is water conditioner really necessary?
My plan is to set up a fully planted 40B tack. My question is that, seeing as the tank will be fully planted and my tap water (well water) is soft and contains no chlorine, is water condition truly necessary or would it just be adding extra and unneeded chemicals? My thought process is that the mineral content must be low and that the plants will absorb it. It seems to me that if I dose with a heavy metal detoxifying water conditioner then I will have to dose with a supplement in order to put them back in the water and it would be rediculous to add a dechlorinator due to lack of chlorine. However, I do plan on keeping shrimp and am therefore concerned about the amount of copper in the water. Any suggestions?
No you don't 'need' a conditioner. However, in contrast to your comment, a conditioner like Prime that detoxifies heavy metals, does not remove them. Also, since Prime detoxifies ammonia, nitrites and nitrates, it can offer an advantage when cycling a new tank.
Be sure and test your well water. I discovered that I have very high nitrates in my well water (most likely from a 95 acre farmers field across the road that gets ample amounts of manure and chemical fertilizer).
As far as copper and lead, make sure you run your water for awhile before using for your tank to flush out the water that has set in the pipes (assuming copper water lines that were sweat with lead solder).
I agree with Abbey, as far as Chlorine goes there is not a need for a conditioner. For heavy metals however, that would depend on your paticular well water as everyone on a well will be different in this regard.
Conditioners however do not do anything to the minerals in the water (calcium, magnesium, potassium, etc). So, hard or soft water makes no difference in this regard. With softwater fish though it is best to keep the TDS (total dissolved solids) as low as you can and as Abbey mentioned when you use a conditioner it doesn't remove anything, it just binds onto certain elements and makes them non-toxic ... but they are still there in the water and increase the TDS.
TDS are kept in check by doing weekly water changes.
For plants you'll likely still have to use a fertalizer, regardless on if you use water conditioner or not. The only thing to keep in mind is you add the fertalizer 24 hours after your weekly water change so that it doesn't bind up the things like copper that plants use.
I agree with what's been posted. I would suggest you test your private well water (at a professional lab) to find out what is in it. You may already know this, if you are drinking the water.
A conditioner is needed to deal with water issues that would otherwise harm fish. If you don't have them, then using a conditioner is pointless and only adding TDS which does impact soft water fish (more than hard water).
Also recognize that live plants will take up several minerals (like copper, iron) but there is a limit to this, so knowing the level of these in the water is wise.
Any water potable to humans is fine.
I run the cold water for 30 seconds to a minute, collect that water and top off my tanks. Never do a water change. Fish have thrived in my tank in 1/2 dozen cities in the US since the late '70's fo ru pto 9 years with no water changes.
(I also heard that the aerobic bacteria in our tanks and introduced by our plants break down chloramines as well.)
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