Archive for the Care Category

Aquarium pH – What Is It? How Is It Controlled?

In a marine aquarium the pH measurement is of great importance. Marine aquarists routinely test their seawater pH level, but what is pH? It is not intended to go into great scientific detail but to give a general explanation of the term. For those who want to delve into the scientific world, I’m afraid you’ll have to look elsewhere. I’ll also give a little information on its control.

First of all, pH is a measurement of the acidity or alkalinity of our seawater. The measurements are set against a scale which runs from 0 to 14. The centre of the scale, 7, is neutral. 0 is acid and 14 is alkaline. Out of interest, Sulfuric acid measures 0, and Sodium hydroxide measures 14.

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Using Activated Carbon

Using activated carbon is a means of removing certain organic substances from the seawater. In addition, it prevents the seawater from taking on a yellowish tinge, the substance that causes this is termed gilvin. Activated carbon, which is granular, is often placed in a canister filter which is also used for mechanical filtration purposes, as a good flow of water through the substance is achieved. Other filters can be used of course. Some aquarists simply hang a bag of activated carbon in a part of the aquarium or sump, but this practice has to be questionable because of the flow of, or rather lack of flow of, seawater through the substance.

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Phosphate And How To Manage It

The salt water aquarist runs tests to ensure that the water quality in his/her aquarium is up to scratch. One of the tests should be phosphate, particularly in the case of a reef system.

Phosphate (PO4) is measurable in the sea and is a requirement of living organisms. It is present in a very small amount, 0.03 ppm (parts per million).

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Nitrate And How To Reduce It

All salt water aquarists will know about nitrate, or at least I hope so. Nitrate (NO3) is a product of the nitrogen cycle, and follows on from Ammonia/Ammonium (NH3/NH4) and Nitrite (NO2). The full nitrogen cycle will lead to nitrogen gas which is removed by gas exchange at air/water interfaces.

Salt water livestock are generally affected by different levels of nitrate. I say generally because both fish and corals, also shrimps etc, have varying degrees of tolerance.

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Methods To Clean The Glass

We can have a seawater aquarium which is well designed, well stocked and fully mature. All the corals and/or fish are doing well. There isn’t any problem algae as water quality is very high. Yet there is one job that seemingly needs to be done in any aquarium, and that is clean the glass so it is clear of the algae that appears on it.

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Aquarium Water Testing And Parameters

Maintaining good water quality in any aquarium, especially a saltwater aquarium is essential. Testing your water parameters is something which should be part of your regular maintenance schedule.

However, although you test for them do you know what each one is for and why it is important – quite a few people don’t and just test the water (which is a good thing) but in my opinion it is also good to understand what each one does.

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Old Tank Syndrome?

Aquarists who have been in the hobby for many years may recall a problem of the early days, “New Tank Syndrome”

New Tank Syndrome was when a newly set up salt water system failed to properly support livestock, or failed to support it at all. This was nearly always down to new aquarists being impatient and stocking too early and/or too heavily. In those days the normal procedure was to use under gravel filters or external canister filters.

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Oxygen – It’s Important, It’s Essential.

There are coral only reef aquariums. There are fish only aquariums. There are mixed reef aquariums. There is one essential item that must never be overlooked. The pet dog needs it. The aquarist needs it. The aquarium livestock need it.


Oxygen is an essential item in the aquarium, I don’t think anyone would argue about that. Yet this is one item that many aquarists do not consider when they are at the planning stage.

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Why Do You Do Water Changes?

Whether the aquarist runs a reef aquarium or a fish only aquarium, one of the major parts of the set-up is the seawater. The net amount of gallons in an aquarium can vary enormously. The set-up could be a nano aquarium, then anything up to an enormous 1000+ gallons. The size makes no difference in one respect, and that is attention must be given to water quality. In any marine aquarium, seawater quality is the number one concern on the list.

To maintain seawater quality the aquarist measures various parameters. For example, the fish only aquarist may measure pH, ammonia and nitrate levels. The aquarist keeping a reef goes further than that, in addition measuring calcium, alkalinity, magnesium etc. So if the measurements are correct, that’s fine, yes? Well, logically the answer should be yes.

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