Monday, March 5, 2012

What You Need to Know About the Water in Your Fish Tank

What You Need to Know About the Water in Your Fish Tank
What You Need to Know About the Water in Your Fish Tank
By J W Chase

Introduction
So you are getting a tropical freshwater fish aquarium. There is much to learn about keeping a successful aquarium. The most important thing to learn is keeping your freshwater aquarium water at just the right specifications for the fish you purchase.

Background
When I was growing up in the 1950s, my mother kept a single Koi fish in a small fish tank, about three gallons in size. In those days she did not add special chemicals to her fish tank to ensure the environment was right for her fish.
My mother would change the water in the tank once a week. She prepared for the changing of the water by filling a cooking pot with three gallons of tap water and then let it set overnight to remove the chemicals in the tap water. That was all she did.
This Koi fish lived for ten years in under this condition. This is a pretty good life span living under these Spartan conditions.

Maintaining Water Today
Today there is a whole different way to maintain the water in an aquarium, which is totally different from the way my mother did it.
I have a 75-gallon aquarium that is much larger than my mother's three-gallon fish bowl. I still do what she did and I fill buckets every week with ten gallons of tap water each week and let it sit over-night. But I also add a conditioner to remove all chemicals from the water.
I must also measure for certain conditions in the water to keep the fish healthy and happy. I measure for:

  • pH - Most freshwater fish prefer a slightly acidic condition to a little above neutral, with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5. 7.0 is considered to be neutral and below that is considered acidic. In order to keep it in this range I add chemicals to increase or decrease pH.
  • Ammonia - This is bad for your freshwater fish if the concentration goes above 1 ppm. I like to keep mine at 0 ppm. Ammonia develops in your tank when you first establish your tank, if your filter fails or your bacteria die.
  • Nitrites - Anything above 20 ppm will endanger your fish. I also keep this at 0 ppm. Nitrites come from ammonia, so if you develop ammonia, you need to test for nitrites.
  • Nitrates - These should be kept at less than 50 ppm. Though not directly harmful to your fish, they do have negative effects on your fish. They also encourage the growth of algae.
When I first established my aquarium I measured for these conditions once a week until they reached equilibrium. I now measure once a week.
If any of these are out of specifications, except for pH, I replace up to 20% of the water. For pH I add a chemical to increase or decrease the pH.
J.W. Chase has been keeping a 75-gallon aquarium with several different fish species for many years. He has extensive knowledge of how to manage an aquarium keeping all his fish healthy and smiling. His web site has information on keeping aquariums and your fish happy. If you want more information on how to manage an aquarium go to his site http://www.squidoo.com/homefreshwateraquariums.

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Posted by: Treat Fish Treat Fish, Updated at: 9:09 PM

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