All aquarium owners should be familiar with the procedures involved in making sure that the water in the aquarium is in good condition. Clean water makes healthy and happy fish in your Aquademics tank!
In addition to conducting regular water changes, beginning aquarists also need to understand the various chemical and pollutant cycles that exist in every aquarium - from the smallest goldfish bowl to the enormous tanks found in large national aquariums. The water conditions that are of particular importance to your Aquademics tank are:
A. The pH cycle (check every week)
pH is a measurement of acidity and alkalinity in the tank. The pH range for freshwater tropical fishes can vary greatly, depending on where the fish were raised. Most fish that beginning aquarists start with require a pH range of 6.8-7.6. Use a TetraTest® pH Kit to determine the pH in your classroom aquarium. The test is so easy to perform that the students can help with a teacher's supervision.
B. Ammonia (check every week)
Ammonia, a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen, is produced by decomposition of uneaten food and also by fish in their waste product. It is very toxic to fish; therefore, it should be one of the main pollutants to monitor. If a tank has proper filtration, has regular water changes and is not overstocked with fish who are overfed, then ammonia should not be a problem. The ammonia level should be zero in a healthy tank. TetraTest® Ammonia Kit can give a simple, accurate determination of ammonia in the freshwater.
C. Nitrite (check regularly and especially when new fish are added)
Nitrite, another nitrogen compound, is not as toxic to fish as ammonia, but at high levels can be harmful. Ideal levels should be below one part-per-million, and these can be measured with the TetraTest® Nitrite Kit.
D. Nitrate (control with regular water changes)
Nitrate is the least toxic nitrogen compound to fish. They can withstand relatively high levels with no apparent effects. Nitrate is not utilized in the aquarium and continues to accumulate, but performing regular water changes will help to prevent the nitrate levels from becoming too high.
Tropical fish absolutely must live in an environment with a stable temperature, not to vary by more than one or two degrees. Aim for a temperature of 78°F on the heater supplied with your Aquademics aquarium kit to keep your fish comfortable and energetic.
F. Dissolved Oxygen
Oxygen is found not only in the air but also dissolved in water. Fish depend on dissolved oxygen to breathe under water. There is usually more oxygen at the surface of the water due to diffusion from the air above. Other factors that affect the amount of dissolved oxygen in the tank include places where microbial decomposition is occurring, warm water temperatures and the degree of water circulation. Tetra's Whisper® Power Filter circulates and aerates the water in your Aquademics aquarium. This filtering system will help keep your tank's dissolved oxygen at desired levels.
A basic problem concerning light is providing a realistic day/night cycle for the animals. To reduce stress, an orderly alternation of dark and light is required by most animals which gives them alternate periods of activity and rest. The Aquademics classroom aquarium should not be placed in direct sunlight. Why? Because direct sunlight will cause unstable temperature fluctuations and stimulate unwanted growth of algae. Also, do not keep the Aquademics aquarium in a classroom that is always lighted. That way, the fish can rest overnight just like the students.
An important reminder:
Ammonia, pH and temperature should be monitored at least weekly in the Aquademics classroom aquarium, as well as before and the day after adding new fish.
Reprinted courtesy of the National Aquarium in Baltimore