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AirFilters.com offers a wide variety of products specifically for your water testing needs. WaterSafe Test Kits are ideal for testing for bacteria, lead, pesticides and other contaminants in your tap water. HM Digital Test Meters are designed for testing for conductivity, pH, and TDS (Total Dissolved Solids). Nutrafin Test Kits are great for testing the water in your aquarium!
Water Chemistry in Your Home
What are Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)?
"Dissolved solids" primarily refers to minerals, salts, metals, cations or anions dissolved in your water. This includes anything present in the water other than pure H20 molecules and suspended solids (any particles/substances that are neither dissolved nor settled in the water).
Where do TDS originate from?
Some Dissolved Solids end up in your drinking water from organic sources (leaves, silt, plankton, industrial waste and sewage). Other sources include runoff from urban areas, road salts used on street during the winter, and fertilizers and pesticides used on lawns and farms. Dissolved Solids also can arrive from inorganic materials such as rocks and air that may consist of calcium bicarbonate, iron phosphorous, sulfur, and other minerals. Many of these materials create salts, and salts usually dissolve in water forming ions. Metals such as lead or copper can also leach into your water as it travels through the pipes and gets distributed to you and other consumers.
What is Conductivity?
Conductivity is essentially a measure of the ability of water to pass an electrical current. It is affected by the presence of inorganic dissolved solids. Organic compounds do not conduct electrical current very well and consequently have a low conductivity within water. Conductivity is also affected by temperature: the warmer the water is, the higher the conductivity will be. In most cases, 25 degrees Celsius is the ideal temperature for conductivity in your drinking water.
Water Chemistry in Aquariums
Since fish not only breathe in water, but eat and eliminate in it as well, it is important to maintain good water quality in your aquarium to ensure ideal health in your fish. Furthermore, there are several different species of fish that live in a variety of different ecosystems all across the world. These habitats range from cool mountain streams to warm tropical reefs. Likewise, the water chemistry varies greatly with each different environment, and the types of fish in those environments have adapted to live in those particular water parameters. That is why it is essential to make sure all the parameters in your aquarium meet the specific needs of the inhabitants living inside. Below are some of the common parameters you want to regularly test for in your aquarium water.
This is produced in the first stage of the nitrification cycle. All aquaria life produces waste, which includes ammonia. This is the most toxic compound to be found in aquariums. A properly-maintained aquarium will have sufficient levels of beneficial bacteria that will break the ammonia down into nitrite. There are treatments one can use to help reduce high amounts of ammonia in the aquarium, but proper aquarium maintenance is generally the most ideal solution to keeping this compound in check.
Nitrite is produced in the second stage of nitrification. While not as potent as ammonia, this compound can still be very detrimental to aquarium life if not kept in check. Similar to the oxidation from ammonia to nitrite, there are different forms of microorganisms that break nitrite down into nitrate.
In this third stage of nitrification, nitrate is the benign by-product from the break-down from nitrite. Most healthy aquariums will have small trace amounts of nitrate, but you want to be careful not let this get out of hand. Routine aquarium maintenance will typically nitrate at a reasonable level.
This is an inorganic chemical composed mostly of phosphoric acid. It is one of many trace minerals that enter the aquarium via food or tap water and exit as waste. While planted aquariums do benefit from low levels of phosphate, it is important to keep this chemical in check.
Iron is another inorganic compound that is beneficial in planted freshwater aquariums.
General Hardness (gH) refers to the level of dissolved mineral salts (including carbonates, calcium, magnesium, potassium, etc.) in the water; the higher the mineral salt content, the “harder” the water is. Carbonate Hardness (kH) helps stabilize pH levels and prevents dangerous drops in pH.
While not preferred in typical freshwater habitats, it is ideal to have certain levels of calcium in brackish & saltwater aquariums.