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Old 04-20-2014, 03:52 PM   #1 
1RainbowBetta
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is my water a problem? and how to fix it

I'm having horrible luck trying to cycle two 5 gallon tanks (both have one betta in them) and wondering if the water could be preventing the nitrogen cycle from happening. I buy drinking water at Walmart because my choices at home are well water or softened water (using salt). My well water is very hard, and the drinking water I've been using won't even measure a reading for GH and KH, so I thought a mix of well water and drinking water might work to help cycle the tank and give my betta some minerals.

I mixed half well water, half drinking water and let it sit for 24 hours. PH was 8.0, KH was 196.9 and GH was 214.8. (I used API liquid tests)

I thought that was still rather high for PH and hardness, so I tried 1 part well water and 3 parts drinking water, let it sit 24 hours again. PH was 7.4, KH and GH both 107.4. Better. But ammonia was now 0.5. (Ammonia in the drinking water alone was 0)

I let it sit two more days and PH held at 7.4 but ammonia was 2.0 which I thought was worrisome. I wouldn't want this happening in my betta's water.

I also bought some spring water and tested that, since I'd seen spring water suggested as a better alternative. Results (without mixing it with anything) were:
ammonia 0.25, nitrites 0, nitrates 40-80 (hard to tell difference but I think closer to 40). PH 8.0, KH and GH both off the chart at 14 and 16 drops respectively to get the color change, so over 214.8 for both. I'm not an expert but that didn't seem the right solution to me.

So my questions: Is using store-bought drinking water keeping my tanks from cycling? Would adding well water help get the cycle going and be beneficial to my betta? If so, how much to add? Anyone care to share their knowledge or suggestions with me?
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Old 04-20-2014, 05:26 PM   #2 
rpadgett37
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Originally Posted by 1RainbowBetta View Post
I'm having horrible luck trying to cycle two 5 gallon tanks (both have one betta in them) and wondering if the water could be preventing the nitrogen cycle from happening. I buy drinking water at Walmart because my choices at home are well water or softened water (using salt). My well water is very hard, and the drinking water I've been using won't even measure a reading for GH and KH, so I thought a mix of well water and drinking water might work to help cycle the tank and give my betta some minerals.

I mixed half well water, half drinking water and let it sit for 24 hours. PH was 8.0, KH was 196.9 and GH was 214.8. (I used API liquid tests)

I thought that was still rather high for PH and hardness, so I tried 1 part well water and 3 parts drinking water, let it sit 24 hours again. PH was 7.4, KH and GH both 107.4. Better. But ammonia was now 0.5. (Ammonia in the drinking water alone was 0)

I let it sit two more days and PH held at 7.4 but ammonia was 2.0 which I thought was worrisome. I wouldn't want this happening in my betta's water.

I also bought some spring water and tested that, since I'd seen spring water suggested as a better alternative. Results (without mixing it with anything) were:
ammonia 0.25, nitrites 0, nitrates 40-80 (hard to tell difference but I think closer to 40). PH 8.0, KH and GH both off the chart at 14 and 16 drops respectively to get the color change, so over 214.8 for both. I'm not an expert but that didn't seem the right solution to me.

So my questions: Is using store-bought drinking water keeping my tanks from cycling? Would adding well water help get the cycle going and be beneficial to my betta? If so, how much to add? Anyone care to share their knowledge or suggestions with me?
I just saw your thread here so I may repeat some of what I said in another thread.

First, when you say drinking water, is it distilled water? Sounds like it may be.

Second, I would leave the well water out of the equation altogether. Of all water sources, I believe well water will be the least reliable source for stability. I am not really familiar with it or what affects it, but I am guessing the water parameters will change frequently making it a bad choice for an aquarium.

This part is a semi-educated guess. As Nitrifying Bacteria (de-nitrifying as well) use trace minerals and carbon from the water to grow, with these elements missing in DI / RO water, the Bacteria will not take root. The water will need to be reconstituted with Calcium Carbonate (KH) and minerals (GH).

The good news is setting up the distilled water for your aquarium is easy to do. With your Betta in the tank, lowering the PH is a good idea which means adjusting the KH. It is simple to do with Baking Soda. Charts that show you how much to add are readily available (I'm sorry but I don't have a link to send you ). Based on my experience with a low KH / High PH starting point. when I raised the KH, the PH came down. It is currently settled in at 7.1-7.2 with a dK of 4.5 (about 90-100ppm on the api test kit). If that doesn't work for you, we'll try something else.

Raising the GH is simple as well. Crushed coral either spread out on the substrate or placed in your filter will replenish the trace minerals in your water. Coral through the filter will replenish them quicker, but both methods will work just fine. You can probably find it at your local garden center. I do not know how high the GH will need to go for the benefit of the bacteria, but I raised mine to around 4-5 dK (about 90-100ppm GH on the API test kit). As I just reset my cycle, I don't know what the effect is as of yet if any, but it makes sense to me that it will help. Certainly can't hurt.

We can talk about the cycle more once your water is reconstituted if you wish.

Hope that helps.
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Old 04-21-2014, 05:19 AM   #3 
Hallyx
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Cycling bacteria seem to grow best with >8.0pH . Actually your well-water sounds adequate, although a little hard. Some well parameters vary by season; some (like mine) are solid and consistent year round. We should always monitor the sourcewater. What's your well-water pH after sitting for a day or so?

You might try cycling your tank with well-water. After the cycle is established, you can try lowering your pH using natural methods like IAL or peat.

It's good you know about minerals and water softeners (salt). Saves us a lot of typing. That much ammonia in drinking water ought to be illegal. It is in some municipal water systems.
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Old 04-21-2014, 09:32 AM   #4 
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I was using bottled water because of my well. After my tanks cycled I went back to my well water, which is run through my PUR water faucet filter. Everything is spot on in the tanks and I'm having no problems.
So, you could try the water filter for your well water, and then mix it with half bottled if you think you need to.
But, my water may be better than most wells, because it is 600 feet deep.
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Old 04-21-2014, 10:52 AM   #5 
rpadgett37
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Don't mind me. I admit I have my biases when it comes to water unless the tap water source is reasonably stable.

I wasn't planning to switch to RO as my parameters, with a little tweaking, out of the tap were good; however, I had a conversation with someone in a different thread that changed my mind. His water source changed every six months from municipal water back to well water and back again to municipal water, ad infinitum. When city water maintenance happened in his near vicinity, he did a partial water change as he had done many times before, only this time, the change made all of his fish in separate tanks got sick at the same time. I decided for myself at that time to make the switch, especially having discovered it was so cheap to get the water at my local grocery store (30 cents a gallon).

Now I admit I know next to nothing about well water, and clearly it is possible that it can be stable, that what happened with this person will not happen to everyone. I apologize if my comments were either off the mark or confusing in any way. I will defer to others with good reason as they can help you through direct experience with well water, which I don't have.

Will be following this thread as I would like to see how this goes.
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Old 04-21-2014, 01:26 PM   #6 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rpadgett37 View Post

First, when you say drinking water, is it distilled water? Sounds like it may be.

Second, I would leave the well water out of the equation altogether. Of all water sources, I believe well water will be the least reliable source for stability. I am not really familiar with it or what affects it, but I am guessing the water parameters will change frequently making it a bad choice for an aquarium.

This part is a semi-educated guess. As Nitrifying Bacteria (de-nitrifying as well) use trace minerals and carbon from the water to grow, with these elements missing in DI / RO water, the Bacteria will not take root. The water will need to be reconstituted with Calcium Carbonate (KH) and minerals (GH).

The good news is setting up the distilled water for your aquarium is easy to do. With your Betta in the tank, lowering the PH is a good idea which means adjusting the KH. It is simple to do with Baking Soda. Charts that show you how much to add are readily available (I'm sorry but I don't have a link to send you ). Based on my experience with a low KH / High PH starting point. when I raised the KH, the PH came down. It is currently settled in at 7.1-7.2 with a dK of 4.5 (about 90-100ppm on the api test kit). If that doesn't work for you, we'll try something else.

Raising the GH is simple as well. Crushed coral either spread out on the substrate or placed in your filter will replenish the trace minerals in your water. Coral through the filter will replenish them quicker, but both methods will work just fine. You can probably find it at your local garden center. I do not know how high the GH will need to go for the benefit of the bacteria, but I raised mine to around 4-5 dK (about 90-100ppm GH on the API test kit). As I just reset my cycle, I don't know what the effect is as of yet if any, but it makes sense to me that it will help. Certainly can't hurt.

.
I think it's more like reverse osmosis water, but maybe someone else will know for sure. They sell distilled water also in a different container. The drinking water I buy says on the label it is processed by micron filtration, oxonation, and the source is municipal water supply, Champaign, IL.

What you suggest is exactly what I'm wondering about. Whether well water is too unstable (or high in ammonia), but RO water lacks things BB need to survive and get my tanks cycled. If I used the drinking water/RO water only and tried baking soda and/or crushed coral would I need to remove my betta to do this? I haven't had a chance to search for the charts you mentioned but I would do this first of course.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hallyx View Post
Cycling bacteria seem to grow best with >8.0pH . Actually your well-water sounds adequate, although a little hard. Some well parameters vary by season; some (like mine) are solid and consistent year round. We should always monitor the sourcewater. What's your well-water pH after sitting for a day or so?

You might try cycling your tank with well-water. After the cycle is established, you can try lowering your pH using natural methods like IAL or peat.
.
Not sure if if my well water parameters change with the seasons. I didn't test well water alone, just mixed with the bottled water. 1/2 well water and 1/2 bottled PH was 8.0 after 24 hours. 1/4 well water and 3/4 bottled PH was 7.4 after 24 hours and also after 3 days. I could test straight well water though if that info would be helpful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mart View Post
I was using bottled water because of my well. After my tanks cycled I went back to my well water, which is run through my PUR water faucet filter. Everything is spot on in the tanks and I'm having no problems.
So, you could try the water filter for your well water, and then mix it with half bottled if you think you need to.
But, my water may be better than most wells, because it is 600 feet deep.
Hmmm. I could ask my husband how deep our well is. Is the PUR filter very expensive?

I did think of one more possibility and that's to bring home tap water from where I work. It wouldn't be any more hassle than buying all those gallons at Walmart, and would be cheaper. Not sure on the quality though. I'm assuming it's just from the city's water source. I'm trying to find out from Maintenance Dept. if it's softened or not.

Should I see what I get if I mix 1/8 cup well water and 7/8 cup bottled? Or is that not worth bothering with?

Last edited by 1RainbowBetta; 04-21-2014 at 01:32 PM.
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Old 04-21-2014, 01:53 PM   #7 
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Originally Posted by 1RainbowBetta View Post


Hmmm. I could ask my husband how deep our well is. Is the PUR filter very expensive?

I did think of one more possibility and that's to bring home tap water from where I work. It wouldn't be any more hassle than buying all those gallons at Walmart, and would be cheaper. Not sure on the quality though. I'm assuming it's just from the city's water source. I'm trying to find out from Maintenance Dept. if it's softened or not.

Should I see what I get if I mix 1/8 cup well water and 7/8 cup bottled? Or is that not worth bothering with?
I was buying Nestles drinking water. I stayed away from the store brand because it said it was from Municipal Water System. I had no trouble with the Nestle. But, decided to go with my PUR filter instead because I was paying a dollar nine for a bottle that wasn't even a whole gal.
The PUR Filter is about 30 dollars, and the replacement cartridges are around 20. Here's the catch. The PUR filter will give you 100 gals of water for 20 bucks, and the other way I would be paying 100 plus for less than 100 gals.
It was a no brainer.
I'm sure mine does settle in some since I bottle it and then put heaters in the bottles to warm them to the right temp, and use them the next day. But not sure, because sometimes I just wait an hour or two and when it's at the temp I use it.

Do the check on the with the well and bottled half and half.

Oh yeah, I did find the bottled one a real pain, had to buy it every three days since I have five tanks. It's so much easier with the water filter.
I wouldn't go RO water, from what I've read unless you get a 4 or more stage, it's not much better than a water filter.
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Old 04-21-2014, 02:46 PM   #8 
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You can also refill the Pur filter cartridges with activated carbon instead of buying replacements - that's all they are inside them. There are youtube videos on how to do it.
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Old 04-21-2014, 04:49 PM   #9 
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I think it's more like reverse osmosis water, but maybe someone else will know for sure. They sell distilled water also in a different container. The drinking water I buy says on the label it is processed by micron filtration, oxonation, and the source is municipal water supply, Champaign, IL.

What you suggest is exactly what I'm wondering about. Whether well water is too unstable (or high in ammonia), but RO water lacks things BB need to survive and get my tanks cycled. If I used the drinking water/RO water only and tried baking soda and/or crushed coral would I need to remove my betta to do this? I haven't had a chance to search for the charts you mentioned but I would do this first of course.
Mixing outside of the aquarium is the way to go with the baking soda. It will change the KH / PH almost instantly which would be a shock for the Betta. Take some water from the aquarium, 2 cups or more (4 would probably better), mix in the baking soda and pour it into the aquarium a little at a time, over several hours to give him a chance to slowly adjust.

Crushed coral can be used directly in the aquarium, either spread on the substrate or in the filter. There shouldn't be any issue on that count as the minerals are released slowly over a period of time.
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Old 04-21-2014, 07:02 PM   #10 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mart View Post
I was buying Nestles drinking water. I stayed away from the store brand because it said it was from Municipal Water System. I had no trouble with the Nestle. But, decided to go with my PUR filter instead because I was paying a dollar nine for a bottle that wasn't even a whole gal.
The PUR Filter is about 30 dollars, and the replacement cartridges are around 20. Here's the catch. The PUR filter will give you 100 gals of water for 20 bucks, and the other way I would be paying 100 plus for less than 100 gals.
It was a no brainer.
I'm sure mine does settle in some since I bottle it and then put heaters in the bottles to warm them to the right temp, and use them the next day. But not sure, because sometimes I just wait an hour or two and when it's at the temp I use it.

Do the check on the with the well and bottled half and half.

Oh yeah, I did find the bottled one a real pain, had to buy it every three days since I have five tanks. It's so much easier with the water filter.
I wouldn't go RO water, from what I've read unless you get a 4 or more stage, it's not much better than a water filter.
I'm paying 88 cents a gallon for mine, which doesn't sound all that bad but when you're trying to cycle 2 tanks and changing half the water about every 3 days it adds up, especially when the tanks are taking so long to cycle.

Did you have ammonia in your well water? The main problems with mine seem to be the ammonia and the hardness with high PH. I didn't see ammonia mentioned on the list of things the PUR filter is supposed to remove. http://www.purwater.com/water/why-pu...aucet-filters/ Not that it wouldn't be a good thing to have the filter because we may have some of the other junk in our well water, which we drink, that may not be so good for us. I'm just not certain the filter would solve the ammonia problem.

Hubby not sure how deep our well is. He knows the pump is about 200 feet down because we had to have a new one put in a couple years ago. Assume the container is below that but not sure how far down.

Quote:
Originally Posted by givemethatfish View Post
You can also refill the Pur filter cartridges with activated carbon instead of buying replacements - that's all they are inside them. There are youtube videos on how to do it.
Thanks. If I get PUR I'll check into that.

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Originally Posted by rpadgett37 View Post
Mixing outside of the aquarium is the way to go with the baking soda. It will change the KH / PH almost instantly which would be a shock for the Betta. Take some water from the aquarium, 2 cups or more (4 would probably better), mix in the baking soda and pour it into the aquarium a little at a time, over several hours to give him a chance to slowly adjust.

Crushed coral can be used directly in the aquarium, either spread on the substrate or in the filter. There shouldn't be any issue on that count as the minerals are released slowly over a period of time.
I was looking around for more info on this. Found this: http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/b...rbonate-39665/ but I feel like I'm getting into advanced stuff here while I'm still a newbie at fishkeeping. Opinions seem a bit divided on using baking soda. Some say the effect is not permanent and the PH goes back down in a day or two. I saw some recommendations for crushed coral, but does that just increase the GH or would it also have an effect on the KH and PH? I just don't want to end up killing my little betta by messing with the water when I don't know what I'm doing.

I mixed up a cup of water with 1/8 well water and 7/8 of the "drinking water." Will let it sit and do tests tomorrow and report back.
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