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Not All Tap Water is Created Equal - Part 3

What's in your aquarium water?

By David A. Lass |

Page 3

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When you have a problem with your freshwater fish, the first place to turn (after forums, of course) is to your local fish store. They are eager to help you, and they will usually ask you a few questions about the water in your tank. It’s really important that you either bring in a water sample for them to test at the store, or that you actually test the water yourself and tell them the results. The parameters the local fish store will need to know are:

 pH – how acidic/alkaline the water is.
 Ammonia – the result of fish waste, uneaten food, etc.
 Nitrite – the second stage of the nitrogen cycle; bacteria have changed ammonia into nitrite
 Nitrate – the final stage of the nitrogen cycle; other bacteria have changed nitrite into nitrate

When the folks at your local fish store ask you for these four parameters it is not because they are quizzing you – there is no right answer – they need to know these readings to begin to help you out. The answers to the four questions are numbers. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a fish store and had the worker ask the customer for these readings, and have the customer say “It’s all right” or “The water is crystal clear.” If you have problems with your freshwater fish your local fish store can help you out – but they need for you to help them help you.

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Not All Tap Water is Created Equal - Part 3

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Reader Comments

Anh    Houston, TX

1/23/2011 11:57:48 AM

I really like this guideline on the tap water for fish as pets.
I would like to keep some gold fish in the house for my kids. I got a pair of goldfish the size of a little finger but they died after two days. I guess it was the water and I wondered if I could keep fish in tap water. The information in David Lass's articles answered this question but I would like to learn more about tap water. I would appreciate if there are more information from him about water and tank for a fish-keeping beginner like me. Thank you.
Anh Nguyen

Kathy    Moose Pass, AK

1/20/2011 10:13:08 PM

I always new our well water was soft and testing PH at 6.8, KH 2-3 ppm, and GH 80 ppm confirmed it but then I received a conductivity meter as a gift and found our tap water came out as only 128 Us - that is very low in dissolved solids! I have several tanks and keep only rainwater type fish - Gourami, tetras, Rams and Anglefish. Oh, and cories, otos and shrimp :)

Tyler    Dover, PA

12/31/2010 7:20:57 AM

Good article. This information is really good to know.

Tasha    Snellville, GA

11/29/2010 1:57:06 PM

Great information to know and thanks for so much information to keep...

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