Hello dear colleagues! What is the main component in aquarism that helps to achieve significant success in this hobby?
That’s right – knowledge. As you already understood, aquarism is quite a fascinating and to some extent, difficult task, requiring the aquarist to have certain knowledge of chemistry, biology and physics.
If you clearly understand these three components separately, then it will be much easier for you to interconnect them, and the easier it will be to care for your underwater garden. Of the above three disciplines, biology is the simplest, but to fully understand it, you also need to understand the basics of chemistry and physics.
In this cycle of 3 parts, I will tell you about the main chemical processes in aquarism that take place every second. We will consider such interesting things as pH, the rigidity of aquarium water, conductance, dissolved salts and the nitrate cycle.
The better you begin to navigate the chemical composition of aquarium water, the greater the success you will be able to achieve.
You should start with water, as it is the main element of aquarism. Water is life, for sure you have heard this saying. And now we remember what water is made of?
That’s right: from two molecules of hydrogen and an oxygen molecule. But in addition to these two chemical elements, it also contains other chemical elements and salts, which in varying degrees affect the life of all living organisms.
If you carefully examine the water molecule through a microscope, you will notice that it does not look like any other molecule. Hydrogen molecules create close relationships with oxygen, forming a V-shaped form.
When examining a water molecule through a microscope from above, you will notice how 2 hydrogen atoms with positive charges are located obliquely from the oxygen atom with a negative charge. In addition, all sides of the molecule attract ions and other molecules with opposite charges.
This process in chemistry is called bipolar nature.
At school, we kept telling everyone that “Why do I need this chemistry, because in life it will not come in handy for me?” Now I think you understood that it was so rash to speak. I will not deny that I was the same as everyone else, I did not understand chemistry, and to put it mildly, I scored on it both at school, at the technical school and at the institute.
Due to bipolarity, water is able to accumulate in itself such chemicals as ammonia, oxygen, calcium, iron, nitrates, and so on.
Due to its unique structure, water can help dissolve all sorts of chemicals and elements. Just do not forget one important factor: if there is an increased concentration of nitrates in aquarium water, then more space is needed to dissolve the molecules of carbon dioxide and oxygen.
The ability of aquarium water to dissolve various elements is influenced by its temperature. Any aquarist is interested in water dissolving substances of various shapes, and no matter if it is a solid or liquid. The higher the temperature, the stronger this ability.
But on the other hand, if the water temperature drops, then gaseous substances are more actively dissolved in it. In aquariums, solids, liquids or gases directly affect the maintenance of biological balance in the ecosystem.
A vivid example of the content of discus. When keeping these aquarium fish, it is very important to make water changes and siphon the aquarium soil from the products of fish life activity, since in this case there is no space left in the water to dissolve oxygen.
The concentration of oxygen falls, which adversely affects the health of the fish. In such an environment discus is likely to die.
Molecules and ions dissolved in aquarium water are in constant motion, and they are distributed throughout the water mass equally. Let’s imagine the aqua 50 liters. Distilled water was poured into it and steamed into compartments with a steel sheet.
And then raise the salinity of water to 34 as quickly as possible and then remove the septum. The water will mix and the salts will quickly spread throughout the aquarium and its total salinity will be from 16 to 17.
Such a phenomenon is called diffusion.
Ions of salt, which were located behind a partition with salt water, exerted a certain pressure, which is called osmotic. The higher the salt content, the higher the osmotic pressure.
Steel is a very durable material and it is able to withstand this pressure, but the scales of the fish, in comparison with the steel partition, are just dust. To prevent osmotic pressure from exerting a harmful effect on fish, the scales allow small ions of salt to pass through. It turns out that if there are more salt ions around the fish in the water than is contained in the fish, the scales will start to pass salt ions through themselves to reduce pressure.
This feature is characteristic of all creatures living in the aquatic environment.
Thanks to millions of years of evolution and adaptation, almost all aquatic inhabitants were able to get used to the constant fluctuations of osmotic pressure. This confirms the statement: tougher than fresh. ” But at the same time, oceanic water has its own chemical parameters of water, where sea stars, corals and fish have their own requirements regarding changes in pH and salinity.
At the same time, some freshwater fish need serious changes in the chemical parameters of aquarium water in order to safely spawn.
Conductivity, not the main parameter of water, to which the aquarist should pay attention day and night, but you must understand it in conjunction with the other chemical parameters. If you plan to become a good and competent aquarist, then you must understand the importance and origin of the basic parameters of water.
Conductivity is the ability of substances to conduct electricity. The more molecules and ions are dissolved in water, the greater will be its electrical conductivity.
Conductivity is measured in microSiemens and it will be proportional to the osmotic pressure that affects the fish. Distilled water has a conductance of zero, and in sea water, this parameter is equal to 5000 micro-names.
Any chemical element, whether it is medicine for fish, conditioner, liquid fertilizer or feed, will increase the water conductivity. Accordingly, if you plan to put a new inhabitant in your aquarium, you must first acclimatize it.
During acclimatization, the fish will get used to a certain osmotic pressure for a long time.
The effect of conduction on spawning
I have already said a little higher that fish are able to perceive the slightest change in conductance in order to begin to multiply. Certain fish species are more sensitive to fluctuations in this parameter than others. Most species of fish begin to actively spawn in an aquarium, if there has been a shift in the parameters of conduct.
For example, Monodactylus is able to live well in both sea and fresh water, but it breeds only in sea water. In this case, its larvae will drift through the water, and feed on water plankton.
And when they mature and move from the larva stage to young fish, they return back to the freshwater body.
Consider another example with Botsii Clown. Mature aquarists are convinced that fighting begins to spawn only after the aquarist stops making substitutions for a long time and does not retract in the aquarium.
And when after a certain time he makes a big substitution, adding osmotic or distilled water to the jar, the overall conductance will drop and the clowns will start spawning.
The total hardness of GH is measured in German degrees and is derived from the word “Gesamt Haerte”. In general, beginners often confuse total hardness with carbonate, which is labeled as kH, with which we will speak in another part. The kN parameter indicates the alkalinity of the aquarium water, not its hardness.
The concept of “total stiffness” was introduced for clarification. Under the total hardness you need to understand the number of ions that have two additional protons dissolved in water.
The main chemical elements that can change the level of GH are Magnesium and Calcium.
Most popular aquarium fish (kills, dwarf cichlids and discus) prefer soft and acidic water, and accordingly, the same conditions are necessary for fish spawning. To the GH parameter they are not very demanding, but you still do not forget to maintain rigidity at a certain level, because magnesium and calcium are extremely important for the health of aquarium fish.
Therefore, if you make changes with water that has passed through a reverse osmosis system, you do not need to pour only this water into the aquarium, you must mix it with tap water, and only then pour it into the aquarium. You can determine the necessary proportion with the help of special tests.
Of course, an aquarist in everyday life does not encounter conduct and overall rigidity, but fish always face them. Conductivity is the most common cause of stress in fish when we transport them from one aquarium to another.
The higher the conductance, the greater the pressure on the scales in fish. Of course, the total hardness is not capable of killing the fish momentarily, but if the fish stays in water for a long time with an inappropriate level of hardness, this may ultimately lead to negative biological processes.
I always told my readers that you need to be guided by the geographical origin of each fish, before you put them in your aquarium, where is the hodgepodge. After all, the primary task of an aquarist is to create conditions close to natural conditions for his pets.
That’s all, wait for the continuation in the next part.