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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey Y'all!

Got a quick question. On my 20 setup with a 5 gal sump, I am starting to see why auto top offs are so popular. My return section in the sump is maybe 3/4 gallons, so I really see the evaporation within a few days. I am planning to make a cheap ATO soon so I don't have to keep refilling it manually. But that got me thinking. Right now I use distilled water, because its cheap and doesn't cost $150-300 up front; I know the cost will accrue, but its easier to pay $0.85 then a couple hundred. Now I know the dangers and problems with using tap water, and that such is essentially forbidden. But, very few people talk about their water supply. City water is obviously not cool for fish, but what about well water? I live far away from the city, and have well water which we add nothing to it. Nobody uses any chemicals around here or anything like that. Is MY tap water still unusable in a SW tank? I don't know if I ever would use it even if it was ok, but I was just curious. Is there a way to test the water? The water seeps in the well, is pumped up, then sent to the facet; we have no added chemicals, so why might it be bad?

Thanks in advance!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Oh I agree, and I will continue to use distilled water. I am just curious if tap water from a well is still forbidden? Also, what is some of the chemistry that contaminates water from a well if any? Everyone agrees that tap water from a water source like city water is unusable, but finding any info on back woods country well water is difficult.
 

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Dissolved metals, illegally or improperly disposed of chemical waste, often times well water is not safe for human consumption without treatment.
The only way to tell would be to get the water test commercially. Unless the health dept. locally does it, it could be expensive. And of course the local health dept. will not test for everything.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Well I can tell ya that we don't have any chemical dumps around here. Worst chemical is our weed killer for the flower beds. The metals could pose an issue; and there is likely a lot of organic compounds in the ground. However, (I don't recall the depth off hand) our well was much deeper then most, in order to hit water.

I was thinking about getting it tested, just to see; interesting to also see what we are drinking, or maybe not....... But it might be expensive as your were saying if our HD doesn't do it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well I'm certain that our water was tested when the well was put in - 14 years ago and it was fine. However, it was not tested with SW fish in mind. :( I will have to call around and see who tests it and what they test for.
 

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You could pick up a TDS meter and test your well water with that. It won't tell you what exactly is in the water but it'll let you know what kind of quality you're looking at. I think the problem with well water often ends up being because of herbicide and pesticide runoff, especially if theres farm land nearby.
 

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I am not recommending this but I have been running my 20 g reef with nothing but tap water for over four years. I have live rock, two clowns, a Bengai Cardinal, a six line wrasse, five inch sand sifter star and several soft corals. I run an AquaticLife 115 skimmer, AC 100 HOB filter (just for water movement and to house the skimmer) and a power head. Top off is with tap water and 50% water changes every two weeks with salt water prepared with tap water.

I admit that I have to work to keep on top of the algae, and I would never try to grow anything other than softees, but I have never had any other issues. The only deaths I have experienced were two clown suicides before I placed a mesh cover on the tank.
 

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When the government says that it is ok to have a certain amount of lead and other heavy metals as well as drugs, antidepressants, etc..
I don't know if I would drink the tap water. With the constant evaporation and refilling the concentration of these pollutants will increase to dangerous levels.
 

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When the government says that it is ok to have a certain amount of lead and other heavy metals as well as drugs, antidepressants, etc..
I don't know if I would drink the tap water. With the constant evaporation and refilling the concentration of these pollutants will increase to dangerous levels.
Just because certain concentrations of metals like lead are allowed in drinking water does not mean that they are actually found there. I live in Ottawa and was in charge of the laboratory that tested the drinking water. None of the heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, etc. were ever at measurable levels.

Again, I am not recommending the use of tap water but in certain locations there is very little risk of toxicity. Even the phosphorus levels in Ottawa water is low, but it does fluctuate seasonally. Large water changes are critical. As well as extensive aeration of top up water and change water to ensure that the chlorine has been disipated.
 

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And unless you want to play Russian roulette with your tank you either pay for a FULL analysis of your water, or you use RO/DI.
 

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And unless you want to play Russian roulette with your tank you either pay for a FULL analysis of your water, or you use RO/DI.
I have the benefit of having access to the full analysis of my water. And I do check it every month.

But I want to emphasize that there is no way that I would risk growing anything other than softees and hardy fish unless I change to RO/DI. And, algae is always an annoyance because of the phosphorus levels. Manageable but annoying.
 

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RO/RI is a must in my book. To many risk and to much money in a system to take those risk. In reef tanking you must eliminate as much risk as you can.
 
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