Switching To Ro

Discussion in 'Reverse Osmosis Filter for Freshwater' started by Michael Patrick, May 27, 2019.

  1. Michael Patrick Valued Member Member

    I have very hard water that also reads almost 2 ammonia out of the tap. Been using it for a few years now keeping planted tanks. I would like to start to keep some soft water fish so I am switching to RO water since we are installing a system in the house anyway, and getting a whole house soft water filter on top of that. So doing water changes by running a hose outside (not being able to use the salted soft water inside) would become more of a problem dealing with the temp and not being able to easily control it.

    Doing some research I found this:
    use equilibrium (1 tablespoon p/20 gal) for GH, then Alkaline Buffer (1 teaspoon p/20 gal) for KH , but then pH will be to high because of the alkaline buffer, so then use Acid Buffer (1/2 teaspoon p/20 gal) to bring the pH back down.

    The plan is to get a holding tank/bucket fill it with RO water then do the above let it sit for at least an hour if not more then pump it into the tank. I would do 10% water changes weekly for a few months at the start.

    Question is do I still need to use another buffer in the water such as crushed coral?

  2. Tanks and Plants Well Known Member Member

    With R/O water you would also need to put back in the minerals that was taken out of the water that we all need including fish. Try and look at this and i think this will help you buffer your water at the same time.


    I would then determine after if your waters pH still drops then add maybe crushed coral, or what about putting the crushed coral in the holding tank and that way the water has more time to help stable the pH. Does that make sense?


    Fish are very adaptive these days because most of the fishes we get are “farm” raised. I’ve always followed the rule of not chasing the pH. The part that worries me about your water is the ammonia. I honestly don’t know if your supposed to have ammonia in your drinking water, and if that’s healthy for you to drink. Well i guess after looking it up it seems that having ammonia in your drinking water is “safe” and not regulated by the WHO or EPA.

    What about in your holding tank putting the crushed coral and since it already has ammonia in it maybe add something like TSS+ or stability. That way you will have good cycled water going back into your tank. The main thing with this is that you have to have a pH above 6.0, anything below that and the BB will start to slowly die off.

    Last edited: May 27, 2019
  3. Michael Patrick Valued Member Member

    I thought the equilibrium took care of the minerals?

  4. Tanks and Plants Well Known Member Member

    You are correct! After reading about equilibrium what I get from it is that depending on what type of tank your going to do a planted or non-planted tank is what can determine if you are going to use either replenish or equilibrium. But if your going to do a regular tank then i would get whatever one is cheaper. Both do add the minerals back into the water but if your going to do a true planted tank then equilibrium is the one I would use.

    I learned something again today! Thank you very much!
  5. Michael Patrick Valued Member Member

    Thanks for the help... yes all my tanks are planted right now. Keep getting the urge to keep an Oscar which is what my dad kept when I was a kid and got me into fish. Couldn't really do it before since I had to keep planted tanks to make things easier with my water...might do it now will see. In that case, I would use the replenish for that tank.
  6. Tanks and Plants Well Known Member Member

    Good Luck in your next endeavor! And Thank you for bringing up the equilibrium. I learned something new and because I work at a LFS it would help me if someone came in with a question pertaining to replenish or equilibrium.
  7. Basil Well Known Member Member

    I switched to RO/DI at the beginning of this year; first using it purchased from my LFS and then setting up my own system (5 phase from BRS).
    I’m on well water that is acidic (last commercially done water test was 5.3 ph!) and hard. It also has widely fluctuating nitrates anywhere between <10 to 40.
    We do not use a water softener but do have a whole house particulate filter.

    I had to really experiment to figure how much of each buffer to add. I keep soft water fish: 2 varieties of loaches, 3 varieties of barbs, and brilliant rasboras. Except for my 2 holding/quarantine tanks, my 2 display tanks are 100% planted. I use Seachem products.

    Currently, per 5 gallons, I add 1/2 tsp. Equilibrium, 1/4 tsp alkaline buffer and an 1/8 tsp acid buffer.
    That keeps my tanks at about 7.6 ph, 4-5 GH and 2 KH. In theory, I would love to see the KH higher, but I don’t have ph swings, so I’m keeping it the same right now. I found if I added more alkaline buffer, the ph jumped to about 8.
    I really want to experiment with adding broken coral pieces to my filter to see where it would bring the KH and ph. My LFS recommends breaking up your own coral for that.
    And once one of the 10 g is empty, I’m going to plant it and try that experiment. I’m just not ready to try that in my display tanks!!

    Oh, I’ll add the disclaimer that I’m newly back into the hobby (about 20 months) after a few decades away. But I’m a fast study lol!
  8. Michael Patrick Valued Member Member

    So your PH is steady without the extra buffer, that is good to know thanks.
  9. Basil Well Known Member Member

  10. Tanks and Plants Well Known Member Member

    That formula is a great tool for me to Use! Thanks! You see out of the tap my water pH 8.2 and in all my tanks within a few days my pH will just drop. I’ve seem it go below 6.0 and that made me worry because the beneficial bacteria will start to slow down and die off with pH like that. When adding your buffers do you mix them all together in a cup at once and then add tank water or do you mix them one by one? And I’ve always agreed with the “don’t chase the pH” theory and I’ve rather have a low kH but stable pH.
  11. Michael Patrick Valued Member Member

    I am sure someone with more experience will respond but from what I found you want to mix this stuff outside the tank in a separate holding tank or bucket. Have you ever tried to buffer your water by adding in some crushed coral in the filter or somewhere in the tank? I know other people use baking soda with water changes instead. That might solve your problem easier and cheaper.
  12. Basil Well Known Member Member

    Right now, I mix in 5 g buckets.
    So the RO/DI goes into a 44 g Brute holding can. I also run a sponge filter in the holding bin to aerate the water and keep it from stagnating. Then I use a pond pump to fill the buckets; I mix Equilibrium and alkaline buffer first then add the acid buffer the next day or at least a few hours later. Then I heat each bucket and add after removing the tank water.
    I just purchased a 32 g Brute so I plan to use that one to mix and heat in and then wheel it to each tank and pump the water in. Will be so much easier!
    Yeah, I have thought about using coral in the filters. But I want to experiment with that first in one of my small tanks
    Although a ton of work, this method is working right now so I’m not ready to experiment on my stable display tanks!
  13. Basil Well Known Member Member

    Also please note that I’m a newby to using RO/DI and a recently returned fish keeper.
    So I’m not sure my formula will work for everyone.
    I did a ton of experimenting with different amounts of the buffers in buckets before I came up with my ideal mix. :)
  14. Michael Patrick Valued Member Member

    I was referring to Tanks and Plants who posted his PH crashes after coming out of the tap high. I dont think he needs to use the trio of chemicals, I think he just needs a buffer but I am not 100% sure on that.

    I am defiantly going to play around with what you said starting this weekend, my water system gets installed this week.
  15. Basil Well Known Member Member

    Ah ok. Wasn’t sure! :)
  16. Tanks and Plants Well Known Member Member

    Thanks and I do have crushed coral in my tank but it seems that i would have to use a lot more because my pH still drops. The biggest tank I have is a 33 long and I use the Seachem Tanganyika buffer but even with that after a week or 2 pH still slowly drops. I should have asked how long does your pH stay stable before you need to add more of your buffers? I have tried cuttle bone, crushed coral and all different types of buffers. My goal is to try to make my pH stay the same for a little longer than a week or 2.
  17. Michael Patrick Valued Member Member

    Wow that is rough, thought i had it bad, at least heavy planting alowed me to keep a stably tank.
  18. Basil Well Known Member Member

    Stays stable for at least a week. I try not to let it go much longer than that as nitrates start to build up.
    But I have noticed that occasionally, the KH has dropped to 0 the day I do the WC but so far, ph has stayed stable.
    But I bet if I waited another day, there might be a drop but not sure about a crash. But then I don’t want to find out!! :p
    I just finally calibrated the ph meter I purchased a month ago.
    With the api kit, I would get 7.6 and then 7.4 on the high range.
    Ph meter read 7.2. So I’m wondering if I could add a bit more alkaline buffer to boost the KH without raising my ph too much past 7.4. Hmmmm.
    Ain’t water chemistry fun!! :cool:
  19. Michael Patrick Valued Member Member

    I copy and paste my question from up top in an email to Seachem here is the repose they sent me:

    Hello Michael,

    Thanks for the email! Those are great products to use for a planted tank when RO is the source water. You actually will want to use the Acid and Alkaline Buffers in a specified ratio based on your desired KH and pH. The Equilibrium should be added initially for the entire volume of the aquarium and thereafter, only for the replacement water. Also, at water changes, it is best to add the products to the holding tank and then get it into the aquarium quickly, as the buffers are designed to work with the natural acids being produced in the tank by fish and other organisms. If they are just sitting in a holding tank without any organic acids, the parameters will not remain stable. If you can tell us the size of your holding tank and your desired KH and pH, we can assist with the amounts you should add for the proper results.

    We look forward to your reply!

    Seachem Support 100215

    My response:

    Not sure yet but at most 10 gal at a time with 2 5 gallon buckets.
    What about adding another buffer to the water to hold the PH over time such as crushed coral? Some people post on forums the PH starts to drop after a week so they do water changes once a week. I have a planted tank so I usually do water changes every 2 weeks in my main display tank. I have a heavy planted shrimp tank I do water changes once a month. Will the Ph remain stable if I do not do water changes every week?

    From them:

    If you are not doing water changes often, you may find that you have to add the buffers in between water changes to keep the pH stable. It will really depend on the organic acid production in the tank that tends to pull the pH downward. If you have a fully stocked tank, you may need to add the buffers more often, but if it is lightly stocked with fish, you may find that you only have to add the buffers at water changes. Every tank is different and will require different dosage rates of buffers and supplements. The best thing to do is monitor your levels over a 2 week period to see when they start to shift and you can base your dosing schedule from that observation. Crushed coral and other gravels that slowly release carbonate into the tank act more as a safety net rather than a sole buffer.

    Seachem Support 100215