Tap water to RO - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-24-2013, 08:30 PM Thread Starter
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Tap water to RO

I currently inherited my new gf 46g bow-front tank that used to be a cichlid tank (her old bf owned it) but never took care of it and they ended up all dying off, the only fish that survived were 2-3 bosemani rainbow fish and a pleco.
I decided to go simple and turn it into a community fish tank.
I had a 36g of my own and transferred my fish into her tank because i was unable to be home all the time to care for them, i also added some more of the past week too.
Using the rocks from her cichlid tank and adding my driftwood and plants its coming together ok.
The only thing i need to do is stock it nicely and that's were the RO water comes in. My end goal is to get to GBR's and pearling plants but water out here (KS) it pretty hard so pH is high, about 8.4ish.
If i did a water change twice a week exchanging 10g of tap water with RO for about 3-4 weeks would that be considered sufficient?
Also I would be adding Equilibrium, acid and alkaline buffers to the RO...would that also be sufficient?
Any insight would be much appreciated.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-24-2013, 09:31 PM
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Sufficient for acclimating the fish or as a permanent routine ? Personally i'm big on not messing with PH much as messing with it can cause a lot of stress on the fish. People like to buffer PH all the time via various means with additives, but additives dont last long, and the PH changes again. There's this constant up, and down action.

Just throwing it out there. I'd add more but first i'm curious about this 3-4 weeks thing?

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-24-2013, 09:34 PM
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Don't mess with the ph. Most fish can adapt to almost any ph but a fluctuating ph can be life-threatening. If you buy your GBR from local breeders who keep theirs on very similar water conditions you will be fine.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-25-2013, 01:14 AM
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pigeonfood, it depends on where you want to go with this tank.
Most community fish are just fine with such a wide range of water chemistry that it is easier just to use the tap water, unless it has some toxins.

Next, ignore pH.
Get tests for GH, KH and TDS. These are the important values to fish.
Many years ago the old fish keepers only had pH tests, so they blamed everything on pH. Now we know differently.

OK, lets say you test the tap water, and find the GH and KH are way out of the range for the fish you want to keep, and you really do not want fish that are suited to those values. Here is how to handle it.

You have tap water with minerals.
You want to use RO (it has no minerals) but you want to add minerals to the RO.
Why not just use tap water as the source of minerals? Are there some toxins there that make it bad to use?

Get some RO water (a gallon is just fine) and make some blends.
25% tap + 75% RO
75% tap + 25% RO.
Test all for GH, KH and TDS. Which comes closest to what your fish want? (Hint: Do research on your favorite fish so you will know what the target is).

If one of these is great, but the other is not, use the recipe that makes the softest water and add just barely enough minerals to bring the other value to where you want it. Most fish do fine when the GH and KH are pretty close to the same, but they do not have to be. GH is more important. If the KH is a couple of degrees plus or minus that is just fine.

Then, if you are keeping a fish from a black water river, filter that 'perfect recipe' through peat moss. Peat moss adds the organic acids these fish like.

Test the GH, KH and TDS again. Some peat moss can remove a certain amount of minerals.

When you want to adapt the fish over to softer water you will have to do some math.
Do a big enough water change, and use enough of the 'perfect recipe' so that the net change results in softer water in the tank, but the GH, KH and TDS drop by no more than 10% in any one water change. Do this sort of water change up to twice a week.
It may take a month to get the water softer and the fish switched over. Let it take time. The fish need to adapt to the lower TDS, and it takes them about a month to do that.
If the tank needs larger water changes while this is going on, then make a blend of RO + tap that equals the current GH, KH and TDS of the tank, and do as big a water change as you need to. When the GH, KH and TDS are the same, it is just fine with the fish to do larger water changes.

Now that you have set this up, here is how to handle new fish purchases:
1) Set up a quarantine tank.
2) Buy the fish. Test the water in the bag.
3) Add enough minerals to the Q-tank so it matches the water in the bag.
4) While the fish are in quarantine, slowly alter the water just like you did the main tank until the fish are in water that matches the main tank. Optimum quarantine time is about a month, unless you need to treat for something, and in that month the fish will adapt to your water.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-25-2013, 01:17 AM
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If you can post the GH, KH and TDS of your tap water, and a proposed fish list then I could be more specific in the details of how to do this.

So far you have Boes and a Pleco? They are so adaptable that tap water is fine (unless it has toxins).
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-25-2013, 03:33 AM
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Ph does play a role at some point. For instance breeding. Some fish are real finicky about breeding waters. For me any spec I see in on a fish profile, I try to meet them as best I can. I don't like taking a fish out of its preferred range. Its better to get fish that are already in the range in which your parameters already meet. Problem is, choices thin out.

I make my water fit my fish instead of making my fish fit my water. With the right recipe of R/O and tap, you get consistent at it. On municipal water, you have no control over what's put in the water. There is control somewhat by the use of R/O water. Dail in what you want with the ratio of tap to R/O. True its easier to allow them to adjust to your water but for me unless they are naturally high ph fish, I don't do it. But that's just me. Everyone will have their ways and stick to them. I honestly fell that prolonged parameters outside of the preferred shortens a fish life span.

I have fish live longer when my waters are neutral than I do when I don't change my water parameters. Look at it this way. A ph of 6.0 is 10x more acidic than a ph of 7.0. A ph of 8.0 is 10x more alkaline than a ph of 7.0. But a ph of 6.0 to 8.0 is 100x more acidic/alkaline when skipping a ph 7.0

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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-25-2013, 01:16 PM
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PH plays a major role in fish health. I have no idea where this old timer myth stuff came from, but it's certainly just not true. Thing is lots of people read about their fishes preferred PH which is typically based on their natural environment parameters, but the likelihood of the fish being from the wild is very slim, unless specifically listed. It was born, and raised in a aquarium environment, probably just like it's parents. They've been conditioned already in some sense.

I agree with you flight50 on the neutral range statement. In Boston we have amazing water, and a consistent PH out of tap at my house of 7.2-7.4. Luckily for me i dont have to mess with PH. When i breed my geophagus species it takes a frozen food source for a solid week or 2 with some PH buffering to entice them.

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