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FAQs on Tap/Source Water Use for Marine Aquariums 3

Related Articles: Treating Tap water for Marine Aquarium Use, Water Purification Using Reverse Osmosis,

Related FAQs: Treating Tapwater 1, Treating Tapwater 2, & FAQs on New Water Treatment: Rationale/Science, Chemicals (Chlorine, Chloramines, Trihalomethanes...), Filtrants, Techniques/Tools, Testing, Troubleshooting, Products by Manufacturer/Brand, DIY Treatment Chemicals/Tools, & Water Changes

A Cnidarian. pic by DianaF in N. Sulawesi.

Researching for a new tank; FW sys. H2O trtmt., Mbu puffer...     10/12/19
First a little background. When I lived in NY I had both freshwater and saltwater aquariums for over 10 years. I used regular tap water for the freshwater tank and I had a e-spring filter for my saltwater.
<Ahh, the water/source filter>
That setup worked perfectly. I recently moved to Dallas Texas and was thinking about doing a very large freshwater tank but while doing research, I keep running into more questions.
Everyone here says the water here is hard. And it is. It also tastes bad.
<Ah yes... do know re; even so, better than the liquid rock we put up w/ in S. Cal>
I purchased a new house and was recommended to install a water softener system for the house which uses salt. I have not installed it yet. How would I make sure my appliances and bath water are clean without this? And how would I maintain a tank if I do install this?
<I would definitely skip using such ion-exchange, salt charged water for potable and aquarium uses. Too much sodium... You could have a dual set of plumbing, or at least one line that skips such a water conditioner (outside of the house outlets do so). Oh, and there are other means of whole or partial house water filtration. I use some R.O. mixed with tap myself...>
I am trying to keep a tank for a Mbu puffer, silver arowana and maybe a stingray.
<DO study up re the Mbu... get really big and MEAN! Likely to bite the other fishes. Bob Fenner>
Researching for a new tank /Neale       10/12/19

First a little background. When I lived in NY I had both freshwater and saltwater aquariums for over 10 years. I used regular tap water for the freshwater tank and I had a e-spring filter for my saltwater. That setup worked perfectly. I recently moved to Dallas Texas and was thinking about doing a very large freshwater tank but while doing research, I keep running into more questions.
Everyone here says the water here is hard. And it is. It also tastes bad. I purchased a new house and was recommended to install a water softener system for the house which uses salt. I have not installed it yet. How would I make sure my appliances and bath water are clean without this? And how would I maintain a tank if I do install this?
I am trying to keep a tank for a Mbu puffer, silver arowana and maybe a stingray.
<The main thing to recognise here is that a domestic water softener is not what you want for fishkeeping. Since you're an experienced fishkeeper, I'll cut to the chase: domestic water softeners don't de-mineralise water, they remove temporary hardness (i.e., carbonate salts) using an ion exchange system, typically using sodium chloride. The result is water that will lather nicely, reducing laundry costs, and won't create limescale around pipes and heating elements. The downside is that the water has increased levels of sodium chloride, and the permanent hardness (typically sulphate
and chloride salts) isn't removed at all. So what you're creating isn't deionised water, but simply mineral-rich water with a different composition to the tap water you started with. It's debatable whether the amount of sodium is actually high enough to be harmful to drink, though most water softener companies install a bypass tap in the kitchen so that people have the option to drink the un-softened water (which is what most doctors recommend, simply on the basis of 'better safe than sorry' rather than any actual science). It should also go without saying that typical water softeners do nothing about nitrate and phosphate levels, nor ammonia and chlorine. Cut a long story short, if you do need to soften your tap water, you'll need an RO system operating separately from the domestic water softener. The eSpring system is simply a carbon block with or without a UV filter that does a bit of polishing to tap water, and doesn't meaningfully change water chemistry. It might well improve the taste of the water as far as you're concerned, but isn't making any difference to your fish. It's the old truth about any cheap solution like this -- if it really did work, we'd all be using it! RO filters are much more expensive, but widely used by marine aquarists simply because they actually work. They remove minerals as well as nitrate, phosphate, etc. What you get is essentially pure water, to which you can add whatever mineral mix you need, whether marine salt mix or something like Discus or Rift Valley salt mix. In any case, Stingrays are astonishingly expensive to keep successfully because they need essentially nitrate-free living conditions, which usually means RO water unless you happen to have tap water with well below 20 mg/l nitrate. Stingrays (and indeed Arowanas) don't care much about water chemistry, and will thrive in medium hardness water (up to about 12 degrees dH) provided water quality is excellent. There's plenty of info on RO filters elsewhere on the WWM website, but if you need any further advice, please do ask. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Researching for a new tank       10/12/19

Thank you for responding. I checked the house and there’s a garden house outlet right outside the window where the tank will go so I can fill with garden hose and run the filter for a few hours. And for top offs I’ll just collect water in a brute and let settle. This was I can still have the water softener for the house and pipe water for the tank. Does that seem like a better option?
<Yes it does; if you don't mind the inconvenience of heating the water up, I'd store a week in advance of use (for regular vacuuming weekly and water changes). Bob Fenner>

Request suggestion on water conditioners       10/5/18
Dear Bob/Neale, I hope you guys are doing well. My question is regards to the water conditioners that one gets and those who claim to remove heavy metals from tap water. Now I know; that dechlorinator is something that everyone needs to add in tap water .
<Actually; I don't add unless am changing out more than a quarter or so volume of water for new. Sanitizers et al. in new/mains water appear to be "complexed" with materials/biota in the system>
now we have municipal water and we dont use RO systems or distilled water.
I have read that even though municipal water is well filtered but at times because it comes through cemented and copper pipes it may get leeched with metals like iron And copper which are deadly for fishes. so do u recommend use of the above mentioned water conditioners or maybe activated carbon ?
<Either, both can be useful>
Also over here fish shop guys have huge turn over of water and they dont use any water conditioners other than dechlorinator neither do they have any RO units so should I assume that its okay not to use water conditioners other then dechlorinators?
<In many places in the world this appears to be the case. Storing water for a week ahead of use will allow most chlorine based biocides and metals to dissipate. Short term water use is better done with the use of dechlorinator/dechloraminator, and/or activated carbon use.>
Kindly advise Thanking you Raj
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

well water /Carole      10/12/15
<Hi there!>
I have a 43.5 g. saltwater tank with 26.5 refugium. The display tank has 4x39W 36” fluorescent tubes on for 6 hr/day, and a MagDrive 5 and MagDrive 7 on 24/7 with an Aqua C EV-120, housing @ 50 lb live rock, 2 false *percula* clownfish, 1 yellowtail damsel, 1 Coral Beauty angelfish, all quite healthy and long-lived.
<Is this a fish only tank or do you have some coral as well? What kind of macro algae are you growing in your refugium and, for my final question, when you say "healthy and long-lived", how long are you talking?>
My problem is continuing cyanobacteria. I am on untreated potable well water and it is not practical to consider RO water <any particular reason why not? A good RO/DI unit can be purchased for less than $200 these days and they do a very good job of removing dissolved minerals/metals/etc... from the water and don't require hard plumbing and are considered a necessary part of equipment by many people. Also, are you adding a buffer to your well water/check the pH on your water? How frequently do you do water changes?>.
I have tried many ways over the years of at least reducing it, including vodka treatment
<Your well water is most likely your culprit and vodka dosing isn't going to do anything to help. Your well water may have something that the cyanobacteria love, not necessarily nitrates/phosphates. Water parameters from your tank would be a huge help here - (pH, ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, phos, calc, alk, etc..) as well as pH from your well water> .
Within a day it starts showing again, so I have just been putting up with it. My freshwater tank shows some green algae, but no Cyano, and to much less degree <whatever is in your well water is feeding the Cyano in the saltwater tank much more readily than in the freshwater>. My question is: would treating the prep water for water changes with bleach help? <absolutely do not treat with bleach> If so, how much for how long and how much dechlorination is suitable?
<Your problems with the water will not be helped with bleach. Bleach will kill bacteria, fungi, viruses, etc.. but not do a thing about what is dissolved in your water that is causing this issue. You would be better off with a good RO/DI system and, barring that, a UV sterilizer which will help reduce the Cyano as well>
Thanks for your help -
<No problem! ~ Carole>
Gai Burnett
well water /RMF     10/12/15

I have a 43.5 g. saltwater tank with 26.5 refugium. The display tank has 4x39W 36” fluorescent tubes on for 6 hr/day, and a MagDrive 5 and MagDrive 7 on 24/7 with an Aqua C EV-120, housing @ 50 lb live rock, 2 false percale clownfish, 1 yellowtail damsel, 1 Coral Beauty angelfish, all quite healthy and long-lived.
My problem is continuing cyanobacteria. I am on untreated potable well water and it is not practical to consider RO water.
<Mmm; impractical? Such units are VERY inexpensive to procure and run.... AND if your potable has issues... you should move forward for your drinking and cooking needs in addition>
I have tried many ways over the years of at least reducing it, including vodka treatment. Within a day it starts showing again, so I have just been putting up with it. My freshwater tank shows some green algae, but no Cyano, and to much less degree.
My question is: would treating the prep water for water changes with bleach help?
<Mmm; not likely... can only tell by analysis of the water, or actual use/bio-assay of the chlorine bleach treated water. This is NOT the route I would go>
If so, how much for how long and how much dechlorination is suitable?
<A day, then removal w/ Thiosulfite.... again.... there are other approaches to BGA control. READ here:
AND the linked files above, AND
on WWM re RO, AND get a unit.... WITH an auxiliary pump if your pressure is low>
Thanks for your help -
Gai Burnett
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Top up water. Source water quality f'      7/25/13
I live in a remote area which has self made pressurised water from an underground well. People are told not to drink the water
<... for what reason/s?>

 I know it has a pH of around 7.6.
<Not a problem... Our tap runs 8.2 or so here in San Diego>
I am writing to ask do you think as I am unable to get RO water
<Mmm, one doesn't "get RO water"; you make it... IF your source water is pressurized, this isn't hard to do; otherwise you'd have to pump/pressurize it to drive the water molecules through the reverse osmosis membrane/s>
 should it be ok to top up with human consumption Mineral water or other drinking water?
<Should be; dependent on the life you're keeping; what you want to do with it... Some aquatics prefer softer, harder, more/less dKH, dGH... >
<Let's start at the approximate beginning here: WHAT is the make up of your mains/supply water? Someone has a certified analysis (or should have); or you can have a QA lab generate... You NEED to know the make-up of your tapwater... For all purposes. Is this clear? Bob Fenner> 
Re: Top up water.     7/26/13

Hi Bob,
<Hey Adam>
Thanks for your reply and dedication. I am living on an island in SE Asia so things are not that easy to arrange. However you have given me an idea I will try and contact the manufacturer of the drinking water and let you know.
<Ah yes! They should be able to supply you with "simple" water to use of not too-high expense>
Kind regards,
<Cheers, BobF>
Specification of pH from Nestle Water (bottled water for top offs, SW)      8/2/13

Hi Bob,
I have the tech specs and below the chart additional information following questions I asked Nestle.
<I see these>
I am using the Minere water in the right hand column. Do you agree it should be ok for topping up a marine tank?
<Mmm, well; the values didn't come through in table form and I do have a concern w/ both sulfate and copper content. IF the water is/was of the higher stated values I would NOT use it for top off purposes. Again, I would get/use an RO device on whatever pressurized water source you have... and if not (very) pressurized I'd buy or rig a contactor... see Poly Bio Marine's site re>
Kind regards,
Adam Aarons.
<And you, Bob Fenner>
From: Goodfood.Nestle@th.nestle.comSubject: RE: Specification of pH from Nestle Water
Date: Fri, 2 Aug 2013 10:10:05 +0000
Dear Mr. Adam
We can provide only parameter result. We are not expert about ornamental fish keeping so we cannot answer whether our product “harm marine fish” or not.
Nestlé Pure Life
6.5 – 8.5
Total hardness
80 – 90 mg/l
100 – 110 mg/l
< 0.4 mg/l
< 0.007 mg/l
< 0.013 mg/l
< 0.010 mg/l
< 0.2 mg/l
20 – 30 mg/l
7 – 9 mg/l
< 5 mg/l
60 – 70 mg/l

200 – 300 mg/l
2 – 4 mg/l
100 – 130 mg/l
< 1 mg/l
< 1 mg/l

Bicarbonate is not exactly Sodium Bicarbonate. Bicarbonate serves  a crucial biochemical role in the physiological pH buffering system.
Chloride is not exactly Calcium Chloride.
Sulphate or Sulfates (SO4) is the salts of sulphur. They  have a detoxifying effect and thus the digestive function as well
Copper is one of contaminants which must not exceed 1 mg/l, according  to Thai regulation (MoPH).
Magnesium is needed as a key substance in proper functioning of  nerves and muscles and healthy maintenance of bones.
Any enquiry of product related, you can contact us 02-6578601 or Goodfood.Nestle@th.nestle.com
Top Off Water.       3/16/15

Hi Bob,
<Hey Adam>
I have managed to source water for topping off my natural sea water tanks called Nestle Pure Life with the following specs:
pH 6.5 -8.5 (I have Seachem Reef Buff handy which I find excellent)
Total Hardness 80-90mg/l
Nitrate less than 0.4mg/l
Nitrite less than 0.007mg/l
Ammonium less than 0.013mg/l
Manganese less than 0.010mg/l
Calcium 20-30mg/l
Magnesium 7 - 9mg/l
<Mmm; over time... if you're using natural water, or a good deal of top off vs. water changes; or have a "good deal" of biomineralizing life; you may find that your livestock will appreciate Mg supplementation... can be
simple additions of Epsom/MgSO4, MgCL2....>

Sulphate less than 5mg/l
Bicarbonate 200-300mg/l
Chloride 2-4mg/l
<And... if you have much in the way of photosynthetic life/livestock/metabolism.... Potassium addition>
This is human drinking water, do you think it will be ok for topping off?
<Per my cautionary statements above>
Kind regards,
<Bob Fenner>

Water collection & filtration     11/1/12
Good morning
I just have two questions:
1) We had heavy rain in my area do to hurricane Sandy so I decided to put buckets out to collect water (not roof run-off), is this fine to use in my tank?
<Mmm, maybe... one has to judge whether there's "not too much" that has been collected along w/ the water... air pollutants, gunk on the way....>
2) I have a 125 gallon F/O (a few pounds of live rock and Carib-sea oolite sand), diy wet/dry trickle filter and a Reef Dynamics 180 skimmer. Thinking about doing away with the wet/dry to change over to a 40 or 55 gallon refugium set-up. Do you think this would work with such a heavy bio-load ?
Tank contains a blue spotted trigger, yellow tang, Picasso trigger and emperor angel
<The Emperor will need more room than this w/ growth. Bob Fenner>

Is this statement correct? <<RMF>>     8/23/12
"Hi there, I have two questions for you: 1. Can I use carbon"
<<Activated, catalytic... not all aquarium use/designated carbons are of use here>>
 "to break up the bond between chlorine and ammonia rather then using conditioners (de-chlor)? <Yes> And how long should I wait, 24 hour? <Should be sufficient.> 2. My brother asked me a silly question, do fishes know their owner (I think he meant the person who feeds them)? <Fish can definitely learn who feeds them and respond by coming to the top of the tank. -Steven Pro>"
<<The responses are accurate. Bob Fenner>>

Question regarding using drinking water for my fish room 7/10/12
I own a fish room and have a question about water. I keep getting huge bills from my water company, and complaints from my landlord because of my water usage. My question is can i use drinking water from a water company (not bottled) for my fish room?
<Mmm, likely so. Do ask re the make-up of this water though... no fluorine, chlorine added...>
 They can deliver with a water truck. I only breed freshwater fish, might do marine in the future.
<Am very surprised that the delivered water is cheaper than the mains... I'd make a deal w/ the landlord to just pay a bit more for the latter>
Looking forward to hear from you and Thanks.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: HIGHER LOWER OR LEVEL... and water/ SW use trtmt.    3/4/12
Thank You so its the conventional directly underneath the DT. Presumably option 2 sump high above tank is the worst because of gravity and head pressure.
<With greater additional risk of plumbing issues, leaks>
Although in your Invertebrates book you discuss upstream and downstream refugium placement and seem there to be saying that beneath the DT is not as good as level, remote or just above the DT even a floor above. However elsewhere you use the phrase 'gravity always lets you down' So, are you saying that refugium upstream and above is ok but not the sump etc or have things changed and the high above option no longer favoured for refugium or sump or anything else?
<All else (rarely the case) being equal, this is the case. However... you are new to the hobby, this gear being expensive... am guessing that seeing, dealing w/ more of the not-so-attractive aspects will detract from your enjoyment... better to hide the sump/refugium>
A second question I believe you and others skip RO and just do DI or is it the other way round..is that true?
<Almost in all cases RO by itself is fine... going the route to deionization is not worthwhile... as you're adding more ions as salts, foods, dissolving substrates...>
Evans article in WetWeb is positive about RO
<... get/use your own reverse osmosis unit if your water is questionable.

Water/Make Up Water 7/4/2011
<Hi Sam>
I just put a dehumidifier in my basement where my tank is located. It really draws out a lot of water. Can this water be used in the tank. I would guess it is like distilled water with some dust in it.
<And likely some copper as well. Most dehumidifiers use copper condensing coils to remove the moisture from the air. I would not use the water.>
The dehumidifier is giving off heat and my tank (24 gallon) temperature is up to 84. Don't know if a fan will help.
<All depends on what your room temperature is.>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Fresh Water From Water Store/Sea Water Make-Up 10/11/09
Hello crew,
Just a quick question on filtered water to mix salt/top off. I've been buying filtered water from this water store who is famous for his water for drinking...not for aquarium water use. I wonder if this is safe to use rather than buying RO water from my LFS w/c is triple the price. My LFS is using this 5 stage Spectrapure(?) sorry not sure of the brand, and this water store is using this big filtration system, I ask the owner what kind of filtration he's using and could not explain to me the process... all he can say is that he spent a lot of money on this system ... he also have this ultra violet lights where the water passed through it to kill bacteria...also I've been seeing bags and bags of Morton brand salt in his store which according to him he also uses as part of the filtration system.
<His filtration system likely consists of a mixed resin bed with the salt being used in a water softening device. I'm sure it's safe to use but I'd bet the dKH is lower than would be using tap water, and is likely low with the RO water unless your LFS buffers it after the purification
Thanks in advance....
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Treating, storing FW for aquarium use   6/21/09
Thank you very much. And Mr. Fenner, please answer one more question.
When I used to have a saltwater tank I would keep the water for water changes in a large plastic trash can with the salt mixed in it and with a water pump operating to keep it stirred up and help it release the gases, etc.
<A good practice James>
Now I have went
back to fresh water and what I have been doing is just getting water out of the tap the same day I removed the old, treating it to dechlorinate it and put it in the tank. Is this OK, or should I be keeping the water for changes in a container like I did with saltwater? Thank you, James
<Is much better to store change-out water ahead of use. Please read here re: Gosh... I don't find a good set of collected stmt.s on WWM to refer you to. Perhaps you'll write this up. Bob Fenner>

Re: Treating, storing FW for aquarium use  6/21/09
Thank you, is it OK to store the exact amount of water I need for a change out in buckets and keep a towel over them without using a pump to keep the water circulating?
<Is best to try to keep it moving, doesn't need to be anything fancy, an old air pump will do.>

Testing tap for coral killers 06/15/08 Hi, <Hello!> I have a tank stocked with xenia, snails, & live rock. I added the xenia about a month ago and it doesn't look to off from what it would look like in the wild but still it's not up to snuff. So here's my parameters: temp 80, dKH 14, Ca 350, spg 1.025,pH 8.1.?I suspected it was the pH causing the xenia to not look so good so I aerated overnight (w/window cracked) and it didn't help. <pH is a definite factor in xenia health, yours is low.> Now I use DI water and read somewhere that this can cause a flat pH. <If used unbuffered, yes. Water is water, it's what we dissolve in it that counts.> So I'm thinking of using tap water after aging it for at least a week. <Not a good plan, in my opinion> I know copper is deadly to inverts and I'm going to test nutrient levels... Are there any other metals/toxins I should test for in the tap water? <Many...not available to hobbyists> If tap water is a bad idea in this tank regardless of my efforts do you think RO or Kold Steril units will produce a higher pH? <Pure, unoxygenated water will have a mildly acidic pH direct from any of these sources. You should aerate your water thoroughly before using it, buffer all your top-off water, and make sure you're doing weekly water changes of at least 10% to keep your water parameters in order. Built-up nitrogenous waste will lower the pH of the aquarium, as will certain deficiencies caused by old water.> Thanks, <No problem.> Greg <Benjamin>

Tap water conditioning 5/18/08 Hi, I have a 10 gallon freshwater tank with several live plants, a few platy's, 6 cardinal tetras, 2 ottos and several amano shrimp. <Have a similar system, though I'd personally consider Platies too large and Otocinclus too delicate for such a small tank.> I do weekly water changes of about 2.5 gallons and it's been doing well for about a year but recently I've noticed the pH dropping a lot over the week. <This is common with small tanks, which is why we recommend aquarists keep systems at least 20 gallons in size. Smaller tanks are inherently unstable, and the downward pressures on pH through nitrate, organic decay, etc. tend to overwhelm the carbonate reserve in small volumes of water. Performing larger water changes will help, but it's still a struggle.> It's about 7 after the water change but will drop down to just over 6 by the end of the week. Everything in the tank actually seemed okay but I figured this can't be good for them. <Indeed, it is not; livebearers of course need a basic pH simply to survive, but all fish are stressed by rapid variations in pH.> I tested the hardness and alkalinity, which I hadn't done before, and both were 0, or at least didn't register on the test strips. <There's your problem. Are you using softened water by any chance? You should never, ever use water from a domestic water softener in aquaria. It is exceedingly bad for them. Instead use the plain vanilla unsoftened water out the tap, plus dechlorinator of course. Of course Platies and shrimps want hard, basic water whereas Cardinals and Otocinclus want relatively soft and acid water, and that's why they aren't recommended to be kept together. But a happy medium around 10-15 degrees dH and pH 7.5 will suit them all reasonably well. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/fwsoftness.htm> I then tested the tap water and it had 0 gH and kH with a pH of 8.8 to 9.0. <Yuk.> I talked to 3 fish stores in the area and got three different answers about the best way to handle this problem. The first one said to use Wardley Bullseye pH 7.0 which I did. <Garbage. The pH isn't the issue here, and if an aquarium store told you this was the product to buy, they were anxious to make a sale, not fix a problem. Understand this: pH itself is not important. Fish will adapt to wide range of pH values, provided the pH is stable. So while Cardinal tetras come from water where the pH is around 6, perhaps even lower, and need very soft and acid water to breed, they will live just fine at pH 7.5. The main thing is that the pH doesn't bounce up and down all the time. How do you fix this? By raising the carbonate hardness, the stuff you measure in degrees KH using your alkalinity test kit. Carbonate hardness is the "antidote" to acidification. All aquaria experience acidification; what matters is how well you minimize that acidification. Water changes and carbonate hardness are your two tools. For general fishkeeping, you need a carbonate hardness around 5-7 degrees KH, even slightly higher if you're keeping livebearers and African lake cichlids. Do see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/fwh2oquality.htm> This stabilized the pH but the general hardness and alkalinity still barely registered on the test. <Indeed. These "pH potions" are chemical buffers that hold the pH at some value. They don't do anything about hardness or carbonate hardness. They are massively misused (and misunderstood) by the hobby. This is what they're for: First fix the carbonate hardness in an aquarium to where you want it. This should move the pH to a useful value. The pH potion is then used to help stabilize that pH. So if you were running a softwater aquarium for Discus, you'd already lower the carbonate hardness to around 2-3 degrees KH. Filtering the water through peat will now bring the pH to an optimal value around 6. But because of the lack of carbonate hardness, the pH is at severe risk of dropping further, so you add the pH potion to stop that.> I then talked to another person who said to do the same as the first but to also add Seachem Equilibrium to raise the gH and kH. <Much better advice, though this product is a very expensive way of raising hardness. Far easier to either use your hard tap water (if you have that) or else add some calcium carbonate (such as crushed coral) to a filter so that it dissolves into the soft water and buffers against pH changes. Alternatively, you can add commercial or DIY "Malawi Salt" mixes. The DIY mixes are cheap and use regular household ingredients. There's a recipe elsewhere here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebindex/fwhardnessfaqs.htm You likely won't need to use a full dose as you would for a Malawi cichlid aquarium, but 25-50% of the dose should work nicely. Add to each bucket of water, mix thoroughly, and test with your kits. Add water or salt mix as required to get the optimal value.> I wasn't able to get to the store for a few days so I thought I'd add some Tetra Flora Pride to see if it had any effect and figured it would be good for the plants too. <Irrelevant.> I only added half the suggest dose but three or four of my Amano shrimp died over the next two days. I think it must have been the Flora Pride because I also have a five gallon tank with some Amano shrimp and they're fine even though I added some Bullseye 7.0 to that tank too. <Unlikely the Flora Pride since these shrimps are widely kept in planted tanks; much more likely the shrimps finally succumbed to variations in water chemistry.> I finally made it in to another fish store, all three stores are fairly far away, and this person said to stop using the Bullseye because it contains phosphorus and will cause algae problems. <Least of your problems, but I'd stop with the pH potion anyway.> He suggested adding one or two teaspoons of Marine salt and then some Kent pH Stabilizer to the tank. <Marine salt isn't what you want here really. It might help the shrimps and Platies, but if you are using domestically softened water, you likely have a LOT of sodium in the water already. Domestic water softeners don't de-mineralize water; what they do is swap carbonate hardness minerals for sodium salts, making the water easier on your plumbing. But the elevated sodium levels are pretty nasty to your fish.> Looking on-line this didn't seem like such a good idea and I'm worried that I'll end up killing everything if I mess around with things too much. <Agreed. A potential risk if you make lots of changes without really understanding what you're doing.> The tank water seems fairly stable at the moment with a pH of 6.8 and I did a water change to dilute out the Flora Pride and Bullseye a little bit. How would you recommend that I treat the tap water for future water changes? <First confirm whether you're using softened water or your tap water happens to be extremely soft without going through a domestic water softener. If the former -- stop using the water from the softener, and use unsoftened water. If the latter, I'd personally make up some Malawi Salt mix, add to each bucket of water as required, and over a week gradually change the water 20% at a time so the fish have a chance to acclimate to harder, more basic water.> I was only using Tetra Aquasafe but it seems like I need something else to stabilize the pH over the week and I don't know if it's important for the long term health of the plants or fish to raise the gH or kH. Thanks, Mike <Yes, extremely important. Cheers, Neale.>

Tap Water Use 3/20/08 High guys, quick question about water for a salt water tank. I live in Toronto, good tap water. Do I need to use reverse osmosis water for my reef tank?? <You may be able to get away with tap water depending on the quality (actual test results are good). I still use RO regardless of tap water quality. Even with good tap water it can vary in throughout the year, RO water helps to keep things consistent.> Or can I get away with using an average under sink water filter?? Considering Rainfresh to remove 99.9 of chlorine. <This company markets basic carbon filters to full under sink RO units. I assume you are talking about the carbon filter. This will help remove chlorine, but still be sure to aerate the water for a day or so to dissipate any that may be left in the water.> Someone told me I may have a lot of phosphates in the water. <You will need to actually test the water for this (and nitrite, nitrate, hardness, etc.) to be sure, this alone may necessitate the use of RO.> I did buy a large skimmer that is rated for 250gallon tank. My tank is 125. <Good, this will help keep your water quality up, but will not help if it starts out bad.> Thanks for your info. <Welcome, have fun, Scott V.>

Tap water purification -12/22/2007 Hello, I, like many others, am trying to avoid the waste of an RO unit. <I'm honestly not sure why so many people are concerned by the "waste" water produced by these units. Unless you're worried about your water bill, it's really not that big a deal. If you're just generally concerned about "wasting" water (though water is actually never truly wasted, just recycled though water treatment plants-- though, obviously, there is some environmental cost to the recycling), you could always use the waste water to wash your car or your dishes or what have you. You could probably even drink it (especially if you put it through one of those PUR drinking water filters).> I am in the process of setting up a 72 gallon aquarium with fish, live rock/sand, softies. I have tested the basics of my tap water source with good results <What are "good results?" Did you use a TDS meter?> and have had freshwater tanks for years without problems/algae. Would it be acceptable to fill a Rubbermaid container with tap water (mix salt, add Kalkwasser, heat) and filter with a canister filled with carbon and poly filter pads overnight while saltwater ages? <I suppose so. It mostly depends on the quality of your tap water. If you live in rural Montana, the water is practically pure coming right out of the tap. However, this isn't the case in most states and cities around the US. Using tap (even filtered through carbon in a canister filter) is not usually ideal. However, if this is to be for a fish-only tank, you should be fine with it. Best, Sara M.>  P.S. Of course, don't forget to dechlorinate! :) -S.M.

Tap Water Treatment -- 12/07/07 Hey Eric what's up? <<Hiya Don!>> I have a tap water question, my tap has 1.0 ppm ammonia, no nitrite or nitrate or phosphate. <<Okay>> If I were to fill a 90 gallon can and throw Amquel + a power head and salt for a week, would all bad stuff dissipate and would it be ok to use for water changes? <<The Amquel+ will remove any Chlorine/Chloramines/Ammonia, and may detoxify other elements, but will not remove 'all bad stuff''¦if present. That said, I see no reason not to give this a try. How your tank responds will answer your question>> I don't have a RO unit and getting tired of carrying buckets. Or anything you can think of'¦would be grateful. <<I do prefer RO/DI for water prep'¦but give your idea a try>> Also my fish that had Crypt are clear and the 22nd will be 6 week protocol to go back into 210 tank. <<Excellent>> Plus I went out and bought a 90 gallon hospital/quarantine tank <<Ahh'¦lots of room!>> Thanks again for all the help; it's been fun even through the rough times. <<Am looking forward to your (good) progress reports. EricR>>

Re: Tap Water Treatment - 12/09/07 Eric, <<Don>> Ok, bad stuff can mean a lot and I thank you for the quick response. <<Indeed'¦and quite welcome>> What exactly bad stuff would I be worried about without getting into all sorts of crazy water chemistry. <<Much of what may be in your tap water can not be tested by you/hobbyists, though you can contact your water company and ask for a written analysis'¦and you might be surprised at what you find (heavy metals, pesticides, etc.). And though these will likely be in miniscule amounts, what is deemed safe for 'us' does not hold true/can still be problematical to your marine system>> I do know Kordon makes a few water conditioner products beside Amquel +. <<But of little to no use to you/your purpose. There are no magic elixirs out there'¦ It is my opinion you and your system will be happier in the long run with some type of filtration unit (RO/DI) to pre-filter your tap water before use. Do let me know if you wish to discuss these further, and/or read here and among the associated links: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/h2opurifiers.htm . EricR>>

R2: Tap Water Treatment - 12/09/07 What about adding things like carbon to premix? <<Can't hurt/will help to prefilter your tap water through carbon'¦but is still no replacement for a good filtration unit>> I'm really not trying to be lazy because I've been traveling for RO water, but my health is on a decline and carrying 12 buckets 2 times a week is rough. <<Mmm, sorry to hear'¦and yes, much agreed. I automated my own system so a 50 gallon water change takes about 15 minutes. A turn of a valve to drain'¦a push of a button to fill'¦fantastic'¦>> I am big into water changes 10-20 %. <<Excellent'¦is the single best thing you can do for your system>> If not, if you know of a great company that has RO unit at reasonable cost send the link please. <<Ah yes'¦check these guys out'¦http://www.thefilterguys.biz/ro_di_systems.htm >> I really don't know much about them. <<Do let me know if I can help with this>> Thanks Again. <<Cheers, Eric Russell>>

R3: Tap Water Treatment - 12/10/07 Eric, <<Don>> Nice RO filter. . $124.00 - OCEAN WAVE SHELL FOUR STAGE 75 GPD REVERSE OSMOSIS SYSTEM... <<A nice unit, agreed...though for $10 more you should consider the five-stage unit with the DI cartridge>> How the heck do you install it? LMAO <<The units are fairly easy/straightforward to install. You can either 'tap in' to a cold water line much as you would to install an ice-maker feed line (make sure you have a valve in-line to shut-off flow when not in use), or, if a faucet is within reach, you can use a faucet adapter to connect the infeed line (adapter may come with the unit, else will have to be purchased separately). You can check with the vendor to be sure, but the unit will likely come with written instructions for installation. Also, I am familiar with this vendor and I know they will do all they can to assist you with the install or to troubleshoot any problems that may arise. EricR>>

R2: Tap Water Treatment -- 12/15/07 Eric, <<Don>> We had talked about tap water not being the best even when mixed for a week and extra chemicals for the main tank so I'll be doing the buckets again. <<Mmm'¦decided against the RO-DI filter then>> But can I use treated tap water mix with Kordon chemicals and carbon for water changes just in the 75-gallon Q-tank? Or will it bother the fish also? <<I wouldn't, think about it my friend'¦ If you are acclimating/treating an already stressed organism, wouldn't you want the water you use to be of the best quality possible?>> Hey, thanks again for all the time I have taken up with you and Dave. <<I think you mean Scott'¦and you are quite welcome>> If there's anything I can do in return (I already donated money) <<Thank you for this>> please let me know. Even if it's correcting emails or something like that. Thanks again. <<Will keep this in mind. Cheers mate! EricR>>

R3: Tap Water -- 12/16/07 Yes it was Scott (sorry Scott) I'm on lots of meds :) <<No worries mate>> I don't have the money for RO unit but am looking for one at the time and still will get one. <<You may be able to find a more 'inexpensive' unit at your local home store (Lowe's/Home Depot/Menards/etc.) >> I understand your point about the stressed fish, but until I get a RO unit I'll keep going to get my buckets filled with RO water from the store! <<Understood>> BTW, I hope I'm not taking too much of your time. <<Not at all. Regards, EricR>>

Question about new TDS meter 10/29/07 Hi Crew, <Tom> I have a basic 3 stage RO unit running for 18 months now, with these components: 1 micron sediment filter 5 micron carbon filter 50GPD Dow Filmtec TFC membrane (from Premium Aquatics) <Okay> I've long thought that I might need to invest in a unit with a DI stage to get better water for our reef tank. To find out how effective this little RO unit is, I just installed a new HM Digital Dual TDS Monitor (http://www.tdsmeter.com/products/dm2.html). I have not tested for TDS prior to this. <All right> Based on reading many of the WWM FAQs on TDS and water filtration, the readings I'm getting are better than I was expecting. The incoming probe reads 50-52, the output probe reads exactly 0. As an experiment I switched the incoming probe to the output side of the RO, and it now reads 0 as well. So the TDS monitor appears to be working, right? <Oh yes> We live in Western Oregon and enjoy relatively clean tap water, but I'd like to ask your expert opinion on whether it's typical to get a TDS of 0, using only a basic 3 stage RO. <Mmm, yes... if the unit is "in good shape", the starting water not too solute laden...> And, would there be any point to adding a DI stage if the TDS is already at 0? <Not IMO> Thanks, Tom <Welcome. Bob Fenner, a huge fan of RO... have used for three plus decades... for all cooking, drinking... and some pet-fishing.>

Trihalomethanes -- 10/09/07 WetWebMedia Crew, <<Hello Eric...sorry for the delay in a response>> I have a chemistry question for whomever may be up to the challenge. <<Mmm, well...I think Bob would be best for this but since he's out drinking and diving in the Bahamas (lucky pug), and no one else has picked it this up...I'll give it a go>> I have recently discovered, through the local paper, that my water source has admitted to exceeding the EPA standards in total Trihalomethanes (TTHM) of 80 ppb over the past year. <<I suspect there's much in our drinking water of which we are generally 'unaware'>> I do know that Trihalomethanes are a byproduct of using Chlorine or Chloramine to treat the water. <<As a byproduct of the reaction with organic matter...yes, is what I have read as well>> Apparently the average TTHM's for our water source has been 82.5ppb. <<Hardly seems trifling...with a 'standard' of 80ppb>> My question is this: Since Trihalomethanes are a known carcinogen, what is the toxicity level for aquatic animals, specifically fish. <<Hmm, don't know...but would have to assume if it isn't healthy for us, it can't be good for the fishes>> I have a 29 gallon saltwater system, and do use tap water, although I have not lost a fish for at least 2 years. Need I be concerned? <<I think the possible presence of pesticides and heavy metals in your tap water likely pose a greater risk here. All the same, and especially since you don't pre-filter your water, I would be running a small canister filter filled with cut-up Poly-Filter pads on this system>> Appreciative as always, Eric <<Hope you find this exchange of use. Eric Russell>>

Re: Ammonia in aged water-possibly algae in well water  9/7/07 Hello Crew (Bob), Concerning the ammonia readings in aged water (but not fresh from tap over at my mother's house). I did buy 2 more test kits and those kits showed the identical results as my original liquid test kit. <I see. Thank you> So I made some calls and did some thinking. I'm going to update you in the hopes that it may help someone else with well water. I believe the reason for the ammonia reading in only the aged water (not fresh tap water) was because my mother had algae in her well/well water. <This could do it, yes> Possibly because of major flooding here in Oklahoma the past 6 months. The water straight out of her tap showed '0' ammonia, yet when the water sat for an hour or more the ammonia started rising. I believe it was because the algae particles from the well started dying as soon as it came through the pipes and sat in a container and caused the ammonia. Does that make sense? <It does> It made perfect sense to me. We poured a bottle of Clorox bleach down her well the other day. Evidently that's not an uncommon practice amongst well owners (who'd have known?). <Is a good move> The man at the water dept said the bleach should dissipate within 24 hrs or so. I went over to her house today and tested a bucket of water she'd had sitting out for several hours. There was '0' ammonia! Great news! So I think that solved the problem. I'd have never thought of something like that and I wonder how many other fish keepers using well water have trouble cycling their tanks for the same reason. She was pouring in water with ammonia in it. Keep in mind the ammonia only showed in her aged water, not straight from the tap. It really had me stumped and I'm so glad to have figured it out, so it seems. Does chlorine actually dissipate after about 24 hours? <Most types of sodium hypochlorite, yes... there are other versions, and additives that make some "bleach" last longer in a bottle..> I'd like to make sure from you. I bought her some Kordon's NovAqua+ to use with any water changes until I find out for sure that chlorine dissipates quickly. <Also a good idea> Interesting update and I really hope it helps someone else. Mitzi <Thank you for sharing. You've no doubt saved many people grief... and livestock! Bob Fenner>

Tap Water Conditioner v. Stress Coat -- 08/08/07 Hi there Neale. Quick question! With all my daily water changes (to correct chemistry), should I be using API's Tap Water Conditioner vs. Stress Coat? In the CMA, Bob mentioned using excessive Stress Coat encourages the fish to produce too much slime coating. I have been adding a drop or two of Stress Coat to the water before introducing it into the aquarium...the product also does not have an ideal applicator and I often place too much in. What is your recommendation please? Thank you very much! Lisa. <Lisa, in 20+ years of keeping fish I've never used Stress Coat. The only time I've seen it used is by retailers when they add some to the shipping water in the bag before sending me home with my new pets. Healthy fish have perfectly adequate slime coats, and excess slime surely doesn't do them any good at all (the obvious parallel would be promoting slime production in humans -- that's anything from a runny nose to mucous-filled lungs). Tap water conditioner, on the other hand, is one of those cheap but essential things no aquarist should ever neglect. It quite clearly does what it says on the package, and when not used, the fish are quite clearly harmed. So this is a no-brainer to me: always use the Conditioner, and only use Stress Coat in situations (such as shipping fish) where there are short-term benefits to be gained. They are quite obviously not alternatives: one's essential, the other an optional extra. Frankly, I wouldn't bother with Stress Coat. Focus on water quality, water chemistry, and diet, in that order -- and everything else should fall into place without any extra work. Trust me on this. A stable aquarium with an established population of fish is about as little work as a pot plant. Cheers, Neale.> Re: Tap Water Conditioner v. Stress Coat I knew you'd have a clear answer on this one - thanks again. <Cool. Take care, Neale>

Tap water preparation, stocking questions. Another Nutrient Export Devotee!  6/23/07 Crew- <Scott F. your Crew member tonight.> Thanks, as always. I've taken to reading the daily FAQs, now that I've been able to research most of my common problems. On to my question. I am currently using tap water for my 40 reef and 50 FOWLR. I am getting great growth, even from some SPS. I take great care of my tank, doing 5-10% water changes every few days. <I LOVE to hear that!> The tank has been up for 6 months or so and is currently getting a diatom bloom. I have recently replaced the bulbs, and I wash all my frozen food, feed lightly, take all other suggested steps ala WWM directive. <Awesome husbandry...My eyes are welling with tears of joy...> I believe that there may still be some lingering silicates or phosphates that are coming in with my water changes. <That would be my first guess, too. If you don't use reverse osmosis or deionization to treat your tap water before mixing it with salt, you're probably bringing in phosphates or silicates that way. Every time you do a water change, you're simply "refueling" the algae. I would highly advise investing in an RO/DI unit. Do test your source water for phosphates, nitrates and silicates, and you'll probably be shopping for a unit pretty quickly!> Currently for water changes, I fill a Rubbermaid garbage can with tap water, aerate it for several days with Amquel+, then make saltwater from that water, heat and aerate and circulate that for a couple days and then into the tank it goes. I have it set so that each step is happening at once, so I can continually do water changes every 3-4 days. <Really sounds fine, with the exception of a lack of source water pre-treatment, as indicated above. I am drooling (that's geeky, I know- but who cares?) over your consistent, frequent water change schedule!> Anyway, the short of it is I am wondering if I can dose a small amount of Kalk into the mixed saltwater to precipitate out what phosphates may be present. Would calcium hydroxide preferentially precipitate phosphates or the alkalinity first? <The real issue here is to determine what the level of phosphate is in the water to begin with. Better to simply eliminate it from the start, and then use calcium hydroxide to supply free calcium to your system (as determined by it's calcium demand-which you can find out by testing!).> I am currently using Oceanic, which is relatively high in Ca, but I would be able to switch to another brand to find one that's more alk oriented (I seem to remember an article by Steven pro, right? He came and spoke at TCMAS not too long ago) <Steve's a good friend of mine...Just chatted with him today, in fact. A great guy and wonderful friend of the hobby!> Also I am wondering if I could get some of the nuisance algae growing in the water change container so as to use up the nutrients fueling it before it goes to the tank. Interesting thought-utilizing algae in your storage container- but I think it's putting the "cart before the horse", as they say. Sooo much better to pre-treat the source water before use, and employ continuous nutrient export processes (i.e., your water changes, "purposeful" macroalgae growth in the system, chemical filtration and protein skimming).> I know in the end I am just putting off getting an RO/DI, but I'm a poor college student, so I gotta do what I gotta do. <I hear ya...At the very least, you might be able to find one of those water stores or a vender of some sort that can sell you RO/DI water. Id id that when I was in college, and it was less expensive than an RO unit...Kind of a pain, though. Basically, my point is that it's easier to reduce/eliminate unwanted substances from the source water before you use it than it is to get it out of your system.> Also, in my 40 reef I currently have an Ocellaris Clownfish and a Coral Beauty (who nips every now and again, but seemingly only at leathers). <An unfortunate habit- but a trade off worthwhile to me nonetheless when keeping this lovely fish!> I would love to eventually add a Neon Goby, a Sixline Wrasse and maybe a Firefish. I would do the Goby first, then the Firefish, then the Sixline, probably in month increments as they come out of QT. Am I overcrowding? <Good order of introduction, but I think it is a bit of a crowd in this sized aquarium. I'd eliminate the Sixline, as it may become a behavioural problem in this sized aquarium with a relatively docile population. I'd stop adding fish with the Neon and the Firefish.> I've got a built-in fuge and air driven skimmer (I'm using double limewood airstones) supplemented by a Prizm skimmer. <Great! Make sure the skimmers are cranking out skimmate regularly.> Once again, as always, thanks!! Wes <Well, Wes- I'm really thrilled to hear how well you're doing things. Your husbandry is very good! My only recommendation is to employ some form of water pre-treatment for your source water, and you'll be in great shape. Do see if you can find an inexpensive or used unit. Best of luck, and continued success! Keep sharing your husbandry practices and ideas with others! Regards, Scott F.>

Chloramines, treating source water 6/6/07 Hi Crew, I had the following paragraph included in a post I just sent and thought maybe it would be easier if it was sent under the proper index or subject name, As a word of warning to those residents using Toledo, OH city water: With hottest days of summer still ahead of us please be advised that the water plants use of chloramines increases greatly during the summer months due to algae build up in and around their pump stations in Lake Erie. I know this to be factual because I delivered bulk Co2 to the plant for five years. We (the wife and I) lost a beautiful Watchman Goby (Winston) during the summer of our freshman year as an aquarists and didn't know why until sometime later. It still brings a tear to my eye when I think of him laying on the bottom of our hospital tank struggling to breathe. To be honest we almost left the hobby. But, thanks to the "Crew" at www.wetwebmedia.com we are still here enjoying our marine aquariums. Best regards, Brad & Nancee Kizer <Thank you for this valuable note. A further addition to warn all against irregular "pulsing" of this sanitizer... Water Districts will/do greatly increase the concentration here to rid lines or microbes, increase residual... to several times regular dose... Once again, my STRONG suggestion to store, aerate water a week or so ahead of use. BobF>

Weird water question...creek water for tanks? -- 5/19/07 Your registration function is unavailable so I opted to email. <Sorry about that.  I have also been unable to register for the forum.  That is a separate system than ours, but something is broken and needs to be fixed!> We are going to be filling a 210g SW tank <cool!> and were wondering if we could use creek water ? <hmmm'¦> It is a small FW creek and the water is crystal clear and definitely drinkable. We have drunk from it for many years with never a problem. We live in the mountains and have never had any type of problem with our water whether it be our well or the creek. I don't have an RO/di unit and have always used the well water for our tanks. My tanks are doing great with the water and I have them tested regularly. I was just wondering if this was feasible. Pumping 265g ( 210g tank + 55g sump ) would put a strain on my well pump. Thanks for any help !!! <If you are not downstream of any farms or other sources of pollution, it may be fine.  Since you normally use the well water, you should test the stream water for at least phosphate and nitrate, just to be sure.  Drinkability implies you don't have a bacteria problem, which shouldn't survive the switch to salt anyway. You will need to be careful of your pumping situation, and not suck up sediment from the stream.  Another option would be to fill the system slowly with well water over a few days, maybe 25 or 50g at a time.  That should not strain your pump too much. Cheers, Alex>

Not so much of a question, but more of a warning. Tapwater use...    5/7/07 Hello Crew, <Mike> Just writing this in the hopes that you pass it on.  Previously, I subscribed to the theory that if tap water is safe for humans to drink, it is safe for the fish once properly treated. <Mmm, you're learning...> Yesterday, I did my normal 15% water change on my 300G FOWLR.  Prior to the water change, my readings were Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, and Nitrate <5ppm (API test kit). About one hour after adding the new water, the tanks looked a bit cloudy, and the twelve fish in the tank (species not relevant to this letter), were acting "odd".  Difficult to describe odd, but you understand what I mean when your fish are just not acting like they normally do. I tested the water again:  Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0.5ppm, Nitrate <5ppm. To make a long story short, after checking all of my equipment and not finding any problems, I tested my tap water; the nitrite level was somewhere between 0.5 and 1.0 ppm straight out of the faucet. <Yikes> I added a bottle of "Cycle" to the tank to help the system along. <Mmm, not a consistent/useful product unfortunately>   the nitrite level was down to 0.25 ppm within 90 minutes and back down to 0 ppm by the next morning. <Likely your nitrifiers effect> So, my RO\DI unit should be arriving this week, and my water utility will be getting an angry call from me in the morning. <Good luck t/here> So, just a friendly reminder to the WWM readers, if you use tap water, make sure you spot check it from time to time! <Good!> Thanks again for this wonderful resource, Mike <Thank you for sharing Mike... You have saved many organisms, and many aquarist head- and heart-aches. Bob Fenner> Water Filtration, Top offs, and Storing Saltwater 4/26/07 Jason here from Manila.  Hope you're doing well too :) <Greetings, Jason! GrahamT with you this fine, rainy morning in Maine, USA.> My water company delivers filtered water to my doorstep.   <Cool!> However, I am not sure about the quality of the water, and if they use copper for its distillation process.   <Can be tested for...> I also believe it is RO water.   <Is likely. Commonly used form of purification.> What kind of tests should I do on the water to determine if it is safe for my reef tank? <I would test for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, calcium, phosphate and copper. If you are curious, you could add total dissolved solids (which should be at or near zero if it IS RO) and iron. These can be useful kits for any aquarist, but they *ARE* seldom-used and the kits do expire so... it's your call.> If I'm going to do my own filtration on my tap water, is it ok to just do RO, and not DI? <That depends on what you want to accomplish. For most cases, RO will suffice. I would venture that if your tap water is safe to drink, then you can buy a simple RO (read: two or three-stage) with acceptable results. However, the more you invest initially in your RO unit, the more it pays of in the end. Multiple stages of pre-filtration before the RO-membrane extend the life of the membrane and soften the blow to your wallet. If you do go with a many-stage unit, then the addition of DI is warranted, IMO. The level of stuff that would make it to the DI in that case would be minimal, and thus the DI cartridge would last quite a while. All these different choices will be prompted by the tests you carry out on your tapwater.> I plan to make a DIY top off system.  Does the water need to be constantly aerated with an airstone & pump to keep oxygenated? <Not *constantly*, but if you plan to keep it for long periods (like weeks) in the same container, you need to provide movement and aeration to avoid stagnant water.> As part of my routine of making saltwater and storing, can I keep it in containers where it is not circulated and not air pumped for weeks at a time, and then when I need to use it, I can airstone it and circulate it for x hours - would this be ok?   <If you are driven to store the water for a long time, then I would store just the purified fresh water, since there is less chance of it growing bacteria and algae whilst sitting. Then you can mix it up in due time for its use.> If so, how long should I aerate/circulate it prior to use?  Is there anything I should watch out for here? <Aerate and circulate for at least two days after you mix the salt, and then feel safe using it.> Doing water changes - when I water change, I aerate and use a water pump for circulation prior to use. However, this makes the water much warmer than my tank.  Is it ok to let it sit without aeration/circulation for 2 hours (while it cools down) prior to use? <The aeration alone shouldn't heat the water, but in either case, letting it sit for a matter of a couple hours is detrimental in any way. By all means, let the water cool. Good luck! -GrahamT>

I need help, all my fish died -- 3/28/07 I'll apologize in advance for the length of this.  I just want to give as much info as possible. <No problem.> I recently had a disaster with my tank.  It's 45 gal, 20 lbs of live rock, (I know it's not enough) and 1/2" crushed coral substrate. <Also not enough.  A deeper bed could help you with denitrification.>   I have a CPR BakPak 2 and Via Aqua canister filter for filtration.  The tank has been set up for 2 years now.  I haven't added anything new to the tank in over 6 months.  I had 1 tomato clown, 2 pajama cardinals, and 1 royal Gramma.  There are 3-5 hermit crabs and the live rock is covered with small feather dusters, green algae, and little bits of coralline.  It also had a couple of spaghetti worms which died also. The crabs appear healthy and the feather dusters, while some larger ones seemed a little stressed, appear otherwise fine. <This sounds like a very nice tank.  I am sorry you had a disaster.> I was in the process of cleaning my tank.  The tank has always had a nitrate problem (usually 20) that I've not been able to fix <This is not extremely high given that you are not trying to keep sensitive invertebrates.  A deep sand bed could help bring this down though.  And changing more water is the other option.> and occasionally I've used a little Amquel+ before a partial water change. I've never had problems with Amquel+ before.  I did use some about 24 hours before I found all of the fish dead.   <Hmmm'¦> I tried the forum first, the Amquel+ had a strong rotten egg like odor to it which apparently isn't normal according to some posts.   <This does not sound normal to me.  Rotten egg odor is hydrogen sulfide.  Can't be good.> I can tell you the ph in the tank plummeted to 7.4. <Yikes!!> I don't have readings for ammonia etc., from the time I found the fish as my first reaction was to change the water quickly to save the rest of the tank. On Monday, the fish seemed healthy and were eating ok when I fed them before I left for work, about 12 hours after adding the Amquel+.  It was about 11 hours later I found them all dead.  There were no visible signs of any illness prior to this.   <Illness does not sound likely.  This is environmental.> So far, I've done 2 partial water changes and I plan on doing a 3rd this weekend.  I've also added some Seachem reef buffer.  I removed and completely cleaned the CPR BakPak. It is currently the only filtration.  I need to completely replace all the media in the VIA Aqua so for the moment it's disconnected. What could have killed the fish and not the crabs and feather duster? <It does sound like your Amquel+ was the culprit.  Crabs and annelids can be pretty hardy sometimes.  Fish have such high metabolisms they are very sensitive to toxins or oxygen depletion.  The manufacturer is not sharing the recipe for this newer product, but lists the composition of original Amquel as sodium hydroxymethanesulfonate.  Assuming this is a primary component of the new formula as well, It does sound like it broke down into some very unpleasant compounds, including hydrogen sulfide.  Here is the link to the safety information about the product: http://www.novalek.com/kordon/Amquel+/index.htm Although they say it is very safe, of course, they also say that deoxygenation of the water occurs after addition, and this is certainly one way the fish could be injured.  The hydrogen sulfide and pH drop could also be culprits.  I would not add any products like this to the tank to reduce nitrates.  Nitrates are much less dangerous than these chemicals!> Is there something I should test for other than the normal water parameters? <pH, alkalinity, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate should be sufficient.  The Sulphur should not be a problem as long as your pH and hardness are appropriate, especially since you have diluted with significant water changes.  The water changes should have taken care of any obscure compounds. > Do I need new substrate and live rock? <I would not replace the substrate and rock.  You might go ahead and add some more. > I plan on waiting at least a few weeks, I'm afraid to even consider adding any fish until I figure out what went wrong. <Yes, once your pH and other parameters are stable, and if your invertebrates continue to do well, I would add fish back one at a time.  The quarantine period for the fish should give you plenty of time to assess the stability of the tank.  I would not use Amquel+ in the tank anymore.  After a similar fish kill from another 'safe' product that also deoxygenates the water, I have sworn off adding any proprietary formulations to my no matter how safe anyone says it is.> Dawn <Alex>  

A follow-up to "I need help, all my fish died 3/28/07" More on Amquel (and A.C.E. . ) poss. toxicity   3/31/07 Good afternoon Crew, <Nicole> I just wanted to add to this question, which Alex answered, in which someone named Dawn relayed the disaster that her 45 gallon reef tank experienced. <Please do> I myself have noticed this odor with the Amquel+ product, but when I first bought a bottle of it about a year ago, it had a similar smell. The smell seems to have become concentrated as the product was expended. It leaves a very lasting odor - an uncapped bottle can quickly smell up a room! This makes me uneasy, but I do believe it is normal to some extent. Even Prime (in my opinion the best dechlorinator, the 50 ml dropper bottle makes dosing very simple - 3 drops per gallon)  has a section on the back where it says: "Sulfur odor is normal." <Yes> Prime, however, has a very slight odor, in my opinion. The Amquel+ product definitely does not! I answer fish questions on another site, and have seen many cases where an addition of Amquel+ or A.C.E. . caused major disruption of the bio-filter, usually nitrites shooting up sky high. <Yes> I cannot say that it is due to the product alone, but it certainly was a catalyst. Although both Novalek and Jungle do offer other fine aquarium products - these particular ones, I would never recommend to anyone. <Me neither> Thanks for reading this, and for all that you do each day for hobbyists worldwide! Nicole <Thanks much for coming forward... with this lucid, useful input. Bob Fenner> Bubble Tip Anemone and Prime -- 3/11/07 Bob, <Hi Cindy, Brenda here> I have a question about a Bubble tip.  My husband got this guy on Thursday.  He put Prime in the tank today. <Why?  Prime is used to remove chlorine and ammonia.  It is also used during cycling to reduce ammonia, nitrate and nitrite toxicity.  You should be using RO or RO/DI water.  An anemone should not be added to a tank until it is well established.  It is recommended to wait six months to one year before adding an anemone.> Now the Anemone is sucked back until it is very small and looks a little jelly like. <It is not unusual for an anemone to deflate from time to time.  It needs to expel waste.  If it looks like it is melting or decaying, it is dead.  Need to remove it, do a large water change and monitor your water parameters closely.> What could be wrong with this guy and is there anything we can do to help him? <Without more information on your tank such as equipment, age, water parameters, and as to why Prime was added, I can't offer much help.> He did try to feed him today but he wouldn't eat. <That is not unusual for a newly introduced anemone.> Cindy <Sorry, need more information.  Brenda>

PRIME (SEACHEM) 3/11/07 How are you all doing? <Good thanks.> I have a question about the product PRIME from Seachem. I have a little system made to dispense Freshwater (R/O) from a 26 gallon trash can and a saltwater mix (1.023) that is in another 26 gallon. I have heaters in both and have power heads in both. My question is when I make new fresh water with the R/O maker, can I just implement the PRIME in the freshwater trash can? <Not necessary with R/O water, it removes the chemicals Prime treats.> Or when I'm ready to mix new saltwater and add it to my saltwater trash can should I put the PRIME in the saltwater mix? Where do you think the Prime would be more effective or does it even matter? <Unnecessary.> Sorry but two more question my tank has been cycling for two weeks now and I have been doing 5-10% water changes so far at the end of each week ( Only two so far). However, I also have real fine sand in the tank. Do I need to siphon the sand too. <I would not unless it has algae growth on it.> Or can I just pick up the die off from my LR with tongs and not have to stir up the sand. <Would work fine.> Because as you know if you suck to close to the sand you end up sucking up sand as well and I don't want to do that. The last question I have is my tank has already gone through a phase where I had brown algae and now it has turned green in the tank is this normal? <Yes> I  believe it is from all of the books and forums I read on this web site. Also can you all give me a good web site to go to that has detailed info on how the Nitrogen cycle works and the steps your tank goes through from beginning to end and also charts and pictures of what it looks like in these stages.  <Don't know of one with everything you are looking for.  Can start here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and see where it leads you.>    Thank you for all of your help! Jeff <Chris>

Tap water, trtmt.   -- 03/09/07 What do I need to do to make tap water safe (as far as chlorine and chloramines) for my 75 gal. saltwater tank?  Should I use Kent ammonia detox or prime? <<There are many products available. My favourite is Prime, by Seachem.  Please be sure to cycle your tank, and research all your purchases before bringing home any fishes. Lisa.>>

Cat shark:  feeding and soft water    1/17/06 Hi guys, <Tim>       I have a newly hatched cat shark and had two questions that I couldn't answer myself on your site.  First, knowing that you don't recommend silversides as a diet for them I was wondering if it was ok to feed striped killifish (a common salt water bait minnow). <These should be fine> Second,  do you know how this fish will do in soft water?  When I set up the tank the softener was bypassed and it was filled with regular dechlorinated tap water.  The manufacturer of the softener recommends that you gradually introduce the fish to soft water and it will be ok.  Just wondered if this would be ok for such a delicate fish.  Thanks for any help you can offer.                                                                                                Tim Taylor <Mmm... most water softeners are "exchange" in principle... trading ions for "hardness" material... and being re-charged with salt/s... One can end up with a bit of sodium/chloride imbalance... but not really much of an issue in an otherwise properly set-up and maintained system... I would not go to extraordinary measures to avoid the softened water here... Just mix, store your synthetic and you'll be fine. Bob Fenner>

Two topics: pH of RO\DI and Amquel+  11/21/06 Good morning crew, I have two topics that I need assistance with. After reading Bob Fenner's article on 'Treating Tap/Source-water for Marine Aquarium Use'. I was worried about Amquel+ product that I use for removing chlorine and chloramines from my filter socks after treating them in bleach solution to clean. With the smell of the product it makes me believe it has formaldehyde in it. What is the general thought on this product and is there a product I should use in its place to remove chlorine? <Is a worthwhile product..., safe, effective... rarely going "bad"> Our water is sooo hard in our area and I have a water softener before the RO system to soften it. My RO\DI system produces water that has 9.1 PH before aerating. <Mmmmm> After aerating and adding Seachem Reef Buffer the PH is at 8.89. I replace the filters on the RO every 3-4 months and the membrane every 20-24 months. I have calibrated the pen and have a tank PH of 8.11-8.16 that has a calc reactor dosing it. Is the pen bad possibly? <Mmm, doubtful... you do calibrate it, check it against/with solution/s of known pH I take it> I did a test on 24 gallons of RO\DI water, after aerating it for 24 hours I added the buffer\baking soda till the PH reached 8.2. After 24 hours I added Reef Crystals salt to the water and CABLAMMY everything 'snowed' out of the water and the ph went to 7.65. <... I would aerate the new water for a day or more... mix the salt in, allow to run another day or more, THEN do whatever adjustment to chemistry/physics> The reason I did this was my calcium levels never improved above 280-290. <...? In the newly made-up seawater?> And feared that my top off water and water change mixture was hurting the tank. <Something/s is/are amiss here...> I am left to believe that my PH pen is giving me untrue measurements, but reproducible readings. What are your thoughts on this 'PH'oohy observation? As always thank you for your time. Dave <Time to "check the checker"... Perhaps a visit to the LFS where they can gauge your readings against theirs. Also... I would try eliminating the water softener in your tap/source water treatment path here... even just to see what the consequent water chemistry reads. Bob Fenner>

Water to use. Tap trtmt 10/03/06 I have a 60 gallon DAS with 65 pounds live rock and 110 pounds live sand. Currently I only have a hammer coral and xenia and some cleaner crews going. The tank has been set up for 2 months. I am having some evaporation. I understand that I need to add some water that does not have salt in it since the salt does not evaporate. My question is Do I have to get RO water or DI water or can I filter my own water through an inline filter that I can get at Lowes or home depot to remove the chlorine and such? <You do need to use RO or DI. I suggest using a system designed for aquarium use. The drinking water systems at the big box stores (or anywhere for the most part) are not a good idea for use in a tank with invertebrates.> Thanks a million, <Very welcome and best of luck - Emerson> Mark

Re: Water to use - RO or RO/DI clarification  10/4/06 Does it have to be DI and RO? What do you suggest? <I have known many reef keepers that only use RO with success, and have no problem recommending RO as long as it is maintained properly. I use RO/DI, since I don't mind the added expense for the few extra percentage points of purity.> Are there any good reasonably priced units you would recommend? <I have used the Kent Marine and Spectrapure systems, and found them both to work very well. You can find the lower gpd (gallons per day) units for around $130 online. Depending on usage you can recoup the cost in a modest amount of time.> Thanks again, Mark <Have a good one Mark -- Emerson>

Aging Tap Water and creature ID   9/26/06 Hello all, <And to you> After filling my 30 Gallon Brute with Tap water should the lid be left on, off or partially covered to allow the dissipation of the chemicals the city uses to treat the water? <Of small matter... if not much risk of stuff "getting in", I'd leave askew> There is a power head and heater in there and I have both fresh and salt tanks so I do not add salt right away. I let it stand for 5-7 days before using for fresh than add salt to the remaining for another 3-5 days. <Good practice, protocol> Also any idea on what this creature is? I am guessing it is a sponge of some sort. <Me too> The clear "straw" coming out of it is definitely neat. There are several and they are the size of an m&m. John
<Yummy! Bob Fenner>

-Xenia in trouble?-  - 09/03/06 Bob and wonderful staff, <Todd, you have Justin tonight.> Update on my BTA getting caught in the powerhead:  It's been just over a week since I learned the hard way about NOT covering powerhead intakes with a BTA in the tank.  Well, powerheads are covered and the BTA appears to be doing well.  Thanks for all you help. <Good to hear, they can get themselves into very interesting situations cant they.  Glad yours is doing better.> Now with the another hard lesson learned by a new reef daddy.. DO NOT ADD AMQUEL+ to your tank!  I was starting to get a Cyanobacteria bloom due to increase in my Nitrate readings (0 - 10ppm to 10 - 20ppm).  So what did I do?  Added some Amquel+ to lower the Nitrate level to (in theory) kill off my Cyanobacteria problem.  Instead, my pulsing xenia within minutes beginning to look like something out of Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas.  I immediately did a 20% water change and plan on doing another one today (the day after).  Is there any chance the xenia will pull through? All the other corals look good. <Tis possible, keep up the water changes and try not to move or overly stress the xenia.  Have a lot of current blowing near the coral, but not directly on.  Xenia is generally incredibly hardy if it "takes" to a tank, and can be considered a weed at times, so yours should bounce back.  Don't ever use any product to remove nitrate or ammonia in an established tank,  why waste money and risk tank health when a bag of salt and a water change will fix it all right up.> Thanks, Todd <Justin>

Phosphates in tap water   9/2/06 Hi again, I've been trying to get to the bottom of my phosphate problem and have narrowed it down to my tap water. What is weird is that when tested as fresh water it tests at about .03 on the Salifert Kit but when mixed with IO it tests only as traces of PO4 as saltwater. Does this make sense? Also, I do use a DI and results are pretty much the same. Do you think that using Polyfilter or phosphate sponge in one of the DI chambers would be useful? Thanks for all your help, past and present. Mordy Mordy Eisenberg <<Mordy:  If your RO/DI unit is working properly and you have a TDS meter, you TDS reading should be 000.  At that point, you shouldn't have phosphates.  If you have too much phosphates in your tank, growing Chaetomorpha algae in the sump, can help. Best of luck, Roy>>  

Water changes   9/2/06 Hi Crew, I know that we need to aerate our water before adding it to the tank, but here is my question......We have well water at the house and we have an Odor Oxidizer on our water system (basically it removes odor from the water by mixing it with air, our water coming out of the faucet is white from the air bubbles). Do you think that I should still aerate the water for 12hrs or do you thing that this is not necessary with this Oxidizer? Also about the PH and the Alk. when I make water for water changes should I use NatuReef Alkalinity Plus and Hardness Plus to bring it up to where I want it to be or should I use something else (I'm about to do a 60Gallon water change in my 150Gallon Tank due to the fact that I have used straight well water so far, but just received my RO/DI system and want to do some good water changes) Thanks for all you help, Diana <<Diana: Once you install your RO/DI unit, get a TDS meter.  If all goes well, you should have a reading on your well water of 000.  At that point, your well water won't have any hardness at all.  You can then mix it with your preferred brand of synthetic salt.  I don't think you will need any other additives at the time you mix the salt.  Best of luck,  Roy>>

Algae in water supply    8/13/06 Dear Sir, We have a private water supply from a spring, and our shower is being gradually affected by green algae.  Is there a filter we can fit to remove this? Yours sincerely, Mark Turner    <Mmm, yes... there are in-line mechanical and chemical filters that would serve here. The first require either a rather high ambient pressure to "drive" the water through the cartridge membrane/s, and the latter comprise automated dosing gear to kill water-borne life. I would look in your local "Yellow Pages" (and secondly the Net) for insight, bids on what is available here... under "Water". If I may volunteer something further, I would (and actually we do) use another filter in addition, Reverse Osmosis, for your drinking, cooking... potable uses. Bob Fenner> Filtering Spring Water  7/31/06 Dear Sir, We have a spring from which we draw our water supply and it is very effective. However there is a build up of green on the shower tiles and we wondered if there was a filter which could be put into our main in pipe that would filter out the algae? If so what kind of cost it might be and from whom could we purchase one? <Mark, first I would have the water analyzed so you have an idea what needs to be removed.  Here is a link to a company that makes excellent systems.  You may want to contact them and explain your needs.   http://www.equinox-products.com/EquinoxEQ-300RhinoWholeHouseWaterFiltrationSystem.htm  Keep in mind that our site deals with aquarium related topics only.> Yours sincerely, <And to you, James (Salty Dog)> Mark Turner  

Baking Soda as a Buffer?   7/18/06 Hello WWM crewmatie, <<Ahoy me heartie!>> I have a question about using baking soda for buffering RO/DI top-off water. <<Alrighty>> I have a 125 gallon mixed reef tank with LS, 125 lbs. LR, calcium reactor and Milwaukee MSM 122 pH monitor.  My tank was established in May 2006.  Generally speaking, so far, so good. <<A very young system...>> I have not been adding anything to the RO/DI make-up water I have been using these past couple of months (5-10% water changes ~monthly and weekly for evaporation as needed). <<Best to do so in my opinion>> This could explain why my Xenia are not doing so good-right?. <<Mmm no, more likely attributable to the "newness" of this system>> I did read the article listed in your website by Anthony Calfo on "Understanding Calcium and Alkalinity" where he mentioned using baking soda vs. a retail product is generally not advised. <<I actually "cut" the retail product with baking soda to stretch its use/my dollar>> Since I can and do monitor my pH real-time, (1) can I use plain baking soda to prep my top-off water and, if so, (2) is it best to add the baking soda just before use or 24 hours before use while aerating it with a powerhead? <<You can use plain baking soda to "buffer" your makeup water.  Just don't expect it to bring up your pH much past 7.8 without some help.  If you want it to increase pH as well you will need to spread it on a baking sheet and bake it in your oven to drive off the C02 used in its manufacture (300F for an hour I think, but check the Chemistry forum on RC to be sure).  As for when to add to the makeup water, do this at least 24 hours prior to use and aerate as you describe>> I do monitor KH with readings between 10-14.  My pH has been ranging between 8.0-8. <<...?>> I realize I should be maintaining it at the 8.3 range and want to do so starting with buffering my replacement water. <<Nothing wrong with 8.0, but if you wish to boost your pH you'll need more than just baking soda.  If you want to try my recipe...mix 1-part Seachem's Reef Buffer with 3-parts baking soda.  You can adjust the portions depending on how much of a pH boost you need>> Installing an automated top-off system is my next project. <<Very worthwhile>> I'm no Homer Simpson, but every now and then I do deserve a "doh!" for pulling a you-know-what. <<Indeed my friend...been there...done that>> Gracias. Steve <<Cheers mate, EricR>>

General Dechlorination   7/18/06 Hello, <Hi - Jorie here> I was wondering if the liquid dechlorination products that say they work 'Instantly'...really do work immediately? <So far as I know, yes, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to be more cautious and wait half a day or so before using the treated water.  Also, there are test kits that measure chlorine levels which would answer your question for you immediately.> I have a greenish/blue bottle of 'DeChlor' that has a red fish on the bottle which reads 'Instant'. <Not familiar with this one...surely it's like all the rest.> The instructions on the back provide dosage info per gallon for chlorine and chloramines respectively. There is no other info on the bottle.  I am curious as to how adding a few drops of this product can work so quickly in removing the chlorine from 2 gallons of tap water. <Well, I am not the chemistry major, but my understanding is that sodium thiosulfate (probably contained in the product you have) neutralizes chlorine immediately.  You should be aware that chloramine is also present in some tapwater...take a look at this helpful article for more information about that. http://faq.thekrib.com/begin-tapwater.html#tap-water The absolute safest thing to do is to use RODI (reverse osmosis/de-ionized water)...don't know how many fish you keep or how many gallons  of water you require to do your water changes (at least weekly, I hope!), but if it's significant, look into a unit.  It will pay for itself in the long run, and alleviate the need to let tap water sit, or use chemicals to neutralize harmful things like chlorine.  Check out www.airwaterice.com for great and reasonably priced products.> Thanks for any insights into this...I looked in the archives and couldn't find anyone questioning the 'Instant' aspects of such products. <Always better to err on the side of caution, but truly, if you are just dealing with chlorine, the effect should be instant.  Chloramines' another story - do look at the link provided above. Eric <Jorie>

Water Prep...Some Things Are Best Done Yourself - 06/21/06 Hi Crew, how's tricks? <<Hiya Debi!>> I have been reading a lot to find it and see no specific answer to this question and am pretty confused at this point so I decided that I should write. <<Mmm okay, let's see if I can help...>> First here are the parameters:  Six months old 46 gallon Bowfront reef with one frogspawn, one xenia, one lawnmower blenny and one sand sifting goby (who sifts his sand onto the live rock), <<A big reason I prefer Amblygobius species for this...not so bad with "crop dusting" the top of the reef>> one cleaner shrimp, various snails and red- and blue-legged snails and crabs. <<Snails with legs, eh? <grin> >> 50 lbs. live rock, Ammonia-0, Ph 8.2, Alk 3.0, Calcium 440, Phos (reads 0) probably being taken up by algae, <<Yup>> Nitrate-0, Nitrite-0, SG 1.023 <<I would raise the specific gravity to natural seawater levels (1.025/1.026)>> Temp 79-80, Aqua-C Remora skimmer HOB going 24/7, Seio 620 Power Head, Aqua-Clear Power Filter running Chemi-Pure and Phos-Ban, also has a sponge that is cleaned every few days.  My problem is with my water preparation.  I buy my water from the LFS, both salt and RO/DI for top off.  After much reading I am afraid I am not doing it correctly. <<Oh?>> I don't do anything to it before using either one. <<If the LFS has prepared/stored it correctly you shouldn't have to>> I just put it in.  Sometimes, actually most of the time, I hold the water for several days before using it, especially the top-off water. <<Aerated during this time?>> Am I supposed to be preparing it in some way like aeration or buffering before I use it? <<Ahh, okay...  Firstly, let me suggest you test this water for alkalinity/calcium/pH...test it right after purchase, and then again after at least 24 hours with aeration.  This should give you an idea of whether or not the LFS is "maturing" the water before sale.  But anyhoo... Yes, I would aerate this water for 24 hours before use...and buffer "as needed" based on your test results>> I have consistently sort of low Alkalinity even though I add either B-Ionic 2-part or baking soda to try to get it up higher. <<Odd>> The calcium is usually around 440 and this is without the addition of the 2-part of any other type of calcium. <<Hmm...seems artificially high for freshly mixed seawater.  I wonder if the LFS is boosting (or overdosing, in this case) with a calcium chloride supplement?  Which might also be suppressing your alkalinity>> My pH is usually about 8.1 to 8.3 or 8.4 toward the evening. <<All good>> I would like to keep it around 8.4 at the lowest.   <<Often a difficult endeavor, but dosing Kalkwasser may help here>> I also have a raging hair algae problem and have no explanation for this. <<Mmm, let me make an amendment to my earlier suggestion...in addition to the afore mentioned tests of the water from the LFS, add tests for nitrate and phosphorus>> I have tested the LFS water that I use and it shows no phosphates <<I really should start reading ahead...>> and since I am not really feeding at this point due to my lack of fish that need it I don't feel that nutrients are a problem, although I also recently have some brown on the sand that I assume is diatoms. <<Likely so>> I have no idea what can be causing all this algae. <<Something in the water would be my guess...how do you feel about filtering/preparing your own?>> I do 15% water changes weekly, so far as vacuuming the sand, I go back and forth on that and so have only done it once in the six months I have had this tank running. <<Not usually necessary with vigorous water movement...in my opinion>> I tend to get mixed advice on whether or not I should be vacuuming.  The sand bed I have is only 1 to 1-1/2 inches in most places. <<With this substrate depth I say "up to you!"...though a bit of vacuuming with water changes may prove helpful with your current algae situation>> So I want to know if I should be doing the water differently and do you think it is making a difference in my alkalinity, calcium and pH? <<Yes, yes, yes...and yes>> Also if you have any more suggestions on the algae problem I would love to hear them. <<Have you read here ( http://www.wetwebmedia.com/avoidingalgaeproblesm.htm), and among the indices at the top of the page?>> Thanks, Debi <<Quite welcome, EricR>>

Water Prep...Some Things Are Best Done Yourself II - 06/22/06 Thanks for the reply. <<You're welcome>> Yes, I think I may have read everything on this site, well, I obviously couldn't have, but it sure seems like it. <<Hee!...truly "gads" of information to be found here>> I have spent many many many hours reading what you guys <<gals too!>> have to say and find it most helpful. <<...but...>> In answer to your question on my filtering and processing my own water.  I really have no place to do that as I have read that the RO/DI systems are very slow and I have no faucets I can dedicate to that. <<Mmm...it is true the RO systems are "pokey" (even my 100gpd system requires "all day" to fill a 55g drum), but a "dedicated" water source is hardly required.  A simple adapter can be utilized to attach/run the unit from "any" faucet as/when convenient.  Another option is to use a quality Kati-Ani deionization unit which produces filtered water at a much greater rate than an RO unit>> I live in a large metropolis area and have a choice of LFS to choose from and have used at least two of them in this endeavor. <<Yet you are still having issues...>> As you see I have tested their water, both of them, for phosphates, not nitrates. <<Might be worth a test for NO3>> But, I do not aerate their water and did not even know it was something I should do until now.  Yes, I do hold it on a regular basis for several days with no aeration.  So I gather I should not do that?   <<I doubt this is cause for all your water ills, but aeration will be beneficial for increasing oxygen, better mixing/maturation of "raw" seawater, and blowing off carbon dioxide (and possibly raising pH as a result)>> I don't see what that could have to do with the algae though. <<You stated yourself, you have no fish/don't overfeed...if the source of algae fuel is not the water, then what?...your rock?...your substrate?>> So here is my plan based on what you have suggested.  I will do several 15% water changes, say two to three days apart.  I will vacuum the sand substrate.  Is it acceptable to scrub the rocks of the hair algae while they are in the tank? <<Using the hose to siphon away the algae as you scrub?...sure!>> The worst ones can't be removed without tearing down the tank and disturbing the two corals a lot. <<understood>> I have given thought to getting a "sea hare", would that help. <<Genus Aplysiidae?  Possibly...and much more so than the more commonly available Tridachia crispata aka "lettuce nudibranch".  Though I have always found the sea hare to be prone to physical damage and its subsequent demise.  A better biological control might be Turbo fluctuosa, the giant Mexican turbo snail...or even one of the Salarias or Atrosalarias blennies>> I recently changed LFS water suppliers thinking that would help, but I swear it got worse after that, so I am going back to the original. <<Hmm...>> This particular one uses Seachem Reef Salt but only keeps it at 1.022. <<A fine salt brand>> I was thinking I should add salt to bring it up to 1.025, would that be better? <<Yes>> Also, let me make sure I understand.  The RO/DI water should be at the correct pH before it goes in the tank? <<It should...else the water in your tank has to make up for the deficiency...if it can>> What is the best way to bring up the pH and should the alkalinity be brought up also? <<BOTH should be adjusted.  I like Seachem Reef Buffer...and for economy, I have found that "cutting" this with 3-parts sodium bicarbonate to 1-part buffer is quite satisfactory>> I don't think the LFS is adding anything to their salt mixture other than the salt itself.  The current one uses Seachem Reef Plus I think.  The former used Fritz?.   <<Mmm, not familiar to me>> I really appreciate your help as I am just about to throw this thing out the window thinking that would at least get rid of the algae.  Maybe you can help me come up with a better solution. Thanks again, Debi <<I want to help Debi, but you haven't mentioned anything to raise any flags to me other than I think your water source may be suspect.  Are you adding any liquid coral foods?...other "supplements" you haven't mentioned?  After reading through the data on nuisance algae on our site, what's "your" take on the cause of the algae problem?...let's discuss further if you wish.  Regards, EricR>>

Water Prep...Some Things Are Best Done Yourself III - 06/24/06 Thanks for your patience and willingness to keep at this. <<Quite welcome>>>> I have indeed read everything on the algae subject and am truly stumped.  I thought at first, a couple of months ago, that I was getting to much bad stuff because I was adding the frozen food and its juice when feeding. <<A small contributor...in my opinion>> I used to have fish, well I had two clowns, one royal Gramma, one yellow tang (but he only lasted hours so I think he was sick when I got him), and a six-lined wrasse. All died mysteriously and at different times and after being in the tank for various times from a few days for the Gramma and the wrasse (different times) to a few weeks for the clowns, (that died at different times after just going downhill for several days and then keeling over). <<This is telling...either you have more serious issues with your water, something in the system is poisoning the system (something in the rock or substrate maybe), or your source for these fish was/is bad (did all the fish come from the same LFS?)>> Several emails to your site and several people trying, but never got an answer to that. <<Do consider my previous statement...thinks about any links/correlations to the dying fish>> All agreed that my tests were right on target and I was apparently doing everything right, but obviously something was bad. <<Have you tried new/different brand test kits to validate your findings?>> So, I decided not to add any more fish until I had let it sit just the way it is for several weeks and until I got the algae problem under control. <<Smart...is best...>> It has now been about five weeks since the last clown died and the blenny and the goby and the corals have all been here all along and seem to be doing perfectly fine. <Hmm...did the blenny and goby come from the same source?...did they come from the same source as the fish that died?>> The only things I could ever come up with is that being new and not thinking I know I had perfume on my arms at least once when I was messing around in the tank and decided that maybe I had poisoned somebody, <<A possibility...>> and once I cleaned up a Cyano problem and let a lot of get mixed into the water, again inexperience, and shortly after that my clowns got sick so maybe that was something. <<I don't think this killed your fish>> Otherwise I have not a clue.  So, back to the original problem.  My suspicion is that it has to be the water, but when I test it tests fine. <<Maybe something you haven't/can't test for>> I take it to the LFSs and they all say it is great. <<Again, maybe something not tested/can't be tested with hobby kits.  Have/can you confirm that they/you store the water in suitable, clean, chemically inert containers?>> I have no temperature fluctuations, I know this because I have the heaters on a controller.  My lights are on for 12 hours total, the actinics come on one hour before the main lights and go off one hour after the main lights do, so actually 10 hours of main lights. <<is fine>> I have the Coralife 2x96 compact fluorescents w/lunar lights.  I do regular 10% weekly water changes and top-off as needed.  It's true I am not feeding anything to speak of right now.  The only extra nutrients are the very occasional (less than I should I think) addition of 10 ml. DT's for the frogspawn and every few days a few Mysis shrimps (probably 10 or 15) for the shrimp that he practically eats out of my hand so maybe 4 or 5 individual Mysis shrimps get away. <<I doubt also this is your problem.  But an observation here...the DT's is of little use to the frogspawn.  Being a carnivore it will much prefer the Mysis/diced meaty foods.  I would discontinue dosing the DT's...at least till you have need of it (clams/gorgonians)>> So I don't know what to do.  I do wonder though, if everything is normal now and for some reason wasn't before would the hair algae that is already there go away on its own or would I have to physically remove it? <<Generally requires a combination of manual removal along with cessation of excess nutrient/food.  Maybe just speculation but I've heard it theorized that in large quantities, many nuisance alga can generate/manufacture enough nutrients to sustain themselves...thus where physical removal comes in>> Oh yeah, I have an Aqua-C Remora Skimmer that seems to be working well. <<Indeed...a quality/suitably-sized skimmer for this system>> Also, the calcium does stay high on it's on and I know that's weird too. <<You have little in the tank to utilize it, and with your aggressive water change schedule you likely won't see a fall in levels>> Maybe I should try yet another LFS, like I said, I have many to choose from in this area. <<Is worth doing...>> Thanks, Debi <<Work on clearing up the nuisance algae, then we can revisit the fish issues (this might be as simple as getting your fish from another store).  Regards, EricR>>

Water Prep...Some Things Are Best Done Yourself IV - 06/24/06 Ok, yes the fish that died all came from the same source, but the goby came from there also.  The blenny came from another source.  The store I got the dead fish from has a very good reputation and many many people buy both water and fish from there with no complaints.  I think I would know about unhappy people if there were many because of our local marine aquarium organization.  Surely there would be something on the site if this store was a problem.   <<Even the best stores can get a shipment of livestock that has been mishandled.  Please understand this Debi, it's not my intention to malign the store(s) from which you make your purchases.  I'm simply providing feedback/comments/possibilities based on the information you provide.  In the end it's up to you to use your own good judgment to determine what is wrong and what plan of action to follow>> No, I personally haven't tried different test kits, but yes different ones have been used since the LFS stores, neither one, uses the same test kits and I have stood there personally many times and watched them test my water with identical results to mine, unless as you say there could be something we can't test for.  Then how would I know? <<Likely you wouldn't>> If that was the case wouldn't the other things have died also? <<Not necessarily...possible differences in tolerance/sensitivity ...levels of health at time of exposure...>> If I don't need the DT's can you tell me how I feed the frogspawn? <<Can easily be "target" fed when the feeding tentacles are extended>> Will it eat the Mysis shrimp, whole little ones like the frozen? <<Yes>> Where is it's mouth? <<Lightly "dust" the animal with the Mysis shrimp a couple times a week when it expresses its feeding tentacles...it will do the rest>> I know I sound pretty ignorant but I've never seen a mouth on it and so have no idea how to feed it. <<The mouth (or mouths) is not readily visible, but you don't need to see it to feed this animal.  And...your knowledge of this animal/husbandry (and most all else) is easily expanded by a Google search re on our site/the net in general.  Start by reading here and among the indices at the top of the page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/caryophyllids.htm>> So far as the storage of the water at my local stores, these are large popular stores that people use all the time so yes the storage is just as it should be.  Again, the local club would know and not use them and lots do, very large club covering much area so they shop all around the city. <<Have you consulted the club on your problems?  Asked about any experiences similar to yours?>> I got a Sea Hare today, Apsiladae genus or however it is spelled, <<Genus>> really ugly. <<Interesting creatures>> Hopefully he will help me with the algae.   <<My fingers are crossed>> So, if you would kindly let me know on the feeding of the frogspawn I will continue to work on the algae and leave you alone for a while. <<No bother Debi...this is what we do>> Thanks so much, Debi <<Cheers my friend, EricR>>

Source water concerns for SW use   6/16/06 Hi Crew! Thanks again for the fine articles and FAQs...I have read so many that my eyes are crossed but can't find an answer to this question. My tap water...well water....has a ph of 8.4-8.6...Also alkalinity is very high, Will these readings affect the way that additives such as NovAqua or Amquel work? <Mmm, shouldn't much> Also will this affect water clarity or cause high nitrates? <Actually, should help in reducing such over time> Thanks so much for your time and fantastic website!! Thanks again...DR <Having a "high", stable (buffered) pH, alkaline reserve aids in providing a steady, optimized marine environment. Bob Fenner>
Re: Source water concerns for FW and human use   6/19/06
Bob...One last question. Would an RO/DI unit remove the ammonia? <Most units, yes> If so then that is the only way to go. Thanks so much for your answers to my questions. You have been very helpful. Thanks again...DR <I am very relieved to hear/read of your further cogitation, plan. As I oft-remark, "We're not going anywhere (that I want to go) w/o our health"... And water of safe composition is definitely (more than 70 percent of our bodies...) a principal component. Thank you, Bob Fenner>

Carbon in aquaria and human consumption 6/12/06 Greetings Crew, <Hello> I have been reading through past posts about the use of carbon in marine and freshwater systems and have a question. <ok> In answering questions on carbon and how long it lasts, more than one crew member responded that carbons' usefulness lasts only a few hours to a day or two at most. <Yep> It is suggested that after this period it is no longer 'activated' so to speak.  I know that Brita and other manufactures use carbon for their water filters.  They also allow for 30 days or so of usage before replacing.  Does this mean that their filters aren't actually doing anything for 29 of those 30 days?   Thanks for any help in clearing this up...no pun intended)  : ) Eric B. <Some of it is marketing, who would buy a filter that needs to be replaced every day, and some is the environment.  Tap water is going to have a lot less "stuff" in it to remove than the water from your average fish tank.  The city water system sees to that.  Also the amount of water running through a "Brita" like filter adds up to at most probably 10 gallons a day, while a filter on a normal powerfilter could push through 10X that in one hour.  Carbon basically has only so many holes in it to fill up with unwanted material.  The rate which these holes fill up depends on the concentration of impurities in the water and how much contact time with the water it has.> <Chris>

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