Test Your Aquarium Water

It’s important to test the quality of your aquarium water regularly if you care about your tropical, marine or coldwater fish. Remember fish do swim around in their urine and faeces in your aquarium, in the wild this wouldn’t be a problem, because the fish come from very large expanses of water, and the effects would be diluted many times, but YOU are responsible for the water (quality) at all times in the aquarium. People often ask me, oh you keep fish, and I often reply, well actually I manage water! If you manage your water (paramaters) correctly and well, your fish should flourish and breed (if you’ve got a male and a female – that’s another blog post one day!).

Yes, I know it’s a chore, but you owe it to your fish. And you should also be changing the water in the aquarium at least 25% each week with fresh suitable clean water , and that doesn’t mean out of the time either! (subject to water quality).

Here are the test results for the water in my new aquarium I’ve just set up. (click the image for more detailed view)

water testing with a test kit

water testing with a test kit

From left to right,

  • pH – offscale > 7.8
  • High pH – approx 8.0 – 8.2 (colour has been altered by flash!)
  • Nitrate – approx zero ppm
  • Nitrite – approx zero ppm
  • Ammonia  – approx zero ppm

The above is what I would expect on a new aquarium setup with an establish mature filter. (remember I stole, four mature sponge filters from existing mature filters!). My water is very hard, you could stand a spoon in it, it’s liquid rock coming out of the tap. My test kit comes with two test ranges 6.0 – 7.8, and 7.4 to 8.8 (I already know, my “treated” tap water is 8.0. So pH is acceptable, Nitrate levels will only peak, when Nitrite and Ammonia are broken down, high nitrate levels cause algae, as well as too much light and food, so more water changes are required. Farm fertilisers cause high Nitrate levels in tap water. In a mature aquarium, ammonia is oxidised by bacteria to form nitrites and nitrite is oxidised by bacteria to form nitrate. (Google Nitrogen Cycle!). But when I introduce fish, I’ll be regularly checking water by testing to check the filters are working correctly, and I don’t overload the filters.

When I “built” this tank, I used 100l of water from and existing aquarium in the fish house, and another 100l of treated water from my storage tank, this water is aerated, kept at 26 degrees C, and is mains filtered by a filter which removes debris, passed over carbon, and Heavy Metals, Chlorine, Chloramine and finally nitrate are removed, this process does not alter pH. (I also have Reverse Osmosis, but didn’t need this water for this tank). If you don’t have all this at your disposal, leaving water to stand overnight aerated will get rid of the chlorine killer, or use something like Tetra Aquasafe if you have a small tank.

water testing with a test kit and a ph Probe!

water testing with a test kit and a ph Probe!

I also have another gadget, a commercial eletronic digital pH probe, I use it as a “guide”, water temperature is very accurate, but the pH needs calibrating regularly, it’s currently reading pH – 7.89, which I think is too low, so I’ve got lots of calibration fluid, I’ll try and recalibrate it tomorrow, and see what value it gives then. So I prefer to use the test kit colour solution.

There are many Aquarium Test kits on the market, at very low cost, I use a wet Freshwater Master Test Kit by API, it’s cheap with many tanks, but if you’ve just got one tank, why not try the 5 in 1 Aquarium Test Strips, 25 tests for a tenner! No bottles, no mess, no mixing, shaking, or adding drops.

Why Not Treat Your Fish Today!

(you buy treats for the cat or dog, don’t you!)

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