Hello, friends. We continue the series of articles “What does water consist of” and I have for you the second part of a large and interesting topic that I recommend to study. Today we will examine the water parameters we are used to, which we try to keep under close control.
And we will talk about parameters such as alkalinity and the active reaction of the environment (pH).
Regardless of what kind of fish you keep and what type of aquarium you have at home, the above two chemical parameters play a key role in creating a real masterpiece of aquarium. The pH depends on how the water molecules will come into contact with the aquatic inhabitants and with each other. The alkalinity value of kN can be used to determine how much your tank will maintain a constant pH.
Let’s first understand what pH is.
Ask ten aquarists the question: “What is pH?” And 90 percent of them will answer that using this indicator, we determine how acidic the water in the aquarium is. Yes, they will certainly be right, but the essence of this term is much broader than we used to understand.
By “acidity” is meant an excess amount of electrons and protons present in aquarium water. Protons have a positive charge that will attract negative electrons.
From the school course of physics, we know that every atom, molecule and ion strive to contain the same number of electrons and protons, because if there is an equality of these smallest particles, then we will have a stable environment. The essence of chemical reactions is that during the interaction of various elements, the balance of electrons and protons is aligned.
However, pH is not able to show the final amount of protons and electrons in your water. The pH value helps the aquarist know the number of protons present in the aquarium water in the form of a hydrogen ion (H +).
By the letters H and p, we can determine the potential of hydrogen ions. And therefore, when you will measure the pH level in your tank, pay attention to the result. If the index is in the range of 1 – 6.999, then this indicates that water has an acid reaction, and there is an excess of protons in it.
In addition, such an indicator. But if your pH value is close to pH 7, then in your tank a neutral environment that does not have an excess of protons.
And if the indicator is more than 7, then aquarium water has a negative amount of protons.
Also in chemistry there is a concept like “base of water” or “oxidability”, which refers to the possibility of any chemical substances to accept protons. In other words, this suggests that a negatively charged element can react with free protons.
That is, if the pH test in a home aquarium showed a value of 7, then you will know that there is an excess of electrons in the water.
Any living creature that lives in the aquatic environment, every day will respond to a certain extent to the chemical parameters of water. Fish blood has a pH of about 7.4. The anatomy of dwarf Amazonian cichlids has rewarded several layers of cells that separate their circulatory system from the acidic water of the Amazon tributaries.
Thus, the fish are perfectly adapted to living in water, with an excellent pH from the pH of the circulatory system. If you place dwarf cichlids in an aquarium where the water has a high enough pH level, then the fish will not be able, as expected, to adapt to new living conditions.
Under alkalinity, we are used to understand the carbonate hardness of water (KN), which contributes to confusion in determining the total hardness of water. I emphasize that CN and GH are two different parameters, do not confuse them.
From the last part you learned that in terms of GH we see the number of cations in the water. But alkalinity allows you to determine the number of anions. By anion is meant an ordinary negatively charged ion.
Anions, in turn, can react with various acids that are present in aquarium water. They neutralize them and maintain a constant pH in the aquarium. The two most common alkalinity indicators in aquariums are carbonates and bicarbonates.
In other words, when measuring alkalinity, we can determine with you the ability of aquarium water to absorb various acids without changing the pH.
The alkalinity level in the aquarium plays an important role. For example, cichlids from African lakes live in water bodies, where the pH is about 8 pH.
Since the waste products of fishes are naturally acidic, in large quantities they will gradually begin to lower the pH in the aquarium. Here anions must enter the game, which should neutralize these same acids, while the pH level has not yet begun to fall.
The nitrogen cycle is also related to this topic, but I decided not to include it in the article, as I already have an article on the blog about the “Nitrate cycle in an aquarium”. You can follow this link and study it for completeness of information.
And now we will continue and study the role of oxygen.
Unfortunately, the topic of oxygen and its influence on aquarium life rarely comes up in forums and communities, therefore, in order to eliminate this defect, I decided to touch this moment on my blog. It would seem that maintaining a normal level of oxygen in an aquarium is easy, but almost every time when amateur fish in aquariums start dying massively, this is mainly due to the lack of oxygen.
Almost all aquatic inhabitants, from bacteria and algae to invertebrates, fish and plants, need oxygen. It is used when the level of sugar in the nitrate cycle is lowered, and this helps release enormous amounts of energy from sugar molecules.
If our body suffers from a lack of oxygen, it will affect almost all bodily processes that need energy production.
Water itself does not have the ability to dissolve an infinite number of chemical compounds. From this it follows that the more various substances dissolved in water, the less space will remain for the dissolution of the desired chemical compounds and substances.
Due to the fact that salt water contains more minerals and salts than freshly, sea water has half the oxygen content. Temperature affects the ability of any water to dissolve gases. In cool water, gases dissolve much easier than in warm.
This is seen in the summer in small ponds and lakes, where fish often float to the surface and catch air.
Add to this the emissions of various chemical compounds that make plants in our reservoirs. They will also reduce the place for the dissolution of oxygen, which further leads to an increase in water temperature.
Such a phenomenon is called thermal pollution.
Increased water temperature significantly lowers the level of oxygen, which can later lead to a massive death of fish due to asphyxiation. In addition, this process causes an increase in the concentration of nitrogenous compounds in aquarium water, which lower the pH, and this again provokes poisoning in fish.
In the aquarium, the main oxygen consumers are fish. The need for oxygen can vary depending on the weight and size of the fish.
Here is an unusual example: Pelvicahromis Pulcher is smaller than rhodostomus, but it compensates for its increased oxygen demand due to its high activity. In addition, the increased temperature of the water not only complicates the ability of the latter to dissolve oxygen, but it also significantly speeds up the metabolism of aquarium fish.
And if fish metabolism is accelerated, it means they need more oxygen than usual.
This aspect can be used for your own purposes when you come home from a pet store with a large armful of new fish, which you will have to keep in large numbers. You just need to lower the temperature of the water a little so that their metabolism slows down and the need for oxygen decreases.
In addition to fish, invertebrates also consume oxygen in aquariums, but they are only on the second line and are practically invisible. The third most malicious users of precious oxygen are nitrifying bacteria, which take an active part in the nitrate cycle. The processes of decomposition of atoms into water, carbon dioxide and nitrogen are accompanied with a serious consumption of precious gas.
If there is a high concentration of decomposing organic waste in your tank, then the oxygen concentration will decrease significantly, because the number of nitrifying bacteria will sharply increase, and you yourself need to know what. Snails are a great indicator. If all the snails crawled to the surface of the water, it means that the concentration of dissolved oxygen in the water is very low.
Similarly, aquarium fish will behave, which will keep near the surface, and periodically will pop up and gasp for air. Having seen these signs, you should take appropriate measures in a short time, if you want to save aquarium inhabitants.
We all know how this gas enters the water – through the surface. Aquarists know several ways that can be used to accelerate the process of oxygen transfer from the atmosphere to the aquarium.
The easiest and most reliable way is to leave a small gap between the lid and the aquarium for air circulation.
The second and more efficient way to saturate aquarium water with oxygen is to use powerful compressors and aerators. In marine aquariums for this purpose use Skimmer.
It also purifies water from toxins. If you do not really like the jet of bubbles in the aquarium, you can buy a mounted filter, which will pass through the water, cascading into the aquarium, breaking the water surface and producing a certain amount of air bubbles.
It is very important to know! Remember, a higher concentration of oxygen in the water will be closer to the surface of the water. Therefore, in order to distribute gas throughout the water column, use filters to create a flow and circulation of water.
There will be a current – bottom fish will not suffer!
Another effective way to increase the oxygen concentration is to grow aquatic plants in your aquarium. Thanks to photosynthesis, in the daytime, hydrophytes will produce the oxygen needed by the fish.
The famous Japanese master Takashi Amano advised his followers one tricky way: when planting new fish in an aquarium, planting a new aquarium plant in a jar that will improve filtration and produce oxygen. And not necessarily it can be expensive and rare plants.
Anubiasa, cryptocorynes, Javanese moss, nayas and Indian ferns can be excellent options.
That’s all for today, thank you very much for your attention and your time. I hope these articles were useful to you and have learned something new for you.
The previous part can be found at this link! See you soon.