first time using RO water help? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-09-2014, 11:35 PM Thread Starter
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first time using RO water help?

I just started a 17gal riparium tank today. It's filled ~2/3 with RO water. I tested the RO water before I did anything to it. Then I added 1/8th of a tsp of Seachem Equilibrium because the LFS where I bought the water said to use that amount and I figured I could add a little and test and then add more if I needed.

So I did that and I ended up adding another 1/8th of a tsp after a few hours. Right now I have added a total of 1/4 of a tsp of Equilibrium to the tank. The pH is 6.4 The GH took 2 drops to change color. The KH took 1 drop to change color. This is using the API tests. Sorry I'm confused about the units. It says for 1 drop it is 1 °dKH and 17.9 ppm GH/KH and for 2 drops it is 2 °dKH and 35.8 ppm GH/KH

I was hoping for a pH closer to 6.8 or 7. What should I do? Is this just the pH the water is going to be and that's it? My tap water does weird things which is why I'm giving RO a try. But 6.4 seems like it's going to be too low. Have I just not added enough equilibrium?
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-10-2014, 12:25 AM
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6.4 ph is not too low, generally speaking. Why do you think that?

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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-10-2014, 01:20 AM
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KH is carbonates. This is the buffer that stabilizes the pH.

GH is general hardness. This is a measure of calcium and magnesium. These are essential minerals for plants and fish.

pH is not a stand alone value. The minerals and other things in the water dictate what the pH will be. By controlling things like carbonates, CO2, and organic matter you are controlling the pH. The fish are not so picky about the pH, they can handle a wide range and do not mind it fluctuating.
They want a certain level of minerals, and these mineral levels ought to stay stable.

Both GH and KH tests read in the same units. But they are not testing the same thing, nor do they overlap.
One test is KH.
The other test is GH.
1 drop of reagent represents 1 German degree of hardness in either test.
If you want to convert that to ppm then 1 degree = 17.9 ppm.

1 drop of reagent to change the color in the KH test means 17.9 ppm carbonates. You can write that as 1dKH or 17.9 ppm.
To raise the KH add carbonates or bicarbonates such as baking soda or potassium bicarbonate.

2 drops of reagent to change the color in the GH test means 35.8 ppm of calcium and magnesium. You can write that as 2dGH or 35.8 ppm.
Raise the GH with Seachem equilibrium.
So, your test so far has shown about 2 dGH, so I would add another 1/8tsp. for most average fish. I find it easier to mix in a small jar with a tight lid and some hot water. Then pour it into the tank.

Soft water fish like the GH to be not much higher than 3 degrees. Lower than this may also show deficiencies in the plants. Fish from very soft water include Cardinal Tetras, Chocolate Gouramis and many other specialty fish.

Most average community fish are fine with a GH from 3-9 degrees. Most of the fish you see in pet stores are this sort. Many Tetras, Barbs, Rasboras, Platies, Endlers and so on.

Hard water fish require a GH over 9, and as high as 20 is just fine. In pet stores Guppies, Mollies, Swordtails, Platies and 'Mixed African Cichlids' prefer this sort of water.

There are many fish not commonly found in most pet stores that are worth searching out. Do the research and fine tune the water to suit them.

Plants are (mostly) OK with any of these. There are a few specialty plants that really do require low GH, but these are not so common.

Once you have figured out what fish you want to keep, set the GH to suit them.
Then make the KH about equal to the GH.
When you have set the GH and KH like this the pH will usually be in the right range for most fish.

If you want a fish that comes from black water streams, then add peat moss to the filter.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-10-2014, 01:22 AM
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I think you can adjust your PH with some buffering agents, or a basic neutral regulator. That's what I do anyway, its working for me. I just got into this RODI system as well.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-10-2014, 01:31 AM
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Well, you can, but the best way is to set up the tank with the right minerals at the right levels for fish and plants. Don't add minerals or salts that the plants cannot use just to make a test read 'right'. Add the right minerals that are required by fish and plants.

Ignore the pH. When the mineral levels are right the pH will almost always be in the right range for those fish.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-10-2014, 01:46 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you all, especially Diana.

I know they say it doesn't matter what range the pH (within reason) as long as it stays stable but I've just have very bad luck with my fish. I don't know what it is, if it is something else in my water which is why I'm switching to RO.

I have a 29gal planted tank which is on my tap water (well water) and it has a very stable pH of 7.6. It's also hard water--although my water comes out of the tap at a pH of 6 and is soft. I don't have rocks in my planted tank.

I have killed many fish with this water. The worst was I bought 10 ocelot danios. Danios. Not supposed to be super sensitive fish right?? I got them from a good store that has really good quality fish and these fish had lived happily at the store for several weeks. I floated the bag in my tank then added a small amount of tank water to the bag. 6 of them instantly kicked the bucket and 4 of them got pretty sick. 4 of them managed to pull through and I do still have them.

Since then I do the drip method for any new fish although I have few fish as I'm afraid to buy any more. When I told that to my LFS lady who has been selling fish for as long as I've been alive (her store is just for fish) she looked at me like I was nuts for going through the trouble of drip acclimating given that I just had a fresh water tank.

Right now my danios are acting very strange. They are hiding and won't come out except when the lights are off. It's not usual for them. They used to always come out when they saw me--expecting to be fed. The water parameters haven't changed. The only thing I can think is I've started using some of the RO water to top off that tank instead of my tap water. But I've only been doing a little at a time.

So that's why I'm so paranoid about the pH and the hardness. Even though this tank is just for a betta who probably won't care. But I'm hoping if the RO goes well in the riparium I can switch my planted tank over to it as well and then maybe get some more fish so it's not so empty.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-10-2014, 01:56 AM
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While it might be pH, I would wonder if there are other minerals or something in the water that we have no tests for that is killing the fish.

You are right to switch to RO water.
Adjust the GH and KH to match the water in the store, and the fish ought to do just fine.
If you are trying to breed a particular species then fine tune the GH, KH and pH to suit that species.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-10-2014, 04:12 AM
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Your tap water is full of C02 directly from the faucet, giving you the low PH reading. After sitting for 24 hours it degasses giving you a reading of 7.6, that's normal and common for most of us. It's why a lot of people choose to age their water. I age my tap water for drinking to degas C02 and chlorine.

The red flag with the initial deaths of your fish could have been osmotic shock from not acclimating them properly. When you say 4 got sick what does that mean?

I think going RO might be the right move in your scenario but honestly I would be alarmed that your drinking water could be contaminated with natural pollutants such as nitrates, heavy metals, bacteria etc. Have you tested your tap for ammonia or nitrate?

Do you have your well water tested annually for things like coliform bacteria etc? Not sure what the laws are in New England are but I know each state regulates private wells differently. Here is an article I just found about possible pollutants in water wells. Something to think about for your own health not just your fish.
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