Water chemistry simplified? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 09-23-2009, 08:52 PM Thread Starter
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Water chemistry simplified?

Hi, I am new to this board and new to the world of aquariums. Getting ready to set up theb inaugural tank. I have been reading voraciously - books, articles, web sites, blogs, you name it - and I have learned way more already than I ever thought there was to know. But a strange thing is happening.. the more I learn, the less clear everything is. The enormous amount of information there is to know about water chemistry seems to be totally overwhelming. Can it really be this complicated? (I mean, yes, I know the fish don't just swim around in tapwater, but still....) To add to the burden, lots and lots of the information I am picking up seems to be contradictory. One book I read yesterday on planmted aquariums warned specifically not to do anything that might raise the oxygen level in the water (huh? don't fish need oxygen?) There are apparently so many different compounds and characteristics to test for, and such conflicting direction as to what the correct ranges and levels should be, that I am just completely lost. Most frustrating, almost every single bit of advice I read talks about the importance of testing for a certain element, and the crucial importance of keeping the level within the correct range, but almost NEVER tells you what to do if your test results are off. So I suppose my questions are these: (1) should I just give up before I start? and (2) is there someplace where this stuff is presented in a single simple coherent place? LIke maybe a master chart that lists all the things you should test for, what the appropriate raneg is for each, and what to do if your results are off? Sorry for the ramble.... it's just that usually more education leads to better understanding, not less. Thanks for any advice!!!!! - marc
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 09-23-2009, 09:09 PM
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Hi, welcome on board.
But a strange thing is happening.. the more I learn, the less clear everything is.
isn't that the case for everything

Can it really be this complicated?
No it's not that complicated. Most of us don't even bother testing the water parameters most times. I use the condition of the plants and algae as a sign on what to do.

One book I read yesterday on planmted aquariums warned specifically not to do anything that might raise the oxygen level in the water
This statement mostly pertains to low tech tanks that do not inject CO2. When you try to raise O2 through aeration, this 'degasses' the CO2 which is important for plants. But it's really a non-issue if you have a filter and have good water movement throughout your tank. There's enough O2 & CO2 for animals and plants.

(1) should I just give up before I start?
Just jump right in.

(2) is there someplace where this stuff is presented in a single simple coherent place?
Yes, check out this forum. I'm sure you'll have more questions so just ask the intelligent people on this forum.

To start read a few articles.

more articles can be found here

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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 09-24-2009, 05:09 AM
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The thing about test kits is that if you have them you want to use them. And, if you use them you want to react to what they tell you. My preference is to remain in the dark about my parameters unless I find a good reason to want to know them. So, I haven't measured my tank water for anything at all for many months.

Once I found that both plants and fish like my tap water, I saw no reason to question their likes. I do understand that many others have a different opinion about this, which is no problem to me. There are different ways to do a planted tank.

One thing that needs to always be kept in mind is that test kits are only meaningful when you calibrate them before using them. Otherwise you can only tell that a parameter has changed when the test result changes (or the test kit has changed) but you don't know what the actual values are. No professional who tests or measures anything ever does so without having the test device, kit or whatever he uses calibrated first, even if he spent $10,000 for it. So, we, who spend $20 for our test kits, surely need to do the same before relying on the results to make any decisions.

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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 09-24-2009, 12:19 PM
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welcome to the planted tank! allways good to see another local joining this hobby!! the best advice i can give you is patience is definatley a virtue in this hobby, read as much as you can, and when you get confused ask some one. there are some very inteligent and knowlagble people on this forum. good luck! and if you ever need anything feel free to private message me.
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