Tap water question

Discussion in 'All things freshwater related' started by LilReef, Dec 17, 2014.

  1. LilReef

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    I'm curious can tap water be bad for a saltwater fowlr setup? What kind of issues will it cause? Does it cause the same problem in freshwater set-ups?
     
  2. scubaspew

    scubaspew Starfish
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    Every municipality has different stuff in their tap water, if you search the forums here you will find a thread on it that has links to info on all municipalities, depending on what is in yours you will atleast need to treat it with a dechlorinator such as Prime. RO water is cheap enough, I'd atleast do that unless you are doing a huge tank and then I can understand lugging jugs arouns does get old if running over 100 gallons, RODI is preferred but RO will be fine for FOWLR, you can get RO everywhere (local grocery store). Tap water will work but definitely need to dechlorinate it for sure and may still cause diatoms and algae. Remember check what your local municipality is putting in the water as every city varies!
     
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  3. Kepler

    Kepler Former: Koletang

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    You're going to get some form of filtered water. As scubaspew said, you don't need to go all out with a full RO/DI setup for a FOWLR, but I would recommend at least RO. If that isn't possible then tap water with dechlorinator will suffice.

    As for the stuff in the water:
    Silicates: Can cause diatom blooms
    Phosphates and Nitrates: Algae blooms
    Heavy metals: Not good for coral or invertebrates depending on the metal, concentration, etc.
    Chlorine and Chloramines are no good for anything in the tank.
     
  4. capman

    capman I contributed!
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    Tap water these days (and for decades in fact) is typically treated not only with chlorine, but also ammonia is added, which reacts with the chlorine to form chloramines (this is the case in Minneapolis, anyway, and I suspect in most large water systems). Chloramines last in the water much longer than chlorine alone, thus retaining disinfecting ability longer, and to the far reaches of the water system.

    So, you need to not just treat for chlorine, but also for ammonia and chloramines. Personally, I have used Amquel for about 25 years for freshwater tanks (both in Minneapolis and previously in Champaign, Illinois), and I've used this for saltwater fish tanks (which included some inverts too) as well.

    Back in Illinois, when I had a big freshwater angelfish breeding operation going in the basement, involving huge amounts of daily water changing, I originally just used Novaqua, but then at one point I noticed stress in a tank of young fish just following a big water change. I tested for ammonia and found it was high. Then I tested the tap water, and found the ammonia was even higher in the tap water! This seemed to be a new thing that I had not encountered before. That was when I switched to Amquel. (Incidentally, when I was a kid in Chicago in the 60's and early 70's, when the tap water was just treated with chlorine, my dad and I would sometimes just age tap water for a day or a few to have the chlorine dissipate, or more commonly we would just use sodium thiosulfate crystals - we had a box of sodium thiosulfate that lasted us for years, even with 30+ aquaria and a lot of water changing!).

    Different water systems differ, of course, but I suspect most tapwater can be made safe with a product like Amquel.

    The big problem with tap water, as already noted by others above, is that it can be high in nutrients. In a fish only tank that is not lit too intensely this may or may not be a problem. In a reef tank, of course, the input of nutrients could be a big deal.

    In addition to the ammonia mentioned above, there can be significant amounts of nitrite or nitrate sometimes. Also, phosphate compounds are commonly added to tap water: http://toxics.supportportal.com/lin...fects-of-drinking-water-containing-phosphates

    The consequences of these phosphates in tap water can sometimes be annoying blooms of algae in freshwater tanks after big water changes (I've struggled with this sometimes, and a friend in Illinois has noticed the same thing in his tanks). Obviously, this would be much more than annoying in a reef tank.

    But aside from the algae-promoting nutrient issues, most tap water is probably going to be just fine for your fish as long as it is treated for chlorine, ammonia, and chloramines.
     
    #4 capman, Dec 18, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2014
  5. David Grigor

    David Grigor TCMAS Old Timer
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    For our drinking water I started out with an RO unit, got tired of the lower pressure ( even with the bladder thingy ) and would only make 1/2 full icecubes. Eventually pulled the membrane out and now just use the sediment and two carbons for chlorimines. I've used this water for the pond fish for several years. So this would probably be the minimum filtration I would use.

    If this were me and didn't want to go the RO route, I would ditch the Liverock part. The light you will need to keep the Live rock coraline a nice color is likely to grow algae like crazy and just look plan ugly. They make some fake rocks with the purple on them that look good as a substitute and then use ceramic or other biological media for filtration purposes. Worst case, you pull the fake rocks out occasionally and clean them. Liverock not so easy without killing the coraline. A single little LED light strip on it just enough light to display the fish well. Attempting to use tap water or just carbon filtered light will be the enemy and I think using real liverock will make that more difficult.
     
    #5 David Grigor, Dec 18, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2014
  6. capman

    capman I contributed!
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    Personally, I'd probably still use live rock (if it is in the tank already) even if you couldn't be growing coraline algae on it due to low light levels. The porous rock would still be helping with biological filtration, and the natural rock would still look better to me.

    But David makes a great point about the ease of cleaning fake rocks. If using tap water, it won't necessarily take all that much light to have bothersome cyanobacteria growth (for example) if using nutrient-laden tap water. I haven't measured phosphate levels in Minneapolis tap water, but based on how my well-lit aquaria have behaved when using treated tap water, it seems like it must be significant.
     
    #6 capman, Dec 18, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2014
  7. David Grigor

    David Grigor TCMAS Old Timer
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    Next time your in SWE, take a look at the back side 210 fish only. That has fake rock and you would have to study it closely to even tell.
     
  8. capman

    capman I contributed!
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    I'll make a point of doing that. I think I'll be going down there again soon, and I'll try to remember to pay attention to that.
     

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