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Reef Aquarium Reverse Osmosis Deionization

Installing a reef aquarium reverse osmosis deionization unit can lighten the maintenance load.

Posted: December 18, 2009

By Jackie Brown

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reef aquarium reverse osmosis deionization
Our reef aquarium reverse osmosis deionization unit.

My husband and I have been maintaining our reef tank for about three years now. For the first two years, the tank was in my husband’s old apartment, which was on the third and fourth floors of the building. In the beginning, we talked about installing an RO/DI unit so we could make our own pure water for topping off and mixing up saltwater.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t really find a good spot for one in the apartment. Also, we didn’t have permission to install one. That reminds me: we didn’t have permission to keep a fish tank, either! Oops.

Over the years, I’m guessing that we’ve lugged approximately 145 5-gallon jugs of saltwater (that’s a conservative estimate) and about 75 or so 5-gallon jugs of fresh water back from the fish store. That’s more than 1,000 gallons of water. Considering that water weighs about 8 pounds per gallon, we’ve carted 8,000 pounds of water from the store to the car to the house to the tank. For the first two years, we were carrying all that water up THREE flights of stairs. What in the world were we thinking? Curing Saltwater>>

To end all this insanity, hubby ordered an RO/DI unit and drew up some detailed plumbing and installation plans to set up a two-tank water reservoir system for our fresh water and saltwater. I am incredibly grateful that my husband is so skilled at doing that kind of thing because I certainly am not!

He installed the system in our garage and it’s working great! No leaks, and the TDS monitor is reading 0 dissolved solids for the final product. We’ve been using the RO/DI water to top off the tank, and this weekend we will be mixing up our first homemade batch of saltwater. I’m guessing we’re going to be saving at least 50 cents per gallon of saltwater from now on, but the real savings are priceless: No more saltwater sloshing around in the back of the car and no more backaches from loading the heavy water jugs.

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Reader Comments

P    Peru, IN

1/17/2010 3:46:23 PM

After I bought my RO/DI unit years ago, I was like I can't believe I carried bottle water for so long before investing in a good unit

John    Uniontown, PA

1/13/2010 10:02:59 PM

RO/DI water is the best possible water for any freshwater or saltwater setup. This avoids a hard lesson learned here that based on the watwer supply one has phosphates as well as other chemicals which can seriously degrade water quality. Although RO/DI water is absolutely essential in a salt/reef system, it is not near as critical in Freshwater. Rest assured, you will not experience any ill effects using RO/DI water in a freshwater system. Most Freshwater systems do not use it based solely on the cost of installation and maintenance of the RO/DI system.

Jackie    Irvine, CA

12/21/2009 3:50:04 PM

Hi Len,

I can't comment on freshwater set-ups as I have only ever kept a reef tank. If any other readers know the answer to this, please chime in! If this is true, I'd be curious to know why.

Len    Edmonton, AB

12/21/2009 11:27:22

this is a great idea in what you have done with your water supply. Do you use the ro/di water in your freshwater tanks aswell or just your salt set ups? I heard that ro/di water is not good for FW. tanks.

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