Fish - Biological Filtration

 


Modern biological filtration of aquarium water has provided wonderful benefits. Biological filtration is a process where toxic fish waste is converted by beneficial bacteria into a relatively safe state. The bacteria that convert ammonia to nitrate are present in all non-sterilised water supplies. Simply placing fish into an aquarium with a recirculating filter will initiate growth of nitrifying bacteria. Unfortunately, the bacteria grow slowly, requiring approximately 25 days to attain sufficient numbers to handle the ammonia produced by the fish. The introduction of a few handfuls of gravel sand from an established aquarium where the “conditioned” sand substrate is already loaded with nitrifying bacteria helps the process. You can also use benifical bacteria products like seachem stability this will help in avoiding new tank syndrome as well as benfit established tanks.

 

Ammonia

Ammonia is excreted by fish, mainly through the gills, as the end product of the process of digestion of protein. Ammonia is very toxic to fish, and in a closed system, such as a typical aquarium, lethal concentrations can easily be reached. Ammonia exists in two forms in water. In acid water, most of the ammonia is in the bound form NH4, and is less toxic. In alkaline water, most of the ammonia is free, as NH3. This “free” ammonia is highly toxic, with levels as low as 0.1ppm, causing slow death.

Ammonia Test
Ammonia test kits are a low-cost, effective means of monitoring ammonia in aquariums.

Control of Ammonia
Ammonia is seldom a problem where the aquarium is fitted with a properly functioning conditioned biological filter, and the tank is not overcrowded or overfed.

To reduce ammonia if present:
A. Biological filtration is the only long-term solution.
B. Carry out a partial water change and remove any decomposing organic matter.
C. Stop, or reduce, feeding for a few days.
D. Reduce stocking levels. (Move some fish out.)
E. There are mixtures of live bacteria and enzymes that breaks down waste and reduces ammonia available on the market.
F. Aquarium ammonia neutralisers are ideal for use in case of emergencies.
G. Some plants like Fontinalis (Vesicularia) take up ammonia as plant food.

Remember
Where ammonia is present it is advisable to maintain aquaria at the lowest pH that fish are comfortable at.

 

Nitrite

Nitrite is produced from ammonia by Nitrosomonas bacteria. In an aquarium where an established biological filter is operating, nitrite is quickly converted to nitrate, and does not accumulate to any degree. Unfortunately, nitrite is extremely toxic to fish - as little as 1.0 ppm nitrite being a lethal quantity. A blocked or poorly functioning biological filter can cause high nitrite levels. Fish suffering from nitrite toxicity often exhibit the signs of oxygen starvation, gasping at the surface of the water. Nitrite oxidizes hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying component of blood. The gills actively take up nitrite, and blood levels may be 10 times higher than the aquarium water.

Nitrite Test
Nitrite test kits are easy to use, and most can be used for either fresh or salt water.

Control of Nitrite
Nitrite is an intermediate in the oxidation of ammonia to nitrate, and should not be a problem in an established aquarium. Since chloride competes with nitrite for transport across the gills, the effect of nitrite toxicity can be greatly reduced by the addition of salt (sodium chloride) to the water. *Note: Make sure filters are running correctly.

Treatment of Nitrite Toxicity
• Water change daily (20% -50%).
• Stop feeding the fish.
• Add 0.3% salt (30gm to 10 litres = 3 teaspoons to 10 litres).
• Add live gravel or live bacteria products.


Nitrate
Nitrate is produced from nitrite by Nitrobacter bacteria, and is an end product of the biological filtration process. Nitrate is not considered harmful to fresh water fish in concentrations under 50ppm. A recent study has shown that concentrations of nitrate as low as 20ppm, cause significant mortality in eggs and fry of Chinook salmon and rainbow trout. It therefore seems that tolerance levels of fry and adult fish to nitrate, may vary. Discus in particular seems to be quite sensitive to high nitrate levels.

Nitrate Test
Nitrate test kits are available, and prove to be a valuable water quality monitor.


Control Of Nitrate
Theoretically, nitrate should just keep accumulating in an aquarium as ammonia and nitrite are oxidised. In practice, this does not happen. Some nitrate is converted to nitrogen gas and driven off. Aquatic plants and algae assimilate nitrate as plant food, and it is diluted with every partial water change. This is one good reason why  tanks should have a 25% water change weekly. Aquarium de-nitraters are now available, these units work by allowing anaerobic bacteria to convert nitrate to nitrogen gas, (like conventional biological filtration in reverse).

 

Conditioning the Aquarium
The newly installed aquarium can be conditioned in two ways.

1. Simply set up the aquarium. Do not add any fish and use an aquarium biological starter like seachem stability (Follow the manufacturer’s instructions). Check water with an ammonia or nitrite test kit to establish when the tank is ready for stocking.

2. The second method entails using fish that are not very sensitive to ammonia and nitrite toxicity. Set the aquarium up and only add about 1/4 as many fish as the tank will eventually hold. Stock with goldfish, or hardy tetras, such as red eyes, glowlights, flame tetras, black neons etc. Monitor the ammonia and nitrite level, and when it drops (in about 25 days) gradually increase the number of fish, a few at a time over the next month, until you reach the desired population density. Sudden increases in the number of animals in the aquarium can produce dangerous increases in ammonia and nitrite levels; these will persist, until the bacteria in the biological filter “catch up” with the new load.

REMEMBER: The addition of some conditioned filter media, to the newly set up tank, helps the conditioning process. Cultures of live nitrifying bacteria, sold for aquaculture, are sometimes used with varying results.

 

Carrying Capacity
The carrying capacity of an aquarium is largely controlled by the capacity of the biological filter to oxidise ammonia excreted from the inhabitants of the tank. It is important to have the greatest possible amount of filter medium the tank, or filter, can accommodate, as the filter’s capacity for oxidising ammonia is primarily a function of its surface area. Other factors governing a filter’s effectiveness are depth of the filter bed, grain size of the sand and rate of water flow through the filter bed. High ammonia or nitrite levels in an established aquarium, indicates that the carrying capacity has been exceeded or pollution has occurred. Oxygen enters aquarium water through diffusion, which takes place at the water surface. For this reason surface scum should not be allowed to accumulate, and filter systems that draw water from the surface (surface skim) are the best, but often not the most practical choice. Also do not allow plants to completely cover the surface, open water is needed for the aquarium to breath. As well as the demand for oxygen from fish and other tank inhabitants, the biological filter also consumes oxygen whilst carrying out nitrification. It therefore follows if the tank’s inhabitants and the biological fi lter consume oxygen faster than it can be replaced in solution, oxygen depletion will cause stress, and in extreme cases, death.

 

 

Dissolved Oxygen and the Biological Filter

The biological filter consumes oxygen as it carries out the function of nitrification, therefore a constant supply of oxygen rich water is essential to the proper functioning of these filters. Over a period of time the filter bed or filter medium will form a blockage from an accumulation of mulm (detritus). Under such circumstances, severe oxygen depletion causes a proliferation of anaerobic bacteria (bacteria which thrive without the presence of oxygen). These anaerobic bacteria produce highly toxic substances, including organic acids, carbon dioxide, ammonia, hydrogen sulphide and methane. It is therefore essential that the airlifts on the filters are operating properly at all times, and the filter medium never becomes choked with detritus, so as to impede the free flow of water or cause pockets of stagnant areas.


Nitrifying Bacteria Stick to Filter Material
It is extremely fortunate that nitrifying bacteria actually adhere to the filter material. This means that gravels and other filter materials can be gently rinsed free of dirt, and when returned to the tank, continue the role of active biological fi ltration. Be careful not to use hot water, soap, or any disinfectant on the filter material, as these have a detrimental effect on the bacteria. We suggest using fish tank water to rinse and wash filter media, do this at part of your water changes.

 


Biological Filtration Lowers pH

As well as consuming oxygen during the oxidisation of ammonia to nitrate, nitrification also produces carbon dioxide and other acidic by-products that cause water to become acid. It is important that steps are taken to ensure the pH does not drop to a level that is detrimental to the fish or the nitrifying bacteria. Nitrification virtually stops at a pH below 5.0. Much of the carbon dioxide can be driven off simply by aerating an aquarium, using an air pump and airstone. pH should be monitored on a regular basis and adjusted to the desired level

 


P H of Aquarium Water


The pH of water is a measure of the acid or alkaline. It is measured on a scale of 0 to 14. A solution of pH 7.0 is neutral and as a general rule this is the optimum pH for a community aquarium. The symbol pH stands for pondus hydrogenii (weight of the hydrogen ion).

pH Effect on Fish
Fish in nature adapt to a wide range of pH values, but water that is too acid or too alkaline for the species can severely stress fish and even cause death. Our experience has shown this to be a major cause of fish losses in aquariums and pet shops. Symptoms of fish subjected to pH extremes are similar to many fish diseases, and therefore a pH check is a must before any medication of fish is commenced. Extreme pH symptoms include; clamped fins, heavy sliming, respiratory difficulties, frayed fins, listlessness, lack of appetite, and even death. Fish subjected to a gradual change in pH over many weeks can adapt, even though it may fall well outside their preferred range. Unfortunately, new fish introduced into this “unsuitable” water may die quickly. This phenomenon explains many fish deaths, where the aquarium owner is sure the water is OK, because the old fish are alive, but the new ones die.

How to Measure pH
The best way to measure pH is with an electronic pH meter. These units are available in a compact portable form and are relatively low cost, have an easy-to-see digital read out, and operate very accurately. Most pH meters need calibrating every week or two, using standard pH solutions. An alternative method is the use of a simple pH test kit, using a narrow range indicator solution and a colour chart. These kits are available in two forms: fresh water and seawater. pH indicators may deteriorate and become inaccurate due to incorrect storage or chemical contamination. Indicator liquids will change from their original colour if they have gone “off”.

Factors that Affect pH
Water from different areas varies considerably in its buffering capacity and its pH. The normal pH range for natural water is usually between 4 - 9. The buffering capacity of water is a function of its carbonate hardness.

The pH of water low in carbonate hardness, is much more likely to fluctuate to an unacceptable level. For example, Melbourne tap water is very soft and has low carbonate hardness and therefore has a low buffering capacity. This type of water, once in a stocked aquarium, progressively becomes more acid. This acidity is mostly caused by the action of the biological fi lter, and build up of carbon dioxide (carbonic acid) as the fish breathe. Conversely, neutral tap water may become too alkaline for most fresh water species, by reacting with calcium bearing substances if present in the aquarium. The following items should not be used for fresh water tank decoration; sea sand, shell grit, sandstone, coral, shells, marble, and cement. Newly made cement ponds can be deadly for goldfish - pH readings of 10 have been recorded. 


Adjusting pH
Instead of making constant adjustments to aquarium water, it is best to analyse the problem, find the cause, and take a long-term approach to fixing it, as recommended in the next chapters. Any corrections made to the pH of an aquarium must be gradual. It is recommended that changes of no more than 0.5 units be made per day. (e.g. pH 6.0 to 6.5). Carbon dioxide is produced when alkaline water is neutralised with an acid. This is another good reason to make the changes gradually, and keep the aeration going.

How to Correct Alkaline Water
a) If caused by the use of incorrect sand or rocks etc. (as previously described) simply remove offending material, do a partial water change, and buffer the tank back gradually using acid buffer.
b) If tap water is too alkaline, it should be neutralised before it is used in the aquarium. A large plastic or fibreglass storage container should be installed, and used for adding acid buffer to the tap water. After adding acid, strongly aerate the container to drive off the resulting carbon dioxide.

 

pH SCALE
The pH of tap water can suddenly jump to a lethal level after work has been carried out on concrete or cement lined water pipes. Hence the importance of checking pH of your tap water before use.

Peat Moss
Good quality German peat moss (available from garden supply shops) is useful as a natural method of acidifying water. By placing peat moss in any type of aquarium filter, water is softened slightly. The pH drops and water takes on a light brown colour because the tannins and humic acids stain it. This water is particularly good for breeding fish that require soft acid water. Do not leave peat moss in filters for more than a few weeks, because, as the peat starts decomposing, it will release all the chemicals it has absorbed while being used as a filter.

How To Correct Acid Water
a) Make sure the tank is not excessively dirty and that substrate filters are kept clean.
b) Give the tank a 1/3 water change (this is done to remove dissolved waste - it will not correct pH on its own unless the tap water is alkaline).
c) Add a neutraliser block, or approximately 1/4 cup of shell grit per bucket of sand used in the tank; these materials gradually dissolve as water turns acid, automatically neutralising the water. It therefore becomes essential to do weekly 1/3 water changes to prevent the accumulation of dissolved calcium, which increases general hardness.
d) If water is highly acid and the fish are stressed, give tank a 1/3 water change and gradually add buffer or KH-up (remember no sudden change to pH).


One important point relevant to pH, is that the effects of ammonia (which constitutes 80% of fish excretory products) is much less toxic at lower pH levels.


carbonate hardness (alkalinity)

What is Carbonate Hardness (KH)?
Carbonate hardness is a measurement of carbonate and bicarbonate in water. Water with a high carbonate hardness has a strong buffering capacity and is less likely to undergo violent pH fluctuations or sudden pH drops. The term alkalinity, or alkaline reserve, is often encountered in American aquarium literature. This is the same as carbonate hardness only a different unit of measurement is used. Carbonate hardness is measured in ppm (parts per million). Alkalinity is measured in meq/1 (milli equivalents per litre). 50ppm carbonate hardness = 1 meq/1.


The Difference Between General Hardness and Carbonate Hardness
General hardness and carbonate hardness are quite different and the two should not be confused. For example, it’s possible to have a low general hardness (very soft water, with virtually no dissolved calcium or magnesium salts) and still have a high carbonate hardness (a high carbonate and bicarbonate level).

How to Raise Carbonate Hardness
Water supplies throughout Australia vary greatly in terms of their carbonate hardness. As a general rule, hard water (water rich in calcium salts) will usually have some degree of carbonate hardness. It is important to know the carbonate hardness of your tap water. This is easily and accurately measured using a carbonate hardness test kit. “KH-up” carbonate hardness generator tablets or powders are used to raise carbonate hardness in fresh water and marine aquariums. Note: The addition of “KH-up” tablets will also raise pH.

Desirable Carbonate Hardness Levels
Freshwater fish 60 - 80ppm
Rift lake cichlids 120 - 200ppm
Marine fi sh 120 - 200ppm


Creating a Buffer in Aquariums
Experienced aquarists know the pH in most aquariums becomes more acid as time goes on. Acids delivered mostly from the break down of fi sh wastes by biological fi ltration cause this. These acids deplete carbonate hardness, which should be replaced and raised to the above recommended levels at regular intervals. In freshwater tanks the addition of “KH-up” may result in a higher pH than is desired. The pH should be adjusted (a buffer created) by simply adding “pH lower”, according to instructions, until the desired pH level is reached. Therefore the pH of aquariums can be kept stable by measuring the pH and carbonate hardness every week or so and adding “KH-up” tablets as necessary.

Benefi ts of Correct Carbonate Hardness Levels
1. Stable pH in freshwater and marine aquariums.
2. Better plant growth; allows more carbon dioxide to be available to plants.
3. Fish and invertebrates in both marine and freshwater aquariums have been shown to do better at the recommended carbonate hardness values.

Carbon Dioxide as Plant Food
Where carbon dioxide gas is being artificially added in “high -tech” mini-reef or freshwater plant tanks, carbonate hardness must be at the recommended levels or the pH of water will drop dangerously low.

General hardness is the total concentration of calcium and magnesium compounds dissolved in water. Natural waters vary greatly in hardness, with extremes ranging from the very hard water of the Rift Lakes in Africa, to the very soft waters of the Amazon and its tributaries. Fish populations living in these waters have evolved to require
these specifi c water conditions for their health and survival. The measuring of water hardness is essential for successful keeping and breeding of aquarium fi sh. General hardness is measured in parts per million (ppm) of dissolved calcium and magnesium. European aquarists measure hardness in German degrees of hardness (DH). One DH equals 18ppm. Water supplies vary greatly in hardness, and it is essential that the usual hardness of your tap water be known. For example, Melbourne tap water is very soft, between 20 - 40 ppm. Adelaide tap water is usually more than 200 ppm. The normal recommended hardness for a community tank is approximately 150 ppm. Hardness testing kits are easy to use and reasonably priced.

 

General Hardness

Hardness and Confusing Names
It is unfortunate the term “hardness” has been used in many ways in aquarium literature. “General hardness” (GH), as described above, is basically the measurement of dissolved calcium and magnesium. “Temporary hardness” is that part of general hardness caused by carbon dioxide in water (carbonic acid) dissolving calcium. It is termed “temporary” because it can be removed by boiling. This is the cause of scale in kettles and boilers in hard water areas. “Carbonate hardness” is completely different; this is a measurement of carbonate and bicarbonate and controls pH or alkaline reserve (the buffering capacity of water).

Hardness of the Community Tank
Calcium bearing materials should not be used in aquariums, unless for marines, brackish water, or African (Rift Lake) cichlid tanks. Sandstone, marble, coral, seashells, beach sand and shell grit, all leach calcium into fresh water. The resulting increase in general hardness and pH levels are unacceptable. The hardness of aquarium water should be checked regularly, especially if the fish are looking sick.

To Harden Water
Very soft water needs to be hardened before it is used for most types of fish, and in particular livebearers, African (Rift Lake) cichlids, and brackish water fish. The simplest way to do this is by using a water conditioner designed to add salts and minerals to the aquarium water. Water conditioners perform this function very well (follow instructions on the packet). “Hardness Up”  products are also very useful for increasing calcium hardness quickly and they combine well with water conditioners. People living in hard water areas must take into consideration the hardness of their tap water when deciding how much, if any, of these products need to be added. The addition of common salt (sodium chloride) does not affect the measurable hardness of water, but makes a valuable contribution to the well being of many species of fish. Livebearer water conditioners usually contain high levels of non-iodised salt.


To Soften Water
To soften water is generally more difficult than to increase its hardness. There are four common approaches to softening water.


1. Dilution
One method of dealing with hard water is to dilute it using a supply of softer water. One could cart soft water from another town, collect rainwater, or buy distilled water. These methods may not be practical for large volumes. Rainwater from industrial areas and large cities is often badly contaminated. Distilled water often contains toxic levels of copper, so make sure water was distilled over glass, not copper.

2. Reverse Osmosis (RO)
RO units are now available for treating drinking water for aquaculture. This system removes dissolved salts and minerals by forcing water through a semi-permeable membrane, keeping the salts on one side, while allowing the de-mineralized water through to the other.

3. Ion Exchange Resins
A practical method to soften water is by use of ion exchange resins. These tiny brown beads of resin absorb calcium and magnesium ions in exchange for chloride ions. Aquarium water softening kits use this method. 

4. Peat Moss
Good quality German peat moss can be used in filters to soften water, lower pH, and add humus and tannic  acids. Change the peat moss every few weeks to ensure it does not decompose and re-release everything it has absorbed.



Calcium In The Aquarium
Aquarium water will progressively become harder if calcium-bearing materials, as previously described, are used in the aquarium. In this case, simply remove the offending material and carry out a series of water changes with softer water, until the desired hardness is reached.

Use of Neutralizer Blocks
Aquarium neutralizer blocks, and holiday feeder blocks contain calcium and will harden aquarium water. Partial water change should be carried out every time one of these items has completely dissolved.

Summary
Remember that measuring General Hardness is very useful but only gives us part of the story. To measure the total amount of dissolved solids we use electronic meters that measure conductivity or total dissolved solids (TDS).


What is TDS?
TDS is a measurement of the total dissolved solids in water. It is the total salts and minerals that would remain after evaporation of filtered water from a given sample. A total dissolved solids reading is one of the most important, yet largely ignored, measurements of aquarium water chemistry. The main reason for it being ignored is that, until recently, there has been no low cost, effective method for aquarists to measure TDS: fortunately this situation has now changed.


Why Measure TDS?
The blood of most fresh water fi sh contains approximately 0.7% salts and minerals. Fish expend a great deal of energy retaining this internal salt level at concentrations different from that of the water they are living in. This is known as osmoregulation. In extreme cases, or if the differences are great enough, it can result in the fish’s death. A good example of this is how fish will die in distilled or rainwater (which contains no dissolved salts or minerals). On the other hand, some water supplies are so loaded with dissolved salts and minerals that they may also kill fish and aquatic plants. For example the salinity level of many Australian river systems and water supplies has reached a point where even hardy terrestrial plants are killed. Another good example of why one should measure TDS is that the addition of common salt (sodium chloride) cannot be measured or detected with either a pH or hardness test. One could theoretically keep adding salt to an aquarium (accidentally or on
purpose) until every fish and plant dies, yet the cause could not be detected by traditional measuring methods.

The Importance of Water Conditioning Salts
Different species of fish have evolved under specific water conditions. Some obvious examples are the very soft waters of the Amazon, the hard alkaline waters of the African Rift Lakes, and the salty waters of the oceans. All fish have an optimum range and they also have a tolerance to variation from their optimum. Good quality water conditioning salts have been developed for the industry. This was achieved by carefully studying the environments the different groups of fish have evolved in, and then duplicating the dissolved salts and minerals as closely as possible. The use of these salts is a proven way to reduce stress by easing the osmoregulation burden.


Sudden Large Changes Can Kill Fish (Osmotic Shock)
A sudden large change in TDS when moving fish from tank to tank or when unpacking newly arrived fish will cause osmotic shock, which may, depending on the severity, kill fish. Fish that require high levels of TDS, e.g. Scats, Monos, Salmontail Catfish and African Rift Lake Cichlids, should never be transferred to low TDS water. This action often causes fish deaths by unknowing aquarists.

Practical Application
Water has an enormous capacity for dissolving substances it comes into contact with. Even if the water we start off with in our aquariums is very pure, it soon “thickens up” through additions, biological break down of waste, and evaporation.
1. A TDS or conductivity reading enables you to establish quickly and easily if sufficient water conditioning salts have been added, especially for livebearers, brackish water fish, or Rift Lake cichlids.
2. You can check if the water is “pure” enough (meaning sufficiently free of minerals and salts) for such species as discus, cardinals, and neons. It is well known the eggs of these species (and many more) cannot be hatched unless the water is very low in mineral salts.
3. A TDS or conductivity reading of a water sample will give a good indication if your is not doing enough water.


How to Measure TDS And Conductivity
Total dissolved solids are measured using electronic TDS meters. The digital read out is usually fast, accurate, and easy to read.

Conductivity
Some aquarium literature talks of measuring the “dissolved solids” in water, as conductivity. In essence, conductivity is a measurement of the same thing, the concentration of ions in water, but just using a different scale. It is a simple matter to approximately convert a TDS reading to conductivity and vice versa, using the following formulas.

TDS to Conductivity

TDS divided by .53 = conductivity e.g. 200ppm (TDS) divided by .53 = 377 micro Siemens (conductivity)

Conductivity to TDS
Conductivity divided by 1.88 = TDS e.g. 377 micro Siemens divided by 1.88 = 200ppm (TDS)

Relationship Between TDS and General Hardness (GH)
A general hardness reading is basically a measurement of dissolved calcium and magnesium salts. A TDS reading is a measurement of calcium and magnesium salts plus all other dissolved solids. Therefore, to get a rough picture of your aquarium water make up, you can measure both TDS and general hardness.
For example TDS 950ppm GH 400ppm Difference 550ppm Therefore, about 550ppm of total dissolved solids are made up of non-calcium or magnesium salts.

 


Chlorine and Chloramine

Chlorine is used in the vast majority of cities in the world to purify drinking water. It is this same chemical reaction that is so effective at destroying potential pathogens that causes chlorine toxicity in aquarium fish. Experienced fi sh keepers are familiar with the two simple procedures, which dechlorinate tap water.
1. The use of an off-the-shelf anti-chlorine preparation.
2. Allowing water to stand, preferably under aeration for 24 to 48 hours before use.


Chlorine First, now Chloramine

Chloramines are formed when chlorine combines with ammonia. This chemical is replacing traditional chlorine for treating drinking water in many cities in the world with absolutely devastating results on the aquarium hobby. In late 1981, Florida fish farms, aquarium shops, and hobbyists, reported heavy losses to fish, reptiles, and amphibians, after chloramines were added to the water supply. Some Australian cities and towns now have chloramines added to their water supplies. Chloramines are toxic at concentrations of a few parts per billion. Chloramines affect fish by the gradual destruction of blood cells and altering haemoglobin in a way that stops transport of oxygen in blood.


The Dangers of Fresh Tap Water


Even if town water has not been treated with chloramines, the danger of chloramine poisoning in aquariums is still very high. Ammonia levels in aquariums are often quite high simply because fish excrete ammonia. If fresh, chlorinated tap water is added to such an aquarium, chlorine combines with the ammonia forming highly toxic chloramines. On the other hand, if aquarium water is not changed regularly, other fish by-products build to the point of becoming toxic. The simple solution to this dilemma is to ensure all water is treated to remove chlorine before it is added to the aquarium.

 

Neutralising Chloramines

1. Chemical Method (1)
The fastest and surest way of removing all chlorine, chloramine and ammonia from water is by the use of a commercial chlorine/ chloramine neutralizer.

2. Chemical Method (2)
Most anti-chlorine preparations will neutralise chloramines but at the same time there will be some ammonia released. Providing the biological fi lter (undergravel fi lter) is functioning, the nitrifying bacteria will reduce the ammonia in a fairly short time.

3. High-grade activated carbon
High-grade activated carbon will remove chloramines (and chlorine) from tap water. A side benefit of this approach is that many other toxic substances present in tap water are also removed. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, but remember it is essential that all new water passes over the activated carbon at a slow enough speed that the chloramines are absorbed. Caution: There are many low-grade carbons on the market that will not remove chloramines.

4. Dissipation method - The aging water method as used for removing chlorine from tap water is not practical for chloramines, as periods of 15 days and more are required for complete dissipation.

Summary:
1. Ensure all traces of chlorine and/or chloramine are removed from tap water before use in aquariums.
2. Ensure ammonia levels in aquariums are kept at an absolute minimum.
3. Make absolutely sure chlorinated tap water is never added directly into an aquarium where ammonia is suspected of being present. NOTE: If aquariums must be filled directly from water mains, ensure a chlorine neutralising agent is added to the aquarium before the fresh water.
 

 

Aquarium Capacity


To calculate the holding capacity of an aquarium, multiply length x height x width in centimetres. Divide total by 1000 = volume in litres. Subtract allowance for sand etc E.g. 60cm x 30cm x 30cm = 54,000 Divide by 1000 = 54 Capacity of a 60 x 30 x 30cm aquarium is approximately 50 litres. Subtract allowance for sand