water test results, references for parameters? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-20-2012, 06:58 PM Thread Starter
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water test results, references for parameters?

I constantly have trouble balancing my overeducated, scientific self with my desire for a low maintenance aquarium. Thus, I sent the water from my LOW TECH tank to a professional lab for testing.

If it helps justify it, we were sending the house water to the lab anyway... but really, I just wanted to know!

Low tech 30 gal, moderately to heavily planted
Moderate to low stocking density (6 bloodfin tetras, 1 oto, 2 habrosus cory cats, assorted shrimp and snails)
Monthly(ish) approx 40% water changes. I refill with 50% tap and 50% RO water
Dose dry ferts after each water change- N, P, and Plantex CSM + B

Water test results (sorry, I know these aren't all the ideal aquarium parameters, but it was the best package of tests available!)
pH - 8.5
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est, ppm - 283
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm - 0.47
Cations / Anions, me/L - 5.4 / 5.5 ppm
Sodium, Na - 21
Potassium, K - 7
Calcium, Ca - 68
Magnesium, Mg - 11
Total Hardness, CaCO3 - 216
Nitrate, NO3-N - 5.5
Sulfate, SO4-S - 10
Chloride, Cl - 4
Carbonate, CO3 - 15
Bicarbonate, HCO3 - 235
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 - 218

So, I'm just looking for general information here:
1. Does anyone have a good reference for what range these parameters SHOULD be in? What's a good source of information so I can learn more about ideal ranges for these?
2. Does anything pop out as a big red flag that I should be concerned about?
3. The biggest thing that *I* noticed (and, with reference to question #1, I know very little about where these things should be) is that the pH seems way high. What sorts of things might cause that? The tap water pH is 7.7 to 7.8. What's raising my pH?

4. And then, NOT related to the water tests- we are getting a water softener. Should I use the softened water for my aquarium? Do I need to add something? Should I take water from outside? Etc...
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-20-2012, 07:19 PM
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if the 'softener' you're getting uses ion exchange resin (salt regen) don't use it for tank water changes but it's a great pre-treat for RO filtering as the sodium is easier on the membrane than Ca.

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Last edited by wkndracer; 09-20-2012 at 08:24 PM. Reason: syntax
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-20-2012, 08:14 PM Thread Starter
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Yes... the long-term plan is to get RO but that is going to have to wait until this winter. I'm kind of wondering what to do in the meantime.
Actually, that makes me wonder- are household RO systems (like under the kitchen sink) different than aquarium RO systems as far as what the water is like coming out? Because we are planning to get RO for the kitchen, and then I was going to use that water for the tank.

I know the brand of water softener (EcoWater) but don't know the technology behind it- I will have to look into that. Thanks for the advice.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-21-2012, 03:35 AM
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RO tap water for drinking and for the aquarium can be used on the same line.

Nothing jumps out.

floating plants like water sprite make low tech approaches very easy..........and you remove the excess growth and keep about 1/2 the surface covered.

Works even with Rift cichlids and liquid rock.

Tom Barr
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-22-2012, 03:30 AM Thread Starter
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Hey Tom, thanks for the input. I've tried a couple different floating plants in the past, and just never really liked them (they always drift to one side of the tank, and get stuck on things). So my approach has been to lift the light farther from the tank to reduce light intensity, and I got some riparium planters, and they hang at the surface of the water. I have a few different kinds of plants with roots in the water, the rest out of the water (I guess technically that's emersed?) - a zephyranthes lily, some kind of palm (cat palm maybe?), bacopa, anubias, and a few others I don't know their names. My favorites are my African violets. I know they aren't supposed to like having their roots in water, but mine are doing well (one is even thriving and blooming), and I am super pleased, even if I don't know how/why they survive.

I'm not sure, but I think the riparium plants should accomplish the same thing as the floaters, as far as removing excess nutrients from the water???? The planters actually do shade the back of the tank a bit, too
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-23-2012, 01:31 AM
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The way to tell the type of softener is easy. Do you have a large barrel type item which requires filling with salt occasionally. That would be an Ion exchange unit.
They are the most common type for homes.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-30-2012, 09:33 PM Thread Starter
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I have an updated question. My water test parameters are in the first post. We now have an RO unit, and I am using that for half of the aquarium water, well water for the other half.

Do I have to use a GH booster or anything like that? Or should half RO, half well water still have enough ions in a proper balance for my fish?

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