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hi! My name is Ellen and I am just starting to learn about my aquarium, and I love my fish!

This all started last fall when my teenage daughter came home from the state fair with a goldfish - a present from her boyfriend, he "won" it....

Goldie died rather quickly after I had bought a small all-in-one tank (~2gallons). She then came home with a 10 gallon tank and a bunch of GLO fish and some other spotted ones. They have been doing well, but then the Spotties have died. Last week little Yellow seemed sick and we did the 5-in-1 strip test and the nitrites are off the charts! (nitrates almost nonexistent and no ammonia). Since then I am in emergency mode and haven't been off the computer, other than going to the fish store to get who-knows-what supplies, water changes, and too-many-to-count drops of Prime in the tank. I have also set up the little 2g thing as a quarantine tank and moved little Yellow over there, along with a new aerator as I don't think the filter is bubbling enough to get him enough O2. Little Yellow likes it much better over there but definitely is still not out of the woods.... not eating but at least swimming all the time now (before he mostly laid on the bottom for a day or so!). The 10 G tank still has Nitrites through the roof. When I have changed the water multiple times a day (like 1 time in the morning, and one time at night, like a 10-20% water change. I changed it 3 times the last 2 days though. I have put in the bacteria stuff at least 15 minutes after cycling the water as well. Anyway, if I can get through this I hope to get a bigger tank! My daughter thinks I am crazy but oh well :)

Ok, I have a very stupid question.... what is the difference between RO water and distilled water? I started out using distilled water from Walmart but have pretty much turned to tap water with Prime (or water conditioner before lil Yellow got sick).

Thanks so much!
Take care,
Ellen
 

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Hey Ellen welcome!

so RO stands for reverse osmosis and what this basically means is that RO water has been filtered through a membrane to rid impurities. Distilled water is purified through the process of evaporation so theoretically it should be better then plain RO water but i would be careful buying distilled water from places such as walmart. Tap water is sometimes ok but it depends on where you are, my tap water hardness is through the roof. RO water will be sufficient enough and same for distilled water. However, RO/DI water is pretty much the best you can get/make though;) Hope this helps! and if im wrong somewhere please feel free to correct me.
 

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Welcome Ellen - I guess you've figure out by now that nitrification is a two-step process (ammonia to nitrite, them nitrite to nitrate) accomlished by two diffrenet kinds of bacteria, and that your tank currently has gotten over the first step but not the second. The two best/easiest ways to avoid ammonia and nitrite problems in new tanks IMO are: (1) fast-growing plants like frogbit, salvinia, duckweed, guppy-grass, hornwort; and (2) move a filter, old filter media (sponge), or surface layer of gravel from a well-established tank with a heavy load of fish. The filter media or gravel should hopefully have a dense population of nitrifying bacteria.

Regarding water, Raleigh tap water with Prime added is fine. Thats what I've been using on all my freshwater tanks for 20+ years. You don't need RO or distilled for most freshwater fish. Most of our common community tank fish prefer water that is not too soft. Raleigh (and Wake Forest) tap water hardness is about 1.5 to 3 dGH (25 to 50 mg/L). Livebearers, Rift Lake Cichlids, and some other fish prefer hardness > 50 mg\L. Favia is probably on a private well (correct?) if his/her hardness is "through the roof" (how high is it?).
 

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No my subdivision just has very bad tap water I cant drink any of it unless it's filtered. But i do use well water for my fresh water tank and top off for my reef
 
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