any).

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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-04-2010, 07:03 PM Thread Starter
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i inject co2 with the hagen system (though i use the diy mix) including the bubble ladder. i figured mixing tap/RO was better than dumping chemicals but didnt realize PH up/down was bad...if i have trace amounts of ammonia in my tap should i use chemicals to neutralize or just let the plants at it? here is a more exact layout of my tank:

20 gallon
65 watt light at 10 hours a day
hagen co2 with bubble ladder (although i plan to run the tube up the filter intake once i get a idea about how long my co2 mix lasts)
started using the fert dosing schedule advised on the sticky at this site, though i dont have a GH booster yet with kno3, kh2po4, k2so4 and trace (flourish)
once i switched water sources i stopped fert to get from tap base numbers

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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-04-2010, 07:07 PM Thread Starter
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ps (duh):

10 onion plants
2 indian red swords
1 banana tree plant
1 moneywort
3 very young clover patches

4 black mollies (all females)
6 cherry barbs
i am planning to add around 10 tetras once i am more comfortable with my current water balance questions
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-05-2010, 12:19 AM
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Test tap and filtered water for GH and KH. Set a balance that suits the fish by combining RO (filtered) and tap water. Ignore pH.

If there is more ammonia in the final product than Prime or similar dechlor can handle, then you may not want to use the water that adds the ammonia. (tap water)
If the ammonia is just from chloramine, then Prime can deal with it. Probably do not need to fertilize with KNO3, if the tap water + RO blend gives you enough nitrogen.

One possible recipe:
1 part tap water + 3 parts RO.
Probably the test results will show:
1 ppm ammonia in the mix.
I would use a single dose of Prime (measuring the whole volume of the mix, not just the tap water portion) for that much ammonia.

Make sure you have the right test for ammonia. Some ammonia tests do not show you how much ammonia is locked up vs. how much is free.
Also, if you can get the pH into the acidic range, the ammonia is present as ammonium (NH4+) and is less toxic.

Fish choices:
Mollies are hard water fish, thriving in high GH, high KH water, with an alkaline pH.
Most Tetras, and many Barbs are soft water fish, thriving in low GH, low KH water, often with peat moss filtration to replicate black water conditions. Not compatible with Mollies.
Most plants can handle a wide range of conditions as long as the minerals they need are present. Usually this is enough if the GH is over 3 German degrees of hardness.
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