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Tap Water Vs. DI Water

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by tjbuege, Jul 27, 2009.

  1. tjbuege

    tjbuege Lifetime Charter Member
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    Hi,

    I've been using the AP DI Filter for a few years now, however I am considering ditching it and going back to tap water. I feel I should give a brief history of my past efforts, so please bear with me for a bit.

    My initial reasons for switching to DI were due to algae problems. Specifically, my LFS suggested my local tap water had high phosphates and that I should consider RO or DI water. So I invested in the DI filter. The algae problems got better, but did not completely go away. I have previously attempted plants on a couple of occasions, but quit out of frustration, as I could not get them to grow to my satisfaction, and algae usually got the better of me. I'm sure lack of CO2 and proper lighting were major factors, along with *no dosing of ferts* (yes, you read that right).

    Well, determined to make a success of a planted aquarium, I began searching the 'net and reading a lot. Because of sites like this and others, I finally broke down and purchased a pressurized CO2 system. I know, I could go with the non-CO2 method, but I want fast growth, and I have already invested in 2-3 watts/gal lighting (compact fluorescent). I've had my new plants for about a month now, and have had a pressurized CO2 system for about 3 weeks. I have two tanks: a 20 gallon long, and a 29 gallon. Both have a 65 watt compact fluorescent light system (single 22" bulb). I have also been dosing them with Seachem's product line, per the Seachem dosing chart found at http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/fertilizing/45119-seachem-dosing-calculator-chart.html. The 20 gallon tank is amazing...the plants are growing like weeds, and algae is non-existent (as far as I can tell). The 29 gallon tank is doing fairly well. I had a brief outbreak of diatoms. The purchase of three otos took care of that. However, just yesterday I found a small patch of BGA. I just about lost my composure and sanity! I had a really bad case of BGA a couple years ago in my 20 gallon tank, which was the reason for my giving up live plants at the time.

    Having seen this new spot of BGA, I started reading as much as I could find on the topic. I read (again) articles on this site suggesting that overdosing ferts will not cause algae. But BGA could be caused by poor circulation, excessive organic matter, and low Nitrates. Well, I've been dosing per the schedule I mentioned above, but while I was reading, I read through Tom Barr's EI article. That is where I found mention of ferts not causing algae. What I did read, though, was Tom's suggestion that tap water is sufficient for water changes.

    And this finally gets me around to my question. Should I change back to tap water from DI water? I think I know the answer, but need some reassurance. I just did a quick test of my tap water, and it reads as follows: pH 8.2-8.4, KH 4, GH 5, TDS 136. My biggest concern here is the high pH. Right now my aquariums have a pH around 6.8. Will my fish be able to cope with a higher pH? I know the pH should drop from the CO2, so maybe it will settle out around 7.4, which would probably be OK. I don't have much for fish at the moment, as I'm trying to get the plants established, but the few fish I do have are: 4 guppies, 1 neon tetra (sole survivor), 1 ancistrus temminki (6 years old), 1 yoyo loach (snail control), and 3 otos. My CO2 is between 20-30ppm, based on my drop checkers. The plants are doing well enough to pearl.

    Should I just start using tap water to save time and effort? It's not a fast process filtering water, then getting it reconstituted for the tank, and I have had my frustrations with that. Any thoughts?

    Thank you,

    Tim
     
  2. skypx

    skypx Junior Poster

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    I am somewhat new to planted aquariums, but from what I've read and implemented in our own aquarium, CO2 is more important than we think for these types of setups. What I would recommend is to place your CO2 checker as low to the substrate as possible, and then adjust the CO2 to show a little more than 30ppm. This will make a tremendous difference with the plants. We currently have Neons, Bloodnoses and true SAEs and they are unaffected by the changes in the PH from CO2 injection.
     
  3. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Don't bother messing with the tap, seems excellent.
    pH is not a factor, KH is the main issue, or something toxic like Cu or some other trace heavy metal that's generally not good for you/family, public etc.

    LFS's want to see items and say this about all tap water being bad or having PO4, they say that here with Sac and SF water even though it's Sierra snow melt virtually PO4 free and as close to perfect RO like water as we can get:rolleyes:

    Anyway, try using DIY dry ferts, this will save you $100's.
    Very easy to use too.
    Do not be scared.

    20$ should get you enough for the next 2-3 years and be much easier to target and dose, the commercial brands are mostly water.........with......a tiny bit of ferts added.

    Why pay high $ for water?
    You add the same thing.

    see Planted Aquarium Fertilizer - Home
    Order:

    Gh booster
    KNO3
    KH2PO4
    Trace mix

    Do not worry about BGA, it's easy to get rid of, but sometimes comes back until you get things right(but killing it is easy).
    Folks will help you here.

    KH or 4 and a GH of 5 is ideal really for most any type of planted tank you might want. You focus strongly on CO2 from there since dosing the ferts is rather easy/easy to rule out issues.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  4. tjbuege

    tjbuege Lifetime Charter Member
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    Thanks, Tom. That's reassuring to know my tap water is just fine. You know, over the past 6 years or so of keeping fish, I have come to realize that truth of what you said about LFS: they want to sell product.

    One quick question: in the list of ferts you mentioned Trace mix. I didn't see anything labeled "Trace". Would this be "PMDD Pre-Mix"? or is there something else you were referring to?

    Thanks!

    Tim
     
  5. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Trace mix is CSM+B, in powder form, or any of the various trace mixes sold at LFS, such as Flourish or Tropica Plant Nutrition Liquid.
     
  6. tjbuege

    tjbuege Lifetime Charter Member
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    Hi Hoppy,

    Yes, I'm aware of trace mixes such as Flourish. I was wondering which powder form was considered trace mix, and you answered my question. Thanks!

    Tim
     
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