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Tap water question

Discussion in 'Advanced Strategies and Fertilization' started by Watcher, May 15, 2005.

  1. Watcher

    Watcher Junior Poster

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    Tom,

    This question is the main reason why I signed up. Though I am having a great time studying the newsletters. :D

    I moved here to central Texas about 6 months ago and all the aquarists here seem to think you have to use R/O water in aquariums. The local LFS is making a killing selling this stuff for $.35/gallon.

    At first I just blew it off as lunacy and proceeded to set up an African Rift lake Cichlid tank with tap.

    I've had it going for 4 and a half months with no problems. A little growth of brown algae but that's it.

    I recently talked with the owner of the LFS and she seemed very knowledgable and was clearly a plant tank enthusiast. She also firmly believes (and cited much experience) with the local tap water causing "pea soup" in any planted tank it is used in. But she did encourage me to try whatever I wanted. This made me a little uneasy.

    So here it is:

    All parameters that I have tested on my tap appears to coincide with the water report. All in ppm.

    Kh: 377
    Gh: 8
    PH: 8.5
    PO4: 0
    NO3: 0.1
    K: 0
    Fe: 0
    Mg: 0.65
    Sodium: 200
    Calcium 2.96

    55 gallon tank, pressurized CO2, 260 Watts of light, flourite substrate. I plan on using your EI method.

    What do you think? Any problems? Will 200 ppm sodium cause a calcium uptake inhibition in the plants? I.E. Is 200 ppm high?

    I should add Gh, right? I've read the EI article numerous times but I am still unclear what Gh gives to the plants that they need.

    Help me prove these people wrong. ;)

    Thanks
     
  2. Greg Watson

    Greg Watson Administrator
    Staff Member Administrator

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    Re: Tap water question

    I'm sure Tom will address your question, but before he does, I thought I'd jump in here with just my own opinons.

    It is my personal opinion ... that you have answered your own question here ... you are already proving them wrong ....

    My water comes write out of the tap with a KH/GH of around 12 and a PH almost as high as yours ... nice rock hard water ... and most of the rest of my numbers look higher than yours ...

    My wife keeps Cichlids and does 50-70% untreated water changes right out of the tap in her Cichlid tanks, and when given enough space, they breed like crazy ...

    There are some plants that just don't seem to like my hard water and especially my higher water temps. But most plants grow fine and the Cichlids breed like crazy ...

    There are honestly some fish who like softer water or harder water, some plants that seem to do better in softer water or harder water ... in most cases, they will do fine no matter what kind of water you have.

    So unless you are breeding your fish you should be fine, some fish may or may not breed quite as readily; and with some species, the water quality will impact the development of eggs ... but for general care and general growth they should be fine.

    Greg
     
  3. Watcher

    Watcher Junior Poster

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    Re: Tap water question

    Thanks Greg! Psssst..I'm going to buy some KNO3 and KH2PO4 from you in a couple weeks. ;)

    I told the owner of the LFS that I had no problems with my existing tank. She immediately asked if there were any plants in it. I responded "No, it's a rift lake tank." Then she smiled knowingly and assured me it would be different with plants.

    From what I think I understand, brown algae dominates over green algea in low light conditions that are normally found in FO tanks, right? Less than 1 watt/gallon. So I couldn't happily discount her assurance of pea soup H. E. double-hocky-sticks that was awaiting me if I didn't pay relatively big bucks for R/O water and cart it all over the city for my tank.

    But from reading Tom's lessons, as long as the CO2 is stable, all the nutrients are in good supply, and I get my plants healthy and thriving before adding fish, everything should be fine.

    I'm just trying to figure out why everyone insists on not using tap water. I went to a local Aquarium Society meeting that included two professors that teach aquatic biology and THEY use R/O water.

    That makes me doubt that I understand what's going on.
     
  4. Greg Watson

    Greg Watson Administrator
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    Re: Tap water question

    Over a decade ago, I was the senior research analyst for the Iowa House of Representatives - staffing the Appropriations committee ... I used to write a weekly column titled "What We Know That Isn't So" ...

    This last week, I attended a aquatic plant presentation from a professor who said that that there was no such thing as too much light ... he was advocating 7-20 watts per gallon, said that DIY CO2 was beneficial, but not necessary, and was advocating a soil substrate ... he advice was extrapolated from a "statistical analysis" of Amano's tanks without regard to tank depth, distance of the aquarium from the light source, and a host of other "obvious" errors ... he showed a picture of his aquarium that he had taken the day before that was dark green pea soup ... he wasn't sure how that had happened, but was sure some water changes would fix the problem ...

    He did not know I was in the audiance, and he had the audacity to include in his powerpoint presentation, a picture of my house which he took off my website as well as a picture of my wife and myself which he also took off of my website ... one of his "remarks" was that he had to travel all the way to Washington to find out from GWAPA that the real expert was 20 miles away from him in his own back yard ... while I appreciated the public compliment, I didn't paticularly appreciate my name being associated with his presentation or the fact that he displayed my picture, my house, my address, and my phone number without my permission ... but ... he was doing his best ... with the best information he had available to him ...

    Without intending to disparage anyone's academic credentials, the name professor does not imply knowledge about any specific subject. And in many cases, often provides an incredible source of ideas for "What We Know That Isn't So" type articles ...

    But before we come down too harshly on them ... in many cases, they are working from the best information available to them. And much of "aquarium" literature is decades old ...

    It's been people like Tom who have constantly challenged the institutionalized assumptions within our hobby ... with basic proofs and observations ... while there are dozens of outstanding hobbyists who have brought an "applied" understanding of what happens, Tom adds the technical and scientific proof that allows many of us to apply sound concepts and sound practices to a real world hobby ...

    At times, what Tom writes may seem like it is "over my head" ... however, I always learn a little bit more ... I always gain a little more understanding ... And often that "Knowledge and Understanding" sneaks up on me months later when the realization hits that "hey, I know something I didn't realize I know."

    And its these moments of understanding that "prove" the value of our subscriptions to the Barr Report ... it may be subtle, and it may sneak up on us ... but the knowledge and understanding that each of us gain over time is far "bigger" than we realize "at the moment" ...

    So ... "apply" the sound practices ... "apply" the sound principles ... and enjoy your aquariums ... planted or otherwise ... I'm enjoying mine! And I personally have no doubt ... I am quite confident that you DO "understand whats going on." :)

    Greg
     
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