Water Quality may seem pretty
straight forward, but it can actually be tough to define. In part, it depends
upon who you ask: Freshwater (FW) Fish keepers have a different definition of what
constitutes "Water Quality" then planted tank owners, saltwater and marine
enthusiast, water companies, the culligan man, the local nuclear plant...and the
list goes on. There's nitrates, nitrites, pH, Gh, Kh, ammonia, phosphates, Ca,
Mg, TDSs, DOCs, bacteria, algae, viruses, fungi, and again the list goes on and
on to include minerals like gold,
silver, and copper.
Pure water is just that:
Pure Water. It contains nothing except Hydrogen (2) and Oxygen (1)=H2O.
Truly Pure water is next to impossible to achieve, but we can obtain a Highly
pure state through Distillation, Reverse Osmosis (RO)
So, What IS "Water
Quality"? Honestly, that discussion is really way to long and involved to attempt
here. So, let's look at what works for Acrochordus species and other Asian
First, as stated in another
section of this website: Both Acrochordus arafurae and
javanicus are Very FW Creatures. Yes, A. javanicus is
found in estuaries and mangroves which is brackish water. But so are both
Acrochordusarafurae and Acrochordus granulatus. And technically: All 3
are found in All 3 environments--FW, Brackish and Marine. The only
question about Acrochordus and FW is with Acrochordus granulatus
have already been kept in captivity long-term in FW--so there really is no
question. Trying to keep Acrochordus javanicus in Brackish water is like trying to
reinvent the wheel: Why bother? And it really, really isn't necessary. If all of Your other husbandry parameters are correct--the salt doesn't
provide ANY benefits and you run the risk of causing the snake to
stop drinking leading to dehydration and stress. Stress leads to White-spot
Fungus which leads to Death. Do Yourself a favor: Get Over the Brackish
thing. Sorry, but there's still a ton of confusion and misinformation
floating around out there.
So, this discussion deals with
Acrochordus arafurae and Acrochordus javanicus and FW (the only water needed).
Think about it: What is 1 Major Component in the Captive Care of Acrochordus
snakes that changes from person to person and place to place? Why do some people
have Success with relative Ease and others Fail time and time again? The First
answer is the Water. The second answer is not so easy, but there
is no doubt that the Water has factored in for different folks. All of the
Acrochordus granulatus that I have had and the 1 Acrochordus arafurae were kept in my local tap
water--Very Hard: pH 8.3, Gh 18, Kh 14. The Acrochordus granulatus situation is explained
in the Granulatus section, as is the Acrochordus arafurae in the Arafura section. I do
not believe that Hard water works very well--long-term--for Acrochordus snakes. So,
what kind of water do You need?
Basically, the FW of SE Asia
is a Black Water Biotope; i.e., Very Soft (Gh~3, Kh~2) and Acidic (pH
~5.5-6.5) loaded with Tannins
and Humic Acid, and Very Low in TDS. And that is what You are looking to achieve.
There is a Two-Fold benefit to this kind of water:
1) pH below 7.0 changes
the majority of Free-Ammonia (NH3) into harmless Ammonium (NH4). It also retards the growth
and development of "Bad" bacteria and parasites which is an Antiseptic Quality.
The 1 downside to a pH below 7.0 is that Nitrites become much more
Toxic/Prevalent. However, if the setup is properly cycled--Nitrites should not
be an issue.
2) The Tannins and
Humic Acid also retard the growth of "Bad" bacteria and some parasites. However,
more is not Merrier--High levels of Tannins and Humic Acid are Toxic.
At this juncture, I have not
become brave enough to again discontinue the addition of Tannins and Humic Acid
to my Acrochordus javanicus' setups. I did so, along with several other changes,
with my Acrochordus arafurae and that was the beginning of the end. Problem is--I
am not sure what the ultimate downfall of that situation was..... So, at some
time in the future of these Acrochordus javanicus', I will discontinue the addition of
the Tannins and Humic Acids--as a Controlled Experiment. Then I
will know more about their necessity. Right now I believe that they are a
necessity, but I have no proof--only instinct.
So, where do You get the Very
Soft Acidic Water? Well, there are 3 basic avenues:
1) Your Tap Water. If
You are one of the few very lucky people that have very soft water out of the
tap---then You've got it made in the water department! And speaking of the water
department--call them. Find out what comes out of Your tap and what they add to
the water and how much it fluctuates over the year (Yes, Tap water from a
single source can have large fluctuations throughout the year). Don't be shy.
That's what they are there for and they get all kinds of calls from individuals
and businesses--they are used to it. Again: Don't Be Shy!
2) Distilled water from
the store. This is a very practical solution for a small setup, say a 10 or
20gal aquarium. Otherwise, it gets very impractical and expensive very quickly.
If You get water from one of the machines--check the total TDSs with a meter
when You get it home. It may not be RO and/or DI water. It may just be run
through a water softener which is very High in TDSs--not good!
3) Reverse Osmosis.
This is how I get Mine: Reverse Osmosis w/ Deionization (RODI). I achieve TDS
rates of Zero. Basically, its as pure a water as You are going to
get. Downside? Its fairly expensive to setup and run over time. I easily have
over $450 into my current 100gpd (gallon per day) RO setup, and I am getting
really to purchase a second 100gpd RO setup. Plus over time filters and DI Resin
need to be replaced. If You search the Aquarium Forums--RO is going to be the
only suggestion on a setup bigger than a 29gal.
4) Other means of
"softening" Your water are using a chemical like Seachem's Acid Buffer (I did so
for about a month while waiting on my RODI unit and getting it setup and in
order) or adding Peat moss to your filter. Some successful keepers add sphagnum
(peat) moss to the Acros water. Either way, keep in mind that adding Peat moss
or Sphagnum Peat Moss is also adding Tannins and Humic Acids to the water--I
don't think folks yet have realized that value. But understand that adding these
things has very limited, short-term value and must be replaced regularly--Peat
Moss and Sphagnum once/month and Seachem's Acid Buffer daily until a maintenance
level is achieved.
So, let's assume that You're
not one of the Lucky people to have very soft tap water and that Your setup is
over 29gal. Well, that leaves You with an RO unit. There are many, many dealers
of RO units, so what and where to buy can all become very confusing. Here is a
page to help You sort out all the details: RO Units Explained.
(under construction 3-14-07)
Ok, so You have Your soft
water source setup and ready to roll. So, how do You determine the Quality of
1) Decide Your parameters. Softer is better and easier to make
and keep acidic. An RODI unit will put out water in the zero TDS range, so
reconstituting it becomes easy with Baking Soda for Kh and either
Grumpy's Gh Booster or Seachem's
Equilibrium for Gh. Kh 2, Gh 3 will work Great.
2) Test Kits/Meters. Hobbyist grade tests kits are really not
very accurate. But they can serve a purpose if You understand their limited
value. I personally like and prefer meters. A Good TDS meter is relatively
inexpensive (~$25) and necessary for use with an RO unit anyway. It can be used
to gauge the "Quality" of Your Acrochordus' water. However, keep in mind that a
TDS is, once again: only a gauge. It works off of the electrical conductivity of
many of the various TDSs in the water. However, not all TDSs are electrically
conductive--so the reading isn't 100% accurate: never was, never will be. But
its still a Good Gauge. Very simple and easy to use. A reading under 200ppm
should indicate sufficient water quality.
To Be Continued: