Are the chemicals really needed?
This is a post i ran into on another forum. Id figure i would share it. To see who here agrees or doesnt. He said this
I have kept aquariums since I was 15-now 35 and I have never used any treatments, water test, nitrate/ammonia kits, never tested the levels or anything. I have raised piranhas from hatch lings to 7 inches,Peacock Bass from 3inches to 12 inches, I have had Sturgeons in my outside pond, bread tilipia, Red Devils, Texas cichlids and dozens of other fish. I have caught and kept Nurse Sharks, Octopus, Seahorses and many other fish and NEVER used any of the kits,chemicals and test that a lot of people swear by. Are these things really needed? All I ever used were good filters and minimal water changes and they THRIVE, not just live. As far as dechlorinator, I use it if Im going to stock right away. As far as cycling the tanks, I just throw goldfish in about 3 weeks prior to stocking.
Last edited by i_am_511; 12-17-2009 at 02:38 AM.
He's got great water or was extremly lucky.. i use no conditioner in my tanks and never have. i do test them once in a while more often when setting up a new tank. but no i dont go crazy on the things
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a lot has changed in the last 20 years. with the advancements in fishkeeping, we are now able to provide a much longer and happier life for the fish in our care due to things like test kits.
are you able to do without them? absolutely. but any responsible fishkeeper is going to push you to provide as much as possible for your fish.
just because they lived for a "long time". does not by any means suggest that they were "Thriving". but at the time, there was no way to know that unless you were a marine biologist.
i have been keeping fish for a long time, and to this day i still do not use or advocate the use of chemical treatments. i fel they are potentially more harmful than helpful.
however, i absolutely advocate the use of test kits to monitor your water parameters. at least while cycling your tank.
I also seen that post and interestingly nearly all participants in that thread agree with him, including one stating "test kits really only come in handy for people that don't do the maintainence".
I think it depends on the set up (all are different) and the stage of maturity of the tank.
Tank still cycling or newly cycled: regular chemical testing of several water parameters highly recommended. the possibility of losing fish to ammonia and nitrite poisoning is no myth.
Established tank running fine for years: intermittent nitrate testing or even no testing may suffice, but again it may depend on the particular system.
Something like a full-blown SPS reef tank is an entirely different ball of wax. I can't imagine not chemically testing water parameters of such a system.
My bottom line: testing will never hurt.
The poster doesn't state how long he's had all of those fish (ranging from sea horses to cichlids). How long did they live and "thrive"? I'm not very knowledgeable when it comes to piranha and peacock bass, but don't they get larger than than sizes he cited?
I can only imagine the bioload and ultimate nitrate production of a nurse shark. It's harder to imagine what type of water change regimen would be used to maintain it if the nitrate levels aren't known. Oh, wait: "minimal water changes".
I haven't been around long enough to speak to all he's stated, but I don't use any chemicals in my tanks either - but I have well water. If I lived in town I would use the dechlorinator. Too bad you can't find a treatment where thats ALL it does, is detoxify the chloramine and other additives found in treated water...every dechlorinator treatment I've seen also did a host of other things (promote slime coat, etc).
Test kits are the most neccesary thing in fish keeping next to a good python and a bottle of dechlorinator( depending on your water lol).
If it doesn't test right do a water change! Some like to do larger W/Cs than others.
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I remember when state of the art filtration was a plastic container in the corner of the tank with an air stone in it hooked up to an air pump. I only use a dechlorinator when I do water changes and nothing else unless I get (God forbid) Ich or some other type of fungus or disease. I do have water test kits and wouldn't be comfortable without them. Nurse Shark? Sturgeon? Did he grow up at Marineland or Sea world cause them some big fish. Not meaning to insult anyone it's just, those fish can get really big.
It sounds like what you've been doing obviously works for you.
Here, I have found we do NOT need water conditioner and feel the fish do better without it (good well water). I do check our parameters, however, I am never honestly surprised at the readings. Just doing it for reassurance at this stage, or to track a newly set up tank to be sure all stays good.
I've never used a test kit either. At the moment I'm a mommy & college student, 34 years old, but a few years ago I worked at PetSmart. We sold all kinds of test kits. But I never used one. Once they tested a water sample for me, but other then that, never. When I first started my 50 g tank 2 years ago, i used conditioner, but not since. My kissing Gouramis, the bala shark, the red tail, are all still alive two years later and frisky as ever. But my tank is in my living room and therefore regularly cared for. I don't go a day without making sure eveyone is happy. (Although, at the moment I have a 6 inch kissing g that is being a bully & ready to be moved to a larger tank.)
I guess it depends on water quality etc... I know plenty of people who swear by the chemicals too. I depends on if the fish are thriving or just surviving.
(I think the Bala needs a bigger home too!)
I for one have learned a long time ago that test kits are a must no matter what your experiance level. Fish can give you clues if there is a problem with your water perameters but a good test kit can save you a lot of frustration and expense. I am a firm believer in a good dechlorinator as well such as prime. It not only dechlorinates, takes care of an ammonia issues but takes care of any heavy metals that can be in your water. So I recomend to those on well water too. As far as ph issues and water hardness I have also learned that the chemical route is not the way to go. The water in rural Saskatchewan is very hard and a high ph value. It is so hard that the ph adjusters are only a temp fix. You can lower your ph and within a week to ten days your ph has crept back up to where it was before. The constant barrage of chemicals can cause clowdy water from blooms and is very hard on the fish as they are constantly in a body of water where the ph is continually fluctuating. This is very stressfull on your fish. There are natural fixes such as driftwood, peat in your filter or even mixing your water with ro water. If money isn't an issue then you can go the water softener and ro filter. The best thing is to try and match your water to a type of fish that will do well in it. One thing you must remember is that the fish in your LFS are already used to the water in your area so usually will not be a problem. You can allways ask your lfs what their water hardness and ph is at to see if it closely matches yours. There are examples where fish do usually have water specific requirements to breed or are wild caught, then it is a good idea to do your homework well in advance and set up proberly before they arrive, but even then the fish will sometimes surprise you.