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Here's a 50 gallon/day RO unit for about $65. Smallest one I could find on Amazon. I have not yet purchased or tested this unit, but plan to.
Hello I was having the same issues as you in which my water had a low tds (around 40) and high phosphates so I decided to get an ro unit without the di and I am pretty satisfied. I went with the ro buddie that gets sold on Amazon for about 55 bucks and it's quite cheaper today. I personally prefer this one because I only need ro water every 2 weeks for water changes on my 10 and 20 gallon shrimp tanks so in total only need about 3-4 gallons every 2 weeks. My ro water comes out at a tds of 3 ppm with the ro buddie but if you want it to come out at zero, you can also purchase the di part as well.
I wish I learned about RO before my first grow...would've saved me hours...I picked this up on Amazon. Super cheap, a 4 to 1 ratio on waste to filtered water. I'm a small grow so I'm ok with that for now.
I had issues for years with my tap water being around 500ppm from the tap, always caused weird deficiencies and growth. I bought one of these on Amazon for $50
Aquatic Life RO Buddie Three Stage Reverse Osmosis, 50-Gallon [link]
Works great, been pulling the ppm down to 10 now for over a year on the original filters, takes about 4 hours to produce 5 gallons. I have mine draining into my laundry drain with the hose ran to a nearby shower to fill buckets up with.
I recently purchased an Aquatic Life RO Buddy 3 stage filter and have been enjoying it. Grabbed it right as the pandemic started and it has kept me brewing despite the grocery stores shutting down their filling machines.
It has fittings that allow you to attach it to a garden hose spigot or a sink by way of an adapter. I am still dialing in flow rate but I can usually collect about 10gal over the course of a few hours. I haven't tested it with an TDS meter but the quality seems good and my beers have been pretty spot on since using it. I only set it up and connect it when I am using it but a more permanent install would be cool at some point in the future.
Only concern I have is buying replacement filters. Replacement filter packs seem to cost nearly as much as the whole unit did!
It's gone up a little since I purchased. Little creative home depot, I used garden hose splitter and tapped off my washer. The discharge ran into sump pit. I bought the extra float valve kit and let it fill a 5 gal bucket at a time that has a drain nozzle I drilled into the bottom. Works pretty well.
RO systems are slow so if you want water 'on-demand' then you will need to have a tank that holds as much as you will use at a time. There are some <$150 systems that include a tank, but they are going to be in the 3-5 gallon range.
A cheaper option may be to purchase a large container locally (eg. craigslist) and install a float valve.
As far as what kind of system you need, it depends on what is in your water. Are you pulling from a well? Or city water? If city, you can probably find a report at the city website. In most cases, something like this is more than enough.
I use it for my plants, have been getting ~4g every 3-4 days for a year and a half.
It’s like this one but 4 stages. It says 50 gallons but it’ll definitely function properly longer than that.
I got RO Buddie on Amazon. I hook it up in the shower and use 5 gallon water bottles I found at Walmart. It's really amazing how clean the water is! As I have mostly bettas and tetras I remineralize by mixing with my tap water.
I personally use this. After a year of use (I average 2-3 gallons a day, including the water I drink), I measure 5-6 ppm on my TDS meter, so well within range still.
Ah, it's actually a little more than $50.
This is a common one saltwater people like to buy. That's the cheapest one I know of that people recommend a lot. (I don't have this one.)
Keep in mind that you can drink RO water as well, and many people buy RO water systems not for fish but for drinking.
I use this. It's pretty economically priced, and works great for me ( I keep delicate shrimp). It doesn't output water FAST, so you'll have to start filling a bucket an hour or so before you start draining the tank, but it's not that big a deal.
I'm surprised my LFS didn't tell me or even ask me about this. Thank you kind
Would this be a good unit? I'm not sure how they work exactly, I assume instructions would come with it.
Don't use water conditioner. There is lots of other nasty stuff in your tap water other than chlorine. This is the ro unit I have. Get an auto shutoff and the di add-on.
If you buy one off craigslist you will probably need a new ro membrane (they must be stored properly when not being used over a month) and pre filters which will run up the cost.
I have this one that I bought on Amazon for $60 and it works great. The one I linked is just the base RO unit which, on a budget, should at least help the TDS level. I also purchased the additional DI canister (~$30) that goes with it but even spending $60 on RO filtration should help somewhat.
edit: also want to add that investing in good water treatment from the beginning will save a lot of money and headaches down the road.
You certainly could do that, but id wait for your test kit to see if water hardness is even the problem in the first place.
You can also get an RO unit pretty cheap if youre only doing smaller quanitites of RO water. I use this guy. $70, and it works great and takes up very little room. I just have it hooked up on a hose splitter to the outlet that feeds my washing machine, and the waste water goes out the washing machine drain tube.
It doesnt produce RO water super fast or anything, but I get about 4 gallons in a couple hours, just gotta be careful to remember youve got a bucket filling and not let it overflow :)
For cherry shrimp you want to be somewhere within these parameters
This is the one cheap and small RO filter system that I keep seeing referenced by other homebrewers. This is probably going to be my next homebrew purchase.
You can buy really portable RODI units like this one. It's ~$55 plus another $25 for the DI cartridge, so pretty cheap too. I just bought one and it works fine. There's an adapter it comes with that connects to standard washing machine faucets.
The trough was about 60 - [link]
I used probably one 50lb bag of peat moss from home depot (20 maybe? I don't really remember how much) plus some left over peralite I had. The terracotta pot was also just laying around.
What you can't see but I very quickly figured out I needed was an RO filter with the 100 degree days we're getting. That was another $50 of amazon. Aquatic Life RO Buddie Three Stage Reverse Osmosis, 50-Gallon [link]
So probably 150ish total.
Here you go.
My replacement is something like $35 CAD on amazon. Since your tank is so small you'd be fine with a 50gpd unit. I keep a few 5 gallon water jugs filled for water change time, for your tank you'd probably only need one, and it would take ~2.5 hours to fill for your weekly water change on a 50gpd unit.
Something like this would be a great for cost-of-entry: [link]
Membranes are inexpensive at 50gpd as well: [link]
The cheapest regular tanks with black plastic trim are in BigAl's, in store, not online. After Christmas but before New Year they have sometimes good sales. Next, AngelFins (ON) seems to be offering them online. 20 gal long is better than regular shorter shape, more swimming and aquascaping space.
But the main problem is the source of RO water. The cheapest, RO Buddie has no solid carbon block for chloramine, and without it you will have to change cartridges frequently, each of them $17+ and membrane around $50. After figuring out the source of problem, I switched to the cheapest RO filter from Home Depot: with solid carbon core block, large cartridges last for long, easily available, cheap, last close to half of year. This will not fit your budget. Tap water is also possible, but you could get nuisance algae growth r deaths if they release something in water main for maintenance.
Everything below is necessary and at lowest price, without tax and shipping. Check by yourself if it fits your budget.
Salt mix could be any, the cheapest is Instant Ocean or other on sale. ReefSupplies.ca, PetsAndPonds, AngelFins, BigAlsPets. If you are on the West coast, J&L Aquatics. Add ~$20 shipping. If you have any reef supplies nearby, buying in person could save money on shipping. Refractometer, at Amazon should be ~$18, make sure that scale is in 1.024 on the left, 35 ppt on the right, not 0/00. TDS meter to control quality of RO water (when change cartridges) also on amazon, HM digital, mine is blue at $25, with calibration solution for it, 342 ppm.
if canister filter, min $100 (ReefSupplies or PetsAndPonds),
if HOB, power filter, large AquaClear is $90 at P&P,
DIY filter could cost more than ready made.
Powerhead, 1-2, for a flow. Koralia, $35, at ReefSupplies or Fluval Sea at P&P. MaxiJet is a bit cheaper but large.
Water pump for mixing salt, MaxiJet, ~$30 . Heater for mixing salt, WalMart Tetra 200W, ~$16.
Heater, choose by yourself. Tetra is the cheapest, but looks not nice and has preset 78F, on the lower side. 79F would be better. Adjustable heaters are more expensive and could not hold temperature at required range, then you might need external temperature controller like InkBird. Jager, Aqueon, Marina Precision, starting from $32 on Amazon.
Reef rock you have to compare prices by yourself, too many of them and most of them are out of your price range. ReefSupplies seems to be the best, $74 plus heavy shipping. Live rock at Big Als is ~$8/lb. You could try local classifieds, if someone is going out of hobby. Last resort: gardening centres and landscaping companies, see if they have porous alkaline rock. Or DIY reef rock, not for doing this in apartment.
Substrate: sugar sized aragonite is most common, but you can get by without substrate, bare bottom.
Test kits: API is bottom line, $11-13 each, ammonia, nitrite, for cycling; nitrate, phosphate for controlling nutrient export, calcium, KH and high range pH for monitoring stability of water parameters and Salifert magnesium, $25. At AF, P&P, RS.
Lights also could be out of budget, ask advice for this tank size for the low cost lights. Nicrew from Amazon might work. 165W could be too hot, read reviews for this tank size. PAR38 LED create cone of light, 1 sq ft. Even daylight shoplight from Canadian Tire, wrong spectrum for marine tank, could be comparable in price.
Additives: Ca, alk, Mg, only when necessary. ESV B-Ionic in gallon size is economical at P&P. Or dry additives.
Seachem Prime as water conditioner, dechlorinator and your safety net in case of ammonia spike. $10-20, depends on bottle size.
Thermometer, as low as $2 in AF, micro size.
Fish, invertebrates, coral frags, their food, variety of it. DIY recipes are online. I'm getting mine from local reef stores. $20 common small fish, $13 small frag, $4-8 snail, $4 hermit crab.
Hope that I didn't miss anything.
What will fit your budget, but not your requirements: fishless pico on bottled distilled water from grocery store or pharmacy, simplest 1, 2, or simpler in hardware, but more work with trimming and corals placement: Reef Vase and ReefBowl. Vases of this size are not available in Canada, at lest where I am, available are way too small to fit heater and coral frag.
You can find one for half that on Amazon or you can go super cheap without a bladder: [link]
With this you can use your own fill reservoir and a shut off float.
Nah. I used to run a giant salt water fish tank and I used a decent quality spectrapure 4 stage ro/di unit that could get me around 100 gallons per day at 0 tds. That unit cost me less than 200$. It all depends on how pure op wants his water to be. Something as cheap as this should get the job done - https://www.amazon.com/Aquatic-Life-Reverse-Osmosis-50-Gallon/dp/B00DOG63OY?ref_=fsclp_pl_dp_1 and its only $50.
The only kicker is that these units work real slow. So depending on how much water he needs it could take hours. But many could be hooked up to float switches that shut off once they collect the water needed.
I'm using an RO Buddie purchased from Amazon for $52 > [link]
This works well for my needs.
I got mine for about $160 I believe. Mine included the PH+ mineralization stage. This one in link doesn’t have that but I guess price might of went up. Either way there’s one I see for $50. Get that one... at end of the day it’s gonna be much more cleaner than any other home filter and you probably won’t need the mineral stage
Reviews look good:
Aquatic Life RO Buddie Three Stage Reverse Osmosis, 50-Gallon [link]
APEC Top Tier Alkaline Mineral pH+ 75 GPD 6-Stage Ultra Safe Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Filter System (ESSENCE ROES-PH75) [link]
There's actually this which I'm really thinking of!
One of the first results when using Amazon is this.
Personally I use and can recommend the Dennerle RO system, but I don‘t think they‘re available outside germany.
You can get an adequate reverse osmosis system set up for under a couple hundred dollars all told. That includes the filter, a storage container for the filtered water (craigslist one of those blue food safe drums or something similar), and all the little bits you will need. The only real issue is having a place to set it up that if it breaks, it wont do major water damage to your home, such as a spot in a garage.
I would NOT install an RO system on an upstairs floor on the chance that something springs a leak.
Also, why are you carrying your plants anywhere? Just put them in a saucer and let the water drain into that.
This one is slow but gets the job done.