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Chemical pushers?


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Went to my local petsmart and it seems every time I go with an issue the try and sell me some sort of chemical that will magically solve my issue. Had my water tested at the store and I had high ammonia I said ok I'll do a water change he says no don't do that use this chemical it will take about a week your fish will be fine!! I thought the right thing to do was do a big water change am I wrong?

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Water is (almost) free and chemicals expensive. The pet store doesn't make any money off water changes. You do have to use a chemical like Prime when you change the water but... you are correct, water changes (balancing temp, PH and adding treatment) are the way to go.

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  • Regular Member

Went to my local petsmart and it seems every time I go with an issue the try and sell me some sort of chemical that will magically solve my issue. Had my water tested at the store and I had high ammonia I said ok I'll do a water change he says no don't do that use this chemical it will take about a week your fish will be fine!! I thought the right thing to do was do a big water change am I wrong?

Pet stores are unfortunately notorious for giving bad advice either because they just don't know any better and are trying to help, or are trying to sell you something.

You need to do a water change if your ammonia is high ;) there is no getting around this. Products that remove the ammonia from the water actually have the potential to starve your cycle because they suck up the ammonia that could be used by the beneficial bacteria in your filter.

If I may suggest a couple things since it sounds like you have a new tank that you are in the process of cycling:

- Get your own test kit - this will help you to monitor your own water while you are cycling and is important to have even after your tank is cycled. A test kit is a 'must have' for anyone that owns an aquarium :) Get the API master test kit - it is a little more expensive than the strips you will see but will last you much longer (so you save money in the long run) and these drop test kits tend to be a bit more accurate than the strips.

- If you are not already using switch to Seachem Prime water conditioner - this conditioner will detoxify ammonia for 24-48 hours, but keeps it in a form that can still be used by your beneficial bacteria, so using it at every water change can help keep the water safe for your fish while you are cycling. You can actually allow ammonia and nitrite to rise a bit higher by using this product.

Once you have a test kit you can check your ammonia and nitrite daily, if ammonia and nitrite are less than 1 ppm together, then add a double dose of Prime that day. If ammonia and nitrite are greater than or equal to 1 ppm, do a big water change to bring these back down to 0, and add another double dose Prime.

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That's just how it goes. People at pet stores want (HAVE) to try to sell you something. That is one of the main reasons why these darn fish bowls exist, because it is easier to sell a 1 gallon bowl for $ 10 than a 55g for $ 200 (although as you see, the 55g is in comparison significantly cheaper).

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Pet stores tend to push products for a few different reasons, and the most common reason is to make money. It is also very common that the pet store employee is undereducated in proper fish care themselves or just has poor judgement, which leads to false advice. The only thing you NEED to add to your water is a quality dechlorinator like Seachem Prime, which removes chlorine, chloramines, toxins, and heavy metals. Other things that might be beneficial to add (depending on your water parameters and setup) are buffers to stabilize your PH, or fertilizers if you have any live plants. Things like algaecide or ammonia removers should never be used, since these are notorious for causing negative side-effects with fish.

Edited by Ms.Jenny
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Why do they push chemicals? To sell product and get an income.

You aren't required to care or know about fishkeeping in order to sell the products. This is the truth for almost any type of store selling anything involved with hobbies. Being an informed customer allows you to only buy what is necessary for your hobby and to avoid things that may harm it. You also did the prudent thing of double checking their advice with the info on kokos. :)

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If you think the pet store is bad, you need to go to a pond store. There are lots of things you might need for your pond -- liners, tubing, water pumps, air pumps, filters, filter media, hard-to-find plumbing fittings, large size bottles of dechlorinators, medications, fish food, etc. All of this stuff together accounts for about 1/4 of what is on display, and whatever you need is probably not there. The rest of the shelves are filled with "miracle" chemicals and "bacterial preparations" that will: cycle your pond, digest sludge, kill string algae, clear green water, clarify your water, balance pH, relieve stress, control mosquitoes, fix the ecosystem, prepare for winter, remove foam, color your water, remove color from your water, and so many more. Look here for a sampling. Mind you there are many brands of each of these.

The only chemical you need for a pond is dechlorinater. Cycling a pond is as simple as setting up your filter putting in declorinated water and adding one or two fish per week (depending on the size of the fish and the pond) until your come to your senses and reallize you don't need more fish. You can test if you want, but the pond will be cycled in a month without ever developing harmful levels of ammonia or nitrate as long as you add the fish very slowly.

Believe me, the sales person will assure you that you need at least $200 worth of pond chemicals for your 100 gallon pond, and these things are so expensive that you can carry that to your car in one trip. There's big profit here, and since these products need to be added at least once a week, you will have to keep buying more. Every new problem that develops in your pond will require a new product. Curiously enough, the more products you add, the more new problems arise.

I wish I was exaggerating, but I'm not.

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Think of it as if they were selling dieting and exercise products. People are willing to pay for an easy miracle -- they don't want to hear things that involve work (and the stores don't make money from your hard work). It's the same principle. :(

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