Water conditioners are used to remove chlorine and chloramine from the water, both of which are deadly to most aquatic inhabitants. They can also be used to reduce stress to the tank inhabitants when performing water changes or even when adding new fish. Some water conditioners also remove ammonia and nitrates along with chlorine and chloramine.
Biological supplements can be used in new tank set-ups to jump start the biological process, although they do not take the place of performing water changes in new tanks. These supplements usually take a few days to establish after being added and can be used on a weekly basis to ensure the continued health of the tank. Performing water changes, over-feeding and over-stocking can all adversely affect the biological colonies present in the tank so it is a great idea to supplement biologicals regularly, even in established tanks. After water changes, after medicating, or after adding new fish are all good times to add biological supplements. They serve an added benefit of reducing algae blooms in the tank as they break down organic waste solids so there are not enough nutrients present to fuel algae.
pH controllers or buffers can play a vital role in the tank. Depending on the types of fish you choose to keep, regulating your pH can be very important. For instance, most cichlids need a higher pH while most community freshwater fish need a more neutral pH. There are numerous different products available to help regulate the pH in your tank to suit any type of fish. pH Down helps lower the pH if it becomes too high, while pH helps to raise. There are also products available that target certain pH levels automatically and other products that convert alkalinity into a useable CO2 source. pH ranges can also be regulated through the use of certain substrates or filter media. However, no matter what product you choose to adjust your pH, it is important to remember that you only one to do one treatment then wait twenty-four hours before re-testing.
Regulating the pH is particularly critical in saltwater tanks. Natural pH swings happen even in the ocean, due to light cycles and available oxygen, and these swings can be even more intense in the saltwater tank as the volume of water is much smaller than that of the ocean. In the home saltwater tank we often rely on substrates to help buffer the pH, along with liquid or powder buffers. Performing regular water changes with a quality salt, such as Instant Ocean which has buffers added, can also help to maintain the natural pH balance.
Ammonia removers are generally intended only for emergencies as too much of an ammonia remover can be just as harmful as the ammonia itself. These are generally used for feeder goldfish and for tanks that have been accidentally sabotaged by too much fish food. When the ammonia remover is added to the tank it temporarily converts the ammonia in the water into a non-toxic form. This allows you to perform a water change shortly after adding it to remove the excess ammonia. However, if a water change is not performed, the ammonia will rebound quickly. It is also important to note that after using an ammonia remover the ammonia levels in the tank may test positive for several hours afterwards.
Clarifiers come in two different types, particulate clarifier and biological clarifier. Particulate clarifiers pull the particles that are suspended in the water and drop them to the bottom of the tank or to your filter, where they can be filtered or siphoned out. Biological clarifiers are used when there are not enough biological colonies in the tank to support the current load, such as when you perform a major water change and your tank becomes cloudy. These clarifiers usually contain a mix of particulate clarifiers and biological supplements.
Medicines or remedies vary depending on the illness present in the tank. Illness can be broken down into several categories such as parasitic, fungal and bacterial. Additionally, any of these illnesses can sometimes lead to secondary infections. Most medicines will have a description of the illness and symptoms clearly marked on the package to help you select the right one for your situation. Some remedies also contain medications to help heal wounds and/or salts to improve electrolytes. However caution should always be used when adding medicines or remedies to your tank. Additionally, to ensure the best possible results, you should perform a partial water change and remove all carbon sources before adding the treatment. After you have finished treating the tank you should replace the carbon sources and/or perform another partial water change.