A couple of phrases that were always said to me when I first started keeping fish were “look after your water and the fish will look after themselves" and “you’re a water keeper, keep your water healthy and it will keep your fish healthy".
These phrases are not used as much today as they used to be when I started keeping fish, 23 years ago! But the idea behind it is as important today as it was back then. The fundamental thing to keep an eye on and monitor in an aquarium or pond is water quality.
Testing your water is not just an aquatic shop’s go to to explain why you lost the fish you purchased from them, or a reason to not sell you fish for your aquarium. (If it were, we wouldn't spend the best part of 2 hours testing every livestock system in the shop each day). Keeping a diary of your water tests and monitoring your water quality regularly can allow you to spot potential problems, before they even become problems. As they say, prevention is better than a cure.
So how do you know that you are doing enough water changes? Testing the water will tell you. If you check your Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate on a weekly basis you will be able to see how the levels change over time. Ammonia and Nitrite should be at 0ppm at all time in a healthy mature aquarium. Nitrate is the reading that builds up over time. It is not an outright killer unless fish are suddenly exposed to a much higher concentration than they are used to. But over time levels can build up and effect the immune system of fish leaving then more susceptible to disease. By checking your nitrate level regularly you can see if your water changes are keeping the nitrate at a safe level (below 40ppm). If the level is increasing or not at a safe level it points out that you either need to do larger water changes or more regular water changes.
A handy post written by Karl who is the assistant manager at World of Water Bicester.
To learn more, or pick up a water test kit, please visit us in one of our stores nationwide.