Water Parameters

Discussion in 'Advanced Topics' started by butcherman, Jul 9, 2009.

  1. butcherman

    butcherman Administrator

    Apr 30, 2009
    Likes Received:
    How important is testing your water parameters? What should we be testing for and how often?
  2. Guest

  3. Zafgak

    Zafgak Old fart

    Apr 8, 2009
    Likes Received:
    Cape Town
    Hi Dirk - if I may intervene on your behalf

    Testing your water parameters - What should be tested, and how often, is not a short answer. In a newly set up aquarium, water testing is absolutely critical to avoid fish loss as ammonia and nitrites rapidly rise. In an established tank, water testing is important to ensure the continued health of your fish.

    Which test kits should you get? In my experience, the most valuable tests are ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate and pH. Hardness levels are useful to establish what your levels are, but you certainly dont need to purchase an entire kit for it (unless your fish have special needs). Phosphates are worth testing for if you have algae problems.

    All testing should be recorded in a log or journal so you have a record of what is happening over time.

    I would also occasionally test the water you are using for water changes, just to be sure the monkeypality is doing its job :)

    Testing for ammonia is a must. Ammonia will be elevated during the startup cycle in a new tank. However, ammonia can also be elevated in mature tanks if the water is not changed regularly, filters are not kept clean, if the tank is overstocked, or if medication is used that disrupts the biological cycle. In a cycling tank test for ammonia every two days.

    In an established tank, an ammonia test should be performed and recorded in a log once a month. Anytime you have sick fish, or a fish death, you should immediately test for ammonia. Any detectable amount of ammonia should be addressed swiftly, as it is extremely toxic to fish.

    During the startup of a new tank, nitrite levels will soar and can stress or kill fish. However, even after an aquarium is initially "cycled", it is not unusual to go through mini-cycles from time to time. For that reason, include nitrite testing as part of your monthly testing routine. Any elevation of nitrite levels is a red flag that indicates a problem brewing in the tank. If a fish is ill, or dies, it's wise to test for nitrite to ensure it is not contributing to the problem. The only way to reduce elevated nitrite levels quickly is via water changes.

    Although nitrates are not as toxic as ammonia or nitrites, they must be monitored to avoid stressing the fish. Nitrates can also be a source of algae problems. Nitrates will rise over time and can be eliminated via water changes. Monthly tests are important - particularly when breeding fish, as young fish are more sensitive to nitrates than adult fish. Test monthly and keep levels low to ensure a healthy tank.

    pH is the a frequent cause of fish stress, which can ultimately lead to fish loss. Unfortunately, it is usually the most overlooked parameter.

    Know the pH of your fish shop's water, as well as your own, so you can acclimate new fish properly. Keep in mind that if you use tap water, it has dissolved gasses from being under pressure. Let it sit overnight before testing the pH.

    pH can, and will, change with time. Fish and plant waste, water evaporation, water addition, and water hardness will all contribute to changes in the pH. As a rule of thumb, pH in an established tank should be tested once a month, and any time there is a fish death or illness.

    Another factor of pH is the buffering capability of your water. If your water pH changes suddenly, or drifts regularly over time, you should check the KH (Carbonate Hardness) of the water. Consult your LPS for KH testing

    If you cannot win the battle against algae, phosphates are a probable cause. Phosphates serve as a nutrient for algae, and elevated levels will certainly add to your algae woes.

    A leading cause of increased phosphates is dry fish food - particularly overfeeding with lower quality foods that are high in phosphates. If you have algae overgrowth, test for phosphates. There are filtering materials available that remove phosphates.
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2009

Recent Posts

Similar Threads - Water Parameters Forum Date
Water parameters - Some guidance please... Beginner Discussions Sep 19, 2022
Cape Town Water Parameters General Discussions Sep 13, 2022
Water Parameters (KH & PH issues) General Discussions Jun 7, 2021
Water Parameters in Cape Town Beginner Discussions Apr 26, 2021
Advice needed: HMA filters (3 stage)and impact on water parameters Filtration Apr 26, 2021
Fish are dying - Water parameters seem fine General Discussions Mar 8, 2021
Boesemani rainbow fish water parameters General Fish Discussions Jan 16, 2020

Share This Page