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!divider3 goldfish bowl

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
API Stress Coat Aquarium Water Conditioner API Stress Coat Aquarium Water Conditioner
  • Contains soothing aloe vera
  • Works quickly
  • Long lasting
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Tetra AquaSafe Aquarium Water Conditioner Tetra AquaSafe Aquarium Water Conditioner
  • Seaweed extract
  • Promotes beneficial bacteria
  • Works in seconds
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Fluval Cycle Biological Booster Water Conditioner Fluval Cycle Biological Booster Water Conditioner
  • Safe for fish, plants, and turtles
  • Adds beneficial bacteria
  • Reduces maintenance
  • Brightwell Aquatics MicroBacter7 Water Conditioner Brightwell Aquatics MicroBacter7 Water Conditioner
  • Reduces toxins
  • Improves water quality
  • Provides nutrients to fish and tank
  • Seachem Prime Conditioner Seachem Prime Conditioner
  • Fresh and saltwater tanks
  • Detoxifies for up to 48 hours
  • Good product distribution
  • The 10 Best Aquarium Water Conditioners – Reviews 2021

    1. API Stress Coat Aquarium Water Conditioner– Best OverallAPI Stress Coat Aquarium Water Conditioner

     

    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.

    Pros
    • Effective at eliminating chemicals and toxins
    • Contains soothing aloe vera
    • Works quickly
    • Long lasting
    • Treats a lot of water
    • Creates slime
    Cons
    • Tanks with fish only

    2. Tetra AquaSafe Aquarium Water Conditioner– Best ValueTetra AquaSafe Plus Freshwater

     

    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.

    Pros
    • Seaweed extract
    • Promotes beneficial bacteria
    • Safe from fresh and marine tanks
    • Works in seconds
    • Requires little product
    Cons
    • Not recommended for hard water
    • Better for transitioning fish

    3. Fluval Cycle Biological Booster Water Conditioner– Premium ChoiceFluval Cycle Biological Booster

     

    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 ten 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.

    Pros
    • Safe for fish, plants, and turtles
    • Metabolizes fish waste
    • Adds beneficial bacteria
    • Works quickly
    • Reduces maintenance
    Cons
    • Requires more product
    • More expensive than the average

    4. Brightwell Aquatics MicroBacter7 Water ConditionerBrightwell Aquatics

     

    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.

    Pros
    • Cretes biological filtration
    • Provides nutrients to fish and tank
    • Can be used in fresh and saltwater tanks
    • Reduces toxins
    • Improves water quality
    Cons
    • Requires a lot of product
    • Better in new set-ups
    • Doesn’t create slime coating

    5. Seachem Prime ConditionerSeachem Prime Fresh and Saltwater 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 ml 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.

    Pros
    • Immediately and permanently removes toxins
    • Fresh and saltwater tanks
    • Detoxifies for up to 48 hours
    • Good product distribution
    Cons
    • Slime-coat gets everywhere
    • Contains hydrosulfite
    • Strong sulfur smell

    6. Brightwell Aquatics Aquatics Reef Water ConditionerBrightwell Aquatics ABARCA500

     

    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 bottle, 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 ml tun treats only 1,2500 gallons of water.

    Pros
    • Safe for marine tanks with live plants and reefs
    • Simplifies calcium and lowers maintenance
    • Made without harmful ingredients
    • Creates environment as close to sea water as possible
    Cons
    • Requires second method product
    • Has a strange smell
    • Requires a lot of product
    • Doesn’t work immediately

    7. Aqueon Aquarium Tap Water ConditionerAqueon 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.

    Pros
    • Removes harmful toxins from water
    • Use with new, changing, or new fish tanks
    • Can be used with fresh or saltwater
    Cons
    • Not recommended for Betta bowls
    • Doesn’t fully clean water
    • Requires a lot of product
    • Most bottles are expired

    8. Fritz Aquatics Complete Water ConditionerFritz Aquatics

     

    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 hundred gallons versus the 2,400 as specified.

    Pros
    • Full-spectrum water conditioner
    • Instantly detoxifies
    • One-step nitrogen management cycle
    Cons
    • Doesn’t fully clean water
    • Not recommended for salt water
    • Better without new fish
    • Strong sulfur smell
    • Requires a lot of product

    9. API BETTA WATER CONDITIONERAPI 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 one 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.

    Pros
    • Contains aloe and green tea extract
    • Neutralizes toxins
    Cons
    • Not effective at cleaning water
    • Bottles come damaged
    • Requires lot of product
    • Slime gets everywhere
    • Doesn’t work instantly

    10. Jungle Start Right Complete Water ConditionerJungle NL075W Start Right Complete

     

    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.

    Pros
    • Contains aloe
    Cons
    • Not effective at removing toxins
    • Takes a long time to work
    • Requires a lot of product
    • Leaves a residue
    • Fish don’t seem to like it

    Buyer’s Guide

    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.

    Shopping Tips

    When looking for a new water conditioner for your aquarium, there are some things you should keep in mind before you want your purchase.

    Take a look at these factors to consider:
    • Fresh or Saltwater: As you may have noticed, many of our picks are for both fresh and saltwater aquariums. That being said, you are usually better off finding a formula that is designed to treat your individual tank. They typically have specific functions, so you will get the best care for your fish, plants, and other aquatic life.
    • Neutralizing Toxins: Whether you need to reduce chlorine, nitrates, or other bacteria, it’s important to find a formula that will focus on these harmful substances. Be sure to also check your water’s chemistry to ensure you are treating all the issues.
    • Use of Product: When looking at bottles of water conditioner, you want to look at the instructions. This will give you the amount of product you need to clean your tank. For example, the average is about one teaspoon per 10 to 50 gallons. Besides that, though, it’s important to check how often it needs to be used, plus total gallons of water treated per bottle.
    • Fish Care: One of the most important functions of your conditioner is to soothe your fish. They typically have extra ingredients such as aloe or green tea extra. These ingredients create a slime-like coat for your fish that heals their woods and keeps them from sustaining new abrasions.
    • Ease of Use: This comes down to two things. How fast the product works, and the scenario in which you can use it. In the latter’s case, the general purpose for using the product is when you have a new tank, you are changing out the water, or you’re introducing new fish. In the former, look for products that work instantaneously.
    • Overall Purpose: Although this goes back to the second point, you want to ensure you’re buying a water conditioner that will take care of all your aquarium’s needs. This can include nitrates, nitrites, chlorine, chloramines, ammonia, and heavy metals. While there are other issues to prevent and treat, these are the main issues your tank could face.

    Conclusion

    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.


    Featured image credit: Pexels