Water and Water Quality
Ordinary tap water is fine for filling up the aquarium as long as you let it sit for several days before adding fish (the chlorine in the tap water will kill the fish). You may also purchase dechlorination solutions at our store. Several drops of the solution in pure tap water is usually enough to dechlorinate the water instantly.
Aquarium water quality deteriorates for several reasons. Fish, being living and breathing creatures, obviously produce various waste products that accumulate in the water. Other organic matter, such as uneaten food, decays into substances that can contaminate the water.
If you understand these three rules and the reasoning behind them, you're well on your way to becoming a successful aquarist.
To successfully maintain a healthy tank, you need to understand some basic fish tank water chemistry. This will help your fish to not only survive but thrive! Understanding water chemistry basics and regular testing are imperative. Remember, at Bob's Tropical Fish we offer professional water testing free of charge any time you need it.
Testing for ammonia is a must. Ammonia will be elevated during the startup cycle in a new tank. 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.
During the startup of a new tank, nitrite levels will soar and can stress or kill fish. But 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 your fish. Nitrates can also be a source of algae problems. Nitrates will rise over time and can only 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.
This cycle usually takes from 2-8 weeks to complete and will happen in all new aquariums. You could speed up the process by using the filter material or gravel from an established tank. Even then it could still take a few weeks for the tank to cycle. This is the cycle during which ammonia is converted to nitrites and nitrites are converted to nitrates.
Aside from new tank syndrome, pH is the most frequent cause of fish stress, which can ultimately lead to fish loss. Unfortunately, it is usually the most overlooked parameter. Fish cannot tolerate sudden changes in pH. Even a change of 0.2 can result in stress or death if it occurs suddenly.
The hardness level of water is dictated by the amount of minerals dissolved in the water. Calcium and magnesium are the primary minerals in tap water. "Soft" water has relatively few dissolved minerals whereas "hard" water has many dissolved minerals. Water hardness is not really an issue unless your water is excessively soft. Then you may have problems with runaway pH levels. For saltwater aquariums this is especially true. The carbonate hardness of saltwater can give you a good indication of how stable your pH is.
This chemical is found in most tap water and it is used to kill the bad bacteria in our drinking water. Clorine must be eliminated before entering your aquarium or it will kill your tropical fish.
Chloramine is a combination of chlorine and ammonia. It is a stronger disinfectant than chlorine alone and is used in areas where this extra disinfectant is needed. As with chlorine, you must eliminate this chemical from your tap water before adding it to your aquarium or it too will kill your tropical fish.
This heavy metal can come in with the tap water if you have copper pipes. It can also get introduced to your tank if you've used any copper based medications. Copper can be very harmful to fish and invertebrates.
Whenever anyone complains that they cannot win the battle against algae, phosphates immediately come to mind. 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 have algae overgrowth, test for phosphates. There are filtering materials available that remove phosphates.
This is the amount of dissolved salts in water and is measured using a hydrometer.