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PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 1:35 pm 
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I am transitioning my wild discus from my tap water to a RO/tap mix or reconstituted RO. While my fish are doing fine in my tap water I want them to thrive and maybe in the near future to breed.

My tap water is Florida well water which comes from the Florida aquifer which consists of a limestone layer. The water is fairly equal in GH/KH, 161 ppm, TDS 230 ppm, Ph 8.2 after aging. I am currently slowing transitioning the tanks to RO with a RO/tap mix with an increasing percentage of RO in the mix.

I am seeking suggestions for best practices and target measurements for happy, healthy fish.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 2:47 pm 
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Ever since I got my hands on an RO unit in 1993 I only use RO water reconstituted to about 40ppm for starters and adding blackwater products, commercial and natural. To lower the pH below what the blackwater products can give me I use HCL.
Ed

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:29 pm 
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Based on measurements taken by Heiko and published in his discus encyclopedia, water conditions for:

(a) blues/browns are in the range of pH 6-7 and conductivity 20-50 us/cm (that would be about 10-25ppm or so TDS).

(b) heckels are in the range of pH under 5 (3.7 upwards I believe, but definitely under 5) and conductivity 10-30 us/cm (5-15ppm or so TDS).

(c) I have to check on greens when I get home after work. don't have it in memory as I only kept greens very briefly and before I got my RO set, but I believe pH should be in the range of 5-6. TDS should also be similar.

These are readings taken probably in the dry season, as that's when discus are collected and when I believe most of his expeditions take place.

Personally, even using pure RO water, I have found it hard to get my pH low enough for my Heckels. Even with the use of peat/catappa, lowest I can get is pH 5.3 for my heckels, with TDS stable at about 40-50. I do water changes twice weekly 30-50% each time though, so perhaps it doesn't allow the biological action to push the pH down lower before I change the water. This would likely be ideal for green discus, though pH is still on the high side for heckels (which I was keeping at that time)

At the moment, again using pure RO water with nothing added, pH is 6.4 with TDS at about 40 - ideal for blue/brown discus I believe, which is good since I'm expecting a batch of Curuai alenquers from Hudson next week.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 7:32 pm 
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Greens are in the 5-6 range.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 9:19 pm 
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Hi illumnae, your TDS straight from the RO unit is 40 ppm. Hmm, I'm getting 11 so suspect I could not use straight RO.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:00 pm 
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Pat, Illuminae's TDS comes out of a well used membrane as well as mine. My Merlin is giving me around 70ppm and this after two acid flushes. It was going near 100ppm last summer.

Of course this would normally mean I should swap out the membranes (Merlin uses -2- 21 inch membranes that sell for about 200 bucks a pair) to get my TDS down t zero, where it should be! Where it should be?

The way I look at it, if I use 0ppm RO water and reconstitute it to around 50ppm, there's nothing wrong with me using RO water straight from the membranes if it is giving me values that I know the fish tolerate (or even need). This only means the membranes are saturated and some of the hard mineral ions are leaching back into the production water.

At 11ppm, you have quite a new membrane, so you do need t reconstitute.

-------------

Another thing to consider is the effect of additional acids in this very soft water. As the pH lowers, the humic and tannin acids from the blackwater product addition will also dissolve the little bit of carbonates in the water.
So you need to try and balance the water column so it has just enough mineral content to not allow a drastic pH crash.

I use coral sand now and then to provide a little extra buffering action, more than that provided by the sand I use.

End result, pH >5.0, TDS +/- 60ppm, of a light to medium amber crystal water where the main ingredient is catappa,

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:12 pm 
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Ed, yes my RO unit is new so the low TDS. Your ph is buffered by your kh right. So keeping an eye on that should help but I do realize it falls as this water ages. Hence the use of coral sand. Guess small amounts of limestone rock could be used also?
Pat

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:30 pm 
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My TDS straight from RO is actually 8. It goes up to 40-50 due to biological action (likely nitrates) + fish food (likely leeching of minerals). Nothing else goes into the water.

If you read up on the Heckel breeding thread on SD, Nandi described that the Heckel breeder was using the exact same setup. His TDS straight from RO was 10, stable in tank was about 50, and his pH drops to 4.7 (he probably changes less water than I do, or feeds more - I suspect it's the former and that his bioload is lower than mine [I tend to overstock]).

For some weird reason, I can't crash my pH even though I've been trying. With pure RO water (8 TDS) and a bag full of peat/catappa, my pH is stable at 5.3.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:36 pm 
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My water comes out of the tap at 2dH/40ppm @ ph7.6 and after i adjust it to ph6 with muriatic acid it leaves virtually no KH so the only way I can control ph fluctuations in my tank is by doing water changes daily and syphoning off all debris.
If I used crushed coral in my filter chamber would that mean I wouldn't have to get up an hour early each morning before work to do tank maintenance and could just do weekly water changes cause the coral would stop my tank from crashing?


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:17 am 
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illumnae wrote:
My TDS straight from RO is actually 8. It goes up to 40-50 due to biological action (likely nitrates) + fish food (likely leeching of minerals). Nothing else goes into the water.
....
For some weird reason, I can't crash my pH even though I've been trying. With pure RO water (8 TDS) and a bag full of peat/catappa, my pH is stable at 5.3.


Sorry for assuming you had well used membranes, a little clogged like mine but still giving me very decent end results. I am still getting close to 500gpd based on the time it takes to change my water... they do need a change. Last year it went all the way up to around 100ppm, but after two acid flushes I got it back down. And by end results I mean that I am using straight ro water for the changes and still my tank is in the desired range of hardness I want it after the change.

Do you have anything against using HCL acid to lower pH beyond 5.3? Using it with prudence and patience it gives good results and is the most proven and used acid among the old time wild discus breeders.

Ed

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:19 am 
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Second Hand Pat wrote:
Ed, yes my RO unit is new so the low TDS. Your ph is buffered by your kh right. So keeping an eye on that should help but I do realize it falls as this water ages. Hence the use of coral sand. Guess small amounts of limestone rock could be used also?
Pat


I'm very familiar with Florida limestone. Use a very small piece and take notes. It dissolves pretty fast in an acid environment.

Ed

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:29 am 
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BrainDevil wrote:
My water comes out of the tap at 2dH/40ppm @ ph7.6 and after i adjust it to ph6 with muriatic acid it leaves virtually no KH so the only way I can control ph fluctuations in my tank is by doing water changes daily and syphoning off all debris.
If I used crushed coral in my filter chamber would that mean I wouldn't have to get up an hour early each morning before work to do tank maintenance and could just do weekly water changes cause the coral would stop my tank from crashing?


I add only about a tablespoon of coral sand to 100 or 150g of tank water by sprinkling it over the substrate of the tank which is quartz-silica sand. The acid slowly eats it up, I can see the grains of whiter coral sand over the off white substrate for roughly 6 weeks, or more, before I decide to add a little more (that is, when I see my pH at about 4.0 and still headed South). I have seen my tanks as low as 3.5. I will do water my changes and add the coral sand until it's close to 5.0 or a bit more, knowing that it will go back down to its 4.5-4.8 range after several days.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:49 am 
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I really need to go read up on how acidity/alkalinity works. Like kH is supposed to buffer pH. So doesn't that mean that if I have any detectable kH at all, acid will just keep eating away at it till it's 0, wouldn't that be a near instant chemical reaction so long as there's some acid in the water? So how does this work long term?

So long as there isn't any detectable kH, I can see how adding acid to the water would adjust the pH downwards, depending on the amount of acid added to the water.

In any event, I have no issue with using HCl to lower my pH, but my government does. Here in Singapore it's a controlled substance and I am unable to obtain it.

Would vinegar do? :)


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:57 am 
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Hi Guys,

The water chemistry of the various tributaries of the Amazon has been studied extensively, but is only published in one book on discus. I mean, I would have thought that this would be the most logical thing to put into a discus book, but the only one in which I have seen these figures is in the book published in German by Hans Mayland called "Diskusfieber" translated as "Discus Fever" which was published in 1988.

In this book, the chemical analysis of water samples that were collected on an extensive trip made by Mayland are given, and figures for the Rio Negro are quoted that were collected by Geisler and Annibal, who studied the habitats of cardinals. Below I have shown a table of the water conditions in some of the tributaries of the Rio Negro. In this table you can see the low pH ranging from 3.97 to 5.3, extremely low levels of Calcium and Magnesium, with levels of Sodium and Potassium being higher than them (just about always the other way around in harder water). I am a little suspicious of the accuracy of these determinations as the water analyses that were done for Mayland from the other rivers were a lot lower, but as you can see these levels are very low. Although not mentioned in this table, the carbonate levels were also just about 0. The conductivities shown in microsiemens per cm are also incredibly low. So, the water in the Rio Negro is extremely soft as you can see, and these figures are in good agreement with what illumnae told us.

The values for the Lago Tefe are given in this book are quoted as pH between 5 and 6, conductivity of 43 microSiemens per cm, German GH of 0.2, carbonate hardness of 0.8 and even lower levels of Calcium and Magnesium (both below 1 mg/l) and HCO3- level of 18 mg/l.

So what this tells you Pat is that water parameters in the natural environments of these fishes are a lot lower than in your tapwater.

As Ed indicates you however have to be careful though of not having huge pH fluctuations in soft water. My tap water has 0 GH and 0 KH and although the pH out of the tap is 7.5 (purposely adjusted to this level by our water works to overcome pipe corrosion), I cannot regulate my pH by water changes alone, my pH tends to dive all the time in my tanks in which I keep my angels and discus. If one feeds these fishes properly, then the ammonia conversion in our biological filters to nitrate releases protons at such a rate that the pH drops dramatically, if I do not keep a close eye on this, then my pH drops below 4 and then my discus are not happy. So in these aquaria, I use local mussel shells from the sea, which consist of solid Calcium carbonate, and add them to the filters. They then serve as a solid buffer to stabilize the pH, the nice thing is that this buffer is therefore NOT dissolved in the water leading to hardness increases. By adding more or less shells I can control my pH very tightly. I have also found that ongoing fluctuations in pH are very bad for my fishes, I think this places the kidneys under too great stress.

So, as you can see, I am in the fortunate position that I do not need any RO apparatus and can breed my discus in my tap water! Initially when I started keeping discus, I read all the books saying that I had to soften my water and get the pH down, until I actually realized that my water required very little manipulation and that I actually had to INCREASE pH very often and not the other way around.

Kind regards,

Dirk


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:14 am 
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Lucky you Dirk :)

For me sounds like my tap will work against me and perhaps should use reconstituted RO to get a more proper percentages of calcium and magnesium, sodium and potassium.

Pat

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