Conditioning the water in your aquarium is important for many reasons. It helps keep your fish’s environment clean, healthy, and promotes their well-being. You will find that using these conditioners is also easy and painless; that is if you get the right item.
It is not always easy to find the right product. There are so many options available, it’s hard to know which ones are good and which ones are a waste of money. This is where we come in to help. The article below will outline everything you need to know about water conditioners, plus what to look for when shopping.
We didn’t stop there, either. If trolling through the many options is not something you’re looking forward to (even with the right info) we have you covered. You will find our top ten recommendations below with reviews, and an easy-to-glance at pros and cons list that will make finding the right water conditioner for your aquarium easy as pie!
A Quick Glance at Our Favorites in 2023
|Best Overall||API Stress Coat Aquarium Water Conditioner||
|Best Value||Tetra AquaSafe Aquarium Water Conditioner||
|Premium Choice||Fluval Cycle Biological Booster Water Conditioner||
|Brightwell Aquatics MicroBacter7 Water Conditioner||
|Seachem Prime Conditioner||
The 10 Best Aquarium Water Conditioners
1. API Stress Coat Aquarium Water Conditioner – Best Overall
Our first pick is the API Stress Coat Aquarium Water Conditioner. Available in a 1-, 4-, 8-, or 16-ounce bottle, you can also get bigger quantities of one or five gallons. This is a long-lasting and fast-acting formula. Designed to turn tap water into fresh fish water, it protects your tank from chemicals like chlorine, chloramines, and heavy metals.
This water conditioner is also meant to keep your fish stress-free. The formula creates a slime substance that will keep their scales healthy; plus, it helps repair any damaged tissue. This is due to the added aloe vera. Beyond that, API Stress Coat can treat up to 7,600 gallons of water if using the five-gallon bucket. The one-ounce can treat up to 60 gallons, and you only need one teaspoon for every ten gallons.
Use this conditioner on new set-ups, water changes, and when adding new fish to the tank. Made in the USA, this formula is meant for freshwater aquariums. The only downside to consider is it’s recommended for tanks with fish only. Outside of that, this is our favorite aquarium water conditioner.
2. Tetra AquaSafe Aquarium Water Conditioner – Best Value
If you are just starting out and need something affordable, try the Tetra AquaSafe Aquarium Water Conditioner. It is available in an 8.45-, 16.9-, and 33.8-ounce bottle with the 16.9 option treating up to 1,000 gallons of water. Made to make tap water safe, you will find this formula promotes beneficial filter bacteria that will help reduce pollution. It also neutralizes chlorine, chloramines, and heavy metals.
Tetra AquaSafe contains seaweed extract that helps create a bacteria bed. It also makes a synthetic slime for your fish to heal wounds and protect them from abrasions. You can also use it in marine aquariums and tropical tanks. It is safe for fish and plants alike.
This formula works in seconds. You need one teaspoon per every 10 gallons of water. You can also use it for new aquariums, adding fish, and changing filters. That being said, this is a better product for changing fish and giving them a stress-free environment. Additionally, it’s not as effective if you have very hard water. Be that as it may, this is the best aquarium water conditioner for the money.
3. Fluval Cycle Biological Booster Water Conditioner – Premium Choice
If you have a high-end set-up, it can be beneficial to spend a bit more on your aquarium supplies. Although it is more expensive, we suggest going with the Fluval Cycle Biological Booster Water Conditioner. This product adds bacteria to the tank that consumes toxic materials like ammonia and nitrates. It’s a great accessory with new tanks, water changes, new fish, and changing filters. Plus, you should add a few drops when an excess of nitrate is detected.
Available in a 4-, 8-, or 16.9-ounce bottle, you will need one tablespoon per 10 gallons of water. Not only do you have to use more product than with the average conditioner, You also have to use it consistently in order to see results. Besides that, the Fluval Cycle is safe for plants and fish. It helps keep your aquatic friends healthy, reduces maintenance, and removes organic debris.
Another bright spot to this slightly more costly formula is it’s not only safe for fish but can be used in tanks with turtles and other aquarium life. It works quickly by metabolizing dangerous fish waste in the water. Overall, it creates a safe and healthy biological environment within your tank.
4. Brightwell Aquatics MicroBacter7 Water Conditioner
The Brightwell Aquatics MicroBacter7 Water Conditioner is a unique formula that creates a biological filtration system that uses microbes and enzymes to clean your tank’s water. You will find it reduces toxins due to excess nitrogen, nitrates, nitrites, phosphates, ammonia, and organic carbon. It can also be used in either fresh or saltwater tanks.
This formula is made in the USA, it comes in a 1-, 2-, 4-, or 20-liter bottle with an additional option of a 125-, 250-, or 50-ml bottle, as well. You will need to use one teaspoon per every 25 gallons of water. While that alone is not bad, it does need to be used weekly, and new aquariums require more product. In addition to that, it doesn’t work instantly.
Brightwell Aquatics is a better fit for new tank set-ups versus water changes or fish transitions. That being said, it provides nutrients for your fish, and it will improve the quality of life for your entire tank. Also, you will need to mix the conditioner with fresh water prior to adding it to the tank. Beyond that, the only other drawback is this formula doesn’t create a slim to protect your fish.
If you need help getting the water quality in your aquarium just right for your goldfish family, or just want to learn more on the subject (and more!), we recommend that you check out our best-selling book, The Truth About Goldfish.
It covers everything from water conditioners to nitrates/nitrites to tank maintenance and full access to our essential fishkeeping medicine cabinet!
5. Seachem Prime Conditioner
A great middle of the road option is the Seachem Prime Conditioner. Okay to use in fresh and marine tanks, this is an immediate and permanent solution to ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, and heavy metals. It also removes chlorine and chloramines by using a biological filter that detoxifies for up to 48 hours. In short, it renders harmful materials non-toxic.
Seachem works for tap water that has typical levels of contaminants. If you have hard water, this might not be the best option, though, it won’t affect the pH levels in your tank. That being said, the formula is better for aquariums with more live plants versus fish. Although it’s made in the USA, it contains hydrosulfite which is toxic to aquatic life.
You can pick this conditioner up in various sized bottles between one-liter and one-gallon. You can treat up to 2.5 gallons of water with 250 milliliters of the formula, plus you only need one teaspoon per 50 gallons of water. Something to keep in mind, however, is the strong smell of sulfur from this product. Not only that, the slime-like substance it creates to protect your fish will spread everywhere; though it doesn’t seem to touch the fish.
6. Brightwell Aquatics Aquatics Reef Water Conditioner
Our sixth option is the Brightwell Aquatics Aquatics Reef Water Conditioner. Like the name suggests, this is a good formula if you have a marine tank with live plants and reefs including corals, clams, and calcareous algae. You should note, it is not effective in freshwater tanks. Be that as it may, this conditioner simplifies calcium and alkalinity maintenance.
Brightwell Aquatics Reef is a carbonate-bearing component of a two-part method. This means you will need to purchase the second part for it to be fully effective. You will find, however, that it’s made without phosphates, silicate, and organic material. Made in the USA, you have to adjust your magnesium concentration prior to use making it a bit more complicated.
This product is for dosing calcium and carbonates in your tank in the same ratio as live seawater. You can pick it up in 1-, 2-, 4-, and 20-ml bottles, or a 250- or 500-ml tub. You should note that this formula is not immediate, and it does give off a strange smell that can take some getting used to. You will also need to use one teaspoon per 25 gallons of water every other day. What’s more, the 250 milliliters tub treats only 1,2500 gallons of water.
7. Aqueon Aquarium Tap Water Conditioner
The Aqueon Aquarium Tap Water Conditioner a 16-ounce formula that can be used on new tanks, changing water, and adding fish to your set-up. It helps your aquatic life stay stress-free by providing a supplement that creates a slime-coat to keep their scales healthy. It can also help them heal from older abrasions, though you should note this is not the right product for Betta fish.
It is important to point out that you will need one teaspoon per ten gallons of water with this conditioner. It also doesn’t work instantly as described, but you will find it’s effective at reducing heavy metals, ammonia, chlorine, and other harmful elements.
Aqueon can be used in fresh and marine aquariums. Interestingly, it’s recommended for smaller “Betta-like” bowls, though the fighting fish are not fans. What’s more, you won’t find your water to be crystal clear, either. You will get a dosing cap that is convenient. Lastly, many customers find that their conditioner comes expired, so that is something to keep in mind.
8. Fritz Aquatics Complete Water Conditioner
The Fritz Aquatics Complete Water Conditioner comes in a 2-, 4-, 8-, or 16-ounce bottle that you can also pick up in a gallon bucket. This is a full-spectrum formula that requires one teaspoon per 50 gallons of water. It instantly detoxifies ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. What it doesn’t protect from is heavy metals. In addition, you also want to stay away from using this in saltwater tanks, though it says you can.
Fritz Aquatics removes chlorine and chloramines in tap water. It won’t alter the pH levels in your aquarium, but it does have a strong smell of sulfur. Not only that, this is not the best formula for changing out fish.
This product is meant to be a one-step nitrogen management cycle, but it has a hard time being fully effective. Also, while the individual dose is good, you will need to add more as it’s needed which makes the eight-ounce bottle only treat a couple of hundred gallons versus the 2,400 as specified.
9. API BETTA WATER CONDITIONER
Our second to last choice is the API BETTA WATER CONDITIONER. This is a 1.7-ounce bottle, though many customers feel that is not correct, and the actual size is smaller. This formula works to neutralize chlorine, chloramines, ammonia, and other chemicals found in your tap water. It is also meant to stop gill destruction, tissue irritation, and fish death. Unfortunately, while it can help your aquatic friends a bit, it’s not as effective at cleaning their water.
This USA-made product creates synthetic slime to protect your fish. That being said, the slime goes everywhere and gunks up your filters and other tank accessories. While it’s formulated with aloe and green tea extract, it’s not the best at reducing inflammation. Due to all of these issues, you are better using this option in new tank set-ups.
API has also had an issue with leaking packaging. More to the point, many bottles come empty. Furthermore, you will need 1 teaspoon per gallon making this an expensive conditioner. Overall, this is it the worst, but definitely not the best formula especially as it takes time to work.
10. Jungle Start Right Complete Water Conditioner
Our final pick is Jungle Start Right Complete Water Conditioner. This product is available in a 2-, 8-, or 16-ounce package. You can also get it in a 1-gallon bottle, as well, for larger set-ups. You should note, however, it takes a lot more than the recommended dose, so there will be an additional cost if you use this formula. That being said, you can use it in fresh or saltwater tanks.
Unfortunately, this is not an effective conditioner for either type of aquarium. It does little to remove toxins, and the added aloe leaves a coating over all your tank’s surfaces. Although it is meant to provide relief from chlorine and chloramines, it doesn’t do a credible job.
This formula also takes hours to work. The aloe that is meant to give a slime-coat to protect your fish has a negative effect. Most aquatic life seems dull and listless after it’s use. Overall, this is our least favorite aquarium water conditioner.
Buyer’s Guide: Selecting The Best Aquarium Water Conditioner
Choosing a water conditioner is largely based on your individual set-up. You should look at factors such as the size of your tank, the type of water you use, and the inhabitants of your aquarium. Beyond that, take a look at a few other options.
When looking for a new water conditioner for your aquarium, there are some things you should keep in mind before you want your purchase.
We hope the reviews have been able to help you pick out the right water conditioner for your fish tank. In our opinion, the API Stress Coat Aquarium Water Conditioner is the best you can buy to eliminate all your tank’s issues. A more affordable option we suggest is the Tetra AquaSafe Aquarium Water Conditioner.