Do I need an RO filter? My tap water will be the death of me!!!

Discussion in 'Aquarium Water' started by Emily Caldwell, Jul 16, 2015.

  1. Emily CaldwellValued MemberMember

    I've had really persistent fin rot issues with my betta despite daily water changes. The tank is cycled. My water has .25 ppm ammonia out of the tap, so I use Prime to condition it. I've posted about it ad nauseum on multiple forums and I've tried a ton of different things to treat it. I was having an issue with the pH being 8.0-8.2 even though it was coming out of the tap at 7.4-7.6. I had that figured out (or so I thought...maybe it was decaying plants in the gravel?) and the pH was stable at 7.4-7.6 every day for a month. I tested my betta's AND my Jack Dempsey's water parameters daily for almost a month and everything was looking perfect so I stopped testing. Lately my JD has been acting kinda...meh. He's still eating, looks healthy enough, but he's not as active as he was before and less excited when I come up to the tank. On a hunch, I tested both tank's pH levels last night and they were 7.8 and 8.0. Then I tested my tap water and it was 7.8. I bought a GH/KH test kit and it tested very low for both.

    Both of these fish thrive in pH of around 7. I know that both can survive at higher pH, but my betta is never gonna kick this fin rot with a high pH, and I miss seeing my Jack Dempsey all riled up and active.

    Is RO water the solution? I'm seriously considering buying an RO filter. I'm actually moving to a new place in 2 weeks, and I'm hoping that maybe the issue has something to do with the pipes and the water at the new place will be better quality. It's in the same city but a different area.

    I know there are some cons to RO water, one of which being the lack of nutrients. What would I need to add if I start using RO water? Also I've heard that RO water doesn't always have a stable pH. Not entirely sure how this works. I have 2 large pieces of Malaysian driftwood that I'm going to add to the JD's tank once we're in the new place, and that should help bring the pH down a little bit. But I can't really put driftwood in with the betta because it will further damage his fins.

    Stupid water quality!!!! I've worked so hard and spent so much money to try to keep these fish happy and healthy and my darn tap water is ruining everything!!!

  2. hampalongWell Known MemberMember

    JDs will thrive in neutral water, but only if it's hard. You say your water is soft, so for the JD you need to be adding minerals, not taking them out with RO. Your pH is fine for JDs, you just want to make the water harder.

    RO is almost pure water, so it's pH (7) is unstable because it has no buffering capabilities, so any little amount of any mineral added will change the pH. Mixing it with your tap water would suit the Betta, with maybe a little extra KH if needed.

    Do you not have "ammonia remover" (zeolite) in the states. Filter your tap water through that before it goes in the tanks. That should stop the 'finrot'. 90% of supposed cases of finrot are just water issues).


  3. junebugFishlore LegendMember

    We have zeolite here, I use it all the time. Purigen is also very effective at removing organic waste products and would work well in both tanks.

    Aging the tap water before water changes would alleviate the pH swing issue, and would help with the ammonia as well. You could even filter the water as it aged to help remove ammonia before it ever reached your tanks.

  4. Emily CaldwellValued MemberMember

    How do I make the water harder/add minerals? Thanks for the tip on zeolite. Never heard of that but I will look into it. How do I use it to filter water before adding it to my tanks?
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2015
  5. Emily CaldwellValued MemberMember

    Does aging the water just involve leaving it in buckets? How long do I need to do that? 24 Hours?
  6. EricVFishlore VIPMember

    The ammonia you're reading out of your tap is most likely just the chloramines most municipalities use to treat their tap water instead of chlorine.

    Chloramines are simply chlorine + ammonia.
  7. junebugFishlore LegendMember

    To age the water, leave it out overnight with aeration. Easy peasy :) Alternatively if you want to remove the trace ammonia, leave it out overnight with zeolite filtration.
  8. hampalongWell Known MemberMember

    Use a small filter with zeolite, purigen or whatever in it, in a bucket? I have a 50g water butt that I fill with tapwater and I filter it for a week, usually, then I heat it and do water changes.

    Tapwater is temporarily buffered. That's why your tanks tend to run at a higher pH than the tap. Seems your tapwater is buffered down slightly. I wouldn't worry about the pH, hardness is more important to the fish (my tapwater is pH 7.4 but soft like yours, so I keep soft water fish). It's fine for your Betta, and for your JD these pHs are perfect and you just need to add a bit of hardness.

    Bicarb (baking soda) will raise KH, Epsom Salts will raise GH. These are crude and quite powerful and the bicarb will also raise your pH a bit further. There are "Malawi cichlid 'salts'" on the market that would be safer and better to use.

    The finrot IMO will stop when you get rid of the ammonia.
  9. Emily CaldwellValued MemberMember

    A week? That seems too long for my water change schedule. My betta really likes water changes at least every other day. I also don't have space for a 50 gallon bucket...I could maybe do 10? Does it have to be a whole week or would a few days work?
  10. hampalongWell Known MemberMember

    A day will work. Once you're on top of your water you will be able to do weekly changes...
  11. Emily CaldwellValued MemberMember

    FAB! Thank you! I am going to try it once I'm moved into my new place. Fingers crossed it helps!
  12. Emily CaldwellValued MemberMember

    What kind of filter should I use in the bucket?
  13. junebugFishlore LegendMember

    Anything with interchangeable media compartments would be fine. You could use a standard HOB, or an air powered internal filter with multiple media compartments.

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