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Bypass water softener or RO?

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by nikelodeon79, Feb 27, 2012.

  1. nikelodeon79

    nikelodeon79 Junior Poster

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    I have been doing loads of research and trying to figure out what's best for my aquariums (fish and plants) but still am quite confused.

    I have well water that is run through a water softener. I do have one tap in the laundry room (cold water only) that does not go through the water softener unit. I am using API liquid tests.

    Softened water:
    PH: 7.6
    KH: 6
    GH: 1 (turned color immediately)

    Un-softened water:
    PH: 7.6
    KH: 6
    GH: 17

    Also of interest: I tested my various tanks and GH was at 3-4... and I'm currently using the softened water in them.

    I am concerned because some of the fish I keep reportedly do not do well in water with sodium. I have:

    26g tank:
    Betta albimarginata
    Corydoras panda and leucomelas
    Puntius oligolepis
    Trigonostigma hengeli
    and I would like to add some otocinclus cocama
    medium-high light, DIY CO2

    20g tank:
    Corydoras habrosus
    Boraras maculatus and merah
    Celestichthys margaritatus
    medium light, DIY CO2

    75g tank:
    African mbuna
    low-medium light, no CO2 injection at the moment

    The un-softened water would be great for the mbuna, but not so great for the other two tanks. I should note that I have had success with the panda corydoras (they have bred in the softened water) and the leucomelas corydoras also seem to be doing well. The albis have not had a successful spawn though they do seem to be attempting to do so (the male will disappear for days at a time and then reappear... but no babies thus far). I have kept corydoras habrosus in the past and they didn't fare quite so well... all died off within a year or so.

    I am considering:

    1) RO water for the 20 and 26 (would need to purchase an RO unit) unsoftened water for the 75

    2) Purchase RO/distilled water for the 20 (putting the oto cocama in there rather than the 26), softened water for the 26, and unsoftened water for the 75

    3) Just keep plugging away like I have been doing for the past 4-5 years or so: using the softened tap water on all three tanks.

    I would like to note that I am not very technologically advanced and have had some difficulty understanding the various threads I've found regarding this issue... so if someone would be so kind as to "dumb down" an explanation/advice for me, I would greatly appreciate it!
     
  2. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Your Rockfish Might Even Like A Little More Salt!

    Hi,

    The Lake Malawi tank would work well with your raw unsoften water.:gw

    If the other two tanks are doing well, I see no reason to change.:nonchalance:

    You are adding about 100-ppm Sodium to soften your water.:)

    Alternatively, you could put a whole house sediment filter in and skip the Sodium. Putting the whole house filter in front of your water softener, you will increase its life, efficiency and drastically reduce your salt use.:encouragement:

    Biollante
     
  3. Cyclesafe

    Cyclesafe Guru Class Expert

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    Use KCl rather than NaCl in your water softener. More expensive, but better for everybody....
     
  4. nikelodeon79

    nikelodeon79 Junior Poster

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    Thanks for the response! I saw a few of your posts on the other threads I was perusing and was hoping you would respond!

    I'm fairly certain we do already have a whole house sediment filter... I will double check when I get home.

    My goodness, this seems like a very simple solution! I like it!
     
  5. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    A Nice Collection


    Hi,

    Switching to KCl is not magic at four times the cost and you add 170-ppm K[SUP]+[/SUP].

    If a working sediment filter is ahead of your water softener, you might consider a carbon filter.:)

    A working whole house filter, especially a carbon filter, would drastically reduce the amount of Sodium or Potassium required.:encouragement:

    Placing a second filter after the gross sediment filter, such as a carbon block will really improve water quality.

    I still recommend your raw water (minus chlorine) and added salt for the Rockfish.:)

    As to your Betta albimarginata and breeding attempts I am reliably informed, by someone who claims to be my niece, breeds them and says it is not unusual for daddies to require three or four tries before they get the hang of the “pregnancy thing.”
    :cower:
    • Dark substrate and dense plantings are a plus.
    • Have infusoria ready.
    • Live food, bloodworms, gut-loaded brine shrimp and such are a very good idea.

    In fact, given the populations of your 20 and 26-gallon tank, I hope you are culturing bloodworms, daphnia, rotifers, Cyclops and such, not that the Mbuna would mind bloodworms!
    :glee:

    Seems a very nice collection, none of your 20 and 26-gallon tank residents are terribly demanding, it seems a good deal of thought must have gone into them.
    :loyal: I think you are correct in going with softer water and I would look for a pH under 7, 6.5 would be great. I think general hardness in the 4-6 dGH would be good and ensure enough Calcium for growth.

    The residents of the 26-gallon tank would benefit from lower light.

    I guess my answer to your original question is no, you do not need reverse osmosis (RO), some Sodium is good, with working (maintained) sediment filter(s) in front of your water softener I think your water is fine I would advise you add 2 to 4-dGH.
    :cool:

    Biollante
     
  6. nikelodeon79

    nikelodeon79 Junior Poster

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    So, you think we'd be better off sticking with the NaCl?

    The filter we have is this one: http://www.omnifilter.com/whole_house.htm#BF7 It is the "Omnifilter Heavy Duty Model BF7 Series A." Apparently, the filter actually hasn't been changed in about 5 years, so I guess that doesn't qualify it as a "working" filter. We'll get the filter changed ASAP and see if that improves things.

    Any recommendations for a second filter?

    Any particular kind of salt? I do have Seachem's "Malawi/Victoria Buffer" but haven't used any yet.

    I actually recently switched over the substrate from light sand to black flourite sand. It is fairly heavily planted, but the plants have not grown in very full yet. I am considering adding a floating plant, but am not sure what the repercussions would be for my other plants (whether or not that would cut the lighting too much).

    I don't have any cultures going but suppose I really should start! Need to find a good source for cultures.

    As far as feeding, their regular diet is bloodworms but I haven't ever fed any live food... I will start doing that.


    So... I should expect quite a bit of fry, then?

    Well... I did try to put a bit of thought into it. I'm a bit leery about my choice of checker barbs along with the albis, because I'm afraid they'll eat any fry that might happen.

    How would I go about getting my ph lowered to an appropriate amount? It's at 7.6 out of the tap (softened and unsoftened).

    I have raised my light fixture up so it's 28 inches above the substrate and that has cut the light considerably... perhaps some floating plants to cut it further?

    I guess my concern is that I've always heard that corydoras, being scaleless fish, do not do well with sodium.
     
  7. nikelodeon79

    nikelodeon79 Junior Poster

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    Also, it looks like these are my choices for filters:
    [​IMG]

    I do have well water so RS15 and T06 are out. If I'm reading the chart properly it looks like CB6 is my only good option?
     
  8. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Depends On The Water... Lots of Help I Know

    Hi,

    The choice of filter(s) really depends on your water, if there is “grit,” stuff you can see or feel you need larger size pore, here due to the crap in the water I use a 45-micron first stage, and most folks probably do not need such a coarse filter.

    If you are going with a single stage, you can try the CB6, carbon block, it is a 1-micron filter and you may find you have to change it frequently.
    • Ouch! That is an expensive filter… :eek:
    • Sheesh, I by a case of filters for less than that. :nonchalance:
    Of course, I pay a ridiculous amount for “filtered” water delivered to my home,
    :cower: then I filter it again,:( so on second thought that isn’t such a bad price.:wink-new:

    If you find that, the filter clogs to often you can always put a coarser filter in front and
    • though I would check with local codes,
    • you may be able to put a filter in front not rated for well water,
      • which would be less expensive.

    Next is realistic water use, pay attention to the “gpm” (gallons-per-minute); you do not want to reduce your flow.

    • I am assuming your 1-inch pipe is because it is a well,
    • not because you use that much more water than everyone else does.
    • Most homes anything over 2.5-gpm is sufficient.

    What I understand from my alleged niece, is that Betta albimarginata are not very prolific, usually under 40, sometimes way under.
    The Barbs gave me pause, I think in a densely planted tank with live food available and the Puntius oligolepis being, by Barb standards laid back, they should not be much more danger than the Corys.

    • If there is a weakness, it is that the tank is loaded with bottom feeders.
    If your primary purpose is breeding the Betta albimarginata then I think they need their own tank.
    [HR][/HR]
    Lowering pH is harder than raising pH, for smaller tanks, I think Seachem Discus Buffer and Nuetral Buffer are fine, they are phosphate buffers. Or, you could use Seachem Acid Buffer and Alkaline Buffer. These take a bit of experimenting to find the right combination and as always, do not make any big changes.

    As to Sodium, this makes everyone crazy, but I have raised and bred Corys since I was a kid, they are not all that sensitive and even sensitive species need some Sodium. The real question is how much total Sodium, with most sensitive species it is really when we start getting into the parts per thousand range (1000-ppm) range. (As it happens, any “salt,” or combination of “salts,” we use end up with problems when we enter the 1-ppt range.)

    I think the Seachem Malawi/Victoria Buffer is fine and probably provides extra stability, aquarium salt would also work; me, I use rock salt.

    Biollante
     
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