Archive for the Water Quality Category

Tap Water – Is It Ok To Be Used

The new or not so new aquarist may be puzzled by the repeated advice to use purified tap water. So tap water is purified, use that. No.

The water coming out of the tap is purified by the local water authority. Regulations advise the amount of additional substances that are permitted, and, hopefully, the water authority meets that criteria. However, this is for human consumption. We can tolerate an amount of nitrate, phosphate, heavy metal such as copper etc. Obviously we can, we drink it, and clean our teeth with it. Our children do likewise. So what is this need for purification of the tap water for use in a salt water aquarium?

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Why Is There Scum On The Water Surface

A couple of days ago we received an email from a young man who has just started out in this hobby and has setup a small salt water aquarium.

He was very apologetic for contacting us but had noticed that there was a large build up of what appeared to be scum on the water surface and was hoping that we would be able to help him find out what it was, is it detrimental and how does he remove it.

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Aquarium Additives and Hard Corals

The reef aquarium with hard corals (SPS) is the desire of many an aquarist. The sight of pictures on the internet and in books only serves to increase that desire. With modern aquaria and equipment, plus the knowledge gained over recent years, this desire can be met, and more easily than some suspect.

It is taken as read that the need for high water quality is understood. High water quality means a proper and stable pH, between 8.0 and 8.4, nitrate less than 10 ppm (parts per million), phosphate preferably undetectable, but no more than 0.03 ppm, and ammonia and nitrite undetectable. Equipment should include a properly sized and efficient protein skimmer. Water movement, which I consider a part of water quality, should be vigorous and chaotic. There is also a need for strong lighting, the best of which is metal halide, supplemented by actinic T5 fluorescents. A greater number of T5 fluorescents can be used without a metal halide, as many as can be fitted into the aquarium including their reflectors. The T5’s should be an equal, or as near as possible equal, mix of marine white and actinic. However, at least in my opinion, the halide lighting is the best option.

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Aquarium Additives and Soft Corals

Keeping a seawater aquarium nowadays is a generally straightforward affair. Provided the design and setting up is satisfactory and the aquarist does the necessary periodic maintenance properly, the aquarium will give pleasure for a long period.

Commercial seawater mixes are good overall. The mix will provide adequate levels of elements in the seawater, but checks should still be made, particularly when the aquarium is matured and settling and onwards, to ensure that important parameters are as they should be.

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Alkalinity – What Is It and How Is It Controlled?

This is not a complete scientific discussion or description of alkalinity. It is simply intended as a base, as there isn’t a requirement for an aquarist to be a scientist and understand all. A basic understanding allows the aquarist to ensure the seawater in his/her aquarium is at the parameter desired and why.

Right, that said, alkalinity then. Alkalinity of seawater is the ability of the seawater to resist certain change. Alkalinity can also be called Carbonate Hardness. Seawater is on the alkaline side of neutral. To quickly describe this, pH is measured on a scale of 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. Above 7 is into the alkaline side, below 7 is into the acidic side. Aquarium seawater is, generally, maintained between 8.0 and 8.4. So, as can be seen aquarium seawater is on the alkaline side.

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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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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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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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