Should I add any chemicals to the water while doing a PWC?
Should I be adding any chemicals to the water when doing a PWC? I am taking the water straight from the faucet. I've been told that tap water contains small amount of chlorine and could cause harm to the aquarium.
Everyone recommends Prime and AmQuel+ ... there are other water conditioners available but these two seem to top the charts.
Chlorine will burn the gills and if strong enough will kill the fish within minutes. If you are not using anything now, either there is little or no chlorine in your tap water or you are not changing much of the tank volume. I recommend a partial water change of at least 50% every week, although this can depend upon the fish (type and number compared to the tank size).
Many areas also use chloramine to treat water, as it is a bit tougher than chlorine and does not dissipate as chlorine can. There may also be heavy metals in tap water, depending where the water comes from. And some contains ammonia, nitrite or nitrates. All but the last of these is highly toxic to fish and plants.
All of this varies from place to place. I know many aquarists in the UK don't use conditioners, their water is not heavily chlorinated. If you are in North America, you should certainly be using a good water conditioner, such as the ones mrdenim mentioned, or others. One that detoxifies chlorine, chloramine, heavy metals and ammonia is basic.
I usually do not recommend any additives aside from a dechlorinator/metal neutralizer. My reasoning can be found at this link: Water Chemistry for New Aquarists (Taken From MOA's Keeping Fish) (MOA's: How Many Fish?, Stocking Freshwater Aquariums)
No less, everyone has there opinions about these sorts of things. I used to sell fish and I hardly ever saw a product do something that could not just as easily be attributed to good aquarium husbandry. In other words, if you are taking proper care of your fish, then most additives are not going to do much. The only regular exception I saw was regular use of a good dechlorinator. Other than that, most products look like wasted money to me (believe me--I made a lot of money off of people who put too much faith in additives).
For quite some time when I was a kid, I would change the water in my mayo jar every week with my 5 pond guppies in it. Then one day, the city decided to put more chlorine in the water, and killed them all within just a few minutes. Please put some kind of dechlorinator in your water. It was very sad for me.
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