Argument for using RO water - especially with the new EI method out there - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-06-2005, 03:51 AM Thread Starter
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Argument for using RO water - especially with the new EI method out there

Before I start this I would like to note that I only use Tap water with my tank, my plants love it, and I doubt I will change it... but... since I have an RO unit and use it for my main fish tank, I would like to discover the actual "disadvantage" to using RO water in a planted tank.

In past posts about using RO water I always see responses of "why take the time to take out things that you are about to add back in", or other time consuming, and $$$ reasons. So, that said, in responding to this post, assume that the RO user could care less about the following:

1) $ - the expenses related to RO making is of no concern; the costs related to "re-adding" all the Ca/Mg/PO4/NO3/K/etc already present in tap water does not phase the person.
2) time - somehow the person fits an extra hour into each day and does not mind waiting for RO water to filter... add all the elements... etc.
3) wastefullness - does not care that it is inefficient to remove something and then put it right back in.

That stated, and after reading up on the EI method, which says that knowing what your city water has in it is essential, it seems that when resetting your tank parameters that using RO water would actually be perfect. You know what RO water has in it... nothing... just 2 H's and an O. You could put in exactly enough Mg/Ca/NO3/PO4/K/Fe/CSM+B/KH/GH as you wish, and thus make your parameters perfect. Imagine doing that week on week. You would never have to wonder what your city is up to; you dont have to worry about having too much or too little in your tank of anything, etc. You basically "know" what is in your water at all times.

What disadvantage is there after taking all of this into account?

Cliff
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-06-2005, 04:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spar
...So, that said, in responding to this post, assume that the RO user could care less about the following:

1) $ - the expenses related to RO making is of no concern; the costs related to "re-adding" all the Ca/Mg/PO4/NO3/K/etc already present in tap water does not phase the person.
2) time - somehow the person fits an extra hour into each day and does not mind waiting for RO water to filter... add all the elements... etc.
3) wastefullness - does not care that it is inefficient to remove something and then put it right back in...

...What disadvantage is there after taking all of this into account?
Based on your presumptions, probably none. I think the basic argument to this has always been, why spend the additional time and money reconstituing the water when you could better use it enjoying your tank.

óBill

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-06-2005, 02:22 PM
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One must also be conscious of the wasted water when producing RO water. Many units flush 3-5 gallons down the drain for each gallon they produce. Also by using RO water you are losing many of the micro-trace elements that one does want in the water.

I suppose if you were trying to breed some F1 soft water fish the case would be stronger. But beyond that why?
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-06-2005, 03:20 PM
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I seem to recall that tap water also contains some of the micro-micro traces that aren't necessarily found in a standard CSM-like mix. So, can you really (easily) add back in *everything* you need?

Having typed that, it begs the question in my mind of how can all water sources the world over possibly contain all those same micro-micro traces. So, perhaps this is a non-issue.

Shooting from the hip!
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-07-2005, 09:36 AM
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Actually knowing the tap water is not essential, useful, but not essential.

I might not need to add NO3, PO4, Ca, Mg, CO3 etc...........
But knowing what levels they are and testing to see in some manner that enough is provided, is useful certainly.

Few have tested for Mg, yet there are few cases of Mg deficiency.

So you can add a tad more just in case there is not enough, same for the others............

Using RO and making essentially a reference standard each water change(you could change 95-100%) and dosing the known inorganic ferts back again would make for a good controlled system.

Good for some research, but the difference between that and practical horticulture is another matter.

Try getting everyone to do this.
Lot of work, little gain. I like little work, lots of gain personally.

Tap is fine to use because even if it has none, the method still works since we add excess, and that the 50% added is assumed to be nutrient free.
But I still suggest to to see what the tap is, and we all need to test the GH/KH for CO2, and Mg/Ca nutrients.

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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-07-2005, 08:39 PM
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I've thought about this subject a ton coming from a reefing background. In reef keeping, you absolutely never use tap water. You always top off with distilled or RO water and mix saltwater with the same. (I actually top off with distilled and use nothing but bottled seawater but that's a topic for another board)

With planted tanks, you always use tapwater. If you have something exceptionally wrong with your water or you want to keep discus, you may dilute it with RO but you still use tapwater.

This all makes perfect sense to me. Here's my (possibly absurd) thoughts on the matter:

The ocean is really really freaking big. It has the ability to dillute huge amounts of stuff down to miniscule, trace quantities. Rivers and lakes are much smaller and are in much greater relative contact with the ground. They're fed primarily by drops of water that run across the ground.

So, by my reasoning, saltwater aquariums should be nutrient poor whereas freshwater aquariums should be nutrient rich (comparatively speaking). RO for saltwater, tap for freshwater .

I understand your desire to control every little component of the water and try to reach "perfect" parameters but I think it's probably misguided.

First off, I'm betting that even with RO, contaminents will make it in. You never really hit a TDS of 0 with RO water. Things besides water will be put into the tank too (gravel, fish food, fish, plants, fingers, the neighbor's cat).

Secondly, what are the "perfect" parameters? How do you figure out what they are? There are all sorts of stuff that you can't even test for in a hobby setting or in the trace amounts under which they are present.

What I do think it would be useful for is to experiment with the effects of different deficiencies and such. For example, set up a whole bunch of tanks, use R/O for all of them except a control group and dose them in different groups... See what effects it has on the plants and see if the effect can be reproduced time after time, etc. Someday when I have space for more tanks, I'd really like to do this for fun.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-07-2005, 09:44 PM
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I use tap for Reef tanks, no issues.
I also use marine plants which remove the PO4/NO3(which I also dose).
Less nutrient is not more.

A stable balanced nutrient level is good.
SW systems are more stable, but where the Fw systems are stable and suited for plants, they are grown well for hundreds of years.

Don't believe it?
Come to the Plant Fest and see both cases for yourself.

The Key's are fairly rich nutrient wise where the grass and macro's often grow. Out on the reefs there is less, but any removed is brought in from upwelling currents.

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