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. Let’s discuss water conditioners based on our extensive experience and research.
Does Fish really need water conditioner?
Maybe. It is possible. 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.
If your drinking water comes from a well or other water source that is untreated with chemicals, your aquariums may not need water conditioner. We suggest getting your well water tested to see if it contains any heavy metals because some dechlorinators can help remove them.
Does letting water sit remove chlorine? Yes, chlorine is fairly unstable and will gradually evaporate from water. However, many water treatment plants have begun using chloramine instead of chlorine because it is a more stable disinfectant formed by combining ammonia and chlorine. It is difficult to remove chlorine from water by evaporation. Instead, it must be neutralized with a dechlorinator. If you are sure your tap water contains chlorine and not chloramine, you can let the water sit for 1-5 days to allow all the chlorine to evaporate. You can speed up the process by heating the water for about 15-20 minutes or aerating it with an airstone for 12-24hrs. Multi-test strips can be used to test the water for chlorine and measure it.
An air pump and an airline tube are connected to air stones. They inject water into the water and agitate it. This speeds up gas exchange.
What is a Dechlorinator?
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 include pH buffers and aloe vera to aid in the healing of fish’s slime coats.
Does a dechlorinator have ammonia removal? According to the packaging, some do. Dechlorinators can only react to chloramine’s chlorine component when used to treat the substance. 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. The ammonium can then be consumed or further reduced by beneficial bacteria in your aquarium.
All dechlorinators neutralize chlorine and chloramine, but some contain extra chemicals to treat ammonia, nitrite, and heavy metals.
Can dechlorinator remove bleach 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.
Are Fish harmed by Dechlorinator?
Generally speaking, no. However, there are some rare, one-off cases where it could be potentially dangerous. 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. For instance, goldfish and discus aquariums can require huge 90% water changes. If you are using water with low oxygen content, adding lots of dechlorinator will further deplete the available oxygen, which can potentially suffocate your fish and beneficial bacteria.
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 who have high-tech planted aquariums that use pressurized CO2 will often try to reduce surface agitation. In order to increase CO2 retention in the water, the goal is to reduce gas exchange. 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?
Every dechlorinator is different, so follow the dosing instructions on the package. Fritz Complete recommends that you use 1 ml dechlorinator for every 10 gallons. What makes these directions a little confusing is that different municipalities use different amounts of chlorine in their water, so how do you know what is the right concentration for your water? Since the dechlorinator manufacturers do not know how much chlorine your town uses, they deliberately make general guidelines that will hopefully cover everyone’s 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. We have never had any issues with the dechlorinator. Instead, we add it directly to the aquarium, then we pour in 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. Remember that high concentrations of dechlorinator can quickly reduce the amount dissolved oxygen. It is best to add an oxygen stone to the water for the next 3-4 hour to increase oxygenation.
It wouldn’t be a bad idea to look up the average chlorine usage for your municipality and run a few experiments at home. Let’s assume your town uses 2 parts per million (ppm) of chlorine. Do you think the chlorine test will register as zero ppm if you do a 30 percent water change on a 100-gallon tank and add 3 pumps of Fritz Complete to 30 gallons? Is it possible to do without water conditioner or to eliminate all chlorine completely? 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. You don’t have to worry about measuring the correct amount of liquid by carefully pouring it into a cap. It takes just a few pumps to get it done.