Water quality is perhaps the single most important factor in determining the health of your aquarium fish. In natural environments such as lakes, streams, and oceans, the water supply is continually cycling, providing healthy, fresh water for fish to inhabit. The natural flow of the water, as well as bacteria and other organisms, prevents fish waste from stagnating and eventually breaking down into toxic substances. Unfortunately, the aquarium is an artificial habitat and is thus quite different from the natural environment, as it depends on its owner or caretaker to provide fresh water.
Fish waste, in the form of solids and gases, must be removed before it reaches levels of toxicity that will kill your aquarium fish; hence the importance of regular water changes. Before adding new water to replace the old aquarium water, it must be treated. Use the following tips to properly treat water that will be safe for freshwater aquarium fish.
- Begin by finding a container. Any bucket or other similar container will suffice. Be sure that you'll have enough strength to lift the container when it's filled with water (water weighs approximately 9 pounds per gallon). The container should be brand new, as opposed to one that was previously used for another purpose. In a reused container, residues from soap and other cleaners can potentially harm your fish.
- Rinse the container thoroughly using warm water. Do not use soap or any other chemicals.
- Fill the container with clean tap water or well water.
- Leave the water in its container overnight. This allows chlorine to evaporate. This is an optional step, as many commercial water conditioners will remove chlorine chemically.
- Add water conditioner. Be sure that the conditioner you use is appropriate for your type of aquarium. Read the directions to determine the proper ratio of water conditioner to water.
- Allow the conditioned water to reach a temperature that matches the temperature of your aquarium water.
- Remove a portion of the current aquarium water and replace it with the conditioned water.