Best RO Water Remineralization for Planted Tanks? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-17-2014, 12:29 AM Thread Starter
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Best RO Water Remineralization for Planted Tanks?

What do you advanced planted tank people tend to prefer for the BEST RODI water remineralization?

Seems most people use tap water rather than RO or mixed/cut tap and RP water, but my tap water quality is quite poor. Seems that some use either RO Right or a DIY mix of 5 components, (which would likely get me put on a terrorist watch list if I start ordering those in bulk).

I can't tell what Kent RO Right has in it, but it appears it's components are chloride based which is not ideal for plants and can supposedly burn them.

Tropic Marine Pro Discus Minerals claims to have the usual minerals plus 50 trace minerals.

Seachem Equilibrium seems recommended for planted tanks and discus, but seems to be missing several of the minor trace elements found in Seachem Trace, including; Iodine. Copper, Flourine, Iron, Selenium, Zinc.
And some people report mixed results, and advise that Replenish achieves better results.

Bump: Further, as I expect it might be questioned my water company reports the following averages below. I'm not quite sure which are most worrisome, though the hardness, conductivity, nitrates, sodium, sulphates, and chloride are all causing me concern if I was to think of using some HMA filtered tap water to 'cut' my RODI water?

pH: 7.7
Total Hardness as CaCO3: 257 (which is 14 DH)
Conductivity: 593
Residual Disinfectant 0.54 mg/l

Nitrate: 26 mg/l
Nitrite 0.015 mg/l
Ammonium 0.131 mg/l

Sodium 30.4 mg/l
Sulphate 48 mg/l
Total Organic Carbon 2.3 mg/l
Turbidity: 0.07 FTU

Flouride 0.1 ppm
Iron 2.8 ug/l
Manganese 0.6 ug/l
Aluminium 8.2 ug/l
Arsenic 1.1 ug/l
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-17-2014, 12:50 AM
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I am not the expert chemist that you are looking for to answer your question, but I can tell you that a mix of 1:5 gallons tap to RO water has been working fine for me. My local source tap water is also pretty lousy and is on the high end of pretty much every allowable water quality standard. My Nitrates tested at 40 ppm, 150 ppm CaCO3, and the PH is around 9.

It has been working for me well enough, but if there is a better method that would allow me to use straight RO I would certainly be interested...

I have an AQUARIUM.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-17-2014, 01:32 AM
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If you want to use your tap water and RO you can start with the hardness. What fish are you keeping?
Soft water fish: 1 part tap: 3 or more parts RO would give you soft enough water for most soft water fish. This would bring the GH down to about 3-4 German degrees of hardness (or softer if you use less tap water).

If you want to omit tap water, just go with RO, then I would add GH booster of your choice to make the GH suitable for the fish (3-4 degrees for most average soft water fish, harder for hard water fish). I have used Seachem Equilibrium and Barr's GH booster. Basically these are Ca and Mg, but they also have a fair amount of potassium.
Add potassium bicarbonate to make the KH within a degree or so of the GH.
If you are keeping black water fish filter the water though peat moss to add the organic acids these fish need.
This should replicate the water of whatever fish you are keeping near enough to keep the fish and plants happy with the basic recipe on water change day.

Use aquarium fertilizers such as Plantex CSM+B for traces. It is OK to add these when you are reconstituting the RO for water changes, or wait until the day you would normally dose the tank. Similarly, N, P, K should be dosed soon after a water change. (by the next day, anyway).
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-17-2014, 10:50 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks people!

I have the space now to redo a better display tank exactly as I want, and the focus fish would be tank reared wild discus strains, (several generations removed from the wild). I haven't yet determined what would be the best parameters to aim for as such, but am thinking slightly on the soft side and a neutral pH is perhaps most appropriate. I was hoping to include shrimp as well, which seem to have certain requirements of their own in regards to mineral contents however.

It would be a fully planted display tank however, with mineralised topsoil capped with sand, with substrate injected fertiliser when/if necessary via a network of buried perforated tubes, so I might not be dosing the water column apart from potassium perhaps, and some CO2 for sure. Medium light with low maintenance plants such as rosette type plants rather than stem plants.

I'll have to look into Tom Barr's GH booster, as I hadn't previously heard of that.

The soil substrate should provide any trace elements the plants need, and perhaps would leach those into the water as well. I was however wondering whether a remineralisation mix with just a few ingredients would not provide all of the trace elements necessary for optimum fish health...

And I don't know anything about adding organic acids, or whether these would be helpful for domestically bred Amazonian blackwater fish which were not raised as such, as well as whether those precipitate out the minerals which many of our plants need for optimum health? I wouldn't mind adding peat moss though, so long as it doesn't cause problems and does have some benefit. Are there any good articles for this?
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-17-2014, 01:00 PM
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I do not know if there are articles about the organic acids found in black water rivers.
Many people keep (and breed) black water fish using peat moss or driftwood as the source of tannins and other organic acids. Tannins will color the water anything from yellow to brown. You might look up some of the breeders of Discus for more info: Hans Discus, Jack Watley, and web sites that specialize in Discus to see what (if anything) they do about trace minerals or salts in the water.

Check with the person who is breeding the Discus for the optimum water conditions. Several generations removed from the wild will probably mean softer water, though not quite so picky as wild caught. Until you hear from them I would aim for GH and KH of about 3 degrees, pH on the acidic side of neutral, perhaps the mid 6s. TDS about 100.

You might try some test batches of tap water + RO to see what it takes to get into the right range on the water parameters. If you have the soil on hand, add a handful of that, too. See what happens. Most testing materials at the hobbyist level do not include anything for the trace minerals, but you can probably get kits for:
N, P, Fe, GH, KH, pH, and get a meter for TDS. (I have seen them on line for about $20.00 US, I do not know what the price might be in the UK)

Barr's GH Booster is available through:

It is very similar to Seachem Equilibrium, but lacks some of the trace minerals that the Seachem product has.

I think your idea of adding the traces to the soil is good. Yes, a little bit will leach out into the water. If you are planning on doing frequent, large water changes you will want to fertilize the soil, anyway, and not bother with adding ferts for the plants to the water.

As for the 'network of buried, perforated tubes' I would skip it. When you want to add fertilizer tablets just push them into the substrate by hand, or with an injector (sort of like a syringe).
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-17-2014, 07:29 PM Thread Starter
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I wouldn't imagine that commercial breeders use RO water, but presumably locate in areas which have decent municipal water already, nor are they doing planted display tanks I suppose. I guess whatever water the discus had been raised in would be what they would be happy in, though perhaps not for sure. If I was raised in the ghetto that doesn't mean I wouldn't be happier on a secluded tropical island still!

With soil and plants I'm guessing that trace elements aren't as critical to add actually, as the soil likely has a lifetime supply of most of those.

It seems some of the remineralisation mixes are a pain to get to dissolve however. As such I'm wondering if maybe some nitrates in the water aren't such a bad thing to add even, supposing I have adequate plant growth!

I do need to try and bottom out if there is anything else in my local water parameters to really worry about though, or which an HMA filter wouldn't otherwise remove...
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