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Water Softener causing BBA outbreak?

Discussion in 'CO2 Enrichment' started by aronson, Nov 12, 2006.

  1. aronson

    aronson Prolific Poster

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    We bought a water softener. :(

    We had to... Our tea water was leaving crust in the tea pot and my clothes could stand up straight without assistance. The unit we purchased has a bypass and I switch the bypass on when I do a water change. I run the Python to empty the old water with the bypass on thinking this will empty most of the softened cold water out of the pipes before I refill the tank. I then refill adding only the amount of softened water from the hot tap that draws from the water heater.

    To add a little bit more to the story (did I mention that there was a story? :D )...

    On 9/27 I posted this thread about modifying my fert regimen because of an abundance of small green dot algae that was appearing on the glass of my tank after the 3rd day. In a PM Tom wrote the following:

    Making my best stab at the math I started the following every-other-day regimen the following Sunday:

    Macros: 33ml of (3.75 tsp KH2PO4 and 7.5 tsp of KNO3 in 1000ml of water)
    Micros: 10ml of (4 tbsp CSM+B in 1000ml of water)

    Following recommendations I also cranked up the CO2 -- to the point where I killed off my Amano shrimp (luckily the cherries survived!). I then backed it down to spare the rest of my critters and to avoid wasting the extra CO2 that bubbles out of the bottom of my reactor, unabsorbed.

    Then, in addition to the green dot algae 2 weeks later the BBA started. :mad:

    So, what do I do? Is the water softener the culprit? Am I running my lights too long (3.8wpg 11hr/day)? More ferts?

    Help... Please.
     
  2. Professor Myers

    Professor Myers Guru Class Expert

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    IE Water Softeners

    Many water softeners utilize cation exchange resins that may contribute substantial Phosphates. Cease all use until you can run a fresh PO4 test. Without any factual test results you're flying blind at this point. Please consider an R/O unit or just purchase R/O water to mix your makeup.

    Test kits are highly overrated but there is a time and place for them. Likewise the phosphate blather that is widely marketed is a bit of a stretch as well. Yes excessive phosphates can contribute to the problem, but they are more than likely not the root cause. High Co2 doesn't kill shrimp Low oxygen and heavy metals will though. Your lighting is a bit high (Almost Twice, How deep is this tank ?), and drop your cycle to 10 hours. HTH Prof M
     
  3. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    In my opinion 3.8 watts per gallon is way too high except for a 10 gallon or smaller tank. And, even a reasonable 2.5 watts per gallon should only be on for 8 hours a day. Also, I think too high CO2 will prevent shrimp from getting rid of the CO2 in their blood just as it does fish, and that would be fatal.
     
  4. Professor Myers

    Professor Myers Guru Class Expert

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    For the sake of discovery please define too high a level of Co2 ?

    30 ppm ? 35 ppm ? 40 ? I suspect that if the Co2 were indeed too high you wouldn't be observing the algae growth unless there were a conspicuous lack of plants.

    and while I agree about the excessive lighting we often fail to recognize Deep Show tanks. If the lights were say 30" from soil line the actual illumination reaching the surface would be considerably less, and just about breaking even at 2W/2.5W per gallon would it not ?

    It's pretty difficult to diagnose water quality 3rd. person on the web so lots of qualifiers come into play. Personally I think that's alot of light for too long a cycle, and if phosphates did run high under those conditions algae would be fairly certain. If Co2 on the other hand were over 35 ppm I'd be surprised to see little or any algae, but your shrimp might begin to suffer for it. I personally average 33 to 35 ppm Co2, and I just found another 50 or so new Cherry Shrimp peaking out of the Java moss on Saturady so they seem to be O.K. with it ? Mi Dos Centavos, Prof M
     
  5. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    If you can by pass that sofening unit for water changes, that's the best solution.

    Typically they have a pre valve that will allow that, so you do not soften everything.

    The other thing is having a by pass valve on softener.
    You can flush out the water, then use tap, then run the softener again.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  6. aronson

    aronson Prolific Poster

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    Thanks to all who responded!

    I was (of course) told that the softener didn't add anything to the water other than some sodium. Knowing this could be a bad thing I decided on the bypass (which I actively engage before doing a water change). Could the hot water that I am adding from my water heater (already softened) contribute enough phosphates to be a problem? I have a test kit (a LaMotte) -- will check that tonight and report back.

    RO unit is a $500 option... :(

    Are others here using a water softener with any success?

    Adam
     
  7. Professor Myers

    Professor Myers Guru Class Expert

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    Test the hot water affluent 1st.

    Allowing the water to equallize to room temp prior to the test.

    A hot water tank would act as as a resevoir for the phosphate if it were indeed present and phosphates like Nitrates seemingly exhibit a half life for lack of a better description, but don't worry too much. If that were actually the case the tank will blow soon enough, and you can go to a tankless hot water heater, and your problem is solved !!! Right ? ;) At least that's what happened here any way ! :D

    Never the less you can still reduce the light cycle, and either use fewer bulbs or raise the lights. Personally I'd lose that 5500 K and keep the 6700K. Good Luck, Prof M
     
  8. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I bought a 100gpd RO unit for 110$ on ebay.

    500$ ?, you likely don't need that 500$ version.
    Simply bypass the line with a valve.

    You can buy filtered water at the grocer, 10 gal once a week.

    PO4 have nothing to do withg it.
    Salt water does..............

    Try growing most any terrestrial plant in salt water.......:(
    Good way to kill them.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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