new and need help with water parameters!!! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-03-2009, 05:29 PM Thread Starter
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new and need help with water parameters!!!

Ok so ive had the tank up for a month or so, with a couple of unknown plants, and a betta. Plants have had minimal growth, but they dont get enough light, but thats a different subject. So i got a 5 in one test kit that tests the nitrate, nitrite, hardness, alkalinity, and PH. So as of right now i know mu numbers are not were they need to be, and i need to know how to get them to were i want them, and how long that will take, So these are my numbers now.
Nitrate-10
Nitrite-5
GH-75
KH-50
PH-7.2
Now these numbers look alot different than what im reading from on here. Is the GH suposed to be 7.5 and kh 5.0? Im just reading yall what the test tells me. LOL well thanks in advance for any help, it is very apreciated!
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-03-2009, 08:32 PM
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Hardness tests can give the results in either parts per million or in degrees of hardness. One degree of hardness is about 20 parts per million (+/- 3 ppm) So, I suspect your KH and GH numbers are in parts per million, and the 7.5 and 5.0 you mentioned are degrees of hardness. Since your two hardness numbers differ by 25, and are 3 x 25 and 2 x 25, I'm assuming your test kit only tells you the number in 25 ppm increments. 75 ppm would then be about 3 degrees of GH, and the 50 ppm would be about 2 degrees of KH. Both numbers are acceptable, if not actually great.

The nitrite number should be zero, but again, with numbers that are 1 x 5 and 2 x 5 for nitrate/nitrite, I assume your kit only gives results in increments of 5 ppm. So, the nitrite reading could well be zero, not 5.

That shows one problem with using test kits. They may not be at all accurate.

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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-04-2009, 03:57 AM Thread Starter
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Ok so with that said.. what do i need to work on with my water, and how do i get it there... and thanks for the explanation!!
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-04-2009, 04:43 AM
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First off, if you're really concerned with parameters, ditch the 5 n 1 and use liquid reagents. One step further, you can calibrate a few of them to get more accurate readings, but just using liquid reagents alone is much better than strips even though they have their own shortcomings.

Strips can be notoriously inaccurate on a few tests, depending on brand, and they can foul or expire easily. There's no sense in going into this blindly. As Hoppy said, nitrite should be zero, your test could easily be off there, but if you indeed have 5ppm nitrite with a Betta in the tank, you have a serious problem, even if you only have 2ppm. In that case this tank would not yet be cycled, the equivalent of fish living in waste water. If nitrite is present, ammonia should be checked as well, and multiple water changes should be done until they are both at or close to zero, and repeated daily as they rise until the cycle is finished.

That said, nitrAtes at 10ppm suggests the tank is fully cycled, but ditch the strips if you're serious about your parameters. They're ok for quick reference when you're already familiar with your tank's chemistry, but not suitable for serious testing or dealing with possible emergencies.

As long as the nitrite result is an error, and there turns out to be no ammonia as well, I don't see that you need to do anything, I'm with Hoppy's opinion that your water is great for plants, mineral wise. That's about where I set my RO when I reconstitute the KH and GH.


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Last edited by jaidexl; 08-07-2009 at 03:40 AM.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-04-2009, 04:49 AM
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Oh, and I think your test is simply giving you ppm, which you need to divide by 17.9 to get German degrees, making it about 2-3dKH and 4dGH. Same as many of my tanks.


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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-06-2009, 03:31 PM
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Jaidexl,

You said, "That's about where I set my RO when I reconstitute the KH and GH." Can you let me know what this means?

I just tore down my saltwater and have all the equipment for a planted tank (except the co2 tank because when I brought in the one I had to get filled, they said it was a leaser that had been missing and they wanted it back).

Anyway, I just bought all new test kits and my well water KH and GH are off the scale (Aquarium Pharmaceuticals). The scale goes up to twelve drops for 12dKH and 214 GH/KH. Anyway, the KH solution took 20 drops to changed color and the GH solution took 30 drops.

I have an RO so I tested that too and the dKH is 0 and the GH/KH is 37. The pH for both is 7.0 (isn't that weird? So I used an old freshwater pH test kit I had and it came up the same).

Anyway, the other interesting thing is that both the well water and the RO came up 5 in nitrates (red sea test kit). I think my filters on the RO are getting old because I think nitrates should be zero. The phosphates on the well water are 0.1 but I forgot the test the RO phosphates.

We know our well water is pretty bad. We have above the acceptable limits of TDS for drinking water when someone came out to try to sell us a water softener. We have been using the RO water for drinking (but not for the dogs). It has high iron also because our toilet bowls will turn orange if not cleaned frequently.

Anyway, I am trying to figure out how to "constitute" my RO water. You are talking about mixing with tap, right?

Thanks!!!
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-06-2009, 03:54 PM
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Normally I'd say mix 50/50 RO/Tap water but if your water is that bad you probably want to do more like 75/25 RO/Tap water mix and see what your test kit says about that.

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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-06-2009, 06:47 PM
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Brad,

Thanks, that is what I was thinking but I didn't know for sure since I see many posts where people don't seem very concerned about hardness.

Do you have any input on the perceived high iron of my well water. Should I just dose traces like normal?

And it seems that the 7.0 must be wrong with all that hardness, what do you think? I read somewhere that the water out of the tap should sit for several hours before testing pH.

And finally, what part of the RO system removes the nitrates? Is it the membrane? I read on spectrapure's website that the unit should remove nitrates.

Thanks!
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-06-2009, 07:22 PM
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Maybe a web link to a really good water perameters site for the planted tank is in order......
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-06-2009, 07:29 PM
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I would dose Fe normally I don't think your going to hurt any fish and/or invertebrates with to much iron and weekly water changes will fix that.

On the Hardness issue I agree with Hoppy 100% the bad thing about this hobby is that every bloody test kit is different and even if I used the same one as you without a control sample to calibrate it off of the reading can be off. I wouldn't worry about it as long as everything is growing well and your fish isn't showing stress symptoms (bad color, gasping, etc). If you really want to calabrate your test kit Hoppy is the freak er man for the job

Depending on the type of R/O unit yes unless it also has a resin chamber? Ether way I wouldn't worry to much about nitrates since a decently planted tank needs them to grow so you really don't want that reading to be 0 or your going to have a algea outbreak. You want that to be around 5-10ppm so that seems ok.

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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-06-2009, 09:38 PM
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Okay so I think this is the game plan....

Oh, by the way, sorry for hijacking rachnhaze thread!! You can get me back sometime.

I will mix 1/4 well water with 3/4 RO. I will let the well water sit for 12 hours and retest the pH and if I don't get a more realistic reading then I will calibrate my test kit. I don't need to worry about getting new RO filters/membranes because the KH and GH are low or zero and nitrates are not to worry about. I also shouldn't worry about the extra iron that the RO will not remove and still dose as prescribed.

Hopefully the pH is 7.8 or higher in the well water and the mix with RO will be 7.4 (or something) and the addition of co2 will bring it down. But if the pH is really 7.0 how does adding co2 work? Perhaps I shouldn't worry about that because the 7.0 just can't be accurate.

Thanks!!
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-07-2009, 03:37 AM Thread Starter
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oo its fine, just glad i can get some usefull info out of it al..
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-07-2009, 03:56 AM
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My advice is to ignore pH, there are a bunch of things that can mess it up, and the only ones we or our fish/ plants are really worried about are KH and GH. So get those two where you want and ignore pH. Once it goes in the tank the pH will probably change again, from carbonic acids, co2, whatever, that pH change doesn't have anything to do with the minerals of KH and GH, rather the acidity of the water. Some plants are particular about alkalinty and a KH of around 3 or less is suggested. A GH of 3 to 6 is recommended to supply enough Calcium and Magnesium. If you're unsure if your well's GH is a proper ratio of Ca and Mg, you can use a GH booster with straight RO and skip the tap.

Some folks mix for reconstitution, I put GH booster and a little baking soda (for KH) in straight RO, to get a GH of ~5 and a KH of ~3. That works out to an even tspn of GH booster, and even 1/2tspn baking soda per 5gl RO. Of course your water and membranes might change that some. I don't do this because I'm afraid my tap water's GH ratio isn't right, but because it's so much easier than mixing buckets, the booster and baking soda is cheap enough, and we don't pay for our water anyway

I get my GH booster from aquariumfertilizer.com


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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-07-2009, 04:15 PM
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Thanks, rachnhaze, I am glad you are not upset.

So I hadn't read anything about the calcium/magnesium ratio. Is there any way to get any indication about this?

I did let some well water sit out overnight and retested the pH. I found it was the highest value for the test kit of 7.6. So I am assuming it could have been off the scale. What influences pH while it is in the plumbing that goes away after the water has been sitting? Gases?
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-07-2009, 04:16 PM
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It's probably C02 once it sets it out-gases and the pH goes back up.

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