Proper water quality is essential for maintaining healthy aquatic animals. This is true of fish, coral, invertebrates, turtles and amphibians. In most cases these animals live in the same water where they eat, drink and eliminate waste. Animals in captivity have the added challenge of living in a far smaller volume of water than their counterparts in the wild. It’s very important that their caretakers understand how to test the water and respond to any abnormal parameters. This article explains why it’s important to test several different water quality values and how they affect each other. The reader shouldn’t need to relearn past chemistry class notes to get an adequate understanding.
These are resources we've gathered that relate to fish and fish ownership.
Alkalinity is a measure of the water’s ability to buffer the pH to provide stability and avoid rapid changes in pH that could adversely affect the health of the animals in the water. It is one of the more important but most often overlooked parameters to monitor for healthy water quality in a system. Calcium carbonate (CaCO3) is the compound that has the most effect on alkalinity, but sodium, bicarbonate and other compounds play more minor roles. Good quality kits are available from companies like Salifert and Red Sea to test alkalinity by adding drops to the water sample in a test tube.
Problems with the Nitrogen Cycle
Ammonia, Nitrites and Nitrates measure the biological filter in a system. Elevations in any of these parameters with normal pH and alkalinity indicates a problems with biological filtration (see related article: The Importance of Water Quality Testing on this website). Mild elevations in all parameters are generally easy to fix, but there are some special cases described below that are far more concerning.
Pets may be sent home with liquid medications. An oral liquid medication must be given by mouth to be effective. An injectable liquid medication must be given by injection beneath the skin to be useful. Some injectable medications require that the medication is inserted into the muscle to be most effective. It is important that you understand how to read the syringes that are sent home so your pet gets the proper amount of medication at each dose.
All exotic pets, even ones that appear to be outwardly healthy, have the potential to carry and spread contagious diseases that can impact the health of people. This sort of disease is called a "zoonosis", "zoonotic disease", or "zoonotic infection".