Moving to a House with Well Water

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Jurupari Man

The Masked Tortilla
May 29, 2001
82
3
8
New York, NY
How about if I just run the RO/DI drip directly to the tank and then supplement with a dosing system on the sump, as if it were a reef tank? The RO drip isn't going to change any parameters drastically as it goes in, but over time, I'd need to buffer the water... I may have just had my lightbulb moment... Thoughts?
 
Apr 2, 2002
2,950
488
92
New York
It is not as simple nor easy as you want it to be. Consider planted tank systems which inject CO2. In order to automate the flow of CO2 one adds a digital pH monitor which has a solenoid that can turn the co2 on and off. This is a basic an simple form of automation. But there are fewer potential complications with CO2 because the goal is not to change virtually all of the water parameters it is to boost CO@ for the plants. Monitoring the pH as the controlling factor is pretty basic.

Now what you are wanting to do is to create a constantly changing system across almost all parameters. What are you going to measure that you will then use as your controlling factor. The sophisticated planted tank folks do weekly of even twice weekly water changes to keep things stable. Then they can add similar amounts of ferts most of the time, but the CO2 and lighting are easy compared to managing the total water parameters.

The volume of water moving through and ro system depends upon both the temperature of the water going in and the water pressure. I control my flow rate by changing the temp and the force of the input. I batch into a 30 gal. can and usually need to make about 50 gals/ every month or so. While I have a continuous monitor on the tank that I also use to batch changing water. I do not have more than pH and TDS by which I determine the mix.

Your problem will be how you monitor the levels and then how the system automatically adjusts. And that doesn't even address power loss issues. Our tanks rely on electricity to work properly. We have had whole house back-up power since about 2007/08. In that time we had two outages of 13 days and a number of minor outages as well. What is your back-up plan for the system you envision.

Remineralization is basically adding powders to the water. How will this happen in your system. If all that is going in is pure water, your fish will not do well. if you are mixing RO and well water in a fixed proportion, you will likely have all the minerals you need without adding anything.

Think about how things work here. You connect an RO unit to the water input. You do this in one of two ways. Hook up directly to a faucet/spigot and rely on the water pressure or you can use a pump to get the max output. The RO unit has two outputs, one is waste water you throw out and the other is what you use. Now in my system I just let the "waste" water go down the drain through our septic system. Where will you waste water go? Now the output of the RO system needs to have minerals that start as powders to get mixed into the RO water before it goes into the tank. How will you accomplish this?

I have a 75 gpd system. On the max settings from the tap water input it will fill a 20 gal. Rubbermaid in about 12 hours. If I change the water temp or pressure it will change the output rate. Moreover, RO units need parts replaced based on use. You know this is needed because you can measure the TDS of the output water. They will rise over time as the RO membrane wears out.

And then there are the vagaries of what goes on in a tank. Don't forget that a drip system also needs and overflow. What is your plan for the overflow half of your system? Will you drill the tank? Will you opt for a hang on overflow box? What will you failsafe be in case the overflow part clogs? How will the drip turn itself off if the overflow clogs for any reason.

You are probably not old enough to know the name, but Google "Rube Goldberg Machine" :cool:
 

Jurupari Man

The Masked Tortilla
May 29, 2001
82
3
8
New York, NY
My RODI waste would go right down the drain to the septic. The plumbing from the well and to the septic is easily accessible in my garage. Dripping RODI into the tank continuously is a slow process that is not going to cause wild swings in parameters in a 550g tank. My idea is to add buffer to the sump via a dosing pump. Might take tinkering but it seems to me that it could work.

RE power outages, I think a generator is a good plan for the near future.

Drip system overflow would likely be via a hole drilled at the appropriate level in the sump, and fed to the drain under the nearest sink.

I'm probably a bit older than you think I am. :) But yes, this is getting a little complicated and I am still considering my other option which is to simply use the softened water and not worry so much about all this craziness. This could all be overthinking a bit.
 

Wyomingite

Fish Wrangler
Oct 16, 2008
863
603
100
53
Wonderful Windy Wyoming
Real Name
Ivan
This is all well and good, but testing TDS is a waste. Here’s why.

TDS will always be higher than your hardness. Period. How much higher depends on environmental conditions, such as amount of rain, what kind of stone the water passed through on the way down, how many organics have leached into the system, any man-made chemicals that have leached into the water, the depth of the well, etc. This is because a TDS meter measures salts, organic material, pollutants from fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, and ions such as iron, cesium, selenium, arsenic, copper, etc. above and beyond what a hardness test measures.

Which brings me to my first point on why TDS testing is a waste of time and money. Since so many factors can affect the TDS, TDS does not consistently scale with hardness even at the best of times. With a well, it’s even worse from one day to the next. You may have 50 ppm above your hardness measurement one day, 200 ppm the next, and 25 the next. This being the case, you pretty much have to run the test at least daily to maintain even a slight modicum of relevance.

Secondly, although this all sounds well and good in theory, there another flaw: it’s not possible to distinguish between the different compounds in the water by any means practical to hobbyists. The TDS measured is a general conductivity measurement that depends on the overall amount of chemicals (using chemicals as an all-inclusive generalized characterization of the materials listed above, and more) dissolved in the water. However, a simple TDS test doesn’t tell you how what those solids are. You can’t determine if the additional dissolved solids are iron or other mineral, dissolved salts, dissolved organics, pesticides or fertilizers that have degraded, etc. Therefore, you cannot know how much of the content included in the TDS is made up of each component. You don’t know whether to correct for excess iron or a pesticide, for high organics or excess salts, etc. You’ve simply verified how much higher the total dissolved solids are than the hardness. You don’t know WHAT those additional chemicals are. Yes, the percentage content can be determined, but not with any tests practical for a hobbyist. And again, due to changing environmental factors, you would need to test often to maintain relevance.

So when it's all said and done, all you're really doing is confirming that your TDS is higher than your hardness and by how much. It's a given that your TDS is higher, and how much higher is irrelevant if you don't know the composition and you can't make adjustments to correct any imbalances.

I agree on the water softener. I’ve known folks who have kept plants and fish long-term in softened water. However, most were casual hobbyists with a tank or two, keeping common hardy fish and plants, who weren’t trying to breed anything, and weren’t trying to keep delicate plants or fish. Freshwater fish try to retain salts and eject water from their bodies but I suspect long term the excess salts could be harmful, especially to the kidneys and gills, due to the additional excess salts that would need to be processed. Anyways, I’m on a well, and have the proverbial liquid rock for water. My wife wanted a water softener when we moved in 16 years ago, but realized the possible effect on my fish and we did not get one. My wife is so good to me. :) I decided the best bet was to buy livestock that would thrive in my water. Of course, most of the fish I like fall into this range anyways.

I went through my “test-anything-and-everything” phase 30 years ago. After a while I realized a lot of the things people test for really don’t do a heckuva lot more than waste my money and time. Most long-term hobbyists have gone through the same phase and many have come to the same realization. If you have rare and/or delicate species then maybe you do need to test more parameters. And some people just like to tinker. But I’m a firm believer in the KISS method. I keep track of the nitrification parameters, pH, alkalinity, hardness and temperature regularly, and generally don’t worry about too much more.

WYite
 

fishorama

AC Members
Jun 28, 2006
11,374
1,785
200
SF Bay area, CA
Now, now WYite, lol, maybe for you folks on wells TDS has less meaning...but us city water people it can mean more. It's not just seasonal changes but they can happen in any water system. I worry about it more with new wild caught soft water fish (loaches mostly for me). But it can help see what may be happening. I'm a lazy tester & my TDS meter recently died but I would say that I liked being able to test sometimes for the last 15 years or so.
 

Wyomingite

Fish Wrangler
Oct 16, 2008
863
603
100
53
Wonderful Windy Wyoming
Real Name
Ivan
Now, now WYite, lol, maybe for you folks on wells TDS has less meaning...but us city water people it can mean more. It's not just seasonal changes but they can happen in any water system. I worry about it more with new wild caught soft water fish (loaches mostly for me). But it can help see what may be happening. I'm a lazy tester & my TDS meter recently died but I would say that I liked being able to test sometimes for the last 15 years or so.
Now, now fishorama, 🙂. I can see where folks may read my post as confrontational, that wasn't the intent. However, I'm going to stand by what I posted 100%.

Wild caught and soft water fish are exactly the circumstances I was considering when I wrote, "If you have rare and/or delicate species then maybe you do need to test more parameters." But other than folks dealing with soft water fish like wild discus, wild caught angels, or other soft water South American fish like rare plecos, or folks dealing with soft water Southeast Asian fish like most of the "licorice" gouramis and loaches, for example, TDS is a waste. I can see a TDS test as in soft water as you can make an educated guess whether the excess solids are organic or pollutant in nature. You likely aren't going to have an undetermined amount of excess minerals in soft water. In hard water, however I'm going to maintain it's a waste of time because there is no way to quantify what is additional minerals versus what is organics or pollutants. And since TDS doesn't scale proportionately from one sample to the next, ultimately the only thing I can tell you is that the TDS is higher than the hardness. I can tell you that without a test. When I ran our waste water treatment plant, we didn't even bother running TDS if our oven was down, because we couldn't get an accurate picture of the composition, and therefore couldn't make accurate changes. Ultimately if I don't know what is causing the extra TDS, then I don't know how to adjust for it. And 85% of water supplied from a municipal water source in the US is hard water. Over the years, I've known very few folks who bothered with TDS. I've known dozens of hobbyists from the American Cichlid Associatio, Rocky Mountain Cichlid Association, Colorado Aquarium Society, the American Livebearer Association and dozens from just meeting random people in the hobby, many of which I became friends with. Very few that I've discussed water quality with test TDS.

So in certain circumstances the TDS is beneficial, I agree. But I'm holding to my opinion that testing TDS is for the most part is a waste of time as a regular sample, and a waste of money in the investment a decent TDS meter costs.

WYite
 

Jurupari Man

The Masked Tortilla
May 29, 2001
82
3
8
New York, NY
OK, after MUCH deliberation I think I have made a decision. I will forego the idea of doing a continuous drip system. I will get an RO unit and run raw well water through it and into a large reservoir tank. The aquarium and sump will be about 700g total volume, so I'd likely get a 400g reservoir so I could do massive water changes. I would then remineralize with a buffer in the reservoir and and then use a big pump to send water to the aquarium.

So, as it's been years since I bought an RO system, could anyone here recommend one? I need it to produce a lot of water per day... Also, any tips on where to get an affordable plastic reservoir in the 400g range?
 

fishorama

AC Members
Jun 28, 2006
11,374
1,785
200
SF Bay area, CA
I'm not sure of the gallons but use a food or potable water safe bin. It seems like a few clubbers had 4-6ft cube storage containers...Big! & some used 2 or more...I think they did Amazon...maybe Tractor Supply?

Lol @ WYite, I liked my cheap TDS meter toy. I could quickly get a reading to get a rough idea of what might be happening without running every API test. & we know those don't test everything...nothing "hobbyist affordable" does...Then, if I felt I needed to, I could shake my arm to death. On established tanks I never feel the need for ammonia & nitrite tests but nitrate, GH & KH, sometimes, not often, after some baselines.
 
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