What happens if you put too much stress coat in a fish tank

Deborah C. Escalante

Last Updated on November 14, 2021 by cmoarz

So you want to start using API stress coat or API Pond stress coat in your aquarium or pond and need to know what happens if you screw it up, right?

This article will put your mind at ease! We will explain what happens during a stress coat overdose, If it’s even possible, And what to do about it if you do happen to add a bit too much stress coat.

First, What is API stress coat exactly?

API Stress Coat is a brand name de-chlorinator and fish protector rolled into one. It removes chlorine, Neutralizes Chloramines, and ammonia just like any other water conditioner would (with the exception of the ammonia removal, that’s an exclusive as far as I know).

It does well at detoxifying heavy metals found in principality water and well water. Heavy metals found that can be otherwise dangerous.

It also has the added bonus of giving your fish a bit of extra protection by using a combination of aloe vera to reduce fish stress as well as add a protective slime coat over the fish’s body.

This slime coat does 2 things, It calms the fish down just like its natural slime protection coat (such as a corydoras would produce).

It also affords special protection against bacterial infections, and gives scratches and cuts a chance to heal while avoiding infection.

In this way, it can promote healing and repair damaged skin with soothing aloe vera, while simultaneously removing chlorine and neutralizing chloramine, something considered much harder to remove.

So all in all, it’s a swiss army knife tap water conditioner that eliminates harmful chemicals as well helps fish recover from wounds.

That sounds like a very useful thing to have right?

Of course, it’s always scary to add a new product to your fish tank because you don’t know how everything in the aquarium water is going to react.

Or worse, You’re worried you will dose wrong and might have accidentally overdosed the tank.

Can you overdose on stress coat?

No, You can’t overdose on stress coat. While technically possible in massive quantities, It’s virtually unheard of. Diminishing returns of oxygen removal compound how difficult it is to overdose on API stress coat pond or regular. Heres why:

First, let’s look at the ratio instructions and recommended dose on the bottle of API stress coat. The bottle tells us how much API stress coat per gallon to fill the cap up to, 5ml per 10 gallons of water to remove chlorine and double dose for chloramine.

The bottle cap has some handy measuring lines to make life easy.

These instructions already take into account your substrate level and other average aquarium things that displace water. So even if you are slightly under 10 gallons, say, 4 gallons, You’re still well within the safety limits of what has been tested by API.

The same goes for API pond stress coat with 120ml for every 480 gallons of water.

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On top of that, API itself tells us when we use API stress coat we should double the dose to replace slime coat as well as help rejuvenate damaged tissue. This increased dosage is also necessary to neutralize chloramines.

If a double dose wasn’t safe, they certainly wouldn’t recommend it.

So unless you’re really overdoing it, No, you can’t overdose on a stress coat.

But, what if you really do overdo it? What if you’ve accidentally poured an entire bottle into your aquarium, Now what?

What Does happen if you put too much stress coat in your fish tank?

Oh, shoot! You accidentally dropped an entire bottle of API stress coat into your aquarium, Or your toddler decided to “help” (first-hand knowledge here). Your pretty certain you put too much stress coat in a fish tank.

Surely that’s cause for alarm right? You’re sure to overdose now! Can too much stress coat kill a fish?!

Not so fast!

It’s actually insanely difficult to overdose even with an entire bottle. In fact, the amount you would need you probably don’t even own.

With that said, Some species of aquarium fish might be sensitive to such things, So what’s going to happen?

The first thing that’s going to happen is you will notice a foamy buildup on the surface of the water. Close to the airstone or any other agitation in the water column.

This is normal. It also happens when ammonia spikes or there is some other medication in the water. Don’t be too alarmed.

The more important thing to consider is oxygen.

The oxygenation of your tank water is going to go to 0. All water conditioners work by using oxygen in the water for a chemical reaction. The short answer is it will suck all the oxygen out of the water while it neutralizes chloramines and chlorines.

Only for about an hour.

If you have an airstone, which you should.

Labyrinth fish (fish that come to the surface to breathe and have gills) and hybrid fish will be fine. Your betas, your corydoras, etc. They can come to the surface to breathe like nothing ever happened.

For fish that only have gills, This could be a dangerous situation to be in. So what do you do?

What should you do if you put too much stress coat into your tank?

Assuming you did somehow manage to overdose the tank, Or you just want to be on the safe side of things, there are a few things you can do immediately.

First, you should do several water changes. Water changes will dilute the API stress coat. 25% the first water change, and then 25% of the 75% and so on in the additional water changes.

You should do 1-2 of these, or more depending on how much you’ve used and what reaction your fish are having.

You can also consider adding a second airstone to help oxygenate the water.

Nothing to be scared of and the solution is very simple as you can see.

In the future, and you’re a worrywart, You might consider dechlorinating the water in a bucket ahead of time. Wait 10-15 minutes for it to do its magic, and then mix in some oxygen with a bit of agitation or an air stone.

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This might be considered over the top by some hobbyists, but at the end of the day, you do what’s best for your fish, not your peers! (TIP: All us fish people are weird anyway).

How often can you add stress coat to your aquarium?

The company gives us clear directions when it comes to how often you can add stress coat to an aquarium or pond.

For an aquarium, Every time you do a water change you should add the corresponding dosage, or if the ammonia starts to spike in a new tank that hasn’t had time for a biological filter to generate beneficial bacteria. (Better off with a new water change for ammonia removal if you ask me personally).

Saltwater is the same dosage and it is safe to use API stress coat in saltwater as long as you aren’t using a protein skimmer.

For ponds, you should use it every time you add water, like a normal aquarium, and every time you think your fish may need some stress relief or healing promotion from skin wounds.

Is API stress coat safe for invertebrates?

A common rumor is it isn’t safe for use on invertebrates. Invertebrates tend to be very sensitive to many things so it’s not hard to see why or how this rumor got started.

API stress coat and API stress coat pond are completely safe for all plants, fish, and invertebrates. While some fish may be sensitive, API stress coat is a near-neutral chemical and poses no harm to the tank inhabitants.


Owner of AquariumGravel.com and also owner of actual Aquarium Gravel believe it or not! ;). Setting up beautiful aquarium sceneries and habitats since I was very young. Enjoy!

Stress Coat

Image by KM_Aquatics

I‘ve seen many issues resulting from the misuse of stress coat. I’ve decided it would be good to explain the issues regarding stress coat, and how to use it properly. So if your fish is acting strange after you have been using stress coat, please read on.

What is Stress Coat?

Stress Coat is an API product intended to be used as a water conditioner, well known for it’s soothing capabilities for fish with damaged fins or wounds, and the fact that it is thought to reduce stress in aquarium fish. So what’s the problem with this? Well, the recurring issue is that stress coat is overrated for what its worth. Don’t get me wrong, it is a good product. The issue has to do with the name, which is very misleading to say the least.

Issues Regarding Stress Coat

Stress coat is too commonly bought and used as medicine. It is believed that by adding it to the tank, you are helping to calm and soothe your fish who may be struggling or adapting to a new tank. If you use it properly, then it very well may, but if you’re like lots of people, you are doing quite the opposite. Allow me to explain.

I would like to make this very clear. Stress Coat is NOT a medication. It is a water conditioner. The issue stems from this belief, because people hope it will heal their fish and use it alongside their water conditioner, unbeknownst to them that it is a water conditioner itself. This means you are dosing double the amount of water conditioner you are supposed to. So what?

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To understand the issue with this you must first understand how water conditioner works. The water conditioner does not necessarily make chlorine disappear, it just creates a chemical compound that is not toxic to the fish. In chemistry, molecules will bond with other molecules to become more stable. Chlorine and chloramines are their own molecules, as well as the water conditioner. When you add the water conditioner, it binds with the chlorine and breaks the chloramines down into ammonia and chlorine, also binding with this chlorine to become a more stable compound, and as a result, the water is now safe for your fish. This is only true if you use the correct amount of water conditioner. The situation we are referring to would be about adding twice the amount of water conditioner you should be, by adding a full dose of stress coat and a full dose of another water conditioner.

Why NOT to Overdose Water Conditioner

To you, it may seem reassuring to add that extra dose of conditioner, but it’s really only going to create poor conditions in your tank. No, the water conditioners do not react with each other. No, it is not toxic in large amounts. It can simply be described as the conditioner doing its job a little too well.

When you add double the dosage of water conditioner, it stills makes an attempt to bond with the chlorine and chloramines in the tank. And the first dose does just that. The second dose, however, does not have any chlorine or chloramines to bond with. So, in an attempt to become stable, the conditioner frantically searches for something to bond with, resorting to your oxygen molecules. As a result, the oxygen content in your tank is depleted, which the fish needs for respiration. As soon as your tank has little oxygen left, surely your fish will seem to be acting peculiar.

Symptoms of Oxygen Depletion

Heavy/Laboured Breathing

Lethargy/Sitting on the Bottom of the Tank

Going to the Surface for Air

How to Respond; Will My Fish Make It?

If you react in time, it should not be fatal to your fish. Fish with a labyrinth organ, such as bettas, will provide even more time to respond, as they will be able to take oxygen from the surface. In these fish, you will see the third symptom mentioned, getting air from the surface, for this very reason.

The best thing you can do to restore your oxygen content is a tank flush, or a series of back to back water changes, matching the temperature and only using a SINGLE dose of ONE water conditioner. If you want to use stress coat, feel free. But then you can only use stress coat. By doing so, you will have new water with a restored oxygen content, still free of chlorine and chloramines. I will include a link on how to do a tank flush at the end of the blog.

In Conclusion

Stress Coat is not a bad product. It’s the misuse of it that I am referring to. The same goes for ammo lock, and any other water conditioner. Just be sure that you only use one dose of the one water conditioner of your choice. Water conditioner is not to be used as medicine. I cannot stress this enough(no pun intended). So always read the labels and take extra caution when adding anything to your tank.

Information on How to Perform a Tank Flush: https://www.myaquariumclub.com/another-way-to-flush-a-tank-7015.html by KK F.

G2u3c4c5i isa master member at My Aquarium Club.

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