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View Full Version : Any Guesses? SW Mix gone wrong


Original Fin
12/18/2010, 10:14 PM
This is weird. After months of mixing my saltwater in 5 gallon water cooler jugs, I recently decided to make things "easier" on myself and set up a permanent mixing station. My first batch this evening has a DKH of 13.6 and an ammonia reading of 1.
The alk I could probably live with, but should I even consider putting 10 gals of 1ppm ammonia into my 60 gallon system, or should I dump this possibly tainted mix and start over?

Some details:

Day 1 The mix station is a 20G that was formerly used as a QT (I've downsized the QT to a 10). It ran fallow with a sponge filter for several months prior to breaking it down and cleaning with a vinegar solution. I never treated this tank with any meds. It had been cyled at one point, but I stopped feeding the tank. I have no doubt that bacteria was present though. There was some detritus at the bottom that was pretty rank when I emptied it, and the sponge was covered with white spores. It was well rinsed and dried. I also used the 50W heater from that tank, but did not take care to give it more than a quick TW rinse and towel dry (probably mistake 1).
I also removed a 120 gph powerhead from my DT to use in the mix station.
I half filled the mix station with RO, added the heater and the powerhead. It occurred to me (duh) just after I put the head in that it would be a good idea to clean/disinfect it, so I took it out and soaked it overnight in a vinegar solution.
Day 2The powerhead had been completely covered in in hard coraline, but it came off easily after the vinegar bath. It was thoroughly scrubbed/rinsed inside and out till nothing organic was left, at least that I could see. I placed it in the mix tank and fired it up. I also attempted to mix my first batch of SW, but I ran out of salt before I could reach my target salinity of 1.026. It made it to 1.021.
Day 3&4 Changed nothing, mix tank ran all day with powerhead and heater going.
Day 5 present day Purchased more IO salt (non RC type) and also another heater. The 50 watter would not raise tem above 68, and this is in my garage, so I needed more power. The new one is a 150watt. Came up to 78 no problem. Added more salt till I hit my target salinity. Let mix for 6 hours and observed that the water was still pretty cloudy. I tested for PH (8.3 perfect) Alk (13.6 dkh high) and Ammonia (1ppm high). Scratching head now, I tested the RO water for ammonia...it's 0. Hmmm? Did a small amount of bacteria somehow survive from the QT to bloom in this short time? What to do now?

bertoni
12/19/2010, 12:44 AM
I would ditch the water, although getting a second opinion on the ammonia kit might be useful. It should read zero on proper RO/DI water (with zero TDS). I'll have to read your post more carefully before responding.

Original Fin
12/19/2010, 01:26 AM
I would ditch the water, although getting a second opinion on the ammonia kit might be useful. It should read zero on proper RO/DI water (with zero TDS). I'll have to read your post more carefully before responding.

Yep, it was a long post, but somewhere in there I did mention that I control tested for ammonia on the RO and it came up zero. TDS is not great @ 20 but it's the best I've got for the moment. I have a new RODI marked do not open till x- mas.
FWIW, this is the same RO I've been using, high TDS and all, but this is the first time I've seen ammonia in this range. I usually do register .25 ammonia with IO mix, this time was quite a bit darker green on the API graduated scale.

Granted, I usually don't let it sit for 5 days.

evsalty
12/19/2010, 01:37 AM
If there was anything organic left in or on the tank, heater and or pump then it could have started to break down and since you do not have any biological filtration going on i.e. bacteria, there is nothing to break the ammonia down to nitrIte. Your DT, however should have said bacteria already if it is an established tank. I do not know that I would want to add water with that kind of ammonia reading to a 55g or smaller tank so I would probably opt for tossing said water and then recleaning your newish mixing station and everything that is used for this. Also since x-mas is next week you should probably just wait to make more water until you get that rodi unit up and running.

allsps40
12/19/2010, 11:08 AM
You are using RC and IO right?? I had this same problem high alk, ca and mixed up very brown with the RC. Io was also brown and ca was at 500 and alk at 8 not bad but brown. Contacted IO about this and they tested my salt samples. They have a few bad batches out right now, contaminates in the ca and they added to much ca and buffer to the RC. That is coming direct from IO. They offered to replace my bucket of RC but I decided to change to H2Ocean. Send them a sample and I bet they will find the same thing.

bertoni
12/19/2010, 11:58 AM
I read through your description, and I agree that contaminated salt is a strong possibility. You might get a second opinion on the ammonia kit, but sending a sample to IO is a good idea, too. Ammonia is one of the more common contaminants we see in salt products.

mc-cro
12/19/2010, 12:44 PM
wow, never even considered testing new water for ammonia! guess I ought to start, especially since I use IO

Original Fin
12/19/2010, 01:55 PM
I read through your description, and I agree that contaminated salt is a strong possibility. You might get a second opinion on the ammonia kit, but sending a sample to IO is a good idea, too. Ammonia is one of the more common contaminants we see in salt products.

Thanks AllSPS40 and Bertoni.

I guess I could mix a small batch with the same salt (not in my possibly contaminated mix station) and see if I get the same results. I also need to replace my API master test kit as I've just run out of Nitrate solution.
I'll contact OI tomorrow and see if they can tell me anything about the mfg code on my bag of salt, and whether or not they want me to send a sample.

I'll update later for those that might be interested.

Original Fin
12/20/2010, 12:26 PM
Well, I've got confirmation that the salt mix is not the ammonia source. In this pic from left to right; sw mixing tank water, control RO mix, DT water.
http://i55.*******.com/200s1og.jpg

Looks like breaking down the mix station for a thorough cleaning is in order. Just goes to show you can never be too careful about your mix container/process.

Chris27
12/20/2010, 12:38 PM
While vinegar is great for breaking down calcium deposits, it's not as effective against bacteria as plain ol' laundry bleach is. Get some bleach and give your mixing station a heavy pour from the bottle. Let it circulate for a day or so. After that drain it, rinse it, and then let it dry out. Once everything is dry, fill it back up, and dump a little water conditioner in there to break down any residual chlorine.

Original Fin
12/20/2010, 01:01 PM
While vinegar is great for breaking down calcium deposits, it's not as effective against bacteria as plain ol' laundry bleach is. Get some bleach and give your mixing station a heavy pour from the bottle. Let it circulate for a day or so. After that drain it, rinse it, and then let it dry out. Once everything is dry, fill it back up, and dump a little water conditioner in there to break down any residual chlorine.

Ok, will do. Thanks for that advice. So I just add some bleach to the SW that's already in there and let the powerhead circulate, or should I dump the SW, add fresh and then the bleach? Is there a diiference?

Also, should I be testing for chlorine after I've gone through this process, or is it safe to assume the the water conditioner will take care of it? I ask because I don't have a chlorine test kit!

Chris27
12/20/2010, 01:53 PM
I don't think there is a difference, just dump the bleach in the SW.

If you let everything dry completely after a rinse, including the different piece parts of the power head, heater whatever else, then the water conditioner may not even be necessary. It still wouldn't hurt to add it though.

I wouldn't bother testing for chlorine, unless your LFS has a kit and will run a test for you, but yes, you can be reasonably certain that the water conditioner will remove anything left over. I wouldn't worry to much though, once bleach dries it's no longer a danger to your livestock.

Original Fin
12/20/2010, 02:17 PM
TYVM Chris!

bertoni
12/20/2010, 04:42 PM
I don't know that bleaching the container is going to help much. As long as the bacteria have protein for food, they will produce ammonia. Sterilizing would work for a bit. If IO has enough protein to create that level of ammonia, there must have been a contamination problem. It's also possible that some sort of organic debris is getting into the holding container.

If you do bleach the container, I'd suggest treating it well with with a dechlorinator before using it again. The bleach might help remove some organic debris, but vinegar should be good enough, too.