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Why Test Tap Water?

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Why Test Tap Water?


You can never really take water quality for granted, especially when it comes to tap water. If your water supply is drawn from a well there is a possibility that it is lacking a natural balance; and if you are using tap water from a municipal department, it is likely to include minerals, chemicals and other additives. Although it may appear clean and clear, there is always the possibility that it contains levels of substances that may be toxic to your fish.


You can always request an analysis of your well water by contacting your local water department. This analysis will be a general representation, as the water will vary from day to day. It does, however, allow you to make informed decisions about what you need to do to maintain healthy water conditions in your aquarium.


Most municipalities add chlorine or cloramine to local water supplies; both of these additives are detrimental to the gills of your fish. This can be remedied by adding dechlorinators to your water while you are establishing the proper conditions of your aquarium. Reading product labels is essential, because not all dechlorinators are effective on chloramines; to successfully combat these chemicals, you may need a product specially designed for chloramines control. Water from a well source can possibly contained phosphates which are a popular ingredient in lawn and garden fertilizers. Although these items aren’t toxic to living organisms in your aquarium, they can lead to aggressive algae growth.


Both types are likely to have potentially harmful heavy metals. Iron, for example, is commonly found n tape water and can also come from galvanized piping in your home. Like phosphates, even though are not usually found in high enough concentrations to be toxic, it can also increase algae growth. Trace amounts of copper can be found in wells, and also come from copper plumbing. Most types of fish can tolerate copper in lows levels for a short time, but it is devastating to aquariums containing invertebrates. Once copper infiltrates a reef system, extreme measures may be needed to recreate a suitable environment, even the substrate needs to be replaced. If you have copper piping, it is always a good idea to allow the water to run before using it in your aquarium; this will help rinse away any loose molecules of copper that may have built up in the pipes.

Some water conditioners can detoxify heavy metals, lessening their intensity and allowing them to be removed through filtration. But if your test indicates the presence of high levels of copper, you might want to consider purifying the water with the addition of a Reverse Osmosis unit (RO).

Testing your tap water regularly for heavy metals will help you maintain these minerals and their by-products at safe levels.

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