How to Setup a Reverse Osmosis System for Aquarium

A reverse osmosis system is a must for any aquarium enthusiast on the lookout for ideal water conditions for fish and other aqua life.

Commonly referred to as the RO system, the process desalinates water and any other dissolved solid contaminants leaving behind purified water. Under high pressure, water is pushed through a semi-permeable membrane.

This membrane allows the small water molecules to go through while the molecules of salts, minerals and other contaminants are left on the other side.

Many aquarists are becoming accustomed to using RO systems in eliminating contaminants to get high-quality water for marine and freshwater life.

They opt for RO systems because it produces pure water which means no algae will grow inside the aquarium. The pH is also relatively low compared to tap water.

Aquarium enthusiasts are often discouraged by the complexity involved when installing an RO system. But actually, the process is not hard at all. Once you get your RO system, the process is easy to understand.

Within an hour, you will be through with the installation. This article takes you through how to set up a reverse osmosis system for your aquarium.

For this demonstration, we will use the Aquaticlife RO Buddie deionization unit. You can produce up to 50 gallons of water free from TDS and sediments such as silt, dirt and rust. The carbon filtration system eliminates most of the chlorine, conditioning the water as it gets into the membrane filtration.

How to Setup a Reverse Osmosis System for Aquarium

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Step 1: Connecting the tubing to supply tap

First, choose the proper tap adapter. If you are getting your raw water from the sink or tap, pick an adapter that perfectly fits. Once the adapter is in place, you can insert the 5/8” red tubing into the adapter fitting. Note that the adapter perfectly fits the pipe because the tap diameter and the piping are not alike.

Step 2: Connect water supply to the RO system

Once you’ve connected the tubing to the supply tap, attach the same pipe to the first chamber written supply. This chamber is the sediment cartridge where soil particles, silt and other organic compounds are removed.

To do this, remove the blue plug, insert the red pipe, and then return the plug to fasten the pipe. In other RO systems, the chamber is identified by a red colour or the word ‘IN’ written close to the entry point.

Step 3: Connect Waste and Filtered Water Tubing

Identify the waste chamber, usually written waste and remove the plug and top. Then insert the black tubing and return the blue plug to fasten the piping and hold it in place.

Once in place, pick the blue tubing and locate the filtered water outlet point, usually at the bottom of the RO system, remove the plug, insert the tubing and fasten it with the plug.

Step 4: Flush the Carbon Cartridge

Open the tap to allow water to flow through the system. This process is essential because it flushes the carbon cartridge.

As water from the faucet comes in, it goes through the entire system and released through the pipes as discard water. Allow the process to run for about five minutes before proceeding to the next step.

Step 5: Installing the Reverse Osmosis membrane

Identify the cartridge that hosts the RO membrane, usually larger than other cartridges. Disconnect the tubing from the carbon cartridge by removing the plug and pulling out the tube.

Open the top of the RO cartridge and insert the membrane with the black rubber gasket facing the top. Close the RO membrane cartridge and return the piping to the initial position.

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Step 6: Flush the membrane

Once the RO membrane is in place, open the tap water and let it run through the system. Do not collect the water for use as the RO membrane has to be flushed. After about 30 minutes, discard both the fresh water and the wastewater.

Step 7: Install the Deionization Cartridge

Locate the RO cartridge outlet, usually at the bottom and attach the tube to the DI cartridge also at the bottom. At the top of the DI cartridge, remove the plug and insert the blue tube, which now delivers the filtered water. Your reverse osmosis system is now ready to use.

Note that most RO systems release four times more wastewater than filtered water. The wastewater may not be suitable for human consumption, but you can use it to irrigate your plants, so nothing goes to waste.

Once you have collected enough water, you can now pour it into your aquarium. At this point, the water is free from TDS, microorganisms, and other solvents. The water is also suitable for human and animal consumption.

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FAQ

Is reverse osmosis water OK for fish tanks?

Reverse osmosis eliminates toxic chemicals such as chlorine and chloramine, among other contaminants that may harm your fish. So the pure water is OK for fish tanks. It may be too pristine, but that’s not bad because minerals necessary for the fish to thrive can be artificially added to the water.

Can I install RO systems myself?

An RO system is not so hard to install. You can use about two hours to completely set up the RO system. However, some may be complex and will take a considerably longer time. But you can always call a professional to help you out.

What is not removed by reverse osmosis?

For any aqua life hobbyist, an RO system is always the go for whenever they are looking to start an aquarium. Usually, it promises between 90-99 percent pure water. Some of the components not removed by reverse osmosis are solvents such as radon and chloramine (not all chloramine is removed). Some pesticides may also pass through the system.

Bottom Line

Having an aquarium is always the dream of any marine life hobbyist. But the assumption that setting up a reverse osmosis system is cumbersome always puts them off. In reality, the process is not so complicated.

You will have your RO system harvesting pure water for your fish and corals in about two hours. The wastewater can be used to irrigate your outdoor and indoor plants, so nothing goes to waste.

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