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What is a Reverse Osmosis System?

The most important part of achieving a healthy and successful saltwater tank is, you guessed it, the water! The water that you use to fill up your tank will significantly change the overall quality of your tank’s health. Using ordinary tap water as the base for your saltwater mix could result in parameters that, while perfectly safe for drinking, are far from ideal for your inhabitants and could potentially cause harm to them. Buying premixed water is often expensive if you have a larger setup and is not cost-effective long term. Another option is installing a Reverse Osmosis System.

Reverse osmosis may be a term you are already familiar with if you live in a location where your tap water comes from a well. Reverse osmosis (RO) is a process of water purification that pushes water through a filter to remove impurities. RO removes anywhere from 90% to 99% of impurities and contaminants from tap water depending on the filtration membrane that is used. RO is often paired with Deionization (DI) as it adds an extra process that furthers the water’s purity even more. DI systems can either be purchased separately from the RO system or in some situations the system will be included.

RO/DI systems are very simple to maintain and require only basic maintenance, which includes filter changes. The system needs to be flushed every few months along with replacing the Pre-Filter once every six months. The Pre-Filter is the “dirtiest” part of the system as it is the main barrier keeping out the larger contaminants. The membrane filter has a much longer life and on some occasions only needs to be replaced after several years. The membrane is more of a “chemical” filter, in that it There are differing stages of RO/DI systems which achieve different stages of filtration. Water testing will determine what strength of filter is needed for your RO system, such as a situation where you’re water has significant amounts of total dissolved solids (TDS). There are many accessories available, such as gauges and meters that make the process of maintaining the system that much easier!

Installing most RO/DI systems cannot be much simpler! Usually, it only involves several steps that almost anyone can do! Plumbing the main water feed in from your sink, a return that sends the wastewater away down the drain, and a clean line that collects the purified water. If you are making large quantities of purified water for a larger tank, you will need to either store the water or wait for the water to change (it might take a while). For water storage, many use food safe containers as they are also reef safe. The most common container is a large brute trash can, which is also perfect for mixing in salt! Depending on the size of your system, you may also look into an automatic water top off which can siphon the water that your RO system has already purified, this eliminates manual water top offs from your routine!

Controlling the chemical balance of your tank is especially important in a reef tank where many of the inhabitants are sensitive to harsh conditions. In some situations, your tank might be successful without an RO system, for a short amount of time that is. Eventually most hobbyists install RO systems for its overall health improvements to your tank. RO/DI systems help control unstable phosphate and nitrate levels and even eliminate unruly algae growth. Excessive algae growth becomes an issue aesthetically and for your inhabitants. Fighting algae and controlling phosphate requires an addition of chemical additives to your base water. not only does this add an extra step to your maintenance routine but the cost of chemicals is just another monthly expense when RO systems are relatively inexpensive!

Reverse Osmosis with Deionization systems are a great investment for those that are looking for a low maintenance system to aid in filling and topping off their aquarium tanks. an RO system produces the ultimate water clarity and established chemical balance, that is not only safe for your tank but safe and HEALTHY for your family to consume. Check out the many different options for a reverse osmosis system, available from Triquatics!