Man, my local tap water is bad - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-20-2005, 04:26 PM Thread Starter
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Man, my local tap water is bad

Sheesh...taking a break and looked at Arlington County's water quality report...


NO3 = 10 (the maximum contaminant level)

Detected levels of chloramine: 3.7ppm (MCL is 4)...no wonder new plants that aren't adjusted to my water turned to mush.

average pH was 7.9...mine is close to 7.2

Interesting Q&A info about Arlington County adding chloramine to the tap water:

Q: What about fish tank owners?

A: Fish tank owners, including hobbyists, restaurants and fish markets, who now treat for chlorines in the water, should assure that they have appropriate carbon filtration equipment or use water treatment products that neutralize chloramine. These products are readily available through pet and aquarium stores, as well as from companies that service commercial fish tanks

Q: Are Koi fish affected by chloramine like other fish?

A: Yes. Koi are just as susceptible to being harmed by chloramine as any other fish.

Q: Are salt water fish affected by chloramine?

A: Yes.

Q: Does letting water sit for a few days remove chloramine from tanks for pond water?

A: No. Unlike chlorine, which breaks up when water sits for a few days, chloramine may take weeks to disappear. If you choose not to use de-chloraminating chemical, install a granular activated carbon filter and

Geez...a whole link on the website about fish keeping and our water!!

Fish Facts

How Chloramine will Affect your Fish

We are advising everyone with live fish to treat the water – either by filtering or by using a chemical dechloramination agent. How you do it and how often you do it is going to depend on your individual system.

Commercial, scientific and residential fish owners have tanks and ponds that range from one gallon to several thousand gallons, and there is no "magic formula" for determining the right way to do it. Often times there are several solutions. What will work the best and easiest for you is up to you to decide. Talk to your aquarium or pond supply professional, other fish owners, or appropriate maintenance organizations for ideas.

As a public agency the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services Water, Sewer, and Streets Bureau cannot recommend one commercial brand over another, or tell you how to modify or run your system. We can give you some general ideas of what works or what others have done to neutralize chloramine:

Activated charcoal (carbon) filtration systems

Sodium thiosulfate (dechlorinates but doesn’t deal with ammonia)

Commercially available dechloramination products (check the labels, since some simply remove the chlorine, while others "lock up" or detoxify the remaining ammonia)

A chemical agent plus a biological filter (agent to remove chlorine, biofilter to remove the ammonia)

For Koi fanciers we can report that the San Diego Koi Club has found that if you are replacing less than one percent of the total water volume of your system at any one time, the pond may be able to absorb the new chloraminated water with little to no impact on the fish. This would allow time for internal pond filtration systems to be used to remove the chloramine. Making small water changes or additions at a time could be a definite maintenance advantage.

If you are testing the water, be sure that you get a test kit that is designed for chloraminated water. An ammonia test kit with the wrong kind of active agent may give a false positive reading even after the ammonia has been detoxified. These kits are available at aquarium supply stores.

It is important to test your pond water to make sure there is not a build-up of ammonia.

FACTS AND ANSWERS

Unlike chlorine, chloramine will not dissipate to the atmosphere by standing or aerating.

Boiling will not remove chloramine.

Chloramine passes through the gills of fish and directly enters their bloodstream.

In the blood, chloramine chemically binds to the iron in the hemoglobin in red blood cells causing a reduction in the cells capacity to carry oxygen.

Chemical additives for dechloraminating water you add to your tank or pond (makeup water) are available at pet/fish supply stores.

Sodium thiosulfate added to chloraminated water will neutralize chlorine, but ammonia is released.

Water should ideally be dechloraminated in a separate container to neutralize chlorine and ammonia before being added to a tank or pond.

A pond with an established biological filter (one that has cycled through the nitrogen cycle – has converted ammonia to nitrite to nitrate) can remove ammonia.

Tap water used with artificial sea salts for makeup water in salt water fish tanks must be dechloraminated.

The proper amount of neutralizing chemical is sometimes added to the pond prior to or simultaneously with the makeup water.

Water additions should be as small as possible, so the fish are not stressed as the biological filter cleanses the water. Avoid large water changes.

Adjustment of pH may be more critical because of the possible addition of ammonia. At a pH of 8.5, ammonia is about 11% un-ionized, which is the potentially toxic form but at a pH of 7.0 it is only 0.4%. The total ammonia addition to water produced by Washington Aqueduct, our wholesale supplier, is anticipated to be about 0.4 to 0.5 parts per million.

The quantity of makeup water to be added should be estimated to determine the required amount of dechloraminating chemical. The water quantity can be found using the water meter, timing the filling of a bucket, or by the amount the pond depth would increase, not the total pond volume. (Depth increase: multiply length times width times depth – all measurements in feet – to obtain the volume in cubic feet, multiply that by 7.5 to obtain the gallons of water to be added.)

Automatic makeup water systems may have to be operated manually to allow the proper amount of dechloraminating chemicals to be added simultaneously with the makeup water.

Carbon filters should be operated at a slow rate for best chloramine removal. They should be monitored carefully to determine when the carbon media has reached the end of its useful life and needs to be changed. Manufacturers often indicate the maximum number of gallons that can be filtered before renewal of the filters is required. Check with the supplier for proper operation. Testing the residual from the filter will help determine the best filtration rate.

Runoff from lawns or gardens should not be allowed to enter a pond because of the possible presence of chloramines, fertilizers, insecticides, pesticides, and/or any other material that might contaminate the pond.

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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-20-2005, 04:45 PM
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this concerns me:
Detected levels of chloramine: 3.7ppm (MCL is 4)...no wonder new plants that aren't adjusted to my water turned to mush.

Do you mean you aren't using a chloramine remover for your planted tanks? Surely I misinterpret you...
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-20-2005, 07:01 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by malkore
this concerns me:
Detected levels of chloramine: 3.7ppm (MCL is 4)...no wonder new plants that aren't adjusted to my water turned to mush.

Do you mean you aren't using a chloramine remover for your planted tanks? Surely I misinterpret you...
I use Seachem Prime, but even that didn't help when I first moved here. Things have adjusted nicely since. The only other issue I've had was adding some new Hygrophylla balsamica and it completely melted away...just now bouncing back.

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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-21-2005, 12:36 AM
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Wow... must be nice to have a healthy tax base so you can even produce that information for the water customers!!

30g planted with cories, white clouds, Harlequin Rasboras ,ottos.
10g planted with glowlight tetras and an otto.
Outdoor pond with one common goldfish and comets.
5.5g with endlers.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-21-2005, 01:51 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by New 2 fish
Wow... must be nice to have a healthy tax base so you can even produce that information for the water customers!!
Don't even get me started on that!! Its more like the cost of living in general here!

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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-28-2005, 02:20 AM
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I remember the first time I tested for ammonia/ammonium and found 0.50 mg/l in my tap water due to the chlorimane. I was alarmed because I was concerned that I may not ever be able to control algae. Not to worry. Lots of fast growing stem plants took care of that. Maybe something else is getting to your plants.

I just got my water report for St Louis/St Charles water. All units are mg/L except for pH.

pH = 9.4
Ca = 19.8
Cl= 21.2
Carbonate = 100
Sulfate = 93.2
Nitrate and nitrate as N = 1.7
Mg = 12.5
K = 6.5
Fe = 0.12
Na = 28.7

I don't add much fertilizer other than a lot CO2 to drive the ph down to 6.7-6.6. The plants seem to like it and it drinks OK too.

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This message is always under construction: 75-gallon tank; 2, Eheim 2026 filters - one twice broken; Tek Light with 4, 54W T5s (6000K) ; Sand on top of 4:1 sand:clay mixture; Milwaukee CO2 controller; PlantGuild vortex CO2 reactor; pH = 6.6, kH=70mg/l, GH=120mg/l; EI; Flourish excel on 50% weekly water change: AGA Member.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-28-2005, 02:42 AM
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Time for an RO filter maybe? I had heard that the D.C. area water was bad. Thank goodness for wells.


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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-31-2005, 08:31 PM
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Do I understand this correctly....when chloramine is "removed" by something like say Prime that all it's really doing is converting the chloramine to ammonia? The excerpt from the Arlington site says to not do large water changes so that the biological filter can handle getting rid of the ammonia.

It would seem that if you're in an area with chloramine treated water that you either need to treat your water before it goes in the tank (and then filter that water through something to get rid of the ammonia) if you do large water changes or do smaller water changes.

Am I reading this wrong?

David
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-31-2005, 10:12 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aqua Dave
Do I understand this correctly....when chloramine is "removed" by something like say Prime that all it's really doing is converting the chloramine to ammonia? The excerpt from the Arlington site says to not do large water changes so that the biological filter can handle getting rid of the ammonia.

It would seem that if you're in an area with chloramine treated water that you either need to treat your water before it goes in the tank (and then filter that water through something to get rid of the ammonia) if you do large water changes or do smaller water changes.

Am I reading this wrong?

David
I belive Prime will break the chloramine bonds...then neutralize the chlorine and the ammmonia that is another immediate by product...another reason why its one of the best on the market. I have a feeling the website was referring to products like Stress Coat and such that only detox chlorine. I haven't had any problems using the python to change my water so long as I give the tank a good dose of prime as the water is pouring in.

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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-01-2005, 03:54 PM
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Speaking of Arlington VA water, I have killed fish twice using the python until I got the method right. The second time, the fish seemed to enjoy swimming in the stream of water, so I sprayed them and also forgot about the Prime for about an hour. A lot of fish died. Oh well

From a GWAPA post by Ghazanfar Aug 19 2004
"A chemical that will be added to D.C. and Northern Virginia drinking water next week will produce a "noticeable reduction" in lead within a year, but it could be longer than that before some homeowners can stop using filters, an Environmental Protection Agency official said yesterday.

The colorless and tasteless chemical, phosphoric acid, coats the inside of plumbing to prevent lead from leaching into drinking water. It has been tried since June in a section of Northwest Washington. The EPA considers the test successful because there were no major problems with rusty water or elevated bacteria readings, two possible side effects."

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Last edited by fredyk; 11-02-2005 at 12:49 AM.
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-29-2005, 06:27 PM
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Fairfax County water is just as bad -- so bad that yesterday I lost all my fish, except for three cories and an oto, after just a ~15% (5 gallon) water change.

This must be the time of year when they flush the pipes with chlorine, because such a small water change has never before affected my fish; I have done 70% water changes in the past with untreated tap water and suffered no ill effects.

Considering how difficult it is to get Red Phantoms and Rummies around here, I am more bummed than I'd normally be. Perhaps I'll replace them with a nice shoal of Tiger Barbs, with a Betta thrown in for entertainment.

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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-29-2005, 06:51 PM
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Maybe this is a lesson to use a water treatment?

I think that the few seconds it takes to add some Seachem Prime and the few cents that it costs is much better than losing a bunch of fish.

Doing water changes without treating the water is like having a box of revolvers. One revolver has one bullet it in. And you are going to play Russian Roulette with those revolvers. Sooner or later you are going to lose. It might be the first shot. It might be the last, but of course as soon as you lose that is the LAST SHOT, but you get the idea. You will loose.

Same thing as doing water changes without treating the water (of course we are talking about water that contains chlorine or chloramine here). Sooner or later your fish will lose.
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-29-2005, 07:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rex Grigg
Maybe this is a lesson to use a water treatment?
Yes. I previously used Amquel until I ran out and negelected to replace it, never thinking such a small water change could do such damage.

What surprises me is that the cories and oto survived. In previous tank disasters (involving excess peroxide) they were the first to die.

I suspect the culprit in this case was unusually hot tap water (mixed with cold), which rapidly liberated whatever toxic chemicals it contained. I noticed that the warm tap water, when added to the tank, was unusally aerated, with zillions of ultra-tiny gas bubbles forming almost a fog. Normally it is invisible. At the time, I thought to myself, "that does not seem right" but ignored it. We know what happened next.

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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-29-2005, 08:14 PM
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Yes, AGAIN, I killed my small school of white clouds with this water. OUCH!

Filled a 5 gal bucket with tap water and added Prime, and really didn't mix and wait, or anything like that. Just tossed in the six white clouds, and they started dying almost immediate and all dead by morning. Really sad after all that nurturing, growing out, getting them accustomed, etc etc Really not sure if it's the Prime or the water.

And yet I use python to do weekly water changes of about 25% on 3 tanks, very careful to add Prime. and not any problems with it. Learning to be careful, very careful!!!
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-29-2005, 09:19 PM
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Tiger barbs are very nice to look at, but my experience from years ago is that even in a 40 gallon tank they are so aggressive they just keep killing the weakest one. Then the one finally left, just mopes around and dies from boredom. I got some silver tip tetras (or barbs?) in my 29 gallon tank, and they approach the tiger barbs in aggressiveness. Next time I will stick to Cardinal tetras.

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