Water Conditions

Well the most important thing to raising and breeding fish is to make sure that the water conforms to the fish's natural requirements. Some fish like goldfish can tolerate wide ranges of temperatures, pH levels and hardness. On the other hand some fish (especially when considering breeding) require very strict water levels and balances. There are several variables in maintaining water quality:

1. Temperature

Fish do not appreciate sudden changes in temperature or extreme ranges in temperature. Consult our "Species of Fishes" for the proper temperature range for your fish. Most tropical fish do well in a range from 74-78 degrees Fahrenheit. Most can live, although uncomfortably, in water as low as 68 deg. and as high as 85 deg. Fahrenheit. If you need to adjust the heater in your tank, always remember to do it gradually over a period of hours, about 1 Deg. change per 1-2 hours of time.

2. Chlorine

Water used in today's aquariums usually comes from heavily chlorinated tap water. Chlorine in concentration can kill your fish. The good thing is that if the water is exposed to the air for two to three days the chlorine will be entirely dissipated or at the very least reduced to a harmless level. If you aerate the water the dissipation will be much faster. Water can also be neutralized by chemical means.

3. Hardness

The hardness of water is a measure of the amount of calcium or magnesium compounds dissolved in water. It is usually expressed as grains of calcium carbonate and may be measured as "parts per million" or more commonly as "PPM". Sometimes people recall hardness as "Degrees of Hardness" or "DH". One DH=17.1 ppm.

A hardness rating between 50 and 200 ppm is the general range of tropical freshwater fish. Some fish do require a more stringent range of hardness.

4. pH

This is a measure of how alkaline or acidic the water is. To check your pH, a pH test kit is used, normally consisting of a small vial and a drop or two of an indicator solution (Bromothymol Blue). The color in the vial after the indicator solution is added is held up to a color chart to determine at what pH your water is at. A reading of 7.0 is neutral, 7.1 and above is alkaline and readings of 6.9 or below are acidic.

Several chemicals are available to change your pH reading. Sodium Biphosphate and Sodium Bicarbonate are the generally used chemicals. Any and all changes in pH that are chemically induced should be done gradually, as to not stress out your fish. Most fish can thrive well in a not too stringently controlled tank; some however need exacting pH levels. This is especially true in scaleless fishes like certain Eels and Knife fishes.

If chemical additives are not something you want to subject your tank to, there is somewhat of an alternative. A little bit more of a natural approach is to add White Apple Cider Vinegar or Baking Soda to adjust your tank's pH levels.

Watch your fish, certain fish will change colors or swimming habits as the pH changes. Remember, if anything ever seems out of the ordinary, test your water!