Aquarium Test Kit: The Secrets of Good Betta Water Quality

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It’s pretty much a given that betta fish water quality is key to successful betta fish keeping. Yet you can’t eyeball water quality and tell where things stand. Because the water can be crystal clear and still be less than optimum (read healthy) for your betta. This is why having an aquarium water test kit that measures the levels of ammonia, nitrites and nitrates is a must if you want happy fish. If it gives you a read on pH all the better.

Certainly you want to get a read on water quality weekly. (Taken before you do any water change obviously.) Tracking it will let you know if there is a sudden change which could pressure your fish. Such knowledge can let you head of potential problems as falling pH or rising nitrites can ultimately lead to deadly consequences.

Sure some will argue that bettas can survive poor water quality so why bother. Okay. Point taken. Maybe they can. But just because they can handle it why subject your prized pet to such conditions if you don’t have to? Knowing as you do that crappy water quality can lead to a host of health issues otherwise known as betta fish diseases.

This is where a good aquarium testing kit comes in.

Now you can get test kits that use paper strips that produce color indicators. You can also get liquid test kits that use little vials that change color according to the levels of toxins in the water.

It’s pretty much the general consensus that paper strips are not the way to go. They are notorious for giving misleading measures at best, outright false readings at worst. Plus they can be more expensive to use in the long run. So nix those.

That leaves you with liquid test kits with the API Freshwater Master Test Kit being the one most often recommended as the best of the lot. It gives you everything you need to test hundreds of times for levels of ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates and pH. Hence why it’s called the master test kit because it gives you the ability to do the most important ones easily.

All you do is fill the little vials to the indicated line with aquarium water, add the required number of drops required of each reactive chemical to each test tube and then compare the results to the chart to see where things stand.

Easy peasy.

In next to no time you’ll be able to confirm your water conditions are stable and fish friendly. All of which makes this the test kit for anyone with bettas they feel strongly about.

Water Test Kit Tip To Remember: Any test kits contain reactive chemicals that can be affected by humidity. So be sure to keep caps on tight to preserve their effectiveness.


Water Chemistry Made Simple

Basically with any new aquarium set up you’re going to want to be super diligent about water changes initially. To offset in turn high levels of ammonia and then nitrites.

If you do so in a few week’s time any “could be fatal” ammonia levels present in the water will drop to zero only to be replaced by a second almost equally lethal toxin known a nitrites.

You’ll want to continue the water changes to dilute the levels of nitrites and to give the good bugs a chance to colonize your tank so they process this into nitrates.

All the while you’ll want to monitor how things are progressing so you can react with more frequent water changes if need be.

Aquarium Test Kit Tip To Remember: If you’re finding the results a tad tricky to read hold your samples against a white background. Doing so should aid in your interpretations.

So what should the levels of ammonia, nitrites and nitrates come in at? A tank that is “cycled” properly (cycled in a word means you’ve got bacteria in the water to take care of the ammonia for you) should throw off readings of ammonia at ZERO. Nitrites at ZERO. While for nitrates being under 40PPM is viewed as tolerable – under 25PPM being closer to ideal.

Just understand it will take some time for your tank to develop a healthy nitrate level because the type of bacteria needed to do so aren’t going to show up in any quantity until your fish has been in the water for a while. With a bit of patience however, ammonia will disappear and a little bit later the nitrites will vanish as well. If you want to know more check out this article on cycling.

Sources Of Ammonia

An overabundance of ammonia in the water tells you one of two things:

  • 1) you are possibly over feeding and any leftover food is decomposing and fouling the water
  • 2) overfeeding naturally tends to result in greater waste produced by your fish
  • 3) less likely you’ve got too many fish in the tank.

Sure biological filtering can help some but cutting down on how much food you’re giving your fish will help more. Besides, overfeeding is just wasting food anyway. And you’re also just making it harder to get to or to maintain an ammonia level of ZERO.

In any case once things get in balance, from that point partial water changes will keep any potentially high nitrate levels in check naturally. But you’ll only know any of this if you keep on top of things by relying on a reliable aquarium water test kit. And your fish are worth it, right?

About Lucas
Putting a name with a face I'm Lucas Smatana. Like you I'm passionate about betta fish and hope to share my enthusiasm. The idea here is to make sure you get helpful info and useful ideas on betta fish care that really work. To insure your betta keeping experience is a good one both for you and your fish. So that you and your pet enjoy a long, happy and healthy relationship.

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