Aquarium Test Kits: Parameters to Test for in Fish-Only and Reef Tanks

(water splashing) – In this video, we’re gonna share which
parameters you need to test for in a fish-only or reef aquarium. We’re also going to explain
how these different parameters will effect your fish and corals and provide some helpful tips on choosing the right
test kit for your tank. Some hobbyist claim they can tell how good or bad their water quality is
just by looking at the tank. The reality is, when the
water quality is so poor that you can tell just by looking at it, you’ve already subjected
your fish and coral to lousy living conditions far
longer than you should have and fixing the problem will
now require greater effort. Keeping your water parameters
at ideal levels and stable is crucial to the health and well-being of the animals in your care. This is why it’s so important to regularly test your water
quality and log the results. By actively monitoring
your water parameters, you can identify trends and notice changes before they become problematic making it easy to resolve any
problems before they develop. For a fish-only system, you
should test pH, alkalinity, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. pH is the measure of a acidity or basicity of your aquarium water. Fish and coral can fall ill or even perish if your aquarium pH falls
outside the acceptable range. The tanks pH can be effected
by a range of factors and should therefore be
monitored at all times. Stability is the key word with pH because large swings in
pH can really stress out your aquarium inhabitants. Alkalinity is somewhat complex but it is perhaps best
understood by thinking of it as a measure of bicarbonate
in your aquarium water. A properly maintained alkalinity level makes it much easier to keep pH stable and will provide the necessary components for coral to grow and build a skeleton. Testing should be performed
weekly in most cases. Ammonia and Nitrite are two
of the basic waste parameters and are products of
the metabolic processes of the nitrogen cycle. They are both extremely
toxic to fish and corals and should never be
present in your aquarium outside of the cycling process. If either is present in your aquarium, it is the result of an
insufficient biological filtration and/or overstocked aquarium. Testing these parameters
is usually only necessary while cycling your aquarium but is not a bad idea to check monthly or when you suspect something
may be wrong with your tank. Nitrate is one of the final
products of the nitrogen cycle and should be tested weekly. This will help you to establish
a regular filter maintenance and water-change schedule. When nitrate begins to rise, you know it is time to clean
your filtration equipment and perform a water change. The API Saltwater Master Test Kit is one of the most popular
and affordable test kits for testing a fish-only system. They’re easy to use and the
results are precise enough for most fish-only keepers
to avoid any major problems. When caring for a reef aquarium, in addition to the
aforementioned parameters, you’ll also want to test for calcium, magnesium, and phosphate levels. Calcium is used by corals
along with bicarbonates and other elements to grow
and build their skeleton. When you’re adding corals to your tank, you should test your calcium levels daily. Once you identify how much
calcium you’ll need to supplement to keep your corals growing, you may begin to do so and reduce testing
frequency to once per week. Magnesium is important
because it influences calcium and alkalinity levels and
is also used by corals to grow and build their skeleton. Testing should be done
weekly to monitor demand. Supplementation is often
required, especially in aquariums that are heavily stocked
with stony corals. Phosphate is another important
parameter to test for because it fuels algae growth and inhibits your coral’s
ability to utilize calcium. The phosphate level in a reef aquarium should be kept below .05 ppm. Higher levels can lead to algae issues and cause corals to
brown out or deteriorate. Conversely, having an
absolute zero phosphate level can starve corals. You can keep your phosphate level low by using one of the
many phosphate reducing filter media option available. You can prevent phosphate
from entering your aquarium by using RO/DI filtered water that measures zero total dissolved solids. Testing for phosphate
in a fish-only aquarium can also be helpful to
keep nuisance algae at bay. Getting accurate test results is important when caring for a reef aquarium. Red Sea, Salifert, and
Elos are widely considered the most accurate and easy
to use liquid test kits by reef keepers. Hanna Checker Colorimeters
are another option and a great alternative for hobbyist that find color recognition type test kits difficult to interpret. The electronic monitors
offered by American Marine are even more helpful because they give you a
constant electronic reading. Having a list handy of
ideal reef tank parameters is always helpful. That way when you test your water, you’ll be able to easily
tell if your parameters are out of whack. We’ve included a link to the
reef tank parameters chart on our website in the video description so you can bookmark or print
it out for future reference. We could talk for hours
about water chemistry but hopefully we’ve
packed enough information into this video to help
you grasp the basics. If you’d like to learn more, please feel free to leave a
comment with your questions or contact our aquarium
experts for free advice via phone or email. We certainly do appreciate
you guys watching, please don’t forget to
subscribe to our YouTube channel for more helpful tips and until next time, take care and happy reef keeping. (light music)
(water bubbling)

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