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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi! I have experience with shrimp, I have a desktop community tank with cherry shrimp and fish. I also have a bookshelf aquarium with some fancy red tigers. For both of these I go the RO + remineralizer route due to the small sizes. However, I have an old 65g aquarium that I plan to get started up as a community tank. Since the volume is quite a bit larger than the other two, I was planning on just using tap water. However my tap (with water softener) is in the 450-550 TDS range. Additionally the KH/GH seem a little higher than I'd hope for as well.

I have a 3 gallon bowl that I started recently using tap water with the same pool filter sand capping Fluval Stratum (might use different aquasoil) to be used in the big tank and here's the readings I got for that:

PH - 7.4
GH - 10
KH - 15
TDS - 584

For the large community tank using similar hardscape and substrate, I am hoping for a low stock, low maintenance tank with some neos as a part of the cleanup crew. Some day, I might consider an RO/DI filter but currently I buy 5g at a time at the grocery store so I really don't want to be diluting my tap water with that for my water changes. Will neos (and ultimately most fish) be able to thrive in these parameters?
 

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However my tap (with water softener)
Definitely don't use water from a water softener in your tank. You'd want to bypass the softener entirely.

Will neos (and ultimately most fish) be able to thrive in these parameters?
Thrive? Potentially not. Survive? Sure. Some species will do better than others, of course, and some will thrive. You'll just need to find the right critters that work for your tank.

I don't see gH being an issue for many common species and certainly not Neocaridina shrimp. But the high kH could be a real issue with some species and could make it tough to grow some plants.

You could consider using something like peat to soften your tap water or a higher end active/buffering substrate like ADA Aqua Soil Amazonia. Both routes would lower kH a bit. But... to make things easier... have you thought about keeping harder water species instead of common community fish in the hobby? There are some Cichlid varieties that would make for a killer tank, for example. There are also Guppies, Mollies, some Tetras and others that may be good options. I've even seen some Killifish that do well in really hard water.

You said you don't want to dilute your tap water but if you're only changing 10% of your water every week or so, it may not be too complicated. Especially if you go 2 parts tap to 1 part RODI or 3 parts tap, 1 part RODI. That would mean you have to buy RO water significantly less often than you would if you were going 50/50.

Stability is key and once you get your critters acclimated, I think you'll be able to do well with those parameters. Just have to find what works for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the helpful response!

I'm glad I mentioned the softener as that was an afterthought of mine since it's so common place. The water I tested actually came from my outside faucet as that's what I used to leak test the tank and then I reused that water in the bowl I just tested. It looks like my only option in the winter to bypass the softener will be to shut the valve and then run the line clean. So another obstacle for tap water...

I hadn't really looked into more specific hard water types but I will do some digging now. I am interested in Cichlids but I had kind of written them off a while ago. I don't remember if it was aggression or if they're too messy or what it was. I can revisit. However, I think the bigger issue might be plants, I was hoping to over stock plants and under stock fish and ultimately I'd like a bit of a variety of both.

I was thinking of a 50/50 dilution if I went that route but perhaps a smaller ratio to just get the parameters a little more manageable will be a good compromise. I can get another 5g jug for RO water but I have put off water changes on my smaller tanks because I'm out of RO, so I'm not sure if adding another will help that cause or make it worse. I also might need to revisit the benefits of adding my own RO/DI system I guess as well.
 

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However, I think the bigger issue might be plants, I was hoping to over stock plants and under stock fish and ultimately I'd like a bit of a variety of both.
There are plenty of plants you could use. Especially epiphytes like Anubias, ferns, possibly some mosses. Even some Crypts could work well. Just gets a bit tricky with more sensitive plants.

I also might need to revisit the benefits of adding my own RO/DI system I guess as well.
If it's in your budget, you can get a great 5 or 6-stage system for $150-$200. Replacement filter inserts would probably be $30ish, depending upon needs, and you may be able to squeeze 2-3 years out of each refill set.

I use RO for all kinds of non-tank things, too: clear ice cubes, cleaning solutions, watering house plants and other sensitive plants, humidifiers/diffusers, fertilizer solution. Waste water is also useful for outdoor watering, car washing, toilet flushing, mopping, all kinds of stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yeah, RO systems are pretty reasonable it's more that this "free" tank that's just sitting there is getting quite expensive already. But I do think of the RO system as a whole house item more so than an aquarium item. Thanks for the additional ideas there as well.

Speaking of which... Have you actually had success with clear ice and RO water or is it more involved than just that? I've tried with distilled and boiled water but never got any better results. I haven't bothered trying the cooler method yet. What's worked for you?
 

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it's more that this "free" tank that's just sitting there is getting quite expensive already
:ROFLMAO:

Pretty much everyone here is suffering from some sort of Multiple Tank Syndrome. Most of us have at least one tank we wanted to keep cheap that's ended up costing more than a new MacBook Pro.

Have you actually had success with clear ice and RO water or is it more involved than just that?
Yep - just straight RO/DI water. I like to use silicone ice trays/molds so I can tap out any little air bubbles that form during the freezing process. That seems to be the biggest problem I've had in getting them really clear. Have found that some fridge/freezer combos do better than others - especially drawer freezers - because there are more vibrations that get transferred to the ice tray.

My favorite molds are made from really wobbly (for lack of a better term) silicone orbs that seems to shake with the slightest movement. Easy to pop ice out of them, as well. Also find that the cheap trays from IKEA (various shapes) work well because they're relatively shallow. Hard plastic and metal trays just don't work as well.

One thing I've been doing lately (new place, different freezer) is making sure I can stack other already frozen trays of ice under and around whatever clear ice I'm trying to make. Speeds up the process a little bit.

Bonus for those clear cubes that aren't just right? Can use them to cool tanks down in the summer.

But for real - RO/DI systems make tanking more enjoyable even if you only have a single tank. Crazy nice to be able to mix water to any parameters you desire at a moment's notice. You also don't need to get a "portable" system to hide them out of the way. I keep my biggest system under my bathroom sink. I have a faucet adapter and only attach the rigid tubing from the filter when I need to make fresh RO/DI water. Then I tape the waste water tube into a bucket to collect it or just run it down the drain. Some people stress about where they'll hide their filter before ordering one but I've always found mine easy to stash away.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks, I appreciate all of your helpful info. I do have a silicone tray for orbs as well. I'll try giving them some taps next time.

Yeah, I think I've got enough room under my kitchen sink otherwise, I've got plenty of space in the laundry room near all the other plumbing. Again, I'll just have to start looking into things again.
 
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