Seachem’s Prime water conditioner will make City of Toronto water safe for your fish. It will remove chlorine, cloramine and ammonia.
Live and learn, unfortunately. Little Weed has taken up the hobby of raising goldfish. I, as the dutiful and enabling parent, need to work out all the little details of how to do this. He has agreed to dutifully do water changes, feed the fish and arrange the tank, so he does have enthusiasm. I have not raised fish since I was a kid about his age. So down we go to buy feeder goldfish. We already had a 10G tank, we bought him a filter, so what else could go wrong? It turns out, a lot, especially the water from the City of Toronto, Canada. Here is what I found out, the hard way.
Put goldfish in a tank and they eat and crap a lot, elevating the ammonia level. After a very short while they pollute their water, the ammonia level spikes and then they die. To prevent this you need beneficial bacteria that takes goldfish crap and turn it into something not as poisonous to the fish. This process, called “Nitrogen Cycling”, takes 4-6 weeks. While this is happening, some recommend not having fish. This would not do for the impatient Little Weed.
Alternately you can put fish in the tank, they crap, the beneficial bacteria start to grow, but are not yet able to neutralize the goldfish crap. The solution is called a “partial water change” or PWC. Fine. As the levels of ammonia rise, you change out 30% of the water for new water. The original water is diluted bu the new water, and the ammonia level drops. This is not so hard, is it?
And now a discussion about water. We have very good water in Toronto, no doubt. We used to have quarterly water reports, stopped in 2001, to tell us what chemicals are added. The Ministry of the Environment, Drinking Water System has recent water quality test results, the most recent being 2011. These reports are available online for all to read. Most water, including the City of Toronto, puts chlorine in to kill off bacteria. This makes our water safe to drink. This is the mandate of the water department: to deliver safe drinking water to citizens when we turn on the tap. They are unconcerned about your fish, which are killed by chlorine and chloramine. While there is mention about chlorine in these water reports, there is no mention about chloramine. Unfortunately for me the City of Toronto also adds ammonia, which when combined with chlorine creates chloramine. So Toronto water does contain chloramine, even though it does not explicitly say so in their water reports. Chloramine kills fish.
The last step in the [water] treatment process is to add ammonia to the water. Ammonia combines with the remaining chlorine to stabilize the chlorine and keep the water safe during its trip from the plant, through distribution pipes to people’s homes and businesses.
Here is info from the Ministry of Environment, Drinking Water System site, for the City of Toronto. One of the treatment listings includes:
Chloramination: The process of using both chlorine and ammonia for disinfection. Chloramination keeps chlorine at a consistent level in large drinking-water distribution systems.
Most people know that if you put water in a bucket and let it sit for 24 hrs the chlorine will evaporate out. Alternately you can use API tap water conditioner or another product to do the same thing. Do only this and your fish will get poisoned every time you do a PWC. Why? This is because the city also add ammonia to the water, which binds with the chlorine to make chloramine. Chloramine is stable and does not dissipate in 24 hrs. This further protects water from the City of Toronto from bacteria, even after you leave water standing. This is excellent from a human safe drinking water perspective but deadly from the aquaria parspective. The ammonia added to the water by the city is the same chemical that will kill your fish. You really need a water conditioner solution that removes the chlorine, chloramine and ammonia.
So I, not knowing all this information, buy API Tap Water Conditioner, which supposedly removes chlorine and chloramines from the water, and find out that this technically does work it will still kill my fish. What they do not tell you is that the product chemically takes chloramine and splits it into chlorine and ammonia. The product will them remove the chlorine, but the remaining ammonia is still present and this will kill your fish. There is already ammonia present in Toronto water, so this adds to the overall ammonia level. Unless you have some other way to remove ammonia, do not buy this product. This is especially true if you are cycling your tank. I found API’s packaging label misleading.
I switched to Seachem’s Prime water conditioner, which amongst other things, removes chlorine, chloramine and ammonia. This made a world of difference. The water became much clearer, and more importantly, my fish did not die. For each gallon/4L of water, add 2 drops. When you are cycling your tank you can double this amount.
Prime® also contains a binder which renders ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate non-toxic. It is very important to understand how those two functions work together. All dechlorinators operate through a chemical process known as reduction. In this process, toxic dissolved chlorine gas (Cl2) is converted into non-toxic chloride ions (Cl-). The reduction process also breaks the bonds between chlorine and nitrogen atoms in the chloramine molecule (NH2Cl), freeing the chlorine atoms and replacing them with hydrogen (H) to create ammonia (NH3).
Typically, dechlorinators stop there, leaving an aquarium full of toxic ammonia! Seachem takes the necessary next step by including an ammonia binder to detoxify the ammonia produced in the reduction process.
Be very careful when purchasing water conditioners. If your municipality includes chloramines in the water supplies, a standard sodium thiosulfate dechlorinator is not enough…
To summarize, you need a water conditioner in order to make City of Toronto water safe for fish. API’s Tap Water Conditioner, even though it says it removes chloramines, will elevate your ammonia level and kill your fish, so do not use it. Seachem’s Prime, while slightly more expensive, will make City of Toronto water safe for your fish. Why is life so complex?
I wish someone told me this 3 weeks ago.