11. Water Bowls and Drinking Water
Glass and ceramic water bowls are practical and easy to clean/sanitize. However, if you are using city water you should consider sanitizing with 9% vinegar every few weeks to eliminate hard water mineral deposits that can build up and provide hiding places for bacteria. The vinegar will act by dissolving the minerals and sterilizing the water bowl.
If you use plastic water bowls, it is recommended to use polycarbonate or other food grade plastic, or use disposable plastic dishes such as deli cups. Most disposable bowls will need to be placed in some kind of heavier dish to avoid being constantly tipped during nighttime cruising.
For hatchlings/neonates very shallow water dishes should be used. Baby chondros have been known to drown in shallow water so care should be taken in choosing water dishes for young GTP’s. As they grow the bowl size and/or depth of water provided can be increased.
Well water, bottled spring water, and tap water, are common choices and all have been used successfully. Some keepers have reported kidney failure deaths in neonates from tap water. However, this is most likely related to water pollutants or toxins, and may have been related to excessively hard water; that with a high mineral content. In these rare cases the issues were eliminated when keepers changed to spring or filtered water. Keep in mind that neos are quite sensitive due to their small size. So, unless the quality of your tap water has been evaluated, spring or filtered water is best for the first few months, if not the first year.
With the increasing concerns of pollutants and pharmaceuticals in most urban tap water, a lot of keepers have begun using reverse osmosis (RO) water, distilled water, or deionized (DI) water. Although these sources have been used with no known ill effects, these processes strip water of its minerals. Some claim that demineralized water has the potential to leach minerals from the animal itself. Others claim that foods provide adequate minerals and nutrients and that the benefits of pollutant free water outweighs the potential risk. The long-term effects of using RO, distilled, and DI water have yet to be determined and ultimately you will have to make the best decision given your comfort level.
UV lighting systems are yet another way of treating water. These are non-chemical water treatment methods in which water is passed through a chamber containing an ultraviolet lamp. The germicidal energy of ultraviolet light destroys illness-causing micro-organisms by attacking their genetic core DNA, and eliminating their ability to reproduce. 99% of micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses, yeasts, molds and algae are destroyed using UV treatment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultraviolet_germicidal_irradiation). However, water treatment does not remove the deceased organisms and it does not remove harmful chemicals that may be in the water. So additional filtering may be required. Generally speaking, a UV system is unnecessary to provide chondros safe drinking water.