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Dechlorinating

Discussion in 'Dwarf Cichlid Health' started by Siggi, Feb 13, 2018.

  1. Siggi

    Siggi Member

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    Hi, everyone.
    A simple question.
    Is it possible to de-chlorinate tap water by simple aeration?
    Let me elaborate - if normal tap water is put into a big tank and intensely aerated for several days, will the chlorine be chemically altered into a harmless state?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Mike Wise

    Mike Wise Moderator Staff Member 5 Year Member

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    I think it really depends on how your tap water is chlorinated. Mine, like most other sources in the industrialized world, use chloramines because it lasts longer in the lines. Unless I want to wait several weeks and allow bacteria to eventually break the chlorine/ammonia bond, a dechlorinator is needed. It is inexpensive so why not use it?
  3. Siggi

    Siggi Member

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    Hi, Mike. Thank you for your answer.
    "...a dechlorinator is needed. It is inexpensive so why not use it?" Well, mostly because I'm planning on moving home, and to a somewhat remote town. There I am planning on starting a BIG tank and wanted to know wheather or not I could become independent upon a dechorinator...

    This is all because of water changes (WC).
    My idea was to make a container for water and let it 'mature' for a week with an airstone and then just use it directly for WC.

    Thx
  4. gerald

    gerald Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Find out what type of chlorine or chloramine the public water system uses. If they use chloramine, I would use a chloramine remover like Prime or similar product to get started. After your water-aging container is set up, you can experiment and see how long it takes for the chloramine and ammonia to disappear on their own. A sponge filter and some organic matter (leaves, wood) will probably help.
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  5. Siggi

    Siggi Member

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    Ok, once I move in, I'll contact the local water supplyer and ask for a recent report on their additives.
    Right now, during winter, my guess is there is so much water in supply in the mountain, that there possibly isn't much or any desinfectant at all - in the summer, it will be different...
    I'll post here, when i have some numbers.
    Thank you for your help.
  6. boofeng

    boofeng Member

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    How do the sponge filter and organic matter help? Are they good as surface area to support bacteria colonies which break down chloramine? I'm curious because I now pass water through peat in a filter sock (the kind used by reef keepers) for a few days in a reservoir tank before water changes.

    My local water supplier's numbers state the ceiling for chlorine and chloramine is 3 ppm each (our water has both). And so far I've been dosing Seachem Safe, but I wonder if it's actually something I need to do...
  7. gerald

    gerald Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Chlorine and chloramine are added to the drinking water to oxidize organic matter, such as bacteria and parasites (Giardia, Cryptosporidium). The toxic chlorine is converted to harmless chloride ion in the oxidation process. So you can use leaves, wood, fish food, or any organic matter as a "target" for the chlorine to react with (instead of a dechlorinator product). Ammonia is not destroyed by organics (that's why wastewater is full of ammonia); it needs to be consumed by plants, algae, or nitrifying microbes (bacteria and archaea).
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  8. boofeng

    boofeng Member

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    Many thanks for explaining this! :)

    This made me google and it seems that people (beer brewers) sometimes use acetic acid (vinegar) or ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to remove chloramines. And it seems like a low pH also converts monochloramine to dichloramine (which can gas off)?

    I wonder if there's any mileage in using acids (citric? ascorbic? acetic) to achieve this.

    Also, it makes me feel like peat filtration + aeration should in theory remove quite a lot of chloramine... (my pH ranges from just under 5 to just under 6 in the peat reservoir, depending on how fresh the peat is). Maybe with a bit of additional acid to help things along...?
  9. dw1305

    dw1305 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Hi all,
    Some dechlorinators (Seachem "Safe/Prime" is usually the one people can find) specifically deal with chloramine, but the <"mechanism for this isn't entirely clear"> and Seachem won't tell you how "Safe/Prime" works, but <"Kordon's "Amquel"> has a patent and I would be very surprised if the mode of action of "Safe" is much different.

    Ageing the water does work, but you need to do it in a planted tank, although chloramine is a reasonably stable compound, the disinfectant is still chlorine (as hypochlorous acid HClO), and it this trickles out as the chloramine breaks down to Cl- and NH3(NH4+). Because it is trickling out over time, a planted tank will mop up the NH3.

    Another problem is that chloramine is toxic to fish,
    from "Chlorine-induced mortality in fish". Grothe, D. et al. (1975) Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 104:4, pp. 800-802.
    <"Ascorbic acid will work">, you can buy vitamin C tablets.

    cheers Darrel
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  10. boofeng

    boofeng Member

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    Many thanks Darrel, that Randy Holmes-Farley article and Amquel page was very informative.

    I had previously thought these dechlorination products were just sodium thiosulfate in fancy bottles!

    And seeing Randy's report on activated carbon makes me think that's the way to go in future. Much easier than fiddling with vitamin C and all!

    Nonetheless, just out of curiosity... if I bring a tapwater filled reservoir's pH down to around 4 using an aquarium product like Seachem Acid Buffer (which actually isn't a buffer - I've seen elsewhere that people speculate it's just sodium bisulfate) and aerate the water for a few days... can I expect the chloramine to mostly convert to dichloramine (from monochloramine) due to the low pH and then gas off?
  11. dw1305

    dw1305 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Hi all,
    That whole series of articles are pretty good, I'm not sure there is anything of a similar quality for freshwater aquariums, if there is it is probably in German. The only worry I'd have with activated carbon is that you would need to change it fairly frequently as you wouldn't have any easy way of telling if it was still "active".

    I've always used rain-water, and where I live our tap water is lightly chlorinated (it is from a deep limestone aquifer, and very clean).
    If the pH was well below pH7 the released ammonia would be converted to ammonium (NH4+) and be relatively non-toxic. This Lenntech page says that <"dichloramine is still an effective sterilant">, so I'm not sure lowering the pH would help a lot.
    I would imagine it probably is sodium bisulphate based. We have an old <"sodium bisulphate"> thread.

    With Seachem they are often disingenuous with the information they give about their products, and a lot of the information is written in a way that obscures both what the products contain and how they work.

    cheers Darrel
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  12. Mike Wise

    Mike Wise Moderator Staff Member 5 Year Member

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    Wouldn't it just be cheaper to use a good dechlorinator??
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  13. boofeng

    boofeng Member

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    You're right! And I use Seachem Safe now actually - which has been working well - the fish are generally happy and breeding.

    Think I get too hung up trying to obtain water with low electrical conductivity. I know it's not really an important parameter compared to GH and pH (hat tip to Ted Judy in the "ok" thread started by Dave Soares), and I know I would get there quicker with RO(DI) water... so... I'm not sure why I wonder about stuff like this! It's just interesting I guess. :D
  14. boofeng

    boofeng Member

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    Thanks Darrel - very helpful and interesting as always. Love the community here - it's the nearest I can get to the marine and German aquarists' science geekery. :)
  15. dw1305

    dw1305 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Hi all,
    Yes, I'd just carry on.

    I think "Seachem Safe" is probably the cheapest option.

    It doesn't really matter if we don't know how "Safe" works, as long as it works.
    If you have space you could try ageing the water some plants, Pistia would be ideal. I don't know the time scale for removing all the ammonia from the water., but the plants would remove it eventually and reduce the conductivity of the water (due to the ions removed by the plants during growth).

    cheers Darrel

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