City water is Reverse Osmosis and I have a water softener.

RyanReynoldsshrimp

Hello Fish Folks

So I'm really starting to get serious about keeping fish. I setup a 20 gallon High in my daughters room to replace her 5 gallon tank. It has been cycling for 6 weeks, we put 4 ghost shrimp in it 2 weeks ago. All are doing well except for the one that jump out of the tank, My custom lid is not done yet and I did not realize they could just out. I've done a few 1/4 and 1/3 water changes. I test the water with the API Master Kit every week, everything is fine except the ph. it has stayed at 7.2 but this last week went up to 7.4.
From day 1 we had a large piece of driftwood in the tank, I did boil it and then soak it in water in the sun and periodically changed the water for a week before putting it into the tank. It is still leaching tannins. After a couple weeks it started to grow white fungus, which is now starting to go away. Also my daughter put in some rocks we got from home depot that she just had to have. we washed them very well and have been in the tank for a few weeks and yesterday I noticed Black slightly fuzzy spots the size of a dime growing on the rocks. I researched and concluded it was Black Beard Algae in the very early stage. it wasn't hairy yet. I removed the rocks slowly as not to disturb the growth. (forgot to take pictures before removing) The growths were even on the underside of the rocks which gravel media was stuck to it and some would fall off. Hopefully I got it all.
So this brings me to wonder how it got in there to begin with. Possibly the amazon sword plant i put in. it was a potted plant from Petco. Then I started to think about my water source.
My city built a new water plant with Reverse Osmosis 3 years ago. Also I have a water softener installed. I used the tap water not thinking about this. I believe this is where I made my mistake. although I've used this same water for her 5 gallon for years with no issues. I do have a bypass for the water softener but that would leave me with the RO city water.
I will get a GH/KH test kit today and test the aquarium water, tap water and then water before it gets to the water softener.
My city does put out the water quality test but I really don't know how to read it. haha.
Do I need to add anything to the RO water to make its safe?

SO. This is my situation. Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.
RyanReynoldsshrimp.
 

Mudminnow

I test the water with the API Master Kit every week, everything is fine except the ph. it has stayed at 7.2 but this last week went up to 7.4.
Is this a problem? A pH of 7.2-7.4 is great for many organisms.
So this brings me to wonder how it got in there to begin with. Possibly the amazon sword plant i put in. it was a potted plant from Petco. Then I started to think about my water source.
From what I understand, algae spores are everywhere. You can't keep them out of your tank. The trick is not to provide a habitat where the spores are triggered to grow.
My city built a new water plant with Reverse Osmosis 3 years ago. Also I have a water softener installed. I used the tap water not thinking about this. I believe this is where I made my mistake. although I've used this same water for her 5 gallon for years with no issues. I do have a bypass for the water softener but that would leave me with the RO city water.
Your city treats its water using RO? Lucky you. I'm guessing they add something back into the water to make it hard, and that's why you have a softener? Why do you think using your tap water is a mistake?
Do I need to add anything to the RO water to make its safe?
This depends on what your city adds back to the water. If your GH/KH is super low (doubtful considering you have a water softener), you may want to add something like Seachem Equilibrium depending on what kind of habitat you are trying to emulate/what you plan to keep. Also, I would assume they add some chlorine or chloramine, so you'd need to add some water conditioner.
 

RyanReynoldsshrimp

Hello. thanks for the reply.

PH.
I've always read that 7.6ph is the highest you want for tropical fish so 7.4 is getting up there. I would prefer to keep it at 7.0 - 7.2. for the fish that will be in the tank

Water softener.
I've had the water softener in the house since I built it in 95. the water was pretty hard then. I replace the softener about 5 years ago and then the city built the new water facility. Water softeners remove calcium and other minerals and replace it with sodium. from what I've heard lately is thats a NO NO. fish have a hard time adjusting to it. Ive noticed after water changes in the 5 gallon that the fish always seem to be a little off for a few days. that would explain it.
So I have a mixture of RO water running through a water softener. not sure what im getting anymore.
There is a FB page for my city and ive seen a few topics on the RO water and some folks are bypassing their water softener because they say RO water doesnt need it. but at the same time my folks say they can tell when their water softener is running out of salt. (they live close by me)
As far as RO water I'm clueless about it. I'm not sure what they remove or put back in. I was hoping someone could shed a little light on the topic.
Should I just use the RO water and add some minerals to it and treat it with Prime? and if so how do i treat it.
Should I use my current water from the tap and add minerals? and if so how do I treat it.
Just want the best for the fish and not encounter and major problems is all. I just think the softened water is causing some issues with the 20gal.
Its and odd situation for sure.

Thank you.
 

awilkinson871

I would bypass the water softener. RO water just removes minerals and pretty much every thing else. If you test it there should be 0 or very little of anything. Check the Gh and Kh just to see. If it is very low then you will probably have to remineralize. A Ph of 7.4 is great. You do not want to adjust your Ph. Fish like stability so whether it is 6 or 8.2 it is fine for the vast majority of fish as long as it does not swing very much. I would guess that the rocks you added were leaching something that was raising the Ph. Not uncommon.
The ghost shrimp are going to need some Kh and Gh or they will have issues with molting and die so I would get those tests quickly.
 

RyanReynoldsshrimp

I think I will take your advice on the seachum equilibrium. I'll use the RO water and add seachum equilibruim. but first i will test my tap water, then test the ro water, then test the treated ro water. hopefully then i will know what im dealing with. unfortunately the API GH/KH test kit are nowhere to found in my area. and Amazon is out of stock. but ill find some soon.
I would bypass the water softener. RO water just removes minerals and pretty much every thing else. If you test it there should be 0 or very little of anything. Check the Gh and Kh just to see. If it is very low then you will probably have to remineralize. A Ph of 7.4 is great. You do not want to adjust your Ph. Fish like stability so whether it is 6 or 8.2 it is fine for the vast majority of fish as long as it does not swing very much. I would guess that the rocks you added were leaching something that was raising the Ph. Not uncommon.
The ghost shrimp are going to need some Kh and Gh or they will have issues with molting and die so I would get those tests quickly.
Hello. Just saw you commented while i was writing that last reply. I believe you are correct on the rocks adding minerals and raising the ph. Makes sense. I feel like I will have some trouble keeping the ph at a correct lever. haha. I like the RO plan. Hopefully I get my hands on a test kit soon. When I get the results I will post them.

Thank you for the advice. Much appreciated.
 

Mudminnow

Hello. thanks for the reply.

PH.
I've always read that 7.6ph is the highest you want for tropical fish so 7.4 is getting up there.
I disagree. Hard water is fine for the majority of fishes we keep. Most are either from hard water or can adjust to it. pH matters even less. What species of fishes are you keeping? Do you only have the ghost shrimp?
Water softener.
I've had the water softener in the house since I built it in 95. the water was pretty hard then. I replace the softener about 5 years ago and then the city built the new water facility.... So I have a mixture of RO water running through a water softener. not sure what im getting anymore.
There is a FB page for my city and ive seen a few topics on the RO water and some folks are bypassing their water softener because they say RO water doesnt need it. but at the same time my folks say they can tell when their water softener is running out of salt. (they live close by me)
As far as RO water I'm clueless about it. I'm not sure what they remove or put back in. I was hoping someone could shed a little light on the topic.
RO water has had most everything removed. It should have a GH and KH at or near 0 and a pH at or near 7.0. RO water by itself can be almost too pure for many aquariums (except maybe some blackwater types). Many fish and invertebrates do better with some Calcium and Magnesium in the water (GH). And, hard water organisms need some carbonates or bicarbonates in the water (KH).
Should I just use the RO water and add some minerals to it and treat it with Prime? and if so how do i treat it.
Should I use my current water from the tap and add minerals? and if so how do I treat it.
If you don't already have one, you should get a GH and KH test kit and test your tap water (before it goes through your softener). This will let you know what you will need to do with your water (if anything).

If your tap water turns out to be soft before it goes through your softener, well, there's not much point to having a water softener. And, you may need to add something like Seachem's Equilibrium (depending on your livestock).
Just want the best for the fish and not encounter and major problems is all. I just think the softened water is causing some issues with the 20gal.
This is possible. I've anecdotally heard from folks that have and have not had issues with water softener water in their aquariums. My guess is that it depends on how much sodium is getting into the water and the particular livestock being kept.
 

RyanReynoldsshrimp

My local pet stores seem to be out of GH\KH test kits, Amazon is out of stock as well. I have one more place to try tomorrow. But my plan is to test what's coming out of the tap. Then bypass the water softener and test the RO water. Then treat some RO water and test that as well. Just need to find a kit though.

The shrimp were more for testing the tank. And she really likes them even tho they don't last long. One did last a year and a half tho. Oddly enough his name was lucky. Lol.
She has some Harlequin Rasboras in the 5 gallon that we will transfer to the 20gal. She will be adding some neon tetras, possibly some black neon tetras. Also some Otto's. And possibly some amano shrimp. We will be transferring a good size Anubias and add some micro sword as well.
 

Mudminnow

Harlequins, neons, and black neons are all soft water fishes that can adjust just fine to hard water. Therefore, for these, your GH, KH, and pH don't really matter.

Otocinclus can be a bit more delicate, but I don't know if that is due to an intolerance of hard water or something else. I've kept them in pH 7.5, GH 180 ppm, and KH 120 ppm water without issues. But, then again, I've had them die on me too. I'm sure they'd appreciate softer water, but I'm not sure that's necessarily the key to success with these.

The anubias won't care if the water is soft or hard. And, I've not personally grown microswords (lilaeopsis), so I can't speak from experience with that plant.

So, considering your stock, it seems unlikely you'll need to do anything to your tap except in the case it comes back extremely soft. In that case, you'll probably need to add some Equilibrium for the sake of the shrimps.
 

RyanReynoldsshrimp

Ok. Finally found a kit and tested my water

Here are the results

RO water before it gets to the softener
PH. - 8.4 - 8.6
Ammonia. 0ppm
Nitrite. 0ppm
Nitrate. 0ppm
GH. 8
KH. 6

RO Tap water with softener
PH. 8.4 - 8.6
Ammonia. 0ppm
Nitrite. 0ppm
Nitrate. 0ppm
GH. 1 or 2
KH. 5

Aquarium water from tank. Used RO tap water with Softener. No water changes for 2 weeks
PH. 7.4 - 7.6
Ammonia. 0ppm
Nitrite. 0ppm
Nitrate. 0ppm
GH. 7
KH. 7

GH and KH. Are in the number of drops until water changed color.
 

MacZ

RO water before it gets to the softener
PH. - 8.4 - 8.6
Ammonia. 0ppm
Nitrite. 0ppm
Nitrate. 0ppm
GH. 8
KH. 6

Erm... This isn't RO. RO has no GH or KH and a pH between 6.8 and 7.2.

Municipalities use industrial RO units to remove residue of human medication like antibiotics and other dissolved stuff that is not generally removed in a typical treatment plant and then remineralized or used to cut the treated, cleaned waste water before it is lead into a river or a canal. That stuff usually doesn't go into the drinking water system at all.
So... you don't get RO water from the tap at all.
Only exceptions are plants that turn seawater into drinking water, which you mostly find in the Middle East, Southern Africa and parts of Australia.

GH and KH. Are in the number of drops until water changed color.
The number equals the degrees of hardness.
 

RyanReynoldsshrimp

Erm... This isn't RO. RO has no GH or KH and a pH between 6.8 and 7.2.

Municipalities use industrial RO units to remove residue of human medication like antibiotics and other dissolved stuff that is not generally removed in a typical treatment plant and then remineralized or used to cut the treated, cleaned waste water before it is lead into a river or a canal. That stuff usually doesn't go into the drinking water system at all.
So... you don't get RO water from the tap at all.
Only exceptions are plants that turn seawater into drinking water, which you mostly find in the Middle East, Southern Africa and parts of Australia.


The number equals the degrees of hardness.
Well that shows you how much I know about water. Haha.
So with all that said and with those results. How do my parameters look for my fish tank.? Are they acceptable.? Do I need to add anything like seachem equilibrium? I'm actually at the pet store right now.
 

Mudminnow

How do my parameters look for my fish tank?
8 dKH is hard water but not super hard. An 8.6 pH is high, but your fishes may still be able to adjust. The 7.6 pH in your tank is just fine though. A GH of 1 or 2 might be a bit low for the shrimps, but a GH of 7 or 8 should be fine.

If it were me, I'd go with the tap water and not the softened water.
Are they acceptable?
Yes, but you'll want to keep your tank's pH closer to 7.6 than 8.6. I've not kept tetras at pH 8.6, so I don't know for sure if that is ok with them or not. (I've kept the tetras you have in pH or 8.0 just fine, but I don't know what their upper limit is.) I wouldn't add buffers to keep the pH down though; just keep less fishes and don't do too big of water changes. The driftwood in your tank may eventually stop doing much to acidify your water though, so I would occasionally check the pH just to make sure it isn't creeping up too high. Or, just to be safe, you could swap the tetras out for some hard water fishes.
Do I need to add anything like seachem equilibrium?
No.
 

RyanReynoldsshrimp

If it were me, I'd go with the tap water and not the softened water.
Hey Mudminnow.
My tap water is my softened water.
It does have a pretty high pH.
Curious how 8.6ph goes in and it lowers to 7.4ph when I do water changes.
I fear it will keep rising with water changes.

I test the water once a week with everything in the API master kit. It's been pretty consistent except the pH going up little by little.

Here is the water quality report for my cities water. It's from 2020. Not sure why they haven't put up the report for 2021. Not sure if it tell ya anything.
 

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Mudminnow

Hey Mudminnow.
My tap water is my softened water.
Ah. I should have said your city water before it goes through the softener.
It does have a pretty high pH.
Curious how 8.6ph goes in and it lowers to 7.4ph when I do water changes.
I fear it will keep rising with water changes.
You're correct. Your pH should raise when you do a water change, not lower. This is why I suggested doing small water changes instead of big ones.

Another thing that could be happening though is that your tap water has less CO2 right when it comes out of the tap than after it sits out for a while. If this is the case, it would be a little odd, as tap water usually has more CO2 and so the pH raises after it has a chance to off-gas and come to equilibrium. But, if yours has less CO2, the pH would lower after you water has a chance to "in-gas" and come to equilibrium.

You could do a little experiment where you fill a glass with your tap water and let it sit over night. (I don't really know how long water needs to sit to come to equilibrium, but I figured over night would be safe.) Take your pH reading right when you fill your glass and then the next day. After you compare the two readings, you'll know if your tap water's pH swings in order to come to equilibrium. I've read some folks call the pH of your water after it has come to equilibrium its "true" pH.
I test the water once a week with everything in the API master kit. It's been pretty consistent except the pH going up little by little.
As I suggested, this could happen, in part, because the driftwood in your tank is leaching less and less tannins over time.
Here is the water quality report for my cities water. It's from 2020. Not sure why they haven't put up the report for 2021. Not sure if it tell ya anything.
It does, but I'm surprised that's all the information they give you. My city's water report has a whole lot more information than that. But, regarding water hardness, you already know what you need to know without the water report.
 

Cinabar

Hey Mudminnow.
My tap water is my softened water.
It does have a pretty high pH.
Curious how 8.6ph goes in and it lowers to 7.4ph when I do water changes.
I fear it will keep rising with water changes.

I test the water once a week with everything in the API master kit. It's been pretty consistent except the pH going up little by little.

Here is the water quality report for my cities water. It's from 2020. Not sure why they haven't put up the report for 2021. Not sure if it tell ya anything.
Every year around June-July they will publish the previous year’s water report. Can’t test for 2021 if the years not over yet lol. Your report is very unhelpful anyway. I’m surprised, my city tests for dozens of compounds including heavy metals. Looks like you’re better off testing at home.
 

MacZ

Your report is very unhelpful anyway. I’m surprised, my city tests for dozens of compounds including heavy metals. Looks like you’re better off testing at home.
I agree. That report is shockingly short and ignores almost all usual readings.

How do my parameters look for my fish tank.? Are they acceptable.? Do I need to add anything like seachem equilibrium?
She has some Harlequin Rasboras in the 5 gallon that we will transfer to the 20gal. She will be adding some neon tetras, possibly some black neon tetras. Also some Otto's. And possibly some amano shrimp. We will be transferring a good size Anubias and add some micro sword as well.

No equilibrium needed.
The water hardness levels are ok, but not optimal. I wouldn't expect any of the fish to reach a biblical age but for a few years they should be ok.

You're correct. Your pH should raise when you do a water change, not lower. This is why I suggested doing small water changes instead of big ones.

Another thing that could be happening though is that your tap water has less CO2 right when it comes out of the tap than after it sits out for a while. If this is the case, it would be a little odd, as tap water usually has more CO2 and so the pH raises after it has a chance to off-gas and come to equilibrium. But, if yours has less CO2, the pH would lower after you water has a chance to "in-gas" and come to equilibrium.

You could do a little experiment where you fill a glass with your tap water and let it sit over night. (I don't really know how long water needs to sit to come to equilibrium, but I figured over night would be safe.) Take your pH reading right when you fill your glass and then the next day. After you compare the two readings, you'll know if your tap water's pH swings in order to come to equilibrium. I've read some folks call the pH of your water after it has come to equilibrium its "true" pH.
Yep, the fact the pH in the tap is that high might be part of a anticorrosion plan by the water treatment plant. Often they add additional stuff to raise pH while it's in the system. I'd recommend doing the overnight trick, too.

Just one thing: The pH shouldn't rise much with a waterchange. The pH scale is exponential, so the dilution usually results in smaller changes than when looking at hardness (linear scale) changes from waterchanges.
 

RyanReynoldsshrimp

Hello everyone. I apologize for the very delayed response. Very busy and distracted lately.
I will try the over night water testing with the glass of water and see what the difference is from the test right right out of the tap. I'm curious.

As far as the fish they are all doing great. All are very active. She has
4 harlequin Rosbaras
6 Neon Tetras
4 Otos
3 Orange Venezuelan Cory's
2 Amano Shrimp
2 Ghost Shrimp
2 snails.

All thriving.
I think I may have accidentally sucked up one of the ghost shrimp while cleaning it. He's just gone.

Also I may change out the flex lines from my Fluval 107 canister filter to some braided vinyl tubing for easier cleaning. Those flex lines build up a lot of grime in the gaps. Hard to clean.

Everything is going well though with regular cleaning.
Im almost ready to set up the 75 gallon tank.

Thanks everyone.
 

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