St. Paul, MN - Water Chemistry - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-24-2009, 04:16 AM Thread Starter
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St. Paul, MN - Water Chemistry

Still fairly new to Planted Tanks. I am currently using RO water, that I carry home in jugs, because LFS told me that my city (St. Paul, MN) has water that is very difficult to work with.

Folks in this forum seem to highly recommend working with available water and letting the plants/fish adapt. However, after doing some research - I found a local online fish forum discussing this issue and reinforcing the idea that St. Paul water is difficult to work with. Apparently, the water comes out of the tap with gH 4-5, kH 2, and pH 8.5-9. Then the water takes a pH dive within 24 hours.

My questions to you folks are:

- Are any of you working with similar water issues?
- Does this water pose particular problems for a planted tank?
- Should I stick with hauling RO water to my house or try to use local water?

Here are some links that better describe the problem in St. Paul, MN. (First post in each thread gives an idea of what they are about).

- Dropping the Ph Quickly
- St. Paul Water
- Liquid Death

More info on my own set-up.

Any advice????


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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-24-2009, 07:22 AM
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What does your PH drop to after 24 hours. GH and KH doesn't look bad. If PH drops in the 7s, I would start letting it set and stablize. Are they using chlorine or chloramine?
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-24-2009, 07:44 AM Thread Starter
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I haven't tested this myself, but numerous others have. Here is one account:

"I have "soft" St. Paul tap water with a KH of 2 and a GH of 4-5, BUT it comes from the tap at 8.46 - I kid you not - and then proceeds to drop because it is not well buffered.

.....I normally age the water for two days which gives it a chance to drop to about 7.6 before it goes into my tanks."

- To see Full Post -

This is from an email from the St. Paul Water Department to someone on the local fish forum:

"All water in St. Paul and some surrounding suburbs leaves the treatment
plant at a pH of 9.0 to 9.1. We do soften the water at the plant to
around 4.5 grains of hardness. We also use chlorine and ammonia to
disinfect the water, which would explain the measurable levels of
ammonia, and nitrate,nitrite N. The water chemistry does change
throughout the year."

- Again, here is a link -

Apparently, some local fishkeepers have had problems with fish kills during routine water changes, which they attribute to this water and its chemistry.

Thanks.


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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-25-2009, 07:14 PM
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I have heard about tap water that drops in pH when it sets awhile, but I still don't know what the water company is adding that dissipates as the water sets. I do know that all water companies treat their water to keep the pH above 7 at all times, so it doesn't corrode the water plumbing, whether copper or ancient lead piping. Have you looked at the water quality report for your water? Look for high sodium, for example, which might mean they introduce sodium in softening it. Look for an explanation of what they use to raise the pH.

You are buying RO water now, presumably storing it until you add it to the tank. So, I suspect it would be less work and bother to just fill a big container with tap water, let it sit open to the air, perhaps with an airstone in it to help it along, and don't use it for a couple of days or more. You can use a small pump to transfer the water to the aquarium.

Another thing to consider is doing smaller water changes, and using tap water directly. If you now do 50% changes weekly, switch to 20% changes every other day. That way you are altering the tank water properties a lot less with the water changes. And, don't forget to use Prime or equivalent de-chlorinator with each change.

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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-25-2009, 07:34 PM Thread Starter
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What about the softness of the water "KH of 2 and a GH of 4-5"? Isn't this going to be a problem?


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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-25-2009, 07:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Twimbo View Post
What about the softness of the water "KH of 2 and a GH of 4-5"? Isn't this going to be a problem?
The KH is just about perfect, in my opinion, and the GH isn't bad, but I would probably add a little Epsom salt to the fertilizer mix I dose with, as I now do, just to be sure the plants get some magnesium.

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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-25-2009, 07:44 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Hoppy!


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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-25-2009, 08:07 PM
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I don't see anything wrong with the water you have. Have you actually had problems? I wouldn't go with what the LFS just says as, "very difficult to work with." What does that exactly mean? Doesn't sound like any legitimate problem presented to planted tanks.

The water is well buffered. The reason the pH is high initially is because of a method of treatment at the plant and because the water is not at equilbrium with CO2 in the air (in pipes). When it is exposed to air the CO2 acidifies the water to a more normal pH, like 7.6. Honestly though a pH of > 8 straight from the tap is fine, its not going to "kill" anything just by adding it to your tanks.

I've used hard Minneapolis suburb water (GH and KH > 20, pH >8) and soft Minneapolis water at basically the stats you put up. Both worked great. I think the water coming out of your tap is quite perfect.

I would skip the RO, it is a waste of time and money for you. At the most I would allow the tap to sit to allow the pH to stabilize before adding. Even that may be excessive. I would start by doing water changes straight from the tap and see if that actually presents any problems.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-25-2009, 08:39 PM Thread Starter
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Given the advice that I've been getting, I'm going to switch back to tap water, allowing it to stand for 24-48 hours before use.

I'm not really experienced enough to have had real problems with this water before. I switched to RO water pretty quick after starting with plants. However, a local fishkeeping board, with lots of experienced fish keepers seems to discuss this issue on a regular basis - with plenty of frustrated fishkeepers in St. Paul. See links in my original post. Of course, there are others in St. Paul who say that have managed just fine, so I'll give it a try. Of those who have managed, at least some report aging their water a couple of days before use.


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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-25-2009, 09:16 PM
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Make sure to use Prime with your tap water. Take an ammonia reading from it to see if they use chloramine
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-26-2009, 12:18 AM
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I've seen Garrison Keillor. That's what your fish will look like if you make them drink the water from St. Paul.

Victor PIMP #20 - SR253B-320
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-26-2009, 01:35 AM
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Just dont let them drink the water in Virginia, they will come out looking like a character from Deliverance and squealing like a pig.
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-26-2009, 05:20 AM
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Originally Posted by manofmanyfish View Post
I've seen Garrison Keillor. That's what your fish will look like if you make them drink the water from St. Paul.
Thus, converting cheap guppies to extremely valuable guppies, especially if they can sing and tell stories too.

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