Water chemistry is a term used to describe the chemical and physical characteristics of tank water which can be measured using aquarium water test kits. Test kits are typically inexpensive and easy to use, making them an excellent tool for in-home use by aquarium hobbyists. These tests will help you to monitor the basic components of water chemistry – pH, water hardness and chemical content. While many species of freshwater fish are tolerant of a variety of tank conditions, it is always a good idea to keep an eye on the water chemistry in your tank. If the pH spikes or the water becomes too hard, your fish could become stressed and, as a result, could fall ill or even die. By learning the basics of water chemistry you can prevent such a disaster from happening in your tank.
Main Components of Water Chemistry
Perhaps the most important component of water chemistry is pH. PH is a measure of how acidic or alkaline the water in your tank is and it is measured on a scale from 0 to 14. A pH of 7.0 is considered neutral while anything above is alkaline and anything below is acidic. The recommended pH for a fish tank varies depending on the species of fish and the natural environment from which they come. Water hardness, or general hardness, is a measure of the concentration of dissolved ions in tank water. This hardness is measured in degrees – soft water typically measures between 0° and 3.36° degrees of general hardness (°GH) and hard water is between 6.78° and 10.08° GH. Another important aspect of water chemistry is buffering capacity – the ability of tank water to maintain a stable pH. When acids or bases are added to the tank, the buffering capacity of the water is what keeps the pH from spiking or dropping as a result of these additions. All aquariums are likely to contain trace amounts of chemicals and toxins such as ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Keeping an eye on the chemical levels in your tank is a good way to prevent ammonia poisoning and toxicity.
Testing Water Quality
Basic aquarium water test kits are available online and in pet stores, usually for $20 or less. These kits are easy to use and generally work in one of two ways. Some kits include test strips that you simply dip into a cup of tank water while others involve collecting individual water samples and adding drops of test solution. Once you have taken the samples, all you need to do is compare the color of the sample to the color chart included with the test kit in order to determine the measurement of whatever it is you are testing for. It is wise to perform water tests on a weekly basis and you should record the measurements in a journal in order to keep track of any changes.
Tips for Maintaining High Water Quality
The easiest and most effective way to keep the water quality in your tank high is to perform weekly 10% to 20% water changes. These water changes will help to control the waste build-up in your tank and will also ensure that your water chemistry stays stable. Another simple way to keep the water in your tank clean and the water chemistry stable is to introduce an EcoBio-Stone. These stones are made from porous volcanic cement and are infused with unique beneficial bacteria. Once introduced into the tank, these bacteria will multiply to form a colony of nitrifying bacteria which will help to maintain the nitrogen cycle. Placing the EcoBio-Stone will greatly reduce your maintenance needs – the bacteria will do most of the work in helping to keep your tank water clear and the water quality high.