Water help - lighting & CO2 - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-17-2005, 03:57 PM Thread Starter
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Water help - lighting & CO2

Hey y'all!

First thanks for a fabulous forum! Y'all are some of the smartest, most experienced monkeys ah have evah had the pleasure to encounter...

Okay - one week ago today I planted my tank! It's the 20 gallon (12x24x15) formerly known as PLASTIC. I have had the tank for about 2 years and have been quite successful fish-wise, just ready to take the plunge into the real deal. My lighting is totally inadequate - I'm afraid I got caught up in all the pretty pictures and didn't do enough homework in that particular area. A young man at the LFS told me that a Power-glo bulb would fit my 15 watt fixture and plants would do fine. I got a bit more technical (finally) in my studies and realized the error of our ways... So! I have a Jebo Odyssea 24# coming within the next 2 weeks! 2 65 watt bulbs - woo hoo! I realize that I will probably only be running one of them most of the time, maybe both for a couple of hours at high noon. I am going to get a Hagen CO2 kit to go along with it. My substrate is 1/2 Flourite - 1/2 small natural gravel. Plants are lots of fast growing stems and although they obviously aren't doing much, they don't look any worse for wear. The Ludwegia Repens and Rotala Rotundiflora even still show the pink they came with. I haven't started fertilizing yet, figured that would just bring on some major algae without adequate lighting and I'm hoping the Flourite will keep them happy for the time being. (Please correct me if I'm wrong!) I am running an Aqua-clear 150 with 2 sponges and Wal-Mart polyfloss. I kept the tank more or less cycled through the complete breakdown and substrate switch by keeping the filter running in another holding tank with the fish. Seems to have worked - the fish are loving their new house. Keyholes are even courting for the first time...

But I digress... Here is my dilemma. I have been using RO mixed with tap water. Which is softened and carbon filtered... I realize this is a bit dodgy, but the fish (and the plastic...) thrived in it. I also realize this is not great for the real plants and I'm looking for trouble with more light and CO2 and my lack of buffering capacity.

FWIW - here are my water parameters. (Nutrafin master test kit)

pH - 7.1
KH - 10 mg/L (ppm)
GH - 20 mg/L (ppm)
Nitrite - < 0.1
Ammonia - 0
I am out of "pillows" for my Nitrate test kit - hubby is in water treatment and getting me more.

I am assuming that my beautiful Mopani driftwood which insists on continuing to leach tannins in spite of 2 weeks soaking in hot RO and 2 trips through the dishwasher - no soap - is the reason why I have any hardness in the water at all? BTW - carbon seems to do exactly zero to remove tannin. (Hubby said it wouldn't) I don't like using it and pulled it out after 3 days and no results. The water is clear - just slightly tinted. No worries - it will go away - eventually...

I need to harden up my water right? I am trying to assimilate all the information out here and the only thing that keeps repeating in my head is the #1 rule of fishkeeping - "don't mess with your water or you're asking for trouble." Especially messing with the pH, which the CO2 will do. Although nobody here seems to have much trouble with it. Still a little scary to me. Please tell me exactly how to safely get the hardness up in the tank. And how high (I'm thinking around 6?) - so the tank is ready when the lights and CO2 come into play. Would RO Right do the trick? Or baking soda? And how do I do this without shocking my fish?

Also - since the Hagen CO2 kit can't be turned off and on, should I throw in my little bubbler to run at night when the lights go out? It seems most people safely run it all night, but pH fluctuations TERRIFY me!!!

I'm sorry this is so long and if you have made it through - THANK YOU! I have tried so hard to figure all this out on my own, but it still came down to these few questions that I really wanted to clarify. I apologize too if this is all TMI, but I wanted to try to answer any questions that might come up in advance!

Kathy
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-17-2005, 06:54 PM
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Easiest thing is back mix part RO, part tap. You can adjust RO:tap ratio to achieve different hardness numbers. Try to get KH to 60-80 ppm.


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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-17-2005, 07:07 PM Thread Starter
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Water help - lighting & CO2

Thanks for wading through that, Shalu!

Had an "aha moment." So I tested the water from the faucet in the basement - it isn't plumbed in to the softener and carbon filter. Thinking I'll just switch over to that. Well, it's lake water... KH is only 40. pH is 7.4. This is sounding better, but it's still a tad soft. pH a tad higher.

So what is the safest way to oootch up the hardness in my non-treated water? I'm thinking the pH is probably workable at 7.4, plus I didn't let the water age before testing - that could change. And which chlorine/chloramine remover do you recommend. I'm so spoiled by the big carbon filter (Toronto adds a ton of chlorine to the water), it scares me. I'm such a weenie...

Thanks again, Shalu!

Kathy
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-17-2005, 07:36 PM
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Hey Kathy,

I run my tanks off the delicious Toronto tap water, unaltered. Out of the tap the water is 4 dKH. I put a small (1/3 cup) bag of crushed coral in my cannister to raise the KH of the tank water to 7-8 dKH. 65 gallon tank, mind you. I do weekly 50% partials. This method of buffering is to my knowledge the safest and most stable, as well as being fairly long-term. (The coral does dissolve over time and may need periodic replacement. Once or twice a year or so.)

Activated carbon can and does remove tannins from the water, but in your case probably not quickly enough to keep up with the rate at which they are being leached by the wood. Boiling the wood in a pot for a few hours at a time, over the course of a few weeks, should make a bit of a dent.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-17-2005, 07:41 PM
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Oh, missed one of your Q's... I highly recommend Seachem Prime for neutralizing chlorine & chloramines. I refill directly to my tanks with a Python and so at each water change I dose for the full aquarium volume. Haven't observed stress in any of my puffers doing it this way, which is more than I can say for using Big Al's conditioner... It clearly wasn't doing its job--my fahaka used to get very stressed during refills. I eventually threw it out, switched to Prime, and have never looked back.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-17-2005, 07:53 PM Thread Starter
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Water help - lighting & CO2

Thanks Bred! I'll get some Seachem and and coral!

I do have one more question. (Your fault - you brought it up!) Regarding filling directly from the tap at water changes. I've heard (don't ask me where - I'm sure "they" said it at some point...) that running warm water from the tap is a bad thing. Are "they" wrong? I'm assuming you don't refill with cold - Toronto tap water is positively frigid!

I think with this final answer, my concerns will be put to rest...

Kathy
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-17-2005, 08:02 PM
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well... i've always been told to only boil cold water when i cook. it might just be an old wive's tale, but the theory goes: water that sits around in pipes (presumably copper, or possibly lead[?]) picks up more dissolved metals at higher temperatures than at colder temperatures. i don't know whether i believe it--i would think that the pipes in my old apartment would have totally eroded by now if it were true--but i always run the water for a little while to clear the pipes before refilling anyway in order to get a consistent water temperature out of the tap.

that reminds me, i have been meaning to get a TDS metre and see what the readings for toronto tap water are.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-17-2005, 09:41 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bred
that reminds me, i have been meaning to get a TDS metre and see what the readings for toronto tap water are.
I think they are pretty expensive. I'll check when my husband gets home - he has a half dozen of the things floating around. Or just ask him. He knows the water throughout Ontario pretty much by heart! For some reason 120 ppm is running around in my brain, but I'll check for ya!

Kathy
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-18-2005, 01:40 AM
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Hey Kathy,

I use RO/DI water. I simply add seachem trace and If I need to increase kH => baking soda or coral, but that disolves very slow, GH => Mg/Ca mix.

I agree w/ the wood. Take a big pot, put the wood in there, bring it to a boil, let it sit a couple of days, then refill pot w/ water, Bring to a boil, let it sit. The goal is to let the hot water absorb most to the tannins. A dishwater, will rinse the wood . If you don't like the current color, just do a water change.

I started with a hagen yeast CO2. I wouldn't worry about it running 24 hr, I would recommend after two week of running, prepare the next batch, so your tank will have CO2 all the time. As opposed to waiting for the yeast to multiply.

Good luck

Thom
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-18-2005, 03:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GTApuffgal
I am assuming that my beautiful Mopani driftwood which insists on continuing to leach tannins in spite of 2 weeks soaking in hot RO and 2 trips through the dishwasher - no soap - is the reason why I have any hardness in the water at all?
I am curious as to why you think the driftwood would be increasing your hardness. kH or GH? BTW the crushed coral idea discussed here works for me very well to increase my kH.
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-18-2005, 01:43 PM Thread Starter
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Water help - lighting & CO2

Quote:
Originally Posted by jart
I am curious as to why you think the driftwood would be increasing your hardness. kH or GH? BTW the crushed coral idea discussed here works for me very well to increase my kH.
Honestly? Just verbal diahrrea... I guess because after I tested the tank water, I tested the softened water out of the tap and it WAS soft. (I was worried that we were getting some slippage from the softener because I never get a hardness reading...) I couldn't think of anything else in the tank that could be causing it. (Scientific, eh?)

Thom, I don't have a pot big enough so soaked the wood in hot water, boiled RO (couldn't keep it boiling - see above) over the course of a couple of weeks and ran it through the dishwasher. Than I got tired of waiting on it... It really doesn't look that bad - just a pale tea like color. I'm going to pull it and do the dishwasher treatment one more time then do another water change. Hoping by the time my new lights come the things might consider being done leaching!

Thanks guys! Kathy
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-18-2005, 03:31 PM
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I'd be afraid of residual detergent in your dishwasher leeching into the wood, and then back out into your tank.

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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-18-2005, 03:38 PM Thread Starter
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Water help - lighting & CO2

Quote:
Originally Posted by malkore
I'd be afraid of residual detergent in your dishwasher leeching into the wood, and then back out into your tank.
That worried me too... But I saw it suggested several times. I made sure there wasn't anything visible - for whatever that was worth. And soaked it for several hours after - changing the water frequently. It's been in the tank for almost 2 weeks and the fish are fine.

Kathy
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-24-2005, 04:47 AM
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I read somewhere that humic acid? tannin will lower your PH, and reduce your KH
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