Aquariums make a beautiful addition to any room, home, or office, but in order to have a striking aquarium, first you need to make sure your fish and any live fauna are healthy. Water chemistry is very important for fish to be happy and healthy and certain chemicals need specific levels for each fish species to feel comfortable.
It is imperative when starting or continuing an aquarium to match fish with the similar water requirements. Meeting all the environment necessities can be a hard job and can take some time to figure out what works best for each aquarium.
Causes of pH changes
The pH of the water is a very important parameter that has to remain constant, as acidic or alkaline water can harm fish, sicken them, or even kill them if their bodies are not built to withstand it. Newly added water, decorations, and even new plants can easily unbalance the pH. Some decorations can leak toxic chemicals into the water, so you have to make sure they are dyed with colorfast inks. Gravel can also effect the pH, depending on the type of gravel used. Even if you find a certain type of gravel appealing, make sure it is meant for your freshwater or marine aquarium.
Be very careful when changing the tank filter. Newly developed bacteria and substances in the filter can also effect the pH and make fish feel uncomfortable.
Natural ways to lower pH
You can keep an eye on the pH in your aquarium with various kits and tests provided at pet stores and there are chemicals that can lower or raise the pH according to the aquarium needs. The disadvantage of this is chemicals, added in large quantities, can cause high pH differences, which can do more harm than good. If you think of using these substances, be sure to add them gradually to help fish stay comfortable.
It is always better, and often less expensive, to naturally lower the aquarium pH. Here are several ways to add environmental elements to your tank to assist with pH levels.
Driftwood can slightly lower the tank pH over time, but you must keep in mind it may also leak tannins into the water and give it a darker color, which is great if you have blackwater fish. To avoid tannin leaks, keep the piece of wood submerged in a separate container for a couple of weeks or boil it before adding it to the aquarium.
Wood can be a great water filter, but always remember to purchase it from a pet store and make sure it is for an aquarium, as pieces sold for reptiles can leak dangerous chemicals into the water.
Peat moss can act as a natural water filter and help lower the tank pH. Similar to driftwood, peat moss can also color the water, so it is recommended to leave it for a few days in a bucket of water. It is very important to use untreated peat bought from pet stores, as peat found at gardening stores may contain chemicals dangerous for fish or aquarium plants.
You can add peat moss in the tank filter as chunks or pellets using a filter bag or a piece of panty hose to keep it together and act as a second filter.
Brown leaves can help lower aquarium pH, especially almond leaves, also known as Catappa leaves. They are considered the “poor man’s water conditioner” in India and placing them in an tank can also provide your fish with places for hiding, as well as, according to some, a natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. They may also leak tannins, which are fine for river fish, but you may want to pre-treat it for a few days before adding it to the tank for other fish.
CO2 is great for keeping some live plants healthy and it also turns into carbonic acid to keep the pH level lower as well as keeping algae growth at a minimum.
Having a healthy aquarium
The pH is very important, but you always have to keep an eye on nitrites, nitrates, ammonia, and other chemical substances in your tank as well. Good quality fish food also helps, as well as providing extra vitamins and minerals in order to keep your fish and plants healthy. Enjoy a healthy aquarium as a great decoration!