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FAQs on Tap/Source Water Use for Marine Aquariums, Chemicals Involved (Chlorine, Chloramines, Trihalomethanes, Metals...)

Related Articles: Treating Tap water for Marine Aquarium Use, Water Purification Using Reverse Osmosis,

Related FAQs: Treating Tapwater 1, Treating Tapwater 2, Treating Tapwater 3, & FAQs on New Water Treatment: Rationale/Science, Filtrants, Techniques/Tools, Testing, Troubleshooting, Products by Manufacturer/Brand, DIY Treatment Chemicals/Tools, & Reverse Osmosis Filtration, Specific GravityWater Purification Using R.O 1. RO/DI 2, RO/DI 3, NitratesWater Changes

Mmmm, there are components (liquids, gasses, solids, even suspended particles) in source waters that you want, and some you'd be better off excluding... How to ID and do this?

Request suggestion on water conditioners       10/5/18
Dear Bob/Neale, I hope you guys are doing well. My question is regards to the water conditioners that one gets and those who claim to remove heavy metals from tap water. Now I know; that dechlorinator is something that everyone needs to add in tap water .
<Actually; I don't add unless am changing out more than a quarter or so volume of water for new. Sanitizers et al. in new/mains water appear to be "complexed" with materials/biota in the system>
now we have municipal water and we dont use RO systems or distilled water.
I have read that even though municipal water is well filtered but at times because it comes through cemented and copper pipes it may get leeched with metals like iron And copper which are deadly for fishes. so do u recommend use of the above mentioned water conditioners or maybe activated carbon ?
<Either, both can be useful>
Also over here fish shop guys have huge turn over of water and they dont use any water conditioners other than dechlorinator neither do they have any RO units so should I assume that its okay not to use water conditioners other then dechlorinators?
<In many places in the world this appears to be the case. Storing water for a week ahead of use will allow most chlorine based biocides and metals to dissipate. Short term water use is better done with the use of dechlorinator/dechloraminator, and/or activated carbon use.>
Kindly advise Thanking you Raj
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

marine <water> conditioner, human consumption           4/17/15
Hi -
I am trying to make fermented grape soda. With my chloramine treated water, no fermentation is happening. I added a drop of conditioner (to 4 cups of water) and things are happening at last.
So, would this be harmful for people to consume?
<Of the aquarium water conditioners, components I'm aware of, not harmful. If making a bunch, I'd opt for activated carbon for removal of sanitizer. Bob Fenner>

Re: Filtration recommendations and Dechlorinator reaction with Copper       4/1/15
Hi again, I'm just reviewing your Commercial Acclimation procedure again.
For Invertebrates it's basically the same steps as the fish without the use of Methylene Blue, but should we also employ the use of a PVP dechlorinator with tap water as well, in order to flush out the old shipping water?
Thanks again.
<Mmm; however it is done, you want to make sure any chlorine or chloramine is removed. In actual practice this is rarely an issue; given the means most facilities employ initially treating source water (contactors mostly)... and most sanitizer IS complexed in the process of mixing with synthetic salt mix... We are still talking marines correct?
Bob Fenner>
Re: Filtration recommendations and Dechlorinator reaction with Copper       4/1/15

Hello Bob,
Thank you for the information. Yes marine invertebrates, more specifically SPS and LPS corals.
<... Okay; a carbon contactor for removing the sanitizer; or for a smaller facility/volume, pre-mixing and storing new water. BobF>

4 questions 6-10-11
Hi again to the helpful folks at WWM. I have three questions but will try keeping it brief without introducing you guys to my fish by name. Trying to be to the point-not rude or unfriendly.
1. If a home hobbyist uses kit to check tap water for presence of ammonia from a chloraminated municipal source, should he/she reasonably expect to register ammonia with the test?
<Mmm, possibly. There are two major reaction/reagent series... one will detect the bound up ammonia, the other does not. To try and make a useful statement re here, you should NOT detect any free ammonia in potable water... but some kits will>
2. I recently purchased a water additive labeled suitable for dechlorinating AND treating choraminated tap water. No active ingredients listed,
<?! Surprising... you should be able to look up their MSDS on the Net... or call the co. re>
so I consulted manufacturer's website. Nothing offered there.
Finally called and asked for MSDS and was met by nervous reluctance.
<?... am wondering why>
The person offered that active ingredient is sodium thiosulphate. Isn't that only effective for chlorine--leaving chloramines unmolested?
<Yes, this is so>
i.e.--is Sodium Thiosulphate effective at all for treating chloramines if treated water will be introduced immediately to pond in large water exchange?
<It is NOT useful for treating Chloramine treated water. Will NOT remove ammonia. This being stated, as long as there is not "too much" (less than 1.0 ppm) free ammonia/ammonium hydroxide, at "reasonable" pH (7.5 or lower let's say), and you don't change "too much" percentage of the water (25-30%), you should be okay using this "DeChlor" product, or actually nothing at all. (Is what I do w/ my fancy goldfishes)>
3. Do any common pests (protozoan, fungal or bacterial sources) present themselves on goldfish and/or Koi with white SPOTS other than Ich?
<Yes... quite a few other Protozoans... and other causes can result in such mucus appearance>
Have a goldfish with white nodule on top edge of dorsal fin. Has been host to this spot about one eighth the size of a standard BB (the pellet for a gun) for at least 8 weeks.
<Mmm, this is highly likely "just a bent fin spine"... Will clear of itself in time>
Have done 3 repeated 25% water changes in between doses of ProForm-C (the ubiquitously available MG+F product). Treated day 1,2 and 4.
UV turned off, filter running 24/7. Pond AND filter spotlessly void of ANY mulm/debris. I assure you water is tested regularly and I'm registering Nitrate/Nitrite/Ammonia at zero with 7.0 pH. Water temp 64 F. after water changes, 66 F. in between. Lots and lots of air introduction over two cascading falls. Does not seem to be Ich as spot has not changed in size or shape, but 3 new smaller spots have also appeared on dorsal fin close to tip. Does fin rot, of any kind, present itself as white spot at any early stage?
<Not to worry>
NO red vein appearances. Three 5" inhabitants in 1100 gallon system-so not crowded.
4. If it were ICH when could I expect to see change in appearance of white spots? i.e. How many days?
<Depending on temperature a handful to a week or two (if very cold)>
Any help would be appreciated. Regards, Martin
<Cheers, Bob Fenner>
follow up thanks and question 6-11-11
Bob (and others at WWM) It's great to have ya'll out there holding our hands through this very scary stuff. Again, thanks for such amazingly quick response! I've digested your explanations with great interest, and wish you'd divulge enough leading information to allow us to identify which reagent or kit (active ingredient or other) will disclose presence of chloramines in tap water?
<Mmm, well, there are a few. I'd use your search tool w/ the string: Chloramine test kits
Pentair/Lifegard and Microbe-Lift have some "cheapy" strip types, a fave is Hach (but pricey)...>
<There's a useful bit re SeaChem's (Salicylate 2) Ammonia kit here:
You've put my mind at ease for the immediate concern of latest 25% water changes. But, this kit would be handy to have for possible future crisis not apparent at present.
With many thanks fish, wife and I thank you much. Martin
<Welcome. BobF>

Heavy Metal Removers?   5/9/11
<Hello Carrie>
I have been reading and reading, but due to my very busy schedule, I have to press the EASY button here! lol I have a reef tank with corals, snails and some fish in a 90 gallon.
Here is my query...... what do you think of the new Instant Ocean Conditioner, http://www.petmountain.com/show_product/11442-522003/?utm_source=froogle&utm
_medium=datafeed&utm_term=11442-522039 or the like, that says it removes harmful heavy metals from tap water?
<A bit... taught/have credential for teaching chemistry and physics at the H.S. level, and long-study in the aquatic husbandry interest>
I did talk to a person from the company that makes Amquel Plus, Novaqua, or something like that..... and they said THEIR product will remove harmful metals but to let the water circulate for 24 hours with their product BEFORE adding salt.
<Have seen/read these claims. Are valid for the most part>
Now here is my quandary.... after reading a lot of information, I am getting the idea that letting the water aerate and circulate for a few days BEFORE adding the salt gets rid of the metals ANYWAY....
<This is also so>
but that just doesn't make sense to me. Metal is just that.... metal and metal I assume does not just "float away" into air, lol.
<What it does is combine w/ other reactive materials in the tap/source water, some of which have been added by municipalities, and precipitate into (largely) insoluble compounds. What we are mostly concerned re as hobbyists are free metals, ions... inert molecules not so much>
I understand that this is good for chlorine/chloramines etc. THAT being said, these NEW products, as they are said to CHLEAT
<Chelate... bind them chemically...>
to the metals.... IS IT POSSIBLE for them to release them BACK into the aquarium at one time?
<Generally no. The circumstances, most notably very low pH, that would allow such don't often occur>
When you do water changes and vacuum the sand will it remove those chleated metals?
<To some extent, yes>
OR..... If you were to allow the water to circulate say a day or 2 with this chleating agents, would those agents THEN be at the bottom of the tub, at which time maybe siphoning out the bottom level of water, say 2 to 5" of it would remove the metals?
<The very bottom yes>
Sorry for the crazy questions, I just want to be clear. I have a water softener with an R/O that I have been using for years, but we may be moving and I was not sure if there way any way around R/O water by doing SOMETHING to the tap water as stated above.
<Reverse osmosis is a good "starting point" for many places w/ too much questionable "other" content in source water. I encourage you to study a bit more and write up your impressions for pulp and e-magazine use in our field. Bob Fenner>
Re: Heavy Metal Removers?   5/9/11
Hi Bob,
To be clear.... and yes I READ a lot, and this was actually very interesting as far as a subject goes!
<Ah yes>
1. I can use Las Vegas (put that in there just to rub in the great weather lol) TAP WATER. Let it aerate in an OPEN container for 48 hours (I read 2 days is preferable), then add the salt until mixed. With THIS approach will the harmful metals for the corals and inverts will be gone?
<Is not harmful... or shall I put it, using RO only will only get you a few percent improvement overall in water quality>
2. SAME as above but use that product or similar in the fresh water as it "aerates" for the 2 days?
<I'd go w/ #1>
What brand are you cool with?
<Most all contain about the same three real active ingredients... Am a fan of the Kordon and SeaChem lines>
Thanks for the answer by the way, and that PH thing DOES make sense.
Someone in the industry.... no one notable...... told me that you never know if it would release those back in the water.
<Not so... the energetics of the "forward chemical equations" are such that only under "non-living" settings would these ions get back into solution in concentration>
I have to admit I am having a real issue with nitrates for SOME reason.....
I have really no idea BUT I need more live rock. Never had the problem before, but I did add prime to the tank, but the test is still showing the nitrates.
<Do search this on the Net. You're very likely seeing a false negative reaction from this water conditioner use>
Corals look fine, fish seem fine and I would THINK my Sympodium would NOT be cool with over 40 nitrates. I am guessing a foul test, but I do NOT want to risk it. My bad, I know.... this has been a rough couple of months.... hubby in the hospital for 5 days with pneumonia...
<Yikes... the highest percentage killer of humans, U.S. citizens in the history of our species. DO take care>
I had it at the same time, but caught it sooner and I was okay. So about 2 months of neglect and I need to do a huge water change, but thought the 10% ever over day would work, although I read that doing larger ones would be okay in this case. SO MANY opinions!!! lol
<Seek to understand the underlying science in these matters. I have found that the Net has (w/ some searching and tossing out 90 some percent noise) useful explanations for most phenomena>
I read where someone said that is like being in a garage full of CO2 and only cracking the door enough to let 10% out a day! lol Seems the REAL ISSUE is the PH being balanced.
<Mmm, yes, though CO2 is very water soluble... much more so than other gasses we're interested in>
My thought was to put the corals and fish and ROCK in a separate container and fill the tank with freshly aerated and salt added water and wait till the PH balances BEFORE putting them all back in.
<Better to mix elsewhere... DO learn to/use the WWM search tool, indices...>
I have actually put fish in NEW saltwater from their old tank with no problem. (I was told to do this YEARS ago) but I was not sure how the corals would react to .... lol.... clean water.
<Sometimes not favorably>
My guess is the PH is the MOST important thing next to temperature and salinity of course.
<Mmm, actually... alkalinity is more important than pH...>
Thanks again!!!
Carrie :)
<Welcome. BobF>
Re: Heavy Metal Removers?   5/9/11
HI Bob,
<Big C>
Yes I do know I need to find the cause of the nitrates.... I already did the research.... I am narrowing is down to needing more live rock. Also YES THANKS the alkalinity is important as the PH, temp and salinity... forgot to put it in. :) I know the mix the water elsewhere, not the tank.... lol.... derr.... not THAT stupid.... I guess I meant after it was mixed I would add it all back in.
Okay so I think I will do 15 or 20% water changes every other or everyday to get the possible nitrates down or at least dilute the prime so the test is more accurate! lol
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm and the linked files above>
Besides this is SO much more doable if I can use tap water. Lugging the 5 gallons back from VONS (7 of them) is a back killer!! (has those water purifying machines I always use too).
<Best to get/use your own. Here: http://wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm and the link....>
Thanks again... sorry I seem a little dingy right now... I have a LOT on my plate and if I had hours to go through WetWeb as I have in the past, I would. :)
<Oh yeah!>
Oh..... ORA told me that their mandarins eat constantly like seahorses, so if you know someone with one, make sure they are using the spectrum little pellets and feed 3 to 4 times a day!
<Or more!>
Thanks again, Bob!
Re: Heavy Metal Removers? Oxycirrhites greed    5/10/11
Forget the below.... Just wanted to tell you something that was so funny!
I have a Longnose Hawkfish and I was putting in some krill (freeze-dried) so he GRABS a piece that is obviously too big for his mouth, but as he is holding onto it, he eyes up ANOTHER piece! So as he ponders over whether he can grab the second one AND keep the one in his mouth, my purple tang and percula are approaching..... So he decides WHY NOT?? He GRABS for that second piece and misses and in the process LOSES the first one he had, ...... both pieces were stolen by above mentioned fish!!! A KRILL IN THE MOUTH IS WORTH MORE THAN......... (you finish it.... lol)
Take care!
Carrie :)
<Two or more in the tank?! B>

Seachem Prime, SW use, and RO waste water as well    12/21/08 On my freshwater tanks i always use prime in my 24 hour aged water prior to conducting a water change. <A good practice> For my saltwater tanks i also use prime prior to mixing my salt for partial water change. I now have a RO filtration system fitted, and would like to know if i need to continue to use the prime. <Mmm, not necessary. For browsers, this product desc.: http://www.seachem.com/Products/Conditioners.html> I have started to use the RO water for drinking and for topping up my sump. Can i continue to use my tap water plus prime for my partial water change on my salt water tanks, or is it best to use the RO water. <Mmm, really depends on the nature/constituency of your source/tap water... and your goals in using the RO... but if using tap, I would use the Prime> It seems to be a very slow process waiting for the trash can to fill with RO water, and the waste involved is very high. Regards Alan <Mmmm, I would think about ways to use the vented "solute water"... I have run out to my pond before and/or to a cistern to in turn water my garden. There's really not "that much" different than the tap... so, you might very well be able to simply collect this "waste water" and use in on your freshwater systems. Bob Fenner>

Ammonia 11/24/08 Hello again WetWebMedia crew, I just have a few quick questions regarding ammonia that I could not seem to find the answers to on your site. My city's tap water has ammonia levels at about 3 ppm. I have been using Prime to neutralize it and it has worked in the past, but now with a quarantine tank with no biological filtration, I cannot keep the ammonia levels in check (even after large water changes) and fear I may lose my fish. How can this ammonia be removed from the water? I realize RO or RO/DI water should be utilized, but does the reverse osmosis process even do anything to remove ammonia (i.e. would purchasing RO water from a local fish store who uses the same city tap water be useful)? Is the Prime I'm using helping or hurting my water quality/fish in quarantine? Also, I have read about your promotion of making water ahead of time and storing for about a week; does this liberate ammonia, and if so, how? Any advice on how to save my fish from this deadly toxin while in quarantine for ich (waiting for approval on Chloroquine phosphate, as suggested) would be greatly appreciated. I thank you for your time, Quincy <Reverse-osmosis should indeed remove ammonia from tap water. However, do check with your water supplier about the levels you have: 3 ppm is an extraordinarily high amount. In England at least, the maximum safe amount is 0.50 mg/l, and anything above that level is considered potentially toxic, at least over the long term, and not sufficient quality to be supplied as drinking water. Note that ammonia test kits can detect chloramine as well as ammonia, and if you don't use a chloramine-safe dechlorinator, you can release that "locked" ammonia into the water, which will stress your fish. If you're using a dechlorinator that treats chloramine and free ammonia, you should be fine. Aerating tap water releases chlorine rather than ammonia. It isn't essential to make water ahead of time, and was more of a big deal before people used dechlorinator. Bob Fenner may have a different opinion on this, particularly in the context of marine fish, but so far as freshwater fish go, there's no particular reason to make/store water prior to use. Just treat with an appropriate water conditioner prior to use. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Ammonia (RMF?) 11/24/08 It is indeed for use in a marine aquarium; sorry for not specifying that. Does your advice still apply here? <<BobF in double <<>> carats now>> Hello again WetWebMedia crew,> I just have a few quick questions regarding ammonia that I could not seem to find the answers to on your site. My city's tap water has ammonia levels at about 3 ppm. <!? Dangerous... to humans, pets...> I have been using Prime to neutralize it and it has worked in the past, but now with a quarantine tank with no biological filtration, I cannot keep the ammonia levels in check (even after large water changes) and fear I may lose my fish. <<A reasonable assumption>> How can this ammonia be removed from the water? <<Can be done in a few ways... but must be done before this water is used, the livestock is exposed to it>> I realize RO or RO/DI water should be utilized, but does the reverse osmosis process even do anything to remove ammonia (i.e. would purchasing RO water from a local fish store who uses the same city tap water be useful)? <<Yes... these processes remove all ammonia>> Is the Prime I'm using helping or hurting my water quality/fish in quarantine? <<If it is the only method being used, rather than nothing at all, it is helping>> Also, I have read about your promotion of making water ahead of time and storing for about a week; does this liberate ammonia, and if so, how? <<Dissipation as a gas mostly, complexing with other materials in solution secondarily>> Any advice on how to save my fish from this deadly toxin while in quarantine for ich (waiting for approval on Chloroquine phosphate, as suggested) would be greatly appreciated. <<Sponge filter use, re-use and large water changes, careful feeding...>> I thank you for your time, Quincy> <Reverse-osmosis should indeed remove ammonia from tap water. However, do check with your water supplier about the levels you have: 3 ppm is an extraordinarily high amount. In England at least, the maximum safe amount is 0.50 mg/l, and anything above that level is considered potentially toxic, at least over the long term, and not sufficient quality to be supplied as drinking water. Note that ammonia test kits can detect chloramine as well as ammonia, and if you don't use a chloramine-safe dechlorinator, you can release that "locked" ammonia into the water, which will stress your fish. If you're using a dechlorinator that treats chloramine and free ammonia, you should be fine. Aerating tap water releases chlorine rather than ammonia. It isn't essential to make water ahead of time, and was more of a big deal before people used dechlorinator. Bob Fenner may have a different opinion on this, particularly in the context of marine fish, but so far as freshwater fish go, there's no particular reason to make/store water prior to use. Just treat with an > appropriate water conditioner prior to use. Cheers, Neale.> <<I concur with Neale's statements... do look into your type/test kit (OTO, DPD...) I suspect you are measuring more/different than NH3/NH4OH... But/these other "ammonia" sources must need be treated, dealt with as well... Do please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_4/V4I2/Water_Makeup/makeup_water.htm and the files linked below, and: http://wetwebmedia.com/ammmarcontr.htm and the files linked above. Bob Fenner>>

Safe amount of copper in source water? 2/18/08 Good Morning/afternoon/evening, (whichever the case may be) <AM in HI now...> I apologize if I missed the answer to this question whilst scouring over, under and through the many helpful WWM faq's. I've been pleased and appreciate very much what you all do for the many fans of this aquatic hobby. I've always found my answers via your WWM google search tool but alas not this time. I have a 75 gallon reef system which I have just recently (In the last 8 weeks) restarted. It was a beautiful success for a few years thanks very much in part to your helpful resources on the WWM site. After a tragic heater malfunction <Mmm, better to use two, multiples of lower wattage...> I lost everything (in the dead of winter while we weren't at home with only a wood heat source). After a year of "letting it go", nothing but sand and live rock left, I decided to get back into it whole hearted. I now use two heaters both above scale for my size tank so if one of them decides to thwart my hobby the other will surely save the heart ache. When I ran this system before the tragedy I purchased and lugged all my ro/di water and it was a huge pain. <Better by far to have your own at home> If my question here doesn't go the way I hope then I will be buying and hopefully installing without much incident a unit of my own. <Is actually quite simple, even fun...> To my question, at last. Last fall I purchased a Crystal Quest water purification system with 7 stage filtration. It turns out some really great water, it removes chlorine/chloramine, nitrite, nitrate, heavy metals, all kinds of nasties...BUT it uses a ReDox method with copper and zinc in one stage and therefore adds >0.05mg/l of copper and .46mg/l of zinc. Is this amount enough to worry about? <Mmm, no... not in almost all circumstances> or will it have an accumulative effect in my aquarium? <Not cumulative... this bit of free metal readily insolubilizes... drops permanently out of solution, for the most part> I did a huge water change with this water when I resumed rebuilding the system and have done a few smaller changes since. I didn't think about the copper addition till earlier today then I started searching the faq's. I don't have a copper testing kit as I never had to use copper when I ran the tank before. Not that I would dream of using it in the tank, I mean for quarantine purposes) I got those specs and totals from the Crystal Quest website. I've had a variety of inverts in there for a couple of weeks (dwarf hermit crabs, 4 or 5 varieties of snails, a sally light foot, bristle worms, spaghetti worms, a green star polyp, variety of amphipods, copepods, mini-brittle stars, a couple of tiny Asterinas, and an anthelia polyp from IPSF. <Oh! Am out near there currently... Hello to Ger Heslinga!> All are doing wonderful and showing no signs of stress or sickness. I do have a DSB and about 175 pounds of live rock. Great copper absorbers I know. I don't know exactly how much copper that comes out to in parts per million since it's listed as mg's per liter. These are equivalents... there are 1,000 grams of water to a liter... and a thousand milliliters to a gram of water... a million milligrams of water per liter... mg/l is the same as ppm> In reading the faq's many times I've noticed that Mr. Fenner dismisses a negligible amount of copper. <I do... some, a "trace" amount is actually necessary to the health of almost all life...> I'm just not sure as to what that amount might be outside of food additives and such. Will this water be safe with the small amount of copper and zinc or should I be getting an ro/di unit soon? <You are fine here... as stated, this small quantity of metal is taken out of solution readily, won't return under "normal" aquarium conditions. Not to worry> Thanking you very much in advance for your time and consideration, Sally <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Trihalomethanes -- 10/09/07 WetWebMedia Crew, <<Hello Eric...sorry for the delay in a response>> I have a chemistry question for whomever may be up to the challenge. <<Mmm, well...I think Bob would be best for this but since he's out drinking and diving in the Bahamas (lucky pug), and no one else has picked it this up...I'll give it a go>> I have recently discovered, through the local paper, that my water source has admitted to exceeding the EPA standards in total Trihalomethanes (TTHM) of 80 ppb over the past year. <<I suspect there's much in our drinking water of which we are generally 'unaware'>> I do know that Trihalomethanes are a byproduct of using Chlorine or Chloramine to treat the water. <<As a byproduct of the reaction with organic matter...yes, is what I have read as well>> Apparently the average TTHM's for our water source has been 82.5ppb. <<Hardly seems trifling...with a 'standard' of 80ppb>> My question is this: Since Trihalomethanes are a known carcinogen, what is the toxicity level for aquatic animals, specifically fish. <<Hmm, don't know...but would have to assume if it isn't healthy for us, it can't be good for the fishes>> I have a 29 gallon saltwater system, and do use tap water, although I have not lost a fish for at least 2 years. Need I be concerned? <<I think the possible presence of pesticides and heavy metals in your tap water likely pose a greater risk here. All the same, and especially since you don't pre-filter your water, I would be running a small canister filter filled with cut-up Poly-Filter pads on this system>> Appreciative as always, Eric <<Hope you find this exchange of use. Eric Russell>>

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>

Copper In Source Water - 01/13/2006 WWM Team, <Hey Joe!> I have researched a lot on the web, books, and your FAQ and most of this topic are about Self Inflicted Copper Levels (i.e. Ick Treatment). My concern is slightly different and info seems to be limited. I have well water and when tested came out at 0.2-0.3ppm for copper. <Argh! That's no good.> I am getting ready to add some Live Rock to a newly set-up tank, and need to know if this would kill the LR and I'm just wasting my money?   <The copper would kill invert. hitchhikers. Best to solve the copper problem before adding to the tank.> I also had plans on a Volitans and a Snowflake Moray which I know are both scaleless and sensitive to Copper. Should I be worried? <I think you are right to be.> What can be done to help with this (Carbon, RO, or Both)? <I would go RO for well water.> I was not quite planning on an RO unit but if it is needed then so be it. Didn't know if I could solve this with Carbon alone. <I believe your safest bet is to go RO.> Thanks as always! Joe <You're welcome. - Josh>

Re: Copper In Source Water - 01/13/2006 I bought 80 gallons of Purified Culligan Water for original set-up, and will be picking up an RO unit ASAP for water changes. <I think you'll be glad to have it.> So I'll be starting out with 0 copper or lead in the tank. <Good stuff (as long as they stay that way).> Thanks Josh.   Joe <Sure thing Joe. - Josh> Ammonia in the drinking water   1/10/06 Hi guys, <Hello Johnny> I have been researching the set-up of my first marine tank for about 3 months now. I still don't own any equipment at the moment except for six marine aquarium text books and the very valuable information that I have gleamed from this site.<Excellent.  In reading/researching, you are going to be aware of the requirements/needs of this hobby to be successful.> I am very nearly at the point where I will purchase some gear, I live in London and I found this information about ammonia when I was reading through my local drinking water quality report - should I be worried? <No, as it states "residual amount".  It is always best to aerate water you are going to use 24 hours before adding the salt mixture.  Doing this should rid the water of any chloramine/chlorine traces.> Nitrite In the London area chloramine, rather than free chlorine, is used as the residual disinfectant because it is more persistent in the extensive distribution system that serves the capital. The use of chloramine as the residual disinfectant involves the addition of a small amount of ammonia to the chlorinated water just before it leaves the treatment works. Traces of residual ammonia, and the chloramine itself, can be converted naturally to nitrite within the distribution system and may give rise to contraventions of the nitrite standard. Under the new regulations the standard for nitrite in water supply zones changed from 0.1mg/l to 0.5mg/l at the end of 2003. All of the 6,276 samples we collected for nitrite analysis in 2004 complied with this new standard. All the Best, Johnny. (Probably not the last time ill darken your doorstep) <Not a problem Johnny.  James (Salty Dog)> Use Of Tap Water With Fluoride/Chlorine - No Cavities For Nemo  - 03/25/2006 Hi crew,  <Hi Debi> Just a quick question for clarification sake.  I am reading you site and understand that I can use my own untreated (by me) tap water mixed with salt for my reef tank as long as it sets for a while before using it.  I live in a large Texas city and am sure they add chlorine and fluoride to our water. Is this still ok to use?  My LFS have all been so adamant that only RO/DI will do.  I would love to be able to use my home water, but just wanted to make sure I understood this correctly.  <This is all going to depend on nitrate and phosphate levels in the tap water.  Do test for such and if acceptable, I'd go ahead and use it.  Do aerate the freshwater 24 hours before adding salt.> Thanks for your help.  <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Don't want to sound dumb but what do I use to aerate it? <A standard fish tank bubbler w/ an airstone. :)  Jen S.>

Well Water High In Ammonia  - 5/18/2006 Hi. Hope you can help me. I have set up, cycled, stocked, and maintained 3 freshwater aquariums with the fine articles and faq's you all so tirelessly provide. Now I'm stuck and need an informed opinion please. My nitrates are staying high constantly. My tap water...well water has .50ppm ammonia...0 nitrites and 0 nitrates. I store water in a Rubbermaid container and treat same with Novaqua per instructions. < Try Amquel or Ultimate instead.> Water is heated and aerated until used. If I use replacement water for water changes that has a .50 ppm ammonia level ,will it cause high nitrates?? < The replacement water will convert the ammonia to nitrates on a one to one basis. So you will end up with .50 ppm nitrates. The only way to reduce nitrates from an agricultural source, like well water is to use an R/O unit, DI unit or use live plants to absorbed the nitrates from the water.> That is my theory whether it is right or wrong. Please tell me if I'm on the right track and if I need to de-ammonianize my tap water before using. Thanks for all of your help.....DR < Your situation is not unusual in agricultural areas that over fertilize the crops and the excess nitrogen fertilizers make their way down to the first or shallowest aquifer.-Chuck>

Chloramine Questions. Chloramine has recently a few months) been implemented into our water system for "healthier water" for us humans. We are finally up to date with most of the rest of the U.S. I am completely unused to this as I have never dealt with it before. In fact, I did not know they done this yet and I have been going along as nothing has changed. I found out about it only recently and can't believe my freshies have had no ill effects! <You've been lucky> Algae though and lots of it! Does adding plain chlorine remover break up the bond between the chlorine and the ammonia leaving free ammonia behind? <Most types yes> A Seachem test kit shows our water after being treated with a dechlorinator to have a concentration between 1.5 and 2 ppm of free ammonia. Am I safe to assume this to be true? <Sounds about right> Will all this introduction of this type ammonia add to a heavy nitrate load? <Hmm, no... more likely to kill off the biota in your system...> My freshwater tank is plagued with algae since the addition of the chloramine. Am I safe in believing this is the culprit? <Maybe involved in an indirect way...> Does a chloraminator lock up the ammonia so it is not harmful to the fish yet safely converts it into nitrite<read poison> then nitrate? <As far as I'm aware there are at least three different ways that the ammonia part of dechloraminators work... none oxidize ammonia to nitrite, nitrates... do you want to go into this?> I do not have a nitrate test kit because they have always been unnecessary for me because I have low bio-loads and I do frequent water changes. I do not want to have the trouble I am now having with my freshwater in my new saltwater tank. I never had any trouble with algae before in my earlier salt tanks and now that I am getting back into it I want as trouble free as before. Should I buy a RODI unit designed to remove Chloramine like the Spectrapure company makes? <These are very nice units... but not really necessary...> Will a chloraminator like Kordon's Amquel do the trick? <Yes, assuredly> HELP! Zimmy <Storing, aerating the new water for a week will remove any reason to use anything at all... the chloramine and its later manifestations will cease to be of consequence... Bob Fenner>

Chlor/am/ine Good morning Bob!! I love your website, and have learned a lot there. <Ah, great> I do have a question, though!! I have found that water drawn out of my hot water tank has no chlorine, and the cold water from the tap has high chlorine. If I use hot water and aerate while it cools down to the proper temperature, and then add my salt, is this acceptable?? I was putting out cold water and aerating, but it seemed to take a long time for the water to give up the chlorine. Thanks Pat Marren <Good question... a few possibilities here... maybe your municipality is still using chlorine... but doubt it if you're in the USA... since the late eighties chloramines have been employed... and the old OTO (ortho-tolidine... yellow indicator...) test kits are actually deceiving in rendering false negative results here.... But if you're referring to a practice of storing the water in either case (starting with cool or hot water)... in both/either you can dispense with using "dechlor(am)inators" if a several days go by before actual use.  Sorry this is so darned wordy (haven't quite woken up)... Put in some other ways: chloramine doesn't dissipate easily like gaseous chlorine of the days of yore. The new sanitizers persistence can be masked by old chlorine test technology... as is likely the case here... You can get "newer" chloramine test kits... and this will reveal the new sanitizer's presence in your warm or cold water source... All these considerations can be ignored if you mix, store your new water for a week or more (which is what I do) or treat the new tap with a dechlorAMinator (AM emphases mine). Bob Fenner>

Re: Chlor/am/ine OK. The test kit I have is a combination test kit made by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals. Forgive my spelling. It tests for chlorine, and tests for chloramine by testing for ammonia. Is this a reliable kit?? I just bought it for this purpose, because I do not want to use water conditioners anymore. <Hmmm, "semi" reliable... i.e. it should render you a "yes/no" window into whether there is some "substantial" partial ppm of these sanitizers... Would not bet my livestock's lives on the results> Thanks again..... Pat <Do understand, and agree with water conditioner use... haven't used them in many years... some are dangerous, expensive, all unnecessary given proper water preparation... As posted in the "Synthetic Seawater" section on the www.WetWebMedia.com site, develop and adhere to a system of storage of new water and you'll be fine. Bob Fenner>

Re: Chlor/am/ine As an aside, I checked with a friend of mine who is the shift supervisor for our water purification plant, and is responsible for what is going into the water, and he assured me that they are not using ammonia or chloramine. Strictly chlorine. (I happen to live in central New York State, near Syracuse, in case you were wondering). Pat <Amazing... was/am under the impression that the use of chloramines was a universal mandate in the US (EPA from 1984... all phased in by now...) in relevance of colonic cancers and chlorine/organics resultant contributions to tri-halomethanes in potable waters... At any/all lengths, I should (if only the 1,3,7 tri-methyl xanthine would kick in, that's the xanthophyll caffeine, and I do need this world's most widely abused psycho-active drug this AM for sure) I'd just cut to the immediate chase and strongly encourage you to employ a Reverse Osmosis water treatment system all the way around (for your pet fish, drinking and cooking uses)... as this would easily, cheaply exclude both these sanitizers from the get go. Be chatting (and waking up) Bob Fenner>

Toxic source water? I am a new fish owner and learning all that I can, but there is a problem. We have well water and it has a chemical called F-86 (Culligan F-86 is a liquid cationic polyelectrolyte which reacts quickly with colloidal particles of turbidity and organic color coagulating them into rapidly settling floc. It is accepted by the EPA for use in potable water supplies.) I was wondering if this well water with this chemical is okay to use in my 29gallon tank with fish fresh water) because am guessing there's a possibility it could be dangerous?! If anybody knows of this chemical and if it's okay or not please reply. Thank You! <No worries. This is a simple flocculant... safe for you to drink, cook with, use in your aquariums. Bob Fenner>

Chlorine (as tapwater sanitizer) Just happened upon your site and was reading a FAQ on tap water treatment. Not sure how old some questions are, but with regards to chlorination, approximately 90% of all municipalities use chlorine as a disinfectant in the US.  A few (Denver, St. Louis) have used chloramines for a long time and some are currently converting (San Francisco, Englewood, CO), but chloramination is still a small percentage of the total.   Regards- Kevin <Really? I thought chloramines were "the law" used almost universally in the U.S. per a 1983 edict from the USEPA... vis a vis their link to trihalomethanes and colonic (et al.) cancers... thank you for this. Bob Fenner> Kevin McCurdy Re: Chlorine EPA regulates Disinfectant BY Products in drinking water, including THMs and HAAs.  Chloramine generates less DBPs than chlorine, however, the EPA does not regulate how DBP levels are kept below maximum levels.  Other methods include ozone, chlorine dioxide, UV, and biofilters, all would still need a residual disinfectant applied: chlorine or chloramines, just in smaller doses since the other processes would be used for primary disinfection. Here is a link to an EPA survey of public water systems:  see Table 23, page 43. http://www.epa.gov/safewater/consumer/cwss_2000_volume_ii.pdf I was off in my initial response.  The EPA survey shows that 68% of surface water drinking water systems used chlorine as a disinfectant in 2000.  7% used chloramines. <Yes, saw this fact on a Google search today as well> Groundwater is a little more complicated.  74% use chlorination only, meaning no other treatment.  Of the remaining 26% that have other treatment processes, 12% of these chlorinate and 0.3% chloraminate. Most people in the US are served by surface water.  There are 14,600 surface water systems serving 195 million people and 147,000 systems serving 101 million people.  Obviously, the surface water systems are much larger, whereas the groundwater systems are more numerous. http://www.epa.gov/safewater/consumer/cwss_2000_volume_ii.pdf (page 4) Hope this info is helpful or at least interesting. Regards- Kevin <Does. Thank you again. Will post. Bob Fenner>

- High Silica in the Tap Water - WWM: My county's annual water quality report came out recently. We have great water to mix with salt and make marine batter, being very hard, above 8.0 in pH, and having 0 ppm 'bad' things like copper, iron, nitrates or nitrites. But, I noticed that our silica levels are at 70 ppm. This sounds kind of high... and may be fueling diatom blooms in my tank (I don't filter my tap water, just Amquel-nuke it during mixing and aging.) Thanks for any feedback, <Sound to me like you already know the answer. If you want to get rid of the silicates, you're going to have to filter the water with RO/DI.> SLC <Cheers, J -- >

Source water <Hi Kevin, PF with you tonight>        I'm new to the hobby, and just getting started. I was told by a friend that I could use regular tap water mixed with sea salt to start the cycling process. <A sea salt mix, regular "sea salt" like the kind you buy in a grocery store is not what you need.> Is this true? <Yes, but... It all depends on what's in your tap water. It could have silicates, phosphates, chloramines, or other things that can cause problems. I'd recommend talking to an LFS or a local aquarium club about the quality of the water.> If not why. Kevin Oakleaf

Copper in tapwater, removal with Polyfilter hi  you answered me about copper the water plant I get it from says they don't add copper it sometimes leaks in from copper tubing from the faucet what is a PolyFilter ill buy one ASAP if it get out copper thanks JM  <A poly filter is just a white pad that will absorb pollutants, metals, etc.  When they absorb copper they will turn blue.  If your local fish store doesn't have them check our sponsors.  Cody>

Polyfilter Use can you put the PolyFilter in an already established reef tank? I could put it in my emperor filter<Yes and yes, Cody> thanks JM

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