Distilled water safe to use?

kinsey12345

Hi! So, the water from the tap at my place of work has low levels of ammonia in it. I was wondering if distilled water from the grocery store is safe to use? Otherwise I know they sell pre-packaged aquarium water at pet stores if that would be better.
 

SouthAmericanCichlids

Yep, just use de-chlorinator. Just make sure it doesn't say it has additives. RO or DI are okay or purification, but you'll probably have to add stuff to it.
 
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kinsey12345

Thank you!!
 
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alven

Distilled water does not contain the minerals that fish need for their functionality...

A lot of people use tap water because it contains minerals that fish need like calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, etc.

Just like us, fish need minerals and vitamins for their bodies to function and grow correctly. We get our needs from food but they need it from the food they eat and the water they live in..

= )
 
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SouthAmericanCichlids

Distilled water does not contain the minerals that fish need for their functionality...

A lot of people use tap water because it contains minerals that fish need like calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, etc.

Just like us, fish need minerals and vitamins for their bodies to function and grow correctly. We get our needs from food but they need it from the food they eat and the water they live in..

= )
Though what people with RO/DI systems do is add the minerals back.
 
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kinsey12345

Though what people with RO/DI systems do is add the minerals back.
How do I add the minerals back?:)
 
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RayClem

There are several commercial products that are designed to remineralize RO, DI, distilled, or rain water. One is Seachem Equilibrium. It contains many of the metallic salts you need to provide general hardness. However, it does not contain carbonate, bicarbnonate or phosphate ions that provode alkalinity (KH) to stabilize pH. Thus, if you use Equilibrium as I do, you also need to add some type of buffer to raise KH.

Although Kent Marine is known for their saltwater and reef products, they also make a product called RO Right that contains salts to remineralize purified water. I have not used it, so I cannot tell you whether is adjusts KH or just GH.

There is a product called Salty Shrimp Minerals GH/KH+. Although it was specifically compounded for maintaining and breeding freshwater shrimp, it should also work for freshwater fish. As implied in the name, it has a variety of salts to maintain GH and KH. However, I have never been able to locate an ingredient listing.
 
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alven

Though what people with RO/DI systems do is add the minerals back.

Yeah I know..

RO/DI removes the minerals along with other toxics, but you need to use specific products along with them to add back your minerals.
 
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carsonsgjs

Hi! So, the water from the tap at my place of work has low levels of ammonia in it. I was wondering if distilled water from the grocery store is safe to use? Otherwise I know they sell pre-packaged aquarium water at pet stores if that would be better.
What is your ammonia reading, and what are you using to test it?

would prime not detox the ammonia giving the filter a chance to deal with it?
 
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YellowGuppy

A lot of people have some ammonia in their source water. It might be worth digging up your local municipality's water reports—it might just be a false positive reading of chloramine, rather than free ammonia. If that's the case, then dechlorination is all you need to do.

If it is in fact ammonia, you might want to explore a couple other alternatives; adding aquatic plants, adding a rooted plant, or simply doing small water changes. If the tank is fully cycled, your filter is already capable of processing small amounts of ammonia into nitrate (via nitrite). If that's the case, so long as you're only adding a relatively small amount of ammonia via water changes, your filter should be able to process it into nitrates fairly quickly. This might mean doing two 10-15% water changes every week rather than one weekly 25% water change (or whatever your usual maintenance routine is).

Sticking the roots of a houseplant (many people use pothos for this because it roots well in water and grows quickly, meaning it eats up a lot of nitrogen compounds) into your tank could also help you quickly get rid of unwanted ammonia, or adding a few aquatic plants of your choosing.

Plenty of options available that theoretically can all be less hassle and money than having to go buy big bottles of water every week!
 
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kinsey12345

The ammonia levels are around 0.5, nitrite around 3ppm, nitrate around 0-5 ppm, general hardness 180, kh is around 40

:/
A lot of people have some ammonia in their source water. It might be worth digging up your local municipality's water reports—it might just be a false positive reading of chloramine, rather than free ammonia. If that's the case, then dechlorination is all you need to do.

If it is in fact ammonia, you might want to explore a couple other alternatives; adding aquatic plants, adding a rooted plant, or simply doing small water changes. If the tank is fully cycled, your filter is already capable of processing small amounts of ammonia into nitrate (via nitrite). If that's the case, so long as you're only adding a relatively small amount of ammonia via water changes, your filter should be able to process it into nitrates fairly quickly. This might mean doing two 10-15% water changes every week rather than one weekly 25% water change (or whatever your usual maintenance routine is).

Sticking the roots of a houseplant (many people use pothos for this because it roots well in water and grows quickly, meaning it eats up a lot of nitrogen compounds) into your tank could also help you quickly get rid of unwanted ammonia, or adding a few aquatic plants of your choosing.

Plenty of options available that theoretically can all be less hassle and money than having to go buy big bottles of water every week!
Thank you! I will try that! I already have a few aquatic plants, but i would like to add some more!
 
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BigManAquatics

You would probably be better off going for spring water at the store. Has the minerals still. In my area, gallon jugs of it are the same price as distilled.
 
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Basil

Just check whatever kind of bottled water you decide to use. Before I purchased my RO/DI system, I used bottled water and found huge variances in ph, ammonia, GH, and KH between brands and types.
 
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RayClem

A lot of people have some ammonia in their source water. It might be worth digging up your local municipality's water reports—it might just be a false positive reading of chloramine, rather than free ammonia. If that's the case, then dechlorination is all you need to do.

If it is in fact ammonia, you might want to explore a couple other alternatives; adding aquatic plants, adding a rooted plant, or simply doing small water changes. If the tank is fully cycled, your filter is already capable of processing small amounts of ammonia into nitrate (via nitrite). If that's the case, so long as you're only adding a relatively small amount of ammonia via water changes, your filter should be able to process it into nitrates fairly quickly. This might mean doing two 10-15% water changes every week rather than one weekly 25% water change (or whatever your usual maintenance routine is).

Sticking the roots of a houseplant (many people use pothos for this because it roots well in water and grows quickly, meaning it eats up a lot of nitrogen compounds) into your tank could also help you quickly get rid of unwanted ammonia, or adding a few aquatic plants of your choosing.

Plenty of options available that theoretically can all be less hassle and money than having to go buy big bottles of water every week!

If your tap water is treated with chloramine, the chlorine and ammonia are combined in the tap water. However, as soon as you add a dechlorinator, the bond between the chlorine and ammonia is severed such that you now have free chlorine and free ammonia. The dechlorinator will reduce the free chlorine to chloride ion which is now harmless to your fish. The free ammonia, however, can be harmful to your fish if there are insufficient nitrifying bacteria to convert the ammonia to nitrite and then to nitrate.

If your tank is still cycling, it may not have sufficient beneficial bacteria. Thus, using a product like Seachem Prime can detoxify the ammonia until the bacteria can process it. Another way is to add Zeolites to your filter to absorb some of the ammonia.
 
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SouthAmericanCichlids

If your tank is still cycling, it may not have sufficient beneficial bacteria. Thus, using a product like Seachem Prime can detoxify the ammonia until the bacteria can process it. Another way is to add Zeolites to your filter to absorb some of the ammonia.
My only problem with the whole theory that conditioners get rid of ammonia, is why do we have filters when we can just use conditioner? We had an interesting discussion on the topic in this thread:

Water conditioner for well water | Aquarium Water Forum | 499176
 
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RayClem

My only problem with the whole theory that conditioners get rid of ammonia, is why do we have filters when we can just use conditioner? We had an interesting discussion on the topic in this thread:

Water conditioner for well water | Aquarium Water Forum | 499176

Water conditioners do not get rid of ammonia. They may have ingredients that produce a less toxic compound. Those compounds will remain in the water until they are removed through a water change. The key phrase is "less toxic".
 
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LowConductivity

I'd personally be more concerned about the 3ppm of nitrite. .5ppm of ammonia from the tap really isnt problematic
 
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Redviper

Yep, just use de-chlorinator. Just make sure it doesn't say it has additives. RO or DI are okay or purification, but you'll probably have to add stuff to it.

Wow, you just blew me away with this info. I wasn't aware that store-bought distilled water might have additives. The same thing goes for RO/DI water. And here I was, close to talking the wife into adding one to the list, for us and the wet kids. :(
You would probably be better off going for spring water at the store. Has the minerals still. In my area, gallon jugs of it are the same price as distilled.

I get LOADS of replacent minerals from from tap with water changes. :) I use distilled to top off. It's easy to do so because 1 of us goes to the store every couple of days anyway.
 
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kinsey12345

I'd personally be more concerned about the 3ppm of nitrite. .5ppm of ammonia from the tap really isnt problematic
Weirdly enough, when I test the water in the fish tank the nitrite level is much lower than directly from the tap water. But what should i do to fix it? Thank you!
 
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SouthAmericanCichlids

And here I was, close to talking the wife into adding one to the list, for us and the wet kids. :(
Ro/DI is fine, nothing poisonous, it's just too demineralized. So you have to add some minerals.
 
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Redviper

Ro/DI is fine, nothing poisonous, it's just too demineralized. So you have to add some minerals.

That's what I wanted to hear. Questions: Through evaporation, does tap water used in water changes increase mineral concentration over time? What test, or device, can I use to measure mineral concentrations in my tank?
 
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MacZ

Wow, you just blew me away with this info. I wasn't aware that store-bought distilled water might have additives. The same thing goes for RO/DI water.

Neither has additives. Distilled and RO water are as pure as water can be, so with additives you can't even call it that anymore. If it's sold as either, expect 99% pure H2O otherwise they wouldn't be allowed to sell it as such.

DI alone only removes ions though, so it is not purified like the others.

Edit: Although "distilled" technically means it has been boiled and the pure water steam cooled down and collected, most distilled water you can buy is actually RO from industrial sized RO units, that put out thousands of liters a day. The end result is chemically identical, though.

That's what I wanted to hear. Questions: Through evaporation, does tap water used in water changes increase mineral concentration over time? What test, or device, can I use to measure mineral concentrations in my tank?

1. If you only top off with tap, minerals etc. will accumulate. If you do water changes that is not the case, as you remove water with the same concentration before re-adding.
2. You should have a GH (calcium and magnesium, mainly) and a KH (carbonates) test in any case. The former is important for the mineral intake of fish and plants, the latter is only important for pH.
A so-called TDS (total dissolved solids) and EC (electric conductivity) meter is also nice to have but doesn't distinguish between different materials. TDS includes everything solved in the water: GH, KH, nitrates, phosphates, iron, copper... the whole array of stuff probably present and even organic compounds like tannins you can't even actually measure by any means separately. EC only measures the overall amount of ions like metals and salts in the water, also without distinguishing between separate materials.
There are also hydrometers that measure salt concentration but this is useless in a freshwater setup.
 
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Redviper

Neither has additives. Distilled and RO water are as pure as water can be, so with additives you can't even call it that anymore. If it's sold as either, expect 99% pure H2O otherwise they wouldn't be allowed to sell it as such.

DI alone only removes ions though, so it is not purified like the others.

Edit: Although "distilled" technically means it has been boiled and the pure water steam cooled down and collected, most distilled water you can buy is actually RO from industrial sized RO units, that put out thousands of liters a day. The end result is chemically identical, though.



1. If you only top off with tap, minerals etc. will accumulate. If you do water changes that is not the case, as you remove water with the same concentration before re-adding.
2. You should have a GH (calcium and magnesium, mainly) and a KH (carbonates) test in any case. The former is important for the mineral intake of fish and plants, the latter is only important for pH.
A so-called TDS (total dissolved solids) and EC (electric conductivity) meter is also nice to have but doesn't distinguish between different materials. TDS includes everything solved in the water: GH, KH, nitrates, phosphates, iron, copper... the whole array of stuff probably present and even organic compounds like tannins you can't even actually measure by any means separately. EC only measures the overall amount of ions like metals and salts in the water, also without distinguishing between separate materials.
There are also hydrometers that measure salt concentration but this is useless in a freshwater setup.

VERY informative Mac, and well explained. Thank you! Now I can bend my wallet for a fancy RO/DI unit, knowing what I'm getting and why I need it.
 
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RayClem

Depending upon the RO membrane and water pressure, the purity of the water can vary. My RO water tests 20 ppm total dissolved solids using a conductivity meter. That means the water is 99.998% pure. I suspect that most of the conductivity reading comes from dissolved carbon dioxide rather than solids. The conductivity meter cannot tell the difference.
 
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Redviper

I've looked at theses devices for a while wanting a explanation of the basics. Now that I have it (thanks, guys), I can expand into more complex aspects. Considering where my water comes from (Lake Michigan) and how (35-miles of mostly old pipe/concrete trenches), I have the powerful justification needed to convince the family CFO. I'm looking forward to THIS adventure. :)

7-stage RO/DI units.
 
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MacZ

This is a fancy unit!

I have only a three stage unit for less than 100€...

Anyhow, yes, you have a legitimate reason. :D
 
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Basil

I have the BRS five stage unit. So far so good with just over 2 1/2 years of use. Good luck! :D
Oh and BRS has excellent customer service. We received a broken piece and they shipped a new one immediately.
I’ve also called to ask about DI cartridge color and talked to a great tech.
 
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Redviper

This is a fancy unit!

I have only a three stage unit for less than 100€...

Anyhow, yes, you have a legitimate reason. :D

I love the look of the added filtration and resin modules, since I want it mounted in the open (easier maintenance). 3 stage is just fine as long as it produces what you need. Yup, but the reasons don't have to be THAT intricate because the wife is an easy sell! ;)
 
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