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New Water Source


I've just finished drilling and installing an irrigation well here in South 
Florida. The well goes 93 feet into the earth and locally such wells 
typically pass through topsoil, marl, shellrock rubble and two layers of 
limestone baserock. Ground water is available at 10-15 feet, but from there 
to around 75 ft or so, it is heavily laced with iron. In fact, water from 
that depth it is seldom used in residential areas around here due to it's 
tendency to stain everything it touches a rusty, orange/red color.

Below this layer at around 60 to 80 - feet lies a second marl and limestone 
cap under which lies the water most people around here use for irrigation. 
This water doesn't stain (usually) but is high in sulfur (and who knows what 
else); being a yellow color with the associated rotten egg smell. I have 
tested it with a two year old Aquarium Pharm. KH/GH test kit and Tetra pH kit 
of the same age, obtaining the following readings:

pH 7.8 Tetra, but water is yellow to begin with?
KH 30  AP
GH 27  AP

I can't detect any iron using Dave Gomberg's test kit, but it too is several 
years old. I'm almost positive this well water contains other minerals, but 
in what proportions I know not.

Now, my normal tap water contains Choloramine and the pH is 9.0 plus falling 
to 8 within a day, esp. with some aeration. The KH is 2 and the GH varies 
from 4 to 8 as measured by the same old test kits. All other parameters fall 
within the normal range of Federal guidelines for drinking water: sodium, 
phosphate, copper, etc. Since I usually add baking soda to this tap water to 
kick the KH up for safety anyway with gas CO2 injection; can anyone thing of 
a reason why I should try adding this new irrigation water to my normal tap 
water for such purposes and also to experiment with?

Having read Diana Walstad's work on the positive responses of "soft water" 
plants to "hard" water - I'm naturally eager to experiment with this mineral 
rich liquid rock I now have available. 

The normal course of action in such instances would be for me to consult 
others in my vicinity about their experiences with aquatic plants using this 
water, but believe it or not such individuals are hard to find. Anybody out 

The large commercial growers such as Florida Aquatic Nurseries are hard to 
contact and tend to be a bit closed mouthed about their growing practices. 

The LFS's are all heavily into reef, especially given the local availability 
of Saltwater corals, fish, etc. Can't blame them really, as otherwise normal 
people will lay out unbelievable sums of $$ for reef setups. Perhaps it will 
be the same with Planted Aquaria someday...

1. Should I bother paying to have this water analyzed as to content? If so, 
what should I be looking for?

2. Should I just start gradually adding it to tanks and observe the results? 
What can we conjecture they might be? The plants are now, for the most part, 
growing well.  Am I looking for trouble? I know some Crypts: blassi, balansae 
maybe uster. lingua and Pont. come from areas where they are either growing 
on limestone or in tidal regions My blassi never did well, think this water 
might help? I've heard stories that many of the Sri Lanka Crypts actually 
like "hard" water.

3.  Would it be safest to set up a tank with one example of each plant I 
could afford to loose and gradually replace some/most of the water they are 
used to with this new stuff to observe the results?

Is there something I'm not thinking of here? Comments?

As always, thanks for your views and opinions,


Bob Olesen
West Palm Beach