Understanding Water Chemistry, to have a Safer Freshwater Aquarium.



In this blog, I aim to give some basic knowledge on Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite, PH, Water hardness, Water Carbonate hardness and finally chlorine and chloramine. Once you understand, each of these, not only will keeping fish become easy, but choosing the correct aquarium plants will be easier too.

# Chlorine/ Chloramine – What is it?

As most of us are aware, Chlorine is a chemical used to clean water. We use it in swimming pools, lazy spas and it is also used in our drinking water! Yup the very water that comes from our tap, has chlorine in it. Chlorine and Chloramine are harmful to your fish. This is why it is important to always use a Tap Safe that eliminates BOTH chlorine and chloramine.

Chloramine is a compound of Ammonia and Chlorine. So, as you can imagine, it is dangerous also for your fish. Make sure when choosing your tap safe you make sure that it eliminates both of these and not just one.


Ammonia, Nitrates and Nitrites

  • Ammonia (NH3) – Ammonia forms from in a number of different ways. Un eaten food, fish poop, decaying plants and dead fish. Ammonia is dangerous to your fish, if present it will burn your fish. Testing your water is integral to ensure ammonia isnt present. This is why we always recommned that you TEST TEST TEST, when starting a new aquarium. Ammonia should never be present in a fully established, well maintained aquarium. Some ways to detect ammonia without a test kit are, burns on fish gill, bubbles on top of water are some signs.

  • Nitrite (NO2) – Although this isn’t as toxic as ammonia, Nitrite is formed from ammonia breaking down. Nitrite levels should never exceed 0ppm. If Nitrite gets too high, it can stop the blood carrying oxygen in your fish. This can result in fish death. We definitely don’t want this! Now, some fish can tolerate more nitrites than others. But lets me honest, do you want to take the risk? I know i don’t. Ways to avoid a build-up of nitrites is to regularly change the water in your aquarium! (Comment below if you would like me to touch on this in more details)

  • Nitrate NO3) – This is the final stage in your cycling and aquarium process, this is the least toxic on them all. Plants love nitrates and do well at consuming them. Nitrates are usually the main cause for algae blooms in our aquarium. So, if you’re struggling with nitrates, get some plants. You can also carry out water changes to lower Nitrates.

# Water PH

Water Ph is probably the one that took me a while to get my head around. Water (H20) is made up of Hydrogen and oxygen molecules. PH measures how acidic the water is. So, for example, a PH of 7 is considered neutral. An equal number of molecules of oxygen and hydrogen.

Keeping a stable PH level is important. If your PH varies to much this will cause the fish to stress out and could cause death. Some fish need different PH levels, this is why it is important to know what your PH level is in your area you live in. Knowing this will allow you to choose appropriate fish for your tank! In most cases a PH range 6-8 is acceptable.


# Water Hardness

Water hardness (GH) is determined by the amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium in the water. The Lower the amount the softer the water, the higher amount the harder the water. Southern UK tends to have much harder water thank the North of the UK. Knowing your water will help you choose suitable fish for your aquarium. This will improve the quality of your fish tank as your fish will be happier.

Water hardness effects your PH, example, harder water tends to be less acidic. Giving you’re a PH of around 8ppm. Placing soft water fish in hard water can cause organ failure and lead to death. This is why it is important to understand your water parameters.

# Water Carbonate Hardness

Water Carbonate Hardness (kh) – Is important as it has a direct effect on how stable your PH level is. A higher KH will give a more stable PH level. However, if your KH drops this can lead to your PH dropping also. This is something to remember if you find yourself with a PH imbalance.

KH is a measurement of dissolved carbonate and bicarbonate irons. So, remember, if you’re struggling with a low PH, check your KH as this could be the problem!


# Conculsion

I hope you now have a basic understanding of water chemistry and how it relates to keeping our fishy friends safe. So many times, I see people with on social media commenting saying, help all my parameters are fine but my fish are dying. This tends to lead the me asking, have you checked all your parameters and the reply I get is yes, ammonia is fine. Thats the only one. I hope this blog will help some of your aquariums run smoother. It is so important we choose plants and fish suitable for our water parameters. So, remember, before buying fish, do some test on your water.

We are always here to help guys. Just message us on socials or email us.


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