Help Me Make A Decision?

  • #1
I've got a problem to solve by way of equipment purchase, and I have a hard time deciding what would be the best somewhat-long-term (~1 year) solution to invest in. I figured this would be a good brainstorming platform.

(Please read the whole thing before replying. Look, I made nice paragraphs )

The context:

I have an issue with one of the fishrooms I manage. It holds ~30 freshwater tropical fish tanks. My job is to keep the fish healthy and breeding, and to do it as time- and cost-efficiently as possible. We are moving to a new facility next year, and the tanks will be on a flow-through or recirculating system then. But for now, all the water changes and other adjustments have to be done the old-fashioned way.

The problem:
The species we keep prefer hard water and are sensitive to pH swings. Our tap water is somewhat hard, but KH is low and pH fluctuates. On a good day, it's around 7 - 7.5, but at times it will drop to 6.5 or less. My temporary solution is not cutting it - I just lost a full tank to a dramatic pH drop over the weekend

Current approach (short-term):
After weekly maintenance, I have the employees test each tank with strips. Then I go over the data at the end of the day and I use potassium bicarbonate to raise KH to about 4 in each tank. I also use a bit of marine salt to raise GH in tanks where salt is well-tolerated. This raises and stabilizes pH until the next water change.

Why this won't work long-term:
I can't be here to do this every day, and I can't rely on the employees to tweak the water every time they do a corrective water change or a water top-off. Some of them don't know anything about aquariums, and I have to keep things very simple to make sure their work is consistent. It also feels like a waste of money to keep adding buffer to the water and then siphon it out (though KHCO3 is fairly cheap, and possibly a cheaper long-term solution than the alternatives).

Long-term idea #1:
We have a water reservoir we could use, but the water pump is broken. I've been hesitant to replace it, but if I did, I could treat the whole reservoir with KHCO3 once a week, and have people refill tanks from it.

  • The water that comes into the reservoir is pre-dechlorinated, so we'd save a lot on conditioner.
  • Employees wouldn't need to worry about making adjustments (and I wouldn't need to worry about them messing it up).
  • Saves a lot of time compared to testing and adjusting at the tank level.
  • I hated the water pump, and was glad when it died. It was so loud I actually lost part of my hearing.
  • I have no idea how the pump is attached onto the reservoir or how to replace it. I also wouldn't know what to buy instead. But maybe you guys can advise me on that? (It would have to be quiet... I'm not willing to risk my ears anymore! :sour
  • Everyone hates refilling from the reservoir, because the hose handle is big and bulky and has to be held down the entire time. Our hands cramp out pretty fast. So if I went this route, I would have to buy a new hose handle too, and figure out how to change that (they put so much sealing tape on there, it's practically welded on!)
  • We'd still need to buy a lot of KHCO3.
  • I'd need to figure out a way to warm up the reservoir. It's in a side room that's kept way too cold, and the Powers That Be refuse to turn up the heat.
Long-term idea #2:
Keep going as we have been, but add driftwood [edit: I am an idiot, driftwood would make it worse, pretend I wrote limestone] to each tank.

  • Refilling from the siphon is a breeze - we use a Python with the hook attachment.
  • Makes nice enrichment for the fish.
  • Looks pretty.
  • Much easier for me!
  • Limestone ain't cheap.
  • May still need to supplement KH/GH at the tank level.
  • We'd still need to add conditionner every time we change or top-off the water.

Your thoughts, please?

PS. If you have read this whole thing, you are awesome, I love you, please treat yourself to a cookie and pretend it is from me!
  • #2
Honestly the reservoir sounds more idiot proof. Lol.
  • #3
I like the reservoir idea too... Then you will not have to be constantly worrying about every thing being right!!
Lacey D
  • #4
I use crushed coral to buffer, and it works pretty well and is cheap. Then again, my fish (endler) aren't as sensitive as yours seem to be, and can put up with some variation.
The best, most idiot-proof option would probably be to get the reservoir repaired. Pictures of the waterpump/reservoir might get some answers on how to swap it out or improve it
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
Wouldn't crushed coral for 30 tanks cost a fortune?

Pictures of the waterpump/reservoir might get some answers on how to swap it out or improve it

I'll take you up on that!
  • Thread Starter
  • #6

  • #7
For the pump look into a sureflow. It's just garden hose fittings so an easy swap. The handle looks garden hose as well so any large garden hose nozzle will work. I will see what I can find.
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
Okay, you've convinced me! I'll give it a try. But I reserve the right to come crying to you guys if I can't get the thing hooked up properly
  • #9
Have you thought of using bicarb soda to raise the kH (and subsequently gH) of the tank? You could easily bulk order it from food warehouses, and is relatively cheap.
  • Thread Starter
  • #10
Have you thought of using bicarb soda to raise the kH (and subsequently gH) of the tank? You could easily bulk order it from food warehouses, and is relatively cheap.

I've thought about it, but I don't want to add too much sodium because some of the tanks have snails. Also if I raise the fry in a somewhat brackish environment, they'll have a hard time osmoregulating once the researchers come to pick them up. So I got potassium carbonate as a compromise between baking soda (bad for snails but cheaper) and calcium carbonate (good for snails but pricier).

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