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Reverse Osmosis/Deionization Systems to Purify Tap Water for Reef Aquaria

"Final Effluent pH

Aside from the issues discussed above concerning the effluent’s pH when the DI resin becomes depleted, the final pH coming out of an RO/DI system should not significantly concern reef aquarists. Many aquarists with low pH problems have asked, for example, if their aquarium’s low pH may be caused by their replacing evaporated water with RO/DI water that they measure to have a pH below 7. In short, the answer is no, this is not a cause of low pH nor is it something to be generally concerned about, for the following reasons:

1. The pH of totally pure water is around 7 (with the exact value depending on temperature). As carbon dioxide from the atmosphere enters the water, the pH drops into the 6’s and even into the 5’s, depending on the amount of CO2. At saturation with the level of CO2 in normal (outside) air, the pH would be about 5.66. Indoor air often has even more CO2, and the pH can drop a bit lower, into the 5’s. Consequently, the pH of highly purified water coming from an RO/DI unit is expected to be in the pH 5-7 range.

2. The pH of highly purified water is not accurately measured by test kits, or by pH meters. There are several different reasons for this, including the fact that highly purified water has very little buffering capacity, so its pH is easily changed. Even the acidity or basicity of a pH test kit’s indicator dye is enough to alter pure water’s measured pH. As for pH meters, the probes themselves do not function well in the very low ionic strength of pure freshwater, and trace impurities on them can swing the pH around quite a bit. "