Water questions

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by itsacrispy, Sep 13, 2016.

  1. itsacrispy

    itsacrispy Supporting Member

    Hi all,

    I'm trying to decide if it's worth the money and time to mix my own saltwater or just buy from a LFS.

    My tank is 20 gallons and I figure I will need the following:
    1. RO/DI device - Does anyone have any suggestions on brand and model?
    2. Water storage - What's the best way to store RO water and mixed saltwater, home depot buckets?
    3. Hydrometer
    4. Mixing pump
    5. Salt - Almost missed this one. Any particular brand suggested? My tank will most likely not house any hard corals. Fish will hopefully be captive bred.
  2. RandyC

    RandyC Supporting Member

    1. Saltwater will cost you about a buck a gallon at LFS. From your other post it'll cost you about $2/week to change out 10% weekly of your 20 gallon, so that about $104/year. Figure in some mishaps add another 25 gallons, so you're at ~$150. Then you'll need RO/DI water topping off and mixing frozen food if you buy cubes so you figure another 50G of that at $0.50. So you're already around $175. And that does not include gas or the containers you'll need to buy. Or you can get a 6 stage, 75gpd RO/DI from Bulk Reef Supply (BRS) for $230 that takes care of the chloramines that we have in the bay area. You can also buy the plus model for $299 that comes with a pressure guage and triple stage TDS monitor (I find both very useful). I don't know if the coupon code works, but if you order from BRS, you may be able to get $10 off any RO unit (Code: 10offRO)

    2. Since I only have a 12G tank at the moment, I just use the blue drinking water containers from Walmart. I use a 2.5G with a spigot to store and mix saltwater. Makes it easy to pour the water into without a lot of splash or messing up the sand. And at our volumes, much faster than pulling out a pump. You can do the same with RO/DI water. Home depot also has 2G & 3.5G bucks for cheap (~$5) + $2-3 for the lids.

    3. I'd suggest refractometer vs hydrometer. BRS has one (kinda pricey), but there are some on amazon for ~$20.

    4. Circulation/mixing pump can be had for <$15 if you get a 100gph or less from amazon since you'll wont be mixing that much volume of water.

    5. Salt is probably a very personal preference, but I started with IO Reef Crystals. I haven't used anything else, but it has served me well thus far. It's a little high in dKh & calcium when mixed to 1.024, but I've had good growth on all my coral and only lost one zoa colony (but due to zoa pox) for the last 6 months. Plus it is inexpensive compared to the rest if you buy the 200G box from BRS or amazon.
  3. Enderturtle

    Enderturtle Volunteer

    RODI, get a water saver module (in other words 2 RO membranes) to make water FASTER and cut back on waste water production. I store RO water in this black plastic stylish trash can from IKEA. Some people just store it in buckets. I do not store saltwater very long. Mix and use.

    AVOID the swing arm hydrometers and get a refractometer. My first two were from amazon. Get the one with good reviews. You SHOULD have some sort of calibration standard to double check if your refractometer reading is off.

    Mixing pump get the RIO plus 1700 or slightly smaller. I have one for mixing and pumping water into the tank it reduces maintenance times.

    Yeah salt mix is personal preference. I KNOW a bunch of people that use ordinary Instant Ocean with a little additives to lower alkalinity.

    I really dislike mixing my own salt. I don't like aquarium maintenance in general lol so I try to make that part as easy as possible so I can enjoy the aquarium.

    I'm in san mateo if you ever want to stop by and check out my tank set up/inhabitants. Send me a PM.
  4. Apon

    Apon Volunteer

    how much water do you plan to change out and at what frequency? 5 gal a month? if its low maybe easier to buy salt or ro water vs a unit.
  5. Flagg37

    Flagg37 Officer at large

    I already had an RO system for our home drinking water so it was only like $40 to add the DI to it. I knew I wasn't going to want to drive anywhere to get water (fw or sw) so that pretty much made my decision.
    travis furia likes this.
  6. itsacrispy

    itsacrispy Supporting Member

    Thanks all. So I factored in that I am 30 minutes away from any LFS selling pre-mixed salt water...without traffic. With traffic I am looking at 1-1.5 hours. I guess that more or less solves it, just get an RODI unit and mix my own. :p
  7. tankguy

    tankguy BOD

    With only a 20G tank I'd just buy the water
  8. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    +1 on just buying the water.
  9. Flagg37

    Flagg37 Officer at large

    You could just buy 20 gallons at a time I suppose. Which fish store would you buy it from?
  10. Ibn

    Ibn Supporting Member

    RODI: On the cheap, Spectrapure 90 gpd, refurb unit, for $112.
    Storage: 5G paint bucket with side markings, $10/ea. I recommend 2. One for waste and the other for mixing.
    Refractometer over a swing arm hydrometer.
    Mixing pump: Rio 1100 pump plus some tubing. Similar to Michael's setup above. Use pump to mix water. Add tubing on to pump water into tank. You can also check for used pumps being sold by other reefers as well.
    Salt: IO, because it's cheap and effective. High in alk so you can use muriatic acid to drop it back down to desired levels. Not a huge concern depending on what you end up with coral wise and you can probably skip this step.
  11. itsacrispy

    itsacrispy Supporting Member

    Thanks again everyone.

    I checked around and the closest LFS that sells pre-mixed water is Aquarium Concepts at $1.25/gallon. Normally it would only take me 15 minutes to get there, but thanks to the road closures in Dublin and San Ramon, it will take anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour to get there. But yes, buying in bulk would make the most sense if I go that route.
  12. wpeterson

    wpeterson Webmaster

    I'd definitely recommend mixing your own salt water over buying it at the store, it's heavy and a hassle to purchase and take home.

    If you have the funds, an RO/DI unit is always a good idea, but depending on the TDS readings and chemicals in your local water it may not be required - you should assume it is, but definitely test and recognize what you are removing before you invest in a filter. I bought a 150GPD RO/DI on sale 3 years ago and I've used it to make top off water and water change water every week since, so it was a good investment for me. Prior to that, we lived in the Boston area with very clean (< 30tds) tap water and only used a water conditioner to mix salt at home without any problems. I've heard of folks in the bay area with well water reading > 200 TDS, so your mileage may vary.

    Like anything in this hobby, I'd advise you to measure (definitely buy a real refractometer!) and see what you're working with. If you know you have the budget or a long timeline in the hobby, invest in proper equipment. If you want to dabble with a nano tank on the cheap and have high quality water, you may be able to do without an RO/DI filter.
  13. RandyC

    RandyC Supporting Member

    sounds like you're part of EBMUD. If you want to know what's in your water, you can check out the EBMUD water quality report @ http://www.ebmud.com/index.php/down...annual-water-quality-report-web_5-23-2016.pdf.

    I'm pretty lucky at my place in terms of TDS. The TDS of my tap water is <45ppm in Castro Valley. While very low compared to the national average (i think it's ~250?), it's more about what is dissolved, not how much. I've tested my water and it's got a pH of ~9 and has a low level amount of nitrites and nitrates. While the levels are pretty low, I personally wouldn't use my tap water even though it has low TDS because that's just one less thing I have to be concerned about during the next algal bloom in my tank.
  14. Flagg37

    Flagg37 Officer at large

    I know some people who have very low tds tap water will only need to run DI and skip the RO.

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