You can’t simply put tap water into your aquarium and expect your fish to be completely fine with it. Regular tap water contains chemicals that might be safe for human consumption but can make fish sick, lethargic, and in the worst-case scenario, die. This makes it necessary to use the best aquarium water conditioner beforehand.
An aquarium tap water conditioner neutralizes all the unwanted materials in the water, like metals and chlorines, making regular tap water safe to use for aquariums. If you are starting a new aquarium, restarting an old tank, or when topping off the aquarium, then you will need to use a bit of water conditioner.
Many brands of fish tank water conditioner promise that they have the finest product in the market, but it can be hard to determine who is telling the truth. This article will teach you what to look for when you are browsing through your options, so you will be getting more than your money’s worth.
Best Aquarium Water Conditioner Reviews
1. Tetra AquaSafe Plus Aquarium Water Conditioner
I know that it is not wise to rush through the steps of setting up an aquarium, but anything that can save time will always be welcome. This water conditioner has a fast-acting formula, making it work almost immediately. This spares me the need to spend hours just preparing the water for my tank.
Now, just because this water conditioner works fast, that does not mean it is not effective. This product can effectively neutralize all of the unwanted contaminants in tap water that can potentially harm your fish. It removes not just the chlorine but also the harmful metals that are in tap water.
The cap also serves as a precise measuring cup with lines inside that indicate the amount of product. Although it is not likely that you can overdose on a tank with this water conditioner, it is nice to have a precise measurement to prevent waste. It is also nice that you only need to use a tiny amount to condition an entire tank.
This water conditioner does more than just eliminating potentially harmful substances (for the fish and not necessarily for humans) in the water. It also supplements it with beneficial minerals that the fish needs. The deficiency of these minerals is one reason why the fish still seem weak even when the water is completely clean.
I do not have anything serious to complain about this product but it is quite annoying that you have to use a pipette or syringe to get the right amount for use in small tanks. By small, I meant tanks below 10 gallons. The instructions do not come with directions for small tanks and the cap does not have any indications of the amounts to use.
2. Fluval Water Conditioner
One of the things that intrigued me when I first knew about this water conditioner is that it contained herbal extracts to help fish deal with stress. Fish experience stress upon transferring them from one tank to another.
That said, they definitely need help adjusting to their new environment. This water conditioner not only makes the water safe for the fish but can also help them feel more at ease.
Another great thing about this product is that it contains all-natural ingredients. I had my doubts before that this might not work quite as well as other aquarium water conditioners but I was wrong. This product works at par and is sometimes much better than most of the water conditioners that I have used before.
It was also nice that I did not need to use quite as much product to improve the quality of my aquarium’s water. I did the math to figure out just how much of this product you need regardless of the size of your tank and it amounted to just 0.5ml per gallon of water. This means that one bottle can go a very long way.
Moreover, this water conditioner works fast. The moment I placed the right amount of water conditioner in the water, it almost immediately turned the water cloudy, which is an indication of the product working. After around half an hour or so, the water cleared back up and the aquarium was again ready for occupancy.
Just like the first product, you will need to use a pipette or syringe to measure the amount of conditioner required for a 10-gallon or smaller tank. The smallest amount that the cap can measure for is a 20-gallon tank.
3. Aquatic Experts TankFirst Complete Water Conditioner
What I liked the most about this product is that unlike most of the water conditioners I have used so far, it does not have any foul odors. I have used products that smelled so bad that I had to open all the windows just to air out the room. You might not think that this is a huge deal, but fish can smell bad odors too.
Another nice thing about this product is that it works quickly. If you are like me who does not like buckets of water in the living room for hours whenever you do partial water changes, then you will love this. It works immediately once it touches the water.
Aside from removing chlorine from tap water, you can also use the product to lower the amount of ammonia in the water, and it does so quickly. It saved my entire aquarium when I discovered a huge ammonia and nitrate spike. If I did not use this product immediately, I would have a tank full of dead fish.
I can also say that you will get the most value for your money from this product. If you bought the 1-liter bottle, then you will have enough water conditioner for treating up to 10,000 gallons, give or take a few. This means that if you have a 50-gallon tank, then you are already set for at least a year’s worth of water changes.
4. Seachem Prime Fresh and Saltwater Conditioner
This is one of the most recommended products by experienced hobbyists and for good reason. It is a highly concentrated formula, so just a couple of drops is enough to treat up to five gallons of water at a time. This means that the huge jug you will be getting will last you more than a year or two.
This water conditioner works immediately once it hits the water. If you leave the water alone it will probably take around 15 to 30 minutes to neutralize the chlorine. However, if you put a submersible pump to make the conditioner circulate faster, you can complete the process in just a couple of minutes.
Aside from neutralizing the chlorine in tap water, you can also use this product to neutralize ammonia and nitrates. If you notice a sudden spike in the levels of ammonia and nitrate in your tank, just pour a double dose of this product to stop the rising ammonia levels immediately.
If you are worried that a double-shot of this product will harm your fish, don’t be. Even though it is highly concentrated stuff, it will not do any harm to your fish or any other living organisms in your tank.
The only thing that I do not like about this water conditioner is that it has a foul odor. Make sure to open a window or two before you even take the cap off the bottle.
5. API Stress Coat Water Conditioner
This is not just your regular water conditioner. It also doubles as a treatment for your fish. Sometimes, improperly handled fish, like when removing them from the tank when changing the water, causes damage to their slime coating, leading to ailments later. With the help of this product, your fish can regain their lost slime coating.
This product can immediately turn regular tap water into water that is safe for use in aquariums. This will immediately work to eliminate chlorine once it touches the water. After just fifteen to thirty minutes, you can expect all the chlorine in the water to become harmless to fish and other aquatic lifeforms.
This product also contains natural herbal extracts that can help your fish deal with stress and relax. Fish get stressed a lot and it usually happens when you make partial or full water replacement. When you use this water conditioner, you will notice that your fish will not stay stressed and fidgety for too long.
This can also help injured fish heal and recover quickly. I had a betta whose fins got ripped to shreds because of some sharp driftwood. After removing the offending decoration, I used this water conditioner in his tank. In just a couple of weeks, the previously mangled fins were repaired and my betta regained its previous beauty.
Here’s the catch; you need to be very careful when using this product as it is very easy to overdose. Make sure that you are using the right amount as prescribed in the instructions because you can make your fish sick if you use too much.
6. Jungle Start Right Complete Water Conditioner
Although it might sound disgusting, the fish’s slime coat is beneficial and important for their health. If a fish accidentally removes even part of its slime coat, it can lead to serious diseases later. To prevent this from happening, I suggest using this water conditioner as it also contains compounds that can restore your fish’s slime coat.
This product contains aloe, which is an excellent antiseptic. This means that if you have any injured fish, like cuts or scratches, using this product in their tank will hasten their healing. By using this water conditioner in conjunction with medication, you can be sure that your sick and injured fish will recover in no time flat.
One reason why many aquarium keepers do not like using water conditioners that contain aloe is that they clog up the filters. I am happy to report that this product does nothing of the sort. I have been using it for a couple of months and I have not run into any problems regarding my filter system. It is still running perfectly.
Regardless if you have a freshwater or a saltwater aquarium, you can use this product without running into any problems whatsoever. This is completely safe to use and there is not even a risk of overdosing if you put a little too much of the stuff in the water.
I seriously could not find anything to fault this product. It delivers on its promises, and then some. This did not bring about any negative reactions from the fish and the live plants that I have in my tanks. This is as near perfect as you can get when you talk about aquarium water conditioners.
7. Fritz Aquatics Complete Water Conditioner
This is a sort of jack-of-all-trades as it does a little bit of everything. However, it is a good product to use mainly because it does remove all of the chlorine in the tap water. It is not the only thing that it can do. If you are starting a new tank or doing a full water change, it will help soften the water as well.
The main job of this product is to remove the chlorine that is present in tap water and it does so efficiently. You just pour the designated amount into the buckets of water waiting for you to pour into the tank. Give it a good swirl to distribute the product properly and it will be ready in under an hour.
Aside from chlorine, this water conditioner can also help remove all of the ammonia in the water. I once tested my aquarium’s water and I found that the ammonia spiked to a dangerous amount. Since changing the water is out of the question, I instead used a double dose of this water conditioner and it did the job.
For all the things that this product can do, I also appreciate some of the things that it does not do, like alter the pH level of the water. I am very particular when it comes to the pH level of my aquarium. Even though this eliminates all of the ammonia in the water, it is a bit impressive that it does not alter the normal pH levels even one bit.
I don’t have anything, in particular, to complain about in connection to how well this product works. However, I do not particularly like the horrible smell coming from this product. It is like a strong smell of rotten eggs. Fortunately, the smell dissipates after fifteen minutes or so, and it does not cling to your clothes.
8. Brightwell Aquatics Blackwater Water Conditioner
This product helps improve the health and well-being of your fish by making the water mimic blackwater river conditions. It does so by introducing beneficial minerals and other substances into the water; substances that are in nature. Although it does not tint the water a slight brownish hue, it copies the chemical makeup.
By mimicking the conditions of a blackwater river, the aquarium can help improve the health of the fish and the live plants. Before I used this product, my fish would often hide in their driftwood hiding places.
Now, they are happily swimming about. This product also provided some vital nutrients to my live plants because they are now growing like crazy that I have to prune them almost every day.
Another benefit of living in a blackwater river environment is that it encourages the fish to spawn. Don’t be surprised when you suddenly find that you have an overstocked tank because of all the new fish that suddenly appeared. Now, that would be a problem that I would be happy to have.
This product does not just add minerals to the water but also helps soften hard tap water to make it usable for aquariums. This also helped me remove the insane amount of chlorine the city puts in our water supply. It deactivates the chlorine and renders it harmless to the fish and the other organisms in the tank.
The problem here is that some people expect that a blackwater water conditioner would tint their aquarium water brown, especially those who want to make their aquariums look and behave like the real thing. In my experience, this product did give the water a slightly green color at the start, but it quickly dissipated.
9. Flukers Saltwater Concentrate Water Conditioner
I was amazed at how this product could turn ordinary tap water into an accurate seawater facsimile. My hermit crabs loved it from the first time I used it. Although there was this one crab that would not even touch the water, I had to tweak the dosage a bit to make the water suitable for all my crabs.
I also loved how easy it is to use this product. You do not need any fancy equipment – just a mixing bowl and a teaspoon. In addition, you also do not have to prepare the water beforehand as this product will do everything for you. It will dechlorinate the water and add the right amount of salt and beneficial materials.
In the past, I would frequently buy seawater from the nearby pet supply store because I used to change the water in the crabs’ pool, sometimes 3 to 4 times a week. You can just imagine how expensive it could get. This product allows me to use regular tap water instead of the expensive bottled ones.
Speaking of value for money, I definitely saved a lot by using tap water that I treated myself. Aside from that, I only needed a couple of drops into a bucket of tap water to dechlorinate it in just a few minutes. Even if you were to change the water of your hermit crab enclosure often, this is enough to last at least a couple of months.
As mentioned earlier, I had a problem with one of the hermit crabs not even wanting to get close to the treated water. It turns out that this product does not provide enough salt to exactly mimic the ocean.
10. Python Multi-Purpose Water Conditioner
Thanks to this product, I was able to save a lot of money because I no longer needed to buy distilled water from the pet store. I can easily deactivate the chlorine in the tap water, thus making it usable in my aquarium. I can still remember the first time I set up an aquarium. Many of my fish died during the first week as I used straight tap water.
I also liked that this product is not just for freshwater tanks but also saltwater. You do not need to dechlorinate saltwater, but this product does more than just that. This can also eliminate or at least significantly decrease the amount of ammonia in the water, which should be a great deal of concern for aquarium owners.
This is also quite easy to use and does not require any special tools. Just pour the prescribed amount (as stated in the directions for use) into the water and it will begin to work. If you do not want to wait a while, you can kick start the process by circulating the water to get the water conditioner to spread out faster.
Another benefit of this water conditioner is that it also contains natural herbal extracts that aim to calm your fix, thereby helping them cope with stress. Yes, fish also undergo a lot of stress, especially when you are doing partial or full water changes. This product will help your fish relax and overall become a lot happier than before.
The only problem I have with this product is not that serious really, but if you have a tight budget then you might feel it. This product needs twice the amount to dechlorinate and condition the same volume of water compared to other brands of water conditioners.
What to Look For When Buying a Aquarium Water Conditioner
Since there are so many different brands of aquarium water conditioners that you can choose from, it is understandable if you feel a bit confused sometimes. Here are some things to consider to ensure that you will be making the right choice:
Safety and Compatibility
Of course, the first thing that you need to consider is if the product you are looking at is safe for your aquarium. For instance, will a particular water conditioner work as well on a saltwater tank as it would on a freshwater one?
Also, the best water conditioner for betta fish might not be the best water conditioner for goldfish, and vice-versa. There is no other way to check for safety other than reading through an Aqueon water conditioner review or two.
Mind you, in all review sections of water conditioners, there will always be one or two people who would be complaining that the product killed their fish. Take their reviews with a grain of salt. If there are only a few negative reviews, then they might just be isolated incidents.
How fast is it?
Ideally, you should get a water conditioner that will only take a couple of minutes to do its job, especially if you have a big tank. Ideally, when you are doing partial water changes, put the tap water into buckets then dose them with a water conditioner. It ensures that the water is safe upon pouring it into the aquarium.
Having a good water conditioner means that you do not need to wait for hours while your buckets are getting your floors wet. On the other hand, if you will be refilling your tank directly using a hose, you need to add a water conditioner immediately into the aquarium, so that the chlorine will not have enough time to affect the fish negatively.
You will typically find water conditioners that only dechlorinate tap water, which is their main job after all. However, some water conditioners also provide additional benefits, like neutralizing ammonia and nitrate. There are also some products where chlorine neutralization is secondary to their main functions.
This is where you will be looking into the number of gallons of tap water that one bottle of water conditioner can treat. Some of the best water conditioners will only need a couple of drops to treat up to 5 gallons of tap water effectively.
The last thing that you need to consider is the cost. This is not to say that the most expensive water conditioner on the market is also the best aquarium water conditioner for well water.
There are plenty of products that work the same way but are much cheaper than the top brands. Again, since you will not be able to test the product on hand, the only way that you can find any information on whether a product is good or not is to look for customer reviews.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Often Should you add a Water Conditioner to your Tank?
Ideally, you should add a water conditioner whenever you do partial water changes. Either you pour the water into the tank and then add the water conditioner, or put the tap water into buckets, and then treat them before you pour them into the aquarium. You should also use a water conditioner if you are going to reset the tank.
Can you Overdose an Aquarium Water Conditioner?
Most aquarium water conditioners for fish tanks are non-toxic so you can just throw the whole bottle into your tank with an assurance that the fish will be safe. However, some require that you measure the doses carefully.
Typically, you do not have to be super accurate when dosing your aquarium with a water conditioner, but at least try to get as close as you can to the required amount.
Although you might not see it working, one of the most important tools that you need to have in your aquarist tool belt is a bottle of aquarium water conditioner.
Since you reached the end of this article, it must be safe to assume that you already know all that you have to search for when you are out shopping for the best aquarium conditioner. Not only will you get the most value for your money, but you can also ensure the safety and well-being of your fish.