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How hard is too hard?

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How hard is too hard?

Post  spyderuk on Fri 28 Jun 2013, 13:41

I couldn't find a forum for water chemistry so I thought I would post it up in here.

After months of failed spawns from multiple pairs I'm looking down the water chemistry route. The issues I'm having is a huge white off between 24-48 hours. These are not bright white like the infertile egss go at the 24 hours mark but more a creamy, milky white if that makes sense. Once they start turning, they turn fast. I've tried cattappa leaves and now I have some peat balls in but it's not enough.

I absolutely detest test kits with a passion but went ahead and purchased Nutrafin Ph and Gh+Kh test kits. Tanks and tap seem identical with a rather high Ph of 7.5-8 (was somewhere inbetween) and Gh - 10, Kh - 12. Liquid rock. Could this be causing my issues?

Now I've been thinking of using a 50/50 mix of RO and tap water but I am confused. Research leads me to believe that RO water should be Ph 7 - neutral. I tested a sample from a marine keeping friend which showed a Ph of around 6. Gh-Kh virtually zero.

I'm looking for a cost effective option that would also be stable. Is Ro the way forward for me?

Cheers

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Re: How hard is too hard?

Post  Pterophyllum on Fri 28 Jun 2013, 14:51

Hi Roger,
I'm sure angels can & do spawn successfully at higher pH/KH levels, but in my experience they do much better, and are much more likely to parent raise, at lower pH & KH's.

I wouldn't worry about the pH reading you're getting with the RO, or indeed the pH of the water out of the tap. What matters is the pH you achieve in your aquarium which depends on both the KH and the amount of CO2 in the water.

At any given KH the more CO2 you add to the water, the lower the pH will be.
Conversely, for any given level of CO2, the lower the KH, the lower the pH will be.

To take your tanks as an example. ph say 7.7, KH 12. If you were to lower the kH to 1.2, your pH would fall to 6.7. Similarily if you increased the level of CO2 by ten fold, your pH would also fall to 6.7.
However, in the second case, that would involve raising CO2 to dangerous levels.

Using RO and blending it in a ratio of about 5 part RO: 1 part tap water would bring your KH down to about 2. I try to run my tanks at about 1 or 2 KH, although most books recommend keeping to 2 or higher. Certainly the lower you take the kH the greater the risk of a serious pH crash, and major pH swings.

Other than RO you could try adding bogwood to the tank, this releases acidic tanins which will help to reduce the kH, you could also use a product like Tetra pH/KH minus, I've used this, with success, but as my water is coming out of the tap at 3-5 kH, I don't need much to get things down to where I'd like them to be.

To be honest, I've had similar problems to you in the past, and indeed over the last few months, have had a lot of frustration with spawns not hatching, or the wrigglers not thriving.
Suddenly I have two batches which seem to be going very well (see my fishroom thread) and interestingly, about 2 days before they spawned I used pH down on all 5 of my breeding tanks, plus another product, Dennerle TR7 Tropic, this is a product I am not yet fully convinced about, but on a couple of occasions I've used it with seemingly good results. It claims to contain extract of tropical almond leaves, with humic acids from peat, oak bark and alder cones (all products I've seen suggested as useful for breeding angels)

One final observation, which I'm sure can make a big difference in many cases.
Remove all fish, discard filter foams, bleach tank with milton (or similar baby's bottle bleach). Leave for 48 hours. Drain, refill, drain & refill again. Leave for a further 48 hours. Add parent fish with at least one mature filter foam and additional new foams as required.

After this type of cleaning routine, I usually get a very good hatch/survival rate, so might be worth a shot in your case.

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Re: How hard is too hard?

Post  spyderuk on Fri 28 Jun 2013, 17:55

Pterophyllum wrote:Hi Roger,
I'm sure angels can & do spawn successfully at higher pH/KH levels, but in my experience they do much better, and are much more likely to parent raise, at lower pH & KH's.

I wouldn't worry about the pH reading you're getting with the RO, or indeed the pH of the water out of the tap. What matters is the pH you achieve in your aquarium which depends on both the KH and the amount of CO2 in the water.

I only mentioned the tap and RO results as I would plan to blend the two. Knowing the approximate starting values would help to get towards a suitable end product. When online research tells me RO should have a PH of 7 and I get a 6 on the test I start to question the accuracy of the test kits even more than I usually do.

Pterophyllum wrote:

Using RO and blending it in a ratio of about 5 part RO: 1 part tap water would bring your KH down to about 2. I try to run my tanks at about 1 or 2 KH, although most books recommend keeping to 2 or higher. Certainly the lower you take the kH the greater the risk of a serious pH crash, and major pH swings.

I would prefer to steer clear of potential PH crashes. If I was to try 5 parts RO to 1 part tap and got desired results would I have to use any remin product or would the junk in the tap suffice?

Pterophyllum wrote:
Other than RO you could try adding bogwood to the tank, this releases acidic tanins which will help to reduce the kH, you could also use a product like Tetra pH/KH minus, I've used this, with success, but as my water is coming out of the tap at 3-5 kH, I don't need much to get things down to where I'd like them to be.
I would rather stay away from PH shifting products. I think in the long term they would work out quite costly and I'm not sure how stable conditions would be. Bogwood sounds good and I have some in some tanks but not the breeders. Test results are very close to the same in those tanks. I think a 40% water change would just swing back any little difference it would make.

Pterophyllum wrote:

One final observation, which I'm sure can make a big difference in many cases.
Remove all fish, discard filter foams, bleach tank with milton (or similar baby's bottle bleach). Leave for 48 hours. Drain, refill, drain & refill again. Leave for a further 48 hours. Add parent fish with at least one mature filter foam and additional new foams as required.

After this type of cleaning routine, I usually get a very good hatch/survival rate, so might be worth a shot in your case.

I can try this but discard mature filter sponges? Crying or Very sad 
I generally bleach the tanks before I set them up especially 2nd hand tanks.

Thanks for your input Rob, would be interested to hear what you think about the remin situation with a 5-1 RO-Tap blend.

Cheers.


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You can't rely on the pH reading of pure RO

Post  gibbo156 on Fri 28 Jun 2013, 18:11

Sorry to be pedantic, but a pH measurement of RO water is pointless and no matter how good your test kit is you will be able to get any reading you feel like.
the pH measurement is all to do with the ratio of hydrogen ion receptors to hydrogen ion donors, or something like that, and as RO water shouldn't have anything in it other than water the pH reading is meaningless. It is more accurate to say that RO water doesn't have a pH.  Everybody, including me, has remembered from school that pH 7.0 is neutral and that is waht you should expect from things like distilled water, but that is an oversimplification.
Please don't discard your pH test kit just because it gives you a reading of pH 6.0 from your RO today, give it a shake and you will be able to get a different pH reading from the same water, it is all down to how "pure" it is, and the purer it is the less reliable the pH reading is. So, your pH test kit may, or may not be useless, but pH 6.0 from RO water is not evidence either way.

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Re: How hard is too hard?

Post  spyderuk on Fri 28 Jun 2013, 18:22

Hi Gibbo.

That's what happens when you Google stuff, many posts claiming RO should be neutral. I would never consider a test result from a hobby grade test kit as "proof" of anything.

I really want to find the simplest, cost effective route to providing the best water quality for my angels so hopefully I can have success with these fish. It's so tempting to sell the lot and breed Malawi's. I'm sure they would love my hard water.

Incidentally, I have a batch of Colisa sota (honey gourami) fry growing on in the very same water. Also raised a few Corydoras trilineatus but the angel spawns are a mystery so I'm now clutching at the water hardness straw. Crying or Very sad

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Re: How hard is too hard?

Post  Pterophyllum on Fri 28 Jun 2013, 18:36

but discard mature filter sponges?

If they are in good condition you could, bleach - not too strong a concentration, rinse thoroughly, and store dry for future use

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Re: How hard is too hard?

Post  spyderuk on Fri 28 Jun 2013, 18:48

They are between 3 and 5 months old.

Any thought's on the need to remin a 5-1 blend? Very Happy 

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here is what i do

Post  gibbo156 on Fri 28 Jun 2013, 19:04

Please don't take this as anything other than me stating what worked for me, i'm sure that there are many routes to success and what works for one person may or may not work for somebody else.

I use RO water ( my machine gets it down to a TDS of below 5 ) remineralised with some stuff that i get from a committee member of the BCA. He makes the remin powder up himself and it works for me. I buy it from him for a few quid for a kilo and a kilo lasts me more than 6 months. ( i can put you in touch with him , just pm me for details , he will probably give you the recipe.)

I remineralise up to TDS (total dissolved solids )  of about 100 ppm which i measure with a £10 TDS meter that i bought from ebay. Actually, because i am usually only doing partial water changes then the TDS will be anywhere between 95ppm and 110 ppm.  With this i know that it won't move the TDS measurement in the tank at all.

( I used to use the seachem acid and alkali buffers, but you have to choose the correct products WITHOUT phosphate or you get major algae problems, and getting the correct ratio of acid to alkali is a complete p.i.t.a ! But Seachem are very good and you can email them to get very quick advice about what weights of each to add to how much water, but be careful, they are yanks and a "gallon" means something different to them than it does to us  )

I don't do any other measurements. I used to measure hardness and pH but decided that there is no point measuring something inaccurately anyway.

For pH in the tank i don't measure using a test kit. I have a pH meter in the grow out and display tanks, and i can pull the probe out and drop it into whatever i want to measure ( but i haven't done this for ages). I also don't worry about the accuracy of the pH measurement. What i am  interested in is the STABILITY of the water. It doesn't matter, to me, if the reading is accurate or not. The fish like it as it is, i only need to know that it hasn't changed. So i don't even look at the pH meter very often, it was probably a watse of money, i glance at it in the morning just to make sure that it is around about where it was yesterday. Somewhere between 6.1 and 6.5. The actual measurement, if i could measure it accurately, might be a lot different to that but i don't need to know, as long as it doesn't change much. If there was a sudden change in the pH then i would know that something had happened, and that would be enough for me to start looking to find out what.
I could do the same with a pH test kit, as long as i used the same test kit all of the time. It doesn't matter if the test kit would tell me that i was keeping my fish in battery acid, as long as it always told me that it was always the same battery acid. It is the fact that the measurement remains constant that is important to me.
I haven't measured the pH of the breeding tanks at all this year.

Anyway,
That is what i do, and my angels breed successfully.

I hope i haven't bored you to sleep.

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Re: How hard is too hard?

Post  spyderuk on Fri 28 Jun 2013, 21:26

Gibbo, certainly not bored to sleep lol.

Thanks for taking the time to explain "what works for you!" I now need to find out "what will work for me" and I have a few options to explore. I also purchased a PH tester pen for about £9. I think they are the ones aimed at those that like to grow the whacky baccy. Rolling Eyes I have yet to purchase a TDS pen but it's certainly on my shopping list.

I totally agree with the "stability" statement. I'm looking for a simple solution to getting my water more suitable for the species I want to breed mostly, which are Angels and Cory's. Mixing RO + tap water would just be extra work and subject to more variables to "unstabilize" the conditions. I think my thought process on a 50/50 mix would be to save costs on remin. I may as well go the whole hog and go 100% RO in the spawning tanks and gradually wean them over to tap at 6-8 weeks old. At least having RO on hand I'll be ok when it comes to the German Blue Rams (which I want to try my hand at) and possibly may even have some discus one day.


So it looks like I need to add an RO filter to my shopping list along with a TDS pen. Expect a PM from me about the remin stuff.

Thanks again for helping me make my mind up. Wink 


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Re: How hard is too hard?

Post  uk bulldog on Sat 29 Jun 2013, 15:30

Hi Roger,
Sorry to hear you are having problems with hard water .I had similar problems earlier in in the year & tried various things
including peat, almond leaves, alder cones , oak, bogwood as well as RO/HMA mix & a water softener.
I had varied results from all of the above & in the end I bought a water softener to go inline with my HMA filter which helped a lot but not to the extent I was hopeing for so I went down the RO/HMA mixed route & after trying different mixes ie 50/50 RO/HMA 25/75 RO /HMA I finely found a mix that worked for me which was 75/25 RO/HMA & I haven't looked back since.
As I don't have the room at the moment for a water butt I use 25litre bucks to mix & heat my water in & I do have to use a few to be honest lol I now have all my buckets marked so I shouldn't make mistakes.I still have the softener in line which has basicly made my HMA filter four stage rather than three which I still think filters my water just that little bit better than before.If you are going to buy an RO unit all you have to do is run it with out the RO membraine & you will produce HMA water as well from the one unit.
This Mix has worked for me but as we all know what works for one may not work for another.
Once my fish hit the 5 week old stage I then reduce the amount of RO in there tanks over the next few weeks & use straight HMA so all fish are able to go into the shops that take fish from me as well as the average hobbiest tanks .
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Re: How hard is too hard?

Post  spyderuk on Mon 01 Jul 2013, 19:35

Thanks for your input Paul.

I understand what might work for one person may not work for the next but with Rob, Gibbo and yourself having good results it helps give me ideas and options to plan my attack to success.

An RO filter is on the shopping list along with the oil filled radiator, dehumidfier, water butts etc. I also have to solve the positioning and plumbing of everything so as I'm not having to lug buckets n buckets of water around on a daily basis. I am determined to get there in the end but in all honesty I thought I would of had at least one small batch of freeswimmers by now. Luckily I have other projects going on but with Angels, the genetics side has got me hooked. Smile 

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Re: How hard is too hard?

Post  gibbo156 on Mon 01 Jul 2013, 20:46

spyderuk wrote: I also have to solve the positioning and plumbing of everything so as I'm not having to lug buckets n buckets of water around on a daily basis.

That can be a fun part of the project.
My shed is by no means a fish house, but it does have several tanks and room for several more.
I spent ages sketching things out on paper before i plumbed anything in.

It was also fun working out what pipework would fit to what size wise, so as to avoid having to buy aquarium specific connectors that are just over priced.
I only have to syphon water from two breeding tanks for a water change, the bigger tanks have diversion taps on the feed back from the canister filters  and piped straight to the waste tank and then to my garden water butt.
I still syphon from the big tanks when i want to clean up a bit, but that is because i want to not because i have to.

I used quite bit of domestic plumbing bits after i worked out how to connect from eheim flexible piping.

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Re: How hard is too hard?

Post  spyderuk on Tue 02 Jul 2013, 16:47

Sounds like minimal effort there Gibbo but I think my setup will be more labour intensive.

My thoughts are now as follows. Main water butt of around 200l in fish house to help maintain temperature in butt. Positioning of RO unit is a dilema. Do I set it up in the fish fish to fill directly into the butt? Do I put it else where?

Putting it in the fish house it would have to be fed via a hose and adapter to the outside tap. Even if I put the RO unit on the wall by the outside tap I can't tap straight into the copper pipe and would still need to connect via a hose adapter. Putting by the tap means building an insulated box for winter protection, no big deal, but then it's a 2nd water butt and lugging buckets or another pump and piping to buy. I'm thinking RO outside by tap and drain is the best place as it's easier to fit an overflow to drain. In the fish house this would not be impossible but just a little more tricky.

There is no room to place it under the kitchen sink. We have a small kitchen and the better half has claimed all the space available. Let's not even go there. Rolling Eyes 

None of my tanks will be on a sump system and all on sponge filters. I may setup one co2 injected display tank later on with external filter. So yes all manual water changes galore. I will use a plastic storage box with a float switch pump to syphon into for water changes which I will have to layout the waste pipe to drain before I start. I'm planning on using a pump to pump from butt to tanks.

No water or drainage is in place in the garage and no funds or time to put it in place now.

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Re: How hard is too hard?

Post  gibbo156 on Tue 02 Jul 2013, 18:10

My RO unit is in the shed. Which means i have to connect a hose from the garden tap, except in the winter when it is a hose through the window because i have to drain down the garden tap as soon as there is a danger of frost.
This meant that the most important thing to buy was three taps to put on the pipes to/from the RO unit so that it didn't drain down when the hose was disconnected. But three taps for a tenner is cheaper than a new RO membrane because you have let it dry out.

Some people put the taps on the RO unit and keep the whole thing mobile and move it to whever you have got access to water at the time.

Here is a crazy idea.
Put a 100 litre water butt on a cheap sack truck. Fix the RO unit to the handles of the sack truck.
Wheel the whole lot to wherever you have mains water and connect up to fill the water butt.
Then disconnect and wheel the whole lot into the fish house and pump the water into your tanks.

Maybe that is too crazy, it takes my unit about 12 hours to fill an 80litre water butt.

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Re: How hard is too hard?

Post  spyderuk on Thu 04 Jul 2013, 17:33

I like the spud truck idea. Wink 

I think I will go with moutning the RO unit near the outside tap along with a 200l butt. It'd be handy there as there is drainage nearby. The only issue would be carting RO water into the fish house butt but it may be an advantage if I decide to try ro/tap blends. I know I have some experimental work cut out for me but lets just imagine a 50/50 mix worked I could get 25l RO from RO butt into a container and take to fish house then 25l of tap voila, not too labour intensive. If I have to go full RO I would have to pump from one to another. Actually, pumps cost money so I maybe tempted to drag a 25l container back n forth in the short term. Pumps will be required when I retire.

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Re: How hard is too hard?

Post  gibbo156 on Thu 04 Jul 2013, 18:08

Why not use the RO waste instead of straight tap water. The RO waste has the chlorine already removed, it has missed the RO membrane but it has been through the other filters. You wouldn't need the same ratio because the RO waste will be slightly harder than your tap water. That way you wouldn't be wasting so much water.

Sounds like you should pick up a second hand water roller thing that they use for caravans. They hold 50 litres and have a big access hole for dropping a pump into.


I use 12v yacht bilge pumps for pumping water around, less than £20 quid each on ebay and they pump 1100 gallons per hour. I have to put a tap in the outlet hose to slow mine down. Needless to say the hose connections are different again and you end up scratching your head trying to work out how to connect them.

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Re: How hard is too hard?

Post  gibbo156 on Thu 04 Jul 2013, 18:09

Don't put the RO unit outside in the winter.
If you freeze the membrane it will be bllx'd

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Re: How hard is too hard?

Post  spyderuk on Thu 04 Jul 2013, 21:21

gibbo156 wrote:Don't put the RO unit outside in the winter.
If you freeze the membrane it will be bllx'd

I will have some 2x2 timber, 6mm ply and 50mm kingspan left over to build a little insulated box for it. Would that work? Wink 

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Re: How hard is too hard?

Post  gibbo156 on Fri 05 Jul 2013, 07:29

spyderuk wrote:
gibbo156 wrote:Don't put the RO unit outside in the winter.
If you freeze the membrane it will be bllx'd

I will have some 2x2 timber, 6mm ply and 50mm kingspan left over to build a little insulated box for it. Would that work? Wink 
I suppose it depends how hard the winters are where you live. I had two water butts frozen to a complete block of ice for weeks last winter.
I have to keep my RO unit in the fish shed and i run a hose to it when i have to switch it on (running water doesn't freeze, there's lucky! ) But even then i have to keep the hose rolled up in the fish shed in the winter because any water in it freezes if it is left outside and you can't get anything through it until it warms up.
If you live in a town you might get away with it. My garden is exposed to the wind a little bit and it is the wind chill that freezes everything.
I suppose i am over cautious after having a pipe to my garden tap burst even though it was insulated. After that i drain everything down for the winter and connect the hose through a small window whenever i need it from November to March.

If you build an insulated box around everything then don't forget the bottom. I did, hence the burst pipe.

But don't let any of this put you off. You will have a disaster or two and more than a few difficulties, but when you have everything sorted and get into a routine that suits you, you will be wondering what was difficult and kicking yourself for not setting it up right in the first place.
It is all so worthwhile! You spend months building racking, sorting out pipework and RO supply, messing about with reminiralisation, water changes, the corect food blah blah blah and then you get your first batch of free swimming angel fry and you can't work out why everybody else doesn't think they are the best angels in the world! ( and you want to keep every one )

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Re: How hard is too hard?

Post  uk bulldog on Fri 05 Jul 2013, 07:38

Gibbo mate your words of wisdom make me laugh but are so true.Thanks for cheering me up this morning mate.
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