Tap Water: High Ammonia & PH - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 05-31-2008, 07:32 PM Thread Starter
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Tap Water: High Ammonia & PH

I live in the Sarasota, FL area and I'm very concerned about our tap water. Out of the tap is has 2.0ppm ammonia, and a PH of 7.6 (maybe even a little higher), a GH of 14, and a KH of 3.

I'm just cycling a 65G now and will be setting up my 30G when the first is done. But it took a lot of work to get the ammonia down so I'm worried about how I'm going to do water changes. The first treatment with Amquel only brought the ammonia down to 1.0. So I treated it again on the 2nd day, but it still took until about day 4 to drop to 0.

I've already got 6 zebra danios in there to start the cycle and I used eco-complete and some Turbostart to try to jumpstart the cycle.

My question is: should I get an RO unit and mix half with the tap water when I'm doing water changes? I'll still treat with Amquel, but that should bring the ammonia down to what Amquel can manage. The bottle says it can treat up to 1.2ppm ammonia.

From what I'm learning about water chemistry, since the KH is low, doesn't that make my water more susceptible to ph swings? I'm hoping once I start the CO2 injection it will lower the ph just a bit, but I'm only wanting it to get stable around 6.0.

I would love to talk to someone who already has planted tanks in the area. . . someone with experience with the water. Or anyone out there who has some experience with this.

I am wiling to buy an RO unit but not quite ready to have to get a plumber to install, figure out where to put it, etc. . . LOL

Thanks for any help!
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 05-31-2008, 08:01 PM
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Your water may be heavily treated with chloramine which is ammonia bound to chlorine. Some water treatment plants do this because chloramine is more stable than traditional free chlorine, but it is bad for the home aquarist because it adds ammonia. Your GH is pretty high but your KH is OK.

The best way to get the water you want is to mix your tap with purified water. After you blend waters though, you will probably want to add baking soda to bring the KH back up. CO2 will easily bring your pH down to 6.0 as long as there is enough CO2.

If you want a little easier and cheaper option than an RO unit, you could use a greensand filter. It sits by your sink and just hooks to the faucet like a Pur water filter, but it removes metals and other ions. You can get one at http://www.petsolutions.com for about $40. It's the same process many municipal water plants use to filter out metal ions.

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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 05-31-2008, 09:13 PM Thread Starter
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You are right about the chloramine. I just didn't realize it would still register as ammonia after treating with Amquel.

I will consider the greensand filter--that's a good idea. I'm just thinking down the road I will have a 65G & 30G, so that's 95G total. Minimum I'll be changing 25 gallons every 2 weeks. Mixing half of that as filtered water means 12-15 gallons of water when I do a water change. SO, I'll need a system that can produce enough water without standing at a filter for hours. That's why I'm thinking an RO system might be best.

For $115 I can get one with a tank and a faucet that I can install anywhere I want (having to hire a plumber to get the water TO the unit). Then I can add a 15G water drum to the system and keep enough water ready for use when I need it.

Maybe it's overkill. . .

And I really appreciate the reassurance that the CO2 will get my PH where I need it.

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