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FAQs on Treating Tap/Source Water 2

Related Articles: Treating Tap Water, Freshwater Aquarium Set-uppH, alkalinity, acidity, Freshwater Aquarium Water Quality, Freshwater Maintenance

Related FAQs:  FW Tap 1, Freshwater Aquarium Water Quality, Treating Tap Water for Aquarium Use, pH, Alkalinity, Acidity, Freshwater Algae Control, Algae Control, Foods, Feeding, Aquatic Nutrition, Disease

Some types, species of freshwater life need their water with less solids, gasses, liquids... than tap.

Water conditioners? Comparing; using MSDS     2/22/16
Are these 3 products, virtually the same thing:
Nutrafin Cycle Biological Filter Supplement
<From their spiel: "...powerful team of beneficial bacteria"
MSDS: http://www.fluvalaquatics.com/media/bluemill/products-msdssheets/Fluval_A834
6-A8348-A8349-A8351-A8352_Liquid-Biological-Enhancer_MSDS_2013.pdf  >
Seachem Prime
<Proprietary aqueous solution of complexed hydrosulfite salts.
Pro Genesis
<Don't know what you're referring to here>
<Not the same materials, products.... but intended ends are similar. Bob Fenner>

Amquel safe after termite fumigation?        12/22/15
Greetings Crew,
I just went through a termite fumigation. Thankfully I have only one fish at the moment, a Betta in a small tank. He rode out the fumigation safe on my desk at work. I just realized though that I have a stash of Amquel bottles and unused filter media (sponges/floss) that I forgot to remove before the tenting. Are these items still safe to use? I hate to throw it all away but will do so without hesitation if there's any chance the Vikane has contaminated them.
Thanks in advance!
<If the lids are on the bottles tightly, and the unused filter media are inside their unopened plastic packaging, then all should be safe. I'd rinse off the containers though to wash away any dust particles that might have absorbed poisons. But if there's any slight risk, like an open package or you're not quite sure the bottle had its lid on tightly, then bin these items. Not worth gamble in my opinion. I suppose you could run filter media through the dishwasher a couple times, then rinse thoroughly, e.g., by placing in a lavatory cistern for a few days (old school tip, this, but effective). What say you, Bob? Neale.>
<<Any such product that was sealed up should be fine to use; will not have changed chemically, physically. BobF>>

ammonia in tap's effect on nitrate levels? Bunk source (FLA) tap water      6/9/14
I cannot for the life of me seem to find an answer to this, though I'm sure there's one out there. I moved from CO to FL recently, and am now having trouble keeping my nitrate levels down in my (planted)aquarium. I know I need to tinker with the water a bit more to get my plants growing, which will help (I grew plants like weeds out in CO, though I did nothing to the water) I had 0 nitrate in my tank there, even doing water changes once monthly, yet here I'm battling to keep it down, feeding less and with less
stock(or at least stock that shouldn't be as hard on water quality. Had 3 goldfish in a tank I've got 5 <3" P. scalare in now trying to get a pair out of, and more plants here.) and a better filter, yet my nitrates seem to
want to skyrocket on me. Besides just being hard, my tap water comes with 2.0ppm ammonia (yes, 2.0, not .25, unfortunately)
<Yeeikes! Need to treat, store new water for days ahead of using. I have foreseen, foresee this for many to most areas in time>

and even after doing a 15-20 gallon change on my 30 gallon tank, my nitrates creep back up to
40-60 within a week.
<There are "other methods"... Read here:

and the linked files above>
I'm not using any fertilisers right now, so it isn't coming from that.
<Though... something is rate limiting... that may well be allowing the accumulation of NO3>
I put some root tabs in about 3 months ago, but I'd hope that any trace of them(if they were the cause) would be gone by now since you're supposed to replace them monthly. I'm not missing any fish, so I know it isn't caused by something rotting away, I don't leave uneaten food in the tank, and I honestly can't think of much more that could be causing the problem offhand. Is it possible that the tap is contributing the majority of it,
or is there anything else I can check in relation?
<Could well be the tap... FLA has such problems/issues... mainly due to agriculture input>
Also, how harmful is the ammonia/nitrite spike I am sure I'm getting after a big water change likely to be on my fish?
<Too much... SEARCH on WWM re processing water for water changes>
I can't find my nitrite kit at the moment, but the ammonia(from chloramine in the tap, I'd assume) goes to 0 rather quickly, and with no bacteria blooms from either spike(at least no visible cloudy water from
them) Besides RO(which I don't have the means to do) is there any other way to minimise the effects that either would have on my fish?
<Yes.... again: pre-treat and store. Bob Fenner>

Question about interaction of prime and ammonia levels     4/17/14
I will first admit I have a running post with The Aquarium Club with little in the way of results. I have used WetWebMedia before though and am aware of your vast expertise as well as a huge demand hence my efforts to find an answer without bothering you.
<Appreciate your efforts>
Okay I have a ten gallon freshwater tank with an overly qualified hang on back filter and proper aeration. The temperature is stable at 78 degrees F. The tank has been up and running for eight weeks with gravel and filter media seeded from an established setup. I used fish food to kick start the process and after about four weeks I saw a rise in nitrite and by the twenty four hour mark that nitrite level sunk back to 0ppm and the nitrates rose to 20ppm. Assumption was my downfall. I assumed my cycle was completed and proceeded to add my blue crayfish as this is his species only tank until I upgrade and add him to a more appropriate community. Anyway I retested after I added him but did not feed anything for about twenty-four hours. Here is the issue I was shocked to find .5 ppm of ammonia no nitrite and 20ppm nitrate.
<Interesting: "re-cycle"... happens at times/circumstances>
I panicked and dosed the tank with prime. It has now been several more weeks and I continue to dose with prime because the levels have not shifted since the addition of the crayfish.
<The use of dechloraminator/s will forestall the establishment of cycling.
What really needs to happen is the Cray be removed... the system allowed to settle/cycle again>
Literally the levels are stagnant, .5ppm ammonia, no nitrite at all, and 20ppm nitrate. In my panic I have continually done daily water changes of about 25% with prime used as the water conditioner. I use the API master test kit with the test tubes. I test daily. I have no ammonia readings in my tap water. Is this some kind of false positive because of the prime.
<In part; yes>
Or is there ammonia that the biofilter, the good bacteria are not yet established enough to eliminate the ammonia?
<Not enough of all that is necessary to move nitrification forward>
Yet then I would expect to see another mini-cycle in the form of another rise in the nitrite to indicate I am finally done with this endless cycle.
Should I just discontinue the prime and hope for the best?
<Yes; WITH moving the Crustacean>
I am really wary to do so because my Lobby is my pet and I really enjoy him. If he were suffering from ammonia toxicity what would his symptoms be?
<Lethargy to death>
Please Help.
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Question about interaction of prime and ammonia levels     4/18/14

Ok. Thank you for the quick response. Just for my own understanding doesn't the lack of nitrite for over a week now indicate that the tank has sufficiently completed the cycling process to convert harmful ammonia and nitrite into nitrate which reads at nearly 30ppm now?
<Mmm; "not in all cases" is one way to respond here. It happens that, at times, there are "cycles w/in cycles", especially in "new" set-ups... w/ oscillations of readings trending downward in time/cycle and concentrations... but... there is still "some" chance that ammonia, nitrite can be independently generated/measured... Best (as usual) to take your time, stocking, feeding sparingly... for the next few months... Doing frequent, partial water changes... of a few ten percent per week>
Also wouldn't this lack of nitrite also indicate that the readings of ammonia are purely a result of the prime water conditioner?
<Could be; but not absolutely>
I am sorry just really confused.
<No reason to be so; let's discuss, have you read till you're satisfied. To wit: the use of conditioners can result in a false positive w/ Nessler type test/reagent use... BUT even w/o such ingredient, there CAN be such "re-cycling" events (mostly in new/sterile situations)>
I was under the impression that the presence of nitrate indicated a complete cycle,
<Again; not always; no>
apparently I am mistaken. Lobby the crayfish is now in an exceedingly unsuitable environment but I am terrified to expose him to ammonia because per your description I cannot accurately gauge his reaction to the ammonia that is arguably present.
<JUST move this animal as previously stated, OR if not practical either do NOT feed at all or extremely sparingly>
He would just get tired and die and I don't think I could react in time.
Anyway what is it I am waiting and hoping for?
<Only you can answer this. I presume for some sort of resolution re action or non-action on your part... I have mentioned what I would do>
Am I likely to see another nitrite spike even though I have already seen this?
<Not at all likely; no>
Or is this just a wait and see experiment because of the inability to properly analyze the ammonia levels?
<See above>
Please excuse my ignorance. Honestly I have always been more of a less is more opinion in the way of addition of chemicals and clearly this seems to be a better pov because now I am reaping the hazards of sketchy aquarium chemicals. Sorry for the commentary I so appreciate your expertise.
<No worries; take your time... All will be well; and soon enough. BobF>
Fw: Question about interaction of prime and ammonia levels     4/18/14
The prime does claim not to interrupt the proliferation of bacteria necessary for the process of cycling. Perhaps this is a misrepresentation.
<To some extent, this statement re Prime, other dechloraminators is a misrepresentation. ANYTHING that binds up ammonia WILL forestall the establishment of nitrification... Obviously cutting out a necessary element/step in bacterial feeding would do so. B>

Re: Hardness question - sponge filter not working, Now fish length measure, tests and chemicals for removal of ammonia and chlor/am/ine    2/26/12
ps, thank you and two dumb, unrelated questions:
1)  When you ask for the size of a fish, are you including or excluding its back tail?
<Depends... for most hobbyist correspondence, the tail is included, or guessed (by me, others) to be so. For fisheries and ichthyological consideration, no, never. The "standard length" in these cases is the end of the caudal peduncle>
2)  When you add "Prime" or some other dechlorinizer, I assume that also helps with ammonia in the water at the same time (it says it renders it "inactive" or "inert"/"non-toxic" or whatnot on the label.
<Just for then... these products don't "hang around", continue to neutralize ammonia nor chloramines... Note, no one in W. Europe, the US currently uses dechlorinisers... Chlorine is not the sanitizer of use in most first world countries any longer>
 When you retest that water for ammonia after adding the Prime, should the green color go away?
<No... unfortunately, an artifact of most test protocols "re-releases" the bound to free ammonia to give a "false positive">
 Or will it stay green just because the ammonia is in the water, and while now 'non-toxic", is still present and still therefore registering and turning up green?  I ask, because my tap water most often does have a native level of ammonia in it right out of the tap, and even after adding Prime and letting the water stand in a bucket for 24 hours it still comes back as containing
<Understood... and good question. Again... do you understand what I've stated above? B>
Re: Hardness question - sponge filter not working 2/26/12

Yes, if I understand, the test kit will still show the water color as the same (green variations in the case of ammonia), even if you have added Prime or some other product to it. So you have to "trust" that the Prime is working.
What is fascinating to me is that this is just temporary (Prime making the ammonia inert)?  So the "inert ammonia" will become "bad ammonia" again over time?  This is good to know!  Should be on the bottle!
<I most wholeheartedly agree>
Questions then are: 1)  What is the ideal time to let water sit in a bucket after you have added prime to it?
<Several minutes>
 I used to think longer (within reason, like say 48 hours) was better to let bad stuff evaporate, and/or to let the Prime do its thing.  Now it seems if I wait too long, the ammonia reverts back and it essentially is the same as untreated water?  Almost seems I should not add Prime at all and just let it sit 48 hours? 
<... see WWM, books, the Net in general... chlorine does dissipate w/ or w/o aeration/circulation. Chloramines are much more persistent... about a week to go>
2)  Adding Prime in an emergency situation only helps in the short run, before you can do a water change, and if I understand you right if for some reason you could not do a water change you would need to add more prime over time, not just to take care of new ammonia being introduced, but also because
the old ammonia was getting reactivated.  Is there a time this occurs over? 
12 hours?  24 hours?
<... generally there are other chemicals present that take the chlorine, ammonia out in time...>
Great info!!!  I only wish you had a store in the states so I could buy from you.
<I just wish there were more curious, intelligent hobbyists as yourself.
Cheers, B>
Re: Hardness question - sponge filter not working 2/26/12

I/we don't publish such shouting. Read where you've been referred, Write back if you wish in complete sentences. BobF>
Sorry, as I said only wrote in CAPS to differentiate strings after a couple back and forths (it can get confusing)
<... Please just re-write anything you have in mind as if it were new... Complete sentences, ideas. B>
Re: Hardness question - sponge filter not working 2/27/12

Thanks!  Sounds like then the best thing then, if you are going to let the
water sit 24-48 hours for other reasons, is that you should not add the Prime until a few minutes before you put it in the tank, or to redose it again if you put it in initially (which sounds mostly to be a waste).
<Okay... I take the risk of adding nothing... here in San Diego, CA; though the municipality is known to "pulse" in much higher titers of Chloramines at times... IF only changing out less than 30% or so, you should be fine w/ adding nothing as well>
 I am guessing very few hobbyists at my level know this, and I've been doing it a couple years.  Everyone I have talked to says "let the Prime sit in there overnight, if not 24 hours".
<Is a good product... and can/will work used in either protocol. Bob Fenner>

Perfect Discus water and value of trace elements     12/4/11
Hi Crew,
How are you?
<I'm well, thanks for asking.>
I am a discus hobbyist and discus professional from Calcutta, India. I am doing discus as a hobbyist for last 7 to 8 years. But now I have made a small hatchery to grow up discus from 1/2 cm to 1 cm size to wholesale.
<I see.>
I am facing some problem this days after install a filtration plant for the hatchery. The water come from a well there is no living creature in that well, water is crystal clear. No sediment come at the bucket.
Now I wish to tell about my filtration the water pass through SAND FILTER >
water stored in a PVC tank, where is a 2000 Watt heater and aeration to heat up and diseases free the water.
<Sounds fine.>
Ph approx 7.5 but using that water I am not getting satisfactory result in growth. Discus growth rate is very low.
<Is the nitrate level is low -- less than 20 mg/l? And of course, nitrite and ammonia must be 0. Water chemistry is not too critical for modern Discus, but you are aiming for soft water (less than 10 degrees dH, ideally less than 5 degrees dH) and that the pH is fairly low, 6.0-7.5.>
Though at one of my customer same batch discus growing at double speed.
<Could be genes. But assuming you all have similar fish, then water quality (especially nitrate with cichlid fry) and the number of meals (4, ideally 6 per day) is what makes a difference for the first few months of life.
Regular feeding, not overfeeding, is the key. Cichlids won't digest everything they eat, so making them "fat" with food at one meal per day is pointless. Instead, feed 4-6 small meals per day. Alongside the numerous meals, you have to do regular water changes, ideally daily. This keeps the nitrate low. The lower the nitrate, the better, and ideal is as close to 0 mg/l as practical.>
First of all I was thinking about feed, he feed goat heart mixture, but As I have no freeze I feed egg+spirulina powder+ AZoo discus vitamin + decapsulated brine shrimp + AZoo larva pellet mixture. though as per nuriense value my food is better than him but still the result is poor.
Then I get the info during this filtration process water getting very very soft and loosing all kind of trace elements and metals. That's why I thought growth rate is poor. My Q : how to add essential trace element in the water? What should be the percentage? Please suggest me the chemicals and percentage to add trace element for
<Frequency of meals more like the issue here. The foods you're offering all sound adequate.>
I have read at web Amazon water contain huge amount of Tannin, that's why the water is acidic and black like tea licker, Here in my place I can easily get tea leaves can I add some tea licker to make acidic water? Is it can down the ph? Please suggest me I am waiting for your response.
<No, tea isn't what you want. Tannins aren't a key issue when rearing farmed Discus. I wouldn't worry about them. Cheers, Neale.>

Question for Bob Fenner - Something in the water 11/1/11
Good Morning Bob,
<Hey Edward!>
I have come to Web Web Media many times on a personal mission and always gotten good advice and answers. This time it is on a professional level. I am the office manager for an aquarium service company working in SE Massachusetts. Recently, we have been having major problems with a select number of our freshwater systems and we seem to have tracked it down to the common water source they all utilize. I contacted the MWRA (the authority who is in charge of the water supply) and they provided me with the following report, which I attached to this e-mail. When we test the pH of the tap water in these locations it ranges anywhere from 8.7 to 9.2!
<I see this. High!>
That combined with the ammonia and chlorine is causing chaos with our freshwater systems. We currently use Kent Marine 7.0 buffer to handle to pH and StressCoat to deal with the chlorine. In some instances we have resorted to Ammo-lock by Aquarium Pharm to neutralize the chlorine. Can you make any other recommendations for how to handle this toxic water so it is safe to use on a large scale?
<Yes... the very best would be for you to "batch treat" the water at your facility and haul it about to the customers systems... Is this a practical possibility? IF so, then I'd blend about half this "liquid rock" w/ half made into RO. If not... is there a likely means of storing good volumes at the sites? I would use a contactor there to render the water the same as above... If not, then let's talk a bit further re more expensive haul-able gear for running the water through (likely leased from a water treatment service)>
Any help you can offer would be appreciated!
<Not to worry; we can/will solve this issue for your systems calling for softer, lower pH water. Bob Fenner>
Best Regards,
Wendy Amaral
Office manager
Aqua Vision Tech, LLC
Re: Question for Bob Fenner - Something in the water 11/1/11

Not really practical to be hauling around several hundred gallons of water.
The fish we are having the biggest problems with are ornamental Orandas. We may be able to store water on site for some locations, but others may be problematic. What type of haulable water treatment gear did you have in mind?
<Mmm, a dual resin container that you can hoof about... that can be hooked up to a sink, run under low/er pressure, that will remove about half of the material that is the 623 units of conductivity here. Do you have a "Culligan" or such outfit nearby (almost doubtless given the water there) that a sales rep. can come visit, or you can get on over to show the .pdf you've sent along and some idea of what values you're hoping to render?
They'll have some smallish contactors that they'll recharge on an ongoing basis... again, hopefully you can rig a dollie for this, along w/ hoses, connectors and the usual gear to haul into your service accounts w/o too much intrusion. We used Zerk connectors, good 3/4" ID Color-Rite hoses...
Cheers, BobF>
Edward Warman
Aqua Vision Tech, LLC

ammonium reading in tap water  6/19/10
I searched and read much about ammonia and ammonium but never could find the exact answer to my question, sorry if this is redundant.
<Let's see...>
I have a freshwater 12 gallon Marineland Eclipse setup with the standard bio wheel, carbon/mesh replaceable cartridge,
<Carbon largely useless; would replace with more biological filtration.>
Ario light and aeration (I run maybe 50% of the time, especially great after water changes to help clear up the water quickly)
<Neons don't like turbulent water, and those Ario bubblers tend to be very vigorous; I wouldn't use it.>
My system has cycled and I have slowly added the following residents: four albino Cory cats, one male Betta,
<Neons nip Bettas, and Bettas also require much warmer water than Neons and Corydoras, so keeping them together makes no sense.>
three neon tetras. Oh I didn't mention that with such a small tank I decided to use plastic plants. I did add 3 marimo moss balls since they are low maintenance
<Better to say they die slowly.>
and I hoped they would help control nitrates (which have never reached 20ppm and usually under 5ppm)
<By definition, if a plant grows slowly, it won't help remove nitrates.
Think about this. Nitrates are removed proportionally to the rate at which a plant grows. The only plants that make a measurable difference are those that grow fast, like floating Indian Fern.>
Today's test results: pH 6.8, 20ppm KH, 15ppm GH, 0ppm chlorine, 0ppm nitrites, 5ppm nitrates. Last water change was four days ago. I have been doing 15% water change every 7-10 days. I feed once every 24-36 hours. I change the carbon/mesh filter every 4-6 weeks.
<Ka-ching! The prime reason for carbon is to extract money from the fishkeeper.>
See below regarding ammonia.
I have had aquariums before years ago in another state where the water out of tap was higher in pH and hardness. My current water supply, Portland Oregon, comes out of the tap between 6.6 and 7.0 pH most often at the lower
and as you can see very soft.
<Fine for Neons and Corydoras.>
This is why I decided on the fish that I did (had Platies, guppies and Corys before)
<Unacceptable for Platies or Guppies.>
So here is the main question...should I do something to reduce the ammonium in my system?
I bought a Multi-test for NH3 / NH4 because my 'stick' test kept reading ammonia in tap and tank water and yet all the fish seem happy and healthy.
I do use ammonia lock just in case before putting tap water in the tank but the tap water is testing 0ppm ammonia but 3ppm total ammonia/ammonium and so is my tank.
<If you are detecting ammonia in the tap water, either directly or via chloramine, then using an appropriate anti-ammonia, anti-chloramine water conditioner should neutralise it. Use a nitrite test kit to check water quality in the tank. If the nitrite level is zero, you can probably ignore the ammonia level in the water, if the ammonia level in the water is the same in the tank as in dechlorinated batches of tap water (i.e., the ammonia you're detecting came from the tap water, not the fish).>
I keep reading that ammonium is not toxic to fish but I hate having to do the 15 minute test required to be sure the ammonia is still 0ppm. Should I get some Zeolite to reduce ammonium?
<Pointless. A mature biological filter will remove ammonia just as well.>
Should I just not worry about it? If you suggest I not be concerned do you know of a better test strip for ammonia that wont read the ammonium or give separate reading on the stick for NH3 and NH4?
<All test kits will detect "safe" ammonia or chloramine locked up by your water conditioner. As I say, check the level is the same in the tank as the tap water, and if it is, then you needn't worry.>
The multi test that I have has small dot of what I assume is litmus paper to read the NH3 vs. NH4. It takes 15-30 min.s to fully test, a strip type would be nice as I like to test my water at least twice a week (with the pH starting this low I guess I fear it might fall below 6.0 and damage my biological filter). I have never seen such soft water out of the tap, with the fish I have chosen do I need to add anything to raise the hardness, buffer so the pH will be stable?
<Regular water changes should keep the pH stable if the tank is under-stocked and carefully fed. Otherwise use a pH 6.5 or pH 7 buffer.>
Since I am writing regarding the ammonium issue I would also like to ask if you think adding two to three more neon tetras would sound like overload.
<Probably safe.>
(smallest setup I have ever had) If so I may decide to add more Neons and move the Betta back to 5 gallon setup.
<Betta needs rehousing anyway. Neons do best at 22-25 C, as do Corydoras; Betta needs to be kept at 28-30 C.>
Hope not to do that as he seems so much happier with neighbors, he doesn't chase them but does like checking out what his neighbors are doing especially the active little Cory cats. They have all been together for about a month and doing well so I want to complete my 'neon shoal'.
<Need a group of at least ten for that.>
So in general my fish seem happy and healthy, acting normal with no signs of stress but I am tired of strip test for ammonia always reads 3.0ppm so then I have to do the multi test and it comes up 0ppm for NH3.
<What's the nitrite level? That's what I'd worry about.>
I appreciate your expert opinion my 3 basic questions, do I worry about the ammonium?
<Probably not, but see above.>
does adding 2 or 3 more Neons seem too much fish for the tank (water surface area is 231 sq inches)?
<In a 12 gallon tank, 8-10 Neons plus 4-5 Corydoras should be okay, though do understand that that's about the limit.>
and finally should I buffer, raise the hardness of the very soft tap water?
(the lowest I have gotten on pH reading in my tank was 6.2 prior to a water change but it worried me that it was so low)
<Buffering may well be useful if you find the pH drops noticeably between water changes.>
Thank you so much for your help!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: ammonium reading in tap water  6/21/10
Thank you for the reply to my questions.
<No problem.>
I will move the Betta to his own 5 gallon set up once I get one cycled, knew they needed heated water but didn't realize so much warmth needed, this tank runs 74f-76f .
<Oh, people debate this. One argument in favour of keeping them relatively cool is they supposedly live longer, and since their metabolism is slowed down, they pollute their bowls more slowly. On the other hand, keeping them
cool slows down their digestive and immune systems, so long-term health problems become more likely. In the wild they're found in relatively still and shallow, and therefore quite warm, ponds and ditches. So I tend to recommend a fairly high temperature, and all things being equal, they are less likely to get sick this way. In any event, they do need warmer water than Neons and Corydoras, though one might argue about precisely how much warmer Bettas need to be kept.>
Amazing any Bettas survive in all those bowls people put them in.
<Yes indeed. But then again, vast numbers of them DON'T survive. So just as with Goldfish, where you and I probably do know people with Goldfish that lived ten years in a bowl -- yet for every one that survives that way, a
dozen don't.>
In reply to your question about the nitrites in my tank, consistently testing at 0ppm.
Therefore as you said the ammonia that shows up in the tests of tap water is what is registering in the tank tests (getting the same 3.0 ppm of total ammonia in tap and tank).
<Ah, that makes sense.>
Will continue to treat tap water with ammonia lock and dechlorinator with water changes. Just never had tap water test positive for ammonia before.
Do you have a suggestion regarding the 5 gallon Betta setup...maybe add a shrimp? frog? my first Betta setup but want to treat him right :)
<Both these can work, though again, the temperature may need to be set "just so" to suit whichever frog and especially shrimp species you go for. I'd plumb for Cherry Shrimps as the best all-around Betta companions, the combination of red shrimps with blue Bettas working especially well.>
Thanks again!
<Cheers, Neale.>

water conditioner 5/6/10
Hello, Can start right be used with stress coat,
<If needs be.>
I only ask as I have stress coat in tank now and heard it is not good, it contains amines or something like that, or that is can turn into amines???
<Stress Coat doesn't need to be used regularly; it's primarily for situations where fish are being shipped or otherwise stressed, confined.>
Not sure however the start right contains electrolytes?
<Indeed, but then so does seawater, blood and soda pop. "Electrolytes" by itself doesn't mean much, and is mostly a way of impressing folks who forgot their high school science.>
AND I wondered if start right will alter ph??
<Why should it?>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Water conditioner claims to boost Alkalinity. (RMF?)  5/6/09
First I would like to say, You guys and gals provide a service that is beyond any estimated value, and I literally spend hours reading from this information. I forbid any of you, from passing from this earth before me!
<Thanks for this kind (if rather bizarre) compliment!>
Though I have searched through the many posts and replies, I have yet to find an answer to my concern. Forgive me if it is otherwise.
<Fire away.>
My question is.. In your view, and without mentioning a specific brand ,If one had an aquarium ,and the water therein was moderately hard, would the use of a dechlorinator that claims to boost alkalinity in your view,, be detrimental to the fish (ie) Discus, and rams.
<It would likely have trivial impact either way. Unless the bottle contained a really concentrated carbonate or bicarbonate solution -- which it wouldn't -- it would be so diluted as to be of negligible value. Take a look at how much cichlid salt mix you need to make hard water for Malawi cichlids: a tablespoon of Epsom salt, and a teaspoon each of marine salt mix and baking soda, per 5 gallons of water. So a few drops of water conditioner...? Gimme a break... It's more marketing than anything else, I'd warrant. Possibly it contains some carbonate in the recipe, and the Marketing Department decided to flaunt this as some kind of virtue or special feature. Of course, you can always test the stuff and see: measure KH before and after adding it, and see what happens. Discus are fairly unfussy about carbonate hardness, at least in the case of tank-bred Discus; Rams are a bit more delicate, as you probably know, and I'm glad you're keeping them with Discus in a system optimised to these fussy Dwarf Cichlids. But as a one-off purchase, I doubt using a small bottle for a couple of months would put even Rams at risk.>
The normal water conditioner I use does not make such a claim but the chain stores, and fish stores around my neck of the woods do not carry it and I must order online. The product I am questioning which is readily available, addresses ammonia, chlorine ,and chloramines as well as heavy metals. Claims not to affect the ph, and boosts Alkalinity.
<I'd go for this if I had the option, but honestly, I doubt it would make much difference.>
As I am barely able to keep the Discus and rams with the tapwater I have, I am doubting the wisdom of switching to this particular product.
<Fair point; and in this case, tank-bred Discus and farmed Bolivian Rams (M. altispinosus) would likely be the best bet, since both thrive in moderately hard water.>
Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
<Cheers, Neale.>
<<Mmm, not alkalinity, but apparent pH may be shifted, albeit temporarily by such chemical dechloraminators... Don't know how much I/we want to belabor or discuss re this possibility... but I do completely agree with Neale's assessment... Chemically changing ammonia presence to un-ionized will appear to change alkalinity perhaps... but in reality, this is only a temporary appearance. BobF>>

Questions about water chemistry   5/1/09
I am writing because I am terribly confused about water properties. I read the related articles on your site but, it's Greek to me.
Anywho, onto my question... The test kit I own is a 5 in 1 dip with nitrite, nitrate, hardness, alkalinity, and ph (yes I have a separate test kit for ammonia). I was starting to understand the article regarding GH and
KH, but I looked at my test and the values were different, and it was down hill from there.
<How different?>
The specifics of my question are: I think I have horrible water, and before I go keeping fish I need to make sure my water is up to their standards.
<Define "horrible". There are presumably fish living in your local streams and rivers. What people usually mean by "horrible" water chemistry is that they have water that is too hard or too soft for the fish they want to keep. Solution? Keep fish adapted to your water chemistry.>
I am on well water that frankly I won't drink. It comes out almost yellowish and smells STRONGLY of sulfur.
<Not good, I admit.>
It stinks so badly it's even pretty embarrassing to have guest stay over that need to bathe/brush their teeth in it. According to my test strips ( I am desirous of keeping a freshwater community aquarium), my hardness is
somewhere between 8.4 and 8.8, (confusing part coming) their GH scale is ppm from 0 to 300, mine is around 75. their KH scale is ppm from again 0 to 300 and mine is something over 300, the color is "higher" than 300 but the chart doesn't go that high.
<Okay, the thing to "get" is that general hardness (GH) and carbonate hardness (KH) are measuring different things. Your general hardness reading is 75, and I'm assuming that's 75 mg/l (or ppm, same thing) calcium oxide.
CHECK THIS; some test kits measure against calcium carbonate. Assuming it's calcium oxide, you'd look here, at the General Hardness table:
Reading across, 75 mg/l calcium oxide comes out as moderately hard. Next up, your carbonate hardness is 300 mg/l, and yes, I should have added this to the table. One degree of carbonate hardness is 17.8 mg/l calcium carbonate, i.e., in this case, 300/17.8 = 16.8 degrees KH, which is very (carbonate) hard indeed. In other words, your water has a moderate level of calcium and magnesium, but very high levels of carbonate and bicarbonate. In short, it's pretty good water for livebearers. The sulphur might be an
issue, but wild Mollies live in sulphur-rich cave pools, and feral Mollies have become established in sulphur-rich pools all over the place, even in New Zealand! So I'd certainly try out Mollies first, and see how things
went. If they did well, I'd try Guppies, Platies, Swordtails, or even some of the less widely traded Goodeids if you're up for a challenge. Adding a little salt is always sensible with Mollies, 3-5 g/l being ideal.>
What do these levels mean?
<See above.>
Will it be impossible to keep fish healthy and happy? Is their a SAFE way to fix it? And if so, how?
It is my understanding that messing with water chemistry is tricky, not to mention dangerous to any livestock as it can become unstable, is that true?
<It can be, though the risks come usually when people soften their water, because as you remove carbonate hardness, you remove buffering capacity too, so pH changes (drops) more quickly.>
Are there other tests, besides those common aquarists would need, that I should procure due to the obvious issues with my water? Thank you so much any help you can give, and for providing a place for people like me to come for answers they can trust. I want to keep fish the right way and knowledge and understanding are the first steps to that.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Ooh.. that smell... Dechlormaminator    6/22/08 Hi crew, <David> Well, here's an interesting one... while preparing a batch of FW for a water change, I noticed a very strong sulfur odor from the water change bucket. I'm sure this is not a good thing... <Agreed> I've been using tap water in this place for a few years and never noticed this before, and I usually sniff the water to make sure I don't smell any residual chloramine. It's reservoir water, not well water, and does not smell at all sulfury out of the tap. So, what's different... this is a fairly new bucket, but I have used it for water changes a few times already. It's very warm in the house today, so the water in the bucket is around 80-85F, which isn't typical. I noticed the smell within a couple of hours after putting the water in the bucket, so I can't imagine this could be any kind of bacterial problem... could it? <Mmm, no...> I added dechlorinator (Amquel), GH (Seachem Equilibrium), and some acid buffer (also Seachem). Are any of these products known to produce that smell, when used in normal quantities? <There are... the Amquel... may be "too old"... does have the capacity for generating this smell... Should be tossed if so> Or, could the low pH of the water be reacting with the plastic? <Doubtful. Most of these buckets are "food grade" safe polyethylene... Contain no Sulfur> The pH in the bucket is probably around 6.0 or slightly lower, i.e. bright yellow on the test kit. I've been adding the acid buffer and then waiting a while before I add the alkaline-- maybe I shouldn't do that-- ? -Dave <This pH is actually not "that" low... the container is almost entirely non-reactive... It's the dechloraminator almost assuredly. Bob Fenner>

Re: ooh.. that smell   6/22/08 Bob, thanks for the quick reply. I did a test, last night I prepared a fresh bucket, added the Amquel and GH but did not add the acid buffer. This morning there was no sulfur smell... but I did notice a faint chlorine smell, even though I tend to use a bit more dechloraminator than suggested on the label. So this seems to support your idea that the Amquel is past its due date. Perhaps the sulfur smell was some interaction between the Amquel, the higher temperature yesterday, and the acidic properties. <Mmm, maybe. Thank you for this follow-up. BobF>

Water problems... ammonia, cycling, treating tap...  -- 6/11/08 Hi! <Hello,> I bought a 20 gallon aquarium about a month ago. I put some fancy goldfish in it to try and help cycle it. <It's a lot easier (and nicer on the fish) to use a "fishless method". The best of these is merely to grab some filter media from one aquarium and stick in in the new aquarium's filter.> About 3 weeks into owning it I ran into an ammonia problem (obviously part of the cycling process I take it). I started frequent water changes (every day) because the ammonia level was in the stress-harmful zone (lost a fish). <Yes, ammonia is likely the problem here. There are commercial products that can jump-start the filter by adding live bacteria. The most popular seems to be Bio Spira, though I admit to never having used any of them. I prefer to "seed" filters using media from other tanks. 100% effective, zero cost!> My question is this ...my tap water even after conditioning it with dechlorinator is still in the safe range but not ideal. <Meaning what? It has ammonia? First thing -- there is no "safe" level of ammonia; it's like being pregnant, it's a binary state sort of thing. So, you either have zero ammonia in the water (which is good) or not zero ammonia (which is bad). Some water supplies do contain traces of ammonia, which can be fixed using products like Ammo Lock or even many dechlorinators. Secondly, do remember that if you use some (older formulation) dechlorinators on tap water that contains chloramine rather than chlorine, you actually *make* ammonia.> Obviously, when doing a partial water change the ammonia level goes up after a couple days because the tap water isn't ideal to begin with. <Hmm... the quantity of ammonia in new tap water should be zero or very low; if the ammonia concentration goes up or at least fails to go down, then the problem is more about lack of filtration, overfeeding, or both.> Any ideas of what to do to remedy this problem (without buying expensive bottled water)? <Tap water, particularly hard, alkaline tap water, is ideal for Goldfish. Use an ammonia-neutralizing conditioner on all new water, and that should take care of the small (typically less than 0.5 mg/l) ammonia in the tap water. Your job now becomes ensuring the filter system handles the ammonia produced by the fish.> I was thinking to try a double dose of the dechlorinator? Currently I am using "AquaSafe" (1 teaspoon to every ten gallons) <Not familiar with the brand. In any case, use the dose as indicated on the package. If it says it neutralises ammonia, then fine. If not, you'll need to switch to (or supplement with) another conditioner that neutralises the ammonia in tap water. Understand this: no "ammonia removing" conditioner will do ANYTHING about the ammonia produced by your fish. As far as you're concerned, these are utterly different issues.> Any advice you could give me will be greatly appreciated as I would like to get away from changing water every other day <I understand. First, make sure you're treating new water correctly to remove tap water ammonia. Secondly, review filtration/feeding to see if the ammonia produced by the fish is excessive. Do have a read of the 'setting up' articles we've got here at WWM, perhaps starting with these: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwset-up.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfiltration.htm Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Water problems 6/13/08 Thanks for the informative advice! <You're welcome.> I went today and bought a larger filter instead of the 10-20 I bought a 20-40 Ammonia levels dropped almost immediately after I put on new filter and changed water. <Very good.> One fish has ammonia scars on his little tail (not bad I've seen way worse) He keeps flashing around tank. Anything I can give him that will ease him? <Treat for Finrot. He'll recover. Provided the damage is superficial and limited to the fin membrane rather than the body, fish tend to recover quite well.> Thanks Oh, also the tank I have I bought at a garage sale for a buck and it seems to be a homemade one as it is much taller than wide (not like in stores). The tube from filter doesn't really go down to the middle of the tank. Any Ideas on how to extend it? <What sort of filter is this? One of those hang-on-the-back ones? Not sure they can be adjusted as you suggest. This does cause a problem that the bottom layer of water could be relatively stagnant. Adding an airstone would help, or even another little submersible electric filter or air-powered sponge filter placed closer to the bottom of the tank.> I checked with PetCo and they sell nothing. I was thinking maybe a piece of plastic tubing from Menards to attach? Could that have been one of the problems? (The tube goes down around a foot and a half) about 3-4 inches from middle of tank) <Well, it could help. But the pump mechanism might not work so well if the inlet is located that much further away from the impeller. I'm not an engineer though so can't comment with any authority here! Cheers, Neale.>

Water... treatment chemicals... residual negative effects? FW   12/12/07 Hi, does chemicals that rid nitrate and ammonia harm fishes in any way? Also, should I perform a water change every week or every two weeks? I have a fifty gallon tank, so how much should I change? Thanks for all your help. <I'm not precisely sure what you mean by nitrate-removing and ammonia-removing chemicals. But provided you follow the instructions, any products designed for aquaria should be safe with fish. Water changes should be performed EVERY WEEK, and not less than 25% at a time for tanks lightly stocked with small fish (Guppies, Neons, etc.) or 50% at a time for bigger fish (cichlids, Angelfish, Goldfish, catfish, etc.). Cheers, Neale.>

Ammonia in aged water, FW  9/5/07 This one really has me stumped. My mother set up a 30 gal tank 3-4 wks ago and added a 2" fantail goldfish. He's doing fine. I didn't know any of this until recently when she mentioned it. Out of curiosity I tested her water since I had the test kits. Her ammonia (right after a 20% water change was .5, nitrites about 1 and nitrates 10 (yes, still cycling, I know). She lets the water sit for a few days in a tub before doing water changes (25% a week). She has well water (same as I do) but is in another town, there's no added chlorine or anything else as far as I know. The PH straight out of the tap is 7.2 and O ammonia, 0 nitrites, 0 nitrates. The fish tank water has a PH of 7.8. From reading your sight that tells me it's a *good thing to let it sit because of the dissolved oxygen, etc. But-the problem is the aged water has an ammonia level of .5. <Unusual... I would check your test kit here first> That doesn't make any sense to me and I didn't have a good answer for her as to why. We tested the tap and it was zero ammonia, then let a 5 gal bucket of water sit for an hour with a bubbler in it and tested it. The ammonia was already .5 in the bucket water and it had only sat for an hour! I understand there's toxic and non-toxic ammonia? <Mmm, yes... ammonia/ammonium (NH4/NH4OH) at higher pHs is much more toxic than lower pH ammonia, NH3> Do you think that's where the confusion lies? Is my test kit (Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Freshwater Master Test Kit) be reading the total ammonia including the non-toxic? <Yes and no... the state of the ammonia at this high pH is the more toxic> This is confusing. Or is her aged water somehow getting ammonia in it by sitting? <From? A kitty litter box nearby? I hope you two have your water checked, certified for human consumption... I would NOT consume water with 10 ppm of NO3...> It was brand new bucket used only for water that we let it sit in. I hope you can help. Is she adding ammonia to her fish tank with every water change? The little goldfish looks great and the water is super clear if that makes a difference. Thank you for your time. I hope you can shed some light on why aged water would all of a sudden have ammonia when the water straight out of the tap doesn't. Mitzi <I suspect the readings are spurious. I'd check the checker. Bob Fenner>

Re: Ammonia in aged water-possibly algae in well water  9/7/07 Hello Crew (Bob), Concerning the ammonia readings in aged water (but not fresh from tap over at my mother's house). I did buy 2 more test kits and those kits showed the identical results as my original liquid test kit. <I see. Thank you> So I made some calls and did some thinking. I'm going to update you in the hopes that it may help someone else with well water. I believe the reason for the ammonia reading in only the aged water (not fresh tap water) was because my mother had algae in her well/well water. <This could do it, yes> Possibly because of major flooding here in Oklahoma the past 6 months. The water straight out of her tap showed '0' ammonia, yet when the water sat for an hour or more the ammonia started rising. I believe it was because the algae particles from the well started dying as soon as it came through the pipes and sat in a container and caused the ammonia. Does that make sense? <It does> It made perfect sense to me. We poured a bottle of Clorox bleach down her well the other day. Evidently that's not an uncommon practice amongst well owners (who'd have known?). <Is a good move> The man at the water dept said the bleach should dissipate within 24 hrs or so. I went over to her house today and tested a bucket of water she'd had sitting out for several hours. There was '0' ammonia! Great news! So I think that solved the problem. I'd have never thought of something like that and I wonder how many other fish keepers using well water have trouble cycling their tanks for the same reason. She was pouring in water with ammonia in it. Keep in mind the ammonia only showed in her aged water, not straight from the tap. It really had me stumped and I'm so glad to have figured it out, so it seems. Does chlorine actually dissipate after about 24 hours? <Most types of sodium hypochlorite, yes... there are other versions, and additives that make some "bleach" last longer in a bottle..> I'd like to make sure from you. I bought her some Kordon's NovAqua+ to use with any water changes until I find out for sure that chlorine dissipates quickly. <Also a good idea> Interesting update and I really hope it helps someone else. Mitzi <Thank you for sharing. You've no doubt saved many people grief... and livestock! Bob Fenner>

Tap Water Conditioner v. Stress Coat -- 08/08/07 Hi there Neale. Quick question! With all my daily water changes (to correct chemistry), should I be using API's Tap Water Conditioner vs. Stress Coat? In the CMA, Bob mentioned using excessive Stress Coat encourages the fish to produce too much slime coating. I have been adding a drop or two of Stress Coat to the water before introducing it into the aquarium...the product also does not have an ideal applicator and I often place too much in. What is your recommendation please? Thank you very much! Lisa. <Lisa, in 20+ years of keeping fish I've never used Stress Coat. The only time I've seen it used is by retailers when they add some to the shipping water in the bag before sending me home with my new pets. Healthy fish have perfectly adequate slime coats, and excess slime surely doesn't do them any good at all (the obvious parallel would be promoting slime production in humans -- that's anything from a runny nose to mucous-filled lungs). Tap water conditioner, on the other hand, is one of those cheap but essential things no aquarist should ever neglect. It quite clearly does what it says on the package, and when not used, the fish are quite clearly harmed. So this is a no-brainer to me: always use the Conditioner, and only use Stress Coat in situations (such as shipping fish) where there are short-term benefits to be gained. They are quite obviously not alternatives: one's essential, the other an optional extra. Frankly, I wouldn't bother with Stress Coat. Focus on water quality, water chemistry, and diet, in that order -- and everything else should fall into place without any extra work. Trust me on this. A stable aquarium with an established population of fish is about as little work as a pot plant. Cheers, Neale.> Re: Tap Water Conditioner v. Stress Coat I knew you'd have a clear answer on this one - thanks again. <Cool. Take care, Neale>

Chloramines, treating source water 6/6/07 Hi Crew, I had the following paragraph included in a post I just sent and thought maybe it would be easier if it was sent under the proper index or subject name, As a word of warning to those residents using Toledo, OH city water: With hottest days of summer still ahead of us please be advised that the water plants use of chloramines increases greatly during the summer months due to algae build up in and around their pump stations in Lake Erie. I know this to be factual because I delivered bulk Co2 to the plant for five years. We (the wife and I) lost a beautiful Watchman Goby (Winston) during the summer of our freshman year as an aquarists and didn't know why until sometime later. It still brings a tear to my eye when I think of him laying on the bottom of our hospital tank struggling to breathe. To be honest we almost left the hobby. But, thanks to the "Crew" at www.wetwebmedia.com we are still here enjoying our marine aquariums. Best regards, Brad & Nancee Kizer <Thank you for this valuable note. A further addition to warn all against irregular "pulsing" of this sanitizer... Water Districts will/do greatly increase the concentration here to rid lines or microbes, increase residual... to several times regular dose... Once again, my STRONG suggestion to store, aerate water a week or so ahead of use. BobF>

RO/DI question with freshwater tanks, tap trtmt., ammonia  3/26/07         I have read through alot <There is no such word> of things and I am really confused.  I have 3 freshwater tanks set up, and found out I have ammonia in my tap water. <... appreciable amounts? Unusual... I would contact your "water board"... See your utility bill> I have done alot <...> to remove the ammonia before adding water to my tanks and have ended up with 4 dead and 1 with fin and tail rot now.  I have decided to get a RO/DI unit. I do understand that I need to put stuff back into the water, and most likely will be using R/O Right by Kent.  What I don't understand is the issues with the ph.  I know I need to bring the ph to what the fish are used to and make it stable, but I am not sure what products I need to use. <Just simple aeration... letting time go by... about a day> Also, I do not understand what I need to do with GH or kH. <You can add sources of such hardness back... the Kent et al. products do this> I have not gotten the RO/DI unit yet and do not want to use it until I know what I am doing, so I do not lose any more fish. If I could have someone give me a simple list of what I need for the proper ph and to make it stable again, and what or if anything I need to do for the kH and GH.  I have the following fish (not in same tank) 1 African cichlid, 2 angelfish, 1 algae eater and 1 male betta with 7 neons. Thank you for your time. <Actually... I would NOT buy/use such physical means of cleaning your source water... if the "ammonia" was all you're concerned with... I would use a simple dechloraminator, and store new water ahead of use... as detailed over and over on our site. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm Peruse the areas of Set-up and Maintenance... Treating Tapwater, Ammonia... For your potable uses, I would certainly have your water checked professionally... and likely use an RO device (as we do). Bob Fenner>

RO/DI water vs. mechanical filtration   11/15/06 Hey Jorie, it's Roni again! <Hello again! I tried to write you back last night, but my computer was acting up...> I was doing some research on cycling a tank.  With my new 55 Gal, I already have a hang on the back type filter (I am at work right now and couldn't tell you exactly what kind.) <That's OK...brand doesn't matter too much, so long as the filter is rated for *at least* 55 gallons of H20...> I am going to give it a try before I invest $200 in a RO/DI filter. <Hmmm, I think you are confusing two concepts here - establishing the nitrogen cycle in a new tank and mechanical filtration are two separate, distinct issues.  All tanks need to be cycled, even those that use purified (RO/DI) water.  Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm .  The filter is the mechanical means by which sediments are trapped in the filter media; the filter media (e.g., carbon) is what will eventually be "colonized" by the beneficial bacteria to establish the nitrogen cycle.  Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfiltration.htm > (Probably not what you would suggest, but $200.00 is a little much for me financially right now). I was reading in a forum on www.thetropicaltank.com that you can hang your new filter on an already established tank for about a month to get the cycle going.  Can this be done in my situation?  Hanging a 55 Gal filter on a 10 gal tank?  Won't the water move too fast for the fish I have in the tank already? Just would like your opinion on this. <It is true that you can "seed" a new tank with old filter media, and/or water and gravel from an established aquarium.  I think what you read about was someone taking media from an established tank to help speed along the cycle in the new tank.  You can accomplish this by allowing bio-balls to establish in the old 10 gal., or you could even use a media bag filled with carbon, or the like, in the old filter for a few weeks, then transfer the media to the new tank.  It isn't the actual filtration hardware that will transfer the beneficial bacteria necessary to establish the cycle, but rather the media (i.e., whatever you are using inside the filter to help keep the water clean).  All of this will only help speed the process up, but won't eliminate the need for "cycling" altogether.  Do read the latter article I linked you to for details on cycling.  Also, as I think I previously recommend, check out David E. Boruchowitz's book entitled "A Simple Guide to Freshwater Aquariums" for a very simple, well-written chapter on cycling. The RO/DI unit simply makes pure water for the aquarium to use; it will still need to be cycled.  On that note, a cheaper alternative to the expensive RO/DI unit is a product called "Tap Water Filter" by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals...I believe it's around $35 - this is simply a de-ionizing unit, without the reverse osmosis.  The reason people use these types of units is that their source (tap) water contains "undesirables" such as ammonia, phosphates, etc. Hope I've clarified - let me know if you are still confused!> Thanks Jorie Roni <You're welcome. Best regards, Jorie>

Spring water versus well water; preventing algae growth in new tank   11/8/06 Hey guys... <and girls - Jorie here!> I just happened upon your site today and have spent a better part of the day reading! <Wonderful!>   What a great service you are doing to all us "beginners". <I learned much of what I know from WWM...> I currently have a 10 gal with 3 Cory cats, 1 (it said blue at the LFS, but my research says it is a 3 spot (?) Gourami, a couple Neons and 2 black skirt tetras.  I have had this tank for almost a year (from start to current only 4 casualties-yeah!!!) <Ummm, you aren't suggesting four fish deaths in a year is good, are you?!  Many freshwater fish live for years when kept in proper conditions...> Anyhow, my question is NOT about my 10 gal tank, but about the 55 gal. I just purchased. <OK.> I have not set it up yet, but will soon. <Glad you are reading first.> I have well water with (of course) a water softener system. I have never had my well water tested, as I use bottled spring water for my little 10 gal. tank. <Spring water is often lacking essential elements and minerals the fish need.  Better to use DI (de-ionized) or RO/DI (reverse osmosis/de-ionized water) instead, and add back certain essential elements...>   (My brother-in-law used well water for his 30 gal. tank and was OVERRUN with thick, green algae, changed to the bottled water, and has not had a problem since.) <Yes, bottled water won't have phosphates, which is likely what was present in the well water to cause the algae, but again, there's other essential elements missing...> I have never had a problem with algae in my tank, in fact, do not even have any type of "algae eater" in my tank. <Don't need an algae eater with proper amounts of water changes, not overfeeding, proper lighting, etc.  I also like to use a filter media called "PolyFilter" to help combat phosphates in the water.>   My problem arises here, I REALLY don't want to buy 55 gallons of spring water PLUS extra water for regular water changes. (what will I do with all those empty jugs!!)  and I don't want to end up with all that algae.  I don't (and never have) used any treatments in my established tank, so I really don't know the best course of action here for the new 55 gal with well water...HELP! <I highly recommend investing in a quality RO/DI unit, such as the Typhoon III from www.airwaterice.com. Yes, it's a bit expensive upfront, but you only have to replace the filter cartridges approximately yearly, and the membrane once every three years or so.  I then use a combination of Aquarium Pharmaceutical's Electro-Right and pH Adjust to add back those elements which are missing from the purified water.  Again, to combat algae, the suggestions above will likely do the trick.> Thanks for such a great site and any help you may provide. Roni Knox North Carolina <Best of luck, Jorie, Aurora, Illinois.>

Re: Spring water versus well water; preventing algae growth in new tank  - 11/09/06 Jorie, Thanks for the suggestions! <You're welcome.>   I will definitely take it into consideration. <For what it's worth, we absolutely LOVE our RO/DI unit and it has truly paid for itself in the 3 or so years we've had it.  And, our algae issues have all but disappeared...>    And I really wasn't suggesting 4 losses was a good thing, just that I am a beginner, and expected many more than that! <OK! Four is sure better than 44, right? Enjoy your new tank...Jorie> Roni

Premixed water  10/23/06 Hi WWM crew, <<Not the whole crew, just Tom. :) >> I have some questions regarding premixing water.   <<Okay.>> I have been premixing one gallon of water once a week in advance; I add to the water 1/4 teaspoon of aquarium salt and Splendid Betta Water Conditioner.   <<A little long, perhaps, but nothing wrong with this.>> Do you premix one week in advance; or what is the time frame I need so I can use the premixed bottle? <<Generally you can premix and let stand overnight. No real need to let your bottle stand for a week.>> Or, how long can you store the premixed water? <<For freshwater aquariums, I'd say a week would be the maximum. I know the marine (saltwater) folks regularly pre-mix their water and let it stand for a longer period.>> Are you suppose to leave the bottle totally un-capped, I put holes in the bottle caps to let the air (gas) escape?   <<Good idea here. Chlorine in tap water will dissipate rapidly -- overnight -- but it needs an 'escape route' like the holes you put in the bottle.>> Before adding my premixed water into my 5 1/2 gallon tank, I always check the pH, nitrite and ammonia levels.  A couple of times I found that the pH was 6.8 - 7.0 (which is good), the nitrite was 0.2 and the ammonia was 2.0. What am I doing wrong?  Is this normal and do these levels get better overtime?  Or should I be adding anything else to my premixed water? <<Gadzooks! Translated, that means'¦well, gadzooks. First, these levels are definitely not normal and won't get better over time. Most certainly, it shouldn't be added to your tank. I would add a dechlorinator -- absolutely -- to your pre-mixed water, one that handles both chlorine and chloramine. Chloramine is a mixture of chlorine and ammonia which many municipalities use in their water systems. It doesn't dissipate nearly as rapidly as chlorine, alone, does. Good for people but can be a bit hard on our fish.>> Thanks in advance for your help. <<Happy to do so. You know where we're at if you have other questions. Tom>>

Amquel et al. going bad - 8/10/2006 Hi Bob <<Tom, actually. Greetings.>> Have you heard of Amquel or Novaqua 'going bad'? <<Can't say that I have, DR. In fact, Amquel is reported by Novalek to remain stable indefinitely. I have not seen any "stability" reports on NovAqua or NovAqua Plus+, however.>> <Mmm, RMF has... not common, but can become contaminated with live bacteria...> I add dose of each to a FW 75gal. on a monthly or bi-monthly basis and the last time I used it, my water got very cloudy and within days I had an algae bloom.  This has not happened before and am wondering if these products caused it? <<Perhaps, but not for the reason you suspect, i.e. the product(s) going bad. To the contrary, DR, the Amquel, in particular, might have done its job a little too well. Consider that one of the indications that an aquarium has completed cycling is the growth of algae. Not uncommon at all for new aquariums to experience the type of "bloom" that you did. The result, most frequently, of a sudden splurge, if you will, of nitrates. My thought is that your tank was in equilibrium but on a very tight line. An "imbalance" occurred during the last water change that partially starved your bio-colonies, perhaps due to using the Amquel. A minor ammonia build-up took place, which the remaining beneficial bacteria "jumped on" creating a temporary increase in nitrate production. The ever-present algae spores had a field day with the excess nutrients in the water and you inherited a "bloom".>> I e-mailed Novalek, but they will not respond to this question. All water parameters are good and nothing else has changed. <<Might be a little late now, DR, but check your nitrate levels again. On a side note, just stick with the NovAqua during water changes. The less you treat your tank, chemically-speaking, the better, manufacturers' recommendations notwithstanding. ;)>> Your help is, as usual, greatly appreciated...Thanks again...DR <<Happy to help, DR. Tom>>

Re: Amquel et al. going bad - 8/10/2006 Hi Tom.. <<Hey, DR.>> Thanks for the fast response and informative answer. <<Not a problem.>> I should have mentioned that I do a 10% water change on mon. and Thurs.. of each week. This keeps nitrates down to 10 or less. Monthly I do a 25-30% change, clean filter pads (2 emperor 400's) vac gravel, clean inside of glass, add seasoned, heated, aerated water and the Amquel and Novaqua. Do you think I am overdoing it? <<No. In fact, you could write the book! I'd still drop the Amquel from the picture, though. Hard to argue with success but this still seems to be the source of the problem, in my opinion.>> My wife and daughter think I'm nuts for working so much on these  but...I also use this schedule for my 100 gal. FW, and my 29 gal. FW. <<My wife and daughter have given up on me! As long as the tanks are taken care of...>> Thanks again...DR <<Any time, DR. Tom>> Re: Amquel et al. going bad - 8/10/2006 Hey Tom.. Write the book??? WWM is where I learned all of this! If the beginners/newbies would just do the maintenance and forget the chemicals and stop gap measures...there would be a lot less redundant questions on WWM! To all you beginners....DO the water changes and the rest will take care of itself! Thanks again Tom...DR <<Sound advice, DR. Best regards. Tom>> I need help with ammonia spikes, Or Avoiding Them... Contaminated Conditioner?    8/7/06 Hi! I have read through many of the questions regarding cycling, and I am familiar with the entire process. <Good> I can't find anything that even gives me a clue as to what's happening with my tanks, so let me explain. And I apologize in advance, as this is a bit long.    <No worries>   I moved into a new apartment in May (it is now August). I brought with me 3 Bettas who each live in their own uncycled, unfiltered, 2.5 gallon tanks. They are healthy and vibrant, eat well and what not, and for a long time have had 100% water changes about every 2 weeks. Since this has been our schedule, <You'll learn, are learning... the tap is not consistent...> I rarely test their water anymore, though I realize now I should have as soon as we moved to the new place.    <Ah, yes>   I then bought a fourth Betta almost two weeks ago, and moved him into an uncycled, unfiltered 5 gallon tank. The plan was to keep him on the same schedule as the others, and if the water changes were a pain, then to cycle his tank when I could get my hands on some BioSpira.      One week after he moved in, I noticed a cloudy area near the bottom of his tank, pulled him out and started vacuuming the gravel, until anaerobic/methane smelling gas bubbles started coming up. (yuck!) <Indeed> I was not trying to cycle his tank, but after I cleaned out the whole thing and replaced it, I added a filter and BioSpira to cycle it, and put him back in. I then decided to test the three smaller tanks: .50ppm ammonia on them - but their water changes were almost due, so I thought maybe that had something to do with it.    <Maybe...>   After asking around, I also: 1) threw out all their old Betta food and bought new stuff, 2) tested my tap water for ammonia (0ppm), 3) set out a cup of treated water (appropriate proportions of NovAqua, Amquel, and aquarium salt, which I've always used) for a week <Very good> with nothing else in it, and then tested ammonia (1.0ppm) <Bingo... one of the Novalek products has "gone bad"... is actually a source of ammonia here. Happens> , 4) tested some untreated tap water that had been in a capped bottle for a week (0ppm), 5) tested the three smaller tanks one week after water changes (.25ppm), 6) tested (after one week of sitting) tap water left out (1ppm), water with NovAqua only/Amquel only/salt only, left out (each at 1.0ppm), and water run through a Brita water filter sitting in a fridge (0ppm). Actually the last round was more like 4 or 5 days as I was getting impatient.      And, after just under two weeks, the 5 gallon cycled with BioSpira is testing at .50ppm with no sign of nitrite or nitrate. Grr!    <Mmm, could be residual from the Amquel/Novaqua or produced by the Betta, food... bacterial metabolism>   Sorry this is so long, but I need help. What I basically have narrowed it all down to is that there is something in my AIR, or something in my water that reacts to my air to create ammonia but doesn't allow the cycle, or my test kit is whacked (Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Freshwater Master test kit.)    <All good speculations... tis the water conditioner... The way this scenarios (can) go, is that the product "gets old"... and the PVP component (organic... carbon), gets to becoming a substrate/food for bacteria... producing ammonia...>   I am taking a water sample to my fish store today to see if he gets the same results, and I am also going to leave out one more cup of spring water to test in a week, since I figure that will tell me definitively whether it's the air or the water.    <Do take the water conditioning products as well... Often one can actually smell the difference twixt contaminated and non/new...>   The reason I suspect my air is this: ever since I moved in here there is a strong smell of something weird - not all the time, but occasionally when I walk in the house I notice it. It smells vaguely like natural gas, though when I go near the gas stove I smell a slight smell of that and this is different. <Interesting... I too have a varying sensitivity, sensation such as this... particularly when about the "Hawaii house" in Holualoa... have thought it must be a gas leak, but am more and more convinced it is something in the way of a plant/decomposition musty smell... Nonetheless, such sources, possible sources of ammonia rarely result in aquarium-kit measurable titers of free ammonia> I even had the building manager turn off the gas going to my heater. At first I thought maybe it was the smell of the varnish on the hardwood floors, but I still smell it after 3 months. Then I thought it was some strange thing the downstairs neighbors were cooking, since I can sometimes smell more recognizable dishes from them... But now, I don't know, it's just a thought. Is there something airborne that would cause ammonia to spike like this?    <There is/are... most notably are very dirty cat-litter boxes nearby... But as stated, these situations are quite rare>   Can you suggest anything? <Yes... tis almost assuredly the Kordon/Novalek product/s... this is a fine company, and good formulations by and large... but do "get old" and bacterially bad with exposure, time...> I have a 40 gallon I've been wanting to set up as a tropical, but I'm afraid to start until I have this figured out, especially since the 5 gallon didn't cycle. I may try to fishless cycle the 40 to see if it will be more stable... I don't know. Thanks so much in advance!  -Shannon <Thank you for writing so well, thoroughly. I do hope you solve this mystery, and do please write us back re. Bob Fenner>

General Dechlorination   7/18/06 Hello, <Hi - Jorie here> I was wondering if the liquid dechlorination products that say they work 'Instantly'...really do work immediately? <So far as I know, yes, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to be more cautious and wait half a day or so before using the treated water.  Also, there are test kits that measure chlorine levels which would answer your question for you immediately.> I have a greenish/blue bottle of 'DeChlor' that has a red fish on the bottle which reads 'Instant'. <Not familiar with this one...surely it's like all the rest.> The instructions on the back provide dosage info per gallon for chlorine and chloramines respectively. There is no other info on the bottle.  I am curious as to how adding a few drops of this product can work so quickly in removing the chlorine from 2 gallons of tap water. <Well, I am not the chemistry major, but my understanding is that sodium thiosulfate (probably contained in the product you have) neutralizes chlorine immediately.  You should be aware that chloramine is also present in some tapwater...take a look at this helpful article for more information about that. http://faq.thekrib.com/begin-tapwater.html#tap-water The absolute safest thing to do is to use RODI (reverse osmosis/de-ionized water)...don't know how many fish you keep or how many gallons  of water you require to do your water changes (at least weekly, I hope!), but if it's significant, look into a unit.  It will pay for itself in the long run, and alleviate the need to let tap water sit, or use chemicals to neutralize harmful things like chlorine.  Check out www.airwaterice.com for great and reasonably priced products.> Thanks for any insights into this...I looked in the archives and couldn't find anyone questioning the 'Instant' aspects of such products. <Always better to err on the side of caution, but truly, if you are just dealing with chlorine, the effect should be instant.  Chloramines' another story - do look at the link provided above. Eric <Jorie> Ammonia in Tap water   7/2/06 Hi Bob, <<Hello, Anthony. Tom with you.>> I seem to have ammonia in my tap water! I live in  New Jersey and my water company seems to add ammonia to my tap water to combat bacteria and other pathogens (I contacted them!) <<Anthony, at first reading, many would find this shocking (in the extreme). However, it's not quite as bad as all that - though we "fishkeepers" might disagree - since many municipalities treat their potable water with Chloramine vs. Chlorine since Chlorine tends to break down rather quickly. The difference? Chloramine is a combination of Chlorine and Ammonia. If the dechlorinator you use  for water changes is intended for Chlorine only, bingo! You're left with the Ammonia.>> My liquid test kit shows a  steady reading of .3 ppm. This may not seem like much, but for my cardinal  tetras, and the discus I plan to purchase, this is very harmful, as  you know! I recently lost nearly 20 cardinals from this amount of ammonia in my  tap water! How can I remove this ammonia? <<Many water conditioning products now treat for both Chlorine and Chloramine. AmQuel Plus (Kordon's) also removes Ammonia from water (likely via the same chemical process as those products that treat the Chloramine).>> I really can not afford/have the time for an RO setup, and buying water by the jug is also too expensive/time  consuming. <<An RO system is, admittedly, a sweet luxury to have but, let's get real, it isn't cheap. On the other side of the coin, we don't advocate using distilled bottle water due to it's lack of beneficial elements.>> I planned on doing 25% water changes every two weeks for the discus and cardinals. Is this sufficient for them? <<Since Discus are so fussy about water conditions, I might consider smaller (10%-15%) every week. This might be up for some experimentation, though.>> But then again, if I change this  amount of water, won't that add too much ammonia? <<It will if you can't get rid of it.>> Will aeration  remove ammonia? Or zeolite? Or Carbon? <<Aeration? No. Zeolite? Yes. Carbon? Possibly. The latter two methods have been debated in some circles particularly in the area of Zeolite since there are many varieties of this, including man-made types, and not all break down nitrogen compounds (such as Ammonia) equally, if at all.>> I would rather not set up another container with water for water changes. Is there a product/method that will help me overcome this problem? <<Here I would refer you back to the water conditioners I've already suggested. As an aside, some of our readers may be asking themselves why I would suggest AmQuel for you but not for them. The reason, which I've tried to clarify when recommending "against" it, is that many have used the product during the cycling process to eliminate Ammonia from the aquarium. This is counter-productive to the process since it starves the bio-colonies that they're trying hard to establish. In an established/cycled tank, however, the fish will provide enough Ammonia to keep the colonies "fed". Apples and oranges, if you will.>> Thanks, Anthony <<Glad to help, Anthony. My best. Tom>>

Source water concerns for SW use Hi Crew! Thanks again for the fine articles and FAQs...I have read so many that my eyes are crossed but can't find an answer to this question. My tap water...well water....has a ph of 8.4-8.6...Also alkalinity is very high, Will these readings affect the way that additives such as NovAqua or Amquel work? <Mmm, shouldn't much> Also will this affect water clarity or cause high nitrates? <Actually, should help in reducing such over time> Thanks so much for your time and fantastic website!! Thanks again...DR <Having a "high", stable (buffered) pH, alkaline reserve aids in providing a steady, optimized marine environment. Bob Fenner> Source water concerns for FW use   6/17/06 Thanks for the answer Bob. That is great for the marine, but what problems would occur with these numbers in freshwater? Thanks again...DR <Doh! Sorry re... must have marines only on my mind. Let's see, for hard, alkaline water and freshwater use... there are many species, geographical localities that have such water naturally... and organisms that do "just fine" with such source water (my African cichlid systems in San Diego I just dump new water straight in on of about the same temperature...). However, there are wild stocks of fishes, non-fishes, plants that can be severely mal-affected by such exposure... particularly if it is your intent to breed, raise young of such... For these choices (and likely for your potable water use) I would get/use a reverse osmosis unit (this is what we use)... Though there are several other technologies available (esp. if the waste water issue is important to you). Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/rofaqs.htm and the linked files above. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: Source water concerns for FW use   6/17/06 Thanks Bob. That is what I've read on this site to help solve my problem. The drawback is that my well pump does not provide much pressure. <Mmm, there are "booster" pump arrangements (some nifty off the shelf ones...) that can/will provide such... And/but other alternatives to water filtration...> I don't think it will be enough to push water through the membranes and filters of the RO/DI units. <Need a good 60 PSI plus...> I have a 100 gal. stocked with gouramis and Cory cats. Also a 75 stoked w/ angelfish and Cory cats. Should I try to manipulate the high ph for these or leave well enough alone?  Any further help would be greatly welcomed....Thanks again...DR <If it were me, mine... and this was your only need/desire for "improved" or changed water, I might try just "treating" new water by storing the well water in a container and filtering it through a box or canister filter with some peat moss... even better would be to have another "intermediate" tank with lots of live plants... to move the water from each time... Again, do you drink, cook with this water? If it's "that bad" I'd get/use an RO device... and blend some of this water with the well water for your aquarium use. Bob Fenner> Re: Source water concerns for FW and human use   6/18/06 Thanks Bob. Yes we use this water for all household needs. Also this water has a .50 ppm. of ammonia! <... I would not ingest this water, let alone use it in aquariums> Since I learned this we have been filtering drinking water through a Pur water filter which does nothing to remove the ammonia or change the pH, but does hopefully help a little. <I would contact a quality assurance lab in your area and have this water tested.> I do store my water in a Rubbermaid trash can with a heater and bubble stone, and have tried treating same with Amquel, Novaqua, etc. to remove the ammonia before I put it into the aquariums, but none of these additives change or alter the test results after 6 days. <?! Very strange> So when I add this water to my tanks...Pow.. nitrate spike within 24 hrs. I am ready to tear down the tanks and store them in a closet! Thanks again!!! <I would move period if this is all the water you have available. Seriously, this is a health issue, and not just for your pet-fish. I wish you well. Bob Fenner> Re: Source water concerns for FW and human use   6/19/06 Bob...One last question. Would an RO/DI unit remove the ammonia? <Most units, yes> If so then that is the only way to go. Thanks so much for your answers to my questions. You have been very helpful. Thanks again...DR <I am very relieved to hear/read of your further cogitation, plan. As I oft-remark, "We're not going anywhere (that I want to go) w/o our health"... And water of safe composition is definitely (more than 70 percent of our bodies...) a principal component. Thank you, Bob Fenner>

Re: Source water concerns for FW and human use   6/18/06 Thanks Bob. Yes we use this water for all household needs. Also this water has a .50 ppm. of ammonia! <... I would not ingest this water, let alone use it in aquariums> Since I learned this we have been filtering drinking water through a Pur water filter which does nothing to remove the ammonia or change the ph, but does hopefully help a little. <I would contact a quality assurance lab in your area and have this water tested.> I do store my water in a Rubbermaid trash can with a heater and bubble stone, and have tried treating same with Amquel, Novaqua, etc. to remove the ammonia before I put it into the aquariums, but none of these additives change or alter the test results after 6 days. <?! Very strange> So when I add this water to my tanks...Pow.. nitrate spike within 24 hrs. I am ready to tear down the tanks and store them in a closet! Thanks again!!! <I would move period if this is all the water you have available. Seriously, this is a health issue, and not just for your pet-fish. I wish you well. Bob Fenner> Re: Source water concerns for FW and human use   6/19/06 Bob...One last question. Would an RO/DI unit remove the ammonia? <Most units, yes> If so then that is the only way to go. Thanks so much for your answers to my questions. You have been very helpful. Thanks again...DR <I am very relieved to hear/read of your further cogitation, plan. As I oft-remark, "We're not going anywhere (that I want to go) w/o our health"... And water of safe composition is definitely (more than 70 percent of our bodies...) a principal component. Thank you, Bob Fenner> Re: Source water concerns for FW and human use  6/20/06 Bob.. Just as an update for your info. I just ordered a 5 stage RO/DI unit with pump. Will keep you updated if you desire. Thanks so much for your help and concern.....DR <Please do. Intelligent, complete experiences are best for helping others... BobF>

Re: Source water concerns for FW and human use  - 7/2/6 Hi Bob, Just an update for you re. my well water problems and newly installed R/O unit. After installing and clearing filters for about 2hrs. <I recently replaced ours... "kitchen remodel"... another euphemism for sure... took me about five hours...> the water tests are much improved. Ammonia tests 0 ppm. as does nitrate and nitrites. The ph value has gone from 8.4-8.6 without filtration down to 7.5 or so. <Ahh, much better> I know my fish and plants will enjoy the change and that we will reap the benefits of cleaner water. I do so appreciate your concern and help with this problem. Now would you give me one small piece of advice that I have gotten numerous answers on at LFS's and other websites?  I have a tank with blue and gold gouramis about 3" long. A bit aggressive as they do get. One tank with angelfish 'gold pearlscales' which are also a bit mean. I recently got 4 pearl gouramis which are about 2 to 2 1/2 inches and are quite timid. They are in the quarantine tank now and are ready to move. Which do you suggest... put them with the mean angelfish or the mean gouramis?  Or buy another aquarium...lol. <Mmm, whichever of the two you want to try (I'd go with the Angels myself), I would move these Trichogaster leeri in, after moving the present fishes for a few days... so they can become established> Just give me an excuse to. I only have 4. Once again Bob. Thanks for all your help and actual concern with my water problems......DR <A pleasure. Thank you for the update. Bob Fenner> Ammonia in tap water - 6/5/2006 Hi folks. I am still stuck and unable to resolve my problem. I have several freshwater aquariums and am having trouble with my water changes and controlling nitrates. My tap water has .50 ppm of ammonia. <<Whoa. A big problem!>> When added to an established tank, the nitrates shoot way up within about 12 hrs. Just like adding a bunch of fish too quickly. I have tried Jungle Jim's ammonia remover...also tried Amquel...Also tried Novaqua to remove the ammonia in my storage water. How about a few drops of chlorine bleach first, then the Amquel to remove the chlorine? Do you think this would work? I can't afford to buy bottled water for a total of over 200 gallons of aquariums. Please Help!! <<A much better solution is to look into an RO/DI unit.>> Thanks...DR <<Glad to help. Lisa.>> Re: Sudden death after changing brand of water conditioner  - 05/10/2006 Hi Crew, <<Hi, Helen. Tom with you once again.>> Well, I wrote too soon about being pleased with our lovely new Betta. Poor Franz Ferdinand was found belly-up on Monday morning, having only been with us for three days... <<Not happy to hear this, Helen. I'm very sorry.>> What's more disturbing (though the Betta's death was distressing enough) is that an Otocinclus was also found dead in the other tank on the same morning. Water tests Monday morning showed 0ppm ammonia, 0.4ppm nitrites, 10ppm nitrates, pH 7 in both tanks (the main tank is 15-gallons, heavily planted, two filters, heated to 27C, contained 2 silvertip tetras, two blue tetras, 3 black neon tetras, 3 danios and until recently the unfortunate Mr. Otocinclus ; the Betta tank is 8-gallons, heated and lightly planted but unfiltered). So I reckon that both the Betta and the Oto succumbed to nitrite poisoning... but what caused two separate spikes in two tanks? <<I suspect you're right about the nitrites here, Helen. Two somewhat delicate species. Let's continue...>> On Sunday afternoon I did my usual 20% water changes for both tanks. No contact of water between tanks, nothing moved from one to the other, no possibility of cross-contamination. Just before the water change, the readings on the main tank were 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 10ppm nitrates; the Betta tank was 0 ammonia, <0.3 nitrites (test kit showed not completely clear, but not as dark as the first level of reading), 5ppm nitrates. I did the water change as usual - heat water to same temperature as tanks, add dechlorinator - the only thing different was that instead of InterPet Fresh Start conditioner, I used Nutrafin AquaPlus (measured out correct dosage according to bottle). This was Sunday afternoon... and, as I said, Monday morning revealed two dead fish and a nitrite spike. <<Both contain natural additives that contribute to toxic waste however, the additives in the AquaPlus product most undoubtedly contribute far more. This is not a condemnation of either product but your circumstances point out an anomaly when using two different conditioners.>> Now, on Tuesday evening, without me having done any water changes (I would have done, but I couldn't get to the fish store on Monday, and I wasn't going to use the same dechlorinator, just in case!), the nitrite level in the main tank is back to 0ppm - looks like the filters cleared up the spike within 24 hours, so I guess the bacteria beds haven't crashed. The unfiltered, now empty Betta tank is still at 0.4ppm. I am baffled as to what could have caused such a very rapid spike - even leaving aside the fact that it happened in two independent tanks, I wouldn't have thought a solitary Betta (who was only fed two tiny pinches of flake food in the three days I had him) could have produced enough waste in <12 hours to cause a nitrite rise from 0ppm to 0.4ppm! I've tested my raw tap water, and it's no different than usual. <<Your Betta didn't produce the "spike", Helen, the conditioner very likely did.>> Working on the assumption that the only thing that was different was the water conditioner, I took it back to the fish store and got a refund, after some arguing. They were as mystified as I was, and adamant that the water conditioner couldn't have done anything- but they couldn't come up with an alternative to my "maybe this is a contaminated bottle" theory. <<Probably wasn't "contaminated" at all but, rather, an excess of natural ingredients - relatively speaking - that contributed to the bio-load on your beneficial microbes.>> And I was sufficiently irritated with the quality of their advice recently - the guy who sold me the AquaPlus instead of my usual conditioner also told me that keeping five female Bettas in with my male (with only two plants for cover, mind) would make a "nice, active display" (five minutes with Google when I got home suggested that it certainly would be an _active_ display, until it became a display of terrified fish with no fins!) - that I wasn't going to take "Sorry, it's a mystery, not our problem" for an answer. They wouldn't refund me for my poor Betta, though. <<Well, we can toss "good will" down the dilly, can't we? It's not really a big mystery but, in all fairness, it's pretty obscure.>> Wondering if the crew have any ideas as to what could have happened? Both Oto and Betta were healthy and vigorous before the water change, but dead within 7 hours of it. <<Seems a very short period of time but...> The only other thing that I could think of was that maybe both the Otocinclus and the Betta had bad reactions to the "natural herbal extracts" in the AquaPlus and died, and the nitrite spike was due to the start of decomposition (the bodies could have been there for seven hours, assuming that they died as soon as I left the room after my "goodnight" check on the tanks). I've read that both Otos and Bettas may be sensitive to tea tree oil extracts (people seem to recommend half-doses of Melafix, at least). This is just a wild speculation, though. <<Not "wild" at all, actually. Otos are frequently "collected" with the use of cyanide leading to "infant mortality" once introduced to our tanks. Surviving this, it's very difficult to know the condition of the animal and its susceptibility to changes in its environment. Bettas tend to be "sensitive" to similar changes though not for these reasons.>> Other aquarists online seem to have had no problem with AquaPlus and Bettas/Otos. LFS (who, incidentally, sport Nutrafin logos all over their staff uniforms) claim that AquaPlus shouldn't be "overdoseable", and I certainly wasn't underdosing and not removing all the chlorine. <<If the fish were "brought up" with this product, exclusively, I doubt there would be a problem.>> In any event, after this experience, and a bit of research online (inc. WetWeb!), I'm now a bit wary of Nutrafin and their "mystery" ingredients in products - I can't find any specific info on what's in there. Even if the conditioner didn't cause this particular problem, I'm not too happy about dumping unknown "herbal extracts" in with my water changes... <<A matter of "degree" I suspect here, Helen. These extracts can become "bio-waste". Nothing wrong here, per se, but when changing from one with little (aloe Vera) to one with multiple extracts (too long to list), there is a definite potential for a spike.>> *sigh* Just when you think you are doing well... fishkeeping is certainly a continual learning experience! <<Non-stop, Helen, non-stop!>> Many thanks! Helen <<My best. Tom>>

Rainwater For An Aquarium - 04/16/2006 Are there any problems with using rain water collected from an acrylic roof, channeled through PVC pipe to a poly water tank?  Living in regional Australia, I am assuming we would not have acid rain problems that many others may have.  Regards, Warwick <Hi, Warwick!  Honestly, I *normally* wouldn't recommend this, as most folks tend to live where there are a great deal of pollutants in the air that rain can collect.  If you live in a very rural, unpopulated area, your rainwater may be better than most people's tapwater, as far as the fish are concerned.  I also live in a pretty rural area in California, and may start trying the same.  I say go for it, a little at a time, with your water changes, and see how the fish react.  All the best to you,  -Sabrina> Dechlorinating with Prime...and a happy writer! - 3/16/2006 Thank you so much, again, Lisa. <<My pleasure.>> I also have/use the Prime by Seachem myself.  My only issue is that it does not tell you how much to use when dechlorinating a small amount of water, say a gallon.  I am able to break it down that I can use 1 ml for 10 gallons, which is not a problem.  I have many a dropper, medicine spoon from different OTC medicines for my toddlers that I can use to measure out one ml or even half.  I just worry about a problem occurring if I use a little too much.  I guess it just blows my mind that just drops of something can do so much in such large amounts of water. <<I had the same thoughts myself at first, actually.>> Is there a danger if I use too much?  I am not saying by any means that I would use a full ml for say, 3 gallons of water. <<It says that to detoxify nitrite in an emergency, that up to 5x the dose can be used.  I certainly don't recommend that you add those levels of Prime all the time, but it implies, to me, that an oops of a bit too much is nothing to worry about.>> You have made my day...I actually am so excited that I will soon purchase my first livestock. <<That's awesome!>> I am not certain, but I believe you are located in CA?? <<I'm in Toronto, Ontario (Canada).>> I am here in PA, so I have used really only one place for all of my purchases, and I plan to purchase my fish from them as well.  Not that you may have heard of it because you obviously are quite a distance, but it is called That Fish Place in Lancaster, PA.  It is online, and seems pretty popular, so, just maybe you have. <<I have seen it, yes.>> Unfortunately it is not right next-door (an hour-and-a-half from my house), so I have to plan my trips, but I am grateful to have a reputable business to go to.  It came highly recommended and after having been there multiple times, the staff seem so knowledgeable and eager to help.  It is clean, etc. <<It's really hard to find a place like that!>> Anyway, thank you again for your time and answers.  You folks truly are amazing.  It is comforting to know you all are available at any time.  Take care. <<Aww, you're too kind!  I love being on the crew here.  You are more than welcome. Lisa.>> Sincerely, Tiffani New FW Tank With R/O Water   2/26/06 I just set up a new 10 gallon tank with appropriate filter, heater, lights, etc.  I put in some live plants and one male Betta.  I filled up the tank with reverse osmosis bottled water.  I am wondering whether this is the wrong kind of water.  I put in one of those biological "starter" additives.  Should I replace all or part of the water with dechlorinated tap water?   Please advise. Thanks, Victoria < The only problem with the filtered water is it has no measurable hardness or minerals. If your tank decides to go acidic there is no hardness to buffer the process and the pH may take a nose dive down to a dangerous level. Next water change use tap water and you should be fine.-Chuck> FW Qs on stocking, chemistry  02-05-06 Dear Crew,    <Alexia>   I have a 55 gallon tank with 1 clown loach, 1 yo you loach, 4 albino Corys, 1 panda Cory, 2 other Corys I don't know the name of them they are gray and black. 2 common Plecos, 2 Bala sharks, 2 rainbow sharks, 2 red lyre tail Dalmatian mollies, 4 male guppies and 1 female guppy, 2 male dwarf gouramis, 2 opaline gouramis and 2 angelfish.  Is my tank overstocked?  This is just temporary for right now What size tank should I have?    <Maybe mis-stocked... the sharks will fight to a degree... the Rainbows chase, eat the guppies, mollies... and the Balas could eventually outgrow it... you can look up these: http://wetwebmedia.com/faqstips.htm>   I believe my female guppy is pregnant.  I know where her gravid spot is and all the pictures I find on the internet show the whole area to be completely black.  Here gravid spot is only half brown but she is really really fat.  Is she pregnant or is there something else wrong with her?    <Impossible to say from here, likely gravid though>   My main question for you all is that I have been having problems with my water smelling awful.  I have done water changes after water changes and it just does not work.  I usually change 30% of my water using my gravel cleaner but the smell will not go away.  Do you all have any suggestions for this?    <Nothing other than good maintenance>   My ph stays between 6.8 to 7.2, ammonia is 0 to .25, <Should be zip, nada, zilch> nitrite 0, and nitrate is 20.   I have been using ACE to help the ammonia is there something else you suggest? <I would not use Ace... contains formaldehyde. Novaqua, Stresscoat, others would be better as water conditioners> Also what exactly is the best brand to buy when buying stuff for the ph and ammonia? <For what purpose here?> Another thing what and where can I find the right chemicals in case my nitrite and nitrate decide to act up?      If you can help please do!!      Thank you   Alexia Galindo <Please familiarize yourself with WWM, the indices, search tool. Bob Fenner>

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