Allotment Articles 2.
Testing The Water
There are many ways of testing water in which fish are to be kept so as to measure its suitability for them. Whilst temperature is not so important for pond fish it is crucial that it is maintained correctly for tropical fish. 75 to 80 F is quite suitable for most tropical fish although some such as Silver Sharks like it a little cooler. If a fishpond were to get that high the fish would start gasping for oxygen and some sort of aeration would be urgently required. However, it does not happen very often in this country, except in freak summers.
Oxygen levels can be checked and there are now test kits available for it. However sensible stocking levels and good aeration should remove the need for testing in both the fish tank and pond.
Where temperature is more significant in the pond is when Autumn comes and it gets cooler. As the pond temperature starts to drop to around 55F the feeding of high protein ground fish based foods should be stopped. Wheatgerm based foods should then be given until the temperature drops further still, so that the fish go into a semi dormant state and just lie on the bottom of the pond.
All fish keepers should be aware of the problems that high Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate levels can cause. They are all Nitrogen based compounds produced by feeding fish and the decay of vegetation. Ammonia is highly toxic to all fish and if its presence is detected a water change should be carried out immediately. If the water is agitated, ammonia will oxidise to produce white bubbles that are a simple warning of its presence.
Nitrite levels of even 1 part per million are too high and a partial water change should be carried out. Nitrate levels on the other hand can go much higher before they become harmful. If nitrate levels are high the addition of quick growing plants such as ELODEA will help matters as Nitrates are natural plant food.
Another quite important thing to test is the P H level. This is a measure of the degree of acidity, or alkalinity of the water. A P H reading of between 7 and 8 is suitable for most fish. Pond and Aquarium water may become acidic with age, or become alkaline due to the presence of lime from any cement. If this happens P H buffers, or adjusting chemicals are available to make the water safe for fish again.
You can also test the hardness of water, but this should not concern the average fish keeper other than the fact that hard water may leave scale deposits on pipe-work to the pump.
Salinity can be tested using a hydrometer, but again this only concerns the specialist fish keeper, who may keep marines, unless salt water is being used as a medicative treatment for freshwater fish.