Tips for Keeping Your Aquarium Water Quality High
The most important thing you can do to keep your aquarium fish happy and healthy is to maintain high water quality in your tank. Water quality refers to more than just the cleanliness of your tank water – it also has to do with the temperature, pH, hardness, and aeration of your tank. Simply put, the quality of your tank water is measured in terms of how well it meets the needs of your aquarium fish.
The Importance of Water Tests
How do you know what kind of quality your tank water offers to your fish unless you test it? Looking at an aquarium filled with clean water, you might think that it is perfectly fine. What you may not see, however, is toxic ammonia levels, low pH, or dangerously high temperatures. Monitoring the conditions in your tank is the only way to gauge your water quality. The best way to keep an eye on conditions in your tank is to perform a weekly test of your tank water. Aquarium water tests can be used to get readings on pH level, water hardness, salinity, even the ammonia and nitrate levels in your tank. Water tests cannot gauge the temperature of your tank, but that is easy enough to do with a submersible aquarium thermometer.
Not only should you be testing your tank water on a weekly basis, but you should also be keeping a record of the results. How do you know what is “normal” for your tank unless you have a record of it? After testing your tank water for a few weeks in a row you will be able to establish a base line for your water quality. In the future then, if you receive a reading that is outside the normal range for your tank, you will know that something is wrong and you can take steps to fix it. The sooner you notice problems with water quality, the more likely you will be able to fix the issue before it becomes a problem for your aquarium fish.
Keeping Aquarium Water Clean
In addition to monitoring your water quality with weekly water tests, you also need to perform routine water changes. A water change simply involves removing a portion of your tank water and replacing it with clean water. As your fish eat food and produce waste, the beneficial bacteria in your tank help to breakdown those wastes in a process that produces ammonia. Other bacteria then convert that ammonia into nitrite and then into nitrate. The only way to remove the nitrate from your tank is to replace some of your tank water. Water changes should be performed on a weekly basis and they should consist of about 15% to 20% of your total tank volume. Be sure to use a gravel vacuum to perform your water changes so you can remove accumulated detritus from the substrate in your tank.
Water changes are important in maintaining high water quality, but you also need to have a filtration system in place. Having a high-quality filter installed in your tank is the best way to remove solid waste particles from the tank water and it can also remove dissolved wastes and harmful toxins. There are many different types of filter to choose from but you should select one that offers mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration for the best results. Another thing that can help improve water quality in your tank is the addition of live plants – they will help to convert the carbon dioxide your fish produce as a byproduct of respiration into the oxygen they need to thrive.
Different species of aquarium fish have different needs for water chemistry, but all aquarium fish require high water quality in order to thrive. Fortunately, maintaining high water quality in your tank is fairly easy as long as you stay on top of routine maintenance tasks.
Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.
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