Pros: easy to use, removes dangerous ammonia from freshwater tanks
Cons: messy, directions not necessarily optimal for all aquariums
One of the biggest threats to keeping tropical fish is ammonia. How does ammonia get into a fish tank? It's in water naturally from the breakdown of organic particles. This is the reason when setting up a new aquarium it's important to let the water be filter for at the very least a few days before adding any fish. It also comes from fish waste in an established tank as well as uneaten food and plants breaking down. Fish waste products also contribute to the ammonia levels in a tank.
One way to prevent ammonia levels from spiking and killing fish is frequent partial water changes. I perform water changes about every two to three weeks. The other is to use a filtering medium that removes ammonia from the water as it's filtered. With my AquaClear Aquarium Power Filter, the filtering medium is in a basket that allows for three stages of filtration, one of them being an Ammonia Remover Insert. This insert is designed for freshwater aquariums only and should not be used in a salt water aquarium.
You'll know what this looks like immediately. The AquaClear Ammonia Remover Insert is a white ammonia removing resin that looks like little white pebbles but can be powdery at times. I usually find the white powder sneaking out of the box and making a mess, so it's not something you want to throw around in the box. Keep it stored in a safe place away from other animals. It also needs to be rinsed thoroughly before being placed in the filter basket as you don't want that powder ending up in the aquarium. I usually rinse it well under tap water and put it in the basket. I don't use any aquarium water on this as its water I am discarding and I don't want to waste any of the ammonia removing properties on water I am just going to toss anyway.
The AquaClear Ammonia Remover Insert absorbs ammonia, so at the end of its life it needs to be tossed. It can't just be rinsed off and continued to be used. This will need to be replaced every month, just like the AquaClear Activated Carbon Filter Insert. The directions state to put this at the second level of filtration, but I've found that it works just as well whether it's the third stage on top of all of the other filtering mediums in the basket or sandwiched between the foam insert and the activated carbon. It also states that changing the filtering mediums should be staggered, but I've usually changed them at the same time. When I staggered them it seemed like it was stressing other parts of the filtering medium that weren't being changed. I just add a bit of StressZyme to the tank when I do this and it helps to redevelop the biological filter.
This is the first filtering system I've had that uses an ammonia remover and so far I am very impressed. I have noticed a huge different in the health of my tank as I am not losing fish as frequently as I have in the past. For my 40-70 gallon filter, these packs cost about $4.50 each and contain about 12 ounces of the resin. Its easy to fit into the basket whether you choose to put it in the top or the middle of the filtering medium. After using this, I wouldn't try to maintain an aquarium without and ammonia remover. The way this particular system from AquaClear is set up its easy to make the change with a minimal amount of work, hassle, and mess.
© 2010 Patti Aliventi