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What is "aged" aquarium water ?

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What is "aged" aquarium water ?

Post by alexmtl on Mon Jan 04, 2016 6:56 pm

What is "aged" aquarium water ?

You may have been told by some to use "aged" aquarium water. Or that the best conditions for your fish will exist if you use "aged" water. What is "aged" aquarium water ?

"Aged" aquarium water is probably a misnomer and a throwback to the less sophisticated times when there was scant knowledge of pH, hardness, nitrogen let alone chloramine. I can only surmise that back in the 1970s (maybe GaryE could remember...) aged water meant holding tap water for 24 to 48 hours in order for the chlorine gas to dissipate.

For those into breeding "aged" water probably speaks to conditioning water in order to match hardness or pH. I used to use two large plastic garbage cans to condition my water. (One can was for Africans that I investment so heavily each week with store bought African calcium and salts). This was usually more than 24 hours as I felt it needed to "age" at least several days to dissolve the salts.

Early in my experience, aged water was healthy smell of a well running tank. Some may say that using this stable water to start a new tank what a necessary step in a new setup. "Aged" water is old established water from a long running aquarium, to some.

What is "aged" water ? Does it still have the same meaning today ?
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Re: What is "aged" aquarium water ?

Post by GaryE on Tue Jan 05, 2016 4:21 am

When I first started with aquariums as a kid, we moved a lot. The advice I got from older aquarists was to bring my water in jugs. As unchanged water sat in aquariums (overcrowded) it was supposed to develop what now seem to be magical properties.
Pale urine coloured water was in - it wasn't tannins. You were never supposed to change water. Water changes were said to kill fish.
It sure made fish smaller.

I see these myths coming back - people on other forums suggesting the cycle can be started by collecting jugs of water from old tanks, and a reliance on used, dirty water. It's been coming back as an idea for a couple of years now. It has zero merit, but is trendy.
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Re: What is "aged" aquarium water ?

Post by alexmtl on Tue Jan 05, 2016 6:18 am

@GaryE wrote:I see these myths coming back - people on other forums suggesting the cycle can be started by collecting jugs of water from old tanks, and a reliance on used, dirty water. It's been coming back as an idea for a couple of years now. It has zero merit, but is trendy.

I agree with GaryE. It is a misconception that nitrogen bacteria (or whatever) are held in "aged" water. The bacteria/archaea have been proven to exist in substrate and surfaces like plants. If the rationale for using aged water is to accelerate nitrogen cycling, then this is an incorrect practice. It is better to move plants and old gravel, probably even better to add filter media, to initiate nitrification.
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Re: What is "aged" aquarium water ?

Post by Sbenson11 on Tue Jan 05, 2016 12:27 pm

It's unfortunately common advise at the retail level and as mentioned it's totally incorrect if done to speed the cycling process. I move water when transferring my fish from outside to inside for the winter but only because of the huge temperature difference.

Nitrifying bacteria cling to hard surfaces, filter media, plants, etc. Better to move these to help the process along.

Steve
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Re: What is "aged" aquarium water ?

Post by Fores41 on Wed Jan 06, 2016 9:31 am

To bad that myth of old water is still hanging around a person may need to add a little old water when Tran sphering fish from tank to tank etc but better not to if possible. The clean water is just so much healthier for them.
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Re: What is "aged" aquarium water ?

Post by GaryE on Wed Jan 06, 2016 2:57 pm

There's something really weird in our hobby. When you go to big US chain stores, they usually have all the same fish in all the same tanks. Fair enough, bulk purchasing. But when you look, it's like the wishlist from an Axelrod aquarium book published in 1968. All the smaller, gentler, more pleasant to keep species aren't there, just the fish better stores replaced around 1990. It's a time capsule for bad choices.
Then you listen to the clerks, and the advice is something out of an Axelrod book in 1968....
I sometimes wonder if there are a bunch of 80 year old gurus doing management training down there, after not having read a book or kept a tank since they were young.
It's a bizarre and unpleasant time warp out there sometimes.
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Re: What is "aged" aquarium water ?

Post by hello_rockview12 on Wed Jan 06, 2016 3:33 pm

Also, I find that when you tell people to do more water changes to fix their problems that they'd rather BUY some sort of drops or magical solution (melafix etc.). I guess buying products is more sexy than the manual efforts associated with water changes. However, if you use the analogy that I stole from Gary "in nature fish get 100% water changes constantly" people seem to clue in that it makes sense.
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Re: What is "aged" aquarium water ?

Post by GaryE on Wed Jan 06, 2016 4:48 pm

The miracle drop approach is out there, as is the over-reliance on test kits. I don't deny they are useful, but I think test kit mania ties into changes in filter design. Replaceable slot type filters came in a few years back, to replace the old bio-media options that could be rinsed, and not replaced for years and years. The slots weren't improved technology, they were a huge step backward created for increased profit. They were great for increasing ammonia on a periodic basis, and they bring in steady income after the initial sale.
They mean that every time a hobbyist replaces the slot piece, they kill their filter. So part of the marketing brings back the idea of the cycled tank and old water (not the reality - the cycled filter).
Maybe. I could be too cynical.
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Re: What is "aged" aquarium water ?

Post by alexmtl on Wed Jan 06, 2016 5:55 pm

I completely agree with GaryE's observations.

I guess the aquarium trade has to find ways to increase revenue. For filters, the razor and razor-blade model looked like an attractive way to keep the purchaser buying more and increase the revenue from buying a single filter, with the perpetual replacement of the slot cartridge.

I find the same problem with ink jet printers. The cost of the printer device is minimal compared to the lifetime purchase revenue of the cartridges. I guess everyone has the same issue.

Is there an issue with the consumer wanting to keep buying ? For the casual aquarium keeper they want the quick fix, low time investment, make it better fast approach. For those who remain in the hobby we find the workarounds. Forums are full of home made remedies to reduce and reuse components that were meant to be replaced.

How does the aquarium trade keep old devices looking fresh and new ? They reinvent them but essentially they are the same. Sponge filters have been re designed to look cool, unlike the old style triangle. Air driven box filters have been relegated to the back of the shelves trading places with the new HOB filters. What ever happened to the air driven HOB filters that were so dominant in the 1980s ? I loved them and they were so functional. In fact they were mini refugiums. Now, there is a great new marketing pyramid idea. Call them "integrated biologic water stabilizers". Put a chamber where you populate the space with crustaceans and snails and you have a pretty cool filter that you can add accessories to. I'd sell it for $35 and add a line of accessories, colour coded of course.  

Has the trade increased in technology over the years ? I think yes and for the better. The advent of UV filters, high efficiency power filters, external filters are all great additions to the hobbyist armamentarium. Do we need them for every single situation, probably not. But here is the key : If you understand the mechanics of the situation you can find a cheaper and more efficient alternative. A specific tool will never be a swiss army multi-functional tool ideal for every situation. That is the beauty of the appliances available : we have more available to suit what we are seeking to achieve.

The miracle drop approach. Once again, do we need a magic drop out of a $19.99 glossy labelled bottle ? Maybe to attract the neophyte and get them interested, and that may just fuel the pool of aquarists. Do stores want to tell the casual fish buyer that they have to invest 30 minutes to do a messy water change, probably not. It is just not glamourous.

"Aged" water seems almost romantic. It seems like an inner spirit that has been carefully incanted into a ecologically and harmoniously stable world, can be magically infused into a new aquarium. Heck, I love the idea but it has no merit. But it sure makes a great campfire tale.
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Re: What is "aged" aquarium water ?

Post by GaryE on Wed Jan 06, 2016 8:25 pm

Campfire tale? Alex, everytime I go camping, it seems that ancient water falls on my campfire.

Speaking as a guy with a central airpump to run primitive filters, I actually love the possibilities aquarium technology offers us. I have a box of equipment I don't always use, but that comes in very handy for various odd projects.

I think manufacturing, quality standards are dropping, but that's across the board. It's not just for fish. We talk ecological and manufacture for landfills. That, I don't like. But we also have useful, clever toys.

You get rich on Integrated Biologic Water Stabilizers - I'm going to retire on Homeopathic Herbal Snakehead Nectar, and Essence of Ancient Water. See you in Vegas!
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Re: What is "aged" aquarium water ?

Post by alexmtl on Wed Jan 06, 2016 9:07 pm

@GaryE wrote:I'm going to retire on Homeopathic Herbal Snakehead Nectar, and Essence of Ancient Water. See you in Vegas!

I think we could sell that. Some guy actually bought a drug and charged 5000% why can't we ?

If this was a large manufacturer sponsored forum, we would talking about the benefits and the innovation in the latest gizmo. Youtube has propagated a culture whereby a poster can make millions in sponsorship and product endorsements. Many of us who grew up in the 60s and 70s were so wary of advertising on television. Then it was telemarketing and late night advertising and an interesting fad in advertorials. Well still have them in today's digital culture. How many Youtube videos declare bias or conflict of interest ?

I think "aged" water can have a Youtube spin to it. Imagine the local aquarium shop, an old guy with algae covered tanks, selling his water and filter media to new aquarists through his (or her's) videos. Why not ? When you think of aged water, what has caused it to age ? The milieu of bacteria and ecology of micro blobs which make a special concoction.

Beer has been cultured for over five thousand years. I apparently has its origins in the Middle East in the agrarian cultures who harvested wheat. As the fermentation experimentation began the ancients brewers has no concept of the magical spirit which create the perfect taste. With the introduction of various other grains like hops and barley, the taste became more complex and the brews matured. What is now known as brewer's yeast and the specific and guarded forms of saccharomyces became the secret to coveted brews. Monks in the northern hemisphere and the church controlled and empire with liquid currency. Continents were built upon the supply of beer (as the only source of potable liquid) in colonies which depended upon the certainty of a drinkable water source.

Why not aged water ? Why not filter media ? What is the optimum mixture of bacteria and nitrogen archaea ideal to a stable aquarium ?

Next week I am going to GaryE's house and secretly collecting samples of his filter media. The "aged" water is a product of his special brew.

After decades of aquarium keeping, GaryE probably has an optimal mix of nitrofiers which replicates his success in just about any species. His aged water is the end product of failures and successes, parasites and TB and ich (probably a resistant strain) and the bacteria that has multiplied from all coughing and spewing from his colds and flus. In general if the ancient brewers had perfected and crafted by their art a domesticated strain of saccaromyces (a fungus yeast just to satisfy the mycologists, and not a bacteria) why not nitrofiers. With todays technology we can genetically fingerprint the DNA of GaryE's success. His Homeopathic Herbal Snakehead Nectar and Essence of Ancient Water.

What makes aged water special ? If this were a Youtube video, I would add some suspense and ask you to "like" and subscribe.

If you have read this you are probably thinking what have I been smoking ? But is you think about the relationship of "aged" water as the end product of the sum of component practices, technology and history of the successful aquarists, why not think a special elixir imprinted by the aquarist as their special and archival, magic potion.

We came to a conclusion earlier that aged water was malarky. If you have a philosophy that your aquarium is an end result of your actions coupled with the belief that water is the end product of your filtration system, then there may be such a nectar from heaven.

Heady stuff. But then I do believe that we have missed out on the ecology and understanding of what makes aquariums truly successful. As a lesson from history may show, we should not deny the possibility that we have a secret sauce in our own witches brew. How many times have we denied the possibility beyond our current understanding. Perhaps our success is dictated by water akin to wine, cheese, or beer. Beer is of course, aged water.
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Re: What is "aged" aquarium water ?

Post by GaryE on Thu Jan 07, 2016 4:22 am

I do know the secret of aged water. I guess it's time to confess.

You take an aquarium and water, and start reading. Start discussing, and exchanging here. The secret lies in knowledge, learning and trying things that may or may not work. Most of what you learn has no practical application, but once you open your mind to learning about fish, evolution, biogeography and all the other tangents (chemistry for some, genetics for others) you'll get aged water, because those tanks will be around for a long time. You just can't ever get finished learning if you let yourself start.

The search for knowledge is the secret ingredient for aged water. You can be like Alex, with a background in science, or like me, with a background in, uhh, old water. It doesn't matter - this is a great hobby if you keep asking why and accept you'll never exactly know, but that when you start, you never know what you will get to know. You know?
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Re: What is "aged" aquarium water ?

Post by Sbenson11 on Thu Jan 07, 2016 9:40 am

Well I will ask "Alex what have you been smoking" Smile

It is my opinion that at least 80% of the aquarium products on the market today are snake oils. They do little else other then suck up you money and accelerate your failure. If knowledge is learning by your mistakes then the aquarium hobby must now be full of geniuses on the topic. We are all in the same boat and all susceptible to to the same issues in this hobby. However it blows me away at the multitude of useless tonics and preparations that the mass market pusses on people each year. Their are millions and possible billions of dollars of money wasted on "aged water" type produtcs. Maybe I am in the wrong business and should dump the flowers and get into useless aquarium products. Shocked

In the many moons that I have been at this hobby the most valuable lessons I have learned have been from my biggest mistakes. Be it from fish health issues or just my routine maintenance practices, failure has lead to success.

It is great that these days we have a forum like this so that we may all share/learn from our successes(and failures) Smile

Steve
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Re: What is "aged" aquarium water ?

Post by alexmtl on Thu Jan 07, 2016 10:14 am

@Sbenson11 wrote:Well I will ask "Alex what have you been smoking" Smile

Actually, Grey Goose straight, no ice. Awesome cold winter night sipping drink, not smoked.

Magic Snake Oil : guarenteed to solve your anxiety

I have not recently bought the snake oils found in the aquarium stores. I amusingly read the labels and marvel at the slick marketing (!?!) and the purported claims. My extent of using anything liquid from the stores mainly has to do with the test kits, medications and many years ago the Tetra water conditioners for Africans and SA cichlids. I search before I buy, not because I am cheap, but because I am more purist and targeted in what I seek. Malachite green and methylene blue are rare to find in diluted pure form; most concoctions have added snake oil.

I can see how the "weekend aquarist" would love to have the convenience of the magic liquid to cure-all, fix mistakes and instantly create "Gary water". In fact, I think the major reason for purchase is certainty of success (ie keeping fish alive).

Well, do I have a magic brew ? Yes, I do. I have kept the same gravel since 1980. I kept in large plastic gallon pails. I never throw away my gravel and I have always considered it to be a primary ingredient in my "aged water". I store the gravel moist and often dirty.

I never sell my own medication concoctions. But maybe there is a trade market for it. I used horse paste to treat for planaria recently. I can guarentee it to kill off the flatworms Wink

If anyone wants my special strain of blue green algae, they can purchase it by PMing me. It is indestructible. It turns shades of brown, green, blue, even purple. I can print out instructions and put it into a cool looking glass vial. I guarentee it will establish in any aquarium.




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Re: What is "aged" aquarium water ?

Post by Sbenson11 on Thu Jan 07, 2016 10:30 am

The funny part of it all,

The best cure all out there, is the cheapest one of them all...

A water change

Steve
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Re: What is "aged" aquarium water ?

Post by nyleveiam on Thu Jan 07, 2016 5:00 pm

The fix it with a magic potion is also alive and well in the pet industry. Everyone needs a tool or a magic drug to train their pet...actually taking the dog out for a walk with a few basic training sessions went out with that corner air filter that we stuffed carbon and floss into.
Give it a pill to calm it down, then another to wake it up and all is well.
Hey, wasn't that also a song of the late 60's..."one pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small. But the one that mother gives you won't do anything at all. Go ask Alice"
Gosh, back to 1968 again!
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Re: What is "aged" aquarium water ?

Post by Sbenson11 on Thu Jan 07, 2016 5:12 pm

Easy on the corner box filters, Gary still uses those Smile

Steve
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Re: What is "aged" aquarium water ?

Post by nyleveiam on Thu Jan 07, 2016 5:19 pm

@Sbenson11 wrote:Easy on the corner box filters, Gary still uses those Smile

Steve
Oops. Razz Razz Razz
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Re: What is "aged" aquarium water ?

Post by GaryE on Thu Jan 07, 2016 7:01 pm

Hey, I have magic box filters in my killie tanks. The astonishing thing is that for small fish not too crowded, they really work.
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Re: What is "aged" aquarium water ?

Post by GaryE on Thu Jan 07, 2016 7:23 pm

The snake oil products Steve and Alex are talking about amaze me too. The latest thing is herbal concoctions, supposedly 'natural'.
The aquarium industry establishes mega-farms in Asia. It crowds the fish beyond belief, keeping them in a soup of antibiotics to force growth and control disease. Often they blast them with hormones to produce all males, or to deepen colours. They hybridize to create new forms and destroy ancient species, and gene splice others or petrie dish breed even more. Fish come from the farms hormoned, with immune systems that have never operated without antibiotics, with new varieties of Ich and velvet, weird viral problems and nematode worms from crowding. Then the industry that encourages that offers us herbal, natural gentle homeopathic remedies....

Unfortunately, the two fit together like a hand in a glove.

I keep a Malachite green Ich meds, some Methelyne blue (all chemicals!!!), prazi for gut worms (common and easily dealt with in my usually wild sourced fish), goat dewormer for nematodes (may I never see them again - twice in 20 years was enough) and some kind of iodine treatment and salt when I haven't used it up for brine shrimp. That's the only meds I use, except for the ultralife red slime stain remover I tried that took 2 weeks to totally clear blue green cyano from two tanks that had been plagued with it for years... I may get that again as a miracle product even though it costs a bit.
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Re: What is "aged" aquarium water ?

Post by alexmtl on Thu Jan 07, 2016 8:06 pm

Snake Oil

Even some well known manufacturers have taken on some natural concoctions. I was entertaining myself by searching for "nitrogen bacteria enhancers" and "natural waste reduction supplements", and I managed to find them. Youtube has several videos dedicated to explaining how these supplements work.  

I found one site that sells glass ampoules of "biologic starter". The bacteria are in a dormant state being sealed with inert gas. When you break open the glass ampoule, they come to life. It sounds like Sea Monkeys. I wonder if they actually induced the dormancy stage or just plopped them into the ampoule.

Commercial Aquarium Water

If you google "pre-conditioned aquarium water" you will find bottled water for goldfish (yes, Steve would love this) and bettas. The pre conditioned betta water market seems to be a hit, as you can find at least two chains with their own brand of betta water. It is of course, tap water.

What then is Aged Water ?

Aged water is water that has been put into a container to a) remove chlorine, b) add chemicals to make suitable pH, hardness etc c) adjust for temperature.

Aged water in this sense makes for good practice. For myself, I just add straight from the tap since my water supply is chlorine and will dissipate. For those with chloramine, you will have to "age" your water to dechlorinate it. Aged water is more of a throw back term used by those same guys who still use plastic corner filters.

There is credible logic to use filter media from an established tank into the new aquarium filter. As well, another good source of nitrogen bacteria is established tank gravel, scrapings from the sides of established aquaria, rocks and wood from an old tank and live plants. Why not get some "seed stock" from the local hobbyist ?

Genuine Meds

There are only a few medications that are truly effective. The aquarium stores sell variations and mixtures of them. For the weird diseases and bizarre parasites, your local fish store clerk will give you that glazed over look. For those problems you will need to seek some expert advice.

Water Changes

As Steve said, you can't avoid them. It is the go-to remedy for just about anything. We love to be able to quote some cool scientific facts and sound authoritative. In reality we practice an art. The experiences speak for themselves in the success, so those old timers who start with "I remember when ..." really do have key learnings to pass along.

There are some really good salespeople out there that will dazzle you with sound bites, mystify with scientific names and badly pronounced latin, and capture your last bit of skepticism with an air of confidence. In this thread you have read what experts really sound like, and that test is through success, failures and years of experience.

Beware the snake oil salesman who talks up a storm. Follow that steely eyed stranger who has seen a lifetime of gunfights. Was that a rattlesnake I heard ?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFa1-kciCb4
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Re: What is "aged" aquarium water ?

Post by ksimdjembe on Thu Jan 07, 2016 10:25 pm

or...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLgJ7pk0X-s
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