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FAQs on Tapwater Filtration: Reverse Osmosis, Deionized, Distilled Water 2

Related FAQs: RO/DI & Distilled Water 1, RO/DI & Distilled Water 3, RO/DI & Distilled Water 4, RO/DI & Distilled Water 5, RO/DI & Distilled Water 6, RO/DI & Distilled Water 7, Rationale, Selection, For Commercial/Large Output, RO Water Storage, RO Water TreatmentMaintenance/Repair, Deionizing Source Water Filtration, Kati-Ani DI Units, Kold-Steril Units, Water ChangesWater Make-up, Nitrates

Related Articles: Water Purification Using Reverse Osmosis. Reverse Osmosis, A Multipurpose Tool By Mark E. Evans. Water ChangesWater QualitySynthetic or Natural Seawater, Nitrates

Your Link, water trtmt.   2/2/07 Dear Webmaster, My name is Michal and I have just gone through your site, and visited many pages. I have noticed that you have good content on the site. It would be better if we link to each other as reciprocal link place an important role in a search engine ranking algorithm. Title:  Water Treatment Books Desc:  Offers e-books on boiler, cooling, waste and drinking water treatment. URL:   http://www.watertreatmentbooks.com If you wish to have your details on our webpage changed, We would be interested in modification as per your requirements. Please note that the link to your site will be active for 10 business days, if thereafter we do not detect a link to our site from your webpage, it will be assumed that you are not interested in reciprocal link and to be fair to our other link partners, we shall remove your link. We both can benefit from link exchange as it may send traffic through links and also improve ranking in search engines. Best regards, Michal <Mmm, your one title on general water testing might interest our readership... I will add your company name/URL link, but there is no need to reciprocate. Bob Fenner> Cloudy RO Seawater I just purchased an RO/DI unit from AquaFX. Installed it last weekend and made my first 10 gallons of RO water for a water change. Everything was going well. I put a powerhead and heater into the container and let it aerate overnight. In the morning I put some Proper pH 8.2 into the water to bring the pH up. A couple of hours later I added my Instant Ocean. When I came home from work the water was cloudy and I couldn't figure out why. I searched around on WWM and thought that I was doing something wrong. So I dumped that water and tried again. This time I made 10 Gallons of RO. I let it heat up and aerate with a RIO Powerhead for 24 hours. I checked the pH and it was lower than my test kit could read (7.2). I checked the alkalinity and it read low. I received conflicting answers on your site as to what to do next. Add buffer or add salt. I figured that since I added buffer first last time and failed, I would add the salt this time. Added the salt and let it continue to aerate and heat. Woke up in the morning after 8 hours of aeration and the water was cloudy again! The salinity was at 1.020. I don't know what I am doing wrong. Any ideas?  <You state you aerated with a powerhead. Did you actually use the aeration feature, the air line above water line? You probably have excess CO2 in the water which is causing your low pH along with your low alk. I would add something like SeaChem's Reef Builder to your fresh mix to bring the ph to the desired level. As for the cloudy water don't know what to tell you. I'm thinking it may be this Proper PH you are putting in, not familiar with the product, but some ph boosters do cloud the water for a while. James (Salty Dog)><<Mix the saltwater up first... then measure for pH/Alkalinity, and adjust... RMF>>

RO System Bryan again, I have a question on RO units. IYO, what is/are the best RO units out there. <I like SpectraPure.> Looking at buying a new, and everyone claims to be the best. Also anything to look for or look out for? <I generally do not sell or deem necessary the mixed bed DI cartridges found in the RO/DI units. A regular RO unit maintained well with decent tapwater will serve most people well.> Thanks, Bryan <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Funky stuff in water for change Thanks for the quick reply. With regards to the water hardness, and R/O, I have a question. I've read everything I could find about R/O and water softeners. It seem like most people won't make a stand on the softener portion.  <I'm not most people <G>, I have an opinion about most everything...heehee. Softeners (ion exchange) are inappropriate for most aquariums unless the water change schedule is heavy. They all exchange one thing for another and the residual chlorides from sodium or potassium salts accumulate in the aquarium and skew the water chemistry (can wreak havoc with the ALK dynamic). I generally do not recommend them. They are useful for Discus and other fishes that prefer soft water and several times weekly water changes> I do have a water softener and R/0 unit. How do you feel about softeners? Mine uses potassium instead of salt. Is one system better than the other? Is either one dangerous?  <potentially both as per above> The potassium model was much more money. I notice that when I water my yard with it, it dried it out (burned it) so I bypass it for watering. <I would recommend the RO unit instead and reconstitute it sufficiently to make it stable for your fishes> After the wife, kids, and dog are done I'm luck to get a few cups of R/O water a day. What are your thoughts on water after the softener, before the R/O? <wouldn't use it> Also, don't R/O remove all trace elements too? <for saltwater use, RO is fine to have a consistent pure base to start with, then aerate, buffer and salt. Please read through our archives with a keyword search on Ro or DI water. The topic has been covered in the FAQs extensively> Thanks again for your time, Mike <best regards, Anthony>

Re: RO/DI Recommendation Thanks again Steve. <You are welcome.> Today I purchased all I need for the Durso Standpipe. You have been a great help, can I run a few things by you please? <Fire away.> My tank is 125 gallon All Glass with two overflows with WMD 40 RLXT Iwaki pump and Eco System 3612 filer for a reef tank. 1) The Durso drawing has the stand pipe (I purchased 1 1/4") going into a reducer bushing (1 1/4" to 1") going into a 1" threaded male adapter. I found a single fitting that is a 1 1/4" slip bushing reducer that ends with a 1" threaded male (thus combining the reducer bushing and 1" threaded male adapter into 1 single fitting). Is this better or is there a reason for the 2 separate fittings? <This should work fine.> 2) What do you recommend I use at the ends of the 90 degree elbow that returns water into the tank? <That modular piping is nice. It allows for easy adjustment of the water flow. You should be able to find it at any aquarium online store.> 3) Do you recommend I add any power heads to the tank and where should I locate? <My specs show your Iwaki running at about 1200 gph at 4 feet of head pressure. That should be ok for most applications. You may want to distribute this flow around to several different ports.> What about an self rotating? <No> 4) I will use RO water to start (SpectraPure CSP-60). What salt brand do you like? <I like Aquarium Systems Instant Ocean and Reef Crystals, but I have not tried everything out there.> Any other additives to start? <Primarily you want to maintain calcium and alkalinity levels.> 5) Plumbing - I plan to use two 1" flex PVC hoses going into the filter. Out of the filter is a ball value (can't find PVC gate) <In this case, the ball valve is fine. It is merely a shutoff valve, no fine control.> then PVC Union then the pump. Straight up from the pump is a 1" PVC pipe, PVC Union then a T, then across to each end of the tank with a 90 degree up into bulkheads. Sounds good? <Sounds fine> Anything you would do better? <No, pretty much how I would have done it.> Thanks again, Steve <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Copper Pipes Hi WW crew,  <<Hello, JasonC here...>> I've got a rather unusual question to bug you with, my plumbing in the basement where my saltwater tank is set up has copper pipes.  <<Sounds like my setup too... or at least one of them.>>  Would the copper from the pipes be detrimental to the invertebrates in my tank (brittle star, blue leg hermits, porcelain crabs, button polyps, etc...) and if so, what would be the best cure for it?  <<No detriment, no worries.>><Mmm... not so sure... would test for, likely treat... Even if pipes are "old", can release appreciable amounts of copper given "shaking", work on them. RMF>  I am totally for getting and learning how to use an RO filter if necessary, or would some other fix be better?  <<Nothing wrong with RO filtered water, but I suspect you are worrying about the wrong things in this case.>>  I also can't keep peppermint shrimp alive, the turn opaque and die.  <<Need more info here...>>  Would this be from the copper pipes too?  <<Highly unlikely... are the pipes immersed in the tank? Are the pipes highly corroded and the corrosion dripping into the tank? If not, it shouldn't be a problem.>>  Thanks for putting up with a newbie. Jen <<No trouble at all - all very good questions. Cheers, J -- >>

RO/DI Recommendation Bob: <Steven Pro in this morning.> Reading your web site every night. I currently have an 80 gallon salt fish tank for 15 years. Now putting together 125 reef tank. What RO/DI brand and model do you recommend? <I prefer SpectraPure units. Usually I recommend just straight RO units, not a RO/DI. I do not like the wastefulness of mixed bed DI units.> I read you recommended SpectraPure CSP-35 or CSP-60. <These are two different versions of the same product line. You need to determine your water needs to identify the gpd rating, 33 or 60 gpd.> I called the company today and they recommended SP2000-60 for $417 with drinking water kit for $170. <This unit make lab grade water. A bit overkill for aquarium applications.> Seems expensive compared to others I have seen on the web. <The high-end unit plus the drinking water kit is what is making it so expensive in comparison. A plain CSP-60 will work just fine. You can decide if you want the drinking water kit or not.> Thanks, Steve <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

RO Water Hi Bob - <Anthony Calfo in his stead while he travels Indonesia slapping bumper stickers on Pachyderm's rumps that say "Bob was here"> Love your incredibly informative website!  <Danke> I've seen much info on mixing RO water with tap to balance tap water, but not much about bringing RO water into habitable quality.  <it really is the same thing, good sir... re-mineralizing is re-mineralizing whether executed with dry reagents are delivered in hardened water> I should also tell you - I live in the middle of nowhere and the best accessible fish store is Wal-Mart (pretty bad!)  <yeowsa!> so don't really have a local outlet for specialized assistance like this. <gotcha> First - the vitals - I have a brand new 46 gallon tank - no fish in it as yet, it's got another week to 10 days to cycle. I've kept a 20 gal community tank with primarily tetras for 25+ years. I set up the new tank with RO water 5 days ago. I have a Skilter power filter and two airstones for aeration. No live plants either. I like tetras for my tank (pretty, easy care) but might need to adjust my intended occupants depending on what I can accomplish with the water. <exactly... and using a simple buffer solution with a test kit to achieve these goals. Baking soda and aeration alone might do the trick for softer water species> I've used Aqualab I test strips to determine that the RO water is very soft (like 0 ppm),  <IMO the test strips are patently unreliable. I wouldn't take them for free, although I do believe that you have succeeded in achieving pure water. Just don't trust the strips for the fine tuning as you re-mineralize> neutral pH, and high alkalinity.  <OK... here we have a problem. How do you distinguish between alkalinity and hardness... because having stated that pH is neutral (OK)... the aforementioned both sound like incongruous references to the same/similar parameter.> To the new tank, I've mixed in a half gallon of the filtered waste RO water to add a bit of hardness and the minerals which are stripped out - brought GH to about 50ppm, reduced the kH some but still is very high - estimate 450ppm, and exceedingly high Ph (like 8.4+) which doesn't seem to respond to pH down.  <indeed high... unbelievably high unless your tap water is so hard that you can chew it. Do consider that the test strips may not be accurate> I don't have a master test kit and plan to get one this week, so don't have other test values to share at this point.  <ahhh...> Source water for RO is a well with borderline quality - extremely hard (65+ grains), much dissolved calcium and minerals, very low pH, etc. I do have a full lab test on the well water. <K> I am concerned about my RO water being "too" pure,  <agreed> but am unsure what is the best approach to stability.  <perhaps just less tap water mixed in as governed by a more accurate measure of hardness> I have great difficulty dropping the pH on both tanks and use massive amounts of pH down.  <indeed not ideal and all rather temporary> I tried adding some baking soda to the new tank to offer some carbonate buffering, and as expected the pH went up further.  I also put in a couple pieces of coral to add some KH.  <only works below pH 7.6 with such calcite> I suspect that I have zero buffering capability, thus the pH is out of whack and stays there. I have used some EasyBalance to try to bring things in line, but still not there yet. I am considering whether a calcium supplement would be useful to add buffering, even though I'm not looking at a reef tank. I am also looking at buying Pond pH down, because I need so much of it, even though it is difficult to reduce the additive quantities needed for a tank. <way too many chemicals overall... should simply need pure RO to start and controlled remineralization (tap water or buffer). Peat filter for natural aci8ds if necessary> So - my question (yes, there really is some) - what products would you suggest to assist in obtaining and maintaining a balanced environment?  <as per above especially if looking at soft water fishes (tetras, cichlids)> Is there any advice you can offer for "unpurifying" RO water?  <do consider peat plates or pellets for in tank long term assistance> I've done the new tank fish kill thing way too often in the past and would like to think I've learned from past mistakes and will get things in order before I buy any fish to throw in the new tank. I am also wondering if I should stay with the livebearer fish communities for their tolerance to the higher pH.  <its really not a terrible idea... making lemonade out of lemons :) Do consider the colorful African cichlids too> Should I consider live plants to help fix nitrogen and buffer pH? <not satisfactory IMO> Thanks for your assistance. Jeannette Hook <best regards, Anthony>

Water Top-Off Good day everyone, <And you too!> It has been a while since I wrote last. Once again, just a short question. I, like so many others, has been getting tired of continually adding freshwater to my 90 gallon reef tank due to evaporation. I followed one of your links and found some DIY plans for a 5 gallon bottle that replaces the water automatically, and it works fantastic. My question is this - up until now, I had been aerating and heating my top off water. Of course I can't do that now. <You should still aerate and heat prior to filling the 5 gallon bottle.> Is this OK in your opinion? <Not really. You do not want to continuously dose your tank with low pH, carbon dioxide infused water.> I go thru about 5 gallons of water in three days. Thanks as always. John <If you aerate the water and then fill the jug with this "treated" RO water, you should be just fine. -Steven Pro>

Water softener supply for a reef? Hello Mr. Fenner, <Steven Pro here today.> First I want to thank you for you taking the time to help out all of the people you have. Myself included! I have enjoyed WetWebMedia and found it to be totally reliable and very informative. <I am glad you have found the website useful.> This will be my first question to you as I have found just about all the questions I ever wanted to ask in WWM search engine. <I am particularly glad to hear of individuals using the search engine and FAQ files.> Question? While researching a different topic I stumbled across this article on FFE http://support.software911.com/ffexpress/faqdetail.asp? fid=2691. It seems to suggest that using a water softener on a reef tank could be problematic. Specifically it suggests that " I would not use water from a softener as it has been shown to cause problems with the fish's sodium balance". <Yes. Water softeners work similar to deionization units except when a DI unit absorbs a contaminant ion it releases H+ or OH- ion, leaving nothing but plain water behind. A softener releases Na+ and Cl- ions, leaving salt.> I live in Alaska and our water comes from a well, the well water has no problems other than a high iron content. The iron content is so high that I fear if I utilized the Kent Marine Maxima High-S RO unit before the softener that the pre filter and membrane would plug up in a matter of weeks. <Agreed, place the RO unit after the softener. The RO will remove the salts the softener imparts.> I understand that metals are harmful to a reef tank but iron is not that much of a concern? <There is a great deal of controversy on this matter right now. If you care to read about it, check out ReefCentral for competing views by Dr. Ron Shimek and Randy Holmes-Farley. I side with the chemists on this one and agree iron, in moderation, could be beneficial.> In your opinion, would you connect the RO unit before the water softener or after it? <After> FFE is the only place that I have seen mention that a water softener may be harmful to a reef tank and I can't find any contact information on Kent Marine. Should I be concerned with my current set up (makeup water drawn after a water softener and then run through a RO unit)? <No. Many large public aquarium setups are designed just like this.> My reef tank set up in detail can be seen here. http://www.reefaquariumguide.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=16836 <Your tank looks pretty good.> Thanks a lot, K.P. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Measuring pH in R/O water Hi, <cheers> Having recently purchased a 3 stage r/o unit, I was surprised to hear that neither aquarium hobby quality pH test kits nor a pinpoint ph meter are sensitive enough to accurately measure a drop in pH in the treated water.  <huh? I don't follow or agree> Allegedly, testing the r/o water would yield essentially the same pH reading as the tap water.  <ahhh... somebody is either insane or trying to sell you an expensive piece of test equipment... heehee. What is it you are trying to do my friend? Test the R/O effluent? If so... are you trying to (improperly) test it before aerating it (driving off the carbonic acid)? In which case the pH will likely be too low to register on some liquid reagent test kits... but still show up accurately on a pH monitor. Heck... they calibrate those instruments with solutions at 4.0 (7.0 and higher too)!!! Are you saying your pH is lower than 4.0... if so, you have bigger problems than test kit accuracy. Ha! I know... just kidding. Still... catch my drift?>  I've used three popular pH testers, and this seems to be the case. I was assured that the r/o water in fact would have a lowered pH (around 7.0), but that I couldn't measure this drop.  <whoever is telling you this I believe is very mistaken... the process is not so absolute or reliable to support such a statement for SO many reasons. Quality of source water to begin with, type of RO membrane, age of membrane, pressure of water forced through it, etc.> I want to start a discus tank, and would feel reluctant to do so if I couldn't take accurate pH measurements. I would appreciate your thoughts on this matter, and thanks, as always; <good heavens, my friend. Fire whoever has given you that advice and have a beer. Relax bud :) pH testing equipment is reliable and nearly a science. Avoid hobby reagent kits for better readings and know that most monitors from $50-$250 are quite similar and relatively to very reliable... at least for our purposes. They will read accurately if calibrated correctly right down to a pH of 4.0 at which point your discus have all leapt from the tank due to acidosis fright/shock. A $100 pH meter is a fine investment... do enjoy the hobby. kindly, Anthony> Bill Roman

Re: Measuring pH in R/O water Hi, Thanks for your prompt, and humorous response.  <I'm good for something <smile>> To clarify, I recently purchased a Spectrapure, 3 stage Ro system, because your site has spoken well of the brand.  <very fine> When I use Wardley's ph indicator and Aquarium Pharmaceuticals pH indicator to test the tap water <hmmm... I do not personally hold Wardley liquids test kits in high regard... and the while I like the Aqua Pharm dry tabs reasonably well, I do not care for their liquid test kits much better than Wardley's. As a rule... liquid test kits are easily corrupted and have short life spans. When possible... use dry reagents if not digital equipment> And the ro water not the waste) I get the same 8.6 reading.  <highly doubtful... an inaccurate reading. Are these test kits labeled marine use? Have you tested your raw source water... it will be higher... and with such high readings... it's as if bleach or lime are pouring from your spigot>  I just used AquaLabs I test strip and got a 7.0 reading on the RO water. It seems the test strips are doing a better job than the liquid agents in detecting a pH drop.  <wow... test strips... I wouldn't take them for free and I sure as heck wouldn't trust livestock to their readings. Very crude readings> Did I understand you correctly that the hobby quality test kits tend to be less accurate?  <actually some are quite good... dry Aquarium Systems brand kits are affordable and generally quite accurate IMO> I know you guys like Salifert test kits, so I recently purchased some for my salt water set-up. I read your site a lot, and also, as it suggests purchased a pinpoint monitor tester, which is still new in the box but not for long) as I'm still in the process of accumulating gear, and advice.  <yes... enjoy and keep learning> You did convince me not to worry about being able to measure the pH of the ro water. Thanks, Bill <whoa, bud... not my message at all. raw de-mineralized RO water is dangerous... you do want to know where you stand with it. You simply need to learn not to knee jerk react on any piece of advice from the LFS, me or anybody (like assuming that because the test strips gave the most believable reading that they must be accurate/reliable... quite the contrary). The hobby need not be so complicated... research your products and protocols in advance and enjoy the hobby. (e.g.- A check on the message boards regarding the liquid test kits or the test strips would have spared you from buying them with an intelligent consensus). Best regards, Anthony>

Kati/Ani units Hi everybody- Would you happen to know the difference between the 3 size Kati/Ani units? <They are the same, just larger.> There is a 2, 5, and 10. <There is also a 1, just no longer available from Petwarehouse/Drs. Foster & Smith.> Is it just that the resins will last longer in the bigger ones? <Yes, longer between recharges.> If so, do you know an average on how long each size would last? <Depends exclusively on your water, but for reference I have a 2 size model and get easily over 200 gallons between recharges.> Or just a comparison between the three with the same quality water. <If theoretically the 1 would yield 100 gallons of pure water, the 2 would be good for 200, the 5 for 500 and so on.> I have a 125 FOWLR tank. Is there a size that you would recommend? <The bigger the better.> There is quite a price difference between the sizes. <The 5 should be 2.5 times the 2 and so forth.> Thank you in advance. Dennis <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Kati/Ani units Hello again- With the Kati/Ani units....what kind of business would I purchase the chemicals needed for recharging? <I get them at the hardware store and the grocery store.> Is it something that can be shipped or will I have to find it locally? <Locally is much easier.> My LFS only uses RO/DI and only sells the disposable deionizer cartridges and could not offer any advice. <The acid part is Muriatic acid, commonly sold at hardware stores for etching concrete. The base I use is Lewis Red Devil Lye. It is sold at the local grocery stores as a drain cleaner.> Thanks! Have a nice weekend! Dennis <And you do the same! -Steven Pro>

RO/DI Units In continuing my revamping my salt water attempt, I am looking at buying a RO/DI unit instead of my "buy a new cartridge every 50 gallon" tap water purifier. <A wise choice. An RO unit is more cost-effective if you have anything over a 30 gallon aquarium.> What I need to know is this, is there any difference (other than price) in the units I find in the aquarium magazines and the ones I can buy at most retail outlets? <There maybe slight differences in the after filtration aspect. Many of these, post RO, filter again to change the taste of the water. This may or may not affect your aquarium.> They both claim to do the same thing and are both 5 stage units, but the retail outlet units are several dollars cheaper. <Three things, one you may not even need a 5-stage unit. For most people, purifying tap water merely takes a simple RO unit. Two, take a look at SpectraPure. We have a link for them from www.WetWebMedia.com. This is the brand that I sell to my customers. They are high quality and relatively inexpensive. And three, you may want to consider a DI only unit. The most popular one is from Germany, called a Kati-Ani. Please archive WWM for the discussion on both.> Thanks, Robert <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

RO System Hi, Robert. I want to buy a RO system since my tap water has a high silicate content. Do I need to add supplements to the water before adding it to the tank? <Yes, please see here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/rofaqs.htm regarding treating purified water.> Thank you, Bernd <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Distilled Water 1. Can I use distilled water for top off and water changes? <Distilled water is not good for fish tanks. There is too much of a risk of metal contamination. If you want to use purified water, try RO or DI. Please see here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/rofaq2.htm for more information.> 2. Can I make distilled water by filling a 5 gal. home depot bucket and putting on a lid for a couple of days? (how many days) 3. If it is distilled do I need to add Amquel? <<Nope. RMF>> 4. How long is the distilled water good for? Any info would be greatly appreciated! <See the link above for the rest of your answers.> Thanks, Nattalie <Have a nice day! -Steven Pro>

R.O. Unit Hi Guys, I hope you are doing well. I had a question regarding reverse osmosis units. Okay - I currently have a Oceanic 72 gallon bow front and am planning to upgrade to a 175 gallon bow front. I was just checking out a killer RO unit from Seachem called the PINNACLE "PLUS" SERIES REVERSE OSMOSIS UNIT - 100 GPD. This one is around $800 Canadian which is probably about 55 dollars U.S. (jokes:-) However - I don't know if you can give product endorsements but I would like to know what you all thought before I went and made a major investment like that. <I have not heard anything good or bad about the units. I do like other Seachem products and will tell you they probably do not make these in house. More than likely, someone else makes this and they slap a Seachem label on it. Very common in this industry.> Thanks a lot Guys - peace PS - do you know of any cheaper ones that are high quality? <I like and sell SpectraPure. I do not know if they are any cheaper, though. -Steven Pro>

Re: R.O. UNIT Question Thanks for the advice! I am sure that you have saved me a couple hundred dollars at least- I do appreciate your candor as well, I found it very interesting to know that companies are outsourcing their manufacturing needs which was something that I suspected anyways. <Yes, very common on big, specialized items like RO units, fluorescent lamps, etc. The equipment and processes to make such items is expensive and particular.> I love how they sell you a product like baking soda in a 35 dollar bottle called "Super pH Upper" yeah right. I checked the label and it's straight sodium bicarbonate - I think that more hobbyists need to know about stuff like this... <I always like to see what is in the bottle. I tend to stay away from any product that does not have a list of ingredients.> PS - "Super PH Upper is a purely fictional product and any similarity to any other product is purely coincidental and meant to illustrate the purpose of this joke - thank you. <Nice disclaimer. -Steven Pro>

Buffers WWM Guys, I am topping off and doing changes with RO water. Also, I use B-Ionic two-part mix for calcium supplementation and Instant Ocean to keep SG at 1.025, pH is 8.4. How would you recommend I buffer my RO water? I tried using baking soda and it precipitated out when I added Instant Ocean. Why did this occur? <You added too much buffer. The salt mix has buffering compounds, too, and with what you put in first, the pH got too high and drove the calcium to precipitate out of solution. <<Mmm. No, not high pH, just high/er alkalinity. RMF>> I prefer to buffer my water after adding the salt. I aerate and heat the water first for a day. The add the salt mix and mix for another day. Lastly, I test the salt water for salinity, pH, and alkalinity and buffer according to the results of my tests. If you wish to buffer before adding the salt, only add enough buffering compounds to bring your raw RO water to a neutral pH.> I am interested in raising my calcium to 450 from 350 ppm. I have good coralline growth and tolerable slow growth in my SPS/LPS corals. Perhaps I could cut back on the B-ionic I use if I buffered my water? <Perhaps, on use a calcium reactor to really accelerate growth. That is, if you have a large enough tank. I would find it hard to justify the expense if you told me you had a 29 gallon mini-reef. If 75 gallons or more, the money you save on supplements will outweigh the initial cost in a few years.> What should I use for this? <I think Seachem products, Marine Buffer and Reef Builder, but there are other fine products. Aquarium Systems SeaBuffer is also nice. -Steven Pro>

RO storage Dear Mr. Fenner: A quick question(s) for you. What do you recommend to use for my RO water storage? Rubbermaid, Sterilite, etc. will these brand containers be OK? <These are fine... a Rubbermaid Brute with matching cover and wheel base is ideal for most applications> I just don't want any contaminates leaching into the water storage. <Almost all human-intended use containers are fine here. Bob Fenner> Regards, Jim

Re: RO storage Thanks for the quick reply, you and your crew are great!! Jim Sarasota, FL <always welcome my friend... please pass along a good word about our Wet Web Media site to help educate our fellow aquarists... for the love of it!>

Water Changes Hello again, Thanks for the feedback on my previous question. I was reading about water changes on your site. Thanks for taking the time to organize all of this for us. I have a water softener at home, but I didn't come across many FAQ's concerning softeners. <One word of caution concerning water softeners. I have read one report of someone using a brand of salt and not noticing that the salt included compounds that alleged to clean the water softener. These compounds, whatever they were, were toxic to fish.> In an article, Bob states that tap water is just fine. <For some applications> Please give feedback to a possible way of preparing water for a water change. I have a 55g tank and currently doing 5-10% changes every week, depending on how much water I feel like carry over to the tank. Here's my thought: What if I : - filled a ten gallon bucket with straight tap water; water is "softened" but unfiltered - I add no "de-chlorinizers", is that a word? <They are called dechlorinaters and I would use them.> - I put an air stone in overnight - Next day, I add Kent Superbuffer. Is this the kind of buffer I need to add? <It should be fine.> Can I just add baking soda, and if so, how much per gallon is safe? <Use test kits to confirm the pH and alkalinity.> - I continue aerating for a few hours - I then add Instant Ocean salt, mix, and wait a few hours before adding to tank <More like 24 hours.> Does this sound like a reasonable plan? <See notes above.> Up to now, I've just either been mixing salt with DI water immediately, then pouring it into tank without waiting; <This can be dangerous.> or I've been mixing salt and water immediately, then waiting overnight to add it. Neither of my current ways seems appropriate, based on the info on the site. Please help me be a better fish/reef keeper. <My strong preference is to use DI water. Aerate and heat that water for 24 hours. Then add the salt mix and wait another 24 hours. At that point, test for pH and alkalinity and adjust as needed. In another 24 hours, it is ready for use.> Thank you, Randy M. Yniguez, MA <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

RO Water Top off & Calcium Reactors Bob, <Steven Pro in this morning.> I top off my tank with water directly from my RO unit on an automatic system utilizing a solenoid. Do you have any advice on how to keep up with buffering as adding it has created spikes due to the automatic replenishing of fresh water and the fact that I only buffer weekly. Any advice. <This is really not a good idea. While it maybe convenient, it is always best to hold and aerate any demineralized water for 24 hours. This maximized dissolved oxygen and off gases excess CO2. It is the CO2 that is messing around with your alkalinity.> I also was considering purchasing a calcium reactor from Lifereef. Have you heard of their products. Any comments. <Have not used there products. Do solicit comments form other hobbyists on the message boards. I know of two very friendly boards; ours at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/index.jsp and a friend's at http://www.thesea.org/forum/default.asp You may also wish to inquire at both reefs.org and ReefCentral.> Thanks, Liz <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Confusion III O.k. - I think we are almost done!. So my system will shape up to be: 1. 75 gal corner acrylic tank 2. AquaC Protein Skimmer 2. Liverock 4. Deep Sand Bed 5. 2 large external pumps for water circulation 6. An RO device Would you add or take away from the above list? <Sounds like a plan.> (I am planning to add a calcium reactor when money becomes available). <Good> In regards to the RO unit, isn't there a problem of cleaning out beneficial trace elements? <Yes, they remove the good with the bad, but the benefits far outweigh the slight negatives.> How do you deal with that? <By adding some extra buffering compounds after you have tested for deficiencies.> If you imagine a very healthy reef system with a few fishes, some of which will be large fishes with messy characters, with a very heavy algae and coral load, does the above system cut it? <Nothing wrong with the system, but your choices or their descriptions do not go together. Large messy fish with heavy algae load and heavy coral load are all mutually exclusive. You cannot fit everything in one tank. You have to make some choices and compromises.> Thanks for your time and enjoy the weekend! Victor Acquah <I will! -Steven Pro>

RO water storage Bob: Thanks for taking the time to answer my question so quickly. I just need a little more clarification. Should I just aerate the top off water, or buffer it also?  <Both> Should I only buffer if I am mixing salt for a water change? I use Tropic Marin salt exclusively. Jim <Mmm, the best synthetic salt mix on the market... You do measure alkalinity I take it... if this is being supported sufficiently by the water changes, I would not buffer it further. Shoot for a dKH of about 12, no more than 15. Bob Fenner>

Re: RO water storage Bob: One other thing...FYI:  I dose the Kalk at night 10oz over a 10hr period. Then I add top off water during the day when I get up). Is this ok? Jim <About the best protocol. This is what I would do if using calcium hydroxide (we use reactors, and occasionally Kalk, CaCl2). Bob Fenner>

Storing R/O Water Ok, First off... thanks for the great site, and all of your (3) help! Q#1 - I'm contemplating the R/o thing as I'm moving to an area (LA) with very hard water. I've seen many of these setups in homes and they all have puny storage tanks so I see the need for that garbage can setup you've mentioned in earlier posts. My question is this: What exactly is your set up from R/O unit to the "garbage can/storage container"? Do you use a float valve? <No, I just run the line right to the can and keep track of the time.> (all details please). I'd like to hide the garbage can in a closet near the kitchen where, I'll be hooking up the R/O. Q#2- Can you suggest any particular brands of R/o makers or all they ALL good?? <I prefer SpectraPure. We have a link to the webpage on our links page.> Q#3- Is there anything that's already been created as an entire unit for aquarium use or would it be easier/less expensive to put something together for myself (from home depot for instance)? <I always buy the 32 gallon Rubbermaid trash cans from Home Depot. I also highly recommend the four wheel dolly for moving the can around.> Thanks, J <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

RO water storage Dear Mr. Fenner: I have a quick simple question. Should I aerate my RO water storage? <Yes, for sure> I would use water from this storage to top off, make Kalk solution, and any water changes necessary. Also should I use a RO water conditioner before adding to the tank (top off), Kalk mix, and mixing salt (water changes)? Thanks <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm and the links, FAQs listed at top of this article for more detail, input. Bob Fenner> Best Regards, Jim in Florida

Re: RO water storage Bob: Again I must thank you for all your input. Buffering my top off water will be new to me. What buffering agent should I use in the top off water & what numbers do I shoot for? <Simple sodium bicarb. mostly. Please see the WWM site re these questions (and more that I/we can/do anticipate), perhaps starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm and the FAQs files beyond> Also note I use NatuReef's products. When I add my top off water every day I also add their ALK & Hard plus (their form of liquid buffer) a cap full of each. That seems to keep my ALK stable with everything else I do. Will buffering the top off water throw this off? Thanks for the expertise! Jim <S/b fine. Bob Fenner> FYI: My test results of tank as of 1145AM ALK 10.5dKh Total Hard 6.31%CaCO3 Ca 460mg/liter <Looks good>

RO I have high phosphate in my tap water--0.1ppm <<This isn't "high". RMF>>--so I bought a GE brand reverse osmosis unit. This RO water still contains about the same amount of phosphate, so I installed a Kent post DI canister. The water output after the DI still contains 0.1ppm of phosphate according to my test kit. Any thoughts? <although such water purifiers do not guarantee to remove all inorganic/organic phosphate... do consider that your colorimetric test kit is unable to read below .1ppm accurately. Such hobby grade kits really are poor quality. Still useful though. Have you tried to test the effluent of your RO (the reject water) to confirm that a higher level of phosphate exists there? It should... else more reason to suspect the test kit is inaccurate or unable to read. Do try other test kits for comparison. Kindly, Anthony>

RO and Kalk Hi, I'm going to do more research on the Wet Web site. I knew I needed lighting (probably VHO)  <many choices among lighting. Decide your inverts first for the long run and then a lighting schemes to suit them. If you have your eyes on SPS and clams in the 2 year picture... you may need MH> but you also recommended a buffer for my R/O water top-ups (nightly) and a new skimmer.  <actually I recommend buffer for all demineralized water, but not so much for nightly dosing.... Kalkwasser imported at night is best (because it tempers the pH drop at night)... while buffer is best imported by day when the lights are on and pH is highest (buffer will not raise any higher like Kalkwasser will)> Could you please give me your preferences on both?  <hmmm... if you care, please do read my strong opinions and reasoning on the disfavor of RO units (wasting water). Do consider for upgrades in the future to DI units.> By the way Bob's book is on the way...can't wait to get it.  <a fantastic read! One of the best works on aquarium science to date IMO> Thanks again Anthony, Ken. <best regards, my friend>

RO units Hello, <cheers, Anthony Calfo in your service> I am pondering the acquisition of an RO unit.  <a dreadful choice compared to a deionizer for the sheer volume of water they waste. Even pressurized $1000 units still have a ratio no better than 1:1 which means that you will put 100 gallons of water down the drain for every 100 gallons that you use. Truly shameful in my opinion. Do read through the archives here on WWM (FAQs, Google search please)... there is ton of information on this subject with various perspectives there> The thing is my marine tank is only 29 gallons, I also have a few freshwater tanks, a two 55s an 80, and a 125 turtle tank. I use tap water treated with prime for the freshies, I'm sure RO water would help with algae problems in those tanks.  <that is not necessarily true... may even be completely wrong. Unless you have tested your tap water and know it to be the source of your nutrient accumulation problem (the cause of the algae)... high phosphates for example. Else, you simply have a nutrient export problem (overfeeding, overstocking, lack of protein skimming, carbon not changes often enough, water changes too small or infrequent, etc)> From what I have been reading on your RO FAQs, I would need to store the freshly made RO, heat, aerate, buffer, and some other stuff.  <yes... for some freshwater and most all marine application> Right now I purchase sea water from the LFS that has been purified for aquarium use, and top off with distilled water (should I aerate the distilled water before topping off?).  <yes... all demineralized water should be aerated then buffered else you waste buffers in the tank or salt mix> It seems that my current method would work better for me considering the small scale that I am working with.  <perhaps> I suppose if I got an RO unit I could separate the output into two containers, one for fresh water and one for marine, and then treat them accordingly from there. Any thoughts? <hmmm... using the waste effluent of the RO for freshwater tanks? Not likely you could even use it all as expensive hobby grade models are 4 to 7 gallons wasted per 1 good gallon produced... most are worse especially if your tap water is hard/bad. Overall... it is a dreadfully wasteful process... do look into rechargeable two column DI units. They don't waste a drop a nd can be tempered buffered with a little hard tap water back into the collected mix for a cheap reconstitution without wasting any water> On a side note, your FAQs are great. Wet Web Media is rapidly becoming my only source for aquarium information. Best Regards, Gage <thanks kindly for saying so... best regards, Anthony>

Tapwater & Copper I just got my annual tap water report from the local water company and wanted to pass a long some information for those still considering whether or not they should invest in a RO or DI unit. The Federal standard for copper in drinking water is 1.3 ppm. That is the action level, defined as, "The concentration of a contaminant, which, if exceeded, triggers treatment or requirements, which a water system must follow." In plain English, the copper level can get as high as 1.3 ppm before they are required to take measures to lower it. The average of 50 household sampled this year was 0.23 ppm, still plenty high enough to kill any and all invert life. -Steven Pro <Thanks for this... the federal level has "gone up" over the years. I recall it being 0.5 ppm free cupric ion, then 1.0... Bob Fenner>

Top-Off Water pH Problems Sorry to bother you with another question again so soon, but I am at a loss as to what to do about my top-off water's pH. <No problem.> I purchase RO water from my LFS. I've tried Kent's Osmo-Prep as well as Seachem's Marine Buffer, but what keeps happening is that the pH is fine as soon as I add it to the RO water, but by the next day the water is highly acidic and below my pH test scale. I aerate the water as soon as I bring it home and keep it aerated as I use it throughout the week, but it will not maintain an acceptable pH. What I'm trying to do is have freshwater constantly aerated and pH adjusted so that I can just pour it in the tank once or twice a day to make up for evaporation. Can you recommend a way to do this? Or do I need to pH adjust the top-off water each and every time I add it? <You should not need to keep adding buffers everyday. Perhaps you are just testing too quickly and the RO water has not had enough time to mix with your buffers. I use Seachem Reef Builder and Marine Buffer, about 1/2 teaspoon of each for every five gallons, and have not had a problem.> Thanks so much again for your assistance! Karen <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Top-Off Water pH Problems Steven, Thank you for your reply a couple of days ago, but I am still having the same problem. I aerate the RO water for 24 hours with an airstone, then add my buffer, mix it, and continue to aerate. But the pH still plunges for me. This morning, for instance, I added my buffer and tested it 90 minutes later. It was at 8.4. But now several hours later I tested it again (after being continuously aerated) and it is now down to 7.8 again! It keeps driving my main tank's pH down whenever I top it off. I've tried Kent's Osmo-Prep, Seachem's Marine Buffer, and both together. What am I missing? Please advise. <I was talking to Anthony about your problem today and he suggested running the same little experiment that you outlined above, but instead open a window in that room. There are strange instances of people living in well insulated homes having increased levels of CO2. See if that does not correct your plunging pH. If not follow-up and we can discuss this further.> Thanks again, Karen <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Top-Off Water pH Problems III Steven, As always, thanks for your prompt response. I don't believe increased CO2 in our house is the issue -- our house is not well-insulated, the doors are constantly opened with kids and dogs going in and out, and my top-off water is aerated by a drafty fireplace. <Okay> HOWEVER, I think you may have pointed me in the right direction in that the water isn't getting aerated well enough. I kept thinking that it was something I was doing wrong with the additives, but instead I think it may be a combination of my cheap air pump running through too much tubing. I was using the same 8' of tubing that I use when I aerate water in my large trash can for water changes, but I have now cut the tube down to 4' for top-off aeration and I also plan on upgrading my cheapie air pump in the next couple of days. Could you possibly recommend a good-quality air pump that doesn't cost an arm and a leg? <My all time favorite was the Tetra Luft pump. Discontinued by Tetra, but Coralife is selling them now. They are one of the most powerful pumps out there, but far from the most expensive (not cheap mind you, but more bang for your buck than others). I also like the Tetra Tec Deep Water pumps, not the regular ones.> What should I be looking for in terms of PSI and cc/min. for aerating 5-10 gallons at a time? <This is a pretty small amount of water. Most air pumps do not tell you PSI or anything. Many just say good for up to so & so gallons. I would get something rated for at least 25 gallons.> Does any particular airstone do a better job at aeration (wood, glass, ceramic)? <Glass or ceramic. While on the subject, I use a Mag-Drive 500 in a 50 gallon plastic drum for holding my deionized water. I place the pump in the bottom aimed straight up. It creates a lot of turnover, surface agitation, and heats the water.> Lastly, since my pH kept going down in my main tank due to the top-off water, I had to buffer my main tank with Seachem's Marine Buffer a few times over the last 2-3 weeks. I'm kind of afraid to ask, but did I cause any harm by doing it this frequently? <Possible> Could calcium or alkalinity have shot up to dangerous levels? <Perhaps alkalinity and then had an effect on calcium levels.> I don't have calcium or alkalinity test kits (yet). <Yet is the important word.> You guys are SO helpful, and I am so grateful for your assistance and information. -Karen <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

RO Preparation I heard you have not been getting your WetWebMedia mail so I am going to try this (hope it is ok): Anyway I know you are suppose to aerate the RO water for at least 12 hours before use but how much aeration is required. I prepare 5 gallons at a time with a Power Sweep 212. Not a lot of bubbles are produced by the powerhead. Is this ok? Shaun Nelson <Fine if you aim the powerhead up in some fashion to create a lot of surface turbulence and therefore gas exchange. -Steven Pro>

Ro unit, Iodine Bob, I have been trying different methods of controlling green and red algae. One method was purchasing distilled water from a local store and using that to make salt water. <Expensive, time-consuming, bulky> I use RC salt because I am slowly adding soft corals to my tank. I would like to use my tap water instead of buying it. What kind of RO unit could I buy to help with my problem? What exactly should I be concerned about besides phosphate in my tap water?  <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm and go to the R.O. FAQs link on top...> I would like to starve the green and red algae. I even have Caulerpa, but that helps a little. My protein skimmer works hard daily, I have to clean it out every 2 days. I purchased bubble coral and Xenia. The bubble is doing great, but the Xenia was acting funny until I add iodine and then 2 days later it was back to normal. What exactly is in the iodine that the Xenia likes and how much lighting does it need (hours)?)? <Please look up the Xeniids, FAQs on WetWebMedia.com. For the latter, it's the iodine/iodide element, ion itself... this matter is a part of Pulsing Coral (and our) essential nutrients. Bob Fenner>

R.O. v. R.O./DI? (Antoine's opinion... others may vary) Hi Bob, <crew member and author Anthony Calfo in your service> Please comment on the advantages/disadvantages of an R.O. v. R.O./DI system for my 125 gallon FOWLR...  <Both produce very high quality water... but I wouldn't take or use an R/O unit for free. Hobbyist grade units under the best circumstances (new membrane, new prefilters, tempered source water) still only yield at a 4:1 ratio. High grade units (like car wash models) are still only 1:1. That means if you spend $1000.00 or more on a unit that produces at 1:1 (under ideal circumstances only) you will still waste 1 gallon of water down the drain for every good gallon you collect. And in the case of the hobbyist models...there will be 4 to 8 gallons down the drain per. I quite frankly don't have the shame to send likely 500+ gallons of water down the drain just to fill a one hundred gallon tank. And then the water changes, evap water, etc... please! It kills me. The reject water is going to be over 20% more concentrated with all of the undesirables than the raw tap water that you didn't want to use in the first place. So unless you plan on starting your own salt lake or have stock in the water company. Go DI! No membranes to replace (little or no memory to DI resin even in the long run), combined recharge chemicals neutralize and can be drained (caustic but easily degradable, and again... easily neutralized together). And an average recharge costs $2-3 dollars per several thousand gallons of purified water (depending on how close to "average" hardness your source water is... still cheap any way that you look at it!). And there is no waste water. As far as brands... hmmm, I have experience extensively with one brand only (and liked them well enough to spend several thousand dollars on multiple units but still have qualms with them). Let me defer you to the message boards to talk to a wider scope of users for you to make an intelligent consensus from. My strong suggestions are to buy/add a one micron prefilter to the likely 5 micron standard. And add a PolyFilter unit after the carbon chamber. So... at least have 5 micron floss, then 1 micron floss, then carbon, then PolyFilter, and then your two column DI. Add special filters as necessary (phosphate, silicate, etc).> and please recommend a trustworthy manufacturer for each system... Thanks, Knef <best regards, Anthony>

From Tapwater to DI Hi Rob, <Steven Pro this morning.> Just a quick question, if you don't mind. I've recently switched from tap water to DI water, to cut down Phosphate and Silicates. Seems to work OK, the brown algae has reduced noticeable, green algae still there though. Anyway, of greater concern is a drop in pH from about 8.5 to 7.5 (assuming my test kit is accurate!). Could using DI water cause the drop? <Yes. Any purified water has to be aerated and buffered before use.> What can I do to stabilize it at 8.5? <Aerate and heat the DI water for 24 hours. Then add your salt mix and test pH and alkalinity. Then add buffering compounds to adjust to the proper levels.> I probably have to get a KH test kit anyway to verify the tank's KH, but could KH have an effect on pH? <Yes, they are inter-related.> Calcium seems to be OK, about 380 - 400. Oh, just thought of one other thing, at about the same time I started using DI water, I switched brands of salt from Coralife to Instant Ocean. Any effect? <Yes, probably for the better.> Regards, Anthony <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

From Tapwater to DI Follow-up Thanks, Steve. You just confirmed my suspicion. By the way, what do you used to buffer to water? <Any of the commercial preparations for marine tanks; Aquarium Systems Seabuffer, Seachem Reef Builder & Marine Buffer, etc.> Regards, Anthony <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Water Purification Thanks for your suggestions regarding sea urchins; so far, they're doing well. We've found that using a Tap Water Purifier greatly increases survival of all aquatic life here - I guess that our water is less than perfect. Since we use so much water, I've been thinking of getting a more substantial system - reverse osmosis/deionization or KATI/ANI towers. Do you have a suggestion as to which is the best, for basic improvement in water quality? I need water for both freshwater and saltwater aquaria. <Reverse Osmosis units are my general recommendation for most people. They are easy to use and easy for keep working properly. On the other hand, I have and use a Kati/Ani system and love it. It was about the same initial price as a comparable RO, but the on going costs are considerably less. The major downside is recharging the unit. To do this you have to handle some fairly nasty chemicals, sulphuric acid and sodium hydroxide. These are both dangerous. The other major downside to all deionization units, including the Tap Water Purifier, is if you continue to use them after the resins are exhausted, they will continue to exchange ions. Everything that was absorbed since the last new cartridge or recharge can now become imparted into the newly processed water. You have to determine, can you closely monitor the resins change color and are you safely capable of recharging the units.> Thanks very much. -Ann <You are welcome. -Steven Pro

Salt Water Tank Questions Anthony...Thanks for the fast response the other day  <always welcome> and I love your website.  <thanks again... but its not my website <wink>... Bob Fenner is Santa, we are just the elves (no short jokes please!). In fact, it is a great collaborative effort of many seen and unseen folks. They will be sure to see this, my friend> Since the information that I have been seeing appears accurate I would like your opinion on some topics for which I keep getting conflicting opinions. I have been using distilled water in my 105 gallon marine fish only tank. Does this provide any advantages over the use of tap water which is relatively hard? <it really is a disadvantage if you are not aerating it and then re-mineralizing it before use with Seabuffer of some kind. Distilled is too pure and a burden on the alkalinity of marine aquaria. However, once re-mineralized (with the good stuff only, so to speak) it is indeed better than many sources of tap water which are seasonally changing and sometimes laced with contaminants> The second part of the question is if R.O water provides any additional benefits. <not really... and I don't care for it as the process is very wasteful of water. De-Ionizers are much better IMO> My tank is about 5 months old and I am still getting brown algae on the decorative corals.  <yes.. definitely a sign of nutrient export deficiencies> I thought that by using distilled water I would cut down on this.  <only if the nutrients were coming from your tap water. It is more likely that your skimmer doesn't produce enough skimmate daily or that you overfeed/overstock at least a little> Is this accurate and what aside from bleaching the corals can be done to eliminate the algae? <simple nutrient control.. protein skimming alone can cure it. Also carbon, water changes and more careful feeding techniques (do look into feeding and algae topics in the archives of this site)> My tank is 28" deep and I have been using 50/50 and 10,000k fluorescent bulb to light it for approximately 5 hours per day.  <really not enough light. And light alone does not cause algae... nutrients under light cause algae> I like the look of power compacts, is this the way to go (and if so what wattages for a 48"x18'x28') and which bulbs. Will heat be an issue. <If you don't have or will have corals... the lighting is largely an aesthetic preference. Heat is not an issue with any of the well made light canopies... or at least it is quite minor> Thanks again and keep up the great work. <with kind thanks, Anthony>

RO Silicate Removal Hello to all. I just have a quick question regarding silicates. do r/o units remove silicates, I am using one and it removes phosphates but what about silicates. I have heard several opinions some saying they do others say they don't. I cant seem to find any test equip to test for them. I want to remove any chance of having diatom outbreaks (hate them). if r/o units don't remove them is there any good products that do. thanks very much, love the site but couldn't really get an answer to my question so I thought I would ask. <Some units do, some don't. It depends on the membrane/brand. Deionization units will remove silicate. -Steven Pro>

Nitrates in Tap Water Dear Mr. Fenner: <Bob is off in Australia right now leaving the rest of the WWM crew to pick up the pace.> I have a 135gal tank with African cichlids in it. They are all doing wonderful. Have even had Kenyi produce fry, and Jack Dempseys also. My question is the Nitrate level is always high. Have tried placing reducers in the canister filter, but it really doesn't help much <Not very cost effective either.> so last night I set some tap water out....and tested it this am........and found my problem......the Nitrates are high 50-110ppm in the tap water. <Wow.><<Yeeikes... dangerous for human consumption... RMF>> What can I do to reduce them in the tap water before adding this water to the tanks. <The first thing I would do is request a report from your local water authority. By law they have to send you one every few years and whenever you ask. That seems really high. I know there is a federally mandated upper limit, but cannot recall the exact number at this time. Your only corrective course of action is a RO unit. You may want to consider a large unit to produce drinking water, too.> Please help......all my other parameters are great......do weekly water changes.....with gravel vacuuming...but still can not reduce the nitrates. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Sincerely, Shirley <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

R/O Water <Anthony Calfo in your service whilst Bob is away whistling Dixie> Have ordered a RO unit and have been reading thru F&Q. In yesterdays questions someone asked about RO and made me wonder if I understand correctly. RO water is stripped of hardness and Alkalinity.  <yes...completely de-mineralized if good> So you need to reset the alkalinity and PH w/ s/t like SeaBuffer.  <sort of...but before you do, you must aerate it for 12+ hours to drive off carbonic acid that will waste added buffer (in salt mix or as supplement). AFTER aerating... you should then add a sea buffer to "re-mineralize" it for seawater use as evaporation or to make seawater. It will be more stable as such> Let me go over this and see if it sounds good. Take the fresh RO water, add nothing, set temp and aerate for about 24 hours. Then add (this is where I'm not sure about next step) SeaBuffer (b/f salt?) <yes, before salt> to set the pH and alkalinity to correct level  <doesn't have to be perfect... just close. Near 8.0 would be nice before adding salt> and aerate for another 24 hours.  <just a few hours will be fine> Then add the salt and set the S.G. and let aerate for another day.  <again... a full day is not necessary. Really overnight for first aeration, a few hours for SeaBuffer and another 6-12 hours for salt circulation is fine. 24 hours to properly make seawater is possible. Extra aeration may not help much> Let me know if I need to do s/t different. Thanks Bryan. <nope...short and sweet my friend. Anthony>

Well Water Vs. RO Water Just one more question. I live in northern Indiana and my well water is very hard. My ph is usually around 8.1. <Wow!> I get my water for my tank from a home faucet that does come from the water softener. <It will add salt (NaCl) to your mix and may cause problems in the long run.><<Mmm, more likely excess sodium alone. RMF>> I have been thinking about going to my LFS and getting R.O. water for my tank. Is this necessary? <It may not be necessary, but definitely better. Look to buy your own RO, much more cost effective.> Or is my good old well water OK for my saltwater tank? <Hard water is ok, but metals and nutrients are not. You would need to have your water tested and monitored routinely for peace of mind. Seriously look at an RO.> Thanks for any info. Diggy <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

New Tank (expensive water, much more... re set-up) Hello, I've written a couple of times now but the exciting has finally happened!! We got our 90 gallon tank yesterday and have it up and running today (after some sweat trying to figure out the filter!) We let the fresh water (we bought 100 gallons of distilled water from Wal-Mart, what a sight!) <Awfully expensive and heavy to carry home. You might want to take a look at purchasing your own RO unit to make your own purified water source. Besides, RO water is better than distilled.> circulate for about 8 hours and inspected for leaks. (If you can't tell I purchased your book, love it!) Then we added a bag and half of instant ocean. We plan on letting that circulate for at least 24 hours. Our set up includes an all glass 90 gallon tank with overflow, a sump, protein skimmer, and one power head (the skimmer has it's own power head). OK, here come my questions. 1. Should the protein skimmer be off while we circulate the salt in the water? ( I thought I read something of the sort but I'm a little confused.) <You can turn it on as it will help to increase and maintain high levels of dissolved oxygen, but it should not really collect anything.> 2. We're going to be using live sand (bioactive live aragonite) and live rock. We got 3-10 LB bags of the aragonite sand for the substrate. Our problem is, we're going to add the sand once the pH, salinity, and temp are norm (hopefully tomorrow) but then we may not be able to add the live rock for a week or so. Will that be OK, or should be hold off on adding the sand until we can add the live rock?? Then once we add the live rock (planning 100 lbs. cured) we're going to cycle the tank with that. <You can add the sand and then later add the rock. This is better than vice versa, because the sand is going to cloud your water for awhile.> 3. In the meantime we're going to have a 10 gallon quarantine tank cycling with damsels. <Please just use one damsel if that. Better to put a sponge filter in the main tank while rock cycling and move the sponge filter over to the quarantine tank after.> So according to your book, once we cycle the main tank with the live rock (2 to 4 weeks) we should add about 40-50 snails and a few hermits to pick at the algae that may be growing?? Do I need to quarantine the snails and hermits and if so should I put them in the quarantine tank with the damsels right away so the algae doesn't get out of control?? <You can put the snails in the main tank with quarantining. Follow the acclimation procedures outline here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimat.htm> 4. What are the essential elements in a test kit that we need to buy?? I don't want to buy a kit that tests for too few things or too many. I want to get what I need at one time. <Critical tests for the beginning are pH, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Specific Gravity, and Temperature. Then depending on what you do, Calcium and Alkalinity maybe needed.> OK, I think that's it for my beginning questions. I'm sure I'll have many more. Thank you so much for your time and energy. You'll be a great resource for us!! Thank you so much. Katie <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

RO Filtration Question So I purchased an RO system so that I can begin making my own salt water and top off water for my aquarium as suggested by Steven Pro. It wasn't that hard to install and I'm happy I did it. I purchased the Premier 5 stage system from Costco after hearing good things about it. The quality of the water is great, but it's slow. I went on their website and it seems like the system is only rated at 18 GPD. BUT... they also sell other replacement membranes that are anywhere from 25 GPD to 75GPD. Is the membrane really all that determines how much water gets produced by the filter? <Those ratings are for best case scenario. Things that effect performance are total dissolved solids in the water, line pressure, temperature, age of pre-filters, etc. -Steven Pro>

Question about using my tap water versus RO Hello there <Steven Pro> (fill in name of reader) ... quick question about using my own tap water versus getting an RO system. I know that RO is the best way to go for pure water. But if it's not absolutely necessary, I'd like to forego the $250 charge (before installation because I can't do it myself) and also the hassle of installing it into my rented apartment that I plan to move out of later this year. <RO units do not needed to be "installed". Take a look at the Spectrapure site on the links page. Their RO units can be connected to any hose bib fitting and disconnected when not in use. You can also get adapter fittings from your hardware store to make it attach to any faucet.> So, I've been lugging back 20G at a time of premixed salt water from my LFS... not cheap or easy on my back, but oh well. <Definitely, not the easy or economical route.> Well, I got bored tonight so after I tested my tank (all levels ok, except for my way too high nitrates at 70+) I decided to test my tap water. The nitrates read zero and the phosphates were zero too. <1.) These parameters will more than likely vary seasonally. 2.) There is more to be concerned about than just nitrate and phosphate in your tap water. 3.) Typical test kits only test for inorganic forms of phosphate and are unable to record organic phosphate.> I live in Marina Del Rey, CA if that matters... between Manhattan Beach and Santa Monica. Is there anything else I should test for? <The other major contaminants of concern would be copper, aluminum, iron, dissolved organics, etc. Many not able to be tested for.> I didn't bother with Ammonia or Nitrites. Does this mean my tap water is good enough to use to premix salt water? <Not necessarily, see above comments.> I would still "age" the water a couple weeks before using it for water changes. I want to put the water into a large covered Rubbermaid trashcan on my balcony, with a heater, a pump for circulation and maybe an airstone. <24 hours is all that is required> Since my goal is lowered nitrates through many water changes (due to my "messy" tankmates, and Natural Nitrate Reduction seems difficult at best) I'd hate to do it if the water wasn't "pure" enough in your opinion. Assuming it is good enough, what about use as top off water (non-aged), or should I age that too? <All should be dechlorinated, aerated, and heated.> Thanks, my back is looking forward to your reply!! <I would take another look at the RO units. They are not as difficult as you have been led to believe. -Steven Pro>

Reverse Osmosis Hello Bob, Bryan again. <Hi Bryan, Steven here.> I'm going to order a RO unit, was looking at the Kent Marine's products, are these good units? They have a Hi-S (high silicate removal TFC membrane) is this for real or is it just a selling tactic to sell more expensive membranes? <No, they are a higher quality membrane. I am partial to the Spectrapure units. Their website is on the links page.> Now to my real question. From the F&Q's I think I understand that RO removes heavy metals, chlorine and even chloramine, nitrates, phosphates etc.. and other small particulates in water. This type of purification softens the water so an additive for pH and Alk must be added. I'm going with a FOWLR. Would a two part like B- ionic help (read that the added calcium will help w/ coralline algae growth on LR) or can using s/t like SeaBuffer or reef builder that sets pH and Alk in one step work. <I would use the SeaBuffer from Aquarium Systems. It is just as effective and a lot cheaper.> Thanks for all the great help. Bryan <We are all glad to help whenever possible. -Steven Pro>

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