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FAQ on aquarium water and biochemistry in an aquarium

Good day, dear colleagues. We continue to fill the heading of frequently asked questions about aquarism and on the agenda today we have aquarium water, its chemical parameters and other useful things.

The last article from this column was on the topic of choosing and placing an aquarium, and today we will slightly deepen our knowledge in ordinary things for an aquarist. So, let’s go:

Question number 1 – In the aquarium sources often you can see the concept of “soft” or “hard water.” What does it mean?

Under the rigidity of the aquarium water understand the amount of dissolved salts of magnesium and calcium. Stiffness is carbonate, general and constant. The total stiffness can be calculated by adding the permanent and temporal stiffness and it is measured in German degrees.

If the water hardness is within 0 – 4 degrees, then the water is considered very soft; if the hardness is within 5 – 8 degrees, then the water is considered soft; 8 – 16 medium hard water; 16 – 30 hard and above 30 – this is very hard water. Almost all aquarists use tap water, which has a non-constant stiffness parameter.

It depends on the season and the geographical location of your city.

Question number 2 – What does the term temporary and permanent rigidity mean?

Carbonate (temporary) hardness is the amount of magnesium and calcium salts contained in aquarium water. Constant hardness depends on the presence of magnesium sulphate and calcium chloride in water.

It can be eliminated by running the water through a distillation apparatus or by chemical means.

Question number 3 – How to reduce the hardness of the water in the aquarium?

There are several ways to reduce the rigidity of aquarium water. The easiest and most affordable is to boil water or freeze it. If you boil the water for 30 minutes, then its hardness will be halved, and if the water is frozen and melted, then the more.

If the freezing method is more suitable for you, then a transparent basin is useful to you, since it is convenient to watch the freezing process. After a part of the water freezes (it is for this purpose that a transparent basin will come in handy), the aqueous sediment needs to be drained, since salts have remained in it.

And the ice, which does not contain salt, is melted and heated, and then poured into the aquarium.

Question number 4 – How to increase the water hardness in the aquarium?

If the water hardness needs to be increased slightly, then marble chips or marble should be put in the aquarium. In this case, the stiffness will increase slowly, and the paradox, the softer the water in the aquarium, the stronger the stiffness increases.

But the most effective and reliable way to increase the rigidity is to add solutions of magnesium sulfate (magnesia) or calcium chloride. If you add 1 ml of 10% calcium chloride solution, then the hardness of 1 liter of water will increase by 3 degrees, and if you add 1 ml of a 25% solution of magnesia, then the hardness will increase by 4 degrees.

But if you want to create closer to the natural ratio of magnesium ions and calcium, it is better to use solutions of magnesia and calcium chloride at the same time.

The pH parameter is the active reaction of hydrogen ions. The active reaction of the medium (the same pH) is one of the most important indicators of the chemical state of water.

It can be determined by the number of hydroxyl and hydrogen ions contained in the aquarium water. If the pH is 7, then water has a neutral environment. If the pH is above 7, then the medium is considered alkaline, if below 7 – acid.

In aquarium conditions, the pH must meet the needs of aquarium fish, plants and invertebrates. As a rule, this indicator varies from 6 to 9. There are fish that can tolerate significant fluctuations in the pH parameter, and there are fish that live in water, where there is a stable acidity. But in the conditions of the aquarium the pH can change repeatedly during the day.

The reason for this is the endless chemical and biological processes in a closed ecosystem. Tap water has a pH close to neutral.

To change the pH in the direction of acidity or alkalinity, in water you need to add either alkali or acid. Orthophosphoric acid is best suited for acidifying the medium.

First, the concentrated acid should be diluted with water (just pour the acid into the water, and not vice versa), and then drip add the solution to the aquarium and check the pH value.

In addition, water can be acidified using peat extract and decoction of alder cones. Take a tablespoon of cones and pour boiling water over them in a glass.

This solution must be kept on the fire for 5-7 minutes. When the broth is cooled, it should be poured into the aquarium based on the proportion of 1 cup per 10 liters of water.

As a rule, aquarists resort to acidifying water during the breeding of certain types of aquarium fish. If your aquarium is of a decorative nature, then changing the pH level is not necessary.

If the water needs to be made alkaline, then the best and most affordable option is drinking soda (sodium bicarbonate). Soda is taken on the basis of the proportion of 0.2 – 0.5 grams per liter of water.

Soda dissolves in a separate container, and only after that is added to the aquarium. If you alkalify a very soft and soft water, you will not achieve a stable result.

In those aquariums where regular changes are made, the pH is usually above 7, so alkalinization in such banks is not required.

The redox potential or redox potential is the biological and chemical activity of water. For aquarists, it is important because it shows the amount of organic compounds dissolved in water, and if it is simpler, it shows the level of contamination in the aquarium.

This parameter can only be determined using a pH meter and it is measured in arbitrary units from 0 to 42. At home, it is extremely problematic to determine it.

A recently launched aquarium has an indicator of redox potential in the range of 30-34 units, in such water fine-growing and floating aquarium plants with weak roots (cabomba, perististeum Brazilian and hygrofil multi-seeded) grow excellently. For these plants, we can conclude that water has a high rate of redkos-potential. But later, this indicator will gradually decrease and aponogetones and echinodoruses will start to grow well.

In older aquariums, the redox potential is even smaller and there is a good increase in cryptocoryne. If cryptocorynes begin to languish, then it’s time to do a water change, siphon the soil and put the bottom filter.

In the process of life of aqua organisms, their aquatic products accumulate in aquas, which begin to decompose gradually. Complement the overall picture and dead plant parts and the water is saturated with organic acids. If there is no filter in the aquarium and the water is rarely replaced, this process is significantly accelerated.

The water becomes yellowish in appearance and becomes acidic. This water is called “old.”

Peat decoction is prepared as follows: several peat cuts are put into enameled dishes and boiled. Then it is cooled and filtered through cotton wool several times.

Infusion is prepared in the same way as a decoction, but in this case peat is not boiled, but defended. For 100 liters of water in the aquarium you need to add 0.5 – 1 liter of infusion or decoction of peat. To get tropical peat from local peat, our local aquarists can add a couple of coffee beans, eucalyptus leaf, oak bark, alder cones or a pinch of black tea to it.

An infusion or decoction is added to the aquarium water until it becomes light-amber.

Question number 10 – What should be the dosage in the preparation of peat water?

It does not matter how much water you took and the amount of peat. It does not matter if you took two kilograms of peat or just 200 grams, or you digested it in a 10-liter container or 3-liter. The main condition is that when peat broth is added to the aquarium water, it becomes slightly amber.

All other components (coffee grains, tea pinch, eucalyptus leaf pairs, alder cones and oak) are used in small quantities.

That’s it for today, stay tuned to the blog and don’t miss the third part of the FAQ!

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