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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-05-2014, 04:55 PM Thread Starter
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San Diego Tap?

Non-Chemist here.....Does anyone know the general tap water parameters for San Diego (south bay-Otay)? I found the report for 2012 but don't understand how to read it or ask the questions of the Water Authority.

http://www.sandiego.gov/water/pdf/wq12.pdf

I'm under the impression that it is hard water but what does that mean? Lotsa Calcium?

Ph?
Gh?
Kh?
TDS?
PO4?

Hoping not to have to buy large test kits..... just to work within what's given, but I'd like to know a baseline....

Last edited by adlib33; 06-05-2014 at 05:30 PM. Reason: Clearer question
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-06-2014, 12:41 AM
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I'm not sure where you are having difficulty with reading the water report - most of the items are listed out, along with the measurements that were taken at each water treatment facility.

pH - not listed
gH - depending on which treatment plant you look at; on average, 73.45 ppm. You have "moderately hard" water, I would say. By human definitions, "hard" water is water that has lots of calcium or magnesium (cations) in it.
kH - not listed
TDS - again, depends on which treatment plant you look at.
PO4 - not listed

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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-06-2014, 06:36 AM Thread Starter
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thank you Anthony for answering...

Yes, I could read the numbers but was hard pressed to understand them. I guess what I meant to ask is can anyone tell me what the numbers translate to in "English"

e.g. TDS for my area (Otay) is 537 - highest in San Diego - the water is mostly from local reservoirs. Question then, is that very high for "usual" tap water and do I need to do anything to it for say, shrimp?

same with Gh.... the number says 225 ppm or about 13 grains per gallon. Don't know what that means in English. Is that considered too high? too low? Guess I'm not gonna use this shiny new bag of Gh booster after all? How that translate to degrees of Hardness?.....And the question would be, for instance, should I skip or use less of the buffer part of my EHS/MTS dirt mix since the water is already "moderately hard"?

I've heard (and tested) in the past about San Diego Ph. It runs about 7.5 - 7.8 out of the tap.

That's high-ish, yes? Should I do anything with it other than mixing with RO? Will that be good enough to lower it to acceptable shrimp and Cardinal Tetra type levels?

Thanks once again
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-06-2014, 01:33 PM
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Originally Posted by adlib33 View Post
e.g. TDS for my area (Otay) is 537 - highest in San Diego - the water is mostly from local reservoirs. Question then, is that very high for "usual" tap water and do I need to do anything to it for say, shrimp?
It depends on what kind of shrimp you intend to keep. Some, like RCS, are quite tolerant of "non-optimal" water conditions, whereas others might require more stringent conditions. I'll leave that up to the shrimp experts.

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Originally Posted by adlib33 View Post
same with Gh.... the number says 225 ppm or about 13 grains per gallon. Don't know what that means in English. Is that considered too high? too low? Guess I'm not gonna use this shiny new bag of Gh booster after all? How that translate to degrees of Hardness?.....
You can convert from ppm to German degrees by dividing by 17.8; in this case, your hardness would be 12 degrees German hardness. This would be considered quite hard. You may have difficulty keeping some species of shrimp that require soft water.

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Originally Posted by adlib33 View Post
I've heard (and tested) in the past about San Diego Ph. It runs about 7.5 - 7.8 out of the tap.

That's high-ish, yes? Should I do anything with it other than mixing with RO? Will that be good enough to lower it to acceptable shrimp and Cardinal Tetra type levels?

Thanks once again
That pH is not too bad, but not quite low enough for some species of shrimp (again, depends on what kind of shrimp you intend to keep).

Cardinal tetras might be fine in your water, though they will not breed.

As you have mentioned, you can always mix your tap water with RO water to achieve softer/lower pH water.

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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-06-2014, 05:44 PM Thread Starter
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That helped A LOT.....thank you for the conversion formula....

My water is apparently liquid rock! ;-(

I'm gonna keep the Shrimp in a RO only tank.


Last question, promise: Could the high amount of hardness have more to do with the sodium/salts rather than the Ca and M?

Reason I am asking: need to know if I should add a CaSO4 or Dolomite buffer to the MTS/EHS substrate i am about to experiment with? Leaning towards no but....?
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-06-2014, 07:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adlib33 View Post
That helped A LOT.....thank you for the conversion formula....

My water is apparently liquid rock! ;-(

I'm gonna keep the Shrimp in a RO only tank.


Last question, promise: Could the high amount of hardness have more to do with the sodium/salts rather than the Ca and M?

Reason I am asking: need to know if I should add a CaSO4 or Dolomite buffer to the MTS/EHS substrate i am about to experiment with? Leaning towards no but....?
I completely agree with what Darkblade has said thus far. The harness report is rather vague. Total harness generally refers to total GH (Ca nd Mg) and KH (carbonate hardness). I don't think sodium is included in that measure.

I wouldn't bother adding CaSO4 or Dolomite to your substrate. I doubt you will need any GH adjustments. If you do it will most likely be Mg and not calcium.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-06-2014, 09:01 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Zorfox and Darkblade....This is starting to make a little more sense to me

1. No Buffer needed in MTS soil....lotsa stuff in our water, the Ph stays put....

2. No matter how much I want to just use straight tap (stability, consistency, convenience), I can't for most of the fauna I'd like to have - water too hard in San Diego -12Gh and 7.8 Ph

3. Oh, break down and get some test kits as well.....
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-06-2014, 10:20 PM
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Your hardness is likely to be from calcium. There are lots of other things that might add to it but since limestone is so common and it is easy to degrade and get into water, that would be my first guess. Unless you want to get into the effort of changing your tap, I would go about it a bit different. Is this a new effort or just a new area?
If you have tried some things and not worked out well, you know what you have. But if it is just a feeling that you will have trouble with the water, I would look at trying it first. You might be surprised with how well it works out. The book specs are not always required as written. Maybe adapt what you want to keep just slightly to avoid lots of nagging headaches?
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-07-2014, 12:43 AM
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If you have tried some things and not worked out well, you know what you have. But if it is just a feeling that you will have trouble with the water, I would look at trying it first. You might be surprised with how well it works out. The book specs are not always required as written. Maybe adapt what you want to keep just slightly to avoid lots of nagging headaches?
That's great advise.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-07-2014, 02:36 AM
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The term 'hardness' is used for both General Hardness (a measure of calcium and magnesium) and Carbonate Hardness (a measure of carbonates and bicarbonates).

Fish use the Ca and Mg. Cardinal Tetras are so efficient at taking in and storing the Ca that they can die of too much Ca. They need to be kept in soft water, low GH.
In nature, the GH and KH are usually similar. So water with low GH also has low KH.
Low KH allows other things to alter the pH. Often these are fallen leaves and branches, which almost always make the water more acidic.
This water will also have low TDS, often well under 100.

Your water (high GH, KH and TDS) is better suited to hard water livestock.
Live Bearers, certain Rainbow Fish and their relatives (look into the Pseudomughils), Rift Lake Cichlids and many brackish water fish that need the hard water, but salt is optional.
To make this water suitable for delicate shrimp and soft water fish I would start with a sodium exchange water softener, then run that water through a reverse osmosis system. This will take out 99% of everything in the water.
Then research the livestock you want to keep and add just the minerals they want Perhaps a small dose of tap water would be just right. You might end up with 80-90% RO and 10-20% tap water for very delicate livestock.

Much easier:
Research the livestock that will thrive in your water without altering it.
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-07-2014, 06:59 PM
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The reason I recommend trying to go with the water as it comes from the tap is not just a matter of the immediate work or expense involved but also the results long term. We often start out thinking something will be some extra effort but we can do it. But then a year down the road we may run into something we had not expected. A sudden absence (work, play, sickness?) can often be dealt with if it not complicated for others to step in and do the tank work like water changes. Other times it can be just simple things like a tank leaks and you need to move the fish suddenly but don't have water on hand. Having fish who can only deal with water that you prepare can turn a minor nuisance into a major problem. There are times when we can't be prepared but we can slant things in our favor by looking at long term results.
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-09-2014, 04:30 AM Thread Starter
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PlantedRich and Diana...Thank you as well for that wisdom. Simplicity IS great advice and I agree wholeheartedly. I'm back to planted tanks after a long 6+ years out, mostly because I could never get the chemistry right. Real life ALWAYS trumped....There are just so many reasons why I'd need to adapt to the water here in San Diego.

I'm probably going to start the tanks (except a small, RO only tank for the shrimp) with a 50/50 RO and tap mix and very gradually (months) work towards mostly tap. No Ca buffer in the MTS soil as well.

You both make so much sense, especially as I ease back into the hobby (ease...hahaha. I laughed when I wrote that....
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-09-2014, 04:41 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
The term 'hardness' is used for both General Hardness (a measure of calcium and magnesium) and Carbonate Hardness (a measure of carbonates and bicarbonates).

Fish use the Ca and Mg. Cardinal Tetras are so efficient at taking in and storing the Ca that they can die of too much Ca. They need to be kept in soft water, low GH.
In nature, the GH and KH are usually similar. So water with low GH also has low KH.
Low KH allows other things to alter the pH. Often these are fallen leaves and branches, which almost always make the water more acidic.
This water will also have low TDS, often well under 100.

Your water (high GH, KH and TDS) is better suited to hard water livestock.
Live Bearers, certain Rainbow Fish and their relatives (look into the Pseudomughils), Rift Lake Cichlids and many brackish water fish that need the hard water, but salt is optional.
To make this water suitable for delicate shrimp and soft water fish I would start with a sodium exchange water softener, then run that water through a reverse osmosis system. This will take out 99% of everything in the water.
Then research the livestock you want to keep and add just the minerals they want Perhaps a small dose of tap water would be just right. You might end up with 80-90% RO and 10-20% tap water for very delicate livestock.
And Diane, thanks for taking the time to help explain some of those questions I had previously, how water parameters worked. After Darkblade's, Zorfox's, PlantedRich's and your explanations, I feel much more informed and ready to experiment...
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-10-2014, 04:01 AM
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Easiest solution:
Use tap water, and get fish, plants and shrimp that like that water.

There are even some Tetras and Barbs that are just fine in hard water. Many of the soft water fish that have been bred in captivity have adapted over the generations to harder water.
Almost all aquarium plants do not care much what sort of water they are in. There are a few specialty plants that really will only thrive in soft water, but they are very few.
Not sure about shrimp, but you might try Ghost Shrimp, see if they work with the fish. If the fish eat them, then no use spending money on better quality shrimp.

Continue researching the ways that the various things you can do to the water make it better for some livestock, and decide if you really want to keep that livestock so much you are willing to do that. Small tanks with RO or mostly RO are still pretty easy to handle, but a much larger tank that is run that way can be a lot more work.
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