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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a cheapo Coralife 3 stage unit that I hadn't used in ages. When I fired it up recently I noticed it had gotten bacteria growth inside - serious bacteria growth. This thing was putting out some seriously smelly water. So, the choice was - buy new cartridges and sterilize the unit and keep using it or buy a whole new nicer unit. My apartment typically gets about 30 psi average which is supposedly okay for some r/o units, however I've read numerous places that you should have a minimum of 40 - 60 psi for the membrane to actually work. Anything less and your membrane doesn't trap much dissolved solids and it wears out quicker. So, I bought a new Flowmatic 5 Stage system from Josh's Frogs. This came with the tank and a nozzle and everything. So I hooked it up and it basically wasn't working like it's supposed to. So I unhooked everything and cannibalized my Coralife unit to make the Flowmatic into a 4 stage unit minus the tank. Hooked everything up and it seems to be working about as well as my Coralife did when it was working. My main reason for getting and using an R/O unit is that I don't want to get a lot of mineral deposit build up on the glass of my vivariums. When I went to Amphibian Biology school the water quality instructor said provided your municipal water supply was fine you could just get away with carbon filtered tap water and reconstituted R/O was basically a waste of time. Also, in my case, reconstituting R/O water would lead full circle back to mineral deposits on the glass. So, how many people actually even care about mineral deposits and is it really that big of an issue and finally my questions are:

1. Should I splurge and buy an R/O booster pump (easily $80+) and most of them seem to be for R/O units that put out more than 75gal/day (mine is only 50gal/day)

2. Sell the Flowmatic unit and buy an integrated unit that comes with a pump

3. Scrap the whole R/O idea and go back to dechlorinated tap water and just deal with having to periodically clean mineral deposits off the glass.

My tanks are all front-viewing tanks so cleaning the front glass shouldn't be that difficult and I could probably deal with deposits on the sides of the tanks because algae and mosses and such will probably inevitably cover the sides anyway. Any thoughts, or suggestions would be appreciated.
 

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MCampbell said:
When I went to Amphibian Biology school the water quality instructor said provided your municipal water supply was fine you could just get away with carbon filtered tap water and reconstituted R/O was basically a waste of time.

Well if you tap water is chlorinated with chloramines simply filtering it through carbon doesn't remove the ammonia and there is some increasing evidence that carbon filtered water can be a problem in areas where the tap water contains moderate levels of phosphate as most carbons leach phosphate and this may push the level high enough to disrupt tadpole development.

If the better RO system is not working well then you probably have insufficient water pressure although it can take s couple of hours for the membrane to hydrate well enough to begin to work.

I am moving to reconstituted RO water at work for a number of amphibians.

Ed
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I live in Chicago and the tap water is okay. It's not great, but there are no major problems. We don't have chloramines, only chlorine. However, at the zoo I work at we use aged tap water for all fish and amphibian needs. For normal everyday spraying and water bowl filling for all other herps we simply use straight tap water. The thing is that we clearly have a lot of calcium in the water because the more you spray with straight tap water you get these white mineral spots building up on the glass. If R/O water is better for my amphibians at home that's what I'll use and I'll get a booster pump if necessary to get the best quality of water and to maximize the life of the membranes. I know of several breeders that use only R/O water to spray down cages mainly to prevent mineral deposit buildup. One guy theorizes that water that ends up standing in the cages will pick up other elements from the vegetation, substrate, etc. I don't know if I agree with that but his exclusive use of non-reconstituted R/O doesn't seem to affect the breeding of his adults or the health of his tadpoles. If I use reconstituted R/O it stands to reason I'll end up getting mineral deposit buildup which I don't want. However, I'm deferring to members here that have more amphibian experience than I do to help decide whether I should use dechlorinated tap, straight R/O, or reconstituted R/O. If straight tap or reconstituted R/O are truly the best that's what I'll go with and I'll simply have to deal with mineral buildup.
 

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At work and at home I use RO water for misting and spraying down enclosures to prevent mineral drops on the glass.
For water changes at work I use aged tap water and am moving towards using reconstituted RO for water changes in the tanks and tadpoles as this way I can control the water quality better (partly because we have chloramines in the water supply and partly because the water company doesn't provide notice if the do something to the system (a near by university had a problem with thier amphibian collection as the tap water came out of the tap at a pH of 5.0 (tested on a calibrated pH probe).
At home we have well water.

Ed
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Well that settles it then. I'm sticking with R/O and I'll get a dissolved solids meter to test how well my R/O unit is working. If it's not working well enough at the pressure I'm currently getting from the tap, then I'll go ahead and get the booster pump to improve function. For tads I'll reconstitute the R/O.
 

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Im confused about reverse osmosis water. Are you guys using "pure" reverse osmosis water or are you adding mineral supplements before use with amphibians?

Here is a small fraction of sites that say reverse osmosis water is bad for amphibians:

1) Do NOT use water that is labeled as "distilled" or "drinking water". Distilled water (or Reverse Osmosis water) has virtually no ions in it, so it causes more work for the amphibian's kidneys. It may be used to replace water lost to evaporation, but an animal should not be kept in pure distilled or RO water. Bottled "drinking water" is usually just filtered tap water and probably no better than your own tap water.

The Wright & Whitaker Amphibian Medicine and Captive Husbandry book says:

"Amphibians rely upon the water in which they live to provide them with many of the constituents needed to carry out metabolic processes... Distilled and reverse osmosis water contain none of the elements required by amphibians and should not be used without modification."

FROM: http://www.caudata.org/cc/articles/Spring_water.shtml

2) Unsafe Types of Water for Captive Amphibians
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Distilled, de-ionized, and reverse osmosis water sources at 100% concentration are unsafe for use with amphibians. As mentioned earlier, amphibians absorb water by means of osmosis, the passage of water from a lower concentration (of salts, in this case) to a higher concentration. Distilled, de-ionized, and reverse osmosis waters contain a low, or zero, concentration of salts and other minerals (hence the name de-ionized). The cells of an amphibian, on the other hand, contain positive concentrations of salts. Low salt concentrate water, such as distilled, de-ionized, or reverse osmosis water, will pass through the semi-permeable skin of an amphibian and attempt to equalize the concentration of minerals and enzymes on both sides of the cell wall through dilution. This results in swelling of the cell, and possibly rupture. In essence, these types of water disrupt the chemical properties and functions of certain amphibian cells, and can cause severe health problems and death over a period of time. To avoid such mishaps, amphibians should always be placed in solutions with similar salt concentrations as found within the animals cells. It is worth mentioning here that distilled and de-ionized water can be mixed with ionized water sources to manipulate hard water (see more in the Acceptable Types of Water for Captive Amphibians section below).

FROM: http://www.livingunderworld.org/amphibi ... 0006.shtml

3) NEVER use reverse osmosis water. Reverse osmosis water is so pure that it is continually striving to equalize itself with its environment. When used on your frogs the water will actually take much needed minerals right out of the frog eventually killing the frog. The only exception to this rule is if you treat the R.O. water to add the minerals back into the water. We use distilled water on all of our tanks. The reason is two-fold. One, distilled water does not leave water spots on the glass which makes cleaning much easier. Secondly, tap water (well or city) can leave mineral deposits on the plants and moss. This leaves a coating that keeps light from getting to the plants and moss. Distilled water is typically under a dollar a gallon and the average hobbyist won’t go through very much at a time!

FROM: http://www.qualitycaptives.com/index.ph ... 1&Itemid=7


So do the folks at caudata.org and livingunderworld.org just not have a clue, or what is going on? Or are you guys adding supplements into your reverse osmosis water? Can anyone find some decent links talking about PURE reverse osmosis water being benficial for amphibians? Thanks.
 

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A great booster pump that should work on your new RO is the Aquatec Permeate Pump. It requires no electricity, and will make up water faster with a higher rejection rate. They are $52.99 on Amazon. I put one on my mom's RO. She had a well with a 20-40 psi pressure switch, it made up water faster than the electric pump that was previously installed. My only concern is using components from your old RO, possibly contaminating the new RO with bacteria. If you have any questions, please include the details of what you have done.
 

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Jer said:
Im confused about reverse osmosis water. Are you guys using "pure" reverse osmosis water or are you adding mineral supplements before use with amphibians?

Here is a small fraction of sites that say reverse osmosis water is bad for amphibians:

1) Do NOT use water that is labeled as "distilled" or "drinking water". Distilled water (or Reverse Osmosis water) has virtually no ions in it, so it causes more work for the amphibian's kidneys. It may be used to replace water lost to evaporation, but an animal should not be kept in pure distilled or RO water. Bottled "drinking water" is usually just filtered tap water and probably no better than your own tap water.

The Wright & Whitaker Amphibian Medicine and Captive Husbandry book says:

"Amphibians rely upon the water in which they live to provide them with many of the constituents needed to carry out metabolic processes... Distilled and reverse osmosis water contain none of the elements required by amphibians and should not be used without modification."

FROM: http://www.caudata.org/cc/articles/Spring_water.shtml

2) Unsafe Types of Water for Captive Amphibians
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Distilled, de-ionized, and reverse osmosis water sources at 100% concentration are unsafe for use with amphibians. As mentioned earlier, amphibians absorb water by means of osmosis, the passage of water from a lower concentration (of salts, in this case) to a higher concentration. Distilled, de-ionized, and reverse osmosis waters contain a low, or zero, concentration of salts and other minerals (hence the name de-ionized). The cells of an amphibian, on the other hand, contain positive concentrations of salts. Low salt concentrate water, such as distilled, de-ionized, or reverse osmosis water, will pass through the semi-permeable skin of an amphibian and attempt to equalize the concentration of minerals and enzymes on both sides of the cell wall through dilution. This results in swelling of the cell, and possibly rupture. In essence, these types of water disrupt the chemical properties and functions of certain amphibian cells, and can cause severe health problems and death over a period of time. To avoid such mishaps, amphibians should always be placed in solutions with similar salt concentrations as found within the animals cells. It is worth mentioning here that distilled and de-ionized water can be mixed with ionized water sources to manipulate hard water (see more in the Acceptable Types of Water for Captive Amphibians section below).

FROM: http://www.livingunderworld.org/amphibi ... 0006.shtml

3) NEVER use reverse osmosis water. Reverse osmosis water is so pure that it is continually striving to equalize itself with its environment. When used on your frogs the water will actually take much needed minerals right out of the frog eventually killing the frog. The only exception to this rule is if you treat the R.O. water to add the minerals back into the water. We use distilled water on all of our tanks. The reason is two-fold. One, distilled water does not leave water spots on the glass which makes cleaning much easier. Secondly, tap water (well or city) can leave mineral deposits on the plants and moss. This leaves a coating that keeps light from getting to the plants and moss. Distilled water is typically under a dollar a gallon and the average hobbyist won’t go through very much at a time!

FROM: http://www.qualitycaptives.com/index.ph ... 1&Itemid=7


So do the folks at caudata.org and livingunderworld.org just not have a clue, or what is going on? Or are you guys adding supplements into your reverse osmosis water? Can anyone find some decent links talking about PURE reverse osmosis water being benficial for amphibians? Thanks.

Distilled water is more pure than RO, thus more aggressive. The question is do the frogs absorb water primarily from the humidity in the tank? Water vapor would have an extremely low mineral content as well. The minerals the frog needs are supplemented through it's diet. For things like tads, that live in the water, something should be added, even if it's just an oak leaf, to calm the water, so to speak.
 

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RO or distilled water should not be used with fully aquatic amphibians for all the reasons listed (again, Ed will really be the one to explain this fully). For my aquatics (Pseudobranchus axanthus axanthus, Ambystoma mexicanum, Typhlonectes natans), I used conditioned aged tap water. The major reason for using RO or distilled water with terrestrials (IME) is preventing the buildup of mineral salts on the glass and plants of the tank. The terrestrial salamander and frog tanks were misted with aged tap water for over a year with no observable negative effects. I don't mind terribly about hard water stains in my vivs (as a little lemon juice will clean the glass easily), but have added an RO unit as a source of pure water for my growing collection of CPs and a nano reef tank.
 

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I have been using ro or distilled water to spray my tanks for over 10 years. I use it to fill soak dishes too, if theres enough dirt in them to draw out some ions. I occasionally use tap water to fill soak dishes also but usually fill them w/ the sprayer.
 

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Amphibians or fish should not be set up with RO/DI water in a manner by which they cannot avoid or escape the water. If they are trapped in it over time they will lose ions as they try to osmoregulate with the resulting stress eventually being detrimental to the animals. (For example rain water typically has about 7.1 mg salts per liter which is a pretty low level of dissolved ions and the animals do fine when rained on (see http://www.cleanwaterstore.com/technica ... water.html)) However in enclosures where they are misted with water, the contact time is pretty low which is the major difference. Even using it in water bowls is pretty safe as the frogs can soak, rehydrate and move out without any real ion loss.
With respect to RO being less agressive than DI, the pH is of greater concern as areas where there is dissolved CO2 in the water, the RO will have a pH between 6 and 6.5 from the CO2 reacting with the water to form H2CO3 while distilled should be 7.0. This is important as the lower pH can actually cause a greater ion loss and disruption of the amphibian's ability to osmoregulate.

There are reports of people using it for tadpole rearing but these typically include the addition of other items like dry leaves or flake foods which are going to leach ions into the water decreasing the disparity in osmoregulation between the tadpole and the water.

The references you posted are correct in that the amphibians should not be set up in a way that they cannot avoid prolonged contact with RO or distilled water but it has its place in use.

Also reconstituted RO is RO water that has had at least some minerals restored to it to the point where it is considered soft, hard or very hard water so its safe for amphibian use (this also occurs as the water picks up dust and other particulates as it travels through the cage).

And RO/DI is actually perfect when used as make up water for water that has evaporated between water changes as it doesn't increase the TDS in any real manner.

Ed
 

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That quote from livingunderworld says they use distilled water, but say never to use reverse osmosis water.....

Are they not essentially the same? The two ways to get water at its purest state (with no additives, salts, minerals, anything left in the water), is by high quality r/o, or distillation. So that makes no sense to me. The only benefit I see is getting the .5 difference in pH, which I don't think makes that much of a difference when the water's actually introduced into the cage.

In my opinion, the 5 stage units made by Goldline are the best, professional grade, reliable, and last a long time, and filter changes cost a few dollars a year for such a great product. I've been using and selling their stuff for several years and I've had no problems whatsoever.

If you get a 3.4g pressurized tank, and fix a nozzle to the end of the tubing you attach to it, then you have a good supply of water for misting. You can get a T-valve and run one line to the sprayer, and one line to a tap to fill up dishes, tanks, whatever.

In total, you're looking at 300-500$ depending where you get your system, some companies will upsell you of course and try to get 2000 for the units, but do some shopping around and you'll be able to find them for a few hundred. Well worth it, I use the same system for drinking, cooking, and all my 25 lizards/frogs. My female veiled chameleon has only been on RO water, and she's 8 years old, so I'm stickin to what works for me.

And if you're concerned about Bisphenol A from plastics getting into your water, which Canada has recently become the first nation to declare as 'dangerous', Goldline uses #5 plastic, which is a dense, industrial grade plastic which doesn't leach the toxins like the #7 does.


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To solve all problems, using mineral water, or re-mineralized R/O water (so you can control exactly what's in it) for your pool or water feature in the tank, and then misting with R/O or distilled water is the best way to go. Even if you use straight R/O, it will pick up the minerals from the substrate and whatever will start growing in it within no time.


These frogs survive on rain water, some of them complete their whole life cycle within one or two bromeliads, rain is essentially nature's purest water, and that's what they're living in on a daily basis in the wild. When you've got your 'stripped' water being introduced to tannins from leaf litter, minerals from the substrate, bacteria and microflora/fauna that will grow in the water, you're doing a pretty good job at mimicing their natural environment.
 

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I Just use dechlorinated tap water or spring water. Never had a problem with mineral buildup on the glass.
 

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I've used aged tap water for several years with my caudates without issue. However, if your local water has chloramines in it, allowing the water to age will evaporate the chlorine but the chloramines will stay behind. RO/DI is best for misting terrestrials, but I certainly wouldn't use straight RO/DI for raising tads/larva due to the ion loss.

RO/DI has its place of use, as Ed earlier indicated in this thread.
 
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