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Old 01-02-2020, 05:40 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Well Water is Gassing fish!

I have had my 40 breeder up and running for 3 years now. Wow!


Back when I lived in NJ I had a different 40B. This was my first serious aquarium, and from 2010-2013 I ran pressurized CO2 at around 35 PPM with a Rex Griggs style PVC reactor, an Eheim 2217 and a 2215. This tank rocked and I had no issues. I sold it after a spousal disagreement about how 2 hours every Weds was "trimming / water change night". This was before kids, can't even imagine it now!!


Regardless, she wanted us to have a tank in the living room in our Virginia home so for 3 years I have had a "low tech" tank, somewhat following Tom Barr's minimal water change method. It's been ok, and despite the great photos on the forums here I really didn't like it relative to my old high tech tank. So after 3 years I told my wife I wanted to sell the tank, or switch to Mbuna, or switch to a Hoppy-inspired DIY-Co2-Hagen Diffuser method medium-tech tank. So the planted tank is where I am headed.


As part of this I built a water fill faucet solution because prior to now I have been hauling 20 gallons of water in buckets 75 feet across the house whenever I do a WC.


Something happened a couple of years ago that I remembered last night after the event I am about to describe occurred.


Here are the facts:


- My well water, with no softener system, comes out of the tap at 0 GH 0 KH. I test it frequently and extensively, because a) fish tanks and b) I am very particular about KH and GH in my coffee brewing hobby. I purchase 5 gallons of RO water every 3 weeks to mix my own 2 dKH / 4.5 dGH coffee water. I add 1.5 tsp of baking soda and 1.5 tblspn of Seachem Equilibrium per 20 gallon change to maintain approx 4 dKH / 4 dGH in my aquarium.


- My well water comes out of the tap at a pH of around 3.5, and within a couple of hours is > 7. This indicates to me HIGH CO2 content.


- Due to the Tom Barr low tech method requiring "no water changes because this changes CO2 concentration", for 3 years I have been putting out 20 gallons in buckets for 2 days prior to water changes. This lets me do the water changes I want to do, but the CO2 has all come out of solution. This is a happy medium for me and I've had no issues.


- One time in 3 years, I did a water change directly from the faucet to buckets to tank, no wait period. I lost several fish by the next morning.


- Last night I used my new water changer. I filled the tank directly from the bathroom faucet approximately 90 feet away. As the tank filled all of my fish and tetras showed SEVERE distress. Within an hour I'd lost several cardinal tetras, my Amano shrimp were obviously acting insane and I saw Otocinclus I haven't even seen in 6 months coming to the surface. The Angelfish was dead for sure, I thought. I started aerating the tank by picking up and dumping buckets and raised my spraybar above the water line. All fish that weren't already dead recovered within 90 mins.



This is insane! Has anyone seen anything like this before? I am cursed to forever use 20 gallons of buckets per week?!
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Old 01-02-2020, 07:11 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Well Water is Gassing fish!

Sounds like the high CO2 killed them.
You can let water sit in a drum/trash bin to stabilize then pump the water to your tank instead of carrying in buckets.
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Old 01-02-2020, 07:13 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Well Water is Gassing fish!

You have really weird well water! I can't imagine how water from underground can be zero GH and KH, so I suggest that you get a new GH and KH test kit. I know that GH test kits have aa short shelf life. Now, about CO2 in well water: I know it is common, but it also makes that well water become acidic, so it should be dissolving some of the minerals as it travels through the underground passages - that is how caves form. I think I would look for someone to test the well water to see what is going on there.
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Old 01-02-2020, 07:36 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Well Water is Gassing fish!

If Doc7 is in the Virginia Coastal Plain region with sandy soils, it's possible his GH and KH might be below detection limits for an aquarium test kit. His raw well water probably has high CO2 AND low dissolved O2. Either or both could kill fish; i'm betting on the low O2. I use two 30 gallon trash barrels to equilibrate tap water with air before pumping it into fish tanks.
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Old 01-02-2020, 07:49 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by hoppycalif View Post
You have really weird well water! I can't imagine how water from underground can be zero GH and KH, so I suggest that you get a new GH and KH test kit. I know that GH test kits have aa short shelf life. Now, about CO2 in well water: I know it is common, but it also makes that well water become acidic, so it should be dissolving some of the minerals as it travels through the underground passages - that is how caves form. I think I would look for someone to test the well water to see what is going on there.
Hoppy, I use my ammo reloading scale to add 23.4 grains (1.52 grams) of baking soda and 65.1 grains (4.22 grams) of Epsom salt to 5 gal of RO water regularly to get the KH and GH I want for my coffee. The same test kit shows this as the desired 2 DKH 5 dGH. Also, when I add baking soda and Equilibrium to my tank I also see the desired results. I don’t see any reason to question the test kit.
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Old 01-02-2020, 07:53 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Gerald View Post
If Doc7 is in the Virginia Coastal Plain region with sandy soils, it's possible his GH and KH might be below detection limits for an aquarium test kit. His raw well water probably has high CO2 AND low dissolved O2. Either or both could kill fish; i'm betting on the low O2. I use two 30 gallon trash barrels to equilibrate tap water with air before pumping it into fish tanks.
I am slightly east of due south of Richmond which shows as in the Coastal plain.
My yard is virtually 100% sand with soil and grass in only a few locations. I don’t have to mow over 50% of my 1.5 acres due to it being shaded sand. My well is also very shallow.
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