Several people have asked why we have not talked about water… in aquariums. No particular reason, really, other than not enough people had asked for that sort of information — until now.

Many people have the wrong idea about how much maintenance and testing a healthy aquarium requires. Notice we said, “healthy.”

An UNhealthy aquarium requires next to no maintenance. Simply add water to the tank, throw in some fish, wait for fish to die, scoop up dead fish, re-stock tank with live fish, and repeat the last two steps until common sense kicks in.

Eventually people catch on to the fact that an aquarium needs more attention than just adding fish and dumping in food once in a while. It takes some people longer than others to figure that out, true, but we can discuss that topic another time. For right now let’s stick to the topic at-hand: Testing Aquarium Water so that your fish don’t keep going belly up.

API Test Kit for Ammonia, Nitrate & Nitrite

Liquid Test Kit for Ammonia, Nitrate & Nitrite

Liquid Test Kit for General Hardness & Carbonate Hardness

Test Kit for Monitoring Copper in Water

Test Kit for Monitoring Iron in Water

Test Kit for Monitoring Phosphates in Water

As you can see from the above test kits, you will have to test for a number different water parameters if you want to keep your fish healthy, happy and alive. Thankfully most aquarium test kits these days come with easy-to-follow instructions and the average person can complete the testing in just a few minutes.

Which water parameters matter most? Hard to say, but many pond and aquarium experts agree that a person ought to keep a close eye on the following water quality parameters if they hope to have clean, healthy water for their fish to live in:

  • Ammonia Levels — As disgusting as it sounds to us, fish live in their own waste products, one of which is ammonia. Excessive amounts of ammonia result in respiratory problems for fish and if left untreated the fish will eventually stop breathing and die.
  • Chlorine/Chloramines Levels — Extremely toxic to fish and pretty much all aquatic life even in small amounts. When adding fresh water to an aquarium, always make sure to test for and remove any and all traces of chlorine and chloramines.
  • Nitrite Levels — When ammonia breaks down it forms nitrites, another very toxic compound which can cause respiratory distress in, and eventually the death of, fish.
  • pH Levels — It ought to come as no surprise that fish don’t want to swim around in extremely acidic or basic water any more than you would want someone pouring hydrochloric acid or concentrated lye onto your skin. One thing to remember, though, about pH: Not all fish prefer the exact same pH so when choosing your fish, read up on their preferred water conditions — or risk killing some of your fish slowly and painfully.