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betta, live plants, & remineralizing RO water


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I'm a brand new hobbyist and enthusiast. I have one betta fish in a 6 gallon tank with RO water. I recently switched to RO and realized i needed to remineralize. I also have a few live plants in there who have become a little weepy and discolored from when i had conditioned tap in there.

My question is.... can i use one product for both remineralizing the water for the fish, and for getting the plants the nutrients they need?

Yesterday I went to Petco to get something to remineralize the water. The lady I usually talk with about my new love suggested their Imaginarium essential minerals, a concentrated formula that says its great for use with RO water.  When i told her I also needed to do something for the plants, she handed me Aqueon Aquarium Plant Food. provides macro and micro nutrients. Both products have the same minerals, different percentages, adn the plant food has some the other doesn't - potash, sulfer, boron, molybdenum....and the other has some the plant food doesn't - strontium, potassium, cobalt, copper, and iodide.

I'm worried that there might be an overdose of the minerals that are in both.  Is there something easier i can do and return those?  I feel I need to do something today to treat. I did a water change 3 days ago when i added the RO. I did a 60 % change, so it still had the conditioned tap water. I added a biological startup, too. If ya'll do suggest using the essential minerals, i have another question I'll ask in the thread.  Thank you very much for your input! I look forward to learning more! 

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You would be sacrificing on the fertilizer, but you may be able to find something that works. Your plants would be happier with a dedicated fertilizer. I use the aquarium co-op stuff and it’s super easy to give my tanks a few squirts when I do my water changes. 

 

Can I ask why you are using RO in the first place? RO can be super helpful at controlling water parameters but I wouldn’t suggest going to those lengths for a beginner as it just adds complexity. Also, betta don’t require RO unless some of your town’s water isn’t good for them somehow. 

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Welcome to the hobby and to the forum!

I don't know either of those products. I use an RO:tap blend, but my tap comes out of a water softener, so both sources have essentially 0 GH. I remineralize with Seachem Equilibrium to 6 dGH. It's designed for planted tanks and is a powder, so it's easy to use.

I keep soft water fishes, so 6 dGH works well for my tanks. That said, I also use Easy Green and API Leaf Zone to add nutrients for the plants (along with root tabs periodically).

What are your tap parameters? Draw a glass of water, set it aside, then test it after 24 hours. The idea is that a lot of tap water has some amount of dissolved CO2, which in water takes the form of carbonic acid and lowers the pH. If you give your water sample 24 hours to off-gas, you'll get its "true" pH.

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On 7/8/2024 at 10:49 AM, Jovius said:

You would be sacrificing on the fertilizer, but you may be able to find something that works. Your plants would be happier with a dedicated fertilizer. I use the aquarium co-op stuff and it’s super easy to give my tanks a few squirts when I do my water changes. 

 

Can I ask why you are using RO in the first place? RO can be super helpful at controlling water parameters but I wouldn’t suggest going to those lengths for a beginner as it just adds complexity. Also, betta don’t require RO unless some of your town’s water isn’t good for them somehow. 

I went in to a fish and coral store to get my tap and tan water tested as I was trying to figure out everything with my parameters. He said with RO, i wouldn't need to condition because it has no chlorine, or anything else to condition, the pH would be more in range as well as GH and KH. The GH was still low when he tested his RO water i took home, so he recommended API Proper pH. (So far, i'm liking API products).  My tap water's pH was 8, Amonia, Nitrate and Nitrite are great, GH low at 0 (same as the RO), KH high at 208 (RO was 30), and phosphate 1.1 (RO was 0.1) I don't know anything about phosphate levels yet. I'm also wondering if i really need the RO. If i water condition my tap maybe that's just fine....

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i wondered about using tap and cutting it with RO. 

On 7/8/2024 at 7:58 PM, Rube_Goldfish said:

Welcome to the hobby and to the forum!

I don't know either of those products. I use an RO:tap blend, but my tap comes out of a water softener, so both sources have essentially 0 GH. I remineralize with Seachem Equilibrium to 6 dGH. It's designed for planted tanks and is a powder, so it's easy to use.

I keep soft water fishes, so 6 dGH works well for my tanks. That said, I also use Easy Green and API Leaf Zone to add nutrients for the plants (along with root tabs periodically).

What are your tap parameters? Draw a glass of water, set it aside, then test it after 24 hours. The idea is that a lot of tap water has some amount of dissolved CO2, which in water takes the form of carbonic acid and lowers the pH. If you give your water sample 24 hours to off-gas, you'll get its "true" pH.

Thanks! Good to know about testing tap and letting it aerate for 24 hrs. I had mine tested at a fish and coral shop but it had not aerated. See my reply to Jovius. 

Our tap is very soft.  I'm going to do another water change on Thursday. I'm wondering about a tap/RO blend. The lady at Petco says I'm overthinking. 

SO, your Easy Green and Leaf zone together isn't overdosing on nutrients? They must have different ingredients? 

Edited by apleiadean42
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On 7/9/2024 at 11:35 AM, apleiadean42 said:

SO, your Easy Green and Leaf zone together isn't overdosing on nutrients? They must have different ingredients?

They do overlap. Easy Green is an all-in-one fertilizer, providing all three micronutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) along with micronutrients. Here's the guaranteed analysis from the website:

Guaranteed Analysis:

—  Water Soluble Nitrogen (N) 2.66% —  Available Phosphate (P2O5) 0.46%

—  Soluble Potash (K2O) 9.21%

—  Water Soluble Magnesium (Mg) 0.7%

—  Boron (B) 0.015%

—  Water Soluble Iron (Fe) 0.13%

—  Water Soluble Manganese (Mn) 0.036%

—  Molybdenum (Mo) 0.00098%

—  Water Soluble Zinc (Zn) 0.0072%

NPK 2.66 - 0.46 - 9.21

API Leaf Zone, on the other hand, only has Soluble Potash (K2O) 3.00% and Iron DTPA 0.10%.

I have to admit that I am dosing based on the "eye test" of how my plants are growing. That is, I was (and am) dosing Easy Green per the instructions, but my Java ferns were struggling, and since the most common Java fern problem is potassium deficiency, I tried the Leaf Zone (also per the bottle's directions) to bump that up without bumping up the other nutrients (except iron). I think it's working, in that my Java ferns are better than ever, but it might be some other factor. I should probably get more test kits and do more testing, truth be told.

On 7/9/2024 at 11:35 AM, apleiadean42 said:

The lady at Petco says I'm overthinking. 

I'm leaning toward that, too. A pH of 8 is a little high for bettas, but not drastically. Your GH is quite soft out of the tap. I'm not sure fish care too much about KH, other than maybe for spawning reasons, and KH would keep your pH nice and stable.

I'm not saying don't use RO, because it's definitely got it's place and purpose (and I use it!). But if you're not going to buy and install your own RO unit, the price can really add up, and it can be a hassle to do water changes that way. And your tap water might be good enough as-is for your betta and your plants.

On 7/9/2024 at 11:26 AM, apleiadean42 said:

The GH was still low when he tested his RO water i took home, so he recommended API Proper pH.

I think the first GH there was a typo? Was that supposed to be pH?

Anyway, the Betta splendens entry on SeriouslyFish has this to say about parameters:

"pH: Wild-collected fish are likely to prefer a value between 5.0 – 7.0, but ornamental strains are unfussy with a range of 6.0 – 8.0 acceptable.  Hardness: 18 – 268 ppm; see comments under pH on wild vs. captive-bred fish."

Anyway, I suspect that you won't need to keep your pH at exactly 7, like the Proper pH product is supposed to do, and slightly acidic would be preferable for both the betta and the plants.

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ok. i've given this a lot of thought and research after listening to what everyone has said. I think I'm going to not use RO and return to using my tap and conditioning it with water changes. With that, I won't need Seachum Equilizer. (do I have that right? That's the only reason I was going to need that)

I was using the API stress coat conditioner which has aloe in it. I'll continue to test my tank water with test strips and get the parameters right. I have a better idea of how to do that. I have an API pH test kit, also, with both pH up and pH down solutions. 

As far as plant nutrients, I needed to go out and get something now and not wait for something to be delivered. I got Seachum Flourish.  It does say that it doesn't provide *significant* levels of nitrogen or phosphorus, that it's designed to be used in conjunction with Flourish nitrogen, flourish phosphorus, and flourish potassium and i can get the "enhancer plant pack"

(Is the browning of my plants due to potassium deficiency? Brown is showing up on my rocks and substrate, too) 

The other minerals that are in Flourish that aren't in the others I compared it to (Easy Green and Aqueon - the one i'm returning unused) are Sodium, Copper, Cobalt, and Chlorine. Chlorine????  Why chlorine?  I'm assuming the water conditioner will take that out. 

Rube_Goldfish mentioned using API Leaf Zone. should I use this along with the Flourish or will this be overload? I intend on adding the flourish N, K20, and P. 

I'm doing a water change today. Since I posted a few days ago, my plants have browned a good bit. I suppose i'll need to try to clean those leaves and whatever else is browned ( i even have some quartz crystals in there that got browned). Some of those leaves have become thin and almost transparent. Will the nutrients bring life back into those leaves or should i remove them and let new growth come? 

I promise I'm going to post pictures today!! 

 

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On 7/8/2024 at 10:49 AM, Jovius said:

You would be sacrificing on the fertilizer, but you may be able to find something that works. Your plants would be happier with a dedicated fertilizer. I use the aquarium co-op stuff and it’s super easy to give my tanks a few squirts when I do my water changes. 

 

Can I ask why you are using RO in the first place? RO can be super helpful at controlling water parameters but I wouldn’t suggest going to those lengths for a beginner as it just adds complexity. Also, betta don’t require RO unless some of your town’s water isn’t good for them somehow. 

Jovius, please see my last messages with pictures. I apologize - I have not yet learned how to make simpler replies. it looks like I can reply without quoting someone's entire message but i haven't figured that out yet.  I wanted to try to tag those in this thread somehow. If there's a way to do that please let me know. 

On 7/8/2024 at 7:58 PM, Rube_Goldfish said:

Welcome to the hobby and to the forum!

I don't know either of those products. I use an RO:tap blend, but my tap comes out of a water softener, so both sources have essentially 0 GH. I remineralize with Seachem Equilibrium to 6 dGH. It's designed for planted tanks and is a powder, so it's easy to use.

I keep soft water fishes, so 6 dGH works well for my tanks. That said, I also use Easy Green and API Leaf Zone to add nutrients for the plants (along with root tabs periodically).

What are your tap parameters? Draw a glass of water, set it aside, then test it after 24 hours. The idea is that a lot of tap water has some amount of dissolved CO2, which in water takes the form of carbonic acid and lowers the pH. If you give your water sample 24 hours to off-gas, you'll get its "true" pH.

Rube, please see my last messages with pictures. I apologize - I have not yet learned how to make simpler replies. it looks like I can reply without quoting someone's entire message but i haven't figured that out yet.  I wanted to try to tag those in this thread somehow. If there's a way to do that please let me know. 

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Last night I cleaned out the entire tank. I was overwhelmed with the brown algae and didn’t think my siphon was doing a good job getting it off my substrate or rocks. It seems like the only way it would come off, really, was to rub it or get a toothbrush on it. I cut a few leaves off my plants. I usually leave Blub in the tank when I do changes but I changed it all out so put him in a little container temporarily. He did not like that. So I tried to be as fast as I could, being a newbie. 
 

I was glad I had another bag of gravel I had used previously, because I wanted to wash the gravel I had taken out really well and didn’t have time. I don’t like the white as much but it’ll do until I change it again. I don’t want to  change everything up frequently, but I’ll probably change everything out again in a month, and add a new plant or 2. When the outside temps dip I’ll order some floaters like red root. It looks like ordering through the mail when it’s so hot will about kill any right now. 
 

I filled it back up with tap and conditioned it with API stress coat +, then put .5 ml of Seachem Flourish for my 6 gallon tank. After an hour or so I tested it with strips. 
these measures aren’t exact:

KH 180
GH -30
PH 7.5-8.0
 
He seemed happy when I put him back in his newly furnished home. Not sure if those little spikes in the “fort” are too sharp? They’re plastic. 
 

im going on vacation w my family tomorrow through Tuesday and having my neighbors come take care of Blub 2x a day. I’m feeding 1x a day - Micro pellets. A bloodworm every now and again…  

feedback is welcome! I’m grateful for you guys!! 

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