Water Dechlorinator: How It Works and How Much to Use in Aquariums
Many fishkeepers are unclear about water conditioners for aquariums – how they work, potential risks from overdosing, and the differences amongst the many brands of dechlorinators. Based on years of experience with them and the research available, let’s get to the bottom of water conditioners.
Are Fish Really Require Water Conditioners?
Maybe. If your drinking water comes from a municipal water supply or other public water system, then most likely it is disinfected with chemicals like chlorine or chloramine to eliminate bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms that can cause diseases. These chemicals are toxic to aquatic animals and beneficial bacteria and therefore must be removed from the water using a dechlorinator. You should add water conditioner to tap water to prevent your fish from getting burned. This could lead to them gasping heavily or gasping for air.
Water conditioner may not be necessary if the water is from a well or another water source that isn’t treated with chemicals. We suggest getting your well water tested to see if it contains any heavy metals because some dechlorinators can help remove them.
Can water sat down remove chlorine? No, chlorine is very unstable and will slowly evaporate from the water. Many water treatment plants now use chloramine as a disinfectant instead of chlorine. It is made by mixing ammonia with chlorine. The water must be dechlorinated to remove chloramine. Chloramine is not easily removed by evaporation. You can leave the tap water for up to 5 days to let chlorine evaporate. To speed up the evaporation process, aerate the water with an air stone for 12-24 hours or boil the water for 15-20 minutes. Multi-test strips are used to measure the water.
Air stones connect to an air pump and airline tubing to inject air into the water, agitate the water surface, and speed up gas exchange.
What does a Dechlorinator do?
The main purpose of water conditioners is to break down chlorine and chloramine and make water safe for fish to inhabit. Most dechlorinators have sodium thiosulfate. It reacts to chloramine and chlorine to produce harmless byproducts. Sodium thiosulfate looks like rock salt or white powder, and it is often dissolved in water to create liquid dechlorinators. Some water conditioners contain pH buffers, aloe vera to help heal the fish’s slime coats, or extra additives.
Does a dechlorinator have ammonia removal? According to the packaging, some do. The main reason for this is because when dechlorinators are used to treat chloramine, they only react to the chlorine part of chloramine and not the ammonia part. Fish are unable to ingest the remaining ammonia ions in the water. Some dechlorinators, such as Fritz Complete Water Conditioner and Seachem Prime, contain additional chemicals that temporarily lock the ammonia into an inert (i.e. ammonium) state for up to 24 hours. During this time, the ammonium can be consumed and further broken down by beneficial bacteria in your aquarium and filter.
All dechlorinators neutralize chlorine and chloramine, but some contain extra chemicals to treat ammonia, nitrite, and heavy metals.
Will dechlorinator remove bleach? Yes, dechlorinator will react to the chlorine in bleach to neutralize it more quickly. The amount and concentrations of bleach used determine how much dechlorinator is required. You can start by reading the instructions to neutralize Purigen chemical filters media after it has been soaked in bleach.
Is Dechlorinator Harmful to Fish?
In general, it is not. It is not dangerous in most cases. In order to remove chlorine from the water, the reducing agents in a dechlorinator consume oxygen. This could make it dangerous for tanks that are not well oxygenated. Goldfish and discus aquariums, for example, can need large water changes of up to 90%. If water is low in oxygen, adding a lot of dechlorinator can further deplete oxygen levels, which could lead to the death of beneficial bacteria and fish.
Most fishkeepers try to prevent this from happening by increasing surface agitation in their aquariums to improve gas exchange – the process in which carbon dioxide (CO2) exits and fresh oxygen enters the tank water. Hobbyists using high-tech, planted aquariums that infuse pressurized carbon dioxide (CO2) often want to reduce surface agitation. This is done to reduce gas exchange and allow more CO2 to remain in the water for plants to use. Combine this with the fact that plants only consume CO2 during the daytime and then they consume oxygen at night. The dissolved oxygen level in water will drop if it is changed in the morning just as the lights come on. Adding low-oxygen water and dechlorinator could be a recipe for disaster for your aquatic animals.
How much dechlorinator should I use per gallon
Each dechlorinator’s dosing instructions are different. Fritz Complete, for example, recommends 1 ml per 10 gallons water. This is because different cities use different amounts. How can you tell what the best concentration is for your water? Because the manufacturers of dechlorinators don’t know what chlorine is used in your area, they have made general guidelines that should hopefully be sufficient to cover tap water.
Fritz Complete includes an easy-to use pump head that can be used to dose 1 ml dechlorinator for every 10 gallons.
How long does dechlorinator take to work? Many companies recommend that you add the dechlorinator directly to tap water in separate containers before adding it to your aquarium. However, we have never experienced any problems with adding the water conditioner to the aquarium. We then add fresh tap water.
Do you think you have too many dechlorinators in your fish tanks? Fritz complete allows you to dole out up to five times the recommended dose within 24 hours. This is a large range, so there’s a lot of room to make mistakes. Keep in mind that dechlorinators with high concentrations can quickly decrease the amount of dissolved O. For this reason, it is a good idea to add an airstone for 3-4 hours to increase the oxygenation of the water.
It would be smart to research the average chlorine use in your area and do some experiments at home. Let’s assume your town uses 2 parts per million (ppm) of chlorine. If you do a 30% water change on a 100-gallon aquarium and you dose 3 pumps of Fritz Complete into 30 gallons of tap water, does the chlorine test register as 0 ppm? Can you get away with less water conditioner, or do you need to dose more pumps to completely eliminate the chlorine? Keep it simple: Make sure you test your water and make sure that you don’t use too much dechlorinator.
A multi-test strip is used to quickly determine how much chlorine your water contains.
Many people want to know our opinion on the best dechlorinator. We recommend Fritz Complete Water Conditioner due to its super-easy pump head that treats 10 Gallons of water per squirt. There’s no need to carefully measure the volume of liquid in a cap or pour it into a bottle. Just a few quick pumps and you’re done.