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Aquarium Water Care Videos


Water quality is critical to the health of your fish. These aquarium water care videos cover testing for ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, pH, and phosphates. Also covered are normal pH levels, and water change basics.

Ammonia in Freshwater Aquariums

Heidi Gomez
Ammonia is the first challenge a new aquarium faces, and can take fish lives before the owner realizes what is amiss. Knowing how to test for ammonia, monitor for signs of ammonia poisoning, and what steps to take when ammonia is elevated, can make the difference between success and failure in a new aquarium.

Keep in mind that even after your aquarium has established a balanced cycle, things can happen that cause spikes in ammonia. Adding a number of new fish, the death of a fish, use of medications to treat disease, and even rigorous cleaning of the filter or substrate can all disrupt the biological colonies enough to result in an ammonia spike. Therefore, it's wise to include ammonia testing in your monthly maintenance routine.

Video - How to Test for Ammonia in Freshwater Aquariums
Ammonia Poisoning
Owners Ammonia Stories

Nitrites in Freshwater Aquariums

Nitrites are the next step in the nitrogen cycle, and can be just as deadly to fish as as elevated ammonia. Nitrite testing should be performed on newly setup tanks, as well as whenever there is a fish death or illness, and as a part of routine maintenance. Sometimes the nitrite phase of a new aquarium will be extended, so don't stop testing until the levels have fallen to zero. Frequent small water changes are the best way to reduce nitrites, during the startup of a new tank.

Like ammonia, nitrites will rise if something disrupts the establish biological colonies in the aquarium. A number of the medications used to treat fish diseases affect the biologicals, so monitor nitrites closely when using any medications or new chemicals in the tank. Anytime the ammonia rises, it's almost a given that the nitrite will soon rise as well.

Video - How to Test for Nitrites in Freshwater Aquariums
Nitrite Poisoning
Owners Nitrite Stories

Nitrates in Freshwater Aquariums

The last parameter to rise in a new aquarium is the nitrate level. Although nitrates are not immediately lethal to fish in the way that ammonia and nitrites are, nitrates are still hazardous to your fish. Over time they will continue to rise, and eventually impact the overall health of your fish.

Among the negative effects are the reproductive ability of adults and growth rates of young fish. It is felt that nitrates can compromise the immune system of the fish, leaving them more susceptible to disease than fish that are not subjected to high levels of nitrates. Further, conditions that increase nitrates often decrease saturated oxygen, which is dangerous for your fish. Last, but not least, elevated nitrates will contribute to algae overgrowth.

Good tank maintenance, water changes, and the use of special filter media will help keep nitrate levels low. Nitrate testing should be done monthly as part of regular maintenance.

Video - How to Test for Nitrates in Freshwater Aquariums
Nitrates in the Aquarium
Nitrate Poisoning

Phosphates in Freshwater Aquariums

Phosphates are not dangerous to fish directly, but do contribute to algae overgrowth. They are introduced though fish waste, plant decay, uneaten food, and even through the water source itself. The best defense against phosphates is routine tank maintenance. Live plants are also great for keeping phosphates low, and provide a natural habitat for the fish.

Video - How to Test for Phosphates in Freshwater Aquariums
Phosphates in the Aquarium
Aquarium Algae

Aquarium pH Levels

Glossostigma elatinoides
pH is often mystifying to aquarium owners, who aren't sure if they should change it to meet a number they've read in a book, or just ignore it. Although fish thrive in specific pH ranges, it's the change in pH that is has the biggest impact on their immediate health. Therefore, it's important to be aware of the current pH of the water the fish are in, and ensure it remains stable.

Some fish are tolerant of a wide range of pH levels, while others highly sensitive to the pH levels, particularly when spawning. In those cases, it's wise to ensure that you are able to provide the proper water conditions on an ongoing basis. Various means are available to maintain either an acid or alkaline pH. Regardless of methods employed, testing regularly and keeping a record is key to success.

Video - How to Track and Manage Aquarium pH Levels
Video - Normal pH Levels for Fish
Water pH
Do Rocks Affect the Water pH?
Matching pH of Aquarium Water

How to Change Water in Aquariums

Water changes are the cornerstone of maintaining good water quality. These articles and video cover the basics of performing water changes, and why they are important.

Video - How to Change Water in Aquariums
Do Water Changes Kill Fish?
Water Changes
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