Knowing your water chemistry can help you keep fish and plants alive. I’ll explain what Ph, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, kh, and gh is:
Ph is the amount of acidity in your tank. They can range from a 1 to 14 Ph. 1 can be as acidic as lemon juice while 14 can be as hard as bleach. You should keep your ph around 7 which is the safest out of all. African cichlids prefer a higher ph around 8 while tropical community fish prefer 7. Fish known as discus prefer a soft ph 6 and above. Plants can live through a wide range of ph ranging from 5 to 9. Extra water changes can lower ph while crushed coral as a substrate or filter media can higher ph. Do not use commercial ph down and ph up products because they can cause even more problems with ph.
Ammonia and Nitrite
Ammonia and nitrite is like poison for your fish. You should have 0 ppm of it expect during cycling which I explain here. Fish poop creates ammonia. You can do extra water changes to lower ammonia or nitrite. But you also should have beneficial bacteria in your tank which eats ammonia and nitrite then converts it to nitrate. You need to cycle your tank if you want beneficial bacteria.
Nitrate, unlike nitrite, is not as dangerous. Plants use nitrate to grow. Fish poop creates nitrate. Beneficial bacteria also converts ammonia and nitrite to nitrates. Too much nitrates isn’t good because it can cause algae and kill fish. That’s why we do water changes to lower nitrates when there is a build up of it. A good key is to keep it under 40 ppm.
Kh causes the ph to change. A high Kh causes a high ph. A low Kh causes a low ph.
Testing your Gh shows how much minerals you have in your tank. This is important with plants since they need the minerals. Tap water has minerals in it but RO water does not. That’s why you add gh booster to RO water to add minerals to it.
Temperature is also an important aspect. Keeping the temperature around 75 degrees fahrenheit is good for fish and plants.
Testing your aquarium water for these elements is also important. Test strips are not very accurate and run out fast. I recommend the liquid test kits since they’re more accurate and last longer before running out. You can buy them here.