Fish can’t talk, so when aquarium owners want to know if everything in the aquarium is working smoothly, testing the water is the most reliable method.
That’s why it’s important to keep some water testing materials on hand at all times as an aquarium owner. This is true even if your aquarium gets professionally maintained—in the case of an emergency, you’ll need to be able to test the water yourself to know exactly what’s going wrong in your tank.
For freshwater tanks, the crucial testing components you need are for temperature, ammonia, pH, nitrite and nitrate.
For saltwater tanks, the list is a little bigger, with testing components for temperature, ammonia, pH, nitrite, nitrate, salinity, phosphate, and kH (carbonate hardness). Reef tanks will require all of those, plus a test for calcium.
Then, there’s actually knowing what all the measurements need. Fine-tuning an aquarium ecosystem is an art, and you ideally shouldn’t have to learn all of the chemistry involved (unless you’re interested in that!). Your aquarium servicer should provide you with a cheat sheet of optimal readings, and, for each parameter, how far from normal it would need to be to create a problem.
If you’re unsure about a particular reading, or something you’re seeing in your aquarium, get in touch with us!