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We have been keeping tropical fish for a number of months now. We have a Biorb tropical fish tank which holds 30 litres and once per week we change 10 litres of water to ensure that the quality of the water within our fish tank is as clean as it can be at all times and to ensure that we are doing all that we can to keep our fish alive and healthy.
When keeping fish it is important to ensure that you treat the water that you are keeping your fish in to ensure that the levels of bacteria are the right balance for keeping particular fish.
A quality water conditioner is designed to remove chlorine and chloramines making tap water safe for your safe by neutralising heavy metals. This particular water conditioner, stress coat, replaces the natural coating of slime on your fish which is really crucial during times of stress such as when you're handling the fish, transporting them to another location or when they are fighting with one another. As we have quite a few fish in our fish tank they have been known to fight from time to time and sometimes if we introduce a new fish they will be found dead a couple of days or a week later with a fin missing and another injury, seemingly because they've been bullied by the other fish who've disagreed with them being in their tank. Because our fish fight we find stress coat particularly important, such as when one of our fish lost his fin in a fight and we wanted to ensure that he was healthy and survived his injury.
We have tried one other water conditioner since we had our fish tank, however we have found API stress coat to be the best for keeping our fish healthy at all times, regardless of their current in tank spats! The value for money of this water conditioner is fantastic with 118ml costing £5.79. A 237ml bottle can be purchased for £8.99 from Pets At Home but this represents a couple of years supply for us and we would have to discard it before we finished using it all so we find the 118ml the best bottle for our current needs.
To use this stress coat is very simple. We get out water (boiled not tap) close to the desired temperature of our fish tank, currently 22-26C, and then because we are replacing just 10 litres of water we only need to use 1.5ml. This obviously is a little difficult to measure so I use a 2.5ml measuring spoon (designed for cooking), and then I use a dropper to add this stress coat to the water and add just over half of the liquid in the measuring spoon. Obviously we could be inaccurate by 0.5ml or something but so far we've not had any problems doing it that way.
The packaging of this is nice and simple to use. This is a plastic squeezable bottle, but I never need to squeeze it to get the amount that I need, with a large plastic tumble style lid. This is a high lid and perhaps it could be used to measure out what you need for a larger amount of water, however, we don't use this because we don't want any potential inaccuracies.
We have definitely noticed that our fish are more alert and a little excitable once the water change has happened. The fish are always darting around and very mobile right after the water change and this effect usually lasts a good few hours at least, often more, and since we have moved over to this water conditioner and the weekly change, on a Sunday, the fish have been healthier and happier and touch wood so far we have not had anymore fatalities.
In all I think it is fair to say that I would definitely recommend API stress coat. This works incredibly well and helps to keep my fish healthy and surrounded by water that offers them slime coating and protection from chlorine and other nasties!
The quality of drinking water in the UK is of a very high standard (despite what the bottled water companies would have us believe) and is almost always perfectly safe to drink.
For fish keepers, however, mains water is unsuitable for use straight out of the tap. This is because the same chemicals added to drinking water (chlorine and chloramines) to prevent the growth of bacteria are also toxic to fish.
For this reason, those of us who keep pet fish must treat tap water before adding it to our aquariums. A 'water conditioner' is used to effect this. A good water conditioner should:
a) Destroy chlorine
b) Destroy chloramines (and the ammonia their destruction creates)
c) Detoxify heavy metals such as copper and lead.
If a water conditioner can achieve the aims above, then it will ensure that the water added to our aquariums is safe for fish. Unfortunately, not all water conditioners meet these three criteria. Some do not destroy chloramines, which are added instead of chlorine to some water supplies. Use of such a water conditioner in an area treated with chloramines could lead to unhealthy fish.
Others have no effect on heavy metals such as copper and lead (there are still lead pipes in the water system in parts of the UK). These metals are leached from pipe work during the journey from water treatment to house and, even at low levels, are toxic to fish.
It's important, therefore, to choose a water conditioner that treats your tap water in all the ways described above.
I have found that the best on the market, in my opinion, is API Stress Coat. This is not the brand leader (Tetra Aquasafe), but is much better value for money.
Stress Coat is sold in a squeezable plastic bottle, fitted with a nozzle at the top. This allows the Stress Coat to be measured out in the required volume for addition to tap water. Stress Coat is a clear, slightly viscous liquid, a bit like colourless washing-up liquid.
The dispensing method is the only criticism I have of Stress Coat; the nozzle always drips, leading to liquid oozing down the side of the bottle that then needs cleaning up.
My method of performing water changes with Stress Coat is as follows:
Remove the required amount of water from the aquarium (usually 20-30%).
Fill a container with tap water.
Add boiling water from the kettle to get it to around 20 degrees centigrade (I don't add water from the hot tap as the hot water could contain elevated levels of copper from the pipes).
Add the appropriate amount of Stress Coat.
Stir to equalise the temperature and allow the Stress Coat to treat the water.
Add the warmed, treated water directly to the aquarium.
It is clear to me that Stress Coat really works as the fish do seem to enjoy the water change (I imagine it must be like how an invigorating shower feels to us). After addition of the new water, the fish seem a bit more active and alert. The Stress Coat makes the water safe for the fish and the water change introduces fresh water for the fishes to enjoy.
5ml of Stress Coat treats forty litres of tap water. I buy the 480ml bottle for around £10, which is enough to treat 3,840 litres of tap water; enough for over six months at my water change frequency of 100 litres per week (I have two large tanks).
This is much better value than the 'brand leader', Tetra Aquasafe. Aquasafe costs around £6 for 250ml, so is a bit more expensive than Stress Coat. Aquasafe, however, must be added to tap water at a ratio of 5ml to only 10 litres of water, so is used four times faster than Stress Coat!
Once I had performed these calculations, I realised how much better value for money Stress Coat is and have never used Aquasafe since.
Stress Coat has one more weapon in its water treatment armoury. The product contains aloe vera. The manufacturers describe this as a 'liquid bandage', helping torn fins and small wounds heal quickly. In adding this at every water change, a small amount of this liquid bandage will always be present in case of injury. This is, I feel a 'nice to have', rather than a major selling point, but it is a bonus.
Having used Stress Coat for over five years, I can confidently recommend it to the fish keeper who wants to economically ensure that their fish have the best water possible at water change time. Using Stress Coat will save money and help to ensure a healthy population of fish.
Removes chlorine and chloramines, making tap water safe for fish