Ro Unit - Is It Overkill For My Water Parameters?

dndlyon

HI All,

I'm looking for some opinions as I'm on the fence about water quality. I've got some pretty awful well water at the house, so I have been purchasing water. I'd like to get away from this and have been looking at purchasing an RO/DI unit. My current house water parameters are:
  • Water out of the softener - pH 7.2 / ammonia 0.25 / nitrite and nitrate 0 / GH - 2 drops (>35.8ppm) / KH - 18 drops (18 dKH) / phosphorus 0
  • Water bypassing the softener - pH 7.6 / ammonia 0.5 - 1.0 / nitrite and nitrate 0 / GH - 35 + drops (>214ppm) / KH - 17 drops (17dKH) / phosphorus 0
(*I put the GH and KH in drops as well because I'm not 100% sure I'm reading the chart right - no matter how much I read about how to read the chart.)

The softener requires salt with iron-out in it because the iron is ridiculously high (everything turns orange if I let it run out of salt, or don't add the iron out).

I'm thinking of purchasing an RO/DI unit to use on the bypassed water. Then I'll either add some of the house water or use something like crushed coral, or a Seachem additive to raise pH, GH, and KH.

Is an RO/DI overkill? Would you just go with RO?

What would you do with these house water parameters?

[10 gallon and 29 gallon - both planted, but low tech. Just finished fishless cycling - future home to a Betta (10 gal) and peacock gudgeons, guppies (29 gal) - will be adding another 10 or 20 gal to house shellies (multi's)]

Thanks in advance! I've always had salt tanks, so RO/DI wasn't even a question.
 

AWheeler

I would contact the people that service the water conditioner and ask them to run some tests on your water for you to see why your well water has so much ammonia in it, and what you can do about it (IE shock the well, etc.) I'd also ask them about installing an RO unit for you and see if it would be cheaper in the long run to set one up yourself or have them do one.
 

dndlyon

I'm pretty sure that the ammonia in the well water is either: a> the result of all the agriculture in the area (I live in the country with 100 acres of farmland behind me). and/or b>some form of sulfur in the water interacting with the test. I'm going to pull a sample and aerate it for a bit to see if that changes the results.

Either way, we don't drink the water...it smells like well water...so I can't help but think it might not be the best for the fish no matter how many chemicals I add to it.

I tend to overthink things, and was just looking for some advice - am I overthinking the water thing or would you def go with an RO unit?
 

AWheeler

If the ammonia in my well water was reading at 1ppm I'd highly consider get an RO unit. I don't think you are overthinking it at all!
 

stella1979

We too have yucky tap water and were buying 6+ gallon jugs every week. We recently bought an RO system and are very happy with the quality of the water for drinking. Do you drink iced tea? Tea, (and coffee), made with RO doesn't stain the jug! Also, I'm a baker and believe it or not, I've noticed a difference in yeast breads using better water So, in that respect, we are happy to be drinking clean water and to be saving on the plastic that we use.

As far as using RO for your Freshwater tank, I got some good advice about how the pH will be unstable. I tested this myself and found that on day one the RO water's pH was 6.5 and 24 hours later, the same glass of water had a pH of 7.4, big difference! This is because the RO unit removes just about everything, including the buffers that keep your pH stable. From what I've learned, it is more dangerous for your fish to have these fluctuations than it is for them to live in water with a pH outside of recommended parameters.

I am now testing a 50/50 mix of tap and RO water in a QT tank. I would like to slightly soften our water for the fish we want but I am testing how stable that mix is going to be before I introduce any livestock. I do not have the experience to make the best recommendation for you, but based on the good advice of more experienced aquarists, you must either dose with Seachem mineral replacement or mix in tap for it's buffering capacity. I think when mixing tap & RO, it must be important to always have the same ratio so your parameters do not vary. I've been told by many that it is much easier for a fish to acclimate to imperfect water conditions, (re: pH and hardness that is), than it is for them to live in fluctuating water conditions. My best advice is to keep reading and do lots of testing.

Just wanted to share what I am going through right now, and to bump up this thread with the hopes of getting the more experienced to share their knowledge. Thanks for bringing this up
 

dndlyon

stella1979 - thanks for sharing your experience! I totally agree regarding RO water with respect to food, tea, etc. I make beer and wine, so I always buy water. That's how this all started - I'm not only tired of buying jugs (or lugging RO from work), but hate all that plastic!!

Regarding the buffering - yes - the RO strips all the buffers out of the water, so straight RO water isn't a good idea for a tank because the pH can be unpredictable. It does seem that fish do best when conditions are constant. I hope you find a good mix that's easy for you to replicate every time

Thanks again for your input!
 

CindiL

Hi, responding late to this but thought I'd throw in my 2cents.

If you plan on living there a long time, you really can't go wrong with the RO system. I'm on well water and right after we moved in 5 years ago we had a large RO system put in our basement because at that time our nitrates were off the charts from all the farm land around us too. It feeds the kitchen cold water tap and refrigerator for water and ice. An under the counter system only will give you a couple gallons a day. Our larger system holds about 15 gallon but we have to be careful about just letting the cold run or risk running out. I don't think you need distilled.

If you use all RO (I don't think you need distilled) then you'll have to add in both Seachem Replenish (for GH) and Seachem alkaline buffer (for KH). I also use Seachem Fress trace. Seems like you could half softened water for the KH and stability of your PH and half RO water. Then all you would need to add in would be Replenish. I would say use bypassed water but if your iron levels are that high they probably aren't safe for the fish.

In using all RO I have to aerate and heat the water overnight before my water change which is a bit of a pain but I have a good system down so its habit now.
 

stella1979

Thanks for sharing your knowledge on this CindiL I have GH and KH testers on order and should receive them soon. For now, I'm still a newbie and all I know regarding hardness levels is that our's is hard city water with what I believe to be a heavy mineral load. I certainly get calcium deposits! So, without knowing the exact GH and KH yet, do you have any ideas of products that I should buy for my water experimenting? I am looking to achieve soft, slightly acidic water for the fish I want. Right now I am experimenting with mixing RO and tap. If it helps, my RO water's pH is 6.5 and my tap is pH 8.2 after a 24 hour gas off. I'm sure I'll have more questions after I start testing and learning more about KH and GH. Again, thanks for your help
 

stella1979

HI again , I apologize I certainly didn't mean to hijack your thread with my questions to CindI above. I'm still learning about forum etiquette

I wanted to let you know that our undersink RO system produces 3 gallons in 2 hours. The filtered water is stored in a 3 gallon pressurized tank that is also under the sink. It came with it's own faucet, which is tall but slender and was easily installed next to the existing faucet at the kitchen sink, ensuring that we don't accidentally us RO when we don't mean to. 3 gallons may not seem like much, but I am rarely changing more than four gallons at a time, so it's not too much of a hassle to empty the entire RO tank into the bucket, then wait awhile to get another gallon. At best, you could have 6 gallons in two hours by emptying the tank once, then waiting for it to fill completely again before emptying it for another 3 gallons. This works for us, it certainly wouldn't for everybody, but I just wanted to share our experience with this less expensive system. It was only about $200 and is already paying for itself by not buying so much water.
 

Thunder_o_b

CindiL makes good points.

I have been running an 75 gal per day RO/DI unit for some time. We have well water. The ph is super high mid 8. So from the well to a filter from filter to softener then to the house with a line split off to another filter to the RO/DI unit The water is now coming out at 1ppm TDS and a ph of 7. This goes into 3 30 gallon containers that are heated. When used I add Seachem equilibrium to bring back the minerals for the fish, plants and to prevent ph crash. If you can do it I would get a good 6 stage RO/DI unit. I got mine from here. They are great people.
Reverse Osmosis Systems - Bulk Reef Supply
 

CindiL

Thanks for sharing your knowledge on this CindiL I have GH and KH testers on order and should receive them soon. For now, I'm still a newbie and all I know regarding hardness levels is that our's is hard city water with what I believe to be a heavy mineral load. I certainly get calcium deposits! So, without knowing the exact GH and KH yet, do you have any ideas of products that I should buy for my water experimenting? I am looking to achieve soft, slightly acidic water for the fish I want. Right now I am experimenting with mixing RO and tap. If it helps, my RO water's pH is 6.5 and my tap is pH 8.2 after a 24 hour gas off. I'm sure I'll have more questions after I start testing and learning more about KH and GH. Again, thanks for your help
I think the easiest way to go about it is mixing in tap water so you don't have to add additional minerals. Once you know your GH and KH it will be easier to help you out.
 

dndlyon

Thanks so much for all of your thoughts on this! You have all justified my RO purchase

I was then torn between the under sink units and the portable unit from Bulk Reef Supply.

CindiL - thanks for the "if you plan on living there a long time" comment. I hadn't even thought of that, and I have no idea how much longer I'll live in this house. It may be another year, or it may be another 10. I have a few things coming in the near future that will make this decision for me. Portable unit it is!

Thanks again y'all!
 

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