Well water or switch to RO - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-17-2017, 08:34 PM Thread Starter
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Well water or switch to RO

I had posted a similar question to no answer so I'm rewording it. I have well water with the following parameters; Ammonia-0, nitrite-0, nitrate-0, pH-8.8, KH-10, GH-2.5. I know my tank is still stableizing but I'm confused by the current readings. My tanks parameters are; Ammonia-0, nitrite-0, nitrate-10-20, pH-6 (possibly lower), KH- 4, GH-0.

I have 20lbs Amazonia which is about a month old and I know that buffers ph down, I have a few pieces of driftwood, and am running diy CO2 until I can get a tank for my new regulator. I'm aware all of these things lower the pH of the water but that much?

Basically my question is this. Would switching to all RO water make a difference? I really don't want to use chemical buffers to mess with my waters. I know I'm gonna have to add GH booster but don't mind that. I can experiment with doing a mix of RO and tap, but I'd rather just do one or the other if I can get away with it. Am I over reacting and being paranoid or do I need to give it more time?
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-17-2017, 08:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Joey Rutherford View Post
I had posted a similar question to no answer so I'm rewording it. I have well water with the following parameters; Ammonia-0, nitrite-0, nitrate-0, pH-8.8, KH-10, GH-2.5. I know my tank is still stableizing but I'm confused by the current readings. My tanks parameters are; Ammonia-0, nitrite-0, nitrate-10-20, pH-6 (possibly lower), KH- 4, GH-0.

I have 20lbs Amazonia which is about a month old and I know that buffers ph down, I have a few pieces of driftwood, and am running diy CO2 until I can get a tank for my new regulator. I'm aware all of these things lower the pH of the water but that much?

Basically my question is this. Would switching to all RO water make a difference? I really don't want to use chemical buffers to mess with my waters. I know I'm gonna have to add GH booster but don't mind that. I can experiment with doing a mix of RO and tap, but I'd rather just do one or the other if I can get away with it. Am I over reacting and being paranoid or do I need to give it more time?
Your well water parameters are very similar to ours. I have been keeping fish for quite some time. Suddenly, one day one of my fish was acting ill. I tested everything and it was 0 (everything meaning nitrates, nitrites and ammonia) and I was confused. Finally a friend did a quick test that included PH and I never thought to test PH because it always tests the same.

My PH went down from 8.5 to TWO!!!! No wonder the poor fish were sick. So, I did a gradual tank change (repeated water changes incrementally over a 24 hour period) and he was doing better. Nothing else changed, and I did not have any additives in there, nothing.

Within a week it was back at 2 again.

So, after I changed out everything but the filter contents (I knew it wasn't that) , I finally decided to change out the NATURAL gravel I had put in some time back.

The PH went back up to 8.5ish and varies from 8.2-8.5 ever since.

It makes no sense. Rocks usually take PH HIGHER not lower. But those rocks were the culprit and I never had a similar experience before or after with any other tank and I have on average six at any given time.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-17-2017, 08:58 PM Thread Starter
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Hmm that is odd. Luckily I don't have any fish in my tank yet, I'm waiting to get everything stable before I add any animals. I have quite a few plants and don't want them to suffer from the low ph but at least they are live animals. Lol

I don't have any rocks besides two that I glued to a piece of driftwood to keep it down and I also have 40lbs of eco. I'm just so confused. I was using a little bit of RO in my tank to see what it would do and it kept the ph at around 6.4 and that was just using 5 gallons of RO. I can't imagine 5 gallons of RO makes that big of difference in a 45 gal tank.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-17-2017, 09:05 PM
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Hmm that is odd. Luckily I don't have any fish in my tank yet, I'm waiting to get everything stable before I add any animals. I have quite a few plants and don't want them to suffer from the low ph but at least they are live animals. Lol

I don't have any rocks besides two that I glued to a piece of driftwood to keep it down and I also have 40lbs of eco. I'm just so confused. I was using a little bit of RO in my tank to see what it would do and it kept the ph at around 6.4 and that was just using 5 gallons of RO. I can't imagine 5 gallons of RO makes that big of difference in a 45 gal tank.
I know how you feel. It was driving me insane to try to solve my tank problem before the fish died. I moved him to another tank, but he was a betta so my choices were limited where I could put him safely.

It still does not make any sense. The rocks themselves were just those natural gravel you find in pet stores and such, nothing weird at all. I was so stressed out about it that I refused to use natural gravel again for years choosing painted gravel despite not wanting to!

It is probably something really weird in your tank that is happening, just like with me. Not stones, perhaps, but something else you would not expect. The dumb part is that I did nothing to the filter and when I pulled the rocks and went back to some safe gravel I knew was OK, all was fine and the PH stayed fine after that.

I hope you find it soon so you can start putting your little fun animals in there!
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-17-2017, 10:19 PM
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Have you checked the ph of the well water after you let it sit out over night?

Just a noob


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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-17-2017, 11:08 PM Thread Starter
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I have. It drops MAYBE 0.2. =\
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-18-2017, 01:04 AM
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Have you checked the ph of the well water after you let it sit out over night?
Actually I would let it sit out for more like three days. I've done this many times, and it takes about three days for the pH to really stabalize (unless you put a bubbler in there to speed things along).

As to your pH, something doesn't make sense. How are you testing it? Meter? Drops? Test strips?

Your tap water with a KH of only 10, after being degassed, should only have a pH of about 8.0 max.

For comparison, my well water run through a softener has a KH of about 19, and pH is 8.2 (degassed). Are you running through a softener? If so, your GH makes sense. Mine is almost zero after being softened. I add CaS04 and MgS04 to boost GH.

As to the pH drop in the tank, you are also dropping the pH by adding co2. I wonder how much of the drop is due to the co2, and how much is due to the effect of the substrate.

I sure hope you get it figured out. I'm no expert but something just doesn't seem right.


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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-18-2017, 02:35 AM Thread Starter
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Well I just checked my tanks ph again and it's at ~7.4. The last time I checked it was Sunday when I did my big water change and after a few hours I checked and that's when it read 6 or lower.

I was having an algae problem and tore everything down to get the little rotting leaves that fell off from new plants and get that under control. I don't plan on doing a big water change like that again unless something serious happens.

I'll have to leave some more tap water out and see how it doesn't over a few days. I'm using the API solutions. I don't know what you mean by my water running through a softener. There is a filter in the basement that all the water that enters the house goes through. It's a sediment filter so that might contribute to my nonexistent GH.

I'm running 1-1.5 bps of CO2 right now and always looking at the drop checker to make sure nothing is going crazy. Hopefully I'll have a tank Thursday so I don't have to worry about the inconsistencies of diy CO2.

The rise in ph gives me hope though. I'm gonna check everything everyday for a week and see if it holds. And if it does then I'll consider adding RO to drop the ph, but i imagine mid 7s is an ok place to be for more critters. I'm wanting to keep a couple tetra communities, maybe a ram or two, some shrimp and snails, and maybe a couple angels if I feel like living in the edge and risking my other fish.
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-18-2017, 01:00 PM
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If you are testing your tank water soon after a water change, you are more than likely seeing a large amount of co2 in the tap water. This is not unusual.

My tap comes out at about 6.7, and rises to 8.2 degassed. Well water can contain quite a bit of co2.

Personally I would get a cheap pH meter, as it is far more accurate than the liquid kits.

Hope that helps.


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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-19-2017, 03:34 AM Thread Starter
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Oh I didn't even consider all of the air that gets pumped in during a water change. So far the ph has held stead for a couple days. I'll keep testing once I get my CO2 tank tomorrow and start doseing GH booster to see if that changes it at all.
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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-22-2017, 07:58 AM
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Originally Posted by caprig View Post
My PH went down from 8.5 to TWO!!!!
Quote:
pH of Common Acids
0 - Hydrochloric Acid (HCl)
1.0 - Battery Acid (H2SO4 sulfuric acid)
2.0 - Lemon Juice
Sounds like something was amiss with your testing methods.
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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-22-2017, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Joey Rutherford View Post
I had posted a similar question to no answer so I'm rewording it. I have well water with the following parameters; Ammonia-0, nitrite-0, nitrate-0, pH-8.8, KH-10, GH-2.5. I know my tank is still stableizing but I'm confused by the current readings. My tanks parameters are; Ammonia-0, nitrite-0, nitrate-10-20, pH-6 (possibly lower), KH- 4, GH-0.

I have 20lbs Amazonia which is about a month old and I know that buffers ph down, I have a few pieces of driftwood, and am running diy CO2 until I can get a tank for my new regulator. I'm aware all of these things lower the pH of the water but that much?

Basically my question is this. Would switching to all RO water make a difference? I really don't want to use chemical buffers to mess with my waters. I know I'm gonna have to add GH booster but don't mind that. I can experiment with doing a mix of RO and tap, but I'd rather just do one or the other if I can get away with it. Am I over reacting and being paranoid or do I need to give it more time?

Amazonia removes KH from the water by absorbing it. KH degrades Amazonia, causing it to lose it's buffer. If you used a GH+ booster along with RO/DI water, your Amazonia substrate will last longer.


The combination of Amazonia and CO2 is causing your pH to drop. This isn't an issue if you want to keep fish that prefer a pH of below 7.



If you want to have a tank with higher pH (above 7), then use the Eco substrate instead.
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-22-2017, 06:32 PM
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Because well water comes from the ground. Its very possible that there are elements disolved within the water. I'm guessing that once they are exposed to air like in an aquarium, it is possible they are Oxididing and reacting which is lowering the pH.
This is nothing but a guess on my part. I may be way off but a pH of 2 seems far too low to be explainable by the substrate and DIY CO2.

Whether I'm right or not. I like to start with RO water so I know what i'm getting every time. It takes the variables out of the equation for me. Plus... my tap water is hard enough to choke African Cichlids.

Don't get caught with your plants down
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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-23-2017, 12:07 AM Thread Starter
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Well Im not really looking for any specific pH level, I just want it to be stable. Everything ive read says that most fish can live in a wide range of pH's and I assume that is true for most plants. I havent noticed a drop in KH. It stays the same from tap to aquarium, maybe dropping by 1. I just got GH Booster and dosed that according to the jar so that will help that issue. I also got GLA'S EI Method ferts and am starting that tomorrow. If anyone is still here Ill go ahead and ask a question about the EI Method. From my understanding, its macro, micro, 3x alternating daily. Then nothing on the day before the water change. And rinse and repeat the process the day after the water change. What im confused about is whats what. Im assuming it goes like this KH2PO4 and K2SO4 are macros and those get dosed on say mon, wed, fri. Then you dose KNO3 and Plantex CSM+B on Tues, thurs, and maybe saturday? I am reading that some people dont use the Plantex CSM+B. Should I not use it?
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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-23-2017, 12:30 AM
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KNO3, KH2PO4, and K2SO4 are all macros.

Plantex CSM+B is a micro.

Remember everything you read are general guidelines. There are no hard and fast rules. I dose macros 4 days, micros 3 days. All tanks are different, so start with something then experiment and adjust accordingly. It can take quite a while to get to the proper balance, so observe things closely and have patience.


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