Maintaining Water Quality and the Ideal Aquarium Temperature

How Best to Manage Your Aquarium's Water Quality
Many factors can affect the water in your aquarium—including the source of your water (municipal vs. spring water, for example), the food you feed your fish, the amount of algae growing, and much more. Below are some common issues and how you can correct them.

WATER SAFETY


It’s important to treat water before adding fish. Tetra® AquaSafe® Solution removes chlorine and other harmful substances from the water. You should add eight drops of Tetra® AquaSafe® Solution per one gallon of water. For example, a two-gallon aquarium will need 16 drops of Tetra® AquaSafe® Solution. The 3.3-ounce size has a dropper built into the bottle.

TESTING WATER


In nature, waste products from decaying matter, fish waste and other animal waste are naturally filtered. The harmful ammonia and nitrites are removed by bacteria and plant life. The substrate at the bottom of a body of water will absorb harmful chemicals and decaying matter like a natural filter. The actual size of rivers and lakes will keep water healthy for animals. The larger a body of water, the less lethal any harmful chemicals will be to its inhabitants.

In an aquarium, the natural filtration is replaced by equipment, which filters the water. The larger the aquarium you own, the easier it is to keep the water balanced and healthy. To ensure the ammonia and nitrite levels have not reached harmful levels, it’s important to test the water.

To understand how filtration occurs, one needs to understand the cycle. Fish waste and other decomposing material will produce ammonia. In high quantities, this chemical will kill animals in an aquarium.

A new system will not have nitrifying bacteria present. Ammonia levels and nitrite levels can reach deadly amounts. If this happens, partial water changes will bring levels down without destroying all of the nitrifying bacteria. This will last only about four to six weeks before the tank “cycles.”

Or, you can add Tetra® SafeStart® Solution to your new aquarium. Tetra® SafeStart® Solution accelerates the establishment of the bio-filter in newly set-up freshwater aquariums. The live bacteria start working immediately to provide a safe and healthy environment for your fish without the long wait. Tetra® SafeStart® Solution can also be used after a water change, when adding new fish or after medicating.

Elevated levels of ammonia and nitrite should not occur in a “cycled” tank. Causes of elevated levels in a mature system would indicate overstocking or over-feeding, and should be corrected immediately.

Seek your dealer's advice about the quality of your local tap water. Knowing parameters such as pH and hardness will help you select fish that are well-suited to live in the water in your aquarium.

Also ask your dealer if the water in your area contains chlorine or chloramine--strong chemicals used for water treatment in many municipalities. Always add Tetra® AquaSafe® Solution to any water before putting it in your aquarium. Tetra® AquaSafe® Solution neutralizes or eliminates chlorine, chloramine and heavy metals. If you have a small aquarium, you may want to consider using spring water, which does not contain harmful chemicals.

  • Parameter: Nitrate
  • Ideal range for healthy freshwater aquarium: Below 40 ppm
  • Ideal range for healthy saltwater aquarium: Below 40 ppm, 0 is ideal
  • Reason to test: Waste product resulting from biological filtration that builds up over time. High levels can stress fish and cause algae blooms.
  • Solution: Perform a 25% partial water change and add Tetra® EasyBalance® Solution. Live plants are also beneficial at reducing nitrate.
  • Dosing: 1 teaspoon (5 ml) Tetra® EasyBalance® Solution per 5 gallons aquarium water.
  • Note: If aquarium is 50 gallons, the My Aquarium App will calculate and recommend adding 10 teaspoons when readings are over 40 ppm.
  • Parameter: Nitrite
  • Ideal range for healthy freshwater aquarium: Below 0.5 ppm, 0 is ideal
  • Ideal range for healthy saltwater aquarium: Below 0.5 ppm, 0 is ideal
  • Reason to test: Toxic waste product when good filter bacteria are not functioning. Causes severe fish stress and hinders respiration (noticeable when fish breathe fast and labored).
  • Solution: Reduce amount of fish food and conduct a partial water change. Add Tetra® SafeStart® Solution filter bacteria. Increasing aeration with an air pump and air diffuser is also recommended.
  • Dosing: 1 teaspoon (5 ml) Tetra® SafeStart® Solution per 5 gallons aquarium water.
  • Note: Tetra® SafeStart Plus® Solution can be half dose. Any reading above .5ppm will be 1 tsp per 5 gal. If value is above 3ppm nitrite, the My Aquarium app should prescribe 2 tsp per 5 gal.
  • Note: Any reading above .5ppm will be 1 tsp per 5 gal and if value is above 3ppm nitrite app should prescribe 2 tsp per 5 gal.
  • Parameter: Total Hardness
  • Ideal range for healthy freshwater aquarium: Community fish prefer 50 to 150 ppm depending on species
  • Reason to test: Measures the levels of minerals like calcium and magnesium. Fish like African Cichlids prefer higher levels where Tetras and Discus prefer lower levels.
  • Solution: General rule is to let your fish adjust to local tap water and not adjust.
  • Dosing: No action
  • Parameter: Total Chlorine
  • Ideal range for healthy freshwater aquarium: 0 ppm
  • Reason to test: Chlorine and Chloramine are common disinfectants in tap water and are very harmful to fish gills and invertebrates.
  • Solution: Add Tetra® AquaSafe® Solution to all tap water before adding to your aquarium. Also adjust the water temperature to match your aquarium before adding.
  • Dosing: 1 teaspoon (5 ml) Tetra® AquaSafe® Solution per 5 gallons aquarium water.
  • Note: Tetra® AquaSafe Plus® Solution can be half dose.
  • Parameter: Total Alkalinity
  • Ideal range for healthy freshwater aquarium: Above 80 ppm
  • Ideal range for healthy saltwater aquarium: Above 180 ppm
  • Reason to test: Measures the levels of buffers like carbonates. Low levels will not adequately regulate pH and potentially cause acid buildup or a dangerous pH crash.
  • Solution: Perform a 25% partial water change and add Tetra® EasyBalance® Solution.
  • Dosing: 1 teaspoon (5 ml) Tetra® EasyBalance® Solution per 5 gallons aquarium water.
  • Parameter: pH - Freshwater
  • Ideal range for healthy freshwater aquarium: Community fish prefer 6.8 to 7.8 depending on species
  • Ideal range for healthy saltwater aquarium: 7.8 to 8.4, which is ideal
  • Reason to test: Measures the level of acid and base where 7.0 is neutral. Below 7 is acidic and above 7 is basic. Fish require consistent levels; small changes can be stressful.
  • Solution: Perform a 25% partial water change and add Tetra® Correct pH®.
  • Dosing: If pH under 6.5 add 1 tablet Tetra® Correct pH® per 10 gallons aquarium water.
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WATER TEMPERATURE


To make temperature reading easy, consider purchasing an adhesive temperature strip that can be applied to the outside of your aquarium glass. They are inexpensive and available at your local fish retailer.

Monitor the sun – Too much sunlight can cause algae growth. If you are installing a new aquarium, place it away from a window. If your existing aquarium is near a window, use a shade to reduce the amount of ambient light.

Avoid heat — Never place an aquarium above or near a heat source or air conditioner. You want to keep the area’s temperature as stable as possible.

For all species of fish, there is a middle ground in which they are happiest, and they must be kept within that range for optimum health. Examples: Tropical fish – 72° - 80° F (optimal is 78° F), Common Goldfish – 65° - 68° F, Fancy Tail Goldfish – 65° - 72° F

Submersible heaters are the most popular. Some are adjustable and others are pre-set at 78° F for your convenience.

Be sure to purchase a heater that is properly rated wattage-wise for your tank.

Never remove a heater from the water if it is still turned on. Unplug it first, let it cool and then remove it.

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