Water Chemistry and Hand Lotion

Water Chemistry and Hand Lotion

So ive noticed a lot of recent and some old posts about gravel cleaning or tank clean out when suddenly disaster strikes and you remember that you have sunblock on or hand lotion or any various topical creams on your hands or arms.

I get it, there is that moment of “what did I just do” followed shortly by the panicked search on google for whats in your hand cream and despair that your fish are going to die a horrible sunscreened demise.

Here is the thing. Most of these creams or lotions are not water soluble. Just by immersing your arm you arent going to transfer an appreciable amount of contaminant to the water. So here are some panic saving steps:

Step one: Breathe in then out.

Step two: Look up the offending lotion and check for the contents/ingredients if it is an oil base then odds are it isnt water soluble

Step three: Check the surface of your water volume for indication of residue. What you are looking for is the presence or not of an “oil slick”. No residue means more good news.

Step four: Water change. Im a big fan of knowing my exact chemistry of my tanks so I dont just use an API kit, I also have a pool test kit and a digital water test kit. Yes I go a little overboard and Im not saying you need to do the same. However test your water before the water change and then again after the water change once it has settled in for about 30 minutes to an hour. Depending on your filtration this should allow for proper mixing of the new and old water to reach a rough chemical equilibrium. Its not exact but it is pretty close.

Additional notes: If you have a filter that uses carbon in it then you will actually be using your carbon for one of its few purposes. I say few because carbon does the following:

removing organic compounds from the water

removing phenols (tank smell)

removing tannins (yellow tint from wood)

removing medication and chlorine from the water

What carbon does not do is do anything for nitrate, nitrite or ammonia. Again, it does absolutely nothing for ammonia or nitrate or nitrite. These are inorganic compounds that do not bond with carbon.

Filter flow I will discuss in another posting, however it is important to understand that turbulence is good when it comes to both filtration and surface agitation. Surface agitation helps prevent that build up of proteins on the surface of your aquarium which tends to look like an oil slick. It also aids in mixing of the water and causing a nice tank turbulence that will help improve filtration in the long run.


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This is so good. A big sigh of relief for 100s of people!
Wonderful. Busy lives lead to lapses but this helps to know what to do if and when. Thank you for posting it! Great help.
this is such a helpful resource that will relieve many of us who panic over putting our hands in the tanks. thank you!
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