maintenance, care, compatibility
Aquarium water testing
In this article we will talk about the practical side of the issue of testing aquarium water.
Why do you need to test the parameters of the aquarium water? What are the tests?
Which is better?
So, first, let’s enumerate the values that are used to test aquarium water:
NH3 / NH4 is the concentration of ammonia and ammonium in water;
NO2 – nitrite concentration in water;
NO3 – nitrate concentration in water;
pH – “the acidity of aquarium water”, determines the neutral, acidic and alkaline reaction of water at a certain concentration of hydrogen ions.
GH – constant stiffness;
kH – variable stiffness;
Cl is the concentration of chlorine in water;
CO2 – the concentration of carbon dioxide in the aquarium;
O2 is the oxygen concentration in the aquarium;
Fe is the concentration of iron in the aquarium;
PO4 – phosphate concentration;
Ca is calcium concentration;
Cu is the copper concentration;
Mg is the magnesium concentration;
The values highlighted in bold type are the main – vital indicators, followed by the secondary values, which are tested in a given situation or as needed. For more information about the basic parameters of water, see the article – HERE.
What are the tests aquarium water? Which is better to use?
There are the following types of tests:
– electronic tests, water testing instruments.
Let’s look at them on the example of tests from the company Tetra.
Aquarium test strips
Tests of the strip determine the basic parameters of water: nitrites, nitrates, hardness, acidity and chlorine. What is their plus – ease of use, you just need to drop the test strip into the water, and then check the color of the “indicators” with the attached scale and get the results. In addition, they are relatively inexpensive and often in pet stores you can buy them individually.
In what a minus – they are not accurate, the test strips give only an approximate value, that is, you will not get exact numbers. In addition, it is worth noting that ammonia test strips do not determine, and it is important, the sensitivity of the test strips to nitrite from 1 mg / l, while the maximum permissible concentration of NO2 is 0.2 mg / l, that is, there is no gradation from 0 to 1. In fairness, it is worth saying that Tetra has separate test strips for ammonia.
Test strips can be used to determine the status of the aquarium as a whole. You should not discount them, but at the same time you need to understand their conventionality.
Aquarium water drip tests
Are the most accurate. The essence of their use is similar to test strips, only in this case the determination of a parameter occurs by the color of the liquid, by comparing it with the color of the scale.
Each such test is given detailed instructions, so we will not go into details of all the manipulations that are carried out when testing aquarium water through drip tests. Note that these tests are the most popular and acceptable – a combination of price and quality.
Drip tests for a particular water parameter are sold both individually and in sets, which gives the aquarist options. But, probably, the dream of every aquarist is a suitcase-laboratory of aquarium tests.
For example, Tetra WaterTest Set Plus. This is where there is a roam aquarium shower!
Aquarium water electronic tests
There are a number of devices that determine a particular parameter of water. Some of them are expensive and their acquisition is not appropriate. But there are also cheap ones, for example, an electronic pH tester, which can be purchased at any Chinese store (ali-express).
The device is an electronic indicator, similar in shape and size to a “marker”. To use it, you only need to insert the batteries, calibrate it (periodically, using indicator liquid) and then simply lower the device into the glass with aquarium water.
Digital scoreboard will give the result.
Summing up, we recommend that a beginner aquarist acquire drop tests, primarily tests for ammonia products: NH3 / NH4, NO2, NO3, and secondly for pH and GH.
The remaining tests are also important, but their need for several reasons is less important.
Cl – the concentration of chlorine in water should be zero. Its minimum content in water is destructive.
This is partly why we defend water so that chlorine from tap water evaporates.
CO2 – the concentration of carbon dioxide in the aquarium. The parameter that is important for aquariums with a large number of plants is for herbalists.
CO2 is a fertilizer, plants take carbon (C) from it in the process of photosynthesis, which is an important component in building the plant’s body. Speaking of CO2, it is worth mentioning such a “test in time” as a drop checker, by means of which the sufficiency of carbon dioxide in a tank with plants is determined.
See more details – HERE.
O2 – The estimated concentration of oxygen in the aquarium should be 0.5 mg / l. The value is approximate, because all the aquariums are different.
The lack of a sufficient concentration of oxygen in water can be primarily determined by fish. They begin to greedily swallow air near the surface of the water and breathe heavily, it is impossible not to notice.
In general, it can be said that O2 is an important indicator and there is no overabundance of oxygen in the aquarium, often the wrong actions of a beginner lead to the opposite – to his absence. See the article for more details. “Aeration of the aquarium”.
Fe – A test for the concentration of iron in an aquarium, often used by aquarists in herbalists. Iron is a micro fertilizer for plants, its overdose or shortage has certain negative consequences.
Po4 – phosphate concentration, also measured in herbalists. Since in such aquariums the ratio of pH and NO3 is important. In plant-free aquariums, the phosphate content should tend to zero;
Ca – calcium concentration, often measured in saltwater aquariums;
Cu – copper concentration. Poison for invertebrates and sensitive fish, but also a micro fertilizer for aquarium plants;
By the way, if in your city there are certain problems with the assortment of tests for an aquarium, you can order and buy them in the online store. For example, our partner store PureFish.ru – here.
All forum users FanFishka.ru discount 3%.
Video about testing aquarium water
Tests are available to measure all of the above parameters. The minimum set includes studies on pH, GH, ammonia, ammonium, nitrates and nitrites.
Experts consider the test for nitrates to be the most useful, as it clearly shows the level of contamination of the aquarium.
Then there are tests for the content of nitrites and ammonia, which are especially useful when starting the aquarium or in case of stopping the filter. Tests for acidity and hardness are mostly informational.
The form of release is different:
- Test strips. They are the most inaccurate, but also the cheapest.
- Drip. They are easy to use, not very expensive, economical and fairly accurate.
- Long-term electronic tests. It is needed in cases where water parameters need to be monitored for a long time (as in the case of CO2).
The modern market offers tests from both imported, reputable manufacturers, such as Tetra, Sera, Aquarium Pharmaceuticals, etc., as well as low-cost domestic tests, for example, Neva Tropik’s NLPA.
All are accurate, effective and easy to use. Each has a manual and transcript of the results.
Domestic NILPA adapted to our conditions and transfer temperature drops from -37 to +50 without loss of properties.
As mentioned above, an ecosystem in an aquarium can often get out of control, which can cause a serious imbalance in the normal functioning of the organisms that inhabit it. That is why it is recommended that at least once a week various water tests be carried out on:
- Salt / Specific mass.
- Carbonate water hardness.
- Chlorine and Chloramine.
- Liquefied oxygen.
- Iron and carbon dioxide.
It is worth noting that it is absolutely not recommended to purchase each test separately, significantly overpaying at the same time. The best option would be to buy a full test kit.
For a routine check, a standard kit will suffice. But if the vessel is intended for marine life, then it is recommended to acquire a special mini-set. To date, there are:
- Test strips. Outwardly, this test looks like a small strip, from which, in fact, its name originated, which must be dipped into a container with water from the aquarium. After that, all that remains is to make a visual comparison of the strip extracted from the water with the list of colors in the set.
- Liquid tests. The second version of the tests used to check the status of the water in the aquarium. So, to get the results you need to use a pipette to collect a few drops of liquid from the kit and drop them into a previously prepared container with water. After that, you need to shake the container a little and put on for a few minutes. Then it remains only to make a comparison of the obtained water color with the control value from the test set.
It should be emphasized that sometimes in order to obtain independent results it is recommended to involve a disinterested person. And already in his presence to conduct all the necessary tests. It is also advisable not to tell him about what a particular color means, but simply to ask him about it.
This approach will make the most accurate conclusions about the state of the water in the aquarium.
In addition, progress does not stand still and just a few years ago it became possible to learn some indicators, for example, pH, using electronic devices. It should also be noted that some tests are suitable exclusively for fresh water, and some only for sea water.
Therefore, we dwell in detail on the contents of some test kits.