Routine water changes are a vital part of maintain a balanced, healthy environment in any pond or aquarium. However, there is more to performing water changes than just dumping out the old water and adding in the new. In this article we wil discuss why water changes are important and how to perform them properly to insure a healthy home aquatic ecosystem.
Cycling an aquarium refers to the step in aquarium set up where you are encourging the growth of beneficial nitrifying bacteria in order to establish a functional Nitrogen Cycle to help break down fish waste. There are several ways this can be done and pros and cons for each method. The most common techniques we'll discuss here.
Nitrogen is an important element found in nature and is critical for many biologic functions. The nitrogen cycle is the natural process by which nitrogen compounds are converted between various forms. Gathering a basic understanding of how the nitrogen cycle works can help you keep your fish or aquatic turtle healthy and happy.
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.
Puffer fish have teeth that grow continuously and need to be continuously worn by proper hard food items found in their wild diet. In captivity they will often have problems with overgrown teeth due to soft captive diets.
Fish have a unique way of showing signs of health concerns. Paying close attention to appearance and behaviors will help identify problems early and allow a more narrowed focus for diagnostic testing.
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".