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FAQs on Tap/Source Water Use for Marine Aquariums 2

Related Articles: Treating Tap water for Marine Aquarium Use, Water Purification Using Reverse Osmosis,

Related FAQs: Treating Tapwater 1, Treating Tapwater 3, & FAQs on New Water Treatment: Rationale/Science, Chemicals (Chlorine, Chloramines, Trihalomethanes...), Filtrants, Techniques/Tools, Testing, Troubleshooting, Products by Manufacturer/Brand, DIY Treatment Chemicals/Tools, & Water Changes

"If you wouldn't drink it, don't put it in my tank!"

Source water  - 05/19/2006 I am currently setting up a 215G tank which will be used mainly for fish but will also include hardy corals such as zoanthids and mushrooms.   When we had our well water tested to get permits for occupying our house, we were told that it was very good, one of the best samples they had seen.  I read in Mr. Fenner's book, "Conscientious Marine Aquarist", that RO filtered water in not always necessary.   I am going to have our water tested again, and my question is what minerals and chemicals should I be looking for and at what acceptable levels, to determine whether it will need to be filtered or not for my aquarium?    Thanks in advance for any input you can provide.  Kevin <<Kevin:  In general, most people would recommend having a RO/DI unit and getting your water to 000 Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) before you mix your salt water for your tank.  These links to articles may be helpful for you. http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2005-11/rhf/index.php   http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2004-05/rhf/index.php Best of luck, Roy>>

Well Water High In Ammonia  - 5/18/2006 Hi. Hope you can help me. I have set up, cycled, stocked, and maintained 3 freshwater aquariums with the fine articles and faq's you all so tirelessly provide. Now I'm stuck and need an informed opinion please. My nitrates are staying high constantly. My tap water...well water has .50ppm ammonia...0 nitrites and 0 nitrates. I store water in a Rubbermaid container and treat same with Novaqua per instructions. < Try Amquel or Ultimate instead.> Water is heated and aerated until used. If I use replacement water for water changes that has a .50 ppm ammonia level ,will it cause high nitrates?? < The replacement water will convert the ammonia to nitrates on a one to one basis. So you will end up with .50 ppm nitrates. The only way to reduce nitrates from an agricultural source, like well water is to use an R/O unit, DI unit or use live plants to absorbed the nitrates from the water.> That is my theory whether it is right or wrong. Please tell me if I'm on the right track and if I need to de-ammonianize my tap water before using. Thanks for all of your help.....DR < Your situation is not unusual in agricultural areas that over fertilize the crops and the excess nitrogen fertilizers make their way down to the first or shallowest aquifer.-Chuck>

Tap Water Filtration Quandary - 04/28/06 I am new to the saltwater aquarium scene... so new, I don't actually have one yet! <<Excellent!  Glad to see you doing your homework "before hand"...so many don't>> I have been researching and researching so much, it feels like my brain if frying. <<Hee!>> Anyway, the biggest roadblock I have approached is RO and RO/DI units. <<Ok>> Here is the bottom line for me.  I live in a rental property, and pretty much any setup I can think of that incorporates an RO unit is not possible. <<Why?  It is not necessary to "hard wire" these units...can be quite "portable">> I cannot alter the plumbing of this house, and I do not have the kind of room to have a large trash can filled with water sitting around. <<Ahh, I see...plumbing is not an issue as the unit can be hooked up to the sink as needed...but you do need a receptacle of some sort to hold the filtered water>> It is a small 2-story townhouse.  So... is this the end? <<Don't know.  How 'bout a "small" trash can/Rubbermaid container to store RO water?>> I am prepared to use a sump, refugium, and skimmer.  But the RO unit just isn't feasible for me. <<I think "something" could be devised>> I have been very excited about taking a stab at saltwater fish, but all this RO unit stuff is taking the wind out of the sails a little. <<That's a shame>> I do not want, nor can I afford, to kill saltwater fish because of this particular issue. <<If you are planning a FOWLR system this may be a moot point...depending on your tap water quality>> So do I have to stick with freshwater, or is there another way for renters that do not have major space?  The tank would be a 55 gal, and I would simply be interested in live rock, and some colorful, hardy (since I am a beginner), tankmates... I'm not particularly trying to make a reef tank, per se. <<Then I recommend you try it "without" the RO unit.  You will need "some kind" of container to aerate/treat the water for chlorine/chloramines...but can likely get by without an RO unit unless your tap water is particularly bad>> Please help... I feel like my head is going to explode from information overload. Thanks! Richard Chisholm <<I'm happy to assist.  Regards, Eric Russell>>

Hard Water- Easy Solution?  4/6/06 Dear Sirs, <No "sir"- just Scott F. with you today!> First of all I would like to thank all of you for all the 'life saving' advice that you have devoted your time to collecting to help others through your web resource. <Thanks for the kind words! We're glad to be here!> I have tried to seek advice on the issue that I am experiencing with not too much luck so I thought I would perhaps run it by your team. <Sure!> I have a RO water filter connected to my mains water supply from which I fill a 60 litre plastic bucket with 40 litres of fresh water. I then add synthetic sea salt (Instant Ocean brand) pre measured to give me a salinity of 1.022 (checked with refractometer and hydrometer) to create aeration and movement I use a large power head and a large airstone attached to a pump to aerate this solution. I have a heater in the plastic bucket to maintain my temperature at 75 degrees Fahrenheit and then age the mix for a minimum of two to three days but usually about a week before using this supply to make water changes. I recently had to keep my aged saltwater for about three weeks in this set up as I was traveling and upon my return noticed that there was a large amount of lime scale (calcium carbonate) which had appeared all over the components which were in the bucket (powerhead, heater, temperature gauge etc.) as well as scale which had 'fixed' itself to the bottom of the bucket. My questions are these: 1./ If I am using a RO filter to purify my mains supply then should the filter not remove the calcium carbonate from the water? <The RO unit will produce water with little or no carbonate hardness to begin with. You could probably use activated carbon in a power filter to physically remove the scale from the water.> 2./Would the fact that the water was left for three weeks in the bucket contribute to the fact that the scale formed? <Perhaps it precipitated from solution, or was previously deposited on the walls of the bucket.> 3./ Would the synthetic saltwater mixture start to lose any of its valuable properties after having aged for three weeks or more? <Hard to say. I'm sure that some trace elements may have a sort of "half life", and will eventually fall out of solution, but the majority will probably still be present in the water.> 4./ Is there a way to eliminate the scale if the RO filter is not going to? <As above.> And is it undesirable in a marine fish only system? <Probably of no concern, IMO> 5./Should I consider softening the water from the main supply? <I would not be overly concerned about it, myself.> 6./  I am aware that I have a hard water supply in my location but can this cause any ill effects in the aquarium? <If you are keeping freshwater fishes that require soft water, it could prove problematic. I suppose the only potential issues with a marine tank would be excessive buildup on powerhead impellers and the like.> Many many thanks in advance to whoever will answering this mail. Kindest Regards Aehsun Shakh <Glad to be of service! Regards, Scott F.>

Use Of Tap Water With Fluoride/Chlorine - No Cavities For Nemo  - 03/25/2006 Hi crew,  <Hi Debi> Just a quick question for clarification sake.  I am reading you site and understand that I can use my own untreated (by me) tap water mixed with salt for my reef tank as long as it sets for a while before using it.  I live in a large Texas city and am sure they add chlorine and fluoride to our water. Is this still ok to use?  My LFS have all been so adamant that only RO/DI will do.  I would love to be able to use my home water, but just wanted to make sure I understood this correctly.  <This is all going to depend on nitrate and phosphate levels in the tap water.  Do test for such and if acceptable, I'd go ahead and use it.  Do aerate the freshwater 24 hours before adding salt.> Thanks for your help.  <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Don't want to sound dumb but what do I use to aerate it? <A standard fish tank bubbler w/ an airstone. :)  Jen S.>

Source Water Treatment For Marine Use - 03/24/2006 Hello again, Chris Stingley here in Lovely Mt. Carroll IL. Just had some questions regarding main water source for my up and coming Reef tank. I've read most of your articles and FAQ on this subject, but the wealth of material seems to have me a bit confused. <Uh-oh.> First of from what I've read it seems that using my tap water, mixing salt, and letting water sit for a week or so is sufficient. <With constant circulation and good aeration, yes.> It seems hard for me to grasp as this hobby seems so sensitive and time consuming. <Has to do with what happens during the process. Read here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm > Anyway I was hoping you could tell me best way of ensuring my friends don't get too angry with me. <Premixing and storing, as you are.> I'm not sure whether to do this or buy distilled, or something else. <Just use the tap.> If only way to do this right is expensive, maybe you could suggest less expensive ways for temporary use. In the 3 months I've had my tank going I've basically used tap, adding a product called Stress Coat by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals, <I wouldn't bother with this.> and Instant Ocean salt mix. <Is good stuff.> Just letting it dissolve over night then adding next day. Or I've used the same process except with distilled water. <I wouldn't use the distilled.> Any Help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Again, Chris Stingley <Hope this has helped. - Josh>

Re: Unknown Creature living in Tank... Treating source water   3/21/06 Thank you for your quick reply, <Welcome> If it isn't harming my other inhabitants I will leave the tubiculous polychaete as is.  I had one other question regarding the water I use to do water changes and fill sump when water evaporates.  Instead of using tap water and adding conditioners to it (I rent an apt. and the tap water is full of phosphates), I was thinking of trying bottled water, like Poland Springs for my water changes instead.  Would there be any benefits to the tank, similar to that of distilled water, or would a bottled water like Poland Springs be harmful, as compared to tap water. <Likely is of better quality... just expensive> I tend to get a bit of green/purple algae from the tap water. Thanks again, Helana Gelleri <If you intend to live here a good long while... you might consider buying, installing a reverse osmosis device... and taking it with you when you go. Bob Fenner> Greenhouse Water Purification? - 03/16/06 Hello Crew, <<Hello!>> I am about finished with my greenhouse, and need some advice on water purification for make up water. <<Mmm...where's that rascal Anthony?>> The greenhouse will hold 2000 gallons, distributed between 16 tanks.  I have (2) 1000 gallon water containers for salt water and buffered evap replacement water. <<cool!>> My original plan was to use a Kold Ster-il plus DI to fill the containers. However, PolyBio Marine is being completely unreliable, and I haven't been able to get a Kold Ster-il even after placing the order around Thanksgiving via my local distributor. <<Yes, I have too noticed these units (and the "disk" media for it) have become "unobtainable" of late.>> I really don't want to use RO because of the waste water, and the time that it would take to refill the containers. <<Understood>> My local distributor suggested that I could set up some NuClear containers, one with 25 micron pre-filter, one with carbon, and the last one with the PolyBio Marine Poly-Filter pads.  He says that this would produce water quite similar to a Kold Ster-il, <<Likely, yes>> and apparently the pads can be obtained without a problem. <<True...the 4"x8" and 12"x12" pads are still available.>> Secondly, he says that placing a DI unit after the Kold Ster-il or NuClear setup would be a very bad idea because the DI resins would be used up very, very quickly because of the calcium, etc. that the Kold Ster-il or Poly-Filter Pads would pass through.  But I have seen several instances on WetWebMedia where such a setup is said to be ideal.  So, I'm confused. <<Differing opinions...Anthony Calfo ran his own aquaculture facility for about 10 years and is a huge fan of the Kati-Ani deionization units.  Obviously not everyone's circumstances are the same, but Anthony boasts being able to get "years" of use from his resins (requires periodic "recharging").  He does state that he uses the premium German made resins to achieve this. Might I suggest you visit his forum at Marine Depot ( http://www.marinedepot.com/FORUMS/Forum13-1.aspx) and get his thoughts/suggestions re your situation.>> If I do not use a DI, then do you think that simply using the NuClear setup would produce good enough water for a coral farm? <<Will depend some on your source water, but I think your best option to be one of the Kati-Ani units (available in different sizes to suit your requirements).  But do give Anthony a shout and get his take on it.>> Regards, Jerry <<Cheers, EricR>>

Well Water Has Bubbles  - 02/20/06 Hi Folks! Once again thank you for such an informative website. Now my question. I use untreated well water for all household uses including my two freshwater aquariums. This well is an artesian well from 150' down. The problem is that when this water is pumped up to the tanks etc. it is full of millions of gas bubbles. I have read about the 'gas bubble disease' which could be caused by these bubbles but my main concern is the bubbles affect water clarity. Is there anything I can do to remove or at least reduce the amount of bubbles? Seems like the more filtration or water movement, the more bubbles form! Any and all advice would be very welcome and thanks in advance for your time and thoughts....DR < The water should be allowed to sit still for 24 hours before using in in an aquarium. The gas is probably CO2 and here is how you will find out. Check the pH of the water straight out of the well. I bet it is under 7. CO2 gas acts like a carbonic acid in solution. As the CO2 escapes the pH will rise until a point to where it will stabilize and then can be used for fish.-Chuck> Water changes  2/18/06 <Andrew,> First of all, thanks for the quick response to my ammonia question. I just have a quick follow up question. You said to do water changes 1-2 times daily, <If necessary.  You'll almost certainly need it, but let your Ammonia/Nitrite levels be your guide.> and I'm wondering how to condition the water I'm using to replace the water I take out if I shouldn't use products like Prime that "eliminate ammonia, chlorine, and chloramine." <Just the Ammonia part is what I'm concerned about.  Find a different water conditioner that doesn't remove Ammonia.  Chlorine and Chloramine removers are a must.> Do I just put in straight tap water <Don't EVER try this.  The damage that Chlorine does to a fish's gills is very quick and devastating.> (at the appropriate temp, of course) or is there a product with which I should condition it first that doesn't starve the nitrifying bacteria by turning ammonia into ammonium? Again, thanks for your help. This site was a great find! <You bet, there are tons and tons of different varieties.  Some of them supposedly help the fish regain their slime coat as well, but I've never looked into that; probably a load of hooey.  I usually go for the best "bang per buck" so I end up getting the one that can treat the most gallons for the smallest price.  Remember, you are only concerned about removing Chlorine, Chloramine.> Thanks, Andrew <Jason N.>

Copper In Source Water - 01/13/2006 WWM Team, <Hey Joe!> I have researched a lot on the web, books, and your FAQ and most of this topic are about Self Inflicted Copper Levels (i.e. Ick Treatment). My concern is slightly different and info seems to be limited. I have well water and when tested came out at 0.2-0.3ppm for copper. <Argh! That's no good.> I am getting ready to add some Live Rock to a newly set-up tank, and need to know if this would kill the LR and I'm just wasting my money?   <The copper would kill invert. hitchhikers. Best to solve the copper problem before adding to the tank.> I also had plans on a Volitans and a Snowflake Moray which I know are both scaleless and sensitive to Copper. Should I be worried? <I think you are right to be.> What can be done to help with this (Carbon, RO, or Both)? <I would go RO for well water.> I was not quite planning on an RO unit but if it is needed then so be it. Didn't know if I could solve this with Carbon alone. <I believe your safest bet is to go RO.> Thanks as always! Joe <You're welcome. - Josh>

Re: Copper In Source Water - 01/13/2006 I bought 80 gallons of Purified Culligan Water for original set-up, and will be picking up an RO unit ASAP for water changes. <I think you'll be glad to have it.> So I'll be starting out with 0 copper or lead in the tank. <Good stuff (as long as they stay that way).> Thanks Josh.   Joe <Sure thing Joe. - Josh> Ammonia in the drinking water   1/10/06 Hi guys, <Hello Johnny> I have been researching the set-up of my first marine tank for about 3 months now. I still don't own any equipment at the moment except for six marine aquarium text books and the very valuable information that I have gleamed from this site.<Excellent.  In reading/researching, you are going to be aware of the requirements/needs of this hobby to be successful.> I am very nearly at the point where I will purchase some gear, I live in London and I found this information about ammonia when I was reading through my local drinking water quality report - should I be worried? <No, as it states "residual amount".  It is always best to aerate water you are going to use 24 hours before adding the salt mixture.  Doing this should rid the water of any chloramine/chlorine traces.> Nitrite In the London area chloramine, rather than free chlorine, is used as the residual disinfectant because it is more persistent in the extensive distribution system that serves the capital. The use of chloramine as the residual disinfectant involves the addition of a small amount of ammonia to the chlorinated water just before it leaves the treatment works. Traces of residual ammonia, and the chloramine itself, can be converted naturally to nitrite within the distribution system and may give rise to contraventions of the nitrite standard. Under the new regulations the standard for nitrite in water supply zones changed from 0.1mg/l to 0.5mg/l at the end of 2003. All of the 6,276 samples we collected for nitrite analysis in 2004 complied with this new standard. All the Best, Johnny. (Probably not the last time ill darken your doorstep) <Not a problem Johnny.  James (Salty Dog)> Boiling Water For Aquarium Use 01-01-06 Hi crew.   <Hello> Just a quick question about water treatment.  I have a 38-gallon reef system with various pieces of coral, live rock and crushed coral for substrate.  The system has been running for over 6 months.  Every thing in the tank in thriving including a bunch green hair algae that's been growing on my live rock for a while now.  The algae never really bothered me, as a matter of fact; it kind of made the reef system look better.  But it's getting to the point know where it's beginning to grow very tall and I have to keep trimming it every week.  I've been saving my pennies to buy an RO water filter.  Hopefully that will remedy my algae problem.  My LFS suggested that I boil my tap water and store it.  They stated that boiling tap water works as good as an RO unit.  What do you think?   <That is completely false.  RO units remove organics and heavy metals from the water. Boiling your water will actually concentrate those elements as the water evaporates. A good example would be the ring inside a coffee pot, usually a calcium/lime build up. Boiling your water will do nothing for your algae issue. RO will help, but you will also need to make sure your tank has undetectable nitrates and phosphates to "snuff" out the algae.> Your advise will be greatly appreciated. Elvin - Milwaukee, WI <Glad to help, Travis>

Dechlorinators  12/10/05 Hi, <Hello.> I was wondering if using a water conditioner is important when doing a water change on a saltwater tank? I use to use one as a safe guard against chlorine but never really knew if I was wasting my money or not. <Depends on the source water. If you are using tap, then yes a dechlorinator is necessary, if this RODI water, other than aerating it, nothing is necessary.> Thanks, <Welcome.> Scott <Adam J.>

Please Use the Site, Busting Chops Properly - 11/15/2005 Josh, <Tony> What do you mean by properly aged water? <Oy, Tony, you're killin' me. It should be set up ahead of time, in stages really. Aerate freshwater at 24 hrs., add buffer and continue aeration another 24 hrs., add salt and allow to mix at least another 24 hrs. I prefer to move in 48 hr. intervals though. Please use the Google search bar and the site in general to enrich your experiences here. Here's a freebie http://www.wetwebmedia.com/waterchg.htm > Thanks, Tony  <Welcome. - Josh>

Big confusion with my small reef tank setup...  <<Dummies book series strikes again?>> 10/19/05 Hi, I am very new to the saltwater hobby and recently started a small 30 gallon tank back in August with the main intention of learning how to properly care for marine life before I moved into a new home next year where I plan to have a 125 gallon or larger reef tank with some fish too. <Sounds like a plan to me!> Anyways I bought a book on how to set up a saltwater fish/reef tank and it advised me to use fluidized bed filter and a canister filter and also said that I could get away with tap water if a decorticator was used… <I would never use tap water because of the amount of phosphates and other unwanted elements, etc>   Finally I now have RO and immediately last night after mixing saltwater I noticed PH was 8.2!  With tap I could never keep it over 7.8, and when mixing saltwater I always ended up with PH 7.8 or less water!  I plan to do several big water changes in the next few days with new RO processed water.<agreed> My question is, without breaking the bank, what types of filtration should I keep and what should I get rid of (should I change filter types altogether and get a wet/dry or something similar?)? <your filtration is not bad, a wet/dry might be better but as long as you have good biological filtration...liverock, livesand, etc you will be fine. The mechanical is important to pull debris uneaten food, etc.> I have a fluidized bed filter, a protein skimmer, a canister filter, about 4 watts per gallon of lighting, 20 pounds of live rock, 2 damsels, 2 clownfish, and 1 Bicolor Pseudochromis, and a few hermit crabs.   Basically I want to get the water up to par and then begin adding calcium and some type of alkalinity booster. <yes, it sounds like you are on the right track> Any advice you could give me on what would be an ideal setup with what I have to work with would be appreciated because I really want to make this work and it has really been frustrating for me the past few weeks.  Before I discovered RO processed water I killed a brain coral, plate coral, melted mushroom corals off their rocks and killed one fish…  I will never even let tap get near my tank again.<Yea adding tap water to an aquarium can be a death trap, I would only use filtered water or RO water. It sounds as if your filtration is more than adequate for the bio-load that you have in your aquarium. In my opinion it is not worth it to purchase an expensive wet/dry filter. You might want to setup a refugium (you can find more info on that by using the search feature on wetwebmedia.com)> Thanks Dave Sheehan <Good luck, IanB> Water treatment 8/22/05 Bob, in Chapter 4 of your book, talking about source water, you state that as long as you age and circulate tap water for a week, we shouldn't have any worries about poisoning.  I want to fill my tank with tap water to test everything out, and would like to know if I could just let it circulate through my tank and wet/dry for a couple of weeks and then add salt and go from there. <Yes...> I'm pretty sure my tap water is nasty, <Nasty? If it has much in the way of "things" you don't want, you might want to consider filtering it ahead of use... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm And the linked files above> so I could let it circulate for longer if advised.  I could also add a water conditioner if that would help.  I don't plan on any delicates, just an aggressive FOWLR if that helps.  Thank you again.  Mike <Mmm, you might want to have your tap checked for at least nitrate and phosphate content... by the LFS, your test kits... to avoid algal proliferation problems. Bob Fenner> Water 8/2/05 My local fish store is closed because they are moving. I buy all my freshwater from them. I use it to replace the evaporated water in my saltwater tank. I need to add water to the tank tomorrow and I don't have any. What can I use until they get the store back open. <Likely just tapwater... of about the same temperature... if this is some small percentage (ten, fifteen) of total volume. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> Water Quality on Water Changes 8/2/05 Hello, I have what I hope will be a quick question.  In regards to the water used to perform a water change to my reef aquarium, I was wondering if I should be adding calcium to that water while it is being stored. <Mmm, not likely, but...> I currently am storing it in a 30 gallon tank with a power head.  I add the RO/DI water, salt and PH buffer and was not sure if I should also be adding calcium to that as well.  Thanks for your help. <Depends... on how much calcium you want/need... most all salt mixes have "extra" biomineral content... if you find (by testing) that your system is deficient (usually 350 ppm calcium is a good minimum), you can bolster new water... in a few ways... These are discussed in places on WWM... can be searched... Bob Fenner>

Public water problems 8/1/05 Bob: I am a little new to this chat room forum stuff, but I have been playing with marine aquariums since the late sixties. I have recently moved from one state to another and have now had to go from well water to city water. This has presented a whole new world for me. I can not seem to maintain ph, my nitrates are up and down, water is constantly cloudy. I do 90 gal water changes every month thinking this will help. Not. <Welcome!  Adam here today.  The unpredictability of any source water is the reason for the popularity of various water purification systems including RO, DI and RO/DI.  I would strongly suggest looking into one of these.  In the mean time... if the quality of your source water is the problem... large water changes will only make it worse.  I would ask the water authority for a detailed seasonal water analysis and ask as well if they use chlorine or chloramine (the latter is harder to get rid of) and if they use phosphate based corrosion inhibitors.> I am using a life reef wet dry twin tower. Protein skimmer is not in system as I need to get a new pump for it. I know you will ask me many questions about what is in the water and feeding. The water here is very soft, ph seems to be right at 7.0 no heavy metals. I do feed live clams after I freeze them, silver sides, freeze dried plankton and Spirulina pellets and tablets, some frozen squid that comes as a medley pack.  This is getting long. Any help would be good.   Ron Downs <A lot of aquarists get spoiled by hard alkaline well water that maintains calcium and alkalinity without any supplements.  Your new soft source water may be lacking in these relative to what you are used to, so you may have to make up for this with the use of Kalkwasser, or another balanced regime of calcium and buffer additives.  Much info is available on these here at WWM.  Best Regards.  AdamC.> Use of dehumidifier condensate in fish tanks 7/7/05 I have a 90 gallon tank, which is home to 7 fish, 2 crabs, and about 20 different species of corals. In my basement, I have a 30 gallon refugium with a 5 inch sand bed, and a 30 gallon sump. I also have a 20 gallon fresh water sump that tops off the sump whenever the float switch indicates that enough evaporation has occurred to warrant it. Now for the question... I have a dehumidifier in my basement. Would I be able to use the water collected in the dehumidifier to replenish the water in my fresh water sump? <Mmm, I would not. Too much likelihood of contaminants...> On the one hand, I would think that this water would be free of nitrates, phosphates, salts, metals, etc, and be as good as using RO or de-ionized water. On the other hand, every dehumidifier comes with the obligatory warnings that the water collected is not a source of potable water. <For good reasons> Your two cents worth would be greatly appreciated (five cents worth, if you choose to include an explanation as to your opinion). Feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, or concerns. Mark A. Kaczynski <Mark, I know it sounds like a good idea... but I've seen this tried before, even been on boats where we were allowed to rinse down with this condensate (but not allow it in eyes or mouths!)... I wouldn't use it. Bob Fenner>

Re: dehumidifier water 7/9/05 Well, your opinion is good enough for me. I was just thinking that since the dehumidifier is only about 10 feet away from the sump, any contamination present in the dehumidifier condensate would probably already be present in the sump, but there must be more to the molecular biology than meets the eye... <Indeed... turns out these units pick up other junk from the air, some have metal parts that add...> Feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, or concerns. Mark A. Kaczynski <Bob Fenner>

Effective Way To Raise pH Of Water Change? - 06/28/05 Hello: <<Howdy!>> Since my pH is on the low side in my 9 month old 90 gal reef,(7.9 to 8.0)- (the usual Ca reactor woes). <<Umm, maybe...back-off on the CO2...reduce the effluent rate...add a vegetable refugium on a reverse lighting schedule.>> I am looking for a way not to add to this problem by doing monthly water changes with water that has low pH as well. <<Always a good plan.>> My R/O water when mixed with Instant Ocean to a SG of 1.025, has a pH of around 7.9 and DKH of 12. Hmm...aerating/buffering the water before mixing in the salt?>> Until now, I have not been aerating this raw water mix for 24 hours as suggested by many. <<Ah...ok...(see the puzzled look on my face?)>> My question is, assuming that the pH in my R/O water/salt mix does not go higher with aeration, what would be an effective way to raise the pH in this water without raising the alkalinity?  I realize that there are different opinions regarding buffering R/O water.  I would certainly appreciate yours. <<My pleasure <G>.  I find that one-part Seachem Reef Buffer mixed with two-parts baking soda does a dandy job.  I would still aerate for 24 hrs. to drive off excess CO2 and increase dissolved oxygen.>> I once recently tried ReefBuilder.  I used 1 tsp in a 5 gallon bucket of R/O water mixed with 2 3/4 cups of Instant Ocean.  It raised the DKH to 20 and caused the Ca to precipitate.  The water remained cloudy and would not clear. <<Water/salt mixes should be aerated for a minimum 24 hrs. AFTER mixing before adding such products, several days is even better...chemical reactions still going on after salt "looks" to have dissolved)>> Reef water: Temp 80, Alk 10.3, Ca 470, refugium lit 24/7.   Thanks for all your help.   Paul    <<Regards, Eric R.>>

What is the best H20 to use in water changes? Hello Crew, <Ethan> Thanks again for all the help these past few months I have learned a huge amount from your website and email communications, thank you! <Welcome> I have been doing 10% water changes every 10 days (I have a 120g set up) fish and inverts are doing awesome. I have been using distilled water for my changes (with Instant Ocean) and then testing pH/Salinity/ and SG before adding to the main tank. Is there anything else I should be doing? Is using distilled water ok? <Distilled is okay... just expensive and a chore to lug around... I would look into a simple reverse osmosis device and storage options for same here... Other folks here prefer deionization... some like both, in tandem> Thank you <Again, you're certainly welcome. Bob Fenner> Ethan H. Morris DVM

Kent Salt vs. Coralife HI!! It is 1:30 a.m., and I came across some info on your web, which raised a few questions and concerns in my mind, but after a 1 1/2 hour search, I am going to be lazy and just ask you awesome people for your wonderful and insightful opinion. (a little brown nosing never hurt anyone! lol) First what I have been doing......I noticed when I used Coralife salt, my calcium was good. Once I switched to KENT I had to do a ton of partial water changes to bring it down from over 700!!!   What is the deal?? That is just one thing......Now, when started out, a LFS kid said when they do water changes they mix the water and salt and let it sit until the salt is dissolved and dump it in. (they like the Coralife as it dissolves fast...boy does it!) Sooooo, since I have a softener to R/O, the kid said I do not have to bubble it for days, just salt and mix with power head and measure gravity and dump....... mmmm....that may account for my 2.5 dKH and 8.0 PH.  <The proper way to prepare seawater is to aerate the freshwater 24 hours, then add the salt. The aeration process rids the freshwater of any CO2 present, which will lower dKH and hence pH.>  Though they NEVER deviate from those readings. (even after adding sea buffer, it goes up a little and comes back down.  <I prefer Sea Chem's Reef Builder in this regard.>  (though I think I feed too much.....2ce a day, and several things....I am going to cut back on it!) I figured I have (2) 270 gpm power heads for my 55 gallon (one pointed at the surface for good agitation, one toward the bottom for surface stir and an "up to 65 gallon" pump, which I don't use an air stone as that causes micro bubbles. I just leave the tube open and wedge between live rock for major bubbles and surface breakage. I also have a Red Sea pro deluxe Prizm skimmer for up to 300 gallons (and YES the newer ones with the media area and "surface" skim adapter DOES work great!! Just clean the neck!).  <I have one and I agree.>  So, really if the water was not "pre-aerated", then isn't the above circulation good enough to oxygenate the water after it is added?  <Yes, but I believe your problem lies with excess CO2 in the make up water.>  So far I have not had a problem except when I did use the Kent and the calcium skyrocketed, my dKH was 2.25 and ph 7.9.  <dKH does have an affect on calcium readings.>  Also, as a cheat, I found if I microwave 2 cups of water for 2 minutes out of each gallon, it puts the temperature right with my tank temp of 78. I really don't want to buy a 3rd heater! Any insights? Thanks!  <I wouldn't use a microwave to heat makeup water. Micro wave ovens produce a wavelength of 2.45 giga-hertz per second. All waves change the molecules from positive to negative with each cycle of the wave. These changes happen millions of times a second, and, especially with water molecules. I like to believe the polarity change of the molecules does have some effect on the molecules in sea water.  <My advice, aerate your freshwater 24 hours to rid it of CO2, add salt, aerate another 24, then see what your readings are in the new seawater. James (Salty Dog)> 

Kent Salt vs. Coralife Hi, Thanks for your quick reply.  I will do the 24 hour fresh/24 hour salt aeration.  Though I have to say, the other way has saved my butt, since I have had an ammonia jump .4 (dead snail...found it) having lower PH has probably saved the fish's life!  Would you agree? <It sure helps> I was told AmQuel + was a bad product for saltwater, but to me neutralizing ammonia and nitrates seem paramount!  What do you think? <In an established system without overstocking and good maintenance, ammonia should never be a problem.> I have been doing several partial water changes with no real affect on ammonia, except when I neut. it with AmQuel, it does come back the next day.  I have taken out all the live rock and swished it around, dug through my 1 - 1 1/2" sandbed (where I found a Nass. snail chowing the remnants of something...took it away from him, I mean...ewwww!)  I did a 50% water change and added AmQuel + but my ammonia is back to .4.  What is the deal?  I am using fastest ammonia test and it has worked right in the past few weeks.  I figured because this is a powder it would read right, and it did, just to have the ammonia come back.  WHAT IS GOING ON????? <Adding AmQuel prevents the bio system from readjusting to the levels it needs to be at since it quells the ammonia, and that's why I believe it is coming back.  I don't believe in using this stuff as a routine.> Should I just move everyone to a QT and let the tank "cycle"???  It is about 8 weeks old and the contents are: 3" Yellow Tang "bubbles" 2' Spotted Snake Eel "spot" 2" White Molly..... "molly" (4) 3/4" Neon gobies 8 little hermits 2 Nassarius. snails 4 left of the "turbo" really small 3 BIG Turbos "Larry, curly and Moe" 1 sandsifter "Patrick"  PS: Do they eat leftover food....shrimp silverside slivers? 1 3" BTA Would they be okay in a 20 gallon??? <No> I think I may have to leave the BTA snake eel, star, snails and crabs in tank as the QT has the treatment for tail rot.  Need advise!! <Your tank is overstocked with the two foot eel in there, that is just adding to the ammonia problem.  I have a rule of thumb....one cubic inch of fish per five gallons, that is cubic not just length.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks! <You're welcome> Carrie :)

Just How Small Is This Place!? - 04/27/05 Hello everyone! Quick question: Will dechlorinated tap water harm such fishes as, triggers, clownfish, puffers, wrasse? I have no room in my small apartment to put an R/O unit and these are the fish I will have in my display tank. < Should be fine, I kept fish-only systems for years doing just that. More important here in my opinion is a diligent schedule of water changes and a hefty filtration system to handle the messy feeders. > Thanks < Welcome...Eric R. >

Rotten Egg smell from Novaqua and Amquel Plus ? Hi Crew, <Mario> Back in January, I purchased online a bottle of Amquel plus and Novaqua by Kordon. I used them for the first time on a routine water change on Wednesday (Mar. 16), and did not notice any smell then. But, when doing another water change today (Mar 19), I notice both bottles after being opened had a rotten egg- like smell that also filled the room. <Don't use these... They have "gone bad"... should be returned to your dealer, ultimately to Kordon/Novalek for testing....> Also, when I put the lid back on the bottles the smell was still on the bottles, but an hour later the smell has diminished from the bottle with the lid on. But, if I open them the smell is there again.  <Yes... biological, microbial in origin... "Critters" are living on some of the organics in the products> I keep both bottles in a cool place in the bathroom with the others, away from any heat or drafts. In the past I used Start Right by Jungle, and this product did not have any smell. There is no expiry date on the bottles. I noticed the drops that I add to the replacement water does not make the water smell. In other words, I have not odor coming from the water. Is this smell normal? Even if the smell is not in the replacement water can it do harm to the fishes or plants? Should I continue using them if the smell continues? Thanks, Mario D. <Not normal, Dangerous, should NOT be used. Should be returned to manufacturer through your source. Bob Fenner> 

Dechlorination, filtration Bob, <James, for Bob.> First off, I'd like to say, in case it hasn't been said enough, what a pleasure it is to experience the warmth and humor in your writings. It is always nice to have a hoot whilst one is extracting scalp hair, gnashing teeth, etc. I exaggerate about the hair, teeth... this hobby has been a bit consuming at times... fortunately my wife loves me and tolerates my incessant monologues on the subject... but overall pleasurable in so many ways. It's great to have folks to share with/learn from.  <My wife is ditto on the subject> Just finished reading your article on tap water treatment. A statement in there piqued my interest... if I'm getting this right, you are saying is ok to do periodic 10-15% water changes with chloraminated tap water, perhaps better than using even a "true" chemical dechloraminator? <I've been doing this for quite some time. I aerate my new water 24 hours before adding the salt mix. Never had a problem yet.>  Would a conventional Brita-type drinking water filter remove enough chloramines to obviate the use of a chemical dechloraminator altogether? <I would say yes>  On filtration: my 12g is a "Nano Cube" tank from JBJ. Briefly, the tank integrates a small sump that houses sponge filter, ceramic rings, activated carbon, and a gaggle of bio-balls (not part of a wet-dry filter, they just sit in the water).  Problem is, there is no way to isolate the sump from the tank. So when I remove the sponge (or anything else, but especially the sponge) for cleaning, a large cloud of particulate debris explodes back through the intake vents into the tank. Is this potentially harmful to the inhabitants, i.e. releasing toxic waste products into the water?  <I don't think so, whether it stayed in the sump or got pumped back to the tank, the waste is still in the water, just in a different location.>  I could probably engineer (um, hack) a way to at least partially block off the intake vents... or increase frequency of sponge-cleanings (been doing it monthly).. <I clean my filter weekly>  ..to reduce buildup of wastes in the sponge, but also decrease biological filtering capacity, increase aggravation... <I don't believe you have any worries, Dave. James (Salty Dog)>

Ozone Use/Chlorine Detox Hello - Is it possible to use ozone in my SW mixing barrel to destroy or otherwise neutralize any present chlorine or chloramines? I'm thinking that ozone probably won't destroy chlorine, as the two are used together in spas, but it might break apart chloramine and neutralize (oxidize) the resulting '-amine' part. I should know this simple chemistry by now, sorry for the 'durr' question ... but I cannot find an answer anywhere on WWM.  <Ozone works best in oxidizing organics. Why would you want to go through the expense of using ozone anyway, when just using a product such as SeaChem's Prime will do the trick. Here is a link to water conditioning on the WWW. http://www.google.com/custom?q=Conditioners&sitesearch=wetwebmedia.com  James (Salty Dog)>

Really bad well water? 2/25/05 Thanks, Anthony. <always welcome> If you'll forgive me, I'll burden you with what additional information I have, in case you see a "bingo" in here somewhere. <the dog or the game?> Testing the source water is problematic for several reasons: 1. Two different wells have been used intermittently over the last 18 months. <ah...> 2. Well water from a single well is not necessarily consistent over time. <er...> 3. Water from a well that has sat idle for months could be different from water from the same well after continuous use. <ah...> 4. Water used for the marine tank always went through a limestone acid neutralizer installed in the house to correct low pH of water from our primary well. <bingo?> 5. Water used for the marine tank frequently also went through a softener intended to correct hardness from the neutralizer. <yikes! you may have just won a hairy kewpie doll! Softener as in salt pillow cation exchanger? If you use(d) salt to recharge this unit, then it imparted excess chloride ions to the water which accumulate and can be problematic over time> For these reasons, my data on source water is not complete.  <agreed... but you do make a good sales pitch (to yourself!) for being a fine candidate to own a two-column deionizer and be done with all of the guesswork> But here are the noteworthy pieces of data I have: 1. Before going through any treatment within the house, a test on our secondary well showed notable manganese (.76 mg/l). I understand our softener would remove this, but this water did not always go through the softener. 2. After going through the neutralizer and softener, water from our primary well showed copper of .3 mg/l.  <aieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! you are killing me. Er... them aquatic critters too> This test was run a couple years ago (before we had a marine tank) and then forgotten about until I looked it up last night. 3. Our secondary well was inadvertently used for several months this fall, during which time problems very slowly developed in the marine tank. When I discovered the secondary well in use, I switched back to the primary (the one that earlier showed copper) and made a new batch of salt water. This primary well (which originally showed pH of 5.8)... <ughhh... I just become incontinent> ....had by this time sat idle for about 6 months. When I first used the salt water made after switching back to this well, I had the clear and immediate impression that snails were stressed.  <heheehahahahhahahhhahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa...ahhoo. Ah, yep... I can see sources of stress my friend> (I wonder what metals could have dissolved in that water while it sat so long in acid water.) 4. When the snail stress was observed, about a month ago, we added the Kent Toxic Metal Sponge and Poly filter, and started using RO/DI water exclusively. I checked a first PolyFilter after being in use 26 days -- brown, maybe slightly yellowish. I checked a second new PolyFilter after 4 days - same color, just lighter overall.  <now that does not sound bad at all> These PolyFilters were in the Fluval ahead of the Kent Toxic Metal Sponge. <I'm not sure this is the most capable product to deal with your serious issues here> Since switching to RO/DI and beginning use of Kent TMS and PolyFilter, I've done 10 water changes, with average amount replaced of 3.5 gallons in a 75 gallon tank. Would more aggressive water changing be advisable? <yes, please... larger water changes are more effective by far> I still see no snails. I see an occasional very small worm and an occasional amphipod. Xenia and Toadstool corals look reasonably good. BTA doesn't look good. (Clownfish were removed earlier to give the BTA a break, but they always looked fine). Could the water be OK now, but I am still seeing delayed effects of an earlier problem? <yes> I don't expect you to spend hours thinking about this, but if anything jumps out at you, I'd appreciate hearing about it. <I'll bring my own Dasani when I visit you ;)> Thanks again, Tom <It seems like your source water is... er... sometimes less than optimal. I strongly encourage you to rely only on DI water to be aerated, buffered/reconstituted. For peace of mind and consistency if nothing else. Anthony>

What to test for from my well water? Five years ago I had a 125 gallon salt tank. But used it mainly for carnivorous fish. I have been dreaming of getting into a reef setup. I recently found a great deal. And have just purchased a 750 gallon tank. I now live with well water and want to make sure I know what I'm getting out of the ground. I do plan on getting it tested, but have a few specific questions in regards to the required tests. My questions are: 1. Which tests do you consider absolutely necessary since their seems to be and endless amount of things to test for. <I would consider Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Chlorine, Copper, pH, and Hardness to be necessary tests when determining whether or not well water is suitable for use in your reef tank to be.> 2. I would like to know what certain elements in my water would dictate either my using RO, or RO/DI, or just Kold. I really do not want to tax my well with what I understand to be a wasteful RO system. Unless absolutely necessary. <I, personally recommend that everyone uses an RO/DI system for their reef tank. Many units have lower waste water to clean water ratios. However, if you feel so inclined to use your well water, discovering traces of Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Chlorine, or Copper would serve as a red flag, and should deem the well water unsuitable. Low pH and low hardness are not make-it-or-break-it factors, but can cause many headaches down the road.> PS. Your site seems to be the most complete I have found for information.  After reading a ton of previous questions I see their are endless possibilities with how best to set up systems. <You've hit the nail on the head.> I thought I had a plan until finding this tonight. Now I know I better spend a little more time gaining some knowledge before setting it up.  Thanks for your time and expertise. <Glad I could be of assistance, Mike G>

What to test for from my well water? - II Wow, what a great/quick response. Thank you. <You're welcome.> Would it be sufficient to just use my RO when preparing to do a water change? Or is it recommended that you also leave it running 24 hours a day to aid in filtering the tank? Can you recommend any manufactures? <What do you mean by "filtering the tank?" An RO/DI unit takes tap water, or, in your case, well water, and converts it into a much more reef-appropriate water. You use it to prepare water for water changes and for top-off, but hooking it up to a reef as a filter, which I assume you want to do, would convert the saltwater to freshwater, and waste much of the water. Before you knew it, your 750 gallon tank would be half full of near fresh water.> I was told to buy Aqua Medic products. <Which products to buy is completely your choice.> I'm considering buying: 1. Aqua Medic Turbo Floater 5000 @ 975 GPH skimmer. 2. Osmotic 4 stage R/O 300 GPD 3. Riff 2000 Wet/Dry Any feeling on these in particular? <1 and 2 look good to me, but I would never personally recommend a wet/dry unit on a reef tank. It serves only as a nitrate factory.> Thanks again, I will hold on the questions until I further educate! <No need. This is a place to get answers and to help you. We don't mind answering your questions at all, Mike G>

Source Water Problems I have read your website over and over (about a year) and must thank you. This is my first question as to tell you how much you site is of value. I couldn't find it in your search bar. <Well, thank you so much for the kind words! We're happy to bring it to you! Scott F. here today> My problem is the ammonia .50/nitrate 10 in my tap water. Could be worse but could also be a lot better. <Sure could be!> I never really worried about testing it before because my old house's (rental) water read good. About a year ago we bought a house a couple of blocks from our old one. I figured same area, same water quality so I never bothered to test it. I've never had any ammonia show in my tanks even after the move. All of my FW tanks are doing great though. Granted they were cycled long before the move and I used a lot of their old water to set them up with. They see very steady water changes and a lot of me. Anyways, after we had moved I set up a saltwater tank. It is a ten gallon with a ten gallon sump/refugium under it. I don't have anything in there besides 20 pounds of live rock and 10 pounds of sand. I still plan to add more to my refugium down the road but I'm not in a hurry to stock my system. <Good. Take it slow and steady!> It has been running for about 3 months. My tank is always reading what my tap water is reading since I do daily water changes. Is this too much? Or should I hold back some? <That's a bit too much, particularly in a tank that doesn't seem to have settled in yet. You should actually avoid water changes while the system is cycling. I am a big fan of frequent small water changes, but daily is too disruptive, IMO. Back off a bit.> I'm wanting to save what little critters and bacteria that is in the rock as possible. It seems it doesn't have enough time to break down before I dump more into it. I would of thought by now it would be able to break it down. Since I'm not really getting any where would I be able to use my 125g cichlid tanks water for my small water changes for the time being. I know very strange question but it seems better than what I'm using now. <Actually, it kind of makes sense!> Normally I wouldn't think of it but I have very stable systems that are matured with a routine of good water changes. I have never had ammonia in there for the last 4 yrs. Everything is 0 in the tank with a very steady pH of 8.2. I still do weekly water changes and testing on all my tanks. The reason I think this one might be better is because of the steady pH and 0 NO2, NO3, and ammonia. I'm wanting to do this until I get a RO unit even though I haven't heard of anybody doing this. Tell me what pitfalls I'm looking at (even though you already answered me as you read.  Thanks for your time, Josh <Well, Josh, if your source water is problematic (and it seems that it is), I'd strongly consider acquiring and using an RO/DI unit to improve the quality. This can pay real dividends down the line. Hang in there, and let us know if we can be of further assistance. Regards, Scott F.>

Tap water alkalinity Thu, 3 Feb 2005 Hello James, and thanks for responding! <Your welcome> First question, yes I have calibrated the monitor.  I haven't retested it for a couple of weeks, but I have plenty of solution to do so again, if you think I should.<No>  I hadn't realized that my ph was low, because the test kits that I had been using showed that it was okay.  I don't care for the matching-up color tests very well!  Too much second-guessing. <Agree, sometimes the dyes don't seem to match the color chip.> As far as the fish go, I have 6 Chromis.  Three weeks ago I had 7, but one died day two.  Didn't seem to have anything wrong with it, just didn't take well to its new home.  I have a few snails somewhere in there, and 4 little cleaner crabs.  One thing I found that I'm doing that doesn't seem to be recommended is that I have an undergravel filter on the tank.  I've had this tank set up for around 5 years or so, and tried to set everything up according to the Conscientious Marine Aquarist.  In the book, it stated that undergravel filters were perfectly okay, but from reading the forums on Reefcentral, I think I'm gonna take out the plates and my substrate and start over again. <Ah, your problem is at hand.  UG plates are OK if you thoroughly clean the substrate at least every three months with a gravel cleaner type syphon. Your UG system is more than likely a hydrogen sulphide gas producer which is extremely dangerous to the inhabitants.>  I really want to have the pretty white sand bed that I've seen on people's posts, but couldn't ever use it with the undergravel filter. My substrate that I have now is a bunch of little shells, and It is almost impossible to keep it clean-looking.  It really wasn't much of a problem when I didn't have the pc's, but the tank sure doesn't look very nice.  Do you think the substrate could be causing some of my problems?  It is several years old. <I believe it is causing all your problems.  I certainly would tear it down and replace with a sand bed.  If you do not have at least 1 1/2 lbs of live rock per gallon which would be your bio filter, then I would suggest the use of a wet/dry filtering system.   I do use a skimmer, although after buying it I have read where others think it a piece of crap (Seachem),<I wasn't aware that Seachem made a skimmer.  Are you sure it's not a SeaClone?> but it does pull out quite a bit of gunk.  I also have a canister filter running, and have added a hang on whisper filter.<I would use Chemi-pure in the canister filter.  This product does remove quite a bit of organic waste and is economical.> I have a powerhead attached to the undergravel filter plate.  I have live rock (I think 45 lbs), but it's been several years when I bought the first group, so don't remember for sure.  I had clown fish in the tank for years, and they got so mean that I couldn't put any other fish in there.  I also had a chocolate chip starfish for about 5 years.  I finally got rid of the old fish, and would like to start again.  The Chromis are not supposed to be quite so mean! <Very peaceful fish> I must have read what the water parameters were supposed to be wrong, because I thought the alk wasn't supposed to be that high.  I just looked it up in the book and it says alk 2.5-3.5 meq/l is an acceptable range.  This too must have changed since Mr. Fenner came out with this book! <An acceptable range is 8-12DKH.  Just multiply the meq/l by 2.8 to get that value.> I've been freaking out on this for nothing!  Earlier this week I mixed a new batch of water for my next change, and had added marine buffer to it to match my ph.  When I tested it earlier today, the alk was 14, calcium 420.  I was thinking about dumping it out, because I thought the alk was way off. <I wouldn't add anything to the make up water.  It is suppose to have near correct levels to start with.  Alkalinity buffers should only be added as needed.  With the organic waste of that UG system, I'm sure your buffering capacity doesn't last too long.> Could the old undergravel plate and substrate be causing my calcium to vanish? <You have a "witches brew" with that UG plate.  Get rid of it.> I would really like to get the coralline growing again, and from what I've read, I must be able to keep the calcium up for this to happen.  It has spread a very little bit, but not anything like it used to. <Once you make your changeover, let the system run a week, then start checking your levels.  SeaChem's liquid calcium is an excellent product to get that coralline growing.> Thanks for letting me pick your much more intelligent brain than mine! <One's opinion> I love fish, but I hate the science/chemistry stuff!  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! <Don't let the testing scare you off Jacquie, they are just indicators of water quality. The ph being one of the better indicators of poor water quality.  Good luck.  James (Salty Dog)> Jacquie New to salt water aquariums     Hi my name is Trent and I have had a 46 gallon freshwater aquarium set up for a year now and things are going great.  My uncle is giving me his 55 gallon and I'm going to use it for a salt water aquarium. Since I'm new to salt water I don't really understand how to do water changes.  Do you store mixed water in a separate container and then just fill your tank up with that?  Do you need to add anything to the water besides dechlorinator and salt?  Do you need to heat the separate container? that's all my questions for now <Mmm, plenty for you to read. Please start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm See all those blue lines? Those are Articles and FAQs... on marine set-up... Read on my friend. Bob Fenner> Sand Depth Query Dear Bob & Staff, <Good morning! Ryan with you today.> Thanks for all the great advice in the past. I am at the end of a battle with Cyanobacteria. <Tough battle!> Which I'm happy to say I have won with the help of all the great info on this site. My next question is about water make up. I use a very cheap tap water filter with a ion-exchange resin. (all I can afford at the moment) I have a 10 gallon container that I use to make up my water. In the past I have only aerated it about two hours before I added buffers and started to use it in my tank. In reading previous Q & A you advise to aerate over night. I have also seen a drop in Alkalinity. Do I have to add a buffer and alkalinity boost to my make up water. <Buffer yes, alkalinity no.  Unless your make-up water has serious issues.  Have you tested it?> It seems when I add just the buffer alone and test the tank the next day alkalinity seems to drop? <yes, unless you've got issues that I stated above.> Second question I have is my LFS told me I should remove my 1" of live sand. He said that either I should have a DSB (which I thought about but decided cost and moving the rock was not an option right now) or nothing at all. <I'd go with half inch or less.>  The tanks that they have both ways. He said live sand adds to Phosphate and silica problems. <Hmm...That's load of Cyanobacteria, right there.  If you pick a silica-free sand, such as Southdown, how could it add silica to your water column?  Phosphates are the same story.  Just inquire about the make-up of the sand, and the rest is easy.>  What is your feelings on this? <Stated.  Good luck! Ryan>

Tap water vs. RO water Dear crew, Just a short query.  Is it really absolutely truly positively and unconditionally necessary to use RO/DI water as top off water and when mixing artificial salt water? :-)   << I use tap water.  Always will.  But it is safer to add RO water.  I think you get more algae growth with tap water, but I like that. >> I have a 75 gal FOWLR running and have been using tap water treated with chlorine and chloramine remover.  RO/DI water is quite expensive here in my place. << I don't even remove chlorine, but it is a good idea.  Better safe than sorry.  However filtration and feeding can be more of an issue, so focus your attention there. >> Thanks a lot, Carlos <<  Blundell  >> "Prime" smell Hello, I have a question about "Prime" dechlorinator manufactured by Seachem.  I've read on here that dechlorinators that have a formalin smell are not to be used.  I don't know what the smell is, but Prime has a pungent odor.  Also, it says that it provides a slime coat.  I also read on this site that a dechlorinator that causes a slime coat is not necessarily a good thing.  Is this a good product?  I like the way it doesn't cause my protein skimmer to go nuts like Amquel does.  Thank you, and I look forward to hearing from your advice. Gary <Hey Gary, my experience with dechlorinators is the cheaper they are the better they are.  Dechlor is a great one and it's very cheep.  I don't think Prime is going to bother your tank, but from now on go for the cheap stuff!  Good Luck, LinearChaos> <<A note re DeChlor... this sodium thiosulfate (aka hyposulfite) product is ONLY useful for chlorine... it will NOT detoxify chloramines (which almost all municipalities utilize)... nor do anything else. RMF>> Tap water filtration Hi there, <Hello John> Since I don't have enough money to buy........tap water filter (reverse osmosis...and etc)...that cost $100 or more.......and buying cartridges that are costly.   <Umm, let's stop right here... what is it about your source water that is of concern? There are some specialty and intolerable water conditions by various kinds of aquatic life... but by and large tapwater simply treated can be used on the vast majority> I am just wondering if I already have an extra emperor 280 power filter (will be using black diamond filter cartridge and 4 ounces of Seachem bio matrix on the extra cartridge....plus bio-wheel)  ...in a 10 gallon aquarium.......................can I just put unfiltered water in this set-up for 2 weeks.........................then use this water to replace 25% of my 30 gallon tank every time I make water change? <Likely so. You can request an analysis from your water provider as to the chemical and physical composition of the product they're providing you.> will this 2 week filtered water by emperor 280 power filter ...............be a safe water to use?  ammonia, chlorines, nitrates, nitrites, and other bad stuff........eliminated after 2 weeks? <Very likely so. I take it you intend to treat new water this way, then use it to change water in your main/display tank.> thanks so much, Antonio <You are welcome. Bob Fenner> Tap water filtration...follow-up question Hello, <Hi again> I forgot to add that (with my email below) .....during that 2 week filtering.........I will also add....Kordon Amquel (or any other brand), to instantly remove ammonia, chlorine, and chloramines.    with everything stated..........will my plan work?  do you have any suggestions? thanks, Antonio <Should be fine. You might want to invest in some water quality test kits to be able to check. Bob Fenner> Using Dehumidifier Water in a Tank (9/7/04) Hello WWM Crew, <Hi! Steve Allen tonight.> This is the most informative sites I have ever visited. <Glad to hear, I have learned a great deal here too.> Thanks for all the wonderful advice thru other peoples questions. Anyway, This is going to sound silly but I'm going to ask anyway. Do you think water from a Dehumidifier would be something I could try for top off water. I thought it might be more pure than tap water? Considering it is not treated with any chemicals. We use it to water the plants and they seem to be doing very well with it. My LFS guy told me to give it a try. But I have kind of lost faith in his judgment. (some not so great advice) Wish I would have stumbled onto your site earlier. Could have done things so much better and saved many hundreds of dollars along the way. Thanks again!! Jim <Here are some reasons I would not try this. 1. The de humidifier probably has metal parts (perhaps copper) that could leach toxic metal ions into the water. 2. The water in such devices tends to get contaminated with fungi and bacteria that could be harmful. Those are just two things off the top of my head. May I suggest that an RO/DI system would be a sound investment to provide pure water?>

Hard Water 9/7/04 I have some updates and more questions.  I decided to leave my tank alone and setup a 10gallon that I had as a spare.  I used fresh water, not RO, mixed the salt, heated and aerated for a days or so.  Tested the water and found the alk to be through the roof at over 15 meg/L.   <indeed... it underscores how important it is to buffer RO/DI water before salting it... as the manufacturers presume a certain mineral hardness of average tap water among the many users of their products to get the alkalinity needed> I noticed that the water began to cloud and then everything got coated with a hard white film. I can hardly scrape it off my glass or heater.  I got suspicious and I measured my tanks alk and it was also high at 5 meq/L and PH at 8.1.  So I thought since I'm not using RO water I would try the 10gallon again with RO to see if my water was bunk.  So got RO water, aerated it and added instant ocean salt mix.  Heated it for 4 hour or so to the right temperature and measured the stats.  PH at 8.1 +/- .1 and alk was again over 10 meq/L.  I left it and after 12hrs I got the white coating and white stuff precipitated to the bottom of the tank. <that's bizarre for having used RO water (demineralized)> Did I just happen to get a bad batch of Instant Ocean salt?   <possibly... and easy enough to test for> I'm not using any additives or buffer so is there another explanation?   <do you do drugs? Hmmm... just checking> I think I'm packing it in for a while since I can't find the source of my problem.   <before you give up from this rather minor problem... would you consider using a different brand of sea salt and/or a different brand of test kit? Anthony> I appreciate your help guys.   Water flow question, pollution comment Hi Crew, <Hi Roy, MacL here with you this fine day.> I've been reading your FAQ's and cruising through the website for a bit now and have enjoyed it a lot.  Figure I have even learned a thing or two. <Nice to hear, I know I learn every single day.> I've a question or two for you, but first.... Saw the below question and answer and thought I'd pass something along.  I worked in an oil refinery in a city with air quality nowhere near as bad as LA's.  In talking with the company's plant environmental officer I learned that the rain falling on the plant was "dirtier" than the water we were allowed to discharge from the plant.  In other words, we had to clean up the rain water falling on the plant property before it went into the city's storm drainage system. <Yes I understand what you are saying. The acid rain that's falling.> Personally, under these circumstances I wouldn't use rain water without "cleaning" it first, period. <I remember when my family was talking about how that's most of the water they drank, rainwater and now its just not safe. I guess my thinking about rain water or water from any source is that I would have it tested to see what's in it before I used it.> The Q and A (from FAQs About Water Evaporation, Make-Up H20): ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ We Get Rain, Let's Use It! >Hello, >>Hello. >I have a 50g reef tank. I was wondering if using rain water in Los Angeles that comes directly from the sky (not from drains or runoff) is alright to use for make-up water? >>Treat as you would RO/DI (it would be VERY soft, and require proper buffering). >Should I worry about pollutants in the air?  thanks.  Jason >>I would not use the "first rain", but living in L.A. myself, I would think that what we got yesterday would give you quite a bit after the first half hour or so.  I think you can certainly try (do keep an eye on our news >>stations' air pollution reports for your best information), and if in >>doubt, filter through carbon and a Polyfilter, then buffer.  Marina End of Q and A Marina may have more experience on the subject than you or I Roy, I never underestimate these WWM people they are quite amazing but generally you don't think that what's falling on your head is dangerous.  Also there is some question about standards for human consumption as opposed to standards for fish.  And I gotta be very honest here and tell you, the water where I live is filled with chloramines and I refuse to drink it. It smells bad and it tastes bad and honestly I just don't think I want to drink chlorine and ammonia linked together. Just my two cents on the matter>

Condensate water use Dear WetWebMedia Crew, Thanks for a great site!  I have just a quick question for you.  I run a dehumidifier in my house during the summer in the basement (finished). Would it be possible to use the water from the dehumidifier for my fish tanks?  One tank is marine, the other is tropical freshwater.   Sincerely, Jason <Good question, and no. This water is often very polluted... with gunk from the air as well as the condenser coils. Not fit for aquarium or other use. Bob Fenner>

Water Quality Hello, <Hi there! Scott F. at your service> I have found your site to be a vast store of knowledge and consult it daily for new information; I have several questions for you. <Ask away> First I have a problem with high calcium levels in my tank, which is a 72 gallon bow front with 50 pounds live rock , an Eheim 2227 wet/dry,  4 inches of live sand , a Remora Pro skimmer , 2 250 MH Ushio lights , soon to be also 3 32 watt pc antics, and a 1/10th Pacific Coast chiller. I also have a SCWD hooked to a Via Aqua 3600 for water circulation from two standpipes with flex tubing outlets. Also the chiller return from an Eheim 1060 goes to a spray bar, <enough circulation? >. I have calcium levels in the tank of 500 ppm, I finally found the source of this to be my well water, as it has 240 ppm of calcium, and as I was replacing the evaporated water every few days. It keeps the calcium high. I don't want the hassle and waste of a RO unit so I am going to purchase a Kati/Ani ion unit, My question is do you need the Ani unit as well or just the Kati? <Get 'em both!> I am going to pump the Kati and the Ani if I get it as well from an ice maker valve under a sink to them and then to a float switch in my tank to make an auto top off system? See any problems here? <Honestly, automated top-off systems scare the heck out of me! Lots of people use 'em successfully, but I've seen a number of spectacular disasters as a result of malfunctions with these systems. Better to me to just use the system as required, and store the water prior to use- and add it to your system the old fashioned way!> Second question is I keep having a problem with green algae on the glass and brown <diatoms maybe> on the sand, I have no detectable silicates or phosphates and no ammonia or nitrate-nitrates..? <Maybe not in the water column itself- but perhaps the substrate has been coated with ortho-phosphates. All the more reason to keep using the highest quality water possible, feed carefully, and monitor continuously. Brown algae (diatoms) is almost always called by silicate from somewhere- usually source water. Levels may be low, but these nuisance algae can still make their presence known even at low levels. High silicate-absorption media in an RO/DI unit can do the trick> The other question is when I install the pc actinic bulbs, I know I need them closer to the water than the MH's but will the MH's shining on top of the pc's hurt them? <If they are close enough for the heat from the MH to damage the bulbs, then yes- it is a possibility. At the very least, the high heat from the halides may shorten the useful lifespan of the bulbs.> If I put a reflector on top of them it will make a shadow in the tank won't it? I currently have the MH's about 10 inches off the water but when I get my custom canopy , I have a temp one now (bow front canopy's are expensive and hard to find). I was wondering about raising them, to cut down on evaporation and heat transfer, what is a good distance? <I think that 10 inches is fine> I keep them on for 12 hours a day 10 to 10. Is this too much or can I go more? <I'm happy with 10 hours in my systems> I also have a under sink water filtration unit plumbed into my chiller feed line to serve as mechanical filtration, I was wondering if the 5 micron size was too much filtration or should I try to find a higher micron rating? <I would go with 5 microns, but do change/clean the media regularly> Just trying to get everything stable before I add corals and more fish. <A great goal!> I currently have a Yellow Tang and a Clownfish. My sand and rocks look yellow brown and dirty no matter how often I water change or vacuum the sand, the tank is 8 months old. <Well, if something in your water is causing the algae bloom, then making water changes is simply replenishing whatever it is that's causing the bloom...Just a thought> I have a good amount of skimmate, it drains into a collection container, so I don't know how often the cup fills up, and it is green in color. <Keep it coming! The more the better> Temp is kept at 78 degrees. Sorry for rambling, I know this was a long email, Thanks in advance Eric D Smith <Well, Eric- I think that all you need is a little more time and a few adjustments to your source water...The Kati/Ani system will help. Look towards methods to remove silicates from your systems as well...Hang in there! Regards, Scott F.>

Dehumidifier (Condensate) H20 for Make-up Dear Bob: <Ananda here today while Bob's away...> I am a new marine aquarist (I guess that's a word) with some experience with freshwater tanks. I checked the FAQs o WWM but couldn't find the answer to this question: can condensate from a dehumidifier be used for make-up water in a reef tank? <Ack! I wouldn't... not without sending it through an RO/DI system, first, at a *minimum*. I suspect many dehumidifiers have copper coils -- and if any of that copper gets into the condensate, and then into your tank, it could be a recipe for disaster. I'd use the condensate to water the garden, instead. Remember: fish are far more sensitive to water quality than we humans. And other reef critters are more sensitive than fish.> Regards, Wyatt Evans Washington, NJ <Best of luck with your tank! --Ananda>

Dehumidifier (Condensate) H20 for Make-up II and III Dear Ananda: <Hi!> Thanks for your earlier response. The coils on the dehumidifier are aluminum.  <Another ack! There is some evidence that aluminum is deadly to Xenia species.> I'm not too concerned about metal contamination. Does this make a difference in your evaluation or are you still skeptical about using condensate? <Would you dip a glass into the condensate container and drink the water? If not, I wouldn't use it in an aquarium, either.> Distilled H2O is also condensed, but from a much higher starting temp. Regards, Wyatt <part III follows:> Dear Ananda: Please disregard my previous message. I double-checked, and while the fins are aluminum, the core is copper, and hence, you nailed it!! Thank you very much. I've done three changes using this water (over the past two weeks), and now must decide whether to do a major water change using clean water or hope for the best and dilute any copper that may have crept in over time. <Time to get a PolyFilter -- that's the brand name. Put that in a filter and it should absorb most, if not all, of the nasties in the tank. The PolyFilter will change colors depending on what it pulls out of the water.> Regards, Wyatt Evans <Hopefully the condensate does not include much dissolved metal.... --Ananda>

Eliminating Undesirable Compounds From Source Water Hi. <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> We're new to, and fascinated by, the salt water aquarium hobby and have greatly enjoyed looking over old discussion threads on your site. I do have a question concerning water that I didn't see addressed anywhere so far. Sorry if you've answered this question a zillion times and I just didn't see it. <No problem!> A little background: We have a 40 gal. reef tank. Just two fish ( a damsel and a blenny). Mostly corals (mushrooms, a number of LPS corals, leathers, polyps, 1 SPS coral) and invertebrates (blue Tuxedo Urchin, Feather Dusters, Yellow Sea Cucumber, assorted crabs and snails). Wet/dry filtration only (Amiracle Slimline 150 with a ViaAqua 3600 pump-over 1000 gph). Not currently running a protein skimmer, as I have read such conflicting information on advisability of doing so with mostly invertebrates/corals vs. fish. Seemed the basic idea I have been getting is that it is a better idea to control nitrates through water changes than skimming, unless you have a pretty good amount of fish, because you remove so many trace elements needed by the invertebrates doing that. <Ohh...That's where I will disagree. The amount of trace elements that protein skimmers remove is virtually negligible compared to the amount of organics and nutrients that they remove. Besides, if you are doing frequent small water changes, you will easily replenish (and then some!) any trace elements that you remove through skimming. And, quite frankly, determining any "deficiencies" in trace elements can really only be accurately determined by testing for the specific trace element that you are concerned with. That's a big reason why I am hesitant to recommend trace element solutions and additives. Unless the need is determined, I think that your doing potentially more harm than good> We did recently add a couple of bags of a "nitrate sponge" substance to the filter, and I am changing between 8-10 gal. of water per week. <Excellent!> We're fanatical about cleaning the filter pad that covers the drip plate as well as the "cylinder" in the pre-filter skimmer.  <Great job! That will really help reduce potential nitrate buildup> While I would absolutely welcome any comments/suggestions that come to your mind(s) already about this setup, my basic question today concerns water. Our property is on an artesian well and that is the water I use as the basis for my water changes. I am using Oceanic Natural Sea Salt Mix. All I'm doing is testing salinity and temperature, agitating the water, and then adding it. Tank's parameters are tested at least once a week. SG stays between 1.023-1.025, pH 8.2. Nitrates run between 10-20ppm, which is more than I want (but again, I read a lot of different things about that as well). Hopefully the nitrate sponge material (just added about a week ago) will reduce that somewhat. The tank critters seem happy and many have visibly grown since being acquired. We also have a fair number of "hitchhikers" from live rock growing rapidly, including some snails as well as what appears to be another feather duster and a star. But my main question concerns the water. Even with the pH being good and the SG closely monitored, how do you know if you're over time developing a concentration of something else, like some sort of heavy metal, that will "suddenly" have an adverse effect on everybody in the tank? We've just been running this system for about 3 months. We don't want to fail to realize that levels of something I haven't even been testing for have grown until everybody starts doing poorly. Even in this short time we've become very attached to our critters. Any advice for us? Thanks so much - Laura <Well, Laura, you're doing great work so far! As far as the accumulation of undesirable compounds is concerned, you can best understand what's going on by getting a complete analysis of your source water (perhaps the local utility company can provide?). I'll bet that is a big source of the nitrate that you're seeing. Alternatively, I would highly recommend some sort of pre-treatment, such as reverse osmosis and/or deionization, which will yield essentially pure water for a relatively low cost. The investment in an RO unit will definitely help eliminate many of the undesirable substances from your source water, and save you lots of money in the long run on "nitrate removers" and other specialized media. Do look into one. Keep up the good work! Regards, Scott F.> 

Curing Live Rock, Water Sources... I have a new FOWLR system, 92g corner with a wet/dry sump, with built in skimmer.  mainly will be a fish tank with about 35# of LR and some snails, worms for algae removal and sand shifting.  I have  1" sand base with about 5-6X/hour of water turnover and a 36", 192 watt power compact lights. My first question is, since the tank is cycling right now with the live rock, I notice the rock is dying off, i.e. white spots, white fungus that looks like cob webs and some other black areas.  should I be concerned? <This is all part of the "curing period" with live rock. Unfortunately, there is a lot of die-off that occurs among the many life forms found in live rock. During the period of time from harvest to arriving in your tank, the rock takes a fair amount of abuse. Much life on the rocks will perish. What you need to do is siphon off the necrotic material, maintain great water conditions through regular water changes, and work the protein skimmer hard. Unfortunately, it is for this very reason that prefer curing rock in a separate container. Although not a problem to do in the display, I've found over the years that you get greater control by curing in a dedicated container> After the cycle is completed, should I remove the LR and scrub all the dead life off and then place it back in the tank? <I'd remove the dead life forms continuously during the curing process, as indicated above> My second question is in regards to water changes.  I don't have  RO/DI unit yet, looking into one based on suggestions I have read on your website. What about store bought filtered water, the ones where you take your bottles and pay to have them filled (the machine says it uses, RO, carbon etc to provide clean water, of course I don't know how often the filters are changed). The cost is only .25/gallon. <These water sources can be fine, but as you pointed out, you need to make sure that the unit is maintained properly. You could call the owner/vendor and find out how and when the units are maintained> What about bottled water, such as Alhambra? <With bottled water designed for human consumption, there could be additives which may be slightly detrimental to aquarium life forms. I'd prefer it right from the machine. Of course, you could always contact the manufacturer to find out how their water is treated. It could be costly to use his water in the long-term, however.> Ok, actually I have a third question.  I also have a UV sterilizer which was purchased to help combat parasites since I wont be able to use copper in this tank.  I have read that you don't really support the use of sterilizers, why is this, will I be running into more problems using the sterilizer. <I have nothing against them, myself. They are quite useful. I just like keeping things simple, which is why I prefer not to use them. Nothing wrong with 'em, though> I plan to keep a couple of tangs that love algae, will the sterilizer prevent the good algae from growing? <I've seen plenty of tanks that use UV with good algae growth. Algae are caused by light and availability of nutrients. UV are mainly effective at attacking pathogens and parasites that are in the water column> Thanks a bunch, sorry I was not able to post on the forum, something about internet filters at work:) <No problem. That's what we're hear for. And we don't want you getting into trouble at work, or you won't have a job to pay for all of the cool gadgets you want for your hobby!> You guys are awesome, I am glad I found your website before I have progressed to far with my setup, as I have learned a lot from reading the FAQs.  Only been cycling for about 10 days now. Devin <Keep it up, Devin. We're always available to answer your questions. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

- Soft vs. Hard Water - I'm looking through the FAQ's and such but cant find clear information on this.  I see a lot of talk about using hard water vs. soft water, but doesn't it matter HOW HARD the water is before you decide that it is the better option? <Sure.> Our water originates in very deep wells and gets treated municipally with chlorine.  It arrives at our home with approx 17 grains of hardness.  We have a carbon filter in line with this to remove the chlorine before the water enters the softener.  The softener is next in line and it is also equipped with an additional chlorine removal material called Chloristat prior to the ion exchange resin. Given that I won't be able to have an RO unit when the tank is originally filled with water, is it ok to use the softened water? <I'd use the hard stuff...> I could just as easily unscrew the input into the softener and use the hard water at 17 grains of hardness.  Which one is my better option and why? <Some degree of hardness/alkalinity is useful in saltwater tanks. The degree of hardness in your case is not excessive. Cheers, J -- >

- Soft vs. Hard Water, Follow-up - Just one follow-up please, I promise (I think). Given what I've told you below about our source water (which I guess is really not that much - But I found out a little bit more info yesterday in that the source water has about 200 TDS and 0.25-1.0ppm or iron - this is all before it goes through the carbon filter we have installed - I'm not sure if the carbon filter will get rid of any of that), do you think I would see a tremendous benefit to having an RO unit installed right away before I start filling the reef tank? <I would think so... those dissolved solids and iron could be a source of trouble. I'd be willing to bet the carbon filter will get some of this stuff, but I'd go for the RO.> Trying to decide between that or just going with the hard water as you say, and worrying about the RO unit later on. John <Cheers, J -- >

ALK/PH question 2/8/04 Hello Crew, <whassup?> Thanks for all help you have offered this newbie! <always welcome> I have question regarding ALK/PH.  I have a 6 stage RO/DI unit.  After mixing with Instant Ocean the PH is 7.8 and the ALK is 10 dKH (does this seem out of sorts?).  I have been using Seachem Reef Buffer. By the time I get the PH to 8.3 the ALK is 14 dKH.  The PH in my tank is a pretty constant 8.0.  I think this is due to precipitation from the high ALK.   <just to check... are you aerating and buffering for 24 hours or so before using the salt. If not, tis part/all of the problem> I have tried adding baking soda, but this seems to LOWER my PH.  Again, I assume due to high ALK. <yes... the alk is too high> Can you offer any suggestions?   <check to see that Ca is not too low (under 325ppm)> Should I stop the use of the Reef Buffer for water changes?   <likely not... but rather finesse/tes/use as needed in RO water before salting> Does Baking Soda increase ALK as well? <temporarily, but overall good/best. It is the main component in most any SeaBuffer> Thanks, <kindly, Anthony>

Re: Tap Water, high nitrates is this my wet-dry filter? 1/26/04 Thanks very much for the advice,  my skimmer (with some adjustment)  is  turning out a very nice dark green yuck.  As to the live rock, I am going to buy on line from one of the places recommended from this site.  I live outside of Buffalo, NY, <I have visited two local stores in the Tonowandas.  I am very much in favor of supporting locals and one of these guys is probably equally capable of supplying your needs.  Do try negotiating with them to buy entire unopened boxes of rock, most store will offer a significant discount for this.> the water here is very, very hard.  I use a Type I DI water (reagent grade) and RO water from the LFS, and tap water.  I did 2 very large water changes, which did indeed drop the Nitrate level, still not as low as I want <Unless your water contains other objectionables, you may want to forgo RO or DI in favor of free Ca and Alk supplementation from your tap water.  If you feel that purification is important, RO may be better since you will exhaust DI cartridges very quickly.> .... so on my wish list is the live rock, which I should be getting very soon. <Be sure to cure VERY thoroughly before placing in an existing system to prevent repeat cycling.> As to the Nori seaweed, yes my domestic cat LOVES it, she comes as soon as she  hears me open the bag.  I have another question in my learning saga.  What is  a fresh water dip???  I see it mentioned all the time, I am guessing that  this is indeed fresh water (without salt), I am guessing that the temp. would  have to be on par with my tank, but what else??? <Weird cat.  Good question.  See here for lots of info on dips and other disease treatments: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/index.htm > I teach students part time...I teach them the instruments that we use at a hospital, this would be chemistry analyzers, hematology etc....I have found that my fingers and brain do things so automatically that when I have to "explain" things to my students I find that I must now also "think" what I am doing.  The very, very basic principles  which are now longer basic to the user who has been doing these things for over 20 years, and darn it, it is HARD. <Small world!  I work in open heart surgery. Running blood gasses, etc. all the time.  I definitely understand what you mean about becoming so comfortable with a topic and discussing it with others who are too that you forget that not everyone has the same comfort level.  Thanks for bringing that to the front of my mind for the purposes of answering these crew questions!> So to a very new marine non-expert, what exactly is a fresh water dip, in what kind of container, with how much, or  little water, heated, etc.? <Much too much to cover here, and it is presented better in the link above than I could ever hope to do.  Please don't be intimidated, though.  A proper FW dip is easy and quite beneficial for certain maladies.> I ask, because my new surprise is the possibility of  ick for my maroon clownfish.  Which I never quarantined, which I now have a QT tank, he had a very large disagreement with my other larger clown over the  anemone, (which is now gone as it drifted into my uptake on my power filter.....) he lost with some damage to his side fin.  Several weeks later, his fins  are all becoming ragged and I see, I think small white spots around his head. <Keeping anemones should be reserved for more experienced aquarists.  They have dismal survival rates, and as you learned must be protected from pumps, filters, heaters, etc.  I will also assume you have learned your lesson concerning quarantine.  Clowns can be quite aggressive.  It is best to introduce them at the same time and to have a significant size mis-match so one will immediately submit to the other.  Your clown probably has fin rot and possibly Brooklynella.  Ich is possible too.  You will find lots of info in the FAQ's.  Good ID of the disease is critical to successful treatment.> Once the anemone was gone the clowns became more aggressive.  I have a picture on my cam, that I am taking to my LFS (not too local as it is a 45 minute drive).  I am setting up my QT tank now...  I see lots of answers to my questions over the QT but can you tell me how to go about doing the fresh water dip?  I also bought today SeaChem Cupramine, not treating anything until I am sure what I have, nor did this fish store have a kit for testing the Cu+.  Sorry for the additional questions, have been online for many hours last night and tonight trying to find out some of these questions. <Do ID the disease before applying copper.  I consider copper to be a last resort medication and it can be particularly hard on some clowns.  In addition to any other treatment, I strongly favor hyposalinity in quarantine.  Over a period of several days, lower the salinity to 1.012-1.014 and hold for two-three weeks.  This can be done in addition to any medication and/or freshwater dip.> THANK YOU, THANK YOU for all the help and such a great site!  Without this site, I would have made  so many more mistakes then the ones I have already made.<Glad you have found WWM to be of benefit!  Please do let us know if we can be of any more help!  Adam>

Well water for marine tank I just found your site and am glad I did. I think it a great site.  Any way my question is I have a 75 gal. tank I want to set up for marine fish now and maybe go reef later. I have well water with a softener and I use iron out in it. I need to know if this is okay to use or if I should bypass softener and use straight from well. Thank you for your help, <to be honest with you, you could use the softened water but I would not recommend that. I would purchase a R.O. unit. Even if you get a bare bones unit it will help with the quality of you water. These animals need very good water quality to thrive. Plus by using an R.O. it will help by removing the bad stuff in your water that make algae grow. MikeH> William Moore

Chlorine Poisoning? (12/24/2003) Dear Crew, <Steve Allen tonight> I did a search on your website and found an article on chlorine poisoning but it didn't quite answer my question.  My question is - can a fish recover from exposure to excess chlorine? <sometimes>  After acclimating a newly bought fish by slowing adding tank water to his bag, which was floating in the quarantine tank I netted him out of the bag and put him in the tank.  After about 2-3 minutes he turned upside down and sank to the bottom.  I quickly netted him out and put him in one of my established tanks.  Twenty-four hours later he is still alive but just barely. He lies on the bottom not moving unless I gently touch him with the net.  <Not very hopeful> If  the damage to his system is permanent I will put him out of his misery, if he could recover from this insult I'd leave him alone and let him heal. <Impossible to predict with certainty.> I am positive it is from chlorine.  If it is of any importance I can explain why in another email, but for now, please assume it is from chlorine <okay, but this sounds mysterious. You're sure it isn't something else like ammonia?> and if you  are able to provide an answer to my question I would be most appreciative.  It is my fault that this fish is suffering and if there is no hope for him, the least I can do is to end it for him. Thank you, Judy <Judy. You mentioned nothing about whether this is FW or SW or what kind of fish it is or anything else about the size of  or conditions in your tank. This makes it more difficult to answer your question. Suffice it to say that a fish that has been lying on the bottom for >24 hours and only barely responds to touch is highly unlikely to live much longer. On the other had, it doesn't really sound like it's suffering so you could wait it out a bit. I jut hope you didn't introduce some pathogen into your display tank by plopping him in there. Hope this helps.>

"Receiver #2" (and a dogface puffer) (10/22/03) Hi again Ananda, <Hi again!> Chompers is looking fantastic today! I am so happy! <Yay!> I called my LFS guy and asked him for the maker of Receiver 2 and he told me Chem Aqua and I asked him what was in it, but he was very busy so I told him I would hunt it down online. I found it under Chem Aqua Receiver # 2 and Aquatronics RECEIVER #2 but honestly, I am no good at hunting down anything past the name of the product. <The bit of web research I did seems to indicate that this may be an Aquatronics product also known as "Ammo-chlor". Since I've recently found out that some dechlorinators can cause a pH crash, I'd suggest you do a test on this one: mix up some saltwater as usual, test the pH, add the Receiver as directed, and re-test the pH. If it drops more than 0.2 points, do not use this in the tank!> I will be going down to see my LFS guy this week (I am setting up another tank) and will get the ingredients for you (and for myself) unless you have been able to find them online. <Aquatronics doesn't publish their ingredient listings, so yeah, I'd appreciate it -- and the results of the pH experiment, if you do one.> Thanks again and I wish you a fabulous day! <The day always looks brighter when I can help a fish and a fishkeeper. --Ananda> Lindie P.S.  Chompers says HI back. ;) <*grin*>

Tap Water FAQ (Clashing opinions re chloramine, its removal) In the tap water faq, the advice regarding chloramine seems to be contradictory! Is Bob confused?  According to the city of Mountain View, chloramine doesn't just go away after a few days... http://www.mountainview.gov/citynews/chloramine.htm#fish <It does not... generally takes a week or so... whereas chlorine will "gasify" in a day or so> It's bad if the FAQ leads people to believe that adding untreated water to their tanks after aging it a week is ok...  Do you guys every go through the FAQs to clarify/remove conflicting advice? <Yes, or as with this message, add on to the FAQs for clarification or even debate> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/h20tapfaqs.htm Definitive answer on chloramine? As I have learned on your site (along with a multitude of other things...thanks), I have been aging my water in a trash can for about a week before using it for water changes. Because of the chloramine in tap water, I have also been using a product to detoxify it. I know I have read that such products are unnecessary if water is aged for about a week; <This is my... and many others stance, opinion, factual finding... what we practice> however, being a novice aquarist with a sponge for a brain I'm reading everything I can. What I have read is: ["1) Chloramine is present in toxic quantities in virtually/actually all city water supplies, 2) It takes a good week or so to "dissipate" by "setting", "aeration", "hopeful wishing", or other such means"...] but also I have read ["chlorine will dissipate in open air but chloramine never will... a chemical bond that must be broken (with a de-Ammoniating product.. most conditioners)"] What is the definitive answer on this? Thanks. --Charlie <All are "so" except the last statement. Chloramine will/does dissipate with exposure to the air, aeration in a week. You can get/use a chlorine/chloramine test kit (colorimetric assay) and check this out for yourself if you'd like. Bob Fenner> <Am still of this mind> Chloramine Deaths. Hi There, <cheers!> Recently, I've had deaths in my tanks directly after partial water changes that must have been chloramine-related. <Not likely... more commonly a discrepancy in temperature or pH. Do you really have so much Chloramine that you can smell it from feet away? Most dechlorinators easily neutralize this treatment> I unfortunately used a "one-step" product for my water changes that I will never use again. <do reconsider that most every Dechlor product is virtually identical in efficacy> A friend told me about your site. I'm glad he did! I've did a good deal of reading of your site. I'm intrigued about your "vat method," -- letting water sit or be mixed for a week or more before being added. <chlorine will dissipate in open air but chloramine never will... a chemical bond that must be broken (with a de-Ammoniating product.. most conditioners)> My question is, what will this method do, if anything, to "toxic metals?" <absolutely nothing> Should I be concerned about this? <hmmm... rare in potable tap water. If concerned, get a prefilter stuffed with PolyFilter pads to draw water through> Thanks! Walter B. Klockers Plano, TX <best regards, Anthony Calfo> <Thank you for your note. I'll cc Anthony here re his difference of opinion. Bob Fenner>

Tap Water FAQ (more on chloramine concern) Here's another tidbit of info I found:  Nice to know if you are planning on using a new filter anyways: "Advantages of running carbon include removal of unwanted colors (usually yellow), unwanted odors, and removal of other miscellaneous organic waste products. Carbon also removes chloramine (overnight), but only when the carbon is new (less than 48 hours old). Still, this can be an advantage if your tapwater contains chloramine." <I've added quotation marks... and would like to add a note to you re "testing". There are (relatively) simple colorimetric assays (test kits) for chloramine. I suggest you get and use one to satisfy your curiosity re the issues of dissipation through time and carbon removal. No need/use in being confused, unclear here. Prove to yourself what works, does not. Bob Fenner>

Re: Tap Water FAQ Here's another good resource, it turns out the activated charcoal approach leaves ammonia in the water. http://www.csd.net/~cgadd/aqua/art_chlorine.htm <Thank you for this. Will post. Bob Fenner>

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