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Thread: New RO unit for Koi Pond

  1. #1
    Jumbo farne230's Avatar
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    New RO unit for Koi Pond

    I thought I would start a new thread to document the selection of a RO unit and installation on my 8500 gallon pond. If you are like me, such threads help me to understand each step in the process and provide the knowledge necessary to make such a decision.

    Like most that have made this decision I spend more then I should on potential show koi from Japan, I am hooked on the hobby and I have to add a new device whenever I hear about it. Most importantly like many who have made this decision I have read Mar, Snaden's many articles on the subject.

    What can an RO unit do? By treating and mixing makeup waters for our ponds, we can lower Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), reduce Carbonate Hardness (KH) and PH. If you believe what Mark Snaden writes, lowering TDS is one step towards growing larger koi and allowing our prized koi a chance to reach their potential, in which he claims the placement of our prized koi in concrete ponds, accelerates color and skin deterioration.

    My TDS either matches my makeup waters before RO treatment which is 330ppm to 350ppm. Seasonally like today, a cold front blows in, leaves accumulate in pond, my daily maintenance is stressed and my water quality takes a nose dive. Filter plugging, DOC buildup and koi stress levels increase. My filter system is pressurized due to solid limestone just below the surface also resulting in hard water. My KH is 13dH or 220's ppm and PH is above make up water due to our limestone aquifer source water of 8.2 AM and 8.5 PM.

    After reading Mark's articles and talking to other enthusiasts on forums, I added a water softener and charcoal tank. I highly recommend this first step; if you believe as Mark has said in his articles soft water improves the appearance of koi. You can spend as much as you like but I felt I made a good deal and had a local contractor install a 48,000 grain ion-exchange softener and a 2 cubic foot charcoal tank installed all for roughly $1,300. I set the softener to recharge at 1,500 US gallons per service and this has worked well to manage my weekly water changes.

    What does a softener do? Lower GH "general hardness" replace magnesium ions with sodium ions, no effect on TDS since we are just substituting ions. I now have a pond GH which once was as high as 300ppm down to 2dH or 34ppm. I have noticed the scales on my kohaku's are much nicer, they lay flat and the fukurin stands up and the few shimi's I have observed vanish within a few weeks.

    Why introduce a charcoal filter? This was a no brainer, since now I can turn my hose one and fill the pond without adding chemicals to take out chlorine and chloramine. This does not sound like much, it is for me. Regarding maintenance, $12 per month to add salt to softener and each year or longer before adding 2 cf of activated charcoal $75.

    One side effect I must point out after making these changes is the generation of foam on my pond service. I believe this is caused by the high PH over 8.0 and softened water with GH below 80ppm. I will also point out that with 1500 gallon water changes with softened water per week it took about five weeks for these changes to take effect (slower the better).

    This brings me to the hardest decision I have made to date, ordering an RO unit. I am going to stop here and let the readers ask questions, plus if you are like me, in a tread I prefer not to read more the a paragraph or two.
    Bob

  2. #2
    MCA
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    Bob,

    I fully understand about have the liquid rock coming from the tap. When we lived in Plano/Dallas, we definitely did not have to worry about a pH crash. As I remember one club member did manage to have pH crash. It turned out they only topped up...never did a 10% or larger water change. So eventually, even liquid limestone does have a KH limit.

    Let us all know what mix of tap and RO you end up using as you check the koi skin quality in the future. Some folks end up using 10-20% tap water to keep up a low GH and KH level.
    Koi keeping is not a belief system; it is applied science with a touch of artistry.

  3. #3
    Jumbo farne230's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MCA View Post
    Bob,

    I fully understand about have the liquid rock coming from the tap. When we lived in Plano/Dallas, we definitely did not have to worry about a pH crash. As I remember one club member did manage to have pH crash. It turned out they only topped up...never did a 10% or larger water change. So eventually, even liquid limestone does have a KH limit.

    Let us all know what mix of tap and RO you end up using as you check the koi skin quality in the future. Some folks end up using 10-20% tap water to keep up a low GH and KH level.
    You hit it on the head. For anyone looking into or giving RO a try, monitoring pond PH, TDS and KH is very important. If your KH drops too far oops there goes PH.
    Bob

  4. #4
    Jumbo farne230's Avatar
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    Does not seam to be much interest, therefore I will keep it short.

    If considering RO, I recommend:
    1. always go with the option to recycle your waste water, this will increase your product output-cost is usually less then $150;
    2. Always go with the product and waste gages, they is where you fine tune your equipment to reach optimum product to waste ratio's;
    3. The pretreatment is very important to remove suspended solids and allow your membranes a longer life, since they are the most expensive to replace; Ask for washable filters,they will save you a few dollars in replacement costs;
    4. Another word on pretreatment, most RO manuafactures require a softener and charcoal pretreatment due to high alkaline waters and effects of chlorine on membrane life. The membranes should last about 4 to 5 years in this situation.
    5. Before purchasing your RO, you should search the web for you local water providers annual water quality report and submit this to the retailer you are working with. They will assure the correct system for you.
    6. Do not be afraid of making revisions, in my case I replaced the carbon cartridge with a 1 micron sediment filter since I had plenty of carbon filtration.
    7. Prices are negotable..
    8.Before purchase deside on how you will apply your RO; direct flow into pond, use of storage-if so will require float switches built in and storage tanks.
    Good Luck, I will report on my installation within a week or so.
    Bob

  5. #5
    Honmei KoiCop's Avatar
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    Just caught your thread this morning and want to thank you for putting up a step by step narrative of the process you're going through and the problems you're dealing with.

    Who knows, someday this thread might help keep someone from going FUBAR on an RO install?
    __________________
    Don
    Member: AKCA, ZNA, KoiUSA, IKONA, Koi-Unit.
    CHKPA

  6. #6
    Jumbo farne230's Avatar
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    Thanks Don, that is the point exactly.

    Today I met with a plumber to identify what will be involved in this installation.

    1. The RO is very reactive with metal like copper water pipe and faucets. The RO product line will be sch 40 pvc run underground to the ponds edge and then we will hid the exposed portion at the ponds edge.

    2. The plumbing will involve plastic valves to control mixing of RO with softened water.

    3. In my case we are not using a storage tank because I have no place to put one (they take up alot of space if you need 500 or more gallons).

    4. If you use a storage tank, you may want to order a low pressure shut off swith from RO manufacturer or a plumber can find what you need.

    5. The softener and carbon filter will tie into the RO and we will configure this so we can mix carbon filtered raw water with carbon/softened/RO waters and discharge to pond once desired TDS levels have been reached in pond.
    Bob

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    Jumbo farne230's Avatar
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    The RO unit was installed on 12/24/08, I ran it for four days (less a few hours). My pond overflow drain is backing up so I have some bugs to work out. The RO has dropped the TDS from 350ppm to 200ppm, PH 8.2 - 8.5 down to 7.7 to 8.1, GH is 0, KH from 12dH to 8dH. Here are a few photo's.

  8. #8
    MCA
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    Sounds like the RO unit was just the trick to clean up the source water. I guess it will take awhile to figure out the right long term mix of tap water and ROed water.

  9. #9
    Jumbo farne230's Avatar
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    One side note, I still have lots of foam production due to low GH.
    Bob

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