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What extraordinary/odd things have you done for your fish?
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corrado33
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Joined: 19 Jan 2010

PostPosted: 2010.01.26(Tue)20:42    Post subject: What extraordinary/odd things have you done for your fish? Reply with quote

So I recently learned I can use distilled water to lower the pH in my tank (or rather dilute the concentrations of chemicals that are basic, if you want to get technical.. Laughing ) Anyway, so since I'm in school, don't have a car, the closest grocery store is a mile or so away, and I don't feel like carrying gallons of distilled of water over any distance, I decided I could MAKE my distilled water.

Now, mind you, I'm a chemistry major and a runner so it's not like I'm lazy, I just don't like being outside in the cold if I don't have to, and I have enough experience to do this pretty easily.

Anyway, here's my home made distillation apparatus. It's made from a piece of copper pipe (the only thing that I bought), an old mayonnaise container, some silicon tubing (air hose tubing for my tank), and some silicon sealant (for when my tank leaked, it's on the outside of the tank no worries...)



Sorry for the HORRIBLE cell phone pic, but I don't have an actual camera right now... I broke mine. I use a small fish filter to pump water into the one silicon tube from my kitchen sink filled with cold water. Then the other silicon tube leads back into the sink so no water is lost. I simply attach my apparatus to a large pot of boiling water (actually to a hole in the lid of the pot), usually with duck/duct tape, turn the pump on, and I get distilled water. Being careful never to let the pot boil dry of course...

So what extraordinary or odd things have you done for your fish or with fish tank equipment?
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Darkblade48
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Joined: 21 Jun 2004
Location: Yokohama, Japan

PostPosted: 2010.01.26(Tue)21:58    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quite impressive, that looks like a homemade Liebig if I ever saw one Very Happy
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unissuh
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Joined: 29 Mar 2005
Location: Melbourne, Australia

PostPosted: 2010.01.26(Tue)22:12    Post subject: Reply with quote

Inventive, but I don't know whether using copper in the piping is a good idea. Heat tends to solubilize things & you may end up with more copper ions than you want leaching out into the water which you then use in your fishtank...

I'm not a chemistry major though, hated the subject. Laughing

PS: Curious about one thing - when you say chemistry major do you mean university level?
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Last edited by unissuh on 2010.01.26(Tue)22:16; edited 1 time in total
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corrado33
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Joined: 19 Jan 2010

PostPosted: 2010.01.26(Tue)22:13    Post subject: Reply with quote

Darkblade48 wrote:
Quite impressive, that looks like a homemade Liebig if I ever saw one Very Happy


Hmmm... I had to google that to find out what it was... The funny thing is that is what I based my design off of. I remember using that exact kind of condenser in General Chemistry 1 Lab and I said to myself... "Self, you can make that." So I did. The only problem is that the copper pipe get's REALLY hot. Not that I'm surprised, considering copper conducts heat very (VERY VERY) well. But I mean it get's hot almost instantly. I was doing a test run without the actual condenser and I was just holding the pipe. I knew the top of the pipe would get hot, so I was holding the bottom, but it was like one second it was cold, and the next it was SCALDING hot. It actually worries me, I'm afraid it'll melt the plastic in the mayo container... but if it does, I'll find something more durable to act as the condenser. Very Happy I've been eying the lotion or shampoo container in my bathroom... Laughing Hopefully the cold water in the container will keep it from melting...

EDIT: Yes I mean university level. Secondly, I was pondering the ions in solution as well... that's why I bought some heat safe plastic tubing as well Laughing But that tube wouldn't fit in my mayo bottle so... I tried this first. I'll get something out of the lab to test for some copper when I'm done. It's a pretty simple reaction if I remember correctly. EDIT2: It is a simple reaction, some KI (potassium iodide) and if there's Cu ions it'll turn brown, not sure how I'll quantify it but we'll see.

P.S. And yes, I love chemistry. In fact I DEBATED starting out on a saltwater tank because I was really cocky and said "I'm a chem major, I can do it easily." I'm glad I didn't. Laughing
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unissuh
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Joined: 29 Mar 2005
Location: Melbourne, Australia

PostPosted: 2010.01.26(Tue)23:13    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm, just doing some quick browsing and found this.

By letting water sit in a copper pipe (internal surface area approximately 150cm^2) for 48 hours, they got 5 mg/l copper out at 5C and 1 mg/l at 25C - so solubility would seem to decrease as the temperature increases. Guess copper doesn't follow the typical solubility rules.

If you extrapolate that a little (I don't know whether this is actually valid, different manufacturer etc), you end up with 1.39*10^-4 mg/l copper released per cm^2 of surface area per hour at 25C.

I'm going to take a rough stab in the dark and say your copper pipe is approximately 30 cm long, and about 1.5 cm thick. A further stab in the dark says it has an internal surface area of approximately (external area is 2*pi*radius*length=282cm^2, lets say internal area is about 2/3 of that) 188cm^2.

So your pipe should leach approximately 0.026 mg/l copper per hour of contact with water.

EC50 values for aqueous copper exposure in several marine invertebrates over 72h are in the 10-30 ug/l (0.01-0.03 mg/l; link but I don't think you can access this) - this is the value between no effect & highest effect (probably 0% death and 100% death in this case). Offhand freshwater invertebrates are more sensitive to copper than saltwater. LC50 (50% death) of zebra danios is about 0.1 mg/l (link)...

I dunno, not sounding like a good idea according to my flawed analysis. Laughing
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Dusko
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PostPosted: 2010.01.27(Wed)1:30    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
but I don't know whether using copper in the piping is a good idea.


It also depends on the water's pH. Acidic pH will disolve Copper pipes and such water in plumbing is considered "agressive water".
This is the reason why we get higher 8.2pH and low GH7 tap water here in Sweden (water with greater pH 8.5 can also corrode Copper). They add a certain chemical to buffer the pH without using extra bicarbs so to save the copper pipes from corroding.

http://www.plumbingworld.com/cuno_info_page.html

http://www.merusaustralia.com.au/how_to_stop_copper_corrosion_and_pinhole_leaking

Regards, Dusko
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corrado33
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Joined: 19 Jan 2010

PostPosted: 2010.01.27(Wed)7:21    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the replies guys, It's not like this thing was hard to make, so if this one ends up leaching too much copper, I'll simply make another with the food grade plastic pipe I have. It'll just be bigger, that's all...

In the end, what piping would you guys suggest anyway?
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corrado33
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PostPosted: 2010.01.27(Wed)11:31    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, sorry for the double post, but I ran my first test today. The thing leaked like the titanic! So I cleared away all of the sealant, and used the "I'm going to duck tape the heck out of this thing until it doesn't leak" method. It still leaked, although a lot less than before, so I could actually run my test. (I had a slight drip instead of a torrential downpour on my kitchen floor.)

I did get some distilled water. I tested the pH and it was around 6.6, which is fine cause I can easily balance it out with the pH 8 water I have from the tap. The distilled water came out relatively quickly, I had probably 50 mL in three minutes. So that'd be 1 L/hour, which isn't bad. And toward the end as the copper pipe was hot I'm sure it was running less than at optimal performance.

However there are some comments about my design. First, my water chamber is not nearly big enough, and the copper pipe get's very hot, everywhere, even below the water chamber. So, I'm debating using the plastic tubing instead of the copper pipe. And yes I do know that plastic tubing also "sweats" bad chemicals, but this is food grade, so it should be fine. Also, I'm looking for a much larger bottle. Maybe a 2 Liter bottle of pop. I don't need it to be FAT, I just need it to be LONG. If I had one, I'd use a piece of pipe, with a diameter 1.5 times the size of my plastic pipe.

So, it looks like I'll be making my "Water Distiller MK2" tonight. Very Happy In the mean time, I'll continue to test the remaining distilled water. Also, the concentration of copper can be acquired using UV-Visible spectroscopy, however I'm not sure if the concentrations I'm using are high enough.
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unissuh
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PostPosted: 2010.01.27(Wed)16:33    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not sure why you're using metal pipes now that I think about it - it's good at heat conducting but this will be a drawback if you're going to attach it to a heat source (I.e. kettle). I can think of a much simpler method of doing this than using 2 L "pop" bottles etc.

Use food grade plastic tubing, but get ~2 m of it. Get a plastic tub, cut a hole in the side/bottom a little smaller (say ~2mm less diameter than tubing) than the tubing, pull tubing through with pliers to get a water tight seal. Fill tub with cold water, coil most of the tubing inside the water and attach the free end to the kettle. Perhaps not commercial grade water distilling but should work better than what you have planned at the moment.

My mspaint skills leave much to be desired but...


Easy but inaccurate way to test the water is just do a flame test, squirt some through a flame and see whether it goes green. Or you could just buy a hobbyist test kit, not all that sensitive but probably good enough.
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corrado33
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PostPosted: 2010.01.27(Wed)17:29    Post subject: Reply with quote

unissuh wrote:

My mspaint skills leave much to be desired but...



I like your idea... I will have to try this. I'll let ya know how it works.
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