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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi again, another question. As I've said, I'm thinking of setting up a S American tank, had CA years ago, kept them OK with some breeding. I've looked online at our water supply company water quality tests and they are PH 7.3-7.8, calcium 79 (mg/l) , calcium carbonate 196.2 (mg/l) , German (dH) 10.99, Nitrate 25.9 - 35.6, Nitrite <0.0003 - 0.047.
With these figures, what would be the best way to get the water to a satisfactory make up for SA cichlids, or would I be better off going for a CA set up with with smaller non aggressive species to match my water. ? Thanks for looking.
 

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From what I'm seeing your water looks a bit hard and is higher in PH. That's not suitable for many so-called 'Black Water' SA species, but is still in an acceptable range for many hardy/adaptable SA fish.
The Nitrate levels seem high, however. Is the 25.9 - 35.6 number in mg/L? And, was this checked with the test strip kit, or have you had a more precise, Ni-14 cadmium reduction Nitrate measurement of your water? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the U.S. requires Nitrate to measure less than 10 mg/L at the tap to be considered safe as drinking water.
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Beyond 20 - 30 mg/L, that Nitrate level in the aquarium will cause a lot of stress in many species of New World cichlids sensitive to Hole in Head Disease - HLLE. :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for getting back, the figures I gave were from a report that can be downloaded from the water company, not taken from my tap. The Nitrate levels are measured in mg NO3/l , in the UK the Nitrate limit is 50 mg/l. I had thought about RO water filters, but again, I have many questions about it, what type, what capacity, do they have to stay wet when not being used ? Then there is the option to buy RO water, if bought, how long can it be stored and how ? is RO water for window cleaning systems the same as that for aquariums ?. Taking into account the initial purchase price and upkeep of a RO unit, it may be more cost effective to buy the water only. Then there's rain water, how would it be treated for aquarium use, taking into account the amount of pollution here (close to London UK). I don't want to go crashing headlong into fishkeeping, only to be put off by loads of problems. I know nothing will be totally problem free, but getting it as good as possible will help.
 

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Well then.....
*stretches fingers*
Shall we begin?
The fish species you are interested in are a more sensitive, SA type. Almost all of those Cichlid species will have significant problems dealing with your tap water.
1) Relatively hard water and Higher PH, will limit some species immediately.
2) The 30+ mg/L Nitrate level in the tap water clears out the rest of the list. None of those SA Cichlids will be able to tolerate your Nitrate levels that high in the aquarium.

So, you will need to provide an alternate source of freshwater for this aquarium than what is available from the tap. It's getting more expensive. But..... you may be considering entry into an aquarium 'club' that many - MANY - have joined before you. And that many are indeed in now. There are two basic types of those unusual aquarium folks. They are, Dedicated Saltwater & Dedicated Black Water. And interestingly enough, you can't find much further differences in water chemistry between the two. They both share a basic principle however. That is, the water required for the aquarium originates from Reverse Osmosis filtration.
On to it then....

TrickyD said:
I have many questions about it, what type, what capacity, do they have to stay wet when not being used ?
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Beyond 'Reverse Osmosis' I'm not sure about type. The capacity you should install is based on the anticipated, weekly water consumption. In this case, your more sensitive Cichlids will require weekly water changes to properly dilute Nitrates buildup out of the water (even when starting with zero amounts). 50% is a good weekly amount - your 450 Liter aqurium will require a minimum production capacity of 225 Liters of filtered water per week. I would consider 300 Liters+ production capacity to be more reasonable. It is good to have some extra capacity. And yes, the RO systems I've worked with have all 'stayed wet', even when not in use.

TrickyD said:
Then there is the option to buy RO water, if bought, how long can it be stored and how? Is RO water for window cleaning systems the same as that for aquariums?
Yes, RO water can be purchased. You however, are not perhaps a 'usual' customer! In this case lugging 20 Liter containers of water back and forth will certainly NOT enhance your quality of life or make you appreciate the hobby - at all! If you find a place that makes and sells RO water locally? You will need to make arrangements for them to provide a re-filling service for a water reservoir in your home. That is, running a hose probably from a truck or something that can pump the water into your water reservoir. It could be done I suppose (I've just never heard of anyone who's ever done that before...). Oh, and RO water can be stored for a very long while. It's just not a good medium for algae or bacteria to grow in, so it takes a good while for things to get started. And yes, the RO water used to clean windows is probably the same stuff you could use for an aquarium. The RO water dries without producing scale or streaks - just little H's & O's in there!

TrickyD said:
Taking into account the initial purchase price and upkeep of a RO unit, it may be more cost effective to buy the water only. Then there's rain water, how would it be treated for aquarium use, taking into account the amount of pollution here (close to London UK).
The install cost, upkeep (replacement membranes) and other things will have to be weighed against the availability and cost of purchasing RO water. And if you install, you will then have a municipal-looking filtration unit, complete with 300 - 350 Liter reservoir in your house to deal with. Not saying you can't find a somewhat aesthetically pleasing manner to place that stuff.... but still. And no, I wouldn't mess with rainwater. Plus pollutants, there are just many variables to control to inspire much confidence in that method as reliable and sustainable to use for your aquarium over the long term.

Bottom Line: You are going to have to do a basic, cost-to-benefit analysis of this problem. And in the end, it all really comes down to well, HOW MUCH DO YOU WANT IT??? :wink:
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for an in depth reply, it seems I may be aiming for the wrong set up then. I had CA cichlids many years ago, the water is probably not as bad for them as the SA cichlids. My question regarding what type of RO unit was that I have seen 3,4 & 5 stage filters and wondered if 5 is worth the outlay over 3. Maybe CA's would be better to keep, though not sure if many could be kept in that size tank, I did have a breeding pair of Argenteas , but they were kept with a divider, and no other fish. Would you have any suggestions for a few CA's in a tank of 450l, I do like Nicaraguenses but what could go with them ?
 

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Depending on 'how many years ago' you kept an aquarium? It's possible that the Nitrates found in your tap water now, just weren't at such high levels then. And, I'm not sure how well CA cichlids would tolerate your high Nitrate levels either....
So, what to do if you're just not interested in going 'all in' with an RO water supplied, Black Water (BW) aquarium? (I was kinda hoping you would go that route.... BW tanks are rare and incredibly cool).
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You will need a more natural method to control and reduce the Nitrates found in your tap water. And that may be: Aquatic plants!
And, a very lightly stocked/heavily planted tank could provide just the thing for successfully keeping a very nice-looking, New World aquarium. And, depending on just how DIY/'Techie' you are? You could also set up a hang-on-back fresh water refugium kind of thing for this tank, with fast growing floating plants. Using a sump could work well for this application also. Provide either system (both?) with a high-quality, strong lighting source, and those floating plants would grow incredibly fast and vacuum up Nitrates at a nice rate. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
With the Geophagus, I guess plants will have to be anchored to bogwood, or rocks, and from what I've read, Severums love to nibble a plant. I've seen that Pothos are used hydroponically for nitrate removal, so I could hang some in the tank. Regarding the RO unit, how long do the cartridges last ? . Do they have to be permanently connected, or attached only when needed ? A 50 gallon per day should suffice, but my main concern with RO units is the wasted water, not the cost as I'm not on a meter, but environmentally. I may just go and buy a test kit, just to double check as the water company test may have been taken on a very bad day.
 

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Oh those choices.... To get possibly what you want? (The Aquarium)
You may have to give up what you may have liked. (Larger Cichlids) :(
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No Geophagines! And, by LIGHTLY stocked? That would mean the large bodied, plant gnoshing Severum, would certainly be out as well.
In this case, to get ahead of those Nitrates, the plants are gonna have to be the dominant feature of this tank. For stocking, we're talking about a 1M/4F Harem of Apistos, with a single pair of Bolivian Rams and a 8-10 member school of Cardinal (or Lemon) Tetras. Two bristlenose (Ancistrus) Catfish, are placed on Algae Detail. The centerpiece 'showfish' could be a single Angelfish, (Or alternatively, a single Blue Acara if you stock with Lemon Tetras).
And well, that's it. :)
 
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