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FAQs on Tap/Source Water Use for Marine Aquariums 1

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

Related FAQs: Treating Tapwater 2, 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

Water quality changes with time, travel... you want to have your own test kits...

- Softened Source Water - You guys have a ton of info on your site and it is great (maybe too much) after trying to find out about water softeners I am confused. We use a Culligan softener as our water has a hardness of 75 grains and 1ppm of iron. I am trying to find out if I can use this water in a new tank (we just moved) I am planning on using live plants. <I wouldn't use the softened water.> We also have a RO system should I use that also or solely. <Yes, I would use the RO, plumbed in before the softener if possible.> My tank is 110 gallons Thank You Randy <Cheers, J -- >

-Tap water quality- Hi Kevin, How are you today. <Hanging in there!>I hope this message finds you in good health. <That it does, and the same to you.> I was wondering if you would take a moment to view this site. http://www.epcor.ca/pages/water/waterquality/daily/wqdaily.html It is the Daily/weekly report for the water quality here in Edmonton, AB. I will be using tap water for water changes, top offs and startup after pre-mixing. I am told that our water is very good for marine aquariums from people who actually have marine aquariums in there homes. <I checked it out, but it doesn't show the stuff that we're most concerned with (phosphate, nitrate, etc).> I even went as far as talking to the guy who takes care of the tanks at Joey's Only Seafood restaurant. I will be using Dechlorinators/Dechloraminators of course but after that I should just be able to put in Instant Ocean salt mix, aerate and heat for 24hrs and put it in the tank. <Yeah I guess so, but I would STRONGLY recommend that you use some sort of water purification. You won't regret it!> I will still test the water myself before using it I promise. What is your opinion? <Get an RO/DI, the prices on these things has come way down since just about everybody and their brothers have sprung up with internet water purification companies.> From the readings am I in good shape? or am I over looking something? <The report lacks the stuff we're interested in, so unfortunately it doesn't really help much. You may be fine with tap, but you'll definitely be in good shape with well purified water. FWIW, I'd lose an arm before using tap water in my aquarium :) Good luck! -Kevin>  Cheers. Mike

Water Treatment I have just found this site and I am grateful for the archives in Q&A type format. Thanks for all the great info. <Thank you for the kind words! We enjoy bringing it to you! Scott F. with you today!> I live in the United Arab Emirates, in an apartment, with limited space. It would be very handy for me to use bottled water (5 gal. water cooler style) from a local supplier. I have obtained a water quality report (see below). They claim that the water undergoes a RO process. Would you suggest that I buy an additional unit (something cheap and portable like the product shown here --> http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_Display.cfm?siteid=6  http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_Display.cfm?siteid=6&pCatId=4484&pCatId=4484   and put the water through another processing for my new marine tank under construction that will house fish and possibly some corals? Would the fact that I plan on regular water changes impact this decision? Thanks. Water Product Specification * pH  @ 25 degrees C = 7.8 8.2 * Conductivity @ 25 degrees C (|uS/cm)  =  95 - 105 * TDS @ 25 degrees C (mg/l)  = 95 - 105 * Total Hardness as CaCo3 (mg/l) =  35 - 45 * Total Alkalinity to pH 4.4 (mg/l) =  45 - 55 * Calcium (mg/l) = 15-20 * Magnesium (mg/l) =  03 - 05 * Sodium (mg/l) =  25 - 35 * Potassium (mg/l) =  0.5 - 0.7 * Bicarbonate (mg/l) =  55 - 65 * Chloride (mg/l) =  20 - 30 * Sulphate (mg/l) =  05 - 10 * Fluoride (mg/l)  =  0.45 - 0.55 * Total & free Chlorine (mg/l)  =  Nil * Turbidity (NTU) =  Nil * Taste & Odor  = Acceptable/Good Carolyn Munson <Well, Carolyn- your water looks to be pretty good, however, I'd highly recommend further treatment via an RO/DI unit. This is the best way to obtain consistent, high quality water. Hope this helps! Regards, Scott F>

-New Amquel!- Hey there Crew, <Hola, Kevin here> I was at PetSmart today and saw a bottle of Amquel+ with a sign that said "new" on it. <*Gasp!*> The bottle states that this new Amquel will remove ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and still remove chlorine and chloramines.  Any news/experience with this product? <Sounds like something handy to have in the event of a tank disaster, but not something that you should depend on. If your tap water contains those toxins, then yes, it would be a fine product to use. Good luck! -Kevin>

-More on Amquel plus - Kevin: The key point with the new Amquel Plus is that it supposedly will not drop the pH when added to a saltwater system the way the old kind did. <Excellent, that's definitely a good improvement!> I learned from bitter experience that even the recommended dose of the old Amquel causes a potentially catastrophic decrease in pH (several tenths). It turns out that it says so in microscopic print right on the label. <Same thing that happens when you ship livestock, as the water becomes more acidic and the ammonia level increases, the low pH detoxifies it.> The huge pH drop stresses the already ammonia-affected fish even more and kills inverts outright-been there, done that. I completely agree with you that one should not depend on a product like this to control ammonia. It is an emergency-use product only, not a substitute for maintaining high water quality by proper tank-keeping methods. I'll keep some Amquel Plus around just in case, but hope to never actually need to use it. BTW, AmmoLock 2 allegedly does not lower pH either. <So something in it binds with the ammonia to detoxify it; I wonder what it becomes...> Thanks for your WWM service, Steve Allen. <You're very welcome, have a spectacular evening! -Kevin>

-Amquel plus: more info- Kevin: Since you asked, I checked the Kordon Website & got the following: <Oh, very cool!> --------------------------------------------------------------------------- The active ingredient in Amquel is known chemically as sodium hydroxymethanesulfonate, HOCH2SO3Na. The active part of the molecule can be graphically represented as: The hydroxymethane- end of the molecule reacts with ammonia to form a non-toxic, stable water-soluble substance which is acted upon by biological filtration. This reaction effectively removes the toxic ammonia from solution. Even in water of low pH (<7.0) the above reaction proceeds to completion. This is because even at pHs below 7.0 there is always some "free" ammonia (NH3) and the Amquel will scavenge it from the water. This is why Amquel works faster at higher pH's and in saline waters. The substance formed is stable, and testing has shown that even after weeks in an aquarium without a biological filter, the ammonia is not released back into the water. Also, unreacted Amquel is stable, and unless removed with water changes or granular activated carbon it will be available to react with ammonia until it is exhausted in the water to which it was added. This is why Amquel has proven so useful in shipping fishes. The -sulfonate end of the Amquel molecule reacts with both free-available chlorine, known properly as hypochlorites (OCl-) and combined-available chlorine (chloramines). In the first instance nothing more than harmless chloride ions (Cl- ) are produced, and in the latter instance chloride ions are formed and the freed ammonia instantly reacts with the hydroxy-methane end of the molecule. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- The attached picture shows the reaction. The site also warns of the sudden drop in pH with Amquel and recommends Amquel Plus to avoid this. As you correctly point out, lower pH detoxifies the ammonia. However, this occurs gradually during the shipping process. <That it does, lucky fish.> The pH drop with Amquel is sudden (a double dose, as the bottle states one can give, dropped mine from 8.2 to 7.5 in minutes. <Not so fun> That can't be healthy for any marine life. <Thank you Steve for this info, will post for everyone to see! -Kevin> Steve Allen

Re: Amquel Plus (10/11/03) Ananda: <Hi!> I read your excellent reply to the inquiry regarding Amquel Plus. Here is another reference already on the WWM FAQ pages regarding this product. It is info that I sent from my own research on the web. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/h20tapfaqs.htm This is another testimonial to the need for those who seek info to search the FAQs first, before sending questions that are already answered. The answer in this case was easy to find-simple search WWM for the keyword "Amquel Plus." Steve Allen <Thanks for this. --Ananda>

Don't know the cause Hi Bob, We have a serious situation here in Minnesota, ALL of my tanks(5) and all of my friends tanks are loosing fish overnight. We all have different water sources (different city water supply) and most of us use RO/DI units. In the past three days I personally have lost 22 fish. <Contact the water districts immediately... sounds like they are "pulsing" chloramine. Overdose and if you have chloramine test-kit/s do test for, quick> I have a 525 gal fish only, a 300 gal fish only, (2)240 reefs-separate systems, and a 155 FOWLER. Each tank has had a serious outbreak of Amyloodinium. The fish are laboring heavily in the breathing for 5-6 hours and then perish. I have friends that have exactly the same symptoms in Chicago, Milwaukee, and all through the Twin Cities. We are loosing fish that have been "rock solid" for years. I spoke with a person at the local zoo (they keep fish) and they claimed that they too have had a large volume of inquiries. I am loosing fish in one day. I have started a tetracycline dip for 30-40 minutes, each fish through all the tanks. THIS IS A SERIOUS UNDERTAKING. Please help us shed light on what the heck is going on.  I just received a call from a friend of mine that is on well water, 45 miles away from me, he got home today and lost 7 fish in his reef. All others are down on the bottom breathing hard and have cloudy eyes. <Something is rotten in Denmark... courtesy of your water supplier. Bob Fenner, who has unfortunately "seen" this before> Re: fish in dire need Hi folks, I just sent Bob an e-mail, I think he must be traveling the world again this week. <Just out in HI. Did you get my previous response?> I have a serious problem that I cannot figure out. I live in the Twin Cities (Minnesota for those who are geographically challenged) I have 5 large systems that do not share water. I have friends that are all over the Twin Cities, Chicago and Milwaukee. ALL of us are having the same issue, in the past week we have all lost "rock solid" healthy fish in large numbers. I have done autopsies on 7 large fish and a Hybrid Clownfish I have had for 3 years. We all have some sort of Amyloodinium. My friend in Chicago has a very very high end set up, He has not lost a fish in 2 years- he lost 7 overnight. I lost angels, tangs, butterflies, clowns, Anthias, a Moorish Idol I had for 2 years, blue spot Jawfish, a red sea wrasse. Different tanks with very different systems throughout my house. We are desperately searching for answers. The symptoms are extremely heavy breathing for 5-6 hours, slightly clouded eyes, and within 24 hours the fish are dead. I started a Tetracycline dip for all the remaining fish, I have very large tanks so this is no small undertaking. I have kept fish for 20 + years and have never seen this happen. ANY SUGGESTIONS?????? <Sounds like something... like chloramine, alum... being "pulsed" (over-added) into the potable supply to counter a deficit in the concentration of sanitizer or in an attempt to whack a high TBC or even coliform bacteria count... I would enquire of your water co. (their number is on your bill) immediately and ALSO acquire a chloramine test kit pronto... and see how much stock dechloraminator it takes to knock the titer out. In the meanwhile, DO NOT change water in your systems if you can avoid it, and store any water to be used for a good week before any change. Bob Fenner>

Re: fish in dire need Hi Bob, Ananda here with a request for clarification and more questions on this. >> We all have some sort of Amyloodinium. My friend in Chicago has a very very >> high end set up, He has not lost a fish in 2 years- he lost 7 overnight.   Ack! Even in the far western 'burbs, my source water is from Lake Michigan.... I wonder if this person was using an RO/DI setup. > <Sounds like something... like chloramine, alum... being "pulsed" (over-added) into the > potable supply to counter a deficit in the concentration of sanitizer or in an attempt to > whack a high TBC or even coliform bacteria count...   TBC = total bacteria count? <<Yes>> Is this something that might survive a poorly-maintained grocery store type of RO unit? <<No. Reverse osmosis units will exclude all bacteria> They supposedly have UV sterilizers on them, but I doubt their effectiveness: I think the water flows by them too fast. Would one of those tap water purifiers help? A full-blown RO/DI system is not in the budget right now.... > In the meanwhile, DO NOT change water in your systems if you can avoid it, How long is this sort of problem likely to last? <<A few days. Bob F>> Thanks, Ananda

Wrong water in tank? >Hi, Hi Pussycat, Marina here. >Yesterday I used "natural spring water" in my NEW tank.   >>(Wondering what's being planned..)  In any event, spring water simply means that it comes from a spring, that means it's water that has been under the earth, and both filtered by and affected through dissolution by that earth through which it percolated and is now held.  In other words, spring water, I would suspect, could be some of the hardest water, and may have the potential to have the most unwanted elements/components one could use. >The guy at the store said it had absolutely nothing in it.   >>Just add water, eh? >I told him I was using it for an aquarium.   >>I wouldn't expect "the guy at the store" (no matter if was an aquarium shop or not) to know the difference. >I bought, came home and added it to my tank.  Mixed in appropriate amount of salt (75 gal) and waited.  Turned on Ecosystem w/mud system and waited.  SG too high.   >>Tested with what?  Big difference in reliability/accuracy depending on method/tool used. >I began exchanging saltwater for spring water.  This morning I added sand base.  SG still too high.  continued exchanging.  I finally gave up, went back to water store and found someone else.   >>Specific gravity = ratio of dissolved minerals and such.  My suspicions may be true? >She gave me a readout of the trace elements in the water.  Just to name a few: Copper; Iron; Mercury; >>CRIPES!! NO MORE!!  Egads, there's *more*!   >Nitrogen; Nitrate; <<groan>> >Arsenic.  So do I dump all water and sand, dump water only and clean the sand, (how and with what water?), or treat the water with.....??  Many thanks,  Pussycat >>Oh my goodness...well, DEFINITELY all the water, but man, dumping all the sand, the mud.  That's gotta hurt.   However, you're now starting out with "tainted" substrate.  To be most safe, yes, dump it all.  I think you MIGHT (can't stress enough it's only might) be able to save the sand by rinsing it COPIOUSLY in fresh water, and running it in a container with a Polyfilter (impregnated pad that pulls many bad substances, including copper...EGADS! out.  I would also use a great deal of carbon.  However, I'm hesitant to actually recommend this, as we don't know what will want to bond with what.  You cannot leave the mud out of this equation, either.  I'm sorry you have gone through this, I hope that the many others reading this will learn from your innocent mistake.  Marina

Wrong water in tank? >Dear Marina, >Hello, sorry for being so late to respond, my computer was infected by a "medium risk" worm, that left me in the position of having to completely wipe my hard drive and start from scratch. thank you for your advice.   >In the meantime, I talked to a marine biologist down at the LFS.  He said that since these were just trace elements it would be okay since we are just starting to cycle the tank (no rock, fish, anything but base sand).  He said that the Instant Ocean that we use to "salt" the water with actually has traces of some of these minerals and that was ok.  I told him that I had ordered overnight 2 Polyfilters to install on the refugium.  He talked about the bonding and said that, again, everything would be okay.  I got 21 gallons of RO/DI water from him and switched it out this evening (I have a 75 gallon tank). >>All sounds very good, and I'm glad you have a knowledgeable person to speak DIRECTLY with nearby! >But after reading this from you, perhaps I have just wasted more money and time??  I am very discouraged.  I have gotten different ideas on just about everything so far.  It is hard for me to know who I should listen to about what. >>Not to worry, dear.  You are in the midst of a long (lifelong, should you stick at it) learning process for which you must always remember one thing--reefkeeping is as much ART as SCIENCE.  There are many ways to skin the proverbial cat, and if nothing else is gained, experience will be. >Any more suggestions? >>Not at the moment, simply keep the diligence and keep on reading and learning as much as you can.  Best of luck, I'm sure everything will be fine.  Marina

- High Silica in the Tap Water - WWM: My county's annual water quality report came out recently. We have great water to mix with salt and make marine batter, being very hard, above 8.0 in pH, and having 0 ppm 'bad' things like copper, iron, nitrates or nitrites. But, I noticed that our silica levels are at 70 ppm. This sounds kind of high... and may be fueling diatom blooms in my tank (I don't filter my tap water, just Amquel-nuke it during mixing and aging.) Thanks for any feedback, <Sound to me like you already know the answer. If you want to get rid of the silicates, you're going to have to filter the water with RO/DI.> SLC <Cheers, J -- >

Sodium thiosulfate Hi I have been reading your article on sodium thiosulfate. I found it very interesting.   I decided to give it a go, unfortunately I am having trouble finding it and was wondering if you could tell me were I could buy it from. <Most chemical and photographic supply stores/outlets carry this (sometimes as "hypo" or sodium hyposulfite. Here's one: http://www.chemistrystore.com/sodium_thiosulfate.htm> I would be very grateful for any information you can give me. Regards john <Bob Fenner>

Hard water Hello, <Hi Mike, PF with you tonight> I've got a 30-gallon glass aquarium that I'm setting up as a FOWLR tank (this will be my first marine tank, been studying up for about 8 months now).  Over the weekend I filled the tank with 20 gallons of tap water.  I added a dechlorinator (Amquel) and 10 cups of Instant Ocean.  I let everything run for 24 hours, with 2 160-gph powerheads for circulation, a 200-watt titanium heater, and an airstone for aeration (I have an Aqua-C Remora HOT, but it's not turned on yet since there's nothing in the tank but water at the moment).  The water is at 78 degrees F. After 24 hours I figured I'd do my first tests.  I came up with a SG of 1.0215 and pH of ~8.5 (hard to read the color on the chart).  I decided to test hardness (not really knowing exactly what "hardness" means) and stopped adding drops when the GH test hit 600 (!).  I think it's supposed to be more in the 150 range.  This raises a couple of questions: 1) What can I do (or do I need to do anything) to lower the "hardness" while still maintaining pH and salinity levels?  Is such hard water a problem in the first place? 2) Am I being a dork and I just need to wait a few more days for things to settle down (it's only been 24 hours)? 3) I haven't tested any other parameters yet since I didn't know if the hardness being so out of whack could throw off other test results.  Could it? Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!  The tank is completely empty so I have plenty of time to figure this out.  I was wondering if adding the live rock and sand would help adjust parameters naturally, but then I thought it may not be a good idea to add anything at all until I figure this out. Mike < Well Mike, I'd advise starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm and reading up on the whole chemistry issue. I think you were measuring calcium, and not actual hardness (you'll see what I mean after reading the aforementioned page). I'd wait a while and test again (and no, you're not being a dork). The hardness would not affect things like nitrates, etc. I would go ahead and turn on the skimmer, just so you see how much water it uses, I have one myself and it takes a fair amount of water to run it. I would also advise getting a large plastic garbage can (35g+) and using that to mix your saltwater in, as fresh saltwater is caustic to marine organisms. The sand, if it's a fine aragonite, will help buffer the tank. The LR less so, but you can cycle a tank with just LR. Hopefully this helps, have a nice evening, PF>

Source water <Hi Kevin, PF with you tonight>        I'm new to the hobby, and just getting started. I was told by a friend that I could use regular tap water mixed with sea salt to start the cycling process. <A sea salt mix, regular "sea salt" like the kind you buy in a grocery store is not what you need.> Is this true? <Yes, but... It all depends on what's in your tap water. It could have silicates, phosphates, chloramines, or other things that can cause problems. I'd recommend talking to an LFS or a local aquarium club about the quality of the water.> If not why. Kevin Oakleaf

Copper in tapwater, removal with Polyfilter hi  you answered me about copper the water plant I get it from says they don't add copper it sometimes leaks in from copper tubing from the faucet what is a PolyFilter ill buy one ASAP if it get out copper thanks JM  <A poly filter is just a white pad that will absorb pollutants, metals, etc.  When they absorb copper they will turn blue.  If your local fish store doesn't have them check our sponsors.  Cody>

Polyfilter Use can you put the PolyFilter in an already established reef tank? I could put it in my emperor filter<Yes and yes, Cody> thanks JM

Chlorine (as tapwater sanitizer) Just happened upon your site and was reading a FAQ on tap water treatment. Not sure how old some questions are, but with regards to chlorination, approximately 90% of all municipalities use chlorine as a disinfectant in the US.  A few (Denver, St. Louis) have used chloramines for a long time and some are currently converting (San Francisco, Englewood, CO), but chloramination is still a small percentage of the total.   Regards- Kevin <Really? I thought chloramines were "the law" used almost universally in the U.S. per a 1983 edict from the USEPA... vis a vis their link to trihalomethanes and colonic (et al.) cancers... thank you for this. Bob Fenner> Kevin McCurdy Re: Chlorine EPA regulates Disinfectant BY Products in drinking water, including THMs and HAAs.  Chloramine generates less DBPs than chlorine, however, the EPA does not regulate how DBP levels are kept below maximum levels.  Other methods include ozone, chlorine dioxide, UV, and biofilters, all would still need a residual disinfectant applied: chlorine or chloramines, just in smaller doses since the other processes would be used for primary disinfection. Here is a link to an EPA survey of public water systems:  see Table 23, page 43. http://www.epa.gov/safewater/consumer/cwss_2000_volume_ii.pdf I was off in my initial response.  The EPA survey shows that 68% of surface water drinking water systems used chlorine as a disinfectant in 2000.  7% used chloramines. <Yes, saw this fact on a Google search today as well> Groundwater is a little more complicated.  74% use chlorination only, meaning no other treatment.  Of the remaining 26% that have other treatment processes, 12% of these chlorinate and 0.3% chloraminate. Most people in the US are served by surface water.  There are 14,600 surface water systems serving 195 million people and 147,000 systems serving 101 million people.  Obviously, the surface water systems are much larger, whereas the groundwater systems are more numerous. http://www.epa.gov/safewater/consumer/cwss_2000_volume_ii.pdf (page 4) Hope this info is helpful or at least interesting. Regards- Kevin <Does. Thank you again. Will post. Bob Fenner>

What's On Tap? (Source Water Testing) Hi guys, <Scott F. your guy today!> In an effort to get to the source of my nuisance algae problem (brown slime on live rock and substrate) which seems to be either brown diatom algae or Cyanobacteria. I am getting my tapwater and tank water professionally tested. My hobby grade test kits (Hagen and Red Sea) all say my phosphate, silicate and nitrate levels are really low yet my tank says otherwise! <Yep- you'd be surprised what happens in an aquarium. It is entirely possible for a test kit to read undetectable levels of these undesirable substances, yet still have a tank full of algae-covered rock and sand. Many of the compounds that fuel nuisance algae growth get bound up in substrates and rocks, and provide a continuous nutrient source.> I am taking two samples ( in sterile containers sent to me by the water consultant) , my tap water alone and my tank water. I am asking him to test for Phosphate (should it be for organic, inorganic or total phosphate ??) <Well- could be all of the above...I'd look into organic phosphate, myself> , silicates and nitrates. While I am doing this baseline testing is there anything else I should test for which is important for my FOWLR tank. <Well, I think that you're covering most of the major nutrients for nuisance algae outbreaks that are found in source water> His pricing is very reasonable and I need to know the source of my Cyano slime so I can act accordingly. THX. <Well, source water is an important source of these substances, but don't rule out some of the more basic things, such as your husbandry practices (i.e.; water changes), protein skimming, feeding habits, etc....All are potential contributors to nuisance algae blooms...Look beyond the obvious, but don't forget to look at the "basics" yet again. I'm sure that you'll get to the bottom of your problem! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>   

- Is this Bad? - Good Morning <And good morning to you, JasonC here...> My tap water is slightly hard and alkaline, with a noticeable smell of sulfur out of the water from the faucets in the house that don't get used quite as much. There are no measurable phosphates or nitrates. I can't say that I've ever noticed any real concerns with any of my aquariums (four 55 gallon [one saltwater and three fresh {one African Cichlid}], one 125 gallon [African Cichlid] and one 29 gallon freshwater). I use a commercial buffering powder and Malawi Cichlid salts in my African Cichlid tanks. There is no noticeable odor in any of my tanks. The faucets that I use to get the water from to do my partial water changes aren't any of the faucets that I would normally get an odor from. The water was tested when I bought the house over six years ago, and they did tell me that I would probably notice a slight sulfur smell because of the measured amount that they found, but I can't remember what that measured amount was, and can't find the report. <Consider having the water retested...> I've done quite a bit of looking around on the internet, to see if there is any concern about sulfur in aquarium water, but haven't found a thing. <Well, Sulphur is a toxin, and one of the oldest pesticides on historical record... so technically, it is 'bad stuff'.> I can't say that I've ever come across anything about the issue in any periodicals that I've subscribed to, or any other literature. Is there any legitimate concern at any particular level that I need to be aware of? <I'd be concerned with any level of Sulphur and it's various oxides... although it's been a long time since my Environmental Toxicology classes.> I've had spawnings of my African Cichlids, and one spawning of angels (eggs did not hatch). <Perhaps a sign there...> I've also seen egg scattering by Zebra Danios, so I really don't think any of the fish that I've kept have minded the water to this point. <Well, there is the issue of what is called a chronic dose - a small, but long term dose that doesn't kill outright or even quickly, but does diminish the health of the organism in question.> But in the interest of being thorough, I figured I'd ask someone who would know. <I would get the water tested... just to be sure. Consider some RO filtration.> Thanx. <Cheers, J -- >

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; 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>

Re: he says...she says...know a good divorce lawyer? (Water Changes) Greetings!   Please settle a dispute before we go to blows.  =) We're planning a water change for next weekend on our 90g reef.  I had planned to go to the store and buy about 15g of purified water and mix it with Instant Ocean and aerate it the night before we do the water change. My husband says to save the money on the purified water...he's saying if we fill up 2 5g buckets of water on Thursday and leave the tops off, that all the impurities and chlorine and garbage will "burn off' in time for the water change.  I've read your faq but haven't seen this argument before.  I guess the other option would be to go to the LFS and buy some of their water?  Any ideas are appreciated.  Can you come out here to California and help?  heh heh <For the most part your hubster is partly right this time. Most everyone can "get as much benefit" as they're going to by pre-mixing and storing their synthetic... made with simple tapwater... by mixing, circulating it for about a week before use. Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm and the linked FAQs (at top, in blue) beyond. Bob Fenner> Have a great weekend...go raiders! mo

Garden hose use Any reason why I should NOT use a new clean garden hose (with the ends cut off) to transfer salt water to my display tank when I do a water change? Thanks, Michael <Some have a "funny" vinyl smell and taste to them when new, but all I've ever seen were labeled as safe for moving water for human consumption, so I don't see a difficulty. Bob Fenner> Garden hose toxicity Thanks Bob! I noticed that most garden hoses have a Calif Prop65 warning that they contain chemicals known to cause cancer in humans.  But I suspect I would have died as a child if that were truly a big issue. Michael <Ha! I suspect I would as well. Also, if one reads, writes on the Internet (long enough), am very sure they will die! Bob Fenner>

It's The Water! A while back I think I remember you advising someone to buy water labeled  "drinking water" from Wal-Mart, etc. to use in their saltwater aquariums if  they were on well water or had otherwise unacceptable tap water. <Hmm?> Does water labeled "drinking water" contain chlorine? <I'm not sure if there is some FDA standards that water needs to conform with to be labeled "drinking water", but I'd hazard a guess that most water bottled for human consumption contains some chlorine, and possibly other things that are not so good for fishes.> Would I still have to dechlorinate it? <I'd err on the side of caution. Frankly, I'd look for a source of reverse osmosis water, if you can. "Drinking Water" or "Spring Water" are rather vague descriptions for our purposes. I'm sure that the water would work if you use a water preparation product, such as Kordon's Amquel, and maybe run a filter with some activated carbon in the water before it's use> Also, is saltwater poured down the drain harmful to septic systems? <I'd definitely check with your septic system service first on that one> Thanks very much. Linda from the sticks of South Carolina <Hope that I was able to clear up a few things, or provoke some more questions! Take Care, Scott F.>

Toxic source water? I am a new fish owner and learning all that I can, but there is a problem. We have well water and it has a chemical called F-86 (Culligan F-86 is a liquid cationic polyelectrolyte which reacts quickly with colloidal particles of turbidity and organic color coagulating them into rapidly settling floc. It is accepted by the EPA for use in potable water supplies.) I was wondering if this well water with this chemical is okay to use in my 29gallon tank with fish fresh water) because am guessing there's a possibility it could be dangerous?! If anybody knows of this chemical and if it's okay or not please reply. Thank You! <No worries. This is a simple flocculant... safe for you to drink, cook with, use in your aquariums. Bob Fenner>

Dechloraminator Clues B) Dechloraminators : Here I mean one's that "really" work, that is, that take care of both chlorine and ammonia. These typically involve poly-vinyl compounds. This is a big hint! I need a better hint -Please <Polyvinylpyrolidone... not just sodium thiosulfate, hypo sulfite (which only neutralize chlorine)... take a read on the listed ingredients on the bottles... Products like Amquel, Novaqua, Stresscoat... Bob Fenner> Thanks, Mark

Re: Stumped on PH Thank you for your response. I will get an O2 test kit. I did not mention that I am using well water which is run through an RO/Di unit. I have heard of someone else who also had problems with his well and keeping up the pH. <It really does not matter what you source is once you run it through a RO/DI unit. It is clean at that point.> What should my makeup new saltwater pH be? <About 8.2 to 8.4> Assuming the O2 test is OK and this was your tank, what would you guys do next? <Your problem is either in the way you treat/mix new salt water or in your salt mix or in your buffers. Please refer here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm to start and then follow on through the related FAQ files.> Thanks again. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Dechlorinators etc. Hi, <Hello!> I was wondering about the chemicals used to detoxify tap water. I have a  marine fish/reef tank and I use the chemical such as Amquel to detoxify the chloramines and chlorine for the water I use for changes and topping off. Now I heard these are not good and contain some type of polymers and other bad chemicals, is this correct?   <To my knowledge, dechlorinators do not contain anything harmful. However, you could achieve the same result by aerating the water in a container for a week or more. If you give the water oxygen and turbulence, the bad chlorine and chloramines will dissipate on their own. Dechlorinators don't remove anything from the water...they simply neutralize it. For more information, do a word search containing the word "dechlorinaters" at Wetwebmedia.com For a reef tank you will likely need RO/DI water.> And another question I have is with the bio-balls in my wet/dry filter. Do these cause the nitrates to raise? <Yes> I've heard of people taking the bio-balls out if so what do I use?   <Live rock inside the main display to the tune of 1-2 lbs per gallon and/or continue to use the wet/dry. Just submerge the balls instead of allowing the water to trickle over them. Thank you, Tim <You are most welcome! David Dowless>

Automated water changes for mini-reef Hello, and thanks for the great website and instructive information. <thanks kindly... please keep reading, learning and sharing> I'm interested in attempting the following experiment: to maintain a 180 gal. community mini-reef system with automated water changes from the regeneration (the rinse water that cleanses the ion-exchange resin bed)  from my household water softener. <I see some likely problems already if your household softener uses potassium or sodium chloride to recharge: imparting chlorides which skew alkalinity in the aquarium for post treated water... OR...(your case) the impart of hardened "purged water" which has mostly useful hard water elements (exchanged for chloride by the softener) BUT(!) also has un-exchanged sodium chloride. This unregulated NaCl allowed into your aquarium without  the other balanced minerals and trace elements of seawater will naturally effect your SG but without the other necessary elements. In simpler terms... you can add enough NaCl table salt to a glass of water that gives you a desired reading for marine life, but without the trace elements... marine life will die in this salted water even though the hydrometer says differently> We use a 38,000 grain "on demand" water softener (using sodium chloride) <Houston we have a problem...> and a RO system. (THE RO brine is used for another application -- a humidifying water fountain). The hardness of our municipal tap water is approx. 16 grains. It is chlorinated, but has low (undetectable) total dissolved solid, phosphate, copper and iron content. Each regeneration uses approx 35 gallons, and regenerates approx. every 5 days. Approximately 3lbs of salt is used for each regeneration: <Ughh> The water chemistry of this "brine"  consists mostly of sodium chloride, calcium and magnesium. <Oh, ya!> I have 2 pH readings, 8.1 and 8.2 I'd like to have this water run through some activated carbon and a specified amount of additional synthetic sea salt -- before it hits the sump. <sorry... how do you reckon the incidental plain salt carried in? Even if you could easily measure it, do you really want to get into making your own synthetic trace element slurry to dose and temper the stray plain NaCl?> The tank would be appropriately fitted for overflow drainage. <way too complicated here, bud. Your best bet would be to get a separate (small is OK) 2-column de-ionizer and completely demineralize this water if your goal is saving water. The high pH of this effluent that will be lost through the DI is a small loss and easily/cheaply recovered post treatment> The issues, as I see it are as follows: 1: Maintaining the specific gravity of the tank by fine-tuning the requisite additional salt; (including fiddling with the evaporation rate, by changing the amt. of uncovered surface area.) <a complete nightmare... complicated and recommended only if you enjoy the challenge and are a chemist> 2: Accounting for an accelerated removal of trace elements (strontium, etc.). <accelerated? They were never there in the first place. Not sure we are on the same page here. I am talking about you reckoning the sodium chloride that you are bringing in with this rinse water but without the slurry of balanced trace elements to make SW> Before I reinvent the wheel, do you have any information about other attempts in this area? <no one bothers when time and expense are issues. This would have to be a personal challenge for you, because there is no practical reason otherwise for doing it. The irony is that your tap water through carbon is probably the best water could you have in the house for a marine tank. Reconstituting pure DI water is probably second.> Are there any flies in the ointment I'm missing? <a whole swamp full of flies, brother!> Other considerations? <this really all boils down to not bringing plain salt into the make up water or being a brilliant chemist with a lab to check the daily/weekly variances and compensate for them with your own home-made synthetic sea salt mix> -- e.g. are there some reef species that would be more tolerant to this? <cruel and unnatural to do so... doesn't happen in the wild> Species to avoid? <Ha!... All<G>> Are there other automations to help minimize other tank maintenance, <I can forward you a chapter from my book about setting up automatic water changes with solenoids> such as substrate maintenance? <thin substrate, strong water movement and active sand sifting animals> What other issues should I consider? <hmmm... I'd suggest that you try treating this more like a hobby instead of a science, my friend :) ... unless you truly enjoy the science more than the organic living components (our fishes and corals!)> Thanks!-Frank Pogoda BTW: I plan to keep a journal on this project & publish my results to help others who may be curious about this operation.   <indeed, that would be excellent at any rate. Kind regards, Anthony>

Water Workings Hi <Good Evening! Scott F. here> I know you get this type of question all the time, please bare with me. I'm about to begin the process of owning a salt water aquarium. For now, my question is regarding water. Treating tap water with the products from PetSmart pet store for the initial setup is a good idea. If so which products should I use? Can you give an suggestion? <Really depends upon the type of water that you have, pH, chlorine/chloramine content, etc. In general, its a good idea to start by testing your tap water for nitrate, phosphate, and possibly silicate. Concentrations of heavy metals, such as copper, may be present in tap water in certain areas. If you're going use tap water, ideally, you should use a commercial dechlorinator product, such as Kordon's Novaqua or Amquel, and filter the tapwater with activated carbon. See the link http://wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm for more information on treating tapwater.> If not which type of RO filter should I purchase that would be adequate for keeping reef and fish aquarium. There so many types 1-9 stages filters. It very confusing. <There are many possibilities, depending on your pocketbook and the degree to which your tapwater needs to be treated. Usually, a 3 stage RO/DI system is sufficient, but there are all sorts of add-ons to remove undesirables like silica, etc. More expensive, but less wasteful than RO is a deionizer, which produces great quality water with no waste. best to consult with your local water department to get an H20 quality report, then decide what system makes the most sense for you. Check the resources on the wetwebmedia.com site for more details on RO/DI, and other water pre-treatment methods. Good luck!> thanks you very much <You're welcome!>

Tap Water Thank you for your help with my past questions. This question concerns Tap water and my 55 gallon reef tank. We have hard water in our area (Jacksonville, Florida) I have tested our tap water and it turned out surprisingly good. No nitrate or phosphate. Is it safe to use (once dechlorinated) in my reef tank? I am trying to encourage coralline algae growth. Thank you, Andrew < My pat answer to this question remains the same: Yes, in all cases where you would drink and cook with the tapwater, it is fine to use in marine/reef systems. There is more solids, nutrient base, sources of pollution to be had in salt mixes, foods, decor, ordinary aerosols in the area around the systems than the incidental possible negative chemical species in tap water. There are some areas in the U.S. and abroad where I would not use the tap for drinking or pet-fish... There I would utilize reverse osmosis filtration. Bob Fenner>

Out of function Water Conditioners, retail in general Now you have me feeling real guilty. Every time I go to work now, I wonder what the hell I am doing. I work at the LFS. I just read one of your articles on De-chlorinators "water conditioners". I know you could not give names on the web site. But please tell me what the phony brands of conditioners are. I do not want to sell these any more to my customers. <Good for you... look for the ones that "only" have sodium thiosulfate/ sulfite in them... these won't work on chloramines... like the old Weco products (which we're great in the years of chlorine use as a disinfect of tapwater> We have so much **** in my store. I probably suggest and sell 10% of the junk we sell.  <Ahh! Time to identify and trade out, discount, get rid of anything that doesn't turn (sell of course) at least four times a year (unless it's more of a display item... like tanks, stands perhaps)... Free up your working capital, save space, and your peace of mind!> You have been most helpful and I have truly learned much for you and the Wet Web Media crew. And, If you have time could you explain how the so called "slime coat enhancers" work (or don't work for that matter) in these dechlorinators? How do they affect and eventually kill the fish? <Some are "simple coaters", adding a bit to the proteinaceous (non cellular) coating on fishes (more slime), others spur the fishes to produce a bit more mucin... they're transient in effect... analogous to a band-aid you might put on a child's cut... and don't kill the fishes. Bob Fenner> Thank you so much

Amquel Do you have an opinion on the use of Amquel? <Yes> I have been using Novaqua as a dechlorinator but it is driving my skimmer crazy with the stress additive. I am considering just using Amquel since it does not contain the extra stuff. What do you think? Thanks for your help! :) <Am a big fan of this fine Novalek product... have used many hundreds of gallons over the years for dechloraminating tapwater, acclimating livestock. Bob Fenner> Elizabeth K. Birdwell

PolyFilter Hey Bob, <Steven Pro here this morning.> Thanks yet again for your timely answers to my questions, you're an amazing help to the neophyte aquarists out there. I've been using well water for my tank as it tested with acceptable levels for everything when the tank was set up, that is to say there was no ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, chlorine, or any other substances of note over acceptable levels (including those which should be 0ppm), granted starting off with small amounts is a hindrance over using distilled or R/O water. I still treat the water for chlorine just in case though. Recently however, my tap water has tested quite high for nitrates, between 50-100ppm. <Ughh!> Distilled water isn't an option unless I distill it myself due to some issues with the local stores in the remote town I live in, <Distilled water is never an option to me, too much of a risk of metal contamination.> and since this isn't my house, an R/O unit or de-ionizer seems to be out of the question as well. <RO and DI units made for the aquarium industry are completely portable. I can see no problem with either one of these.> I've got live rock and good circulation, which keeps the nitrate at around 50ppm steady, and so far everything in the tank seems to just be acclimated to high nitrates since presumably it went up over the time between when I started the tank and now. <Not necessarily. It takes a long time for most problems to manifest themselves and in some instances once you see a reaction it is too late.> I'm currently toying with building a denitrification coil. I understand that they can require a lot of adjustment but that's something I'm willing to take time out to do daily if it will. <Anthony's "Book of Coral Propagation: Coral Gardening for Aquarists" has a section on denitrating coils and remote DSB's.> My question is, in the mean time, will the addition of a PolyFilter or two help reduce the nitrates in the water to acceptable levels? <Perhaps. They will also help to remove many of the dissolved organics which are associated with high nitrate levels. Aggressive protein skimming should help too.> Some places I've read seem to indicate they will in fact pull nitrates out of the water, others say the opposite. <I would have to defer to the good people at Poly-Bio-Marine.> I don't have the option of growing mangroves or Caulerpa, or the use of a deep sand bed in a sump/refugium as I only have room for the tank I have now, once again owing to this not being my house and me not being able to get rid of some of the extra furniture clogging up good aquarium space. Would it be more effective for me to tear the tank down and start a DSB as opposed to using the denit coil? <Your best option is to clean up your tapwater first. Then skimming and a DSB, IMO.> I've read through a lot of the FAQ's on your site regarding tap water, treating water, so on, as well as things on other sites and none really seem to address what to do if tap water is more or less your only option and it's high in nitrates. <It really is never your only option.> Any advice would be much appreciated, as frankly, I'm stumped on what direction to take at the moment. Thanks, Josh Yanny <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Removing Chlorine from Tapwater Bob, I noticed you mentioning pseudo dechloraminators; I'm wondering if Seachem's Prime is one, or if it's a genuine dechloraminator. <No, should be fine.> My LFS does not stock Amquel, but Prime is common around here (Sydney, Australia), but your article on treating tapwater has me concerned, as I don't want to waste money on something that doesn't work and will cause my fish harm. Cheers, Poe <The bad ones are usually super cheap and found predominantly in the pet isle of grocery stores and such. There are a whole bunch of good conditioners; Kordon's Novaqua and Amquel, Tetra's AquaSafe, Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Stress Coat, and many others I am probably forgetting. If you have seen any of these, you will notice they are all somewhat thick and slimy from the colloids. -Steven Pro>

Carbon Hi there, I have two questions for you: 1. Can I use carbon to break up the bond between chlorine and ammonia rather then using conditioners (de-chlor)? <Yes> And how long should I wait, 24 hour? <Should be sufficient.> 2. My brother asked me a silly question, do fishes know their owner (I think he meant the person who feeds them)? <Fish can definitely learn who feeds them and respond by coming to the top of the tank. -Steven Pro>

Water testing This question is more for Steve and Anthony (sorry Bob) being from Pittsburgh do you know where I can take my tap water to get it tested? I live near Cranberry and would like to know if my tap water is ok to use straight for filling my tank or not.  <actually... your water authority publishes an annual report and weekly (perhaps daily) ones are available as well. Usually available just for their asking... do give them a call. They must lawfully disclose such information I believe. Do consider that all tap water changes seasonally though... as such, for a truly tweaked tank... you may still want to consider purified/buffered water to employ a consistent quality of water for tank use>> Thanks You all are great and Bob your book is like a bible to me and doesn't go far from me. Lunch breaks and everything else are spent reading and rereading trying to soak it all in. but still here I am on the site trying to learn more. Colleen Thanks in advance Pittsburgh, PA <best regards and thank you! Anthony>

Homemade Dechlor Hey guys, wonderful sight filled with a plethora (hehe) of info. Any chance of a recipe for Dechlor- using sodium thiosulfate, should there be something mixed in for ammonia. <Yes... about two pounds of "hypo" per total gallon volume product... for the chlorine... and PVP (poly vinyl pyrolidone) for the ammonia... but rather than the latter, I would store, aerate the dechlorinated water for a week or so ahead of usage...> Have you heard of metal gone products and if so what are your thoughts. Anthony Calfo killer book #1341. Thanks for everything WetWeb family. Thanks again, Rocky <Ah, will send you msg. on to Antoine. Bob Fenner>

Silly questions cant find on faq (Caulerpa, Dehumidifier H2O, Cleaning Tanks, Amphibious Snails...) hey there I have some basic silly questions, oh gods of the captive sea. <if we get to be deities... I wanna be Bacchus> 1. can I use water from my basement dehumidifier as replacement water or is my well water fine. <possibly neither... dehumidifier water has been used by aquarists before, but that doesn't make it right or safe. Just take the sheer number of hot dogs consumed by people as an alleged food, as casein point. The water produced is condensed on metal parts. No best or guarantees as to what that can or may impart into the water. Furthermore, the standing water collected in the reservoir as demineralized water is definitely going to absorb impurities from the air as it sits (all water especially soft will). Well water can be quite variable seasonally and is influenced by many factors... depth, local run off, etc. Even when good, it is generally not consistent enough to use unless you have it analyzed quarterly to monitor trends. My advice is to buy a deionizer with good prefilters and recondition the purified water made to suit the species you keep> 2. I bought a used 39 tall tank, it has wormy, hard crusted white stuck-on old tiny worm tubes. what's that about???? are they bad? I have his live sand and live rock in quarantine. tiny calcified tubes and all. <they are either serpulid worms (kinda like miniature feather dusters) or they are sessile snail... both harmless, even desirable filter feeders. Enjoy> 3. my mom brought me some small snails from the Fla. gulf. they are always out of the tank, on the canopy, up the wires, several feet from the tank. waiting for high tide? what are they and should I get rid of them, the kids have a blast finding them every day. beneficial or not.?? also in another quarantine tank...have 3 now after my loss of 22 clowns to ich.  <I have absolutely no idea... many species this could be. And it really underscores the importance of not taking animals from the wild or buying from a store without knowing if you can meet their needs in captivity. I certainly understand that mum brought the snails back with the best intentions, but they are still living creatures that may end up dying or being killed prematurely> 4. ma also brought to NJ for me fresh live sand and fresh live gravel from the gulf...one day fresh...any good for my tanks. in quarantine tank 3 now. <likely fine and helpful> 5. my Caulerpa is making tank water yellow, how do I fix and prevent. grape mostly. <heehee... just one of the many reasons why I dislike Caulerpa in mixed garden reef displays. But.. to answer your question, small frequent changes of carbon (critical for quality light getting to live rock, anemones, coral, etc). For example, 2 oz of carbon replaced weekly is much better than 8 oz replaced monthly?> 6. how do I crop it back. pinch the WHAT?? in your faq, I don't get it. <best to pull up whole and continuous fronds (strands) rather than pinch, cut or crop along a perimeter. Pinching or cutting fronds causes a sort of sapping that can stress/kill an entire colony and forcibly send the mass into a "meltdown" releasing all of the garbage it took up in growth plus its own natural noxious compounds. Sometimes such events can even wipe a tank out. I am personally adamant that Caulerpa needs VERY close attention in mixed reef displays (I like it much better in a dedicated marine "plant" tank).> thank you again most timely gods Renee RN <quite welcome... my work is done: now time to go find some ambrosia and nectar (AKA beer and pretzels). Anthony>

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>

Source Water for First Filling a Tank Hello again. I am continuing the setup of my 75 gal tank. I have a question concerning the best water to use for the first fill of the tank. When I first started my current 10 gal tank I seemed to have a lot of problems with a brown growth that covered everything in the tank. I was told this was due to the high phosphate content of the local water supply. <I think you are talking about a marine tank? If so, the brown growth you are describing are diatoms and are caused by silicate. It is normal to have a bloom of these when you first fill up a tank.> I switched to using drinking water from the grocery store (reverse osmosis, de-ionized water) and that cleared up the problem. <Not the most cost effective solution. You may want to consider purchasing your own RO unit. Take a look at this FAQ http://www.wetwebmedia.com/h20tapfaqs.htm > My question is: Will using drinking water really help a new tank or is it wasted money since the tank will have to cycle and by the time everything is stable again, the phosphates will have been skimmed out of the water? <I prefer to use purified source water whenever possible.> I'm trying to decide whether to purchase enough water to set up my tank or just use tap water. I will definitely use drinking water for water changes and the like. <If this is to be a fish-only tank, I would probably save the money now and use tap-water (be sure to treat it properly). Then, I would use RO for the water changes and top off. Take a look at SpectraPure RO units. They have a link on WWM's link page.> Thanks for all your help! <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Very hard local water Hello, I just tested my tap water and it is 17 dKH (I live in central Indiana). I knew the water was *very* hard, but this is worse than I thought. <Wow, liquid rock!> I own a $2000 Culligan water softener that has GREATLY improved the water hardness (when I first bought my house, everything in the showers and bathrooms would quickly develop a white film. This has disappeared since I purchased the water softener 6 years ago. I can only imagine what the dKH would be for unsoftened water in this area.) Anyway, I would like a recommendation for a good deionizer. I would like to lower the dKH in my 75 gallon tank by using deionized water for top off as well as adjusting the dKH of the water that I use for my weekly 5 gallon water changes. <I have the Kati-Ani 2 system from Aquatechnic and have been very happy with it. Do be sure to run your tap water or softened water through activated carbon prior to the deionizer.> Sincerely, Mark Schwartz <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Very hard local water Steven, <Anthony Calfo this time, my friend> I just did a search on Yahoo for Kati Ani 2 system from Aquatechnic but it came up with no hits. <perhaps your key word phrase was too specific (too long and/or without commas). I went to yahoo and typed in "Kati Ani" and got a full page of hits. > Do you have a web site address for the manufacturer or a web site address for a site that sells this product? <the following link is to a page of just one of the many folks selling this product: http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_Display.cfm?siteid=6&pCatId=4499 > Also, I was shocked by the dKH reading. However, central Indiana, southern Indiana, and Kentucky is the limestone capitol of the world. Huge limestone mines and huge natural limestone cave complexes abound. Sincerely, Mark Schwartz <best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Tap water for fish only tanks. I have been getting many conflicting information. Of course I will condition the water to remove Chlorine. But do I really need an RO/DI system. <Perhaps. Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm> Wouldn't the Protein Skimmer remove excess Nitrate & Phosphate. <Please read over the WetWebMedia.com site re these nutrients and skimmer use> And if I develop ugly brown & hair algae - can I just buy a fish eating Algae. <Likely this is one of a few approaches you can/will employ. Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm > Am I missing something important here <Only temporarily. Bob Fenner> Thanks Trace Gouws P.S. Using tap water also enables me to make more frequent water changes - since it easier.

Hard water, marine aquariums Bob, I just setup a 100 gal. salt FO system. The water in my town is VERY hard. The tank is running right now with no fish. My question . Is the hard water toxic to saltwater fish? <No> I had to wipe down the glass inside, because of the white film. Thanks, Lee <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Using well water Mr. Fenner, You had a person saying that his ph was 7.5 and no3 zip. I am on a well and I can say do not trust one reading from one day to the next. <Good point> If you have heavy rain storm or no rain for a while it can change that fast. He should, I feel do a test for everything just as if testing tank water. This is extreme, but when hurricane Floyd hit jersey, three of my friends had to have new wells put in for one reason or another. One of them had water that smelled so bad you almost got sick. It was such heavy rain they think the underground steams got diverted, blocked or just fouled their wells. I had to a softener knock ph so far out of whack that it ate the piping and lost about 100 bucks in three days because of it. <Wowzah!> So from my own experience don't trust well water it is not worth the chance, just my opinion. <Thank you for this input. Will post. Bob Fenner>

Treating tap water Mr. Fenner, You advice thus far has been invaluable to me. I was asking about removing my bio-balls. I am happy to say that my coral does look better today. <Ah, good to read> You asked about what kind of water I use. I just have tap water that I mix with coral life salt mix that is circulated and aged for a week before I use it. I do have an excess of nutrients in my water, of that I am sure. I was thinking it would be a good idea to my future corals and the ones I have now to go and get an RO unit. <Yes... we use one for most all our cooking and drinking uses, as well as sensitive plants and pet-fish> I would like to go to HD and get theirs. It sounds from my reading (went over you treating water section) to be the best all around bet. <This is the unit we have as well> I went to my LFS to see what they use and it is the same one but they use a DI in conjugation with it. In the store they sell DI units but not RO. It makes me wonder if in my area there is more of a need to have an DI then anything else. <Mmm, you can easily check with your "Water District". Their phone number is likely on your water/sewer bill. Give them a call. Most places do best, fine with just a reverse osmosis unit... Life/living things need charged particles...> This may sound like a dumb question, but does a de-ionizer take out iron from the water? <Does remove charged ferrous ions like Fe+2, Fe+3> :) I wonder how one would find out if it is needed. Is there a test to find out if a DI is needed? Thanks. Don <All sorts of tests... Do call the water provider and search the Web. Bob Fenner>

Water Quality I've been using an RO system for my water in my reef and everything is fine. My Question is when setting up or maintaining a reef is bottled water just as good? What's the difference between the RO I'm using and the bottled Drinking water some people have delivered to their house?  <Mmm, there is a huge variation in what goes as "bottled water"... a good deal of these products are reverse osmosis run tap... The biggest difference to me is cost. Bottled water is hundreds of times more money than make it yourself RO... not counting gas et al. to get it, the time and trouble to lug it about. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm Bob Fenner> Thanks Dean Mikulla

Re: Water Quality Thanks for the help. I'm working for a Maintenance company and I'm kind of the "reef guy". I know how to take care of my own reef ,but it's in the living room of my own house. Successively Taking care of reefs that I'm only at twice a month is my newest problem. Thanks again for the advice. Dean M. <Having done this myself for years (though years back) I can/do empathize... always a "holiday" to re-visit accounts. We had reef systems on a minimum of once a week schedules... often two, even three times visits a week. Bob Fenner>

Chloramine Questions. Chloramine has recently a few months) been implemented into our water system for "healthier water" for us humans. We are finally up to date with most of the rest of the U.S. I am completely unused to this as I have never dealt with it before. In fact, I did not know they done this yet and I have been going along as nothing has changed. I found out about it only recently and can't believe my freshies have had no ill effects! <You've been lucky> Algae though and lots of it! Does adding plain chlorine remover break up the bond between the chlorine and the ammonia leaving free ammonia behind? <Most types yes> A Seachem test kit shows our water after being treated with a dechlorinator to have a concentration between 1.5 and 2 ppm of free ammonia. Am I safe to assume this to be true? <Sounds about right> Will all this introduction of this type ammonia add to a heavy nitrate load? <Hmm, no... more likely to kill off the biota in your system...> My freshwater tank is plagued with algae since the addition of the chloramine. Am I safe in believing this is the culprit? <Maybe involved in an indirect way...> Does a chloraminator lock up the ammonia so it is not harmful to the fish yet safely converts it into nitrite<read poison> then nitrate? <As far as I'm aware there are at least three different ways that the ammonia part of dechloraminators work... none oxidize ammonia to nitrite, nitrates... do you want to go into this?> I do not have a nitrate test kit because they have always been unnecessary for me because I have low bio-loads and I do frequent water changes. I do not want to have the trouble I am now having with my freshwater in my new saltwater tank. I never had any trouble with algae before in my earlier salt tanks and now that I am getting back into it I want as trouble free as before. Should I buy a RODI unit designed to remove Chloramine like the Spectrapure company makes? <These are very nice units... but not really necessary...> Will a chloraminator like Kordon's Amquel do the trick? <Yes, assuredly> HELP! Zimmy <Storing, aerating the new water for a week will remove any reason to use anything at all... the chloramine and its later manifestations will cease to be of consequence... Bob Fenner>

Chlor/am/ine Good morning Bob!! I love your website, and have learned a lot there. <Ah, great> I do have a question, though!! I have found that water drawn out of my hot water tank has no chlorine, and the cold water from the tap has high chlorine. If I use hot water and aerate while it cools down to the proper temperature, and then add my salt, is this acceptable?? I was putting out cold water and aerating, but it seemed to take a long time for the water to give up the chlorine. Thanks Pat Marren <Good question... a few possibilities here... maybe your municipality is still using chlorine... but doubt it if you're in the USA... since the late eighties chloramines have been employed... and the old OTO (ortho-tolidine... yellow indicator...) test kits are actually deceiving in rendering false negative results here.... But if you're referring to a practice of storing the water in either case (starting with cool or hot water)... in both/either you can dispense with using "dechlor(am)inators" if a several days go by before actual use.  Sorry this is so darned wordy (haven't quite woken up)... Put in some other ways: chloramine doesn't dissipate easily like gaseous chlorine of the days of yore. The new sanitizers persistence can be masked by old chlorine test technology... as is likely the case here... You can get "newer" chloramine test kits... and this will reveal the new sanitizer's presence in your warm or cold water source... All these considerations can be ignored if you mix, store your new water for a week or more (which is what I do) or treat the new tap with a dechlorAMinator (AM emphases mine). Bob Fenner>

Re: Chlor/am/ine OK. The test kit I have is a combination test kit made by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals. Forgive my spelling. It tests for chlorine, and tests for chloramine by testing for ammonia. Is this a reliable kit?? I just bought it for this purpose, because I do not want to use water conditioners anymore. <Hmmm, "semi" reliable... i.e. it should render you a "yes/no" window into whether there is some "substantial" partial ppm of these sanitizers... Would not bet my livestock's lives on the results> Thanks again..... Pat <Do understand, and agree with water conditioner use... haven't used them in many years... some are dangerous, expensive, all unnecessary given proper water preparation... As posted in the "Synthetic Seawater" section on the www.WetWebMedia.com site, develop and adhere to a system of storage of new water and you'll be fine. Bob Fenner>

Re: Chlor/am/ine As an aside, I checked with a friend of mine who is the shift supervisor for our water purification plant, and is responsible for what is going into the water, and he assured me that they are not using ammonia or chloramine. Strictly chlorine. (I happen to live in central New York State, near Syracuse, in case you were wondering). Pat <Amazing... was/am under the impression that the use of chloramines was a universal mandate in the US (EPA from 1984... all phased in by now...) in relevance of colonic cancers and chlorine/organics resultant contributions to tri-halomethanes in potable waters... At any/all lengths, I should (if only the 1,3,7 tri-methyl xanthine would kick in, that's the xanthophyll caffeine, and I do need this world's most widely abused psycho-active drug this AM for sure) I'd just cut to the immediate chase and strongly encourage you to employ a Reverse Osmosis water treatment system all the way around (for your pet fish, drinking and cooking uses)... as this would easily, cheaply exclude both these sanitizers from the get go. Be chatting (and waking up) Bob Fenner>

Water Conditioner Bob.... Good morning!! I have another question. I have been using a product called Nova Aqua  <sic, Novaqua by Kordon Corp.> to treat my tap water for water changes in my reef tank for the last 2 years or more. I noticed last night that this product claims to neutralize iodine.  <Yes, all halogens> Isn't it true that corals need to have iodine??  <Yes.> So, does this mean that I have a great iodine deficiency going on??  <Possibly, do you have a test kit for iodine/iodide?> Should I use a iodine additive, and switch to another water conditioner that won't neutralize the iodine??  <Not necessarily... much could be stated here... I would instead change protocols to just storing, aerating new synthetic seawater instead of using any dechloraminator... the others sold in the trade do this same thing, some in different ways> How much iodine should be added and how often?? I have a 37 gallon tank approximately 1/3 full of live rock. Thanks, Pat Marren <As you can appreciate... the amount to add varies with products, concentration, format, your biomass, water chemistry... I urge all to administer iodide only once a week or so on an ongoing basis (perhaps more frequently in treatments, new livestock... specialized filtration...), and to use a test kit to ascertain about how much this should be... Many more organisms are harmed from I2 overdose than lack. Bob Fenner>

Re: Water Conditioner Bob... Okay, I will try setting up water before I do a change, but can you tell me how long it takes for the chlorine to dissipate?? I'm putting it into 5 gallon buckets. Would it be ok to just put the water into the buckets, and mix the salts into it before I do the change?? Thanks again, Pat Marren <Stated before... please read through the seawater prep. sections on the website: www.WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

Re: Water Conditioner Bob... If I can get spring water to use (there's a lot of that around here), would that be a good substitute instead of setting of water?? Pat <Not necessarily... many possible problems... have you had this tested for your use as in drinking, cooking, bathing? I would use the municipal water and treat as I've sent you to on the WWM site... Bob Fenner>

The smell of poison!!  Dear Bob  happy 2001! Brief but urgent 3 questions here, thanking you heaps in  advance.  * Does formalin/formaldehyde smell like a bad fart, like after eating beans or tubers?  * If it doesn't, what does it smell like?  <Not good at describing smells, but formalin/formaldehyde are unmistakable once you've been exposed... Very sharp... sort of like ammonia in this way/detectable... Not sweet, more acrid like acetic acid/vinegar.... Unpleasant, a burning sensation sort of like a fresh lemon/lime squeezed in your face...> * Should *real* dechloraminators (poly-vinyl) smell of anything at all?  <A little like "wet vinyl"... plastic-ky? But not overpowering... Now you see why I write about pet-fish and not the CRC manuals or murder mysteries!> As you can tell, I just read your article and am angry enough to take up arms against these animal poisoners - my poor tanks!  Pat  <Be chatting, my growingly conscious friend. Bob Fenner>

Re: The smell of poison!! Bob thanks very much. I'm slotting laser-formalin-hydo-sulfide bomb-bullets into my Magnum 357.4158 as I type. Will be off for those pet stores shortly. Pat <Yikes! Like your pro-active attitude, but do hope/trust you're joshin' this old pet-fish boy. Bob Fenner>

TWP (fancy acronym for AP's TapWater Purifier product) Hi Bob, I was just going through the articles on your site and came across some scrutiny regarding the Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Tap Water Purifier. I use this unit and am very satisfied. <It's a "good" product... does what it says, was designed for... just that per useful gallon, inexpensive R.O. units are vastly better...> However, my reason for using it is not as a dechloraminator<--(that's GOTTA be mis-spelled) <Pretty close. Dechloraminator> but as a way to remove Silicates form the water. I used to get severe Diatom blooms after each water change then I started using the TWP <--(acronyms are our friends) and the problem went away. <Ah, good> I have since moved, now my new problem is red algae! Do you have any other methods for getting rid of the culprits responsible for red algae in my tap water? I know RO is an answer but I had a hard time spending the money for a new Fluval 304 so a RO unit is out of the question. Thanks for reading, Wayne LaBanca P.S.: The Conscientious Marine Aquarist is a fantastic book! <Thank you. Do suspect that the "Red" Algae is/are actually the not-so-dreadable Blue Green "Algae", aka Cyanobacteria... and such a common nuisance that I've put some lucid moments together and posted a piece on them, algae control in marine systems... and many FAQs (from queries just like this one!) on the site: www.wetwebmedia.com. Do read these over and consider increasing aeration, adding macro-algae, more lighting... as proscribed there. Be chatting my friend, Bob Fenner>

Dechlor? Hello Bob, I have enjoyed your book and have found it very informative. Thank you very much for taking the time to help all of us wanna bes out here. <A pleasure, and an honor to do my part> I am currently setting up a reef tank and had a question about the product DeChlor for removing chlorine from tap water. I just purchased a R/O system and intend to us it religiously. Anyway, I accidentally added too many drops of DeChlor per gallon. When squeezing the bottle to get drip a small stream briefly came out into about 10 gallons of water. Almost, impossible to know how much. I was mixing the salt in the tank, again starting a new tank. There isn't any life in the tank yet. I was leaving the salt water to circulate for a couple days before adding the live rock and sand. Should I drain the tank and start over? Thank you in advance. <Not to worry... this product is water and sodium thiosulfate (aka hyposulfite) (by Weco Corporation if memory serves)... and has a very wide range of safety... Want to mention a few things though... the sanitizer in use almost everywhere in the U.S. is not chlorine (which "DeChlor" does render harmless) but chloramine(s) which are not treatable with this product... And, your Reverse Osmosis unit no doubt has an integral inline carbon contactor... and otherwise will exclude most all sanitizer... At all lengths, what I'm trying to say is 1) don't worry about the current circumstance... even if there were livestock present, 2) No need to use this product or actually anything if your source water is running through the R.O.... 3) And most important to mention: do read over the "Treating Tapwater for Marine Use" section and accompanying FAQs posted on my site: www.wetwebmedia.com re a protocol for pre-mixing synthetic seawater. Be chatting, Bob Fenner> Dan Hutchings

Dechlorinators I have read through your information on the web site, and I can't figure out if the stuff I use is pseudo or not. I use Kordon's AmQuel - which does say it removes Ammonia, Chloramines, and Chlorine in "one step," but it doesn't smell like formaldehyde (I don't think). I couldn't find any reference to poly-vinyl compounds. I have used it to remove Ammonia and have tested afterward, and it did remove the ammonia according to the test kit. I am just worried because it says "one step" on it and I don't want to hurry my tank inhabitants. Thanks, Steve  >> Hmm, well this Kordon/Novalek product is "the real thing"... no formalin, formaldehyde... and does contain PVP. Use it and enjoy. Bob Fenner

Source Water: I really like your articles.  <Me too. Well, some of them> I have a 55 gal All Glass curved tank. It has been setup for freshwater for  about 18 mos. I have 22 fish, one 2.5 inch cat and rest, angels, discus's, rams and 3 female beta and 1  male beta. I filter the tank with a Magnum 3450 Pro which I like a lot. I change 40% of the water and all  media about every 5-6 weeks.  <Would divide the time frame and volume in half... 20% every three weeks, or even thirds... much better, safer> I only use store-bought "spring" water like Great Bear or similar product. It costs me about 15 dollars to "buy" the water. I do have a reverse osmosis system for my drinking water but I don't use that in the tank because I feel the spring water is more pure. What do you think if this approach? <For the types of livestock you list... I would definitely just use the R.O. water... If you have questions, doubts, maybe take a sample of both waters to a "quality assurance laboratory" (look in your local phone books), or college chemistry dept. and ask them to do standard testing... and let's chat over the results... Very often "bottled" commercial water is barely treated tap... the better to best of these "sold" waters is treated by way of.... reverse osmosis!>  Thanks, Richard  >> <Bob Fenner>

Re: Source Water Great info and much appreciated. My reverse osmosis tank only holds 3 gallons of water so I really can't use it very well. I will however only buy store water that has been produced via reverse osmosis. I will try to do 20gal exchanges every 3 weeks as you suggest. <Hmm, and do look into just buying, installing your own R.O. device... for your cooking, drinking use as well as aquarium... They're actually very inexpensive to use and easy to install... and not so much driving and lugging about...> Any other tips would be greatly appreciated. For example, I don't use any live plants at all only official aquarium fake ones. Is this okay. Also, I only feed Tetra large flakes and freeze dried Tubifex worms and keep my feedings "slim". What do to you think of that? <You are aware of "alternate hypotheses..." and should venture out into some live plants, different foods. Take a long read through our site: Home Page > Richard >> <Bob Fenner>

Water Just another question occurred to me. Is it worth buying distilled water from the supermarket rather than spending about $ 105.00 on a reverse osmosis filter? This will be for a 20 gallon reef tank. Another thing came up also about purifying the water. Is the (Tap Water Purifier )device from (Aquarium Pharmaceuticals) effective in producing perfect deionized aquarium water or not? Would you use it? Thank You for your time, Adam >> >> The R.O. route is the only way to go... very good quality water for a pittance per gallon... It's what we use... for pet-fish as well as drinking and cooking. Maybe take a read over the water issue pieces on the site: Home Page  Bob Fenner

Bob: > What type of water conditioner/bacteria, etc. do you recommend when doing a water change or adding a fish? I've heard good and bad about many products. >> None... which is exactly what I use... I pre-mix synthetic water a week or more before use... don't use conditioners, dechloraminators, bacteria... zip. Bob Fenner

Dear Mr. Fenner, I purchased Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Tap Water Purifier. can't afford a real RO/DI unit) <Save up... cheaper, cheapest way by far to get clean water. Do you have any experience with this unit? My main question is; can I skip the pH adjuster and electro-right? it came with the unit)  <Yes, am familiar with product, and yes, you can skip the (re)additives> The jug the water goes into has several pounds of  Carib-Sea. Since the pH of the DI water is very low, I figured that the aragonite would remineralize the water and stabilize the PH. I also mix in the salt and let the new water sit for 5 -7 days before use. I also have a venturi skimmer in the water for mixing and aeration. <Sounds okay... you may find yourself wanting, needing to adjust pH, alkalinity, some biomineral content... as time goes by> What are your thoughts on Seachem's Purigen? <It's a "real" product, really works...> Thank you very much, and take care, Chris. >> You're welcome. You too. Bob Fenner

water In your 2/21/00 issue, the writer asked about water form a water softener. You answered:.....bypass the softener....the minerals in regular tap water are of more use than harm. >> Yes, in general this is the case... not to mention the potential ill effects of adding more sodium to their seawater (typical ion-exchange consequence). So? Bob Fenner

WATER In you 2/21/00 issue, the writer asked about water from a water softener. You answered, ".....bypass the softener.....minerals in regular tap water are of more use than harm. Am I too much a novice or is it OK to use plain tap water? Thanks, Bob >> Thanks for asking for the clarification... for most systems, yes, plain tap water is fine (even superior to water softener softened waters)... If the source water is "bad" enough... a Reverse Osmosis or other filtering tool is recommended. Bob Fenner, who invites you to read over the "Water" sections in the Marine Index of www.wetwebmedia.com

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