- The most important thing you can do to maintain a healthy aquarium is to monitor the water conditions in your fish tank. Problems can be detected and corrected quickly when test kits are used. High Ammonia or Nitrite levels will result in cloudy water and fish loss. High Nitrate and Phosphate levels can cause an unsightly algae bloom. Incorrect pH levels will strip a fish of its slime coat, cause stress and could lead to an outbreak of disease. These are just a few examples of the importance of water testing.
Most test kits use color comparison charts to give you the reading of what you are testing. The chemical reagent is added to the water sample and the color develops within a certain time period. This color is then matched to the matching color in the chart to tell you the reading
Titration test kits use a color change to indicate the reading. A liquid reagent is added slowly drop by drop into the aquarium water sample until a color change occurs. Usually the number of drops needed to cause the color change is the reading. This type of testing is more accurate than color comparison.
3. Digital / Electronic monitors
- These electronic microprocessors take information from the aquarium water by a probe placed in the fish tank. They convert the information from the probe into a digital reading displayed on a central monitor. These monitors can be connected to controllers that will automatically adjust the water conditions to whatever you set them for. These are the most accurate and expensive testing devices available.
Tap Water as a water source?
- Good aquarium water quality starts with the water you originally fill the tank with and do your partial water changes with. If your tap water is of poor quality it will be impossible to provide and maintain good water quality in the aquarium. With an increase of pollution and the heavy use of agricultural fertilizers it is rarer and rarer to get really pure water from our taps. Unwanted Nitrates, Phosphates, Silicates, Chlorine, Chloramine, Copper, Heavy metals Zinc and Lead all can be present in our water supply. The best way to determine what is in your water is to test it or contact your water supplier for an analysis. Two ways to insure a pure supply of water are the Reverse Osmosis and the Deionizer filter systems. Both these systems will remove over 98% of pollutants. I will briefly describe the two systems here.
Deionizers remove unwanted molecules through a process known as Adsorption. Positive and negatively charged resins are placed in two separate containers. Water is then passed through each container. Oppositely charged molecules are attracted to the resins where they remain until the resins are recharged. Deionizers provide a large amount of water in a short period of time and produce no waste water.
- Reverse Osmosis units use a semi-permeable membrane that prevents unwanted molecules from passing from one side to the other. The filtered water passes through one line of tubing, while the waste water passes through another to a drain. The Reverse osmosis units should be pre-filtered with a micron and Carbon filter to remove material that would clog the membrane and cause premature failure. Reverse Osmosis systems are rated by the number of gallons of filtered water a day. They are slower than Deionizers and waste a lot of water.
Distilled or spring water?
- Spring water may taste better and be purer than tap water, it still can contain many elements not suitable for the aquarium. Distilled water although pure is sometimes collected in Copper pipes and could add high levels of copper to your tank water. Home Distillers are very expensive and not cost effective. Deionizers and Reverse Osmosis units are the only way to guarantee that no unwanted elements are introduced to your aquaria. Some larger fish stores sell the treated water that you can bring home in your own containers.
Remember to replace all the needed trace elements and pH buffers to the treated water as both these systems remove just about everything.