Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
TDS meters are KILLING Shrimp and Fish.

TDS meters are KILLING Shrimp and Fish.


Hey, guys. Cory from Aquarium Co-Op. Today, I want to talk about TDS meters. I interact with you guys a lot. The more I interact, the more I feel like
the majority of people using a TDS meter aren’t getting all they can out of one. It’s because TDS meters are awesome. They’re super easy. Basically, you stick them in the water, and
they’ll give you back a number. Awesome. You can use them a million times. You get the reading in a second. We’re putting blind faith into this, I think. The problem with a TDS meter is it measures
total dissolved solids, so everything. Minerals, salts, nitrites, nitrates, ammonia. Things that we use in the aquarium like, let’s
say, aloe vera from dechlorinator. Let’s say, fertilizers, the excess poop. All those things. It’s all going to come out as just a number. The problem is without other information,
that number means nothing. I’m going to demonstrate that to you. Let me get setup, and we’ll hop to it. For this lesson today, we’re going to use
my wife’s planted tank, which has turned into a jungle again. Definitely no shortage of plants and wisteria
in there for sure. We’re going to use this aquarium. We’re going to use this right here. This is a group of water with salt in it. We’ve got tap water, and we’ve got tap water. We’re going to do some things with this tap
water, and we’re going to do some tests here. The first thing, let’s get a baseline on my
tap water. My tap water … Let’s see if we can get some
light on this. Well, I’ll just read it to you. It is 26 right now. So 26. It doesn’t tell us 26 of what parts per million,
but what’s in my water? We don’t really know. There’s not a whole heck of a lot, honestly,
and that’s why I have to add additives to it. Over here in my aquarium, we can also test
this. Just that quick. We can see I have 187 parts per million of
something in there. We also don’t know what that is because this
just gives us a number. Then we have this salt that’s in here. We’re going to test that. We put one tablespoon of salt in this thing,
and we have a TDS of 886. So those are just numbers. They don’t mean a whole lot because they’re
not telling us anything other than that’s a number. What we can also do in this one right here,
we’re going to add fertilizer. Let’s say this is your aquarium, you have
plants you need to fertilize, and we’ll put a couple squirts in there. Now I’ve got to stir it. We were at 26 earlier, I believe. In theory, we should be higher now because
we’ve added stuff to the water. With two squirts, we are at 579. Hold on. Let me get that little more mixed up in there. We’re at 435. So by adding fertilizer, our TDS has now changed. If I get this a little bit clean again. This is our tap water. We’re at 28 right now. So by adding fertilizer, we’ve established
we’ve raised TDS. Let’s add some dechlorinator. This has a little bit of Stress Coat in it
and stuff like that. So if you’re using API Stress Coat, if you’re
using Prime, it’s going to do the same thing. We’re adding chemicals to water. We’ve added some, and you can kind of see
the swirling in there because we’ve added chemicals to water. Once again, let’s give it a quick stir, and
then we’ll test. Grab the TDS meter, plop it right in. We now have a TDS of 184. So if we added a little bit more dechlorinator
in there, technically, the internet would say “Oh, that’s ready for shrimp because it’s
got enough TDS,” or “That livebearer wants this,” or “discus wants below that.” So those don’t tell the whole story. If we start adding, let’s say, another test
kit to this, it can start making a lot of sense. It can start helping us out. Let me grab a test strip here. We’re going to do this for sake of time and
ease, and I’ll make a video on why I like test strips and stuff like that. We’re going to dip it straight into the one
with salt, and we’re going to compare it here. When you look at this kit, you’re going to
see that essentially it’s got no nitrates in it, no nitrite, the hardness is up a little
bit, no buffering capacity. Because that’s what salt does, it adds usually
to the hardening a little bit. So we’ve hardened the water a little bit. Now, this one right here, we put fertilizer
in. We put my Easy Green in there, and I know
it’s got nitrogen in it to grow plants and other things. Let’s test that. We’re going to let that sit for a moment here. It’s just starting to turn pink, so that’s
the nitrogen that’s in there. Now, we still know with the test kit, oh,
we’ve got nitrogen in there. Then we put in just some dechlorinator and
stuff, and I would bet you this is just going to look like my normal tap water here because
I don’t think it’s going to have anything we can really register. So now we’ve got parameters, but we also have
meters. That’s where you can see this meter didn’t
really tell us anything. It can. If we just did a water change on here, and
we wanted to put fertilizer back in, we can help make sure we didn’t put too much in. Same with dechlorinator. Also, in my fish room, if I have a bunch of
tanks, and I go and measure 50 of them, and 3 of them have a way high TDS, it means, hey,
come back and test these and figure out what’s going wrong. Likewise, we looked at my water here, and
it only had 185 TDS, but that doesn’t tell us a whole lot. What if we were to test that water? All right, we’re going to throw a test strip
in there for ease. Now we might be able to figure out, okay,
we have 185 parts per million, but of what? What’s in there? The reality is not a lot of nitrogen at all,
so the water’s very clean. I need to put more fertilizer in. The water’s decently hard. We have good buffering and good pH. But as far as this goes, this tank’s clean
as a whistle. Another propaganda/oh-my-god thing. Speaker 2: Oh my. Cory McElroy: This tank now has gone two months
without ever having a water change. You guys have been watching it. I’ve been growing lots of plants. We’ve been fertilizing with Easy Green. But no water changes. The important part of this conversation is
that a TDS meter doesn’t mean anything without some result. I have a baseline. I know that at 185 TDS in this tank, going
for months and not changing water, that it’s going to be low on fertilizer. Now, in theory, I need to put … This is
a 230-gallon tank. I need to put 23 pumps in there to fertilize
it for the week. One, two, three. We’re going to speed this up here. Speaker 3: Six and a half hours later. Cory McElroy: Given sufficient time to mix
and stuff like that, which I’m not, but if I had. Yeah, right now it’s saying there’s 220, 200
… It’s diluting a little bit because it’s … We’re 200 parts per million at the moment. That would help us know how much fertilizer
am I running out on? But it doesn’t give us precise things. It only tells us a number. For instance, if I go into my fish room, and
I have 200 TDS here, and I have 200 TDS in another tank, that doesn’t mean they’re running
the same at all. I could have salt in one. For instance, here we have my fertilizer,
and we’ve got 345 TDS. If I pour a little bit of this salt water
in there. Speaker 4: Salt water. Cory McElroy: Just like that, just a little
bit. Let’s say that was fish poop or whatever it
is. When I go back to test this. What do you mean it’s 534? So it doesn’t tell us what’s in there, and
that’s the hardest part about the TDS meter. Here we have two different shrimp tanks. I have blue velvet shrimp in here, and it’s
a colony. They’re breeding. There’s babies. That type of thing you guys have seen in my
fish room. Over here, we have a colony of cherry shrimp,
and there’s lots of babies all over the place. We’ve also got fireball platies in there as
well. Remember, websites are saying 120 to 250 TDS. I’m going to turn my meter on, we’re going
to stick it right in here, 48 TDS is all we have. Yet, my shrimp are thriving and producing. Let’s look at this tank over here. Once again, get it under the light, 43 TDS. Okay. So that right there … Yeah, now we have
a number, but it just goes to show that the number itself doesn’t tell us anything. We don’t know how much hardness I have or
anything like that. We still need to use test kits to determine
that. I know that I’ve got a little bit of crushed
coral in here and things like that, but in general, my shrimp have always thrived in
the TDS that I run. I don’t change it. I find a lot of people run into trouble or
think they can’t keep it because they can’t get their water parameters right. The reality is, there’s a lot of things going
on. I just wanted to clue in on my shrimp. Also, let’s look at one more tank. Here we have a 40 breeder. Obviously lots of panda guppies in here, lots
of fry, lots of shrimp. I breed lots of shrimp. There’s also plecos breeding in here. I’ve never tested this water for TDS. So let’s take a look at that real quick. I can see that we’re at 76 TDS in this tank. So right there, I’m still way less than any
of the shrimp websites are saying that I could possibly be successful with. Yet, I’m running into no problems at all,
and it works well for me. Now, I’m not going to say that having close
parameters to what a breeder is using isn’t helpful. The problem is when people drop all the other
parameters I listed when I was talking about those shrimp and just go by the TDS, that’s
the problem. When they start not worrying about pH, they
start not worrying about hardness, or calcium or magnesium in the water. Things like that. And they just straight up go with this number. This number is nondescript. It doesn’t tell us how much of any one thing. It tells us of all the things in this aquarium
that are dissolved in that water. It has that many of these things. So I get it. You basically don’t know what to do with the
TDS meter now. They are useful. I do use them. I own like four of these between the store
and home. The best way to use them is to calibrate something
that you’re trying to up. For instance, let’s say you had a guppy tank
or a shrimp tank, and you wanted to add more minerals. You can figure out your baseline, and then
you can add some minerals to it. Then, when it comes time to do a water change,
or let’s say it’s been a month and you want to know how many minerals are left in the
water, you can use this to help you guess. Now, yes, is a test kit generally an easier
way? Yes, but what I love about this, this is how
I solve a lot of unknown problems. Because this will test for anything, it will
pick up things that the test kit won’t. For instance, sometimes people come into my
store, and I cannot figure out why live plants won’t live. If I can pick something up on here, then I
know there’s something in your water. I can’t tell you what it is. A lot of times, it turns out it’s like a water
softener because they’re on a well or something like that. Or let’s say that the fish didn’t do well,
and I can’t figure out why. Then you test it, and you’re like, “Well,
your TDS is through the roof. You’ve got over 1,000, and our water here
in the store or at home only has 100. There’s something in that water, whether it’s
lead or copper, or it’s just nitrates.” We would’ve tested that with a kit. But that’s what you get to use this for. So I find it really useful when you own a
lot of tanks. If you own a ton of tanks, let’s say you own
10 tanks, and you just want to see how they’re going, and you track the TDS on the tank,
you can know, oh, man, my fish are really spawning well, and babies are raising fast,
and I never had disease as long as I keep it around 200 parts per million with this
amount of water change schedule, with this amount of food, those types of things. And if you go to 350, and you notice your
fish are getting sick, then you know, okay, when this gets above 250, I’m going to change
water. The hypothesis or the educated guess would
be that, for instance, nitrates are rising or something like that, so you’re combating
that. But we can’t know. Just like in this tank back here, clearly
it’s got more stuff in it than my tap water. It was basically out of nitrogen. It could just have remnants of dechlorinator
from the very first time I did it. It could be amounts of copper. It could just be what they call in the koi
world the DOCs, dissolved organic compounds, that we can’t test for in a kit. The koi world’s very conscious of DOCs, and
in the aquarium world, it’s like we treat them like they don’t even exist. If you enjoyed the video, go ahead and give
it a thumbs up. If you want a TDS meter, buy one with the
link down below on Amazon, that’ll get you one. You can start playing with it. I do use them about weekly or so just to tune
in on some stuff. If I’m really trying to breed something, I’ll
use it. Or if I’m working with unknown water, it works
well as well. We’ll see you in the next video. Thanks for watching. Hope you’re a subscriber. If you’re not yet, go ahead and hit that subscribe
button. We’ll see you in a Sunday livestream.

4 comments on “TDS meters are KILLING Shrimp and Fish.

  1. Tds meter is useless if your just using tap water for aquarium. All you need is gh/kh test kit.and or other test kits. People who use it are just following what other pros are saying lol. I understand if you are using ro or distill water and remineralize it to a certain number but for any other thing is just stupid

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