11-07-2010, 03:39 PM
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It is always wise to use a good water conditioner when new water is added to an aquarium with fish. Aside from the issues below, a good water conditioner will alleviate shock and other issues associated with changes in the water chemistry. Adding the appropriate amount to the pail of water once it is at the right temperature is adequate; conditioners work instantly.
Assuming you have tap water as your source water, it probably contains chlorine which would dissipate if left standing for 24 hours. But many municipalities also use chloramine, which is ammonia-related, and this cannot be removed other than with a water conditioner that specifically detoxifies chloramine. There may also be ammonia, nitrite or nitrate in tap water; it is good to test for all three so you will know if further precautions are necessary for any of these. Then there are heavy metals (iron, lead, copper, zinc, manganese...) which may be present in very minute amounts that are safe for humans but not for fish.
A water change should normally be done every week. The amount of water changed depends upon the tank size, number and type of fish, and if live plants are in the aquarium. The more fish, or the larger the fish, in relation to the tank volume, the more water should be changed. Live plants allow for less water, provided the fish are in balance. Overfeeding also necessitates larger and/or more frequent water changes. Somewhere between 30 and 70% depending.
I use warm and cold water from the tap, close to the temp in the aquarium; a slightly cooler temperature (2-3 degrees) often stimulates the fish, reminiscent of a tropical rain storm.
If the aquarium is not large, a bucket and hose will work; you can buy water changers at fish stores, and these let you clean the gravel while drawing out the water.