What you don’t want to know about our tap water (but should)

Discussion in 'General Freshwater Information' started by Phil12, Apr 2, 2014.

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  1. Phil12

    Phil12 Plankton

    Mar 20, 2014
    I wonder if anyone has any feedback about this that they would like to share. After I found that I kept having the same algae problems that I did before, I decided to do a little more research when it comes to my increase in algae problems. Almost all of our tap water is treated to kill algae, the vast majority of municipal water treatment facilities will provide some sort of treatment. Our tap water may contain magnesium sulfate, nickel sulfate, potassium permanganate, chloramines, chlorine, iodine, and fluoride.

    Most of these chemicals are used to treat "Biannual Turnover.” This is during the fall and spring when temperature changes. What it means is that the fluctuations in temperature cause the water at the bottom of our lakes to rise. This carries anaerobic material and silt into the water that is used by our municipal water treatment facilities. Most of these chemicals are very toxic to fish.

    Despite the fact that a good portion of our municipal plumbing systems have been modernized, the majority still use lead pipes in-lines. This can create high-lead levels in our drinking water. Because of the immense cost associated with replacing ALL those pipes, they needed another solution. This led to the introduction of a phosphorus compound. This binds to the lead in the pipes and coats them so that lead does not get into our water.

    Unfortunately, this had a number of different side effects. It led to high levels of phosphates in tap water. These phosphates in tap water are what cause to the rapid algae growth that most people have seen in the last few years. This means that whenever you are changing the water, you are actually adding even more phosphates to the aquarium each time. This leads to the frustrating task of having to clean your aquarium and then finding out that the algae can grow back almost immediately. I have found some good information about clearing my aquarium because I also know that using tap water is one of my only options (to keep costs down).

    I have found some good suggestions (here! http://homeaquaria.com/saltwater-algae-control-the-ultimate-guide/) that help me clear out a number of different algae. Does anyone else have any good suggestions on tips or suggestions that they could share?
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2014
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  3. civiccars2003

    civiccars2003 Great Blue Whale

    Mar 18, 2010
    Akron Ohio
    Patiently waiting AZ arrival...
  4. Kevin88

    Kevin88 Astrea Snail

    Aug 16, 2013
    I use tap water to top off my tank. I had problems with cyano for a little while but it went away on its own after a while. Other than the cyano I have never had problems with tap water. The water where I live is very clean though.
  5. ivanbosk

    ivanbosk Feather Duster

    Jun 3, 2011
    Savannah GA
    My LFS sells ro/di at .50 cents a gallon. NO way you can't afford $5 a month for water changes...
  6. chris adams

    chris adams Purple Tang

    Oct 4, 2008
    Port Charlotte, FL
    for all the money we spend on this hobby in corals and fish people should invest in their own ro/di system. You should have better success keeping those expensive corals and fish happy and healthy.

    Between Craigslist and ebay and spectrapure refurbished units you should be able to get something fairly cheap and with tds meter you control your own destiny.

    Using tap water and then having to buy this and that to take care of different elements in the water is crazy as I am sure you will spend a lot more over time doing that than purchasing the ro/di unit.

    Anyways just my thoughts and understand we all have our ways of doing things.
  7. AZDesertRat

    AZDesertRat Giant Squid

    Jul 30, 2009
    Phoenix AZ
    Yes, RO/DI. Tap water is never the answer as it is changing constantly and you have absolutely zero control over its quality and its stability.

    What may appear to be good at this moment in time can change as the shift changes at the local WTP and the new operator changes the chemical addition dosages or products, or he alters the pH to take better advantage of a treatment method. Or wate rthat has been in strorage somewhere is released into the distribution system and contains elevated TTHM's of HAA's and higher elvels of ammonia as the chloramines break down.

    The thing is you have no idea at all.

    Or Joe Contractor digs into the main down the street and causes a backsiphonage from your neighbors house where he has his garden hose stuck in a newly fertilized tree well or in his horse trough. Or worse yet Joe damaged both the potable water and the parallel sanitary sewer main at the same time! It happens more often than you know.

    With a $150 RO/DI system you can control that at the tap and it does not matter what leaves the plant or enters your home, you have ultimate control. You can also use the RO portion as a safe, economical drinking water supply and quit buying all those disposable plastic bottle that clog up the landfills. It is an easy purchase to justify any way you look at it.
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  9. Sea Witch

    Sea Witch Plankton

    Apr 25, 2011
    Courtenay/Comox Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Cana
    AZDesertRat makes an excellent point. Where I used to live, I got statements from the municipal water supply to find out what was in the tap water, and I was surprised to find how much it varied over the year. In those days, I had a lot of FW tanks. I didn't go to RO/DI because my fish were doing fine, and I had way to many tanks to fret over it. I had mainly been concerned about chloramine, which was not in my water.

    I am, however, a fan of low-tech, and barring chloramine, I had no hesitation using my very hard tap water. In spite of no RO/DI, I did breed cichlids without a problem. It's a personal decision. If I was competing with planted tanks, I'd use RO/DI, and with a SW aquarium, I think you have to use RO/DI.
  10. DSC reef

    DSC reef Giant Squid

    Dec 16, 2012
    Cocoa, Florida
    A healthy tank starts with clean water. Period. RODI is the way to go. Nothing to me justifies not using a good Rodi unit. I've spent more money the last few years driving back and forth buying water that I could've bought 20 Rodi units. Using tap water for our hobby in my opinion is only going to lead to problems. As I said before, healthy tanks start with clean water and nothing is cleaner than rodi. Like AZ said, you have complete control of your water when you have an rodi unit. I love not driving and depending on the LFS guy changing the filters or resin when buying his water.
  11. Rob&Gab

    Rob&Gab Astrea Snail

    Jan 17, 2014
    whitestone, Queens
    i Use RODI, But belive it or not the water over here is clean TDS on tap water test AT 0.5 witch is Really good.
  12. Mr. Bill

    Mr. Bill Native Floridian

    May 28, 2011
    RO/DI for freshwater tanks is a little more complicated. The lakes and rivers where the fish come from have minerals. Tap water has minerals. RO/DI filtration strips the minerals from the water, altering the pH, among other things. I've never had an issue with using tap for FW; I simply treat it if it comes from a municipal system.

    For a reef tank, you want those minerals removed so you can add back what's needed to replicate seawater. As mentioned, it's the only way to attain optimum quality and control.