water testing

Methods of Balancing Ammonia, Nitrites, and Nitrates

This blog examines how to determine the levels of each that your fish need for optimum health. It then discusses how to balance the levels using various methods.
The balance of ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates in your fish’s tank contributes to the health of your fish. The slightest imbalance can cause damage to your fish’s reproductive system or, in some cases, death.

Test the Water

Use a water test kit to determine the level of each item in your fish’s tank. While the optimum levels for each will vary slightly by species, general guidelines apply to all fish. Simply follow the instructions on the test kit.

About Ammonia

A too high ammonia level can stress out the fish and damage reproduction. An ammonia level above one part per million (ppm) requires immediate treatment to adjust the water’s pH or a 50 percent water change. It may require several water changes to reduce the ammonia below one ppm. If you need to quickly neutralize the ammonia, you can use a chemical pH control product.
You may need to restrict feedings to reduce the amount of waste. In some cases, you may need to discontinue feedings for a few days. Do not add new fish to the tank until the ammonia and nitrite levels reach zero.

Nitrites and Nitrates

In nature, nitrates usually fall below 5 ppm. In a fish tank though, they range between 10 to 49 ppm. Ideally, they should be below 25 ppm. Nitrates should remain below 10 ppm when you need to eradicate algae growth or you are breeding fish.
Use a filter to remove nitrates. Reduce nitrates by doing the following:

  • Clean the tank. Waste produces nitrates.
  • Avoid overfeeding.
  • Frequently change the water.
  • Keep live plants near the fish tank since they utilize nitrates.
  • Install a nitrogen removing filter media and use it in conjunction with the other steps.

By testing your fish’s water regularly and utilizing these steps, you can keep your fish healthier. They need low levels of ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites to flourish.