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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Care Guides > Setting Up An Aquarium Water Quality

Setting up an Aquarium

Experience Level: Beginner

Water Quality

Water quality is critical to the health of your fish.
Items to be monitored include:

pH Level – Normal Range: 6.5 –8.2
This is the acid/base activity in the water. Rapid changes in pH are detrimental to fish. The stability of the pH is related to water alkalinity.

Chlorine and Chloramine – Normal Results: 0.0 mg/L
These are found in city water and must be removed for fish. Always use a dechlorinator with new water before adding to an aquarium.

Ammonia – Normal Results: 0.0–0.25 mg/L
Aquariums should have no ammonia present (after they have been cycled). In new aquariums, ammonia neutralizers can be used to lower ammonia levels.

Nitrite – Normal Results: 0.0–0.5 mg/L
You can remove excess nitrite from an aquarium by performing a partial water change. Adding
salt to the water at 0.1-0.3% (1-3 teaspoons of aquarium salt per gallon of water) also reduces
nitrite toxicity.

Nitrate – Normal Range: 0–40 mg/L
If nitrate levels exceed 40 mg/L, water changes can be used to lower the concentration.

Hardness – Normal Range: 100–250 mg/L
Water with high hardness usually has a high pH.
Softening the water will lower the pH.

Alkalinity – Normal Range: 120–300 mg/L
With low alkalinity water, your aquarium may experience sudden and deadly pH shifts.
Increase the alkalinity of the water to stabilize the pH.

Temperature – Normal Range: 74–82º F (23-28° C)
Use an aquarium heater to maintain stable water temperatures.