Published: October 30, 2019


    When it comes to maintaining a freshwater aquarium, ensuring that the water quality is up to par is imperative for a fish’s survival. Water may seem to be a simple compound, always having a go-with-the-flow property. However, it can also be very complex and harmful – especially to fish that live in a freshwater aquarium.

    Your Aquarium: The Basics

    What potential issues can be found by using tap water in your aquarium?

    Using your city’s tap water tends to be the most cost-effective option when you’re filling an aquarium. However, your local water company often adds chemicals to the H20 that make it safe to drink. Most of the time, these chemicals sound familiar.

    Let’s take chlorine, for example. Although you can find it in your neighborhood pool, it’s also in your drinking water killing bacteria. But does that make it safe for the fish in your aquarium? Chances are slim. Highly concentrated chlorine can be very toxic to fish, and even low levels impact their gills and can cause stress. There also are many side effects to chlorine in tap water, so it’s crucial to have proper circulation with a Premium Whole House Water Filter System.

    It’s not just chlorine you have to worry about, either. Old lead pipes can cause a city to raise its brows and its pH levels by adding chemicals such as alkaline. This is reason enough to test, filter and treat the water that you pour into your aquarium.

    How does water hardness affect fish?

    Tap water can often be filled with an excessive amount of sediment, making it “hard” and potentially impacting the fish that live in your aquarium. Hard water has a high dissolved mineral content, making pH levels extremely high. Your fish can only function in certain levels of water hardness, so if those fall out of the acceptable boundaries, it can end in unnecessary stress that leads to death. It’s important to use demineralized water, or you can soften hard water by extracting the minerals with a water softener.

    For a freshwater aquarium, try the water softener alternative. This system neutralizes the effects of mineral ions and reduces the number while ensuring that other particles aren’t added to the water. Water softener alternatives are good for the environment, too!

    The Chemistry

    How do nitrates, nitrites and ammonia affect fish?

    To understand how nitrates affect fish, you need to get familiar with chemistry. Ammonia, nitrites and nitrates are what come from the organic waste (fish poop and uneaten food) breaking down in an aquarium.

    It’s important to note that it can take anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks to get your freshwater aquarium up to standard – standard being that ammonia and nitrate are at trace levels. Biological filtration is what occurs naturally to keep ammonia and nitrites at less toxic levels, creating an optimal habitat for your fish. Once you have a healthy population of aquatic plants, those, too, will assist in the removal of nitrates. While nitrates on their own don’t have a direct effect on your fish, excess levels can create an environment that makes it difficult for them to live and swim freely.

    Here’s a quick look at how the chemistry really works:

    • pH is key in keeping your fish healthy because high or low levels can cause a great amount of health concerns. Most freshwater fish do best when the pH level is between 6.6 and 7.8.
    • Ammonia naturally exists in all aquariums once all waste and uneaten food break down. It’s best not to place fish in an aquarium until ammonia has been broken down through the nitrogen cycle.
    • Nitrites are what you get when ammonia is broken down, as they are a byproduct of the nitrogen cycle. When testing for nitrites, you want to see 0 ppm. To remove nitrites, opt in for weekly water changes.
    • Nitrates develop when nitrites have been broken down even further by your filtration system. Not typically harmful, these ions signal that a full cycle is complete. If the levels are too high, you can count on your fish being a little overwhelmed. Nitrate levels should rank somewhere between 20 to 40 ppm for your tank to be considered habitable by fish. The nitrate itself is not as toxic and can be used by algae for potential growth.

    Your fish will be healthier and happier when you take the time to learn about the chemistry of the tap water that you let flow into your aquarium. When you get well-acquainted with the basics, you will be able to adjust, maintain and improve the aquarium for your fish. It all starts with a simple test and the right filter to ensure that your fish are swimming through healthy water.

    Act today to get a Pelican Water Systems filter in your home to help the humans and fish who live there.