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Remineralizing RO water

9597 Views 23 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  shinycard255
So I just got my RO/DI unit in yesterday and it's already hooked up. I've done a few RO/tap water mixes and did some water changes on my small tanks. But my question is how do I go about remineralizing my RO water if I just want to use that versus the RO/tap mix? Would GH Booster be what I need, and if so, how much per gallon do I add in? Do I have to remineralize if I'm doing RO/tap mixes (I'd imagine not since I'm adding in tap which has minerals already)?
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GH booster and a kh booster
seachems KH booster is pretty rockin good stuff and just about any gh booster will do
i prefer GLA's mix though
I get my ferts from GLA, but I don't see any KH booster on their site...

Would baking soda work to help raise KH?
they do not have a kh booster. just GH booster

seachems KH booster is good. its called seachem alkalinity

baking soda does work, but its a salt. and supposedly it can wear out over time
i prefer a more long lasting less salt like approach
Thanks HD. I will look into getting some KH booster then in the future. Until then, it's just RO/tap mixes
hey no prob. im here for the long haul

i just wished some of this community was closer to my area
I use Seachem Equillibrium for GH. It is hard to dissolve. It also has potassium.
Barr's GH booster is similar, dissolves easier.

I use baking soda for KH, and have not had problems with sodium even in the tanks where I use the most.

My tap water is just fine for most soft water and hatchery raised fish, but needs more minerals for hard water fish.
I had a Lake Tanganyikan tank that I had to add GH booster and KH booster to for water changes. It had coral sand blended with Turface substrate. Turface can remove the KH from the water, but in this tank it did not.
own stock in Seachem?
GH booster and a kh booster
seachems KH booster is pretty rockin good stuff and just about any gh booster will do
i prefer GLA's mix though
Rockin' good stuff? What's in it?
(many think it's expensively packaged sodium bicarbonate due to the fact it doesn't raise phosphate levels &,,,, Seachem say's it is.)

from the link:
Q: Is your Alkaline Buffer™ a sodium bicarbonate?
A: Yes, it is a sodium bicarbonate based buffer
seachems KH booster is good. its called seachem alkalinity

baking soda does work, but its a salt. and supposedly it can wear out over time
i prefer a more long lasting less salt like approach
fyi; All ferts are mineral salts.
Many exchanges on this topic have occurred over the years including posts from those that test a LOT of stuff.

Once set buffers don't simply "wear out".
Something in the tank can be absorbing the buffer, cation exchange binding to substrate materials, some plants use carbonate buffers when lacking carbon (jungle val does this) or some type of acid being present can break it down. Having used BS for years I can say it doesn't wear out over time. Regarding the sodium content building up to a level that effects anything well, TDS testing and positive tanking results for both flora and fauna I can't prove it's ever happened.

Any reasoning behind the opinion other than just that, opinion?
I think the information posted is all wrong.

If you want the ability to set buffer parameters (KH, pH) to defined levels two minerals are readily available to the hobbyist that mix well. Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate NaCHO3) and Potassium Bicarbonate (KHCO3) with the later being about triple the cost and harder to find.

I've yet to find posted reports of tanking issues related to using BS (and I've looked, and still look from time to time)

Sadly hanging around the forums and generating higher posts counts people tend to believe what I post without further checking information sometimes.
Wish my count was blanked out most days.
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did u wake up on the wrong side of the bed?? there is no reason to ever attack anyone on this peaceful forum
i dont hang around and generate post counts
im here to learn and grow with the community
i'll happily admit when im wrong.. so it looks like im wrong here

NO i dont own stock in seachem and if a similar question was asked again. i would have answered in kind response much the same as i did
and i did read it before ur edit, btu i apreciate the change
I'll try and have a better one right off the next time the need arises without the frustration. Probably posted >500 times on this topic.
What was edited for those that didn't see it was a lot of "I" statements.

Reality is what it is.
If we can't convey good information here on what reality is then where does a newbie turn? Store and manufacturer sites? UGH!

Seachem generates a huge market share making a fortune with expensive and well placed ad gab selling pretty containers as do most in the hobby trade to uninformed hobbyists.
Business is all about marketing and business is good.
Hard to kill off bad information even with modern day forums available on topics like pH, substrate and ferts.
Information just doesn't seem to update and the same stuff is just being repeated over and again.

pH testing as a comparative water measurement. (junk information)

Bagged substrates marketed as nutrient rich when the reality is all they contain is crushed rock that provides minimal trace mineral support at best. (junk information)

Buying pennies worth of chemical salts in bottles full of water with pretty pictures on the label. (GIANT waste of money)

Marketing on an endless list of products.
Products even claiming that if you add it to your water it will 'soften' it.
(seemingly simple question, how can adding something 'remove' something else?)
Might actually find one product or another that causes precipitation out of solution but you won't 'remove' anything.
Folks with a masters degree in chemical engineering will tell you 99.99% of the ad gab is pure crap. I've asked several on a number things.
(Proudly my oldest is in that category with a Masters degree in chemical engineering :biggrin:) (we've paid it off too.)

Away from the topic of ad gab statements with this post being more or less nothing more than a rant. (sorry OP)
Water changes, the answer to all your tanking problems, without even knowing what the source water contains. (The greatest of all junk information)

Most websites contain market driven information attempting to sell products. (imo) For TPT to be community driven we should improve the information available.
Members need the information aid not the vendors.
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Does peat not soften water then? U can add it to the tank and remove it thus removing the cations it has exchanged?
Much like plants remove nutrients and when we trim them, we are removing those nutrients from ever comming back without adding more. Whereas if the plant dropped the leaf it would turn back into its basic forms
Peat moss and any of several other materials can be added to the aquarium filter (or even a filter under the sink, or in the garage) and will remove certain minerals from the water, thus softening it.
However, these materials get filled with the minerals they are removing and then need to be replaced.

Water softening materials often work on an ion exchange principal. For every atom with a charge of +1 they remove they donate one to the water with a charge of +1. The best example is a sodium exchange water softener. Sodium has a charge of +1. Calcium or Magnesium have a charge of +2. When sodium exchanges for calcium one ion of calcium is removed from the water and 2 sodium ions are added. Charges balance.
This is not reducing the TDS of the water, though it is lowering the GH.

Peat moss does this, exchanging 2 ions of hydrogen, H+ for one of Ca++ or Mg++ When peat moss adds hydrogen to the water the pH drops. That is the definition of pH: The ratio of H+ to OH-. More H+ added to the water, pH is lower. The water is also softer. GH test reports lower levels of Ca and Mg.

Some materials adsorb things, that is, the substance getting removed is attracted to the filtering media in a non-ionic way. This is how activated carbon does most of its removals. But, AC is not very active against the minerals we want to remove to soften the water.

Adding peat moss, driftwood or leaves to the tank to soften the water lasts as long as there are materials (usually hydrogen) in that material that can be donated. It does not last forever.
It is easier to replace things like pouches of active resins, or peat moss (I use nylon stockings) in the filter, and you get better water flow through the media for a faster reaction.
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that's what i thought. just wanted to be clarified on that one
good stuff

Soft water opinions.

I'll stand by the statement that nearly all the trade stuff sold for this purpose is borderline snake oil. The rest are additions that modify content but don't remove, (adding = removal?). TDS normally remains about the same or readings increase. If one tested value goes down with the means on hand to find it another goes up by an equal value or increases occur with each item put in the tank. How can adding equal removal?

Biological conversions (like removing plant trimmings) is another and different situation. Harvesting plants is more akin to filtering (imo). The absorbed nutrients and toxins are physically removed with the trimmings like removing soiled filter media.

Organic modifiers are not items normally to be found on the shelf sold for this purpose in most retail hobby outlets. The use of peat or other natural organic modifiers is also not something normally done by the uninformed or newer hobbyist and it also has some real drawbacks. I found it to be a PITA.

Tannins accompany the use of organic modifiers which many complain about.

If used in tank via the filtering method each water change raises tank levels immediately back to source levels in a rapid increase and then the levels tapper back off, another water change is another rise in levels in a constantly repeating cycle of shifting values. That's something we try to avoid with most everything else we do tanking critters and weeds. Steady values are what's recommended, steady temperature, repeated photo period, stable CO2 levels etc. Each useful cycle of this exchange method will be less effective until exhausted also I think.

'Add 'X' amount' of driftwood, moss, almond leaf, adler cone, etc results in 'Y' value of change stable for 'Z' time period (never read that but there are opinions),,,
Isn't this better classed as a random modification? Controlled by the volume of organic material used, flow contact and with each source of the material being purely natural how can you duplicate results and trust the duration of useful value?

A creed of the environmental engineer; The solution to pollution is dilution.
Wanting softer water? The reality is soft water equals less dissolved minerals in solution. It can be achieved by filtration. The commonly accepted methods are RO, RODI or distillation. The rest of the answers are mostly content modification. It also can be independent of pH values.
High pH doesn't always equate to hard water, just increased buffering capacity. Separate Ca and Mg contributing to hard water.

Well explained Diana on sodium exchange water softeners. But surprised at the mention of 'pouches of active resins' in context with peat moss in the closing. Active resins marketed for tank use are exactly the same thing. "Water Softener Pillows" If the instructions on the products are read they all 'recharge' by soaking in brine solution. Using the product water from these type 'softeners' potted plants fail so I don't think it's good for tank use, rather I KNOW it's not. Been there, done that after moving. I struggled with it here for almost a year. That's where my informal education on water really started. Helping to answer posts from folks with 'mystery' problems here on the forum several have traced it back to whole house softeners and no other reason.

Well water here.
Drawn into an open bucket with an aerator running for 2hrs. reads as follows;
Ph 7.2
kh 196.9 ppm
gh 179 ppm
phosphate 1.0
iron (off the scale) Hagen Nurtafin test kit.
Nitrate, Nitrite, Ammonia 0.0
TDS 242ppm
Appearance, off color or yellow and smells, tastes of iron.
Water leaves heavy mineral deposits as it dries, orange iron colored stains on everything. The magnetic sprinkler valves stick and head nozzles plug once a year at a minimum.

Same water ran through a Kinetico RO system for in house use.
Uses salt for regen and particulate pre-filter. Aerator running for 2hrs.
Ph 7.0
kh 196.9
gh 35.8
phosphate .75
Nitrate, Nitrite, Ammonia 0.0
TDS 240ppm
Appearance is clear and tastes clean like bottled water.
The water spots heavy white deposits as it dries.
Potted plants do not survive when this is used to water them.

Same water through my RO unit to the holding tank.
Aerator running 24/7.
Ph 7.0) (but un buffered)
kh 0.0ppm API titration test using 10ml samples. (standard is 5ml)
gh 0.0ppm
phosphate 0.0
iron 0.0 Hagen Nurtafin test kit.
Nitrate, Nitrite, Ammonia 0.0
TDS 2.0ppm
appearance is clear and tastes clean.

Tested values zeroed against samples made with distilled water for standards.
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Sure, I could go on about more water treatment.

A) If you are dealing with something like hard water (high GH) and you want to try peat moss here is the method that I found worked best:

1) Remove most of the minerals first with a method like RO. It does not have to be perfect, and it is just fine to make a blend of RO and tap water (as long as the tap water is acceptable) Or use pure RO and remineralize.
2) Use peat moss more for the tannins and black water effect, not so much for the softening effect, though it will remove some minerals. The effect varies. I have seen some hobbyist posts about peat moss that lowered the GH, KH and pH significantly. I have seen only minor changes. I think it is possible that I am not using much peat moss in what I do, but it may also be the different peat mosses do different amounts of softening.

If used in tank via the filtering method each water change raises tank levels immediately back to source levels in a rapid increase and then the levels tappers back off, ....
This is the other part that I usually go into in more detail when discussing water treatment. If you want to go this route (peat moss or any other water treatment) for your tank then you need to prepare the water ahead of time for water changes so that the new water matches the tank water. Do not depend on in-filter treatments to handle the water that you add for a water change. The varying parameters are not good for the fish and the volume in the filter is small, and anything that will work will get used up quickly.

My method:
Run a blend of RO + tap into a garbage can.
Turn on a pump that circulates the water.
Aim the pump to flow through a nylon stocking of peat moss. (Knee-hi, filled with peat for a garbage can from 20 to 44 gallons)

B) I agree that the water softening resin pouches are not really much good, and indeed they are rejuvenated by soaking in salt. Just like the sodium exchange water softeners that are so common in many homes. It is the same concept. When I tried them in a small tank I could see the difference in the GH test, but it did not last, of course. The next water change raised the level right back up, and the resin pouch was exhausted, required rejuvenation. I threw it out.

C) To properly alter the water to suit the fish you do indeed need to look at all the parameters, including the TDS. Exchanging one ion for another is not lowering the TDS. If your livestock needs the lower TDS then that is the first step. Remove a lot of the 'stuff' from your water. It is easier to remove pretty much everything then remineralize with the right things rather than trying to customize the removals, unless the simple filtering procedures available at the hobby levels suits your tap water.

d) RO membranes remove sodium easier than they remove calcium. Calcium can foul the membrane through scaling, and you have to replace the membrane more often. Doing a pretreatment of running the water through a sodium exchange water softener before running it though the RO will increase the life of the RO membrane.

Interesting that you got 2 such totally different water parameters from 2 different RO units. Was the membrane wearing out?

My water started off better than yours, softer and no iron, but the water company added sodium hydroxide to raise the pH, and chloramine.
The RO unit I had was a 2-part system that softened the water a lot for the whole house, then sent some through the RO in the kitchen. It included activated carbon filtration, particle filter, and sodium exchange as the treatment before the RO unit. The first treatment was really good, produced significantly softer (lower GH) water, and I had several species of fish breeding in it. The RO + just a bit of that water was for even softer water fish. Rams bred in that.
The first clue that my RO unit was getting old was rising GH in the water straight from the RO unit. Since I was adding some tap water anyway for the minerals, I just used less tap water. However the whole system died about then, it was about 20 years old, so I never did figure out which part needed service.

We had originally purchased the whole house + RO unit because we could smell the chlorine (not chloramine) used back then in water treatment. The smell was gone in the treated water. I was not keeping fish that long ago, to test the water.
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Awesome post!!!!
TY! for the best overall explanation regarding peat use I've read.
I used it only briefly and felt efforts vs return didn't contain value for my needs. Wish I had on hand what you just posted when considering it. It would have saved me several months frustration. (bookmarking the post)
Interesting that you got 2 such totally different water parameters from 2 different RO units. Was the membrane wearing out?
Mistake on the system type based on how I worded it and how they class filtration. The whole house system is currently about $3K using resin exchange and spun filter cartridges but the company labels it as cation exchange and RO both on the billings and brochures. The final set of test results I posted are from a traditional membrane type 6 stage RO system which is in use for all tanking needs.

Your correct on sodium and membrane life. Servicing 810g in tanks the membrane lasts on average here over a year before the ratio shifts due to clogging between product and reject or any TDS shift on product is noticed. I run 105g batch cycles to a holding tank and use a flush bypass to surface clean the membrane before each batch, doing that makes a HUGE difference on membrane service life.
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Knowing the equipment maintenance seems to be a big part in getting the best use out of it.
Just wanted to thank diana for the information in her post.

Sure, I could go on about more water treatment.

Shinycard, did you get your answer? :)

As a newbie, I ran into this issue, and I first tried a product that was supposedly ideal, but I later learned it was mostly table salt. Then, I tried Seachem Equilibrium. It's a good product, but it contains a lot of potassium, so if you are dosing potassium as part of EI, you're going to need to account for that.

If you are making water hardness changes with livestock present, it needs to be done gradually. If not, all you need to worry about is how to maintain the level of hardness you desire.

The benefit of products like Equilibrium are the dosing guidelines. They are easy. Add so much in common measurements per 20 gallons. I decided to go a different route and ordered a micro gram scale off Ebay and used my son's graduated cylinders from a chemistry set to mix my own. Since I already had Equilibrium, I pre-mixed it into distilled water and using an on-line dosing calculator, I determined how much to dissolve per volume of water in a pump bottle to raise my GH by the desired amount. Being new to this, I blew it. I exceeded the solubility of the product in the amount of water in the bottle by a long shot. I had sludge in the bottle. :)

I learned from that mistake, and ended up producing a bottle that gives me approximately 1 degree of hardness increase per pump per gallon of water. Since I have a nano tank, I refill with a gallon pitcher. So, I shake my bottle vigorously, and then add 5 pumps to my gallon pitcher, fill with water, then dump into my tank. And that keeps my GH at 5 dH.

There may be some methods to use ordinary household measurements to produce the desired results with common products like baking soda and Epson salt or other alternatives. I've not run across them. I purchased the scale and a GH and KH test kit, and went at it that way. For a nano tank, it will probably be a long time before I recoup my investment. :) For a large tank, I can see where dosing with name brand products could get expensive quickly.

Not to hijack the thread or speak for the OP, but for those offering cheaper alternatives, can you describe how Shinycard would raise the GH and KH using these less expensive raw ingredients. What measurements will need to be made. What equipment is needed. What calculators are used. I think that would be really helpful.
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Shinycard, did you get your answer? :)

Not to hijack the thread or speak for the OP, but for those offering cheaper alternatives, can you describe how Shinycard would raise the GH and KH using these less expensive raw ingredients. What measurements will need to be made. What equipment is needed. What calculators are used. I think that would be really helpful.
Yes I did get my answer within the first few posts (thanks HD). I stopped paying attention once the long posts started, but I'll read more into them once I start really getting into it.

I'm going to stick with GH booster from GLA (since I have it already) and get the Seachem KH booster probably, or looking into another product to help raise KH. I don't have any sensitive shrimp or fish yet, but was only asking since I want to get some CRS in the future.

I have a scale because I EI dose my 60G so no need for that. Still need to get my hands on GK/KH test kits, but that will be eventually. I know CO2 isn't liked by CRS so I'm staying away from CO2 for them.

Other question would be if I need any special substrate for CRS, but that's a shrimp forum topic... I like dirt capped with sand but not sure if that will work with CRS
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