Aquarium Water Testing Kits

nitrogen cycleAquarium water testing kits help to ensure a number of things. Whether it is a new or established tank what you are trying to do is maintain the water quality that is best for your fish. When an aquarium is first started, a process called the nitrogen cycle begins in all freshwater or saltwater environments. Since the biological filter has yet to be established any undigested food or fish waste quickly leads to high toxic levels of ammonia.

The nitrogen cycle starts as ammonia levels rise.  Naturally occurring beneficial bacteria (nitrosomonas) will develop in your fish tank. Even low levels of ammonia can be harmful to fish. As these bacteria increase, they turn the ammonia into nitrites. As ammonia levels fall, nitrite levels will rise. Nitrites aren’t as toxic to the aquarium fish as ammonia, but it is still very harmful. Another, naturally occurring bacteria (nitrobacter or nitrospira) will develop. These bacteria will turn nitrites into nitrates. Nitrates are the least harmful to the freshwater aquarium as well as any marine environment.  Nitrates are removed physically by water changes.  Individual test kits can be purchased to test for ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate. Mater kits, usually more economical, can also be purchased that will do all three as well as pH. It should be noted that after testing the tank water, always rinse vials in a sink. Never pour test contents back into the aquarium. Reagents from testing can devastate your aquarium.dead fish

When a fish aquarium has finished cycling, it is safe to start adding more fish. The entire cycle could take several weeks. Be patient. At this time ammonia and nitrites should be zero and nitrates should be negligible. When nitrate levels rise to harmful levels, it is time for a water change—25 to 30 percent.

In addition to the basic kits that are mentioned above, test kits are also available for calcium hardness, phosphate, copper, alkalinity as well as other various features of water quality.  Many tests are extremely sensitive and provide the best range for aquarium die hards that want to keep an exact history of the exact numbers in their tanks. Know, however, that many water conditioners and marine additives can cause false readings in many test kits. Those are few and far between, but it does happen. Ultimately, the best aquariums will balance out in time and the use of test kits will be minimal.

Because this article’s main goal is to inform the hobbyist of some of the basic principles of fish keeping, endorsements of particular brands of testing kits will not be recommended. Most test kit manufacturers have reviews online that may make your choice easier. Also, don’t hesitate to ask your local pet shop or even a petco or petsmart employee what their favorites might be. They use aquarium kits all day long.

Part of your every day aquarium supplies should include the aquarium water testing kits that you determine that you will use on a regular basis. Check from time to time the dates on the reagents for the tests. Though some may still work, many may not give accurate readings.

Summary
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Aquarium Water Testing Kits
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Description
Especially, in the early stages of aquarium keeping, it is important to have accurate knowledge of the environment of your tank. This is done through test kits.



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