02-17-2011, 07:28 PM
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Rain water is a good addition when it rains but chances are you will not be able to collect enough rain water for all the water changes you need to do, that being said you need to find a way to remove the nitrates from your tap water before you add it to your tank. I know of 2 methods of doing this 1 is using a device that is designed to remove the nitrates from the water, which basically uses bacteria that live in low level oxygen water, or two let some fast growing plants remove the nitrates with growth. With this method you should buy yourself a large container (large enough to keep enough water you use during water changes) fast growing plants (duckweed, hornswort, anacharis, etc.), a liquid fertalizer for the other nutrients the plants need and a light source in the correct spectrum. You might also look into if you already haven't to turning your tank into a planted tank too, I have 3 tanks and they are planted well enough and lightly stocked that all my nitrate levels stay at about 0.
If you are convinced that you need to use rain water then heres some suggestions I'll throw out for you, if it doesn't rain for a while in your area and you live in or next to a big city, I would throw out the first bit of water you collect just due to the pollution the rain grabs out of the air. I would look into getting some sort of heater you can add to the water to warm it close to your tank temp as you don't want to shock your fish, also on that note be mindful of the pH of your water and that of the rain water to make sure you don't change the pH to quickly on the fish. You do not need to use a water conditioner on rain water as it won't contain any chlorine which is the primary reason we use water conditioners. If you want to store it outside I would get lids for any buckets you use.