best aquarium water conditioner

at 7:43 pm

Seachem Prime Review

There are many water conditioners on the market but in my view there are only two worth considering. SeaChem Prime is one of these two. Let’s face it, all conditioners, for the most part, perform the same functions, some claim to do more than they can do, some claim to do things that really are not required and provide no real benefit, and some can be outright dangerous.

But when you get right down to it, there are only three things we need from a water conditioner.

The primary function we need from a water conditioner is to act as a dechlorinator. The second function we MAY require, is the ability of our conditioner to detoxify ammonia, but this is only necessary IF ammonia (or nitrite) is detected in our tap water. The remaining function that should exist in all water conditioners is the ability to bind heavy metals. If you don’t think that “heavy metal” binding applies to you, think again. If your house is old, the pipes can be leaching everything from iron, to copper, to aluminum, to even arsenic. Have you heard about the “crumbling infrastructure” in America. Part of that infrastructure is your City’s water system, which will also contain old pipes and equipment capable of leaching heavy metals.

SeaChem Prime performs the three necesssary functions as well as any conditioner available to us, if not better. What makes SeaChem Prime my “complete conditioner” of choice, with “complete” meaning (to me) it also serves to detoxify ammonia, is that it is more economical than its competitors, achieved by being significantly more concentrated than competing products. While most conditioners require 1 teaspoon per 10 gallons, Prime is 1 teaspoon per 50 gallons. So while a bottle of SeaChem Prime may cost a couple of dollars more, you are actually getting 5x the product. Even if you only need a dechlorinator, SeaChem Prime is an excellent choice.

If you are registering ammonia in your tap water (likely an indication of chloramine) SeaChem Prime should be your choice for a “complete conditioner”.

As for all other claims of Prime (or any other conditioner), these are functions which basically none of us require. A properly maintained tank should not require the addition of “essential ions” via our water conditioner (please define these ions… can anyone?). “Electrolytes” is just a name for salts, vitamins are not stable when introduced into the water, aloe vera works by preventing wounds from drying out (not a problem when you are permanently submerged in water), other beneficial aspects of aloe vera are almost impossible to preserve in a bottle, aloe vera is not stable in water, and our fish should need no assistance in producing slime coat.

I use SeaChem prime exclusively in my Oscar Tank, secondarily due to its claims to either remove or detoxify nitrate. I can clarify with all certainty that it absolutely does not remove nitrate. It may, in some unknown fashion, partially detoxify nitrate, but it does not remove it. The primary reason I use Prime in my Oscar tank is that I perform very large water changes and have discovered the amount of slime coat lost by my Oscar fish, during water changes, is much reduced when using Prime opposed to other conditioners. I cannot qualify this beyond observation. The amount of slime coat trailing off my Oscars body is less when I use Prime than when using other conditioners. If I am completely honest, I also use Prime in my Oscar tank because I simply (and irresponsibly) feel like I’m cheating my Oscar out of something by using less than a “complete conditioner”.

In other tanks, I use API Tap Water Conditioner, which is the most economical conditioner I’ve found but is not a “complete conditioner”.

Pros:
Complete Conditioner: Acts as a dechlorinator, breaks the chloramine bond, serves to detoxify ammonia, and binds heavy metals.

Economical: 1 teaspoon treats 50 gallons. With most other conditioners, 1 teaspoon treats 10 gallons.

Made by SeaChem: SeaChem is a trustworthy company with a history of manufacturing quality products.
Cons:
Questionable Claims: Sections of their marketing claims SeaChem Prime “removes” nitrate. It does not. Other components of their marketing claims it detoxifies nitrate, without knowing how. While yet other components of their marketing claims the product “enhances nitrate removal”, again, without explaining how. After performing daily nitrate tests for years, I can absolutely state that Prime has no bearing on nitrate removal. For a forum thread discussing this in some detail, please click here:

Will Only Temporarily Detoxify Ammonia: This is not unique to SeaChem Prime, it is a universal truth amongst all conditioners. that detoxify ammonia. As a result, it’s not really a “Con”, I only mention it out of necessity. Many people think they dose with Prime and ammonia is permanently removed. First off, it’s not removed, it’s been converted to ammonium, which is a less toxic form. Secondly, this affect is only temporary, lasting from 12-24 hours. Hopefully this is sufficient to allow the biofiltration to remove the ammonia/ammonium. But in a cycling tank, this will not occur, so it is necessary to dose daily (at least).

Cost: A bottle of Prime will likely cost more than the bottle of conditioner next to it in the store. Even though it is more economical than the bottle next to it, the initial cost (albeit well worth it) may be higher.

API Tap Water Conditioner Review

There are many water conditioners on the market but in my view there are only two worth considering. API Tap Water Conditioner is one of these two. Let’s face it, all conditioners, for the most part, perform the same functions, some claim to do more than they can do, some claim to do things that really are not required and provide no real benefit, and some can be outright dangerous.

But when you get right down to it, provided you are not registering ammonia (chloramine) in your tap water, there are only two things we need from a water conditioner.

The primary function we need from a water conditioner is to act as a dechlorinator. The second function that should exist in all water conditioners is the ability to bind heavy metals. If you don’t think that “heavy metal” binding applies to you, think again. If your house is old, the pipes can be leaching everything from iron, to copper, to aluminum, to even arsenic. Have you heard about the “crumbling infrastructure” in America. Part of that infrastructure is your city’s water system, which will also contain old pipes and equipment capable of leaching heavy metals. Even if you are on well water and chlorine is not an issue, you need a water conditioner that binds heavy metals.

API Tap Water Conditioner performs these two necessary functions as well as any conditioner available to us, if not better. What makes API Tap Water Conditioner my dechlorinator of choice is that it is more economical than any other conditioner I’ve found, achieved by being significantly more concentrated than competing products. While most conditioners require 1 teaspoon per 10 gallons, API Tap Water Conditioner is 1 teaspoon per 100 gallons (Prime is 1 teaspoon per 50 gallons.) In addition to being very concentrated, the per bottle cost of API Tap Water Conditioner is lower than its competitors because the API product only does what we truly need, acts as a dechlorinator and binds heavy metals.

If you are registering ammonia in your tap water (likely an indication of chloramine) SeaChem Prime should be your choice for a “complete conditioner”. API Tap Water Conditioner does not detoxify ammonia.

As for all other claims of higher priced conditioners, these are all functions which basically none of us require. A properly maintained tank should not require the addition of “essential ions” via our water conditioner (please define these ions… can anyone?). “Electrolytes” is just a name for salts, vitamins are not stable when introduced into the water, aloe vera works by preventing wounds from drying out (not a problem when you are permanently submerged in water), other beneficial aspects of aloe vera are almost impossible to preserve in a bottle, aloe vera is not stable in water, and our fish should need no assistance in producing slime coat.

API Tap Water Conditioner is the primary dechlorinator for my multitude of tanks. Why? It works, it’s economical, and it only does what really needs to be done.

For those instances where a need exists to detoxify ammonia or in the instance of my Oscar tank, for mostly irrational reasons, I use SeaChem Prime.

Pros:
Economical: At www.FosterSmithAquatics.Com, I pay $5.69 for 16oz, which treats 9,600 gallons. Beat that.

Does the Right Job: Seriously folks, as an industry, we dump tons of money into water conditioners thinking we are somehow benefiting our fish by going the extra mile in selecting the “best conditioner” when in reality, all of those additional additives in the “complete conditioners” are more marketing than beneficial. They simply are not needed or really serve no function beyond separating you from your cash. API Tap Water Conditioner does the two things all of us require in a conditioner, dechlorinates and binds heavy metals. Unless you’re registering ammonia in your tap water, this is all you need.

Made by API (Aquarium Pharmaceuticals): API is a trustworthy company with a history of manufacturing quality products.
Cons:
Does not Detoxify Ammonia: API Tap Water Conditioner is a straight up dechlorinator. If you are registering ammonia, this is not the product for you unless you wish to add API Ammo-Lock to the mix. But my recommendation would be SeaChem Prime.

Somewhat Misleading Advertisement: Claims to “detoxify chloramine”. I suppose, legally, this is correct. Because it breaks the chlorine/ammonia bond, so “chloramine” no longer exists. But what is left behind is toxic ammonia (see above).

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