WATER CONDITIONER: IS IT REALLY NECESSARY?

by Tom Sarac

 
This is a frequent question asked on aquatic forums and in conversations with aquarists. In fact, a friend was over the other day, and we were getting ready to take in an afternoon of football when, while admiring my Discus tank, he asked if I used a water conditioner. He keeps a community tank versus my half-dozen collection I must keep at all times to keep my ever-curious aquatic mind at ease. I’m a life-long aquarist that always has something breeding and growing, and am notorious as the go-to guy among my aquarium-keeping friends.

It’s true that some aquarists forgo the use of key tap water conditioners and other important supplements that ensure aquarium water is not only detoxified but biologically stable. However, I will state without reservation that this is not good practice, and I’m happy to get into the reasons why these products are truly important, because like I always say, an ounce of prevention is always better than a pound of cure.

Tap Water

Unfortunately, tap water is not getting any purer, and in some parts of the world, it is far from being safe for fish. Not only do we have to worry about oxidizers like chlorine and chloramines being added at water treatment plants to indiscriminately kill both good and bad bacteria, what’s equally dangerous are dissolved metals, parasites, and other organic impurities. Sound like a lot to be concerned about? It should be if you have taken the time to really look into recent history, and are aware of what has been found in tap water and the catastrophic events that have resulted because of it.

Organic content in tap water is not an unusual issue. In fact, a quick check of a typical R/O bright white pre-filter cartridge that can end up sludge brown in just a few weeks is indisputable proof of just how much dissolved organic content there can be. I have seen some areas with tap water that is so laden with organic waste that R/O pre-filters are changed monthly, contrary to areas in close geographical proximity that take a year to deposit the same amount of waste.

Just because not dosing with a water conditioner once was okay, neglecting it a second time is no guarantee all will be well moving forward. A simple plumbing repair in areas where copper water supply piping is mandatory could easily wipe out your fish, especially if your tap water is soft. Simply ask yourself whether you are willing to gamble on the life and health of your fish.

New Aquariums

Setting up a new aquarium is an event that requires using basic water conditioners to support safe tap water conditions and to ensure you are biologically seeding the tank with optimal species of nitrifying bacteria.

As stated above, there is potentially plenty to be concerned about where tap water is concerned. Water conditioner will neutralize unwanted metals and chlorine, and break down chloramines, effectively rendering tap water safe in one easy dose. To be extra safe, you should ensure you are including fresh carbon in your filter during this time as it too will absorb toxins.

Getting the right species of bacteria into your aquarium couldn’t be easier than with the use of biological enhancer. This concentrated bio-supplement is a sure fire strategy to infuse your tank with a perfectly balanced consortium of nitrifying bacteria. Regular sustained dosing not only builds the best performing team of friendly bacteria but also competitively excludes unwanted bacteria from establishing themselves.

Maintenance

Keeping up with your water changes and other tasks is important, however adding biological cleaner to the mix on a weekly basis will ensure the species of bacteria that break down organics are always present in abundance. Bio cleaner is so effective that dosing in the presence of large waste accumulations can overwhelm the existing nitrifying bacterial population, which can result in ammonia.

The best way to employ bio cleaner is through regular use before organics accumulate. This will keep both your gravel and filter media clean, resulting in prolonged media life and performance.

If you are dealing with a neglected aquarium, first remove excess waste with a gravel washer, then dose with biological cleaner.

Plants

Micronutrients, such as iron, are essential in keeping plants colorful and healthy. Tap water is often devoid of the necessary compounds; with light and the process of photosynthesis, plants are driven to grow, but if you deprive them of essential nutrients, they will suffer.

Feeding plants is necessary as they will deplete the existing quota of nutrients present in an aquarium.

Use plant micro-nutrients to supply essential trace elements, and a CO2 system for the main macro element (carbon), and you are good to go provided that you have adequate lighting.

Although Fluval Plant Micro-Nutrients isn’t really a water conditioner, it is one for plants, which naturally filter water and make use of the light entering your aquarium.

If you’ve wondered whether you should be using water conditioners to properly manage your aquarium, we hope we’ve provided a good argument supporting the use of these products.



FLUVAL TV
FLUVAL Aquarium Water Conditioning Essentials
Fluval has taken the guesswork out of aquarium water care by introducing 3 essential products that will help ensure clean and healthy conditions for your fish.

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