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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I just finished a terrarium with the customized background. I am waiting for the plants that I got online. My question is very simple. I have been reading about the water that I should use to water the plants.
Some people recommend distilled water some others recommend against it.
But all of them agreed on RO water. Of course against tap water.
I have a RO/DI (Reverse Osmosis and De-ionization) system for my fish. I do not understand why RO water is recommended for frogs and plants.

Everything depends on the kind of tap water everyone has. In the west coast the water is very hard (high in minerals) the TDS (Total dissolved solids) read about 400 with the RO system it goes to 80 TDS which still has some minerals and it is not quite pure. I understand that people using RO water at 80 TDS is safe for plants and frogs. In the east coast on the other hand the water is more pure (TDS measures the quality of the water. The lower the number the more pure it is). Around Boston, the TDS reads 80. the RO system brings it to 4 which has no minerals left in the water, therefore, not safe for plants or frogs since Pure water does not support life. After the DI phase (Which is the add on for RO systems) either water from the west (80 after RO) and the east (4 after RO) comes to zero TDS, which is water in its purest form.

I studied chemistry and now marine biology. for example if we, humans, drink very pure water, our Potassium and magnesium levels would dissolved and it could cause muscle contractions and more. That is why I am very concern about the RO water for plants and frogs, especially tanking in to account the chemistry of the tap water in the east coast.

So, is it safe for my to use RO water for my frogs and plants at 4TDS (Almost no minerals?) How will plants survive?

Why is it not safe to use tap water with water conditioner?
It is too hard to figure it out when you found so many recommendations but they do not talk about the chemistry of the water itself.
 

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I live in NY and use water straight from my tap. Never had a problem. Have moss growing in my tanks.
 
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The main concern I can see with using nothing but straight tap for watering, is if it has a really high TDS, you don't really have a way to periodically "flush" the soil.

If you have ever kept potted plants, I'm sure you've noticed that you occasionally have to give it a really good soak, basically flushing out some of the salts/minerals that have accumulated and are beginning to adversely alter the overall PH of the soil.
 

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Tap water also causes nozzles to clog and can leave spots on plants/glass. I don't know enough to comment on how it would/could affect frogs.
 

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I would definitely not use RO water. Plants need minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, etc to grow and maintain good health. Plain tap water has many of these essential dissolved minerals already in it and by running the water through an RO membrane you strip all of these minerals/nutrients from the water. The vast majority of people with planted aquariums use plain tap water for this reason. I have sometimes gone as far as using the waste water from my RODI system that I use for my reef tank to mist my vivs. I would just use plain tap water and let it sit for a while to dissipate the chlorine. You can also use a water conditioner to rid the tap water of chlorine or chloramines depending on what your city uses to treat water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
It is so hard to know how is right or at least who has the closest answer.
I asked a couple of running businesses about this and Josh's Frogs for example recommended distilled or RO water and New England Herpetology recommended RO water but against distilled water. I read an article about RO water being bad for tads as they swim in water all the time.
If I were going to use RO/DI water what kind of product should I use to replenish my water?
I have a RO/DI system for my cichlids and I replenish the water with Lake salt, buffer and trace elements. My tap water is very high in phosphates and I had an algae problem. Even if RO water was good for the terrarium I would have to use RO/DI since it is a pain to unplug the DI phase just for the terrarium and put it back for the fish tank. I would either use tap water and use a water conditioner or use RO/DI water and replenish it.
I have another question. I will not get my frogs yet. I just finished my customized background and I am short on money. Will my plants be ok with no animal waste? or should I use fertilizer? Or just replenish it? Does fertilizer work for replenishing?
I will also start a planted tank in the future and I will absolutely use tap water!
I have in my mind that RO water is not good for plants and does not support life
 

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Here's a really interesting thread about this topic (check out Brent's posts, especially): http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/general-discussion/5535-distilled-vs-drinking-water.html .

As well as http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/general-discussion/28914-r-o-water-issues.html . Last but not least, http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/beginner-discussion/70300-water-discussion.html .

In short, "pure" water like R/O does lack minerals; it tries to balance the deficit by sapping them out of whatever it contacts. For tadpoles it doesn't matter that much, because they usually have food in the container to somewhat shield them from this effect. The same reasoning applies for using RO to mist. The various molecules and ions in your hardscape, substrate, and even your frog poop should react with the water and make it "normal". However, soaking your tree frog in it might pose some issues if you do it for long periods of time, on a long-term basis. Whether you're using the water with a White's dumpy tree frog or a Lehmanni shouldn't make a difference; I think the general membrane chemistry is comparable.

Spring water does have some minerals that will benefit your animals, but keep in mind that it would also leave deposits all over your glass (and possibly in your misting system).

Oh, and your plants will be fine without frog poop. If you're really desperate, you can use a diluted aquarium fertilizer/water mix to spray the plants down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks a lot for your links, very interesting. I still have the same question though. If I want to use RO/DI water for my frogs and plants. Which chemical should I use to replenish the water. Kent RO right does not contain phosphates or nitrates which are essential for plants.
 

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The nitrates/phosphates would be coming from the substrate not the water. In theory these would also not be contained in rainwater or humidity in the air in large amounts. If the water were for a complete submerged organism (fish, tadpole) that is when you would benefit from adding something to the water. Even then, very little needs to be added.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I finally finished my customized terrarium. (Picture attached)
After reading a lot about RO water. I think I am going to mist with tap water. My TDS 88ppm so I do not think I am going to have problems with blocking the leaves.
Actually, do you think is a good idea to use RO/DI water with fertilizer?
I will not have the frogs yet, just the plants.
 

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My personal opinion is that you are overthinking this. Use dechlorinated tap water or RO/DI. If you want, add minerals back to the purified water. Don't use mineralized water in a misting system. Case closed :D
 
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