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I am setting up a fluval spec 3 and have no access to ro water. I have read you can use prime water conditioner on tap water to make it acceptable for marine use. I plan on live rock and a few soft coral. I was told distilled water is not good because copper tubing is used to make it. Any ideas?

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8 minutes ago, gar1948 said:

I am setting up a fluval spec 3 and have no access to ro water. I have read you can use prime water conditioner on tap water to make it acceptable for marine use. I plan on live rock and a few soft coral. I was told distilled water is not good because copper tubing is used to make it. Any ideas?

Could you buy it from somewhere like Wal-Mart in jugs. For such a small tank that would be pretty easy to do.  

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It all depends on where you live. I use straight tap water for my sps tank and it works fine. And if you live in a area with really dirty water nothing but an RO/DI unit is gonna purify it.

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I think that tap water would be fine for your setup and inhabitants, but RODI would be ideal.

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Copper really isn't used much in the distillation process anymore.  This might have been a concern decades ago, but I haven't had or even read about problems recently.

 

On the other hand, if your house is piped with copper, the water will contain copper.  Running your tap for several minutes before use will help a little to discard the water which has been sitting in the copper pipes.  Even brass can add some copper.

 

Besides pipes, fittings, and fixtures, tap water itself can contain arsenic, copper, iron, lead, and other contaminants.  It's really not a good choice.  Distilled water is much more pure and it considered safe by just about everyone on this site.

 

You could probably buy your own RO/DI system.  It will filter out the contaminants and provide pure water for your reef.  It is usually much less expensive then buying distilled water, and should pay for itself fairly quickly.

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Many hobbyists use distilled with no issues. It's pure water. 

In alot ov cases, it's a lot safer to use than tap.

 

Most distillaries don't use copper anymore due to the cost.

 

Most homes, businesses, etc have copper piping so at one point or another water is run through copper. even if you use tap water, good chance that the water may have copper and a lot more in it.

 

Ro/di and distilled water should have little to no traces of copper due to the filtration process.

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16 hours ago, gar1948 said:

I am setting up a fluval spec 3 and have no access to ro water. I have read you can use prime water conditioner on tap water to make it acceptable for marine use. I plan on live rock and a few soft coral. I was told distilled water is not good because copper tubing is used to make it. Any ideas?

Hey! welcome back! Whoever told you that must be from the dark ages lol

 

Tap = generally bad (even de-chlorinated)

Distilled = good 

 

🙂

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Most stores sell RODI as well as pre-mixed saltwater....do you have a local store?

 

So there are lots of good reasons to have RODI water available, BUT...

 

Tapwater is not 100% bad as folks say, depending on where you are.  Have you looked at your town's water quality report or (better yet) actually called and talked to them?   Highly recommended....tell them you're keeping an aquarium and they'll be able to give you the 411 you need.

 

RODI's main selling point is that it's a zero starting point...virtually all non-H2O ions are removed.  So when you mix saltwater you get correct and predictable results.   Tap water can be VERY high in calcium, magnesium and alkalinity....or very low.

 

Other factors like metal poisoning are far less of a concern - it's tap water, which means it's safe for US to drink.  Corals won't be harmed if we won't.

 

Personally I think the downsides are mostly myth....based on one or two people that used tap water and had very bad luck.  I haven't personally heard from anyone having problems w/tap water, and have only read of one person that had problems.   (But I see people promote the idea of problems all the time.)  I've personally heard more success stories with tap water (apparently cures AEFW in one case) than I've heard of problems.

 

BUT, it does come down to your local water supply....and that zero-level water thing is an issue with ALL tap water.  Try mixing dry two-part into hard tap water.  Not good.

 

So know your water if you plan to keep using it.   And ask around if any stores are selling RODI water.

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Problem with tap isn't toxins but that it generally feeds algae. I have topped off with tap when really tired but I wouldn't run a tank with it. Hell I run it through the RO side of my machine to drink it.

 

Tap water fluxuates with seasons as well. I find it hard to believe you haven't heard of people having problems with algae and tap. 

 

I have seen tanks run fine on tap that is true!!! but many more that have cyano or gha ect that cleared up with RODI.

 

I can tell when my rodi filters starts to wear out...I get diatoms. Guessing my tap has silicates. Change em and fixed.

 

RODI machine is cheap compared to the overall cost of this hobby and takes out some guesswork so why not? 

 

I personally don't want to put 100 or 1000 of dollars of livestock in the hands of my city.

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19 minutes ago, mcarroll said:

 

Other factors like metal poisoning are far less of a concern - it's tap water, which means it's safe for US to drink.  Corals won't be harmed if we won't.

 

Not sure I buy this as a reason- after all, there is chlorine in tap water, and have been plenty of cases of people getting sick from tap water in the US. I do use tap water in my large freshwater tanks with no ill effects, but I can see that the composition of it varies throughout the year- sometimes crystal clear, sometimes it comes with a haze, sometimes it causes algae or bacterial blooms in my freshwater tanks, sometimes it doesn't. I wouldn't trust it for a reef tank personally.

 

I have been using bottled distilled water for my reef, and although it has only been a couple months, no ill effects that I can see from the distilled.

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4 minutes ago, Gourami Swami said:

after all, there is chlorine in tap water

I don't think chlorine is nearly as big a problem as chloramine....but also, nobody has recommended using untreated tap water.  😉  Dechlorination is mandatory.  I do wonder if it has any effect on corals tho.....the effect on fish mostly has to do with the nature of fish blood.

 

And people do not routinely get sick from tap water.  It takes exceptional circumstances for that to happen.

 

6 minutes ago, Gourami Swami said:

I can see that the composition of it varies throughout the year

This is one reason why the default recommendation is still to use RODI.

 

But for those that want to use tap, it can be handy to have an idea of the facts (and where to go to get them - talk to your water department!). 

 

Sometimes it's just in an emergency....good to know there's no reason to avoid it if you're in a pinch.  I always keep a small bottle of Seachem Prime on hand "just in case".   Even though I have always had an RODI system.

12 minutes ago, Tamberav said:

I find it hard to believe you haven't heard of people having problems with algae and tap. 

I've heard LOTS AND LOTS of hearsay, but I don't put a lot of stock in rumors.   Ever played the telephone game?  😄

 

I don't completely disregard rumors either, but there's a definite problem with listening to rumors.  😉 

 

I do put stock into what people say to my face tho.  :)

 

On top of any "online experience" I have, I also worked for years in a saltwater store and had LOTS of chances to be face to face with folks on a repeating basis.   

 

As I said, I did speak to folks who used tap water under various circumstance.  I never heard of a real problem.  (folks that use RODI get algae too...so hard to automatically pin that on tapwater)

 

If you want to talk about algae, then you also want to talk about locality because that's specific to some water and not all. 

 

Not all water is laden with silicates, phosphates and nitrates.   Not all tanks respond with an algae bloom when they get extra nutrients because they are running a deficit.  Look around at how many folks have been dosing both nutrients in the last years.

 

So it's not cut and dried "bad"....that's the main idea.  :)

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I'd say test your tap water and make an informed decision for yourself.  I've tested mine at various seasons around there and I wouldn't drink it myself.  22dKh straight from the tap with 1-2 ppm copper depending on the season.  Also, Nitrates ~10-15 depending on whether farmers are fertilizing or not at that time of year and always about 1-2 ppm ammonia.  Plenty of other trace things too, but my tests aren't THAT good.  And, according to our city water authority, this is supposedly 'safe' to drink... 😉 I think there might be a reason there is a high prevalence of kidney stones in our area...

 

My RODI system wasn't too expensive from BRS and it came with the hookup and reservoir for adding the drinking water line to the kitchen sink.  Wouldn't live here without RO even if I didn't have coral and fish.

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1 hour ago, mcarroll said:

it's safe for US to drink.  Corals won't be harmed if we won't.

Copper affects inverts differently.  Then there is the concentration effect due to evaporation.  Say your tap water typically has a 0.03 ppm level of copper; every time you top off your tank to make up for evaporation, you increase the concentration.  There is also copper in salt mix and many reef supplements.  So while an initial concentration might be acceptable, it can eventually become a problem unless large water changes are performed.  The same holds true for other contaminants.

 

That said, I do believe that some people can use tap water.  However, it is not generally recommended.  And as Tamberav pointed out, our livestock can be a significant investment which we don't have to risk due to poor water quality (which could even be due to storms or seasonal fluctuations).

 

1 hour ago, mcarroll said:

I did speak to folks who used tap water under various circumstance.  I never heard of a real problem.

Some people never put together that their water source could have caused a problem.  Plus, people sometimes don't like to discuss problems; and frustrated people often quit the hobby before figuring out issues.  I don't want to discount your experiences, you might be in an area where tap water is acceptable to use.  Unfortunately, many people have to rely on other sources.

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1 minute ago, seabass said:

Copper affects inverts differently.  

This is what I am getting at; not saying your completely wrong Mcarroll, I actually agree with the beginning of your post- but I think that saying water is "safe" to use for corals because it's "safe" to drink for us, is not really logical, because we are vastly different animals than corals, use the water in different ways, etc. 

And yes, nobody is saying to use untreated tap water, chlorine chloramine and all- that would be ridiculous. But there are certainly a lot of unknowns in the tap other than chlorine and chloramine. I am no stranger to checking my municipal water reports - and have tested my own water (in NJ and in DC) and found it to vary from month to month, and to differ from what is listed online by the municipality. Then there are other variables like the piping that the tap water runs through to get to your sink, leaching of chemicals and road salt in the winter into the pipes, etc. 

 

SO all in all, maybe there are some areas where the tap water is better than others, but in troubleshooting people's problems, I think tap water adds too many unknowns and makes it hard to pinpoint the problem. I would still be advising people to use RO or DI

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2 hours ago, mcarroll said:

I don't think chlorine is nearly as big a problem as chloramine....but also, nobody has recommended using untreated tap water.  😉  Dechlorination is mandatory.  I do wonder if it has any effect on corals tho.....the effect on fish mostly has to do with the nature of fish blood.

 

And people do not routinely get sick from tap water.  It takes exceptional circumstances for that to happen.

 

This is one reason why the default recommendation is still to use RODI.

 

But for those that want to use tap, it can be handy to have an idea of the facts (and where to go to get them - talk to your water department!). 

 

Sometimes it's just in an emergency....good to know there's no reason to avoid it if you're in a pinch.  I always keep a small bottle of Seachem Prime on hand "just in case".   Even though I have always had an RODI system.

I've heard LOTS AND LOTS of hearsay, but I don't put a lot of stock in rumors.   Ever played the telephone game?  😄

 

I don't completely disregard rumors either, but there's a definite problem with listening to rumors.  😉 

 

I do put stock into what people say to my face tho.  :)

 

On top of any "online experience" I have, I also worked for years in a saltwater store and had LOTS of chances to be face to face with folks on a repeating basis.   

 

As I said, I did speak to folks who used tap water under various circumstance.  I never heard of a real problem.  (folks that use RODI get algae too...so hard to automatically pin that on tapwater)

 

If you want to talk about algae, then you also want to talk about locality because that's specific to some water and not all. 

 

Not all water is laden with silicates, phosphates and nitrates.   Not all tanks respond with an algae bloom when they get extra nutrients because they are running a deficit.  Look around at how many folks have been dosing both nutrients in the last years.

 

So it's not cut and dried "bad"....that's the main idea.  🙂

I never said it all was bad .....just that it's numerous enough.

 

Working in a fish store is taking a sample size from that area. 

 

In the end I still say trusting a water soruce from your tap to be consistent and good every day for years is silly for 60 to 150 dollars spent on a rodi.

 

The only real reason I can see a person using tap is to save on water in areas where wasteing water is a real concern since rodi produces a lot of 'waste' water.

 

I guess I am not saying it's impossible but it's not worth the risk in most cases to even bother.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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19 minutes ago, Tamberav said:

Working in a fish store is taking a sample size from that area.

True....as I said, water quality is a local issue.  :)

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Thank you for all your responses. I will Test with a tds meter first. Will start with distilled water.  I am in an apartment but see there are portable ro/di filters that I can hook up to a sink or garden hose. I will probably go that route.

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27 minutes ago, Tamberav said:

In the end I still say trusting a water soruce from your tap to be consistent and good every day for years is silly for 60 to 150 dollars spent on a rodi.

Was having trouble with the site on my other computer, so finishing the thought here...sorry for fragmenting the post.

 

If you can find someone who's trusted tap water for years, that's a comment for them.  And I'd be curious to hear their experience.  

 

The people I know who used tap water didn't use it for years, they used it temporarily...several months in one case, but not years.  Their corals grew and thrived during that period though.

 

1 hour ago, Gourami Swami said:

have tested my own water (in NJ and in DC) and found it to vary from month to month, and to differ from what is listed online by the municipality.

The town will only issue a yearly test in most cases.  That's why I usually suggest calling and speaking to someone.  The person know more and will share more than the report does.   🙂

 

For one example, phosphate levels will never be on the report thanks to P being considered only as a nutrient rather than a pollutant.  So they'd have to tell you what phosphate levels are normal through the year.  Nitrate levels don't always get reported either.  So anyway, that's why it's best to call if you'll be using tap water.  (This holds for anyone with an aquarium....fresh or salt.)  There are lots of other things to  consider about your water source as well if you're depending on tap water.

 

2 hours ago, seabass said:

Copper affects inverts differently.

It would be interesting to see some data on this.....not asking you for it or even doubting too much, but it's not something I've seen actual data on anywhere:  What levels really are toxic to the critters we have in mind?

 

I can tell you this anecote:  

 

In the store where I worked, we attempted to feed a gorilla crab to a large pufferfish we had.  Didn't know it, but the crab got away from him and stayed in the tank for over a year, hiding.  We found him when we broke down the tank for a total cleaning.

 

That was a fish-only retail system.

 

During his time in that system it was dosed with therapeutic levels of copper (CuSo4, I'm pretty sure.), verified and corrected with a Hach photometer and daily adjustments.  Possibly more than once during his time there.

 

Crab was fine, of course.  We sold him to an interested crab aficionado after that. 😉

 

I know we all hear about worries of copper, but almost the only common side-effects I'm aware of regarding copper have to do with it's use in QT and it's damaging effects on fish.   (Some fish much more than others.)

 

Personally, I've never heard of incidental copper levels (i.e. from feeding or additives) being a verifiable problem.  Folks often use PolyFilter when suspicions of this kind of thing arise, and I've never seen/heard of one turning the color for copper.  Not even when there were brass parts in a tank that had to be removed.  Though I'm sure it's possible, it seems to be very uncommon.

 

And I can show you this from New Scientist:

Copper decimates coral reef spawning

 

From the title it sounds very confirming of our fear of copper.  (And it IS serious.)

 

But it seems that coral babies are the only thing that seems to have a problem, even at pretty high levels.  Coral adults will still spawn and everything.

 

Here's some quotes from the article (emphasis mine) but click and read...it's short:

Quote

Copper is well known to be toxic to marine organisms at high levels.

Quote

The level of copper had no impact on the total number of larvae produced, Bennett told New Scientist. But at 5 ppb, 30 per cent fewer larvae developed into juveniles, compared with larvae in clean seawater. At 30 ppb, the number was reduced by 70 per cent.

Getting slightly beyond the subject of using tap water and this post is already long, so will leave it there. 😉

  • Definitely better to use RODI.  
  • Most LFS's make and sell RODI if you can't afford your own filter.
  • Spectrapure always seems to have refubished RODI's for sale on their site, and even buying used would be a fine way to own your own system.  
  • The ongoing cost of water (beyond your water bill) is very close to zero with this kind of filter...literally a few cents per gallon...so it's the way to go for lots of good reasons.

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45 minutes ago, gar1948 said:

Thank you for all your responses. I will Test with a tds meter first. Will start with distilled water.  I am in an apartment but see there are portable ro/di filters that I can hook up to a sink or garden hose. I will probably go that route.

Making a unit portable is pretty easy...I used large, heavy-duty bookshelf brackets and some strips of wood for mounting and stabilizing.  Definitely recommended.  

 

Be mindful about PICKING a unit that's built explicitly to be portable tho...often the filter modules are MUCH more expensive than generic 10" filters.

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2 hours ago, mcarroll said:

Making a unit portable is pretty easy...I used large, heavy-duty bookshelf brackets and some strips of wood for mounting and stabilizing.  Definitely recommended.  

 

Be mindful about PICKING a unit that's built explicitly to be portable tho...often the filter modules are MUCH more expensive than generic 10" filters.

Not to sound like a jerk, but you've been resurrecting old threads alot AND giving some pretty poor advice.  Copper is absolutely bad for invertabrates and coral. Period.  Not just larvae like you are trying to insinuate by linking that article.  As far as we can tell, they were ONLY interested in larval survival rates when writing it.

I'm also assuming you have never worked in a municipality... those people that answer the phone are paid minimum wage and read directly off of their website 99% of the time.  Tap water is unpredictable.  Every time a main is opened, and it happens alot more often than  you think, sediment rushes through.  It is pretty reckless to say your antidote of "knowing some people" that had it work out for them is better than the thousands of accounts that had nothing but issues with some of the stuff you are preaching across your posts. 

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42 minutes ago, patback said:

Not to sound like a jerk, but you've been resurrecting old threads alot AND giving some pretty poor advice.

Is this your normal approach to folks you're not familiar with or do I know you from somewhere?

 

Copper and corals

If corals can grow and spawn in high levels of copper (per the article), then presumably the corals didn't die first.  That's what I said, and what the article said.  I'm not sure what your position is....that the corals did die and the article lied about all that detail?

 

Water departments

I'm not sure what you're experience has been talking to water department folks, but your experience doesn't trump mine just because you say so.  Perhaps consider my experience as different instead of "offensive" or whatever?

 

My experience

That said, my experience IS limited:   I've only been doing this since the 1980's, and only started talking to water departments in the 1990's....and only a half-dozen or so different locales around the country.  But hey, it's my experience.

 

Your experience

I'd be curious to see the list of 1000's of cases of tapwater disasters that you're looking at to make these statements and justify the presentation of your point.   You could definitely change my mind with that if that list is what you're making it out to be.

 

It's 100% true that you can't change my experience though.   

 

Golden Rule

Please consider that we all have our own experiences...you and yours are not more (or less) valid or important than me and mine.

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When it comes to copper my main thought is surviving is not thriving and some invertebrates are much more sensitive than others.

 

The crab surviving isn't a shocker to me...a hitchhiker crab survived chloroquine phosphate but the hitchhiker snail died very quick... As I am sure coral would have too. That was in a QT tank that was set up FOWLR.

 

I accidentally had a hitchhiker conch in a copper tank years ago and it died within hours. 😞

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That's my only personal experience with invertebrates and medications as I try not to expose them but accidents happened when moving filter media or rock.

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13 minutes ago, mcarroll said:

Is this your normal approach to folks you're not familiar with or do I know you from somewhere?

 

When people give poor advice that contradicts everyone else experience in the hobby, yes

 

Copper and corals

If corals can grow and spawn in high levels of copper (per the article), then presumably the corals didn't die first.  That's what I said, and what the article said.  I'm not sure what your position is....that the corals did die and the article lied about all that detail?

Coral are known to spawn and polyp bailout due to stress. It is a last ditch effort to reproduce.  

13 minutes ago, mcarroll said:

Water departments

I'm not sure what you're experience has been talking to water department folks, but your experience doesn't trump mine just because you say so.  Perhaps consider my experience as different instead of "offensive" or whatever?

I worked in municipal water ways and treatments for a few years.  

13 minutes ago, mcarroll said:

My experience

That said, my experience IS limited:   I've only been doing this since the 1980's, and only started talking to water departments in the 1990's....and only a half-dozen or so different locales around the country.  But hey, it's my experience.

 

Your experience

I'd be curious to see the list of 1000's of cases of tapwater disasters that you're looking at to make these statements and justify the presentation of your point.   You could definitely change my mind with that if that list is what you're making it out to be.

You dont need a calamity to know that an unpredictable, potentially hazardous water source in terms of a living thing such as coral or marine invertibrates is a poor option of multiple other choices.  

13 minutes ago, mcarroll said:

It's 100% true that you can't change my experience though.   

 

Golden Rule

Please consider that we all have our own experiences...you and yours are not more (or less) valid or important than me and mine.

Please consider that we all have a responsibility to help other new readers with tried and true "rule of thumbs." Not exceptions to the rule.  

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Oh and one thing I would like to point out Is this website is dedicated to nano tanks and I only keep nanos so that may skew my experiences.

 

Many nanos rely primarily on water for control of nutrients and don't runs big skimmers or any skimmers or have no macroalgae or crypic area...ect. Generally we have no foxface or tangs for algae control and so on. Our percent water changes may be larger.

 

So what may work for bigger tanks doesn't always translate to nanos easily.

 

I believe subsea uses well water but his tank is much bigger with crypic areas, macro, and I think brute tubs buried outside. His tank is successful and will far outlast mine but I can not apply his methods to my own tanks simply due to space and the fact I rent an apartment. I believe his focus is also more on soft corals. 

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