There’s a cathartic tranquility about watching fish swim gracefully through the water, a moment lost in their world, observing the subtle movements that send them on their way and back again, never tiring, a sense of optimism accompanying every journey around their aquarium, and it’s clear why keeping fish is so popular, but ensuring your fish continue in their quest, enriching your time spent with them, is not as easy as they make it look.
Whether you’re looking for an addition to your own home or a present for a loved one this Christmas, there are many things to consider, but once you have the details straight, you too can enjoy the pleasure of a home aquarium. Choosing the correct fish to partner up is the first hurdle, and if your research is proving tedious or inconclusive, we have experts on hand only too willing to help out wherever they can, but be prepared to change your mind if your preferences are likely to cause problems. Numbers and varieties will dictate the size of your aquarium, and of course, you’ll need to be sure there’s a suitable space in your home – or that of the recipient – to house the tank.
There are decorative items to consider too, to add interest to the tank and for the fish, and food – and how often it’s needed – will need to be a priority. But none of that will matter at all if the pH levels of the water in your aquarium are not correct and checked regularly; failure to do so could result in fish dying, so to avoid any unnecessary suffering, we’re going to run a series of blog posts to provide as much information as we can to give you and your fish the best possible chance:
For those that can remember their chemistry lessons, the pH refers to how Acidic – lower end of the scale – or how Alkaline – higher end – a liquid is, with number 7 – the middle – being neutral, but each increment is not a single jump; as the numbers change, the strength of the acidity or alkalinity increases tenfold, so a pH of 4 will be 10 times more acidic than pH of 5, which then means it will be 100 times more acidic than a pH of 6; this is the difference between a healthy fish and one unlikely to survive, and there are many reasons for changes in those levels.
Our fish are imported from all around the world, so mimicking the waters they’re used to is crucial for maintaining their health, and unsurprisingly, that’s easier said than done. There are no magic numbers, no formulas to ensure the pH levels of your tank water are correct, and what’s more, move a few miles from your location, and you could find an increase or decrease in those levels. Anything you introduce to your aquarium can alter the pH levels, including food; the fish themselves and bacteria in the water can also have an impact, as well as aquatic plants and damaged filters, so always check before adding anything, even if it is designed to help.
The only way to ensure accuracy is testing, and testing regularly; testing kits are always available in-store, and most will check other aspects that may need attention too (more on these another time):
Once you have your reading, discrepancies can be rectified in a number of ways: If the pH is too high, you can add natural remedies like peat moss and driftwood – bought, rather than foraged – and they’re the recommended options, but if neither is available, shop-bought preparations are better than nothing at all; similarly, if the pH is too low, calcium products will buffer the levels up, and these include stones like Kentish Rag, Limestone and Ocean Rock, all of which are available at Brookside and should be from any other Aquatic retailer; prepared products, again, will work if they’re your only option.
Grouping your fish will also be dependent on the pH levels of the natural habitat of each species, and once again, there’s not a prescriptive method to determine which can happily cohabit; discussing your choices with our experts is the first step, but a lot more research will be required to ensure you make the right choices.
If the right balance is found, you can rest easy and while away the hours, lost in an underwater adventure as you watch your fish go by, knowing they’re getting the best possible care. Whilst our experts are always happy to help you as best they can, we cannot be held responsible for the husbandry of the fish in your care, or, indeed, all those things you don’t do that you maybe should be doing instead…