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Water Test Kits For Aquariums

Aug 19, 2008
Water testing is an integral part of owning a saltwater aquarium, so it pays to know how to do it properly. Water test kits for aquariums allow the aquarist to run chemical tests on the water for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, salinity, pH, carbonate water hardness, alkalinity, chlorine, chloramine, copper, phosphate, oxygen, iron, carbon dioxide, and more.

Each test kit is rather expensive, although it's possible to save some money if you purchase a master test kit.

How do aquarium test kits work? The process is very easy - all you have to do is dip the strips in a test tube containing your aquarium water, and compare the color on the strip to the information cards that come with the package.

Another type of test kit comes with liquid droppers containing a solution you drip into a test tube of sample water. Then you just shake and wait a few minutes for the results. Again, match the color in the test tube to the color on the card to find out what the results mean.

Saltwater master test kits look for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, and even alkalinity.

Ammonia builds up in a saltwater aquarium from fish waste and leftover food that has begun to rot. It's extremely important to keep your tank free of ammonia, as it's the main reason why fish die. Readings should always be 0.

Nitrite develops when bacteria present in the tank feed off ammonia. In new tanks that have not been cycled, nitrite levels are very high. Nitrite is toxic to fish just like ammonia. To remove nitrites from the water you have to conduct a water change. Bacteria in the water and filters eventually transform nitrites into nitrate. A nitrite reading must be 0.

Nitrates are produced, as mentioned above, during the natural cycling process. While not as toxic as nitrites and ammonia, nitrates can cause your fish stress in high amounts. A partial water change will get rid of nitrates, which should be less than 20 ppm. Reef tanks should have a reading closer to 0.

pH refers to a water's acidity or alkalinity. The pH scale is between 0 and 14. Zero is the most acidic, seven is neutral, and fourteen is alkaline. Water changes can raise or lower the pH level, as does the addition of specific chemicals to the water. The right pH level depends on the type of fish you have in your tank.

An alkalinity kit tests the stability of your water in regards to a changing pH level. Essentially, this type of test specifically looks for your aquarium's capabilities for stabilizing the pH in the water. The reading in saltwater tanks should be between 7 and 12 dkH.

Testing the water in your aquarium is an important part of maintaining the tank and keeping your fish safe and healthy. Regular maintenance will ensure your aquarium continues to run smoothly, but you always have to double check by carrying out the required tests.
About the Author
Richard Gilliland writes articles on Aquarium Supplies. Other articles written by Richard Gilliland related to Elos Test Kits, aquarium chillers and Octopus Protein Skimmers could be found on the internet.
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