Testing And How Often

Discussion in 'User-Created Articles' started by jhnrb, Oct 8, 2005.

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  1. jhnrb


    Mar 9, 2005
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    What should you test for and how often?

    Testing is often overlooked by hobbists who wait until something does not seem quite right in the aquarium before they actually perfom any testing at all. This is not a good practice. You should test on a regular basis and when something is not right in the aquarium.

    Hobbyists will wait till undesirable algae appear before they actually start testing for nitrates, phosphates and do something about silicates, to prevent the appearance of diatoms and brown algae. Note that nitrates are not really the cause of the outbreaks of algae but that phosphates and silicates are.

    Not testing until something is wrong is too long to wait. Water testing should be undertaken as a preventative measure, not as an afterthought or as a crisis management type action. By testing on a regular basis many crisis can be avoided. Stress on the animals, often leading to outbreaks of parasitic infestations will be avoided in that manner as well.

    When the results of preventative testing show that one or more water quality parameters are out of line, immediate action needs to be taken to remedy whatever condition need to be corrected. In this way aquarium and wqater quality problems that are harder to solve can be avoided before they occur. When you wait too long the problem will be greater and more difficult to solve.

    Testing on apreventative basis avoids many problems in the aquarium such as high amounts of stress and stessors that lead to fish being found full of parasites, or contracting a bacterial infection or other form of disease. Any stess or stressor reduction is of benefit to all the animals in the tank. The less stress the less problems and it is really as simple as that.


    -Nitrate, as total nitrate, once per week. Most tests measure in N-N03 and that to arrive at the total nitrate concentration, the result of that test needs to be multiplied by 4.4.

    -Phosphate as orhto-phosphate once a week. Only ortho phospate is measured. any other forms of phosphate in the tank are not. tests for other forms do exist but are more expensive and are harder to interpret. they willusually test for total phophorus.

    -Dissolved oxygen once a week. More often if the tank has problems and animals are not looking good.

    -Nitrite once every two to three weeks after the tank has cycled. Before cycle complete more often to determine when the cycle is complete. Test more frequrently each time animals have been added to the tank to ensure the bioload is not too high.

    -Ammonia same as nitrite.

    -pH several times a week preferably every day until the tank has stablized.

    -Silicates once per week until tank is cycled and stablized then every other week.

    -Temperature every day. make adjustments slowly.

    -Specific gravity once a week initially and then once every two weeks.

    -Carbonate hardness every 2 weeks. more often if you have difficulty maintaining a high calcium ion level. If the dKH is too high you will not be able to rqise the calcium ion level regardless of what you do. if the dKH is over 8 it needs to be lowered.

    -Calcium once per week. More often if your coralline algae do not grow properly. This could be because the dKH is too high or because the calcium level is too low.

    Additional parameters you can check for are below, however, for now the ones up above are the most important ones.

    -the redox potential
    -the biological oxygen demand
    -copper and other heavy metals such as iron
    -the components of the buffer
    -lighting intensity at various spots in the tank

    Note: when changing water, make sure that the parameters of the water you add are the same as the ones of the water already in the tank. This applies especially to dKH, temperature, and specific gravity. In reef tanks calcium levels should be the same too. (of course if your parameters are out of whack then some adjustments will be needed.)
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2007
    jhnrb, Oct 8, 2005
    hachadwick likes this.
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