Help interpreting water tests please? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-18-2016, 10:54 AM Thread Starter
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Help interpreting water tests please?

So, now that I finally have the tank ready to go, I began testing the water tonight. Now before I got educated on what fish and plants need, I had already set aside the 45g of RO water so I will be using Replenish to prepare that. Of greater concern is the test on the tap water. Here first are the results:

PH 7.4
Ammonia .50
Nitrites 0
Nitrates 0
GH 15 (15 drops x 17.9 = 268ppm)
KH 5 (5 drops x 17.9 = 80ppm)

So my first question is how do these numbers look? Normal? I guess one could ask, "Define normal?" right? My dream was to have Neon tetras but I think I read that they need a lower GH? In general I wanted to have a few tetra schools. Nothing fancy but how much work will it take with the numbers above?

One last question. As I mentioned, I am going to start cycling with the RO water I set aside and then add back in the Replenish. Now, obviously the water is fairly soft right now. I will be doing a fishless cycle but as I do water changes with tap water, will the change in GH affect the bacteria? Are they sensitive at all to this?

I appreciate any comments and suggestions. I have been doing a lot of reading on water parameters this week but I could still really use some advice.

Bump: I guess I better ask as well about the ammonia level of .50. Is this number significant enough that I need to use Prime any time time I use tap water?
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-18-2016, 02:44 PM
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Source of the water? Is it treated with chlorine or chloramine? If chloramine, using a dechlor product of some brand is almost necessary but the result will still show ammonia. It will just be ammonium which is less harmful to fish but still available to the good bacteria we want.
What's normal?
Normal changes all over the place. For me I find your water to be less hard and less alkaline than mine.
I have 7.8-8.0 PH. GH and KH off the charts high at 300+ on each. Grains hardness out of the tap of 21, is normal for me.
How it will change what fish to keep can be difficult to say without trying. Looking and checking what others keep where you live will get a closer answer but still not definite. Some can grow flowers while others can't so the same goes for fish!

When in doubt, I start with a few and try them for a time before fully committing to any new item if real expense is involved. With plants, I find them cheap enough to try one and if i dies, I move on to other. So far, I can't say which the water has killed and which I've killed but most work well enough to keep me happy.
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-18-2016, 06:53 PM
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Your gH is on the high side so mixing 50/50 with the RO water would be good. The Ammonia is an issue so I would treat with Seachem Prime. Seachem Replenish is not well suited for planted tanks. Seachem recommends their Equilibrium for planted tanks. However, unless you'll be using RO straight (not mixed w/your tap water), you don't need to add minerals. Also, if you're not mixing RO and tap water, you'll need to adjust for pH. For a planted tank with Equilibrium, you would need Acid & Alkaline Buffer products to adjust for desired pH.
(Just my nickle, but I think your best move is to mix 50/50 tap & RO water which I believe would work well without any additional additives.)

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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-18-2016, 07:19 PM
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Ammonia should not be in municipal water. Otherwise, your water is just fine and I see no reasons why you cannot keep tetras.

Do not mess with pH, especially by using buffers. I also see no reasons to use RO. That advise is just wrong.
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-19-2016, 07:06 AM Thread Starter
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Well, okay. Talk about differences of opinion. I am just bummed out and for various reasons. First, and no one addressed this, Neon Tertra need a GH of 6.2 and so with my GH at 15, I'm going to have no choice but use RO if I really want them. In addition, I just spent about $45 buying this PPS Ferts from GLA. Well, if I have to make RO water for water changes, I'll be damned if I'm going to do 50% water changes every week. This means I bought the PPS for nothing. Based on what I'm reading, not many fish can tolerate GH this high.

Now the ammonia I am a bit perplexed about. One of you suggested using Prime. I thought Prime was for treating chlorinated water. I am going to contact our municipal water tomorrow and see what they have to say about it. I live about 1 hour north of San Diego. Not rural by ant means. I should probably try and contact a LFS and see what they have to say about the water in the area.

I think for now I would have to agree with AbbeysDad and just use 50/50 RO/tap and then investigate this ammonia issue. I know I have chlorine in the water. Can that cause water to test positive for ammonia?
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-19-2016, 07:19 AM Thread Starter
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Here is the water results for my area (Murrieta). While it doesn't specifically address the ammonia, the section titled, "What's in my water?" is kind of telling.

http://www.wmwd.com/DocumentCenter/Home/View/381
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-19-2016, 07:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnsTank View Post
Well, okay. Talk about differences of opinion. I am just bummed out and for various reasons. First, and no one addressed this, Neon Tertra need a GH of 6.2 and so with my GH at 15, I'm going to have no choice but use RO if I really want them. In addition, I just spent about $45 buying this PPS Ferts from GLA. Well, if I have to make RO water for water changes, I'll be damned if I'm going to do 50% water changes every week. This means I bought the PPS for nothing. Based on what I'm reading, not many fish can tolerate GH this high.

Now the ammonia I am a bit perplexed about. One of you suggested using Prime. I thought Prime was for treating chlorinated water. I am going to contact our municipal water tomorrow and see what they have to say about it. I live about 1 hour north of San Diego. Not rural by ant means. I should probably try and contact a LFS and see what they have to say about the water in the area.

I think for now I would have to agree with AbbeysDad and just use 50/50 RO/tap and then investigate this ammonia issue. I know I have chlorine in the water. Can that cause water to test positive for ammonia?
Neon tetras come from an environment with pH that low, but stability in pH is a lot more important than the actual pH for most, if not all fish. I've known people who successfully kept neon tetras in pH of 8.2+. Just drip acclimate them and make sure your pH doesn't swing wildly. If the exact, home pH was important for every fish, it would be very hard for people to keep community tanks (let alone for neons to become one of the most popular aquarium fish around). Edit: I misread GH as pH, but I can assure you that people have kept, and do keep neons in all kinds of water without so much as testing their GH, I think the point still stands. Neons are ridiculously cheap anyways, I'd try a few and you'll probably be fine, but if it doesn't work out, you won't be out much.

If you look up Prime, you'll see that it detoxifies chlorine, chloramine, AND ammonia, as well as heavy metals.

Chlorine won't make your water test positive for ammonia. Chloramine might if you used a dechlorinator before testing. Sometimes the API tests have a false 0.25 reading, but I've never heard of false 0.50.
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-19-2016, 01:10 PM
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I believe this your first tank.
If yes, its understandable the phases you are going through.

Keep it simple and enjoy the hobby that is the only tip I have for today.
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-19-2016, 01:38 PM
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I have high ph, close to 8 and have neon tetras for about 5 years now. I also have hard water. Stability of water conditions is important. That being said, I have noticed that I cannot keep some kind of fish over the years. I usually get a pair to give them a shot, unfortunately some die within a few weeks. I make sure I never buy them anymore. I know its not ideal, but fish-keeping requires some kind of trial and error if you are lazy like me.

Sometimes water chemistry varies with the weather; for instance when we have a hard winter, the city adds a lot of salt that takes a year to clear out from the water. This clearly shows up in the way the plants grow in the tank. Yes the fix would be to use RO water. But whats the challenge in that? haha
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-19-2016, 02:53 PM Thread Starter
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I'm not sure if I was clear but while the ph is high, that is not my greatest concern. It's the gh that is the problem.
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post #11 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-19-2016, 11:55 PM
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My tap water is 8.2 -8.4 pH, 4 KH, 9 GH and 300 TDS.

I've kept black, green, and 'regular' Neons. Cardinal, Ember, Diamond, Red Flame, Von Rio, Glo Light, Rummy Nose, Blood Fin tetras.

I started a tank about 2 months ago with 34 Neon Tetras and 17 Red Flame tetras. The neons came from PetSmart and I lost 5 in the fist couple of days. The first pair of Bolivian Rams spawned 2 weeks ago and I found free swimming fry from the second pair last night in that tank.

The neon tetras from PetSmart have not seen their native habitat for a hundred generations.

You can fret about, target specific parameters, and generally drive yourself crazy. I hope you have more fun things to do instead and take it as it comes.

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post #12 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-20-2016, 12:47 AM
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When neons die it is easy to say the water is at fault. Too much left or right of what the books say is ideal. I find many of those deaths are not from the water itself but how we clean and treat the water. Neons do okay in my hard alkaline water but not if i dope off and let it get out of control so they die!
Most fish deaths from early starters can be spotted best by looking in the mirror!

Looking at the CCR listed above, the water has chloramine so I would expect to see some level of ammonia reading. Using a dechlor product of your choice will almost certainly be required. The value of chloramine over chlorine treatment is that it DOES stay in the water longer. That is what drives the need for removing it. Chlorine will dissipate by itself so you could just let it set before chloramine was used. But as a good benefit to chloramine staying in the water longer, less can be added to make it last while running through the pipes to get to your tap.
Check the bottom line of the report for the chloramine. If you have not been treating with some product, you will have found the cause of death.

Overall quality of the water supply in the report shows it to be very normal and good water to drink.
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post #13 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-20-2016, 12:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnsTank View Post
I'm going to have no choice but use RO if I really want them.

In addition, I just spent about $45 buying this PPS Ferts from GLA. Well, if I have to make RO water for water changes, I'll be damned if I'm going to do 50% water changes every week.

This means I bought the PPS for nothing. Based on what I'm reading, not many fish can tolerate GH this high.

One of you suggested using Prime. I thought Prime was for treating chlorinated water. I am going to contact our municipal water tomorrow and see what they have to say about it.

I think for now I would have to agree with AbbeysDad and just use 50/50 RO/tap and then investigate this ammonia issue.

I know I have chlorine in the water. Can that cause water to test positive for ammonia?
@AbbeysDad suggested 50/50 R/O & tap. That should work.

PPS methods are not claimed to need 50% weekly water changes.
PPS Pro method here = https://sites.google.com/site/aquati...r/home/pps-pro
EI claims a 50% weekly WC.

How were the ferts bought for nothing, EI or PPS the compounds are the same.
Feed fish, feed plants.
If you do a 50% WC that may be a day for possibly extra ferts.

Prime can be used to detoxify NH3 every 48 hours in a 5x dose.
Prime can also show false positive of about .25ppm of NH3 for 24 hours @ regular dose.
All mentioned by others here.
I use 2 drops per gallon on all tap water going into aquarium.

Future: 50/50 WC's with R/O are done by many. Read the bottle of Prime or visit Seachem site. PPS link provided has a wealth
of information even if you choose a different fert regime.

Regarding ammonia(NH3), after your tank is cycled before adding fish
test a water change with tap, enough BB should bring down .5ppm of NH3 in a few hours.


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post #14 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-22-2016, 07:18 AM Thread Starter
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regarding ammonia(nh3), after your tank is cycled before adding fish
test a water change with tap, enough bb should bring down .5ppm of nh3 in a few hours.
bb?
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post #15 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-22-2016, 08:01 AM Thread Starter
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@AbbeysDad suggested 50/50 R/O & tap. That should work.

PPS methods are not claimed to need 50% weekly water changes.
PPS Pro method here = https://sites.google.com/site/aquati...r/home/pps-pro
EI claims a 50% weekly WC.
I guess I'm really unclear. You mentioned that EI does 50% water changes weekly but PPS does not. I went to the Google link you provided and read the following regarding PPS:

"How to do PPS-Pro with water changes?
Easy, no worry approach. Dose PPS-Pro Solution #1 and PPS-Pro Solution #2 at the same time daily for a week, then 50% water change"

How is that different from EI?
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