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Choosing The Best Water Conditioner For Your Aquarium

One of the most important aspects of the fishkeeping game is the quality of the water in your aquarium. Bad water quality can quickly lead to the death of all of the fish and plants that are unfortunate enough to live in it.

Filling up your aquarium with basic tap water is a recipe for disaster, as the chlorine and chloramine that’s found in high doses in tap water can be lethal for aquarium fish.

The good news, however, is that it’s incredibly easy to remove. While chlorine and chloramine is completely harmless to humans, it needs to be removed from the water before it’s added to your aquarium. This is where a water conditioner comes in handy.

What Exactly Is Water Conditioner For Aquariums?

Water conditioners generally come in a liquid form and are relatively inexpensive. They work by simply breaking down the bonds between chlorine and ammonia, essentially removing the chlorine from the water.

The best water conditioners for fish will also remove heavy metals and other toxic materials from tap water, making the water completely habitable for your fish. Some will even add a protective “slime” to your water that benefits the health of the fish by adding a layer of protection between their scales and any contaminants in the water.

What Is The Best Water Conditioner For Fish?

The problem with choosing a water conditioner for your home aquarium is the fact that there is simply too much choice. A beginner can easily be overwhelmed. What is the best water conditioner? Will the one that I purchased even do the job?

There are several high-quality water conditioners on the market, but the one that we use and recommend to all of our readers is SeaChem Prime.

water conditioner for fishIt’s been a staple in our fishkeeping arsenal for years and we will continue to purchase it as long as it’s available. SeaChem Prime not only removes chlorine, chloramine, ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates from tap water, it also adds a protective slime coat to improve the health of your fish.

If you are setting up a quarantine or “hospital” tank, we would recommend Stress Coat from API. It does the same job as the SeaChem Prime, but we have found that it does a slightly better job at protecting the fish from contaminants in the tank.

For regular use, the SeaChem Prime is the best, but for quarantine tanks, we would recommend the API Stress Coat. They are both inexpensive and essential products, so pick up a bottle of each. You never know when you will need them.

How Much Water Conditioner Should I Use?

SeaChem Prime is a highly concentrated conditioner, so a little bit goes a long way (it’s also one of the reasons why we recommend it).

The dose will depend on the amount of water that you are trying to treat and the dosage will be apparent on the label.

For the SeaChem Prime, one teaspoon (5ml) treats up to 50 gallons (189 liters) of tap water. A single bottle will treat up to 5,000 gallons of water.

Is Water Conditioner Safe For Fish?


It’s not only safe for fish, it’s actually beneficial. Not only does it remove the harmful properties from tap water, it also adds a protective slime coat to the water that will help to improve the resilience of your fish.

Fish with weakened immune systems are severely at risk of contracting one of the several common diseases that are found in home aquariums. The slime coat acts as a protective barrier between the fish and the water it’s surrounded by, ultimately reducing the likelihood of the fish picking up a nasty illness.

When Should I Use Water Conditioner?

The most obvious time to use water conditioner is when you are setting up a new aquarium. Prior to starting the nitrogen cycle, you should treat the entire aquarium with the recommended dosage on the conditioner that you have purchased.

Another time to use a conditioner is when you are doing a water change. Every time a new batch of water enters your aquarium, it must be treated beforehand.

If you are doing regular water changes, you can see why a good quality water conditioner should be a staple in your cupboard. It always comes in handy.

If you are treating a sick fish and need to set up a quarantine tank, or even if you are setting up a separate tank for breeding purposes, you will need to treat that water too. Whenever you use tap water for your aquarium hobby, it has to be treated with a water conditioner.

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  1. Steven White says:

    Never realised there was so much work involved in keeping an aquarium but as I have found somewhere to give me advice thank you

  2. Hi, We set up a 3.5 gallon tank for a Betta fish. We found out our tap water is too high in nitrates, even with a water conditioner. We’ve been using purified water instead since it’s such a small tank. I had an ammonia spike and used some Prime. Our Betta seems fine now but he was a platinum whit and is now turning pink and has some dark gray spots. Does this mean he’s sick? I also think I have been feeding him too much. Any advice is appreciated.

    1. logan Logan Price says:

      Hi Melissa. Overfeeding definitely sounds like a culprit. Try fasting your fish for a few days and keep an eye on their behavior. Don’t worry about them not eating for a few days, it’s fine. About the nitrates, the only suggestion I can give is to invest in a reverse osmosis filtration system. It’s the best way to naturally lower the nitrates in your tap water. Of course, you will still need a conditioner, but starting with filtered water will be better. Good luck with it, and feel free to report back :)

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