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Thread: Basic questions, mostly about water quality (adding Distilled water?)

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    SCAPE Member Just Planted BajoranKai's Avatar
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    Red face Basic questions, mostly about water quality (adding Distilled water?)

    Hey there!
    Excited to learn from everyone here. I'm setting up my first planted tank(I have fantail goldfish and have had a saltwater tank in the past). It's a 20g. I've got TWO Aqueon Optibright MAX lights (overkill maybe?) and Ultum Nature Controsoil. I'm hoping to have about 6 chili rasboras, 6 cardinals, and a beta, as well as like a dozen amano shrimp. MAYBE a pair of blue dwarf rams??
    I'm mainly concerned with the water we have down here. I've been cycling my tank with water from my goldfish tank to get things going, and just have a yoyo loach and pleco in there right now but they'll be coming out. I just tested my water:
    GH 180
    KH 80
    ph 7
    nitrite 5
    nitrate 70
    What should I do?? I heard that mixing our treated tap water with distilled may be a good option, can anyone confirm? Thinking I may replace 1/3 of the current water with distilled and test again and see where we are at.
    Any advice greatly appreciated! Thanks.

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    SCAPE Member SCAPEr akpoly's Avatar
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    I've never used the UN soil or water from an established tank. But I would imagine most of the bacteria you need is in the media. I'm waiting for my 20g to finish cycling and I used media from another tank to help it out. Still not ready yet after 4 days so far.

    The cheapo API testing strips say my nitrite is 0.5 and nitrate is 40. But the ammonia solution based testing kit says my ammonia is still at 2ppm. Yesterday, it was 4ppm. So its going down but obviously I'm not putting any fish in there until my ammonia is 0ppm. Only thing to keep doing is daily water changes and wait until it hits 0ppm. That's when the bacteria are established.

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    SCAPE Member Just Planted ThinhM's Avatar
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    -I've never used those lights before, so i can't say for sure. Personally i feel like two lights might be overkill, especially if you're not running co2. For a non co2 planted tank, I like to keep the light fairly low, enough to grow the plants but not enough that algae will take over. I would recommend running one light at about half intensity or maybe less, then slowly bump up the light intensity after maybe 2 weeks. Slowly do that until you don't see increased plant growth but more algae popping up, then bump the intensity down a bit.

    -What plants are you planning to keep in your tank? UNS controsoil is great for plants that primarily uptake nutrients through their roots, but not so much for plants that primarily take nutrients through leaves.

    -What is it about your water parameters are you worried about? If you're worried about the higher nitrite and nitrate, i wouldn't worry. I think because you're mixing in your goldfish tank water, that's where some of the nitrite and nitrate is coming from.
    -Also, that's part of cycling your tank. Ammonia is converted to nitrite, then nitrite to nitrate, and plants or water changes will take care of the nitrate.
    -I'd get an ammonia test kit and test that, once your ammonia and nitrite stay at a constant 0, that's when you know you're done cycling.

    -I wouldn't worry too much about your tank parameters to be honest. All the fish you listed wanting are hardy fish that can accept pretty wide parameters.
    -My last recommendation is that you don't worry too much about having the perfect parameters for your fish. I recommend just using your regular tap water, and focus on keeping the fish healthy. Doing your water changes, keeping the tank clean, feeding them quality food.

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    SCAPE Member Just Planted Socalbrabant's Avatar
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    Most aqua soils are heavy on ammonia when they start off, to get your nitrites down you can use some dr tims one and only, i crashed my cycle after medicating it, my nitrites started shooting up, the tims knocked it down to 0 in 2 days.

    I went from the opti bright to a fluval 3.0 I wouldn't call 2 optibrights over kill. I literally have a preset on my fluval called tollerable.(about 50%)

    Don't add your shrimp for at least a month after you get cycled, it will give the tank time to get some biofuilm and algae going, then your shrimp will be happy. Fish are tougher, but let the soil finish leaching first.

    I started my tank by gravel vac-ing my gold fish tank and dumping the 5 gallon bucket of poo water in and letting it circulate for a week

    That tank runs a cheap jcp light and no co2
    And up till last weekend just ran a small internal pump. It probably has 30 baby guppies in it so I upgraded it to a small oase 60 canister that I am really happy how quiet it is.


    Sent from my SM-A515U1 using Tapatalk

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    Moderator Master SCAPER Nick Shades's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BajoranKai View Post
    Hey there!
    Excited to learn from everyone here. I'm setting up my first planted tank(I have fantail goldfish and have had a saltwater tank in the past). It's a 20g. I've got TWO Aqueon Optibright MAX lights (overkill maybe?) and Ultum Nature Controsoil. I'm hoping to have about 6 chili rasboras, 6 cardinals, and a beta, as well as like a dozen amano shrimp. MAYBE a pair of blue dwarf rams??
    I'm mainly concerned with the water we have down here. I've been cycling my tank with water from my goldfish tank to get things going, and just have a yoyo loach and pleco in there right now but they'll be coming out. I just tested my water:
    GH 180
    KH 80
    ph 7
    nitrite 5
    nitrate 70
    What should I do?? I heard that mixing our treated tap water with distilled may be a good option, can anyone confirm? Thinking I may replace 1/3 of the current water with distilled and test again and see where we are at.
    Any advice greatly appreciated! Thanks.
    Whats up, Madison! Fan of ST:TNG?

    In Regard to water quality, I do not have any personal experience with Hollywood/Los Angeles water. That water comes in through the Lone Pine/LA Aqueduct, which is a chemistry which I am not personally familiar with.

    With those numbers, they do seem pretty good. There really isn't anything to bad there. the GH is a tad high, but really nothing bad for a planted tank.

    If you use a UNS soil, and use distilled water from the get go, the natural minerals found in the UNS should actually balance everything out nicely. Those premium soils are designed to be worked with RO or RODI water, which is in one way or another, pretty much identical to Distilled water.

    I have used RODI for the past 2 or 3 years, and I prefer it. Before that, I often started my control tanks with local tap water (I am off the Bear Valley Spring Basin) and then topped with Distilled before switching to RODI.

    I think you'll be good with a 66/33 without any problems, but to be perfectly honest, if you are going to pulll out distilled, just do distilled from the get go, and do it as a top off as well. Invest in a RODI system, and continue the top offf, and you will have a nice balanced control for ever.

    Besides the chemistry readings which you are using, I highly recommend you also use a TDS meter, which will let you know a general amount of other particles that are in the water.

    You can chemically treat or aerate your tap water which has great readings, but then come to find out later that you have some ridiculous amount of particulate that is susceptible to tremendous amounts of algae blooms. I prefer instead to just minimize every opportunity for catastrophe, and just ride it from the get go. Let that premium soil shine, and let its natural properties re-mineralize your water column.

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