Need help with RO water.
As many know, i just took on 5 wild caught blue rams.
Turns out the guys pH was identical to mine, which eased my mind on that. I did drip them over slowly, as i do with all fish. They are living fine in my tank so far. However, i am one of those people that want to replicate their natural conditions as close as possible. Seeing as my water is at 7.4 - 7.6 i would ideally like to get it in the 5.5-6.5 range. Most likely closer to 6.0.
I know the options consist of driftwood, peat moss, and RO. Driftwood seems to be a slower process and sort of hit or miss. Some pieces make no difference in pH, some make a huge difference. I really don't want to take that risk if i don't have to. I also don't want to have to keep adding more and more wood until i hit the desired pH. Since, generally, each piece makes minimal difference i don't want to end up with a stock pile of wood just to get to my pH. Plus after a certain point the tannins run out causing the pH to rise again, which is not good. The peat is generally the same reasons. Although it is a quicker method i still don't necessarily like the idea of having to watch it 24/7 anticipating it to go back up. Plus i'm not huge on my water looking like tea. RO seems to be the best bet, and actually half way affordable.
Are there any brands to avoid, or aim to get?
I have heard some say that if you add RO to tap water it will neutralize and adapt to the pH of the tap water. Is this true? Since i have a tank full of tap water will it be pointless? Do i have to strip it down bare, refill it, then acclimate the fish again? Of course, i know i will have to replenish the minerals in the water.
Has anyone heard of Seachem Equilibrium? Good? Bad? Anything else to look for?
Thanks a lot.
pH 6 would be ideal. But what is your hardness currently? Because whatever method you will chose to lower your pH WILL lower your KH too. Meaning let's say you have a pH of 7.6 and KH 7, drop it to pH 6 and KH 3 > Then you'd have the same unstable water parameters issue then I do here (my tap water is pretty much R/O)
Also what you HAVE TO keep in mind, waterever R/O used to lower the pH SLOWLY (since you already have fish in there now, its gotta be a very slow process to not shock them or worst kill them) you will NEED TO ensure the same mixture of tap& R/O every water exchange.
Lowering you pH once off is easly done, specially in empty tank, mix 50/50 or whatever and you have a lower pH, the hard part is to mix this EXACT pH again EACH w/c every week and NOT expose your fish to weekly flucuations like let's say have pH 6-6.2-5.8- etc that would actually be worst to their health in the long run then leaving it as it is.
And what you mentioned there about R/O adapting I have never heard of no such thing.
Matt, Mikreogeophagus ramirezi is an extremely sensitive fish to fluctuating water parameters so I would absolutely recommend that you not do any experimenting with these fish in the tank. Keep them in a stable environment and work on the "display" tank until it is stable and you have the partial water changes consistent, then acclimate the rams to the display tank.
With respect to Equilibrium, that product (which I have used) raises hardness by restoring the minerals to the water. This is the opposite of what you want with your tap water which you want to soften. You could use all RO water and then add Equilibrium to add mineral to it. While you would have control to some extent [the Equilibrium raises GH by 3 dGH for every tablespoon per 20 gallons] the cost of continual Equilibrium will add up; it is not inexpensive. I myself would prefer to use RO water and add some tap water and work out the ratio. However...
A critical point to bear in mind is that M. ramirezi occur in water having zero hardness and a pH of 5.5 and as you have wild caught fish, I would suggest acclimating back to this in their own tank [with a few dither fish requiring the same parameters, like cardinal tetras, false/green neons, etc.]. Using pure RO water and having a small quantity of dolomite gravel, crushed coral or marble chips to add 1 dGH would be perfect. This is how I run all my tanks. My tap water is zero hardness (GH and KH) and I simply keep a half-cup of dolomite in the filter. The pH in the aquaria runs at 6.0 (up to 6.4 with the diurnal variation common in planted tanks). For more than 15 years I have successfully maintained forest fish in these tanks, many of them being wild caught. Rather than fiddling around trying to get the "ideal" hardness of 5 degrees or whatever, go with what they have in nature.
I bought the Equilibrium because I was being told that raising the hardness would be beneficial. I tried it in one tank only, for several weeks. After a while, I asked myself, why? For more than 15 years things worked; why was this now necessary? I went back to my half-cup of dolomite in the filter.
I would not suggest this for fish requiring a mineral balance, such as livebearers and rift lake cichlids. But for soft acidic water forest fish that are wild caught, it works.
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