The Importance of Water Quality in Your Aquarium

Testing water quality is a crucial step in aquarium care and maintenance. Thriving fish and a beautiful aquarium depend on the right water for a healthy environment. Learn more about the importance of water quality in your aquarium.

Monitor Levels of Toxic Byproducts

Testing the water is the only way to ensure the aquarium is safe for your current fish and any fish you want to add. When organic waste from fish, plants, and food breaks down in the aquarium, it creates ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates as byproducts.

Ammonia is very toxic to fish, and nitrites are still toxic but less so. Nitrates are the least toxic of the three chemical compounds, but elevated levels are still lethal. Periodically check ammonia and nitrite levels with a test and remove all these byproducts by changing 10 to 15 percent of the water each week.

Use Appropriate Water for Water Changes

One of the most critical factors for achieving good water quality in your aquarium is choosing an appropriate water source. Well water is not regulated by the federal government.

While treatment plants maintain municipal water to the EPA’s standards, untreated tap water is typically unsuitable for aquariums. Hard water with high levels of excess minerals and chlorinated water can kill fish or ruin their environment. Ultimately, you must use purified water in your aquarium.

One of the differences between distilled and purified water is that distilled water is almost completely devoid of minerals. It’s also impractical to create distilled water at home, so you’ll need to keep buying bottles at the store.

For the greatest convenience, use deionized water or reverse osmosis water. You can have one of these purified water types straight from the tap at home if you buy a treatment system or use bottled products. You will need to remineralize the water before adding it to the tank.

Test Essential Parameters

Ensure a chemically balanced environment by testing essential parameters. Condition the water by measuring and adjusting the pH, gH, and kH.

The pH scale indicates whether your water is alkaline or acidic. Most freshwater fish species do best at a pH between 6.5 and 8, whereas saltwater fish tend to do best in a pH of 8. Be sure to check your fish species’ specific requirements.

The gH levels indicate general hardness, or the concentration of calcium and magnesium ions in the water. And kH measures carbonates and bicarbonates, which help keep pH stable.

The parameters you need to monitor will depend on your fish variety. For example, you might want to test for potassium, iron, or boron if you have a particular species in your aquarium that would benefit from the additional testing. Research the limits and requirements for each fish species before introducing them to your aquarium.