What's new

Could a Change of Heating Boiler Affect Water Chemistry

🐠 March TOTM Starts Now! 🐠
FishForums.net Tank of the Month!
Click here to enter!

VeryFatbloke

Fish Fanatic
Joined
Jun 27, 2004
Messages
121
Reaction score
94
Location
Gravesend, Kent
Hi there
I have a Juwel Rio 240 planted tank. I had a replacement heating boiler fitted last week, I had a back boiler which has been replaced by a combi boiler. The work required a lot of pipe realignment and the removal of the main water tank in the loft and the hot water cylinder in the airing cupboard. As part of the work the whole system was flushed and works well.

I did a 50 litre water change on Sunday and since then my fish have been struggling, gasping at the top of the tank. On Tuesday I did a 100L water change and yesterday my son did a 50L water change and I did a further 100L water change before I went to bed last night. I came down this morning and the fish are still swimming at the top gasping. I did a water test, Ph, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, Gh, Kh and Fe. All of the results were good other than Fe, which seems to be off the scale.

I have a mixer tap in the kitchen which I use to refill the removed water, I add Stress Coat to that. My son tested the untreated tap water yesterday fort Ph, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate and all the results were good. I have tested the untreated tap water for Fe and untreated it's off the scale as well. I'm using the JBL Labs test kit and the scale goes up to 1.5 but the colour is darker than the highest reading on the test chart. My next step is to test the treated water which I'll do at lunch time (I'm WFH).

I have two questions. First, is it likely that the boiler change work could have affected the iron level in my tap water? And secondly, what can I do to bring the level in the aquarium down?

Any help gratefully received. I am UK based.
 
In Canada, my town flushes the mains twice a year. They clear the pipes. If you do a water change that week, your fish can die. They mineral scale coming off the interior of the pipes, and the chemicals used to flush them are fatal. The one time I missed the notice, I saw exactly what you're describing.

I'd use the new system at least 2 weeks before water changes. I can't think of what you can do now, as I fear the damage is done. Your water source is temporarily compromised.

We would be told iron staining of laundry was possible, and to run the water (which we paid for) for an hour when the process, done overnight, was done.
 
Do you have friendly neighbours?
Thinking use their water to do a change ...makes it a bit of a grind but it might save your fish and also eliminate your water source if no change in fish health.
 
As part of the work the whole system was flushed

Do you know what the central heating engineer flushed the system with? And did this include flushing the tap water part of the system or just the heating part? I would contact them to ask. If there is something that would harm fish, is it safe for you to drink?
I've heard of problems affecting invertebrates after a new boiler was fit because of copper from the new pipework getting into the tap water, but this shouldn't affect fish like this.


If they would agree, sonofagun's suggestion about asking the neighbours would be the best option for now - if they are on a meter, it would be a gesture to offer to pay for any water you use.
 
Ok, thank you everybody for your comments and suggestions. I'm busy with work so can't speak to my neighbours until later but when I tested the cold tap water, the hot tap water and also the RO water that I have for my marine tank, they all returned the same result, a tube that looked like blackcurrant squash. I suspect that the test is tainted or out of date.

I'll text the plumber and see what was used to flush the system but I've now started losing fish as my royal plec and one flying fox have dies. I can't see two other flying foxes but I may have a way of saving some of the other fish, my son has a 100 litre tank which has shrimp in it so I am going to transfer the remaining fish into that to see if they survive. (It was only when I showed him the test results mentioned above that he reminded me of that.

I'll let you know how I get on, his tank hasn't had a water change for quite some time so I figure that the water will be better quality and it will at least give the fish a chance.
 
tank hasn't had a water change for quite some time
That could be the problem - old tank syndrome. How long since the last water change?
When water changes haven't been done on a regular weekly basis, the water conditions in the tank drift away from the original conditions. The fish acclimatise to these slowly changing conditions. Then a water change is done which drastically alters the water conditions and the fish can't cope with this sudden large change in conditions.

Did you test the tank water before doing this water change? Looking specifically at nitrate, pH, GH and KH.
 
That could be the problem - old tank syndrome. How long since the last water change?
When water changes haven't been done on a regular weekly basis, the water conditions in the tank drift away from the original conditions. The fish acclimatise to these slowly changing conditions. Then a water change is done which drastically alters the water conditions and the fish can't cope with this sudden large change in conditions.

Did you test the tank water before doing this water change? Looking specifically at nitrate, pH, GH and KH.
I think the OP is saying that his son's tank will be better now as the old water (pre boiler change) is not contaminated.
 
I mis-read the post :blush:

My only excuse is I had a bad night and fell asleep over my laptop shortly after I posted that :oops:
 
That could be the problem - old tank syndrome. How long since the last water change?
When water changes haven't been done on a regular weekly basis, the water conditions in the tank drift away from the original conditions. The fish acclimatise to these slowly changing conditions. Then a water change is done which drastically alters the water conditions and the fish can't cope with this sudden large change in conditions.

Did you test the tank water before doing this water change? Looking specifically at nitrate, pH, GH and KH.
Yes, sorry for the confusion, and this post has been sitting as a draft for the last 3 hours. It's my son's tank that hasn't had a water change for some time, mine was probably around a month ago but I have been getting my water tested on a regular basis at my LFS and after he last one they did a couple of Saturday's ago they recommended a 50% water change, and that was because Kh was a bit on the low side but not far away from the recommended position, 3 drops rather than 5. I've moved about a dozen fish into his tank now and will try to move the remainder when I finish work.

I'll let you know how things progress.
 
Typically when water lines are flushed no chemicals are used. They simply drain the line and refill. The sudden high flow of water flow stirs up the sediment and flushes it out. However in your cases with new equipment installed Thread sealants probably were used on some of the water pipes and manufacturing resides may be pressent on the equipment. With all the water flushes and and aquarium water changes any chemicals associated with the work done should be gone.

The elevated Fe reading indicates that much of the sediment in your water pipes was iron. dissolve metals in the water can cause problems in the fish gills were oxygen and CO2 are exchanged. My understanding is that this gas exchange can cause dissolved metals to convert to oxides that deposit in the gills, slowing gas exchange in the gills. Leading to stress and possibly death of the fish.

I would add an air stone to the tank to insure oxygen levels stay high. High oxygen levels should help the fish and accelerate the oxidization of any dissolved metals in the tank The metal oxides would then settle out in the substrate and not affect the fish. Eventually the fish gills should clear out and their activity should return normal.
 
Thanks again everybody.
We managed to get all bar around 6 of the fish into my son's aquarium where they seem to be doing ok. We've had no further casualties fortunately. I'm going to test the water in both tanks tomorrow and see where we are. I'll also get to the LFS over the weekend and ask them to test as well.

A further update will follow after that.
 
If they changed some of the pipes and used copper, I would testfor that too. New copper pipes can leach copper into the water when new. Over time they build up a coating which sops the copper from leaching into the water. When we changed our water tank they needed to replace a pipe, I had them used Pex piping instead of new copper.

No longer is copper piping the primary, or preferred, choice of most homeowners and plumbers. Cross-linked polyethylene flexible tubing—commonly called PEX—has grown in popularity for residential plumbing over the past few decades as an alternative to traditional copper and chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) piping.
 
Hi all

A quick update. All of the fish that we moved into my son's tank have survived and seem to be thriving. All parameters were good when I tested them last weekend. The remaining 6 in the main tank are also still alive, and I had the water from that tank tested by my LFS and the iron was a little on the high side but all of the other parameters were good. They weren't able to test for copper.

We're having the radiators replaced today so I won't consider any water changes for a couple of weeks but will get the 2 tanks, along with my marine tank, tested tomorrow.
 
In theory, having the replacement radiators shouldn't affect the tap water part of the system as the water which flows through the radiators is not the same water as that which comes out of the tap.
However, if the problem was caused by by copper or whatever in the tap water pipes, yes it is advisable not to use that water until the whatever-it-is has been well and truly flushed away.
 
You might want to consider flushing your system by opening a number of the faucets arount you place and letting the water run for a while. I hate to say it, but you might want to flush both the cold and hot water piping shich means not only will you ne using electricity and possibly water charges, but you will also be throwing out water you paid to heat.

Maybe let it all run for 15 minutes or a half hour. I would then close the taps and the test again for iron since it was the only thing elevated in the tests you did.

Copper pipes are most likely to leech due to the acidity of the water. In most systems what happens is from using the water the pipes build up a protective coating and any copper leeching stops. The more acid one's water, the more it can leech copper from the pipes so the more important it is for that coating to build up.

This house was built in 1961 and the out building, where I also keep fish, was added in 1971. The entire system uses copper pipes and I have fish in both buildings. Over the past 23 years the water has gone from a pH of about 7.3-.4, down to 7.0 and now it is again is a bit above neutral. Copper pipes not carrying truly acid water can last for a very long time. Our replacement piece where they used the PEX was due to a new water tank was installed and they needed to modify a short run of pipe to accommodate this. Even though the new piece of pipe was about 2 ft. long, I did not want new copper introduced. I was likely overly concerned, but I had a lot of pricey fish.

As for copper test kits for the hobby: Salifert, SeaChem, API and Fritz all offer them. There may be others as well. You are most likely to find them at a store which does salt water fish as they are used by salties more than freshies ;) Online will be easy as well.
 

Most reactions

trending

Members online

Back
Top