Tap water

Discussion in 'Water Chemistry' started by markj2210, 30 Nov 2008.

  1. markj2210

    markj2210 Newly Registered

    Messages:
    3
    Hi everyone,

    I have soooo many questions but out of respect for you guys I will try to keep it simple.

    I have a fluval roma 125 with stock lighting and a 305 external filter.

    I currently have mixed barbs in there and am thinking of re-homing my tiger barbs and keeping cherry barbs, black ruby barbs and odessa barbs. At the moment I have a coulpe of java ferns but don't feed them or anything and the tank looks a bit sparse. I love the idea of having a jungle with healthy plants but am a little daunted by dosing, co2 and all the others stuff.

    First off, ro water or not? What do I need to test my tap water for to see if it is suitable for a planted tank?
     
  2. Mark Evans

    Mark Evans Expert

    Messages:
    6,492
    Location:
    newark notts.
    personally i'd just go with tap water. it contains allot of good things for plants. i think using R/O water might just kill your interest for planted tanks, secondly it can get expensive what with the 90% waist of water. i used r/o and it became a bind. don't get me wrong r/o has it uses....drinking!

    testing of the water....for me, its something i don't do any more.i gage my tank visually i.e if plants look average there's something wrong, then try and find the problem but if your starting out then its good to learn the concept of water parameters and how the relationship between chemistry and living life works. everyone should know the basics. you may want to consider

    PH
    nitrates
    nitrites
    ammonia
    kh and gh

    this is not necessarily the correct way of doing things but it works for me. i initially learnt all the science so i can call on it if needed. i think it would be a good idea for you to learn the basics.

    regards the co2 and dosing, its something else that would need to be taken into consideration. unless your keeping a low light tank in which case co2 is not that vital.

    hope this helps
     
  3. markj2210

    markj2210 Newly Registered

    Messages:
    3
    Hi Saintly,
    Its was seeing your "my first real scape" thread that made we want to go for it! haha

    That setup looks beautiful. Is that just gravel or did you put fertilizer or anything in there?

    I have kept lots of goldfish and tropical fish over the years and am ok with cycling and maintenance but not actually 'growing' plants.

    I understand that plants require nitrates and know that my tap water does contain these.

    I will get readings and let you know what they are.

    Thanks
     
  4. GreenNeedle

    GreenNeedle Member

    Messages:
    2,706
    Location:
    Lincoln UK
    Am I right in thinking the stock lighting in the Fluval 125 is 2 x 18W T8?

    If so then staying on the same light you can get away with non CO2 and just upgrade to an external (if you have internal) at the moment, then bang your plants in.

    Dosing like CO2 and flow becomes more important the higher up the light bracket you go.

    I personally with low light like that tank (I think) has would just dose lean or TPN+ and use EasyCarbo for a CO2 additive at the bottles recommended level. That should be fine to grow all the standard easy plants.

    AC
     
  5. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,953
    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    Here's another point of view:

    Ph test kit £5.99
    Nitrate test kit £8.35
    Nitrite test kit £8.35
    Ammonia test kit £6.99
    KH test kit £6.95
    GH test kit £8.20
    Iron test kit £8.35
    Phosphate test kit £10.79
    --------------------------------------
    Total = £63.97

    Now, I can think of a lot better ways to spend £64. I mean, that will buy a lot of nice plants. It might even buy a CO2 regulator. One can read about nitrate, ammonia and nitrite (for free) without ever measuring them in the tank and know more about these parameters than what one will ever learn by testing for them. On top of all that the kits are notoriously inaccurate. A chimpanzee can be taught to test for nitrate but the chimp won't have a clue how to interpret the results of the test. This is what we turn ourselves into by immediately flocking to test kits. That folks associate test kits with growing plants is one of the biggest scams of the new century.

    The sinister effect of test kits are based on two prime factors:
    A) The user attempts to micromanage the values in the tank by attempting to keep in between a set of values.
    B) The user believes the results of the test to be accurate and then takes action based on the faulty results.

    It's a much better strategy to first learn the how and why of plant growth, to follow the procedures of filtration/cleanliness, flow/distribution & nutrition and to understand the principles of lighting. After being grounded in these principles one can then decide on the use of various test kits with eyes wide open. I'm always appalled when it's suggested to do the reverse because it only contributes to more confusion and more mistakes.

    As far as I can see, if you already have a tank then presumably you are well grounded in the fundamentals of a tank and I see no reason whatsoever to add any more test kits than you have now. The decision of RO versus tap, as Mark suggests should only be based on the fish. The overwhelming majority of plants do fine in tap water as long as the nutrient levels are adequate. Start here=> EI DOSING USING DRY SALTS to get a grip on the rudiments of plant nutrition. Then you can find alternative dosing methods using these principles on JamesC Discusses Dosing Methods

    I'm not familiar with your tank brand so I assume this is powered by 40 watts of T8? You can grow plants with this configuration but it's worthwhile investigating adding either CO2 or perhaps adding CO2 by use of Excel liquid which is much easier but could become expensive over the long run. If you elect to go the CO2 route then please review Adding CO2 via Fire Extinguisher as well as CO2 MEASUREMENT USING A DROP CHECKER

    There are other articles in the Tutorials section of the forum to get you started. So as you can see, there are so many more important issues than what test kits to get it's ridiculous. Have a look at these articles and ask questions if anything is unclear.

    Cheers,
     
  6. markj2210

    markj2210 Newly Registered

    Messages:
    3
    Jeeeze ha ha.

    I had all the test kits already so decided to test my tap water and see if anything was too extreme.

    The only 2 I was concerned about were Phosphate = 1ppm and Nitrate = about 15 mg/l.

    But after reading your posts, thanks for those, I will stop trying to be too clinical and see how things progress.

    The fluval has 2 x 20w t8s. The bulbs are the ones that came with it and are about 6 months old so they are due a change anyway. What would you guys recommend?

    Am I right in saying that I should not put carbon in my external filter?

    Substrate, just gravel or anything need adding, I have sand at the moment?

    Thanks for all the info, its difficult not to over analyse when doing something new. lol
     
  7. GreenNeedle

    GreenNeedle Member

    Messages:
    2,706
    Location:
    Lincoln UK
    Those Hagen tubes may say 20W on them but I would bet if you open the top of the ballast recess there will be a label on the top of the ballast saying 2 x15W or 2 x 18W. Either way I doubt very much it will be a 2x20W ballast!!

    Fluval used to put 2 x 15W ballasts in their 80cm hoods for tubes of 18W/20W. Effectively you are only getting 30W as that is all the ballast will be passing onto the tubes.

    They also used to put a 2 x 30W in their 120cm hoods for tubes of 36W which meant they were 60W instead 72W.

    No idea if the still do that. Maybe worth a look.

    AC
     
  8. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,953
    Location:
    Chicago, USA
    Yeah, see what I mean? This exactly illustrates my point. You had a preconceived notion of what was "extreme" was so you were already a victim of sinister prime factor A). Did you believe the numbers the tests gave you? Would you have tried to do something to your tap water based on those results? Probably. In that case you would have fallen victim to sinister prime factor B). Vicious circle mate. About the only thing I can think of that's extreme is that hobby grade test kits are extremely unreliable.... :wideyed:

    Good for you mate. In fact being clinical is actually a good idea, but you have to be in the right clinic. Stay away from those quack test kit clinics and you'll be allright...

    I personally change my light bulbs when they stop working. No need to spend more money. I reckon if I can see the light then so can the plants.

    Well if the water is tainted or yellowed, then activated carbon helps to clear it but you have to change it out frequently thereby spending more money. Some test results have reportedly shown that they do remove some trace elements so this is a good excuse to say it's one more thing not to buy, isn't it? You're better off using that space for other types of filter media such as sintered glass media or even something like Purigen.

    It's always better to have a nutritious substrate and this is because aquatic plants feed from both the sediment as well as from the water column, however, this is not really a prerequisite as you can do quite well with water column dosing alone as shown in the illustrated examples in the EI dosing article. If you have the money and if you don't mind going through the trouble it is recommended that you change out the sand for either a nutritious base with the sand put back on top or a standalone substrate which deletes the sand entirely. This is an aesthetic choice as much as a scientific one. See the various options here=> Aquaessentials Substrate List

    Cheers,
     

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