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Aquarium Water Management: Ideal Water Paramaters
Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith
Maintenance/Water Quality
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German Blue Ram To assess the health of most pets, you would take the animal's temperature, listen to the heart and lungs, discuss diet, and perhaps perform some blood tests. One way to assess the health of an aquarium is to monitor water parameters. Making sure your tank has all of the appropriate water parameters and environmental requirements a particular species needs is one way to assure your tank is healthy.

Freshwater parameters

The following chart is a general guideline of acceptable water parameter ranges for different types of freshwater aquariums, brackish water aquariums and ponds. The water parameters listed are a general guideline for maintaining each specific type of aquarium or pond. Some species of fish, plants or invertebrates may have more specific requirements so please review each individual species description for more information.

Freshwater
Parameters
Freshwater Community African Cichlid Freshwater Plants &
Discus
Brackish Pond
Temperature 72 - 82°F 72 - 82°F 76 - 86°F 72 - 82°F 33 - 86°F
pH 6.5 - 7.5 7.8 - 8.5 6.0 - 7.5 7.5 - 8.4 6.5 - 7.5
Ammonia 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Nitrite 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Nitrate < 50 ppm < 50 ppm < 30 ppm < 50 ppm < 50 ppm
Alkalinity
(Carbonate Hardness)
4 - 8 KH 10 - 18 KH 3 - 8 KH 10 - 18 KH 4 - 8 KH
General
Hardness
4 - 12 GH 12 - 20 GH 3 - 8 GH 12 - 20 GH 4 - 12 GH

Marine parameters

Yellowstripe Maroon Clownfish in AnemoneThe following chart is a general guideline of acceptable water parameter ranges for different types of tropical marine aquariums. Some types of displays such as FOWLR (Fish Only With Live Rock) aquariums have a broader range of parameters than a reef aquarium. This is due to the delicate nature of corals and invertebrates that are commonly maintained in a reef aquarium. Some species of fish, plants or invertebrates may have special requirements, so please review each individual species description for more specific information. For reference, we have also provided the average water conditions measured on tropical coral reefs across the world.

Marine
Parameters
Suggested Level:
Reef Aquarium
Suggested Level:
FOWLR Aquarium
Average Level:
Coral Reefs
Specific Gravity 1.023 - 1.025 1.020 - 1.025 1.025
Temperature 72 - 78°F 72 - 78°F 82°F
pH 8.1 - 8.4 8.1 - 8.4 8.0 - 8.5
Alkalinity 8 - 12 dKH 8 - 12 dKH 6 - 8 dKH
Ammonia (NH3) Undetectable Undetectable Near Zero
Nitrite (NO2) Undetectable Undetectable Near Zero
Nitrate -
Nitrogen (NO3)
< 1.0 ppm < 30 ppm < 0.25 ppm
Phosphate (PO4) < 0.2 ppm < 1.0 ppm < 0.13 ppm
Calcium 350 - 450 ppm 350 - 450 ppm 380 - 420 ppm
Magnesium 1250 - 1350 ppm 1150 - 1350 ppm 1300 ppm
Iodine 0.06 - 0.10 ppm 0.04 - 0.10 ppm 0.06 ppm
Strontium 8 - 14 ppm 4 - 10 ppm 8 - 10 ppm


RELATED ARTICLES:
Water Chemistry Basics: pH, Temperature, Water Hardness, Waste Breakdown, Minerals, and Chemicals 
How to Maintain Aquarium Water Quality 
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