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RO and Mineral Deseases

Discussion in 'Are you new to aquatic plants? Start here' started by Steven, Sep 7, 2009.

  1. Steven

    Steven Guru Class Expert

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    Is it true that RO water will cause mineral diseases for fishes eg. hole in the head, destroyed fins and fatty degeneration of the liver? I use RO water for my tank and will introduce some fishes soon but after read somewhere concerning mineral diseases I become doubtful now but from where I read, they said it can be avoided by adding some "mineral salt" for hardening the RO water a bit and will provide the mineral or trace element to the water. But I just wonder myself that my pH and kH will rise too, no?

    So far my tank already have 8 otocinclus affinis for about 1,5 weeks and they are doing just fine. Just anybody that ever have this experience and care to elaborate? Thanks.
     
  2. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Rebuild RO/DI Water

    I will answer more fully later.

    What is clear is that unreconstituted RO/DI, distilled water and so forth has a bad affect on plants and fish. I know a lot of folks use RO/DI water for planted and marine tanks, because they are scared of the water from the tap.

    Make sure the RO/DI water has been 'rebuilt' and well aerated before adding to your tanks.

    Biollante
     
  3. Gilles

    Gilles Lifetime Members
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    Hi Biollante,

    "well aerated before adding to your tanks" Hmm never done this to be honest. I always recondition my RO with Sera Mineral salt to a KH of 2, but i never aerate it...
    What's the point? prevent dead water?
     
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Just blend a % of tap with RO, that solves any of that.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  5. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Well... Er... Yes!

    Hi Gilles,

    The direct answer to your question is “well… er… ah, yes!”

    I suspect that in adding your Sera Mineral salt you are indeed aerating (stirring?) the water as part of the conditioning. While blending (stirring, mixing) the salt into the, relatively pure water, you are adding other components as well, oxygen for one. This begins the process of bringing or finding equilibrium.

    Further being young and strong, you likely use bucket or such to dump the water further blending and aerating, particularly if disrupt the flow from the container so as to protect the tank.

    I am not sure precisely what is in the Sera Mineral salt that you reference, though the advertising says it makes your water ‘like’ natural water.

    The fact that you are using Sera Mineral salt to raise the KH value only a small amount 2 dKH, roughly only 36 ppm KH, causes me to wonder if the other ingredients are high enough to constitute ‘natural water.’

    The purer the water, the more aggressively it is going to try to make new friends. RO is somewhat harder to judge then DI, since RO is a range and can depend on everything from water pressure and condition to system and in particular, membrane, condition, tension and type.

    For some time I have wondered if the problems you are experiencing, in addition to a minor design flaw in your tank, might be the use of improperly (under?) conditioned RO water be a root cause. Certainly the ORP numbers you reported tend to support (agreed; other problems exist) that conclusion.

    I keep several low KH value water tanks; I start with DI water and reconstitute them fully to aquarium condition. A flaw in my practice was pointed out and I made changes, among those changes were the practice of aerating for couple of days after reconstituting the water.

    To be fair, being a potted plant has its limitations. I do not get much, blending or aeration value adding the mixture to the aquaria, since I add and remove water, usually via the tank plumbing.:)

    I am simply not as sanguine as the redoubtable Tom Barr is, thoroughly mixing (aerating) a large percentage of tap water, okay. I genuinely believe that some sort of electrolyte mix or the use of a GH booster, hey, I know, Barr’s GH Booster (it is what I use) is in order and then thoroughly mixing and it would not hurt to aerate the mixture.;)

    Biollante
     
  6. Steven

    Steven Guru Class Expert

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    So in short answer is to aerate the RO water before should solve the mineral deficiency problem for fishes? Sorry for I don't understand quite well :)
     
  7. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Mineral deficiencies, meaning a shortage of calcium and magnesium, are fixed by adding minerals, magnesium and calcium. GH boosters, whether the "Barr" version, or Seachem Equilibrium, take care of that. Just let the KH be whatever it is. Low is good, medium is good, very high isn't good.
     
  8. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    What Purpose?

    Hi Steven,

    Sorry I didn’t see this before, wasn’t ignoring you. :eek:

    You have nothing to apologize for, the fault is mine, I really didn’t properly answer your question or ask you the correct clarifying questions.

    No aerating alone will not solve the mineral deficiency problems, aerating go a long way toward making the water safer and indeed do jumpstart the whole finding equilibrium process.

    As I thought I said and as VaughnH correctly says, we have to add minerals to, well, increase the mineral content. Many fine products out there too accomplish reconstitution of RO/DI or distilled water.;)

    My issue with young Gilles had primarily to do with the use of a single product to accomplish both setting a desired low KH value and adequately reconstituting the RO water. In Gilles’ case, I believe he would be far better off reconstituting the water then setting the KH level if that is what he desires or requires. There is a little history.

    There is nothing wrong as VaughnH points out with using KH of differing values, depending on your purpose and most of the time it really makes little difference at all.

    I guess the questions I should have asked you are:
    What is your purpose in using RO?
    What are you trying to accomplish?

    While RO presents some dangers and added work and expense, it offers the opportunity to ‘build’ our water to exact specifications.

    Most of the time we are better off using tap water or tap water mixtures as Tom Barr suggested.:)

    Biollante
     
  9. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    As a bit of a water quality nut at times, I'd have to say that presuming your tap is good, the purpose of RO is mostly for controls in experiments.

    Tap water can be calculated out to figured in the yearly highs and lows of just about any major contributing compound of your choice. From there, you have an extra margin of error layered in on top of your dosing. For most people, this margin of error is actually less than what they put their tanks through in dry dosing vs. liquid. This is why I mix my own liquid ferts with a scale.

    While the plants need for nutrients in the water is obvious, osmotic balancing has not been mentioned when it comes to the fish. It is not a nutrient deficiency in the sense of slow dietary deficiency. Fish consume a lot of water, and as can happen in humans, if there are no nutrients/salts replacing what is taken out, a massive electrolyte crash happens. This means the fish is likely to suffer from problems with their nervous system first by my guess, rather than any wasting.

    The good news is that if you're dosing nutrients for plants at EI levels, the fish will be taken care of at the same time.

    -FST
     
  10. Steven

    Steven Guru Class Expert

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    Tap water is still not available in my area where I live, and my ground water parameter change all the time during the season change and I'm too afraid to use it. For eg. the pH was at 5.9 when in rainy season and now it's 7.8 in dry season. So the only choice for me to keep this hobby is to buy water for my tank. The water that I'm buying is for human consumption and the owner claims it is RO water. I tested the kH was 1-2 dkH using Sera kH test (from the first drop, it reads yellow but very light yellow and the second next drop completely turned to yellow, so I assume it is 1-2 dkH, CMIIW, so as for gH is also 1-2 dgH).

    Although I know that RO water should be 0dkH and 0dgH. FYI, I had my ground water tested at the local authority at 2005 and the result are as follow :
    - KMnO4 : 6.23 ppm
    - pH : 6.8
    - CaCO3 : 21.78
    - Fe : 0.4896
    - Mn : 0.2667
    - SO4 : 19
    - NO3 : 0
    - NO2 : 0.0633
    - Cl : 58.22

    I know that the result above also will change from time to time according to the season. So the answer is I am not trying to accomplish anything here because this is my only choice to use RO (or the owner of the shop claims to be) to keep this hobby. Or perhaps that is not pure RO and just merely "filtered" water? Sometimes I just think that I should test that RO water too to see if it's pure RO or just "filtered" water. Could you perhaps know what is the CaCO3 anyway? Thank you very much for your help.
     
  11. Steven

    Steven Guru Class Expert

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    Now you sound like what I think. Yeah, sometimes I also think that by dosing Seachem Flourish and Trace, I also adding some mineral/salt into the tank, no? Will this help solve the mineral deficiency for fish? Thank you.
     
  12. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Water Quality Nuts

    I guess I would hope that we are all water quality nuts; certainly, Stevens’ actions demonstrate a high regard for water quality. However, without understanding his situation (real or perceived), desires and expectations it is hard to assess if this is the best way to meet those needs.

    {Just read the last 2 posts, so that explains that}

    Generally, tap water in an area remains within a range; usually reasonably fit for most purposes. I have lived and kept fish in places where we boiled the water for drinking, washing or cooking, therefore I boiled (then aerated) the water I kept my fish.

    I lived in a place the beer companies love to brag about, the water was incredibly good. When I moved to the land of water harder and higher mineral content than seawater, it scared me to death, I first tried my own RO/DI system, it turned out to be less expensive than diy water to simply purchase and have the water delivered. (Note: Phoenix city and other municipalities deliver pretty good water, I am on a system that gets there water from an abandoned copper mine, they charge extra to remove the arsenic.)

    Over time, I realized the water here hadn’t actually killed anyone and with a little filtering was not all that bad. The exception being a few plants and a couple of critters that I raise in DI water I reconstitute and aerate then up the alkalinity to about 2 dKH.

    I also ‘cut’ the tap water in some of my tanks with a little DI water mostly to drop the KH, in those cases the amount of tap water is much greater than the DI water, therefore I don’t concern myself with reconstituting the DI water, the mixing aerates and seems to bring everything to equilibrium quite quickly.

    I guess under the heading of it is hard to say everything in one post I, I failed to mention osmotic pressures which by definition are a function of diffusion of salts, yes the effect of the areas of greater and lesser concentrations are part of the problem with the direct use of RO/DI water.

    The problem as I understand it has to do with the pure water during this time when it is seeking equilibrium, in the ion, electrolyte sense of the word the purer the water the more it accepts or to say it another way, it strips what it needs from whatever is handy.

    (This would be a good time for one of you smart folks to jump in and do some serious explaining.)

    For me the real, decisive moment in the RO/DI reconstituting argument came while dissecting some fish. In particular looking under a microscope at the gills of fish raised in DI, RO and tap water, I did not need the aid of an expert to tell me (as experts will he did anyway) the difference and I found evidence of similar damage throughout the fish.

    One of the really big differences between you people and fish has to do with fish being not as closed a system. Fish for instance, urinate about one third their body weight per day, like a 170 lb (77 kilogram) person peeing about 20 gallons (76 liters) per day. Among other things, this is how they help regulate their osmotic pressures.

    I can’t go as far as Philosophos or FTP writing as Philosophos, I have not seen any evidence of damage to the central nervous system, nor have I read of it either, it may well be but I think the type of electrical activity is more the ionic sort.

    I have been using a couple of ORP, well and other instrumentation and I have to say the readings I get are consistent with what I see.

    I grant (see disclaimer) I am no expert, I am not even all that bright, people of learning may well have other better, understanding, but I know what I see.

    Anyway that is in a nutshell why a say what I say. Trust me I have got more if anyone is interested.:eek:

    Between business, legal and health situations, I have got a lot of pent-up, generally useless information. We Evil Plant Monsters have incredibly complex lives.;)

    Biollante
     
  13. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Sorry About Double Post

    Hi Steven,

    Two quick points:

    First, the reading you are getting with your Sera test kit is consistent with reverse osmosis, RO water, generally it requires deionizing to get close to zero. But sounds like you are getting what you are paying for.:)

    Second, hobby test kits tend to be questionable to begin with and need calibrating.

    Biollante
     
  14. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    Steven, I've run sensitive fish in 90-99% RO and reconstituted with Flourish as a trace, plus NPK. Both plants and fish got by pretty well, though I did have an unexplained streak of losses when I held it up at 99% for too long. I won't say for sure that it was from nutrient deficiencies, but at the same time I can't see any harm in throwing in 10-20% tap, even with your fluctuations.

    Biollante, you'd be surprised how many people in the hobby don't like dealing with the chemistry. All those people with nothing but 100% ADA setups aren't all that interested in the science ;) If you mean we as in regualrs on thebarrreport.com, then you're right on the most part. There's a couple who are bored to tears with manipulating the column, but they've moved on to other aspects to obsess over.

    Your description of osmotic pressure was bang on; fish consume a crapload of water, it flushes out all kinds of things through the digestive/urinary tract, and if it isn't replacing things then nutrients disappear. Fish also lose some of their nutrients through osmosis over their skin I believe; if they don't have water around them that replenishes this as well, they start to have problems from the outside in. This used to be a theory to explain HITH/HLLE, but there are other theories asserting that a parasite known as hexamita or some sort of autoimmune disease is responsible.

    As for elements in the water, ORP isn't so much of a FW thing; it doesn't impact in a big way, likely because the concentrations of ions are relatively low compared to SW. ORP is more of a soil sediment related issue, being a thicker soup so to speak. I don't know the precise sciences behind it, though it's something I keep bringing my self back to when I'm in the head space for heavy chemistry. I'm kind of edgy around the whole thing; some people get rather Barnum effect about it.

    -Philosophos
     
  15. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Sorry for the Hijac

    Hi Philosophos,

    No doesn’t surprise me at all that people don’t care about the science around fish keeping and really for the most part that is a healthy sign. A person doesn’t need to understand the technology to use the technology.

    I do not remember who said it but I agree for this hobby, planted aquaria in particular but I think it holds true with the hobby in general. People need to be able to come into the hobby with a good starting point that will allow a reasonable chance of success without understanding much at all of the inner workings.

    It is sometimes difficult to help someone here; you often understand you have folks who want practical help. Often they are just plain frustrated and what they need is a little handholding and practical, do this, then this, then the next thing kind of help.

    At the same time you are aware others are reading with problems that may or may not be similar. They may be trying to take a rather narrow piece of advice and try to generalize that advice.

    Or the folks with an axe to grind, things aren’t working for them and by golly it can’t possibly be their fault, that they didn’t want to follow all the steps, because someone at nitwitaquaist.org said they didn’t really need too or do those pesky water changes every week. Now it is Tom Barr’s fault, EI, or the system.

    Then there are the "you didn’t mention every possibility" crowd.

    This site is somewhat odd in that its orientation is science and rather argumentatively based. I’ve followed Tom Barr around over the years, kind of liked his in your face challenging style. Kind of liked the fact that he was booted from a number of sites, simply because they couldn’t tolerate anyone who examined or questioned their methodology.

    As far as the ORP meter, not being much of a freshwater thing. In this context, it was only supporting information, if we are going to talk ion exchange, the molecular level violence and mayhem it seems obvious that a device that allows us to quantify the action seems appropriate.

    Using an ORP meter in the water column does not preclude using an ORP meter for messing about in the substrate. While I acknowledge Tom Barr’s field of study, that does not and should not preclude others from exploring elsewhere.

    In fact since I got my first little cheap ORP/pH pen awhile back and now have much more sophisticated devices at hand, it I s amazing the amount of pure crap I see being spouted. The fact is that my first ORP experiences were simply a means to track and identify filter problems and issues in a little fish farming, rather intense bio-load, situation. From there issues in the tanks, the associated hydroponic systems. Dealing with water quality issues became far less “guess” and a whole lot more “by-golly.”:)

    Now with ion specific probes and gear it is a brave new world.:D

    I respectfully say to the redoubtable Tom Barr, your good self and anyone else who thinks the ORP technology has no place in freshwater aquaria, in my humble opinion you are wrong. :eek:

    In addition to the urinary track the osmoregulation takes place along the gills and the gut. Remember the gills on a fish if stretched out provide a much larger service area than the skin or scales of the fish, the same is true of the gut, so a number of functions you mammals relate to urination also take place along the gill/water boundary layer.

    Sorry Steven for the hijack of your thread, I hereby return it to you.

    Biollante
     
  16. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    A good start is something I've been trying to give people in aquaria for a number of years now. I find planted tanks are horrible that way; the books are typically outdated or full of inaccurate information. Nobody has put out a high tech how-to manual. If nobody else jumps on it in the next couple of years, I might just do it my self. I enjoy writing and research; I'd definitely source the hell out of it.

    So where are you getting your ORP information from then? I wouldn't mind checking over the science behind what you're saying, and trying to see how it works a little better. I've heard lots of claims, but I haven't seen anything concrete and rational to look at explaining the detailed science behind the concept as applied to FW aquaria.

    When it comes to fish, I tend to find osmoregulation more a matter of digestion/urinary tract more than anything else. Fish urinate something like 20-30% of their body weight a day. I can't imagine what that means for surface area exchange and absorbency through such thin membranes as the intestine.

    -Philosophos
     
  17. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Well a little more hijack!

    Well a little more hijack!:eek:

    Actually, it is the incredibly fine as thin as a single cell that allows for the osmoregulation, fish gills and gut are a work of wonder. The large kidney takes care of basic filtration and is itself a marvel, but it is the gill/water boundary layer where the magic happens, it is an amazing thing.:)

    I guess I’ll put together an ORP thread, I’ve kinda done stuff all over the place. I had a couple of threads where I thought it would provide a good back drop, but either lack of interest or I hurt someone’s feelings because he gave me an ORP reading that point blank described his tank. I think he wanted to blame Tom Barr for some good advice he didn’t take and I kind of inadvertently slid in not knowing the whole story.

    Actually, the H2O2 thing the other day is a great redox kind a story fitting as it does between Potassium permanganate, KnMO4 and Chlorine, Cl on the spectrum.

    Part of the problem with aquarium literature is when I say something foolish or obviously wrong I can admit my lack of knowledge and move on, I made my bones elsewhere, professionally no repercussions. I may feel a little stupid, but hey, I learned something.

    Every biologist including Tom Barr wants to be meaningful, aquariums are a side area that really there is little upside for them and a lot of downside. A biologist or chemist screws up in a place like this it can haunt them. I could name and without too much difficulty you can find more than one career of a budding young scientist wrecked for reaching a bit too far, or being plain wrong about something published on some website or delivered at some hobbyists’ convention.

    As a result, much of our information for the hobby devolves from other types of work, which may or may not be relevant.

    A lot of the flim-flam in the hobby comes, I believe out of this. Not all of these folks are themselves dishonest, in the normal sense of the word, they get caught up in their own hype.

    As down on me as some have gotten over the ORP thing, a good place to start, are Tom Barrs’ newsletters, despite a ton of other literature some of the best things written about redox are right there.

    Handing the hijacked thread back once again.:eek:

    Biollante
     
  18. Steven

    Steven Guru Class Expert

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    Thank you all folks. So by any chance any of you know what is CaCO3? And last question, Do trace fertz help providing mineral in RO water? Thanks once again.
     
  19. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Calcium Carbonate

    Hi Steven,

    CaCO3 is Calcium carbonate, the active ingredient in agricultural lime, the main ingredient in eggshell, snail and clamshells and so on. CaCO3 reacts with acids to produces CO2.

    Yes, the trace elements are a help in reconstituting RO water.

    Generally, the addition of CaCO3 raises KH and GH. MgSO4 raises GH. The reason I recommend a good GH booster, such as Barr’s GH booster is that it take care of the buffering and you can adjust everything else from that point. Then KH can raise be raised about one degree per ten gallons of water with the addition of one gram of baking soda.;)

    Mix well, another word for aerate, give it a little time to establish equilibrium and you are golden.:)

    Biollante
     
  20. Steven

    Steven Guru Class Expert

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    Thank you Biollante.
     
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