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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I have been EI dosing with 100% RO water. I have read many conflicting and confusing things on this subject.

Is RO water bad if I am EI dosing and my tank has been established using RO water?

I have 2 amano shrimp, some cory cats and some snails.

Thanks!
 

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Plants, fish, microorganisms all need certain minerals. They get these minerals in the water and other sources.
Their cells contain salts and minerals that are in balance with the salts and minerals in the water.
If the water has too few minerals and salts then water tries to enter the cells of the animals (plants have a stronger cell wall). The animals need to pump this water back out. Up to a point they can do this just fine. Fresh water fish all over the world, even in hard water lakes do this.
But if the minerals they need are not present and they cannot get the minerals from other sources, this is bad.

One of the EI recipes includes GH booster. If you are using this, and the GH of the tank water is around 1-2 degrees, this is low, but probably OK, as long as you keep on dosing. If you are not using GH booster with the EI dosing, then I would do this when you do a water change. Add enough GH booster so the GH is at least 3 German degrees of hardness, and make sure the KH is the same. You could use potassium bicarbonate or sodium bicarbonate. The bacteria that handle ammonia and nitrite get their carbon from non-living sources such as carbonates, and some plants can use carbonates as a source of carbon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Are you seeing any issues with algae, plant deficiency, signs of unhealthy fauna? If not I would would just keep doing what you're doing.
I do have some green dust and some small bga algae. Nothing terrible though. My plants do seem to have some deficiency, but I can't figure out what.



Plants, fish, microorganisms all need certain minerals. They get these minerals in the water and other sources.
Their cells contain salts and minerals that are in balance with the salts and minerals in the water.
If the water has too few minerals and salts then water tries to enter the cells of the animals (plants have a stronger cell wall). The animals need to pump this water back out. Up to a point they can do this just fine. Fresh water fish all over the world, even in hard water lakes do this.
But if the minerals they need are not present and they cannot get the minerals from other sources, this is bad.

One of the EI recipes includes GH booster. If you are using this, and the GH of the tank water is around 1-2 degrees, this is low, but probably OK, as long as you keep on dosing. If you are not using GH booster with the EI dosing, then I would do this when you do a water change. Add enough GH booster so the GH is at least 3 German degrees of hardness, and make sure the KH is the same. You could use potassium bicarbonate or sodium bicarbonate. The bacteria that handle ammonia and nitrite get their carbon from non-living sources such as carbonates, and some plants can use carbonates as a source of carbon.
I add 1/4 of GH booster in my 10g once a week. That should be plenty right?

Should I start doing tap water with a declarator instead?
 

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I agree with Diana as to the why and how, as always very well said. Only one thing is that the KH does not necessarily need to be equal to GH or at least 3dKH. In most aquariums a KH of 3 is indeed fine as it helps some bacteria and buffers the pH. At the same some fish and shrimps like a KH of 0-1 and I have grown many plant species at such a low KH with no problems. I also enjoy the low pH at 30ppm CO2. It is my understanding that when enough CO2 is provided even the plants that can use carbonates as CO2 source, stop doing so.

If you use only RO water sooner or later you will run into Mg and Ca deficiency. I do not know exactly what you mean by 1/4 (of what), but you should aim for 5ppm Mg, 15 ppm Ca, GH 3-6. Some added K would not hurt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I agree with Diana as to the why and how, as always very well said. Only one thing is that the KH does not necessarily need to be equal to GH or at least 3dKH. In most aquariums a KH of 3 is indeed fine as it helps some bacteria and buffers the pH. At the same some fish and shrimps like a KH of 0-1 and I have grown many plant species at such a low KH with no problems. I also enjoy the low pH at 30ppm CO2. It is my understanding that when enough CO2 is provided even the plants that can use carbonates as CO2 source, stop doing so.

If you use only RO water sooner or later you will run into Mg and Ca deficiency. I do not know exactly what you mean by 1/4 (of what), but you should aim for 5ppm Mg, 15 ppm Ca, GH 3-6. Some added K would not hurt.
1/4 GH Booster is what I meant. So maybe it seems I should start using tap water with a dechlorinator then?

I never knew I was missing so many minerals that were in tap water.
 

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Each tap water is different.
EI fertilizer (including CSM+B or other trace mineral supplement) is a good source of minerals.
GH is a measure of calcium and magnesium. Research your fish and keep the GH in the right range for them.
People do run aquariums using pure RO and adding the right minerals with GH booster, trace minerals and carbonates. If the tap water does not have toxic materials, then many people make a blend of RO + tap.

GH should suit the fish.
KH can be whatever works, but in general fish that prefer low GH also prefer low pH. Fish that prefer high GH also prefer high pH.
Since pH is usually controlled by KH, then making the KH = GH is a reasonable place to start.

1/4 GH Booster
Always include whatever units you are using.
1/4 teaspoon?
1/4 tablespoon?
Enough GH booster to maintain GH of ____ degrees?
 

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Each tap water is different.
EI fertilizer (including CSM+B or other trace mineral supplement) is a good source of minerals.
GH is a measure of calcium and magnesium. Research your fish and keep the GH in the right range for them.
People do run aquariums using pure RO and adding the right minerals with GH booster, trace minerals and carbonates. If the tap water does not have toxic materials, then many people make a blend of RO + tap.

GH should suit the fish.
KH can be whatever works, but in general fish that prefer low GH also prefer low pH. Fish that prefer high GH also prefer high pH.
Since pH is usually controlled by KH, then making the KH = GH is a reasonable place to start.

1/4 GH Booster
Always include whatever units you are using.
1/4 teaspoon?
1/4 tablespoon?
Enough GH booster to maintain GH of ____ degrees?
1/4 teaspoon. It's the EI method for a 10g. I'm not sure how to measure degrees of GH but it's just a 1/4 teaspoon weekly.

It sounds like you're saying with EI dosing that it should be providing enough minerals on it's own.

Now tap water is certainly cheaper and easier, is there any downside to 100% tap with EI dosing?

I'm starting to figure that whether I used 100% tap, RO, or a mix that it won't be a big deal and impact anything too significantly. Which would lead me to start using tap for the convenience.

1/4 GH Booster is what I meant. So maybe it seems I should start using tap water with a dechlorinator then?

I never knew I was missing so many minerals that were in tap water.
Remineralize your ro water its easy.
I could do that, but if tap water is = to mineralized RO water, then I should probably just use tap for the convenience I think.
 

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1/4 GH Booster is what I meant.
I never knew I was missing so many minerals that were in tap water.
1/4 teaspoon. It's the EI method for a 10g. I'm not sure how to measure degrees of GH but it's just a 1/4 teaspoon weekly.

It sounds like you're saying with EI dosing that it should be providing enough minerals on it's own.

Now tap water is certainly cheaper and easier, is there any downside to 100% tap with EI dosing?

I'm starting to figure that whether I used 100% tap, RO, or a mix that it won't be a big deal and impact anything too significantly. Which would lead me to start using tap for the convenience.

Dosing with RO

Super, now we have a rough idea about your dosing. A very rough estimate would be that 1/4 teaspoon in 10g would add a little less than 1 dGH, so very little but still something.

It is my understanding that the dosing for the GH booster was suggested as a supplement for water that is already remineralized. It should be added in the middle of the 'dosing week' in case plants use a good part of the available Mg, K, Ca . That being said, it is perfectly suitable to remineralize RO water, but you need to adjust the dosing. The GH booster is a ready made mix of CaSO4, K2SO4, and MgSO4.

To adjust KH you will need to add a source of carbonate CO3-2. Diana is right regarding KH-pH, but to me one of the advantages of using RO water is that you can adjust exactly what goes in.


GH can be measured using a cheap commercially available test, same for KH. You pretty much need it in the beginning until you figure the dosing,

EI adds traces and N,P, K. There are other macronutrients that are needed by plants C (from CO2), Ca and Mg are some. RO aims to strip the water of all other molecules, leaving you with almost pure H2O. It is up to you to add what you want/need.

RO or TAP


The correct answer as in most cases is that it depends. It depends on your tap water and what requirements your fish, shrimps and plants have. In some cases the tap water has high levels of contaminants such as heavy metals or other things that create problems in the aquarium. In most cases however tap water is ok to use.
Certain fish and shrimps require very soft water to breed and most people have medium to hard water ( at least in the EU). Certain people are just control freaks or run their aquariums like small experiments and what to be sure what is in there :D 0:)
Remineralized RO is a lot "cleaner"/simpler than tap water. Tap water may have traces of metals, NO3, PO4, etc (these can be good for your aquarium)

Bottom line, if you have no reason to use RO water and your tap water is good enough than don't bother with it, it is not a requirement of EI. The Estimative Index of Dosing, or No Need for Test Kits - Aquarium Plants - Barr Report

Be careful if you decide to go with tap, get the values of KH/GH from the water company. Depending on how high they are, you need to make small changes with tap water. A rapid change in GH/KH can KILL your fauna. Start mixing 10%-50% of your water change from tap and observe your fish behaviour. Also, if your tap water is soft, you might want to continue dosing the GH booster.
 

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I was using 80% RO in my 90 gallon the last 3-4 months and noticed improvements in plants, and even livestock. I have never been much of a test kit guy (not because I'm lazy but because I don't think their all that accurate). Ok maybe I'm a little lazy too ^.^

The thing is, the correct combo of RO vs. tap is going to be different for everyone. Some can use 100% tap... some 50/50, etc. I think the best way to calibrate is to watch your plants and livestock closely. Their health and appearance is more than a test kit could ever show.
 

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1/4 GH Booster is what I meant.
I never knew I was missing so many minerals that were in tap water.
1/4 teaspoon. It's the EI method for a 10g. I'm not sure how to measure degrees of GH but it's just a 1/4 teaspoon weekly.

It sounds like you're saying with EI dosing that it should be providing enough minerals on it's own.

Now tap water is certainly cheaper and easier, is there any downside to 100% tap with EI dosing?

I'm starting to figure that whether I used 100% tap, RO, or a mix that it won't be a big deal and impact anything too significantly. Which would lead me to start using tap for the convenience.

Dosing with RO

Super, now we have a rough idea about your dosing. A very rough estimate would be that 1/4 teaspoon in 10g would add a little less than 1 dGH, so very little but still something.

It is my understanding that the dosing for the GH booster was suggested as a supplement for water that is already remineralized. It should be added in the middle of the 'dosing week' in case plants use a good part of the available Mg, K, Ca . That being said, it is perfectly suitable to remineralize RO water, but you need to adjust the dosing. The GH booster is a ready made mix of CaSO4, K2SO4, and MgSO4.

To adjust KH you will need to add a source of carbonate CO3-2. Diana is right regarding KH-pH, but to me one of the advantages of using RO water is that you can adjust exactly what goes in.


GH can be measured using a cheap commercially available test, same for KH. You pretty much need it in the beginning until you figure the dosing,

EI adds traces and N,P, K. There are other macronutrients that are needed by plants C (from CO2), Ca and Mg are some. RO aims to strip the water of all other molecules, leaving you with almost pure H2O. It is up to you to add what you want/need.

RO or TAP


The correct answer as in most cases is that it depends. It depends on your tap water and what requirements your fish, shrimps and plants have. In some cases the tap water has high levels of contaminants such as heavy metals or other things that create problems in the aquarium. In most cases however tap water is ok to use.
Certain fish and shrimps require very soft water to breed and most people have medium to hard water ( at least in the EU). Certain people are just control freaks or run their aquariums like small experiments and what to be sure what is in there :D 0:)
Remineralized RO is a lot "cleaner"/simpler than tap water. Tap water may have traces of metals, NO3, PO4, etc (these can be good for your aquarium)

Bottom line, if you have no reason to use RO water and your tap water is good enough than don't bother with it, it is not a requirement of EI. The Estimative Index of Dosing, or No Need for Test Kits - Aquarium Plants - Barr Report

Be careful if you decide to go with tap, get the values of KH/GH from the water company. Depending on how high they are, you need to make small changes with tap water. A rapid change in GH/KH can KILL your fauna. Start mixing 10%-50% of your water change from tap and observe your fish behaviour. Also, if your tap water is soft, you might want to continue dosing the GH booster.
Wow thank you so much!! I plan on dosing the same 1/4 tsp of GH no matter what water as it seems to only help. Maybe I'll just go with a 50/50 mix as it won't cause any harm but still add some nutrients.

You said that GH basically adds the same minerals from tap water. I could just up the dose right?

I was using 80% RO in my 90 gallon the last 3-4 months and noticed improvements in plants, and even livestock. I have never been much of a test kit guy (not because I'm lazy but because I don't think their all that accurate). Ok maybe I'm a little lazy too ^.^

The thing is, the correct combo of RO vs. tap is going to be different for everyone. Some can use 100% tap... some 50/50, etc. I think the best way to calibrate is to watch your plants and livestock closely. Their health and appearance is more than a test kit could ever show.

OK maybe I'll try adding tap. My plants seem to have some deficiency but I can't figure out what it is. So maybe tap will help.
 
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