Tetra Aquasafe Aquarium Water Conditioner - A Safe Water Fish Product Review: Can Be Added with Fish Already In the Tank

Dwarf Blue Gourami
Dwarf Blue Gourami | Source

One fact that often gets overlooked by new fishkeepers is that it is perfectly safe to use tap water in an aquarium, provided you use a good water conditioner before adding in fish and again every time you do water changes. Luckily, water conditioners are very easy to use and most, such as Tetra Aquasafe, neutralize potentially harmful chemicals on contact. It's just a tiny investment -- less than $10 even for most large bottles -- and it goes a long way in safeguarding your fish's overall health.

Effective product, low cost and available in virtually every fish store

4 stars for Tetra Aquasafe aquarium water conditioner
Tetra 16268 AquaSafe Water Conditioner with BioExtract, 8.45-Ounce
Tetra 16268 AquaSafe Water Conditioner with BioExtract, 8.45-Ounce

The reviewed product -- this is one easily accessible choice for neutralizing harmful chemicals in tap water. It's comparable to a number of products on the market, and performs an indispensable function in freshwater fishkeeping.


Why do you need aquarium water conditioner?

Water conditioner is designed to neutralize chlorine and chloramines in tap water to make it safe for fish. This does not mean that you don’t have to use water conditioners if you have a well, since many municipal water supplies as well as most ground water may contain potentially harmful heavy metals, which certain water conditioners will also neutralize. It is important to remember that not every water conditioner will neutralize heavy metals that may harm the fish. If you're not sure what a particular product covers, always double-check the label and/or the manufacturer's website.

When shopping for a water conditioner, it is absolutely essential that you find one that does neutralize these metals and for chloramines. While a lot of city water supplies are treated with chlorine, some may have chloramines instead – if this is the case, then something designed to only neutralize chlorine will have no effect. Enter Aquasafe.

Need to know more about water conditioners? This great video and its companions looks at it in detail

Experiences with Aquasafe in a large freshwater hobby operation

My current 19 aquariums require weekly water changes with their current stocking levels and type of livestock. Up until recently, Start Right by Jungle Labs was the only water conditioner I’d use in my tanks because it was the most cost-effective conditioner that still had everything I wanted.

Part of my business is cleaning aquariums for other people, and sometimes when a customer moves they’ll leave me the aquariums and equipment that they were unable to take with them. One of these customers had used Aquasafe on the weeks that I wasn’t vacuuming the gravel in her aquarium, and so had a brand new bottle to give me when she had to give up her fish for just such a move. Since I tend to not be a wasteful person, I put the bottle to use.

What's in Tetra Aquasafe?

Aquasafe contains aloe vera to help promote a health slime coat (the protective barrier that fish have to guard against disease and environmental changes), an ingredient that Start Right didn’t yet have in their product at the time (they do now), and so I fell in love with it immediately. I kept this bottle with my “show aquarium” in the living room, and while the Gouramis that inhabit that tank are pretty tough, I like to pamper them when possible. Because visitors and my young son have access to them, they are exposed to more stressful conditions than the fish in my isolated fish room experience.

What else needs to be done to make a new aquarium safe?

Don’t forget, just because an aquarium has been treated with water conditioner, it does NOT mean that it’s ready for fish. The vast majority of fatalities within an aquarium happen because the owner did not understand how to cycle a tank – in fact, some people don’t even know what cycling is, or that an uncycled tank is essentially incompatible with life. Cycled tanks contain the beneficial bacteria that break down the ammonia and nitrites from fish waste; uncycled tanks should either be kept empty until they can cycle or, if it’s too late for that, frequent water changes must be done to keep ammonia levels low until it cycles.

This illustration of the nitrogen cycle helps explain what's happening when you cycle an aquarium.
This illustration of the nitrogen cycle helps explain what's happening when you cycle an aquarium. | Source

Things that are harmful to fish are also harmful to essential bacteria, so be sure to add water conditioner before attempting to cycle the tank. When doing partial water changes (part of routine aquarium maintenance, it keeps nitrates down to a safe level), you need only add enough conditioner in for the new water, not the entire tank’s capacity. It is perfectly safe to use this in the tank while fish are in there, and in fact it’s far less stressful to the fish if you simply leave them in the tank during partial water changes and exercise a little caution to keep from accidentally sucking them into the vacuum.

Approximate price and availability of Tetra Aquasafe

Aquasafe is available in both 3.3 ounce and 8.4 ounce bottles, and is generally offered in pet stores and large department stores that have a pet section. The 8.4oz bottle treats about 500 gallons, and I pay just under $6.00 for the bottle. While I have not seen any evidence that Aquasafe is superior to Start Right, but they are similarly-priced and both do a great job for routine aquarium maintenance. For higher-quality conditioners, aquatic professionals often prefer Stress Coat and Seachem Prime, though their price reflects that reputation. Aquasafe will get the job done within a reasonable budget, and it does do what the manufacturers claim it will do.

Prefer an alternative to Aquasafe? Here's my other favorite

Jungle NL064-16W Start Right Complete Water Conditioner Liquid With Aloe Vera, 16-Ounce, 473-ml
Jungle NL064-16W Start Right Complete Water Conditioner Liquid With Aloe Vera, 16-Ounce, 473-ml

Jungle Start Right was my favorite water conditioner long before I'd ever tried Tetra Aquasafe. While both are good products, I do tend to gravitate to this one when I'm buying more conditioner. Follow this link for four different size options.


Note: While this product is approved for both freshwater and saltwater fish, my comments are only applicable to its use with freshwater fish. I don’t have experience with saltwater fish, and will leave a saltwater-related review up to someone who knows them better.

I hope this hub has been helpful. Please feel free to leave a comment with your own experience with this or similar products, or any questions you may have about products for freshwater fish. There are more reviews in my other hubs, as well as a number of beginner aquarium tutorials and fish profiles.

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