Say goodbye to store-bought conditioners and embrace the power of patience, aeration, and aquatic plants. With step-by-step instructions, expert tips, and foolproof methods, this comprehensive guide will have your fish swimming in crystal-clear, toxin-free waters in no time. Join the ranks of savvy aquarists who’ve unlocked the magic of Aquatic Alchemy—your fish will thank you!
Total Time: 1 day and 12 hours
Let it Flow,
First things first, turn on your tap and let the water run for about 5 minutes. This helps flush out any impurities or excess chemicals that might be lurking in the pipes.
Keep it Natural
Opt for a large, clean bucket or container, preferably made of glass or food-grade plastic. Avoid any material that might leach chemicals into the water. Fill it up with your freshly run tap water.
Air it Out
Aeration is key here. You’ll want to vigorously stir the water for a few minutes to help release any chlorine and volatile gases. An aquarium air pump can also be used to create bubbles and speed up the process.
Time is on your side
Patience is a virtue, my friend. Let the water sit for 24-48 hours. This will allow chlorine to evaporate naturally, while also giving any heavy metals and other contaminants time to settle at the bottom.
Go green or go home!
Consider adding a few live aquatic plants to your bucket. These green warriors will help absorb harmful chemicals like ammonia and nitrates, making the water safer for your fish.
Keep the peace
Maintain a stable water temperature by placing the bucket in a room with a consistent temperature. Fish can be sensitive to sudden temperature changes, so aim for a smooth transition when introducing them to their new aquatic haven.
Filter it up!
If you’re feeling extra fancy, use an aquarium filter to help remove any remaining impurities. Just make sure to clean it thoroughly before use.
Test the waters
Before introducing your finned friends to their new environment, use a water test kit to ensure that the pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels are all within acceptable ranges for your fish species.
Make the move!
Once your water is deemed safe, slowly acclimate your fish by adding a small amount of the prepared water to their current environment. Gradually increase the ratio of new water to old water over a period of a few hours to reduce stress on your fish.
Domestic tap water is a processed product intended for consumption by humans. Its composition depends partly on the original source and partly on the treatments given to it by the water companies and certainly won’t be suitable for fish in its raw state.
Heavily populated cities are often connected to more than one supply. When demand increases, water companies may supplement local supplies with water from another area. This water may be of different chemical composition to the regular supply and the hardness and pH may vary. It is, therefore, necessary to check it with a suitable test kit periodically or enquire with your local water authority about its composition.
Fish possess a slimy protective coating to protect themselves against harmful bacteria and other pathogenic organisms. This coating however, does not protect the fish from the various chemical treatments that some water companies use to ensure that domestic tap water is safe for human consumption.
Exposure to raw tap water will result in most fish reacting by spreading their fins and breathing rapidly and in some cases, may induce a fatal shock. Some hardy fish can tolerate raw tap water but they are certainly destined for a shorter life span than those kept in the prepared water.
Tap water is usually treated to become slightly alkaline (pH 7.5 to 8.0) to reduce corrosion of main pipes. This is suitable for most fish but plants in particular fair better as the pH drops below 7.0. Total hardness varies depending on the collection area.
Water collected from areas where rocks contain limestone is generally hard and by contrast, water collected from areas that are high in organic material is often soft. See The Water Cycle for more details.
Tap water is also treated with chlorine to kill microorganisms. Chlorine is a disinfectant which disappears if left to stand or is aerated for 24 hours. It can also be removed by a commercial product such as Tetra Aqua Safe. These products generally contain sodium thiosulphate but many also have added protective colloids to reduce the stress on the fish caused by raw tap water.
Chlorine reacts with any ammonia in the water to form chloramines. More water companies are now using chloramine as a disinfectant because they take a longer time to disperse than chlorine alone but this unsuitable for the fish keeper.
Again commercial products are available to remove chloramines or they can be dispersed by aerating for up to 5 days or by using carbon filtration.
There is some good news however. Water companies are beginning a trend towards treating with ozone and chlorine dioxide which reduce the formation of the compounds that are undesirable to fish keepers.
Domestic water supplies may also contain other fish irritants such as a quantity of copper. While copper is often use as treatment for disease organisms such as Oodinium sp. fish become distressed by a copper level as low as 0.5 mg/l (0.5 ppm).
Copper may build up in water which has been standing in copper pipes or hot water cisterns, particularly in soft water areas.
As a precaution, I recommend running some waste before using tap water for your aquarium and I advise against using any hot tap water as it may have been held in a hot water cistern (usually made of copper) for some time.
Additionally, hot water cisterns collect a lot of debris particularly carbonates which are undesirable to soft water fish.
There are many commercial products that are available to prepare tap water so that it is safe for the aquarium. It is advisable though, to inquire with your water company to ensure that your chosen water preparation treatment will remove the necessary chemicals as not every treatment removes every contaminant.
Is Tap Water Safe For Fish?
Tap water can be safe for fish, but it depends on your local water supply and the specific needs of your fish species. Most tap water contains chemicals like chlorine, chloramines, and heavy metals that can be harmful or even lethal to fish. To make tap water safe for fish, you’ll need to remove or neutralize these harmful elements.
Using a water conditioner is the most common and efficient method for making tap water safe for fish. Water conditioners are designed to neutralize chlorine, chloramines, and other harmful chemicals, making the water safe for your fish in just a few minutes.
Always test your tap water using a water test kit to check for pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels before introducing fish. Different fish species have different water requirements, so it’s crucial to ensure that the water parameters are within the acceptable range for the specific fish you’re keeping.