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The Importance Of Aging Water


Sand

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Water from the tap is pressurized.

There are gases in your water, Oxygen and Nitrogen.

The Nitrogen (gas)concentration in the tap water (under pressure with no oxygen contact) takes awhile to come out of solution and for oxygen levels to even out. This is one of the reasons we age our water, not only to disipate chlorine.

If you don't let the Nitrogen come out of solution your fish could get the equivalant of the bends.

Nitrogen gas can kill your fish. Gas bubble trauma results when supersaturated gases dissolve into the tissues of the fish, and form bubbles as they come out of solution (when they are no longer under pressure) (my fellow SCUBA divers will know what I'm talking about) The bubbles restrict circulation blocking oxygen supply to the tissues. In shallow tanks, the depth of the overlying water is not sufficient to create enough pressure to keep the gases in solution. It can damage their gills and other tissues leading to an early death or an unhealthy life.

I think I'll just age my water...

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great question. i don't know. a small amout of extra Nitrogen shouldn't harm the fish tissues, HOWEVER, the reason i even brought it up was a lot of us Goldfish keepers do 50 % water changes. That with the Python, sort of concerns me....

I have no problem throwing in a few gallons unaged, in my huge tanks. It's the 50 % thing that nags at me.

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i've never said anything but 50% always hit me as a tad much. i'm a 1/4 man myself. the water i use is treated tap. first the dechlorinator. then the conditioner. then the salt. then i let it relax in a container. the fish in the pond get similar treatment but they get 5 gals poured on their heads every day or two.

it is just hard to swallow, the whole nitrogen thing. while i'm just returning to the hobby, i was never without my 20gal high tank through college and into single working life. i never experienced a problem that looked like the bends.

it will be interesting following this thread. keep us up on it if you would Sand.

regards

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Yes, it's true that tap water is delivered under pressure.

It's also true that the concentration of the dissolved gases in this pressurized tap water are at the same proportion as the water would be at sea level.

It's also true that cold water can hold a higher percentage of dissolved gases than warm water.

When pressurized tap water returns to atmospheric pressure (coming out of the tap) the gases dissolved in the water stay dissolved in the water at exactly the same concentration as they were when the water was under pressure.

Gas Bubble Disease happens when fish are subjected to water, that has had the percentages of gases, altered in some way other than just pressure. (Such as a intake pipe of a pump sucking in air or very cold water is added to warm water).

Under this scenario, the water becomes super saturated with higher partial pressure dissolved gases during pumping. When this water enters the tank, the reduction of pressure will allow the excess gases to dissipate into the atmosphere. But if a fish breathes this water before the gases dissipate THEN the gases can form bubbles in the fish's blood.

The same is true if very cold water is added to the tank. In this case, the cold water contains gases at a higher concentration than the warm water, and if a fish breathes the cold water excess gas can be released into it's blood stream.

So... We don't have to worry about our fish getting Gas Bubble Disease from water changes as long as the water is temperature matched with the tank water.

But... Do be careful and make sure none of your pumps are sucking air.

Rick

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Here is information from Zoologist Kevin Zippel, Ph.D

"In most regions, simply aging and aerating tap water for 24 hours will be all that is required to condition it. This treatment will drive off harmful gases (carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrogen sulfide) and bring desired gases (oxygen) into equilibrium. Chlorine/Chloramine Chloramine is replacing chlorine as a tap water disinfectant in many parts of the country, as the former tends to be more stable in solution, but it is doubly problematic for the aquazoologist. Chloramine breaks down gradually to produce chlorine and ammonia, both of which are highly toxic and must be removed. One must find out which chemical the local water municipality uses and treat the water accordingly. Ammonia in the water-aging tank is probably best treated with chemical conditioners, such as zeolite or AmQuel?, with proper testing before use. Biofilters, although ideal for removing ammonia from an established aquarium (see discussion of biological filtration below), would be susceptible to any chlorine or gas supersaturation in the aging tank

Dissolved oxygen

DO is important for fish.

Water from the tap has typically not been exposed to air for some time and the DO can be dangerously low. As with dechlorination, the simplest treatment is aging and aeration, and a day is generally sufficient to bring gas concentrations back to normal.

Inside the aquarium, DO is consumed by the animals, the plants, and the bacteria in the biological filter. It is generally not necessary to monitor DO, but one should take certain measures to ensure that it remains at sufficient levels.

Gas supersaturation

Tap water can be supersaturated with dissolved gases (especially nitrogen and carbon dioxide, but sometimes even oxygen), which when exposed to aquatic animals, can cause gas-bubble disease, a condition similar to the bends in divers. Supersaturation is generally problematic only in the winter when the water is especially cold and capable of holding even more gas. This condition is exacerbated when incoming water is pressurized from being pumped. The only treatment for supersaturation is time, which can be lessened with vigorous aeration to drive out the dissolved gasses (a process called off-gassing or degassing) and the application of heat. Aerating water to remove gas might seem counterintuitive, but remember that the water is supersaturated from being under pressure, and aeration at atmospheric pressure will bring the water back to equilibrium with normal air. Heating the water to room temperature will lower its ability to hold dissolved gases. Anyone who has allowed a tankfull of cold tap water to heat-up and observed the formation of tiny air bubbles on the glass is familiar with this process. Similarly, water heated for boiling first relinquishes its dissolved gas as tiny bubbles on the vessel walls before reaching a roiling boil."

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I found a lot of information while reading up on fisheries and how they take care of their water. I'm also a SCUBA diver, so the whole saturated gases thing I'm very familiar with.

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From the web:

>Which leads me to revisit the question of water changes from the tap... is 'gas bubble disease' a rare problem, or a common problem? If it happens, does the fish death tend to be immediate (in other words, will I know if it happens in a tank) or does death result from incremental damage? Is it enough of a problem to merit throwing away the Python in favor of ye olde buckets?

I wouldn't have tanks if if I had to change water with buckets!!!

You can still use your Python. But particularly in cold weather, it is better to do smaller changes more often than large ones less often. If you find that you have a particularly bad problem with it, get one of those plastic sprayer diffusers used for watering the lawn, and use that to "sprinkle" the new water into the tank. Unlike chlorine, chloramine and normal levels of other gasses in the water, the supersaturated gasses come out of solution quite quickly, which is why they can form damaging bubbles inside the fish. The more you can aerate the water on the way into the tank, the closer the water will be to equilibrium with atmospheric gasses.

If, right after you do a water change, you see bubbles forming on the glass, it's a good sign that the gas level in the water is pretty high. In severe cases, the fish will look very distressed immediately, although the exopthalmia is likely to show up a day or two later. But if you get a lot of bubbles on the glass, I'd be concerned even if the fish don't show immediate signs of distress. This is a mechanical type of damage to the tissue, and I think it's very likely that it _could_ be cumulative.

AND

GAS BUBBLE DISEASE

SYMPTOM: bubbles under the skin anywhere, but usually in the fins.

Gas bubble disease happens when the water is full of supersaturated gases. The fish swim into the area where the water is saturated (usually with nitrogen) and takes the gas up across the gills.

It is most often seen when water from deep wells is run directly into ponds or tanks. In the deep well, the water is colder (more gas is dissolved) and under pressure (more gas is dissolved). In tanks, the fine bubbles are seen on the tank walls and everything else and is obvious.

In ponds, a small leak in big pumps that suck air into the stream of water an also create supersaturated conditions, as can swimming pool type sand filters.

Inside, aging water with an airstone degasses well water. For ponds, spraying the water into the air or using degassing columns (running the water over lava rock in a PVC pipe).

From my web search it seems as though any problem with supersaturated gases is quick to spot (bubbles on the side of the tank), and can be prevented by most fish keepers if you do water changes with water of equal temperature. If you have a well, do smaller water changes and make sure you have good aeration in your tanks. Personally the only time I have ever seen bubbles on the side of my tank was when I used the python for the first initial fill up, I filled it with cold water. In a day all the bubbles had gone, which is another good reason for letting the tank sit at least 24 hrs before you add fishies. So I wholeheartedly agree with Rick (Bak2it)

Cheers!

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this is very interesting information. gives us the advantage of caution to ensure the better results we are working toward in our hobby. i always wondered where those bubbles on the side of the glass came from on my initial fills. thanks for all of the great information.

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  • 5 years later...
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yes and the bubbles on the side of the tank LOOK good, hahaha, too bad it's not a good sign!

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I noticed these bubbles whilst filling up a tank today. No fish in it yet, just to test out the stand and check to see that all is level.

How long does the water need to sit so that it's safe? Is there an easy way to fill a tank via bucket AND avoid the bubbles?

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when i fill the bucket or if i use a python, i make sure i do it SLOWLY so the air hits the water, and if i use the python i make sure the small and slow stream hits the side of the tank and slides down into the tank instead of filling from below the water line. the water from my tap is always really warm because i am in florida, so i really have to make sure that i do it slowly. and your can airate it out with a bubbler or have the filter running while filling the tank.

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Me I have a sponge on the end of my python, this keeps the fish from going in the hose and also diffuses the water coming out :)

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Me I have a sponge on the end of my python, this keeps the fish from going in the hose and also diffuses the water coming out :)

I do that now too Koko, thank you for that tip! You should make a tip of the month entry! :P

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