RODI Queen

After setting up my RODI system to my booster pump, I can officially call myself a RODI QUEEN. Just kidding.

I’m definitely not as experienced as some reefers are with them, but I definitely feel more confident with troubleshooting and understanding how they’re set up after today. I feel confident enough to be able to troubleshoot my system, take apart, and put together my RODI setup for any kind of move.

Back in March, I purchased the Spectrapure Aquarium Starter RODI system. But I didn’t get to hook it up until May, which was when my Waterbox aquarium actually arrived. There was a lot of internal debate at first on whether I should even purchase a RODI system or just buy water from my LFS store. But, a couple things eventually swung me into the field of buying my own RODI and mixing my own water, which were:

  1. I would be in control of my water quality (TDS meter + salt of my choice)
  2. I wouldn’t have to carry gallons of water up the stairs every week
  3. I don’t pay for the water at my apartment

That said, I had a couple issues with my RODI system from the beginning.

The first it was low pressure, I was getting about 40-50 PSI while it was hooked up to my shower head. Low pressure is a pretty common issue, so I knew the only solution to that was to purchase and install a booster pump. But, the second problem was that my product line always had a TDS of 4-10 no matter how long I ran it. A RODI system putting out product water with a TDS greater than 0 is the same thing as not having a RODI system when you consider the purpose behind installing such a system.

At first, I assumed it was because my pressure was too low and it was affecting my rejection rates.

So, I decided to order the Aquatic Life Smart Buddie after some research because not only would it increase my pressure but it would also auto flush my system. For someone who gets overwhelmed easily, it seemed like the perfect system to help me increase the efficacy of my RODI system while also doing some basic RODI system “maintenance”.

Well, it arrived about a week later and after unboxing it, I got overwhelmed after reading the manual and seeing all the connection ports and labels in the front. So, it was left sitting on my living room floor under the chaise while I worked the nerve to sit down one day and get it done.

That day finally came today.

My tank was overdue for a water change by two weeks; the water was starting to smell. I didn’t want to write a paper for school. There was no other day than today to get it done.

So, I pulled up my Spectrapure RODI manual and the AquaticLife Smart Buddie manual and got to work. After a solid 45 minutes, I had it all plumbed up. And, to top it off, the only minor mistake I made at first was accidentally switching the pre-membrane and membrane supply line positions which gave me an amazing pressure of 0 PSI. As soon as that error was rectified, I turned on the booster, my pressures were immediately reading 80-85 PSI…. BUT my product line was still reading 4 TDS at the lowest.

So, I did what any reasonable person would do, and I took the entire RODI system and the booster connection lines out to check each piece by piece.

Spectrapure RODI plumbed into AquaticLife Smart Buddie Booster Pump System

For those of you that are curious, my tubing connection colors do not match what’s listed on the front of the Smart Buddie booster pump because I was reusing the tubes from my RODI system and going off what I knew. Which is Black – Supply, Yellow – Waste, and Blue – Product. The red tubing came with the booster pump, and it was the only one I used when I needed extra tubing to connect the pre-membrane and membrane supply because it was the only color already not being used.

Anyways, upon taking a close look at my RODI system, I eventually found out that my RODI system DID NOT HAVE A DI CARTRIDGE. It had a freaking Granulated Activated Carbon Block Filter where the DI cartridge was supposed to be. No wonder my TDS was always high, the filter was putting out carbon any time I was making water, and this entire time my RODI was really just functioning as a fancy $300 RO system.

No DI, just Carbon here

Luckily I had a DI cartridge to put in because I had ordered some from the Marine Depot liquidation sale, but it blew my mind that this mistake had been the entire cause of my RODI TDS struggles. If I hadn’t taken apart the whole thing and checked every label, I wouldn’t have known.

I’ve reached out to Spectrapure to see if they can send me an extra DI cartridge for this, but today was truly a lesson in checking every component to make sure things are as they should be.

So if you’re struggling with your RODI system, it’s probably you. But, on the off chance that it’s not, check every component.