Trying to make my life a tad easier...

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Ec2003

Ec2003

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Hey everyone. Not necessarily new on here but have always found the answers needed without asking so kudos to all of you out there! Much appreciated over the years and many issues solved.

So my situation...

I have been growing for years on and off and have always done hydro. Not sure why but I like it. Up until recently I haven't had any issues but my wife and I purchased our first home and now the problems start.

The setup: I'm using a 5 by 5 tent with 2 750watt kind led lights. They stay at the top of the tent all of the time to manage temps and all of the plants never stretch out staying low and bushy. I do top and use lst as necessary with 2 suspended nets. Temps at the top of the tent reach about 80 but the plants never get that big and stay at about 76 degrees. I have 6 6 gallon buckets tied into one 40 gallon res outside the tent. I use rockwool and clay pellets for medium. Each bucket has its own air stone as well as a large air stone in the main res. Everything is light sealed and I use landscaping fabric to cover the clay pellets once the plants get tall enough. I have a blue lab meter for ph and ppms and clean and calibrate once a month.

Up until recently I have always been able to just use tap water and nutes. I use gh 10 part but keep ppms much lower than recommended even for light feeding. I know it's crazy to waste the money on those extras but I think the plants like it. The problem came after we got setup in the new house. I managed one halfway decent grow but know I can do better and struggled every step of the way. We have a well and unfortunately we have to treat for radon and hardness. The first grow as you can imagine was tough...400 ppm water out of the softener and couldn't use well water due to radon. No matter what I did the plants either couldn't get enough nutes especially cal MG or they would burn from too high ppm even with minimal nutrients.

So...I invested in a ro system. I've done my due diligence in research on using ro water mixing nutes with cal MG first allowing time to mix and buffer before other nutes. The problem is that the ph will sit pretty at 6.3ish even for a much as 24 hours in a separate 50 gal res with a circulation pump and dedicated air stone but once I do the water swap the ph plummets for about 2 days before finally settling out. I'm blowing through ph up faster than my nutes! JK not quite that bad. There is no root rot as I've dealt with that in the past with an old 1000watt hid system and the plants are fine while I sit there and watch for hours on end lol but if I want to go to sleep they start showing signs of issues within 12 hours due to crazy ph drop. I do have a water chiller inbound just because 73 is a tad high although I'm not having issues at the moment I tend to think preventative. And it's headed into winter so it's only going to get cooler in the basement.

I wanted to try here as the local hydro stores I use are all stumped. I posted a couple pics of the setup for reference.

Sorry for the long read but I wanted to be thorough. Thanks for reading and the help!
 
ComfortablyNumb

ComfortablyNumb

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The water softener is your problem. Tap the line before it goes to the softener and run it thru a basic carbon water filter, That will take care of it.
The filter will help clean anything that is in the water that can hurt the plants, but it does nothing else except give you peace of mind.
 
chemistry

chemistry

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I would dilute the 400ppm tap water with RO, get the ppms from the tap water down to 200ppm and your made.
 
BionicKroniK

BionicKroniK

621
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The water softener is your problem. Tap the line before it goes to the softener and run it thru a basic carbon water filter, That will take care of it.
The filter will help clean anything that is in the water that can hurt the plants, but it does nothing else except give you peace of mind.

@Ec2003...Welcome to the FARM Forum and Mahalo for Sharing! 👍😎

I agree with @ComfortablyNumb...Water softeners are NOT Pakalolo-Friendly, imo...🤔 Best of Luck and please do keep us posted here too, we'll keep a "Watch" out for your updates (if any)...👍😎✌️

*EDIT:
Hi chemistry...Sorry, I didn't see your post till after I posted mine. 👍🙃🙂
 
Last edited:
Ec2003

Ec2003

10
3
Wow everyone thanks for the quick responses! So to answer a few questions. The ppms prior to softener are 450 and is not a good plant friendly mix. Calcium and magnesium are the least of our worries there as it's mostly "other minerals" according to a quick water test I did with a kit. Currently I'm running from the softener through an ro system to remove the crazy ppms of basically salt from the softener so I'm starting with 0ppm water. I can try blending with tap water but the first grow I did in the new house I did with just the tap but had basically the same issue but worse as the ph of my tap water is 7 to 7.2 but once I add nutes and it hits the res sites for a few hours the ph would start rising so I would ph down. Then halfway through the week it would flip and start plummeting for the rest of the week hence the reason I bought an ro system.

One question that I have after doing more research this morning was the fact that everywhere I read it says that as plants eat generally the ph of the water will rise. (not always but generally) Now my thought is that would be due to the natural water ph usually being 7ish so as plants eat the ph should begin to return closer to the natural ph of the water. One thing I noticed last night is the ph of the ro water stays at 4.5 to 5 after going through the ro system due to not having a buffer. It's climbs up to 6 after adding just the cal MG then balances out at about 6.3 with all nutrients added no ph up or down needed. Could it be that as they take up nutrients and the water settles over a day or so in the system that the ph is just going to lower?
 
chemistry

chemistry

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My water from the tap is 280ppm and 7.0ph, if you split 50/50 RO and tap water it would see you around 225? 225ppm is a good starting number for near perfect PH balance. Try and PH your water before you put in any nuits or additives, and see if things level out. I think your in a good place. 👍
 
Pushrod Monkey

Pushrod Monkey

604
93
The water softener is your problem. Tap the line before it goes to the softener and run it thru a basic carbon water filter, That will take care of it.
The filter will help clean anything that is in the water that can hurt the plants, but it does nothing else except give you peace of mind.
You can’t avoid the brine tank with an RO system. He said it’s unusable due to radon.

Time to start hauling water.
 
ComfortablyNumb

ComfortablyNumb

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How do I remove radon from my drinking water?​

Radon can be removed from water by using one of two methods:
  • Aeration treatment – spraying water or mixing it with air and then venting the air from the water before use, or
  • GAC treatment – filtering water through granular activated carbon. Radon attaches to the carbon and leaves the water free of radon. Disposing of the carbon may require special handling if it is used at a high radon level or if it has been used for a long time.


So, tap the freakin thing BEFORE the softener and filter it.
 
Aqua Man

Aqua Man

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You can’t avoid the brine tank with an RO system. He said it’s unusable due to radon.

Time to start hauling water.
Where is this radon coming from? Had it tested? I mean this gas is produced from the breakdown of uranium its not just present everywhere.

Aeration and a good activated carbon filer will remove it.

I highly doubt this is an issue and if it's a municipal water supply I'd say it's almost impossible that it would contain any.
 
ComfortablyNumb

ComfortablyNumb

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263
Where is this radon coming from? Had it tested? I mean this gas is produced from the breakdown of uranium its not just present everywhere.

Aeration and a good activated carbon filer will remove it.

I highly doubt this is an issue and if it's a municipal water supply I'd say it's almost impossible that it would contain any.
He has well water.
 
Aqua Man

Aqua Man

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He has well water.
Yeah bit that doesn't mean it has radon.... and its been used in the past without issue?

And RO unit with AC filter as most have will remove radon if it's a quality carbon with a proper dwell time.

Aeration also works.
 
Aqua Man

Aqua Man

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Wow everyone thanks for the quick responses! So to answer a few questions. The ppms prior to softener are 450 and is not a good plant friendly mix. Calcium and magnesium are the least of our worries there as it's mostly "other minerals" according to a quick water test I did with a kit. Currently I'm running from the softener through an ro system to remove the crazy ppms of basically salt from the softener so I'm starting with 0ppm water. I can try blending with tap water but the first grow I did in the new house I did with just the tap but had basically the same issue but worse as the ph of my tap water is 7 to 7.2 but once I add nutes and it hits the res sites for a few hours the ph would start rising so I would ph down. Then halfway through the week it would flip and start plummeting for the rest of the week hence the reason I bought an ro system.

One question that I have after doing more research this morning was the fact that everywhere I read it says that as plants eat generally the ph of the water will rise. (not always but generally) Now my thought is that would be due to the natural water ph usually being 7ish so as plants eat the ph should begin to return closer to the natural ph of the water. One thing I noticed last night is the ph of the ro water stays at 4.5 to 5 after going through the ro system due to not having a buffer. It's climbs up to 6 after adding just the cal MG then balances out at about 6.3 with all nutrients added no ph up or down needed. Could it be that as they take up nutrients and the water settles over a day or so in the system that the ph is just going to lower?
Read this, specifically the RO portion. Ph is a result of alkaline to acidic ratios.

If using RO in hydro or soiless you will need to add a buffer back. If using for buffered soil or peat then you don't.

 
Ec2003

Ec2003

10
3
Ok so let me clarify a few things. The house I'm in now is new to us this spring. The water is from our well which has been tested yearly and has the presence of radon on top of being hard. We received the annual tests from the water company that maintains the system and I purchased and did an at home test to verify results. Could I tap and bypass just softener sure but I already tried water directly out of the well and the ph is 8.2 so I was dealing with exactly the opposite issue im trying to solve with ro water. I certainly don't want anyone on here as frustrated as I've been lol. I may just have to bite the bullet on a ph controller for up only to mitigate the crazy cost of the dual pump option and continue on. I'm certainly not "hauling" 75 gallons of water each week when it should be free minus electricity for the well pump. 🤣

I mean as of writing this post the ph has finally stabilized at 6.2 after 48 hours and a tiny bottle worth of ph up. Ppms are dropping as they should slowly and they are drinking a ton. I definitely am going to try buffering the ro water with tap to get the starting ppm between 100 and 200 and hope for the best.

Thanks for the directions to follow and I'll keep an eye on here. Now that things are widely excepted and my employer no longer cares I may finally start doing grow journals on here because I definitely enjoy reading and learning from yours!

Cheers and happy growing!
 
Aqua Man

Aqua Man

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Ok so let me clarify a few things. The house I'm in now is new to us this spring. The water is from our well which has been tested yearly and has the presence of radon on top of being hard. We received the annual tests from the water company that maintains the system and I purchased and did an at home test to verify results. Could I tap and bypass just softener sure but I already tried water directly out of the well and the ph is 8.2 so I was dealing with exactly the opposite issue im trying to solve with ro water. I certainly don't want anyone on here as frustrated as I've been lol. I may just have to bite the bullet on a ph controller for up only to mitigate the crazy cost of the dual pump option and continue on. I'm certainly not "hauling" 75 gallons of water each week when it should be free minus electricity for the well pump. 🤣

I mean as of writing this post the ph has finally stabilized at 6.2 after 48 hours and a tiny bottle worth of ph up. Ppms are dropping as they should slowly and they are drinking a ton. I definitely am going to try buffering the ro water with tap to get the starting ppm between 100 and 200 and hope for the best.

Thanks for the directions to follow and I'll keep an eye on here. Now that things are widely excepted and my employer no longer cares I may finally start doing grow journals on here because I definitely enjoy reading and learning from yours!

Cheers and happy growing!
Your PH problem is not a PH problem... its an alkalinity problem creating an unstable PH problem.
 
Aqua Man

Aqua Man

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Here to break it down instead of reading that post (which you should to help understand)

Add 75-100ppm of ph up (potassium bicarbonate, potassium hydroxide, potassium silicate etc) to your RO water FIRST. Then add nutrients and finally PH down.

It should drift about 0.2 per 24hrs upwards
 
Ec2003

Ec2003

10
3
@Aqua Man
Lol I posted my reply then read your post and that entire thread. Thanks so much. That finally makes sense but a quick question to that would be should I buffer the ro water slowly with well water until ppms are in that range as the well water is more alkaline and high mineral content vs my softened tap? I know for a fact after my water tests that the tap has ppms but it's just the salts used for stripping the minerals out of the water.
 
Aqua Man

Aqua Man

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@Aqua Man
Lol I posted my reply then read your post and that entire thread. Thanks so much. That finally makes sense but a quick question to that would be should I buffer the ro water slowly with well water until ppms are in that range as the well water is more alkaline and high mineral content vs my softened tap? I know for a fact after my water tests that the tap has ppms but it's just the salts used for stripping the minerals out of the water.
You can but there is no guarantee that the ppm add will contain adequate alkalinity.

Imo the easiest and a sure way would be to add a buffer like PH up. You can buy potassium bicarbonate very cheap in powder form.
 

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