home Aquarium How to determine the hardness of the water in an aquarium

How to determine the hardness of the water in an aquarium

General definitions

Dirty and cloudy liquid spoils the overall look, but crystal clear is also not always useful. After acidity, the second most important parameter is the level of hardness. Its values ​​that are too high or too low will primarily affect the plants.

Calcium cations and, to a lesser extent, magnesium cations have the greatest importance on the level. Manganese, iron and strontium present in small amounts are not included in the measurement.

Rigidity is divided into 3 types:

  • Total (gH). Consists of two values ​​given below.
  • Non-carbonate. This is a constant value of the level of chlorides and sulfates of magnesium and calcium dissolved in the liquid. Does not change when boiled at home. However, it can fluctuate within 24 hours. This is facilitated by the presence of plants or the time of day.
  • Carbonate (kH). Concentration of bicarbonate salts (Mg and Ca). At a pH of more than 8.3 and boiling, they form a flocculent precipitate, settle in crystals on the walls of the container and a film on the surface of the water.

Photo gallery of tools for measuring water hardness:

kH. the most important for aquarists, this is due to several aspects at once:

  • The level of carbon dioxide that is produced when fish breathe. At high kH, the CO2 value can reach a critical level of over 30 mg / l, which will lead to the death of the inhabitants. However, a low concentration below 15 mg / l will not allow plants to develop normally.
  • PH stabilization. There is a direct relationship between the two values.
  • Spawning water for some fish species. It is a liquid with low kH and acidity in the range of 5.0-7.0.

Water hardness in an aquarium: how to increase or decrease, what you need to know about it

The hardness of the water in an aquarium is one of the most important conditions for the creation and functioning of an aquarium ecosystem. Without establishing the required indicators of living organisms in the reservoir, it is impossible. The knowledge gained, as well as a share of patience, will allow you to achieve the desired concentration of Ca and Mg salts at home and admire healthy fish and dense green plants.

Strips with reagents applied to them

Chemical reagent Trilon “B”

This method is considered the most accurate, the disadvantages are the complexity and duration of the experiment. A buffer mixture, a chemical reagent and a special indicator are added to the water taken from the aquarium. As the reaction proceeds, the color of the solution changes from cherry to blue-green.

Drip tests

Normal and critical stiffness indicators

The life span of the inhabitants depends on the hardness of the water in the aquarium. The alkaline earth metal salts magnesium and calcium, for example, affect growth rates, the formation of fish bones and shells in molluscs. They also act as a mineral fertilizer for plant development. In a too soft environment, leaves curl and shoots die off.

Normal kH is in the range of 4-8 °. In older aquariums, the reading drops below this mark over time due to water oxidation.

Some species require a mild environment, while others, on the contrary, prefer elevated degrees. This must be taken into account in several cases:

  • During the initial formation of the aquarium: for snails, a harder one is preferable, for neon fish 6-8 °, for guppies 5-10 °, scalar 18 °, for ferns 10-14 °.
  • With a complete replacement of the liquid and transplanting fish into it.
  • Water preparation for spawning. Some species reproduce in all conditions, for others, you must first prepare a liquid.

For most aquarium fish, values ​​from 3-15 ° will be the norm. An indicator below three indicates a lack of rigidity.

How to increase the hardness of your aquarium water

If the tests carried out reveal values ​​that do not correspond to the required ones, you can adjust the hardness to the desired value. However, there should be no abrupt change in values, this can cause stress in fish.

If you need to increase the level of hardness, the following methods are used:

  • Add the bottom layer of boiled liquid rich in salts.
  • Mix water with harder.
  • Add coral or dolomite chips to the aquarium filter.
  • Place marble, limestone containing calcium carbonate or colored glass on the bottom. You can dissolve pieces of chalk by increasing the level by 2-4 °. The disadvantage of this method is the difficulty of controlling the rigidity. Better to pass the liquid through a filter with the addition of marble chips.
  • Decorate the bottom of the aquarium with shells.
  • Add calcium carbonate 2 tsp. for 50 l.
  • Use dissolved soda, 1 tsp. for 50 liters, or 0.2-5 g per liter. This method is suitable for water with an indicator of at least 8 °.
  • Add a 10% solution of calcium chloride and magnesium sulfate: dilute 50 g, obtaining a volume of 750 ml. Use 1 mg per liter each.
  • Pour in 1 ml of 25% magnesium per 1 liter of water.
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Almost all of the above methods change the stiffness indicator by 4 °.

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Yes, Sori, I misinterpreted.)))
Roughly speaking, in the aquarium, he will measure the total mineralization for you (this is the device). Those. the difference between the tds value in the aquarium and in the faucet. substances formed already in the aquarium itself. nitrates, phosphates and other organics. Thus, the tds value, according to the device, can be used to determine the time for changes, approximately determine the amount of contamination in the aquarium water, prepare water for changes with the required mineralization, control the consumption of applied fertilizers, etc. In short, the device is expensive and practically useless. )))))

Aquarium pH and Water Hardness

And for measuring pH. a completely different aparatik is needed. and it washes exclusively free hydrogen ions.

How to reduce the hardness of your aquarium water?

How to lower the hardness of your aquarium water.

It explains why it may be necessary to reduce the hardness of the water in the aquarium and how to do it: prepare the water of the required hardness.

It may be necessary to lower the hardness of the water in the aquarium if you want to keep soft-water fish and grow plants for which soft, slightly acidic water is optimal. At low carbonate hardness, maintain pH values ​​in the optimal range for these purposes: 6.4. 6.7 will be relatively simple. But in hard water (at high KH values), this is almost impossible to do.
In order to prepare spawning water for soft-water fish, it is also necessary to reduce its hardness. You can reduce the hardness of water by mixing tap water 1) with “osmosis”, distillate, rain or melted water. And then the question arises: in what proportion to mix in order to obtain water of the required hardness? In fact, here we are faced with the task of diluting the solution (tap water) to the desired concentration. With sufficient accuracy for aquarium purposes, it is solved using the rule of the cross, or “Pearson’s envelope”. To do this, you need to know the hardness of the mixed waters in degrees or their salinity, measured, for example, with a conductometer. Hardness can be determined using aquarium drip tests for total hardness and carbonate 2). Their accuracy will be quite sufficient when preparing water for a soft water aquarium.
When preparing spawning water for such demanding species as red neon (Paracheirodon axelrodi), it is advisable to use a conductometer, which allows you to obtain more accurate data on the degree of water mineralization 3).

Consider a specific example: the carbonate hardness of tap water. 10 about KH. demineralized water using an inexpensive reverse osmosis system. 0.5 about KH. it is required to obtain water with carbonate hardness. 2 about KH. Graphically, the rule of the cross can be represented as follows:

Fig 1. Application of the “Pearson envelope”, or the rule of the cross when preparing a solution of a given concentration. In our case, this is the preparation of water of the required hardness. First, the KH values ​​of tap water and “osmosis” water are recorded one above the other, to the right between them. the desired KH value for the water that we are preparing. Next, crosswise subtract the smaller value from the larger value. The resulting differences show how many parts you need to take tap and “osmosis” water for mixing.

Everything is pretty obvious. In order to obtain water with a carbonate hardness of 2 about KH, one and a half parts of tap water must be mixed with eight parts of “osmosis”.
Another example: here the salinity of water is estimated by its conductivity in microSiemens (μS). The aim is to prepare very soft, low conductivity water suitable for spawning of soft-water fish. only 30 μS. In this case, the conductivity of tap water is 600 μS, and that of osmosis. 10 μS.

Fig 2. Application of the rule of the cross when preparing water for an aquarium of a given mineralization, expressed in microSiemens.

As follows from the presented calculation scheme, it is necessary to mix 20 parts of tap water with 570 parts of “osmosis” water. For the convenience of using the results of this calculation, we divide them by 20, then we get a mixing ratio of 1: 28.5. That is, to prepare 29.5 l of spawning water, you need to mix 1 l of tap water with 28.5 l of osmosis water. It should be noted that the preparation of spawning water does not end there. But there is a separate article about spawning water.

1) Tap water is not always hard, but in this article we are considering just such and the most common case. Therefore, the task of reducing the hardness of tap water is relevant for many aquarists.
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2) Both total and carbonate hardness are measured in degrees. The aquarist is usually more interested in carbonate, since it is necessary to calculate the CO2 content in the aquarium water, the pH value of the aquarium water depends on it, and it also affects the fertilization of eggs and, therefore, control of carbonate hardness is very important when preparing spawning water. Carbonate hardness and total hardness are usually interrelated (unless soda was added to the aquarium), as a rule, carbonate hardness is less than the total hardness by a few degrees. Hardness salts in fresh surface waters are the main contributors to water salinity. Therefore, the lower the mineralization, the lower the hardness.
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3) The accuracy of the tests for determining the KH of the aquarium water (up to one degree) is quite sufficient for solving most of the tasks facing the aquarist, but not for all. For example, dilution of red neon requires a minimum carbonate hardness (less than 0.5 o KH), so it is better to use a conductometer to evaluate it.
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Using the chemical “Trilon B”

The process of determining the parameters of a liquid using reagents is rather complicated and time-consuming. It requires certain knowledge and experience in the field of chemistry. This is a fairly accurate method, but due to research difficulties and the need to purchase additional chemical equipment, it is not very popular when calculating water hardness at home.

Effects on fish

The combination of calcium and magnesium salts in water is of great importance for the inhabitants of the underwater world:

  • forms and strengthens the skeleton of fish;
  • strengthens the shell and shell of molluscs and various crustaceans;
  • creates conditions for breeding and improves habitat.

If these salts are not enough, then the fish will be weak, moreover, their development will slow down.

Special devices

Use special devices, for example, a device for determining the purity of water TDS (salt meter). This is a device that measures the accumulation of impurities in a liquid.

Such a device works by creating an electric field in the water. It is very easy to calculate all additives in it, not just salts. To measure the amount of chemicals, you need to take one liter of water from the aquarium and lower it with a salt meter. After a few seconds, it will give the measured value in milligrams.

  • ease of use;
  • instant calculation of impurities;
  • practicality in use and storage;
  • low cost.
  • the need to replace batteries;
  • approximate measurement accuracy;
  • short service life (from 1 to 2 years).

How to check the level?

There are several ways to measure the hardness level of a liquid in your aquarium at home.

Using paper test strips

Rapid tests are readily available. To find out the indicators of the total hardness, it is enough to lower the paper strip into the aquarium and wait for the color change. This only happens in hard water.

  • high speed of determination of results;
  • the ability to carry out diagnostics directly in the tank, without taking the liquid into a separate container;
  • affordable price.

There is only one drawback: approximate results.

Since the test reacts to liquid parameters by changing the color of the paper tape, it must be compared with a special palette that comes with express tests. Hardness is determined approximately, “by eye”.

Influence on the inhabitants of the aquarium

The hardness of the water in the tank has a tremendous effect on the development of fish, other inhabitants and vegetation. Their acclimatization depends on changes in the hardness of the liquid.

For the normal well-being of the inhabitants of the aquarium, water is required, the hardness of which ranges from 3 to 15 degrees.

Laundry soap

This method allows you to determine the rigidity with an error of 1-2 degrees. This method is simple, and the most difficult thing in it is to separate 1 g of soap from the bar.

To get started, you need 60 or 72 percent laundry soap. Then, using jewelry or laboratory scales, you need to weigh 1 g. After that, grind the soap and pour it into a cylindrical glass, pour in a small amount of purified water and stir to prevent the formation of foam. Then you need to add purified water to a certain level (60 mm. for 60% and 72 mm. for 72% soap). The water level can be measured with a tape measure or ruler.

Aquarium pH, GH, and KH for BEGINNERS​

Now it is necessary to pour 500 g of the test liquid into a separate container. We begin to slowly pour the resulting solution into it, stirring continuously until a stable foam appears. this means that the test solution has entered into a chemical reaction with salts. Foam is considered stable if it does not fall off for a long time after stopping stirring.

Then you need to fix how many centimeters of the prepared solution turned out by pouring it into the jar. If 1 cm of the test solution was poured out, this means that the hardness of the test liquid is equal to two degrees, since instead of 1 liter of liquid, studies were carried out 500 g (all obtained values ​​must be multiplied by two). Using an online calculator or a special table, you need to determine the degree of water hardness.

The disadvantage of this research method is its low accuracy.

How to downgrade?

Softening the water in an aquarium is difficult. To achieve a decrease in hardness at home, you can use boiling, freezing the liquid and adding special chemical reagents. The tank can be filled with purified water, rain or melt.

There are several simple methods to make regular tap water into a soft liquid. They will be discussed below.

  • The water from the water supply is purified and heated to a boil. Then you need to let it cool and settle.
  • In a separate container, the liquid is frozen in the freezer, but not completely, but in half. After that, the unfrozen residue is drained, the ice melts, and the resulting liquid, brought to the desired temperature, is added to the tank (two-thirds of the upper layers are mixed into the home reservoir).
  • You can remove excess hardness by filtering the water with special filters.
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Some experts use alder cone infusion as a softener, adding it to the aquarium in small portions. But opinions on the effectiveness of this method differ due to the insignificant decrease in the salt level (only by 1-2 degrees).

It is possible to achieve a softening of the level of salt concentration in a liquid by using the chemicals “Trilon B” or “EDTA”, strictly following the instructions.

Determination of the total hardness of aquarium water, GH test.

Measuring the total hardness of aquarium water using a drip test. Sera GH test.

This article is not an advertisement for sera products, it is just that this GH test (general hardness test) is at your fingertips. All GH drip tests from leading manufacturers of aquarium products work on a titration principle and are reasonably accurate. So it doesn’t matter which one you use.

The leftmost glass is still without a single drop of reagent, there is just water from the aquarium. Second from the left. with a drop of reagent, but not yet stirred. It does not dissolve instantly and first falls to the bottom, where we see the green color. The reagent itself is green. When the glass is shaken, the drop of the reagent dissolves and the test water acquires a color that is not green at all. The third glass from the left with one drop of the reagent, but after stirring. Then there are photographs of the same glass after adding each new drop of reagent. The number on the glass indicates how many drops have been added. I had to add 5 drops in total to get the green color. The hardness of water, therefore, is equal to 5 ° dGH (1.78 mg-eq / l. The translation of some units of measurement of hardness into others is written here). This is soft water, and therefore I never saw the red color. After the first drop, the water became slightly yellowish-pinkish, and then immediately turned yellow. There was no red or brown color. The final green is also not overly saturated. It is light green or light green. This is how it should be when testing soft water. Having received the color transition from yellow to green, the titration must be stopped (adding new drops).

Photo 2

When testing harder water, the picture was slightly different. In this photo, as in the first, the leftmost beaker does not contain the reagent, the second. with one drop of it. Third from the left. with water after the fifth drop of reagent has been added, the fourth. tenth. After the eleventh, the water did turn brown, and the twelfth drop turned it green. Thus, the hardness of the test water is 12 ° dGH (4.28 mg-eq / l).
Please note that when testing the first sample, the green color of the water, signaling the termination of the testing procedure, turned out to be significantly less saturated than when testing the second. This means that when testing very soft water, the paints will be completely faded and it will be important to correctly determine the moment when the addition of a new drop is no longer necessary. In practice, it will be necessary to react not to green, but to a pale salad color. Therefore, when testing very soft water (GH = 4 or less), if the goal is to obtain the most accurate result possible, you need to take twice the amount of water (10 ml), and divide the number of reagent drops spent on titration by 2 to obtain the GH value.
Well, this test is really very simple to perform, and no fuss with preparing reagents. drip yourself a ready-made reagent, and count the drops. It is very comfortable. That’s just not cheap (if you use import tests). Is it possible to save money? It is possible, but at the expense of a loss of test accuracy. Consumable in this GH test. it is a reagent. To make it go less, and this is important when testing hard waters, when the reagent consumption is high, just fill the glass with not 5 ml, but 2.5 ml of water. The reagent for testing (titration) will require half the amount. This technique is perfectly acceptable for aquarists who, in most cases, just need to assess the degree of water hardness. In this case, it is not very important, for example, what is the hardness of the water in the aquarium, 18 o or 16 o GH. It is clear that in both cases it is tough. For what purposes it is necessary to measure the total stiffness exactly, described in a separate material.

How else can you determine the total hardness of your aquarium water? By the method of complexometric titration with trilon B. according to the electrical conductivity of water.