What are the Key Aquarium Parameters?

Published: 07 March 2022

A healthy aquarium begins with maintaining adequate water quality to ensure a healthy aquatic environment. Below you will find the parameters you should be monitoring and the typical values of both freshwater and saltwater aquariums.

Regular monitoring and adjustment of the water quality is crucial for the health of your aquarium and it is important to test the water regularly. Setting a schedule and being consistent in water testing will greatly improve the appearance and health of the fish in your aquarium.

Freshwater Aquarium Parameters

The following table represents a general guide to the most popular types of freshwater aquariums and the water parameters that require monitoring. Keep in mind that certain species or stages of the life cycle may have more specific requirements.

Freshwater Aquarium Parameters Guide

Parameter 

Freshwater tropical

African cichlids

Discs

Planted tanks

Shrimp tanks

pH

6.5 - 7.5

7.8 - 8.5

5.0 - 6.8

6.0 - 7.5

6.5 - 7.5

Temperature

22 - 28˚C

22 -  28 ˚C

27 - 30˚C

22 - 27˚C

22 - 28˚C

Ammonia

0 ppm

0 ppm

0 ppm 

0 ppm 

0 ppm  

Nitrite

0 - 10 ppb

0 - 10 ppm

0 - 10 ppb 

0 - 10 ppb 

0 - 10 ppb  

Nitrate

<50 ppm

<50 ppm

<30 ppm

<30 ppm 

<30 ppm  

Alkalinity

65-135 ppm

165 - 300 ppm

50 - 100 ppm

50-135 ppm 

50-135 ppm  

General hardness

65-200 ppm

200 - 335 ppm

50 - 100 ppm

50-135 ppm

50-135 ppm

 

Saltwater Aquarium Parameters

The following table represents general guidelines for water parameters for reef aquariums, fish-only saltwater aquariums, and coral reefs where many marine ornamentals occur naturally.

Natural marine environments are used as a guide for home aquariums to mimic a similar environment. Fish-only saltwater aquariums generally have a wider fauna accepting water parameters, while more sensitive coral reef aquariums require stricter limits.

Some marine species may have more specific requirements and it is important to research each inhabitant before introducing it to the aquarium

Saltwater Aquarium Parameters Guide

Parameter

Reef aquarium

Fish only

Nature (coral reef) *

Temperature

24 - 28 ° C

22 - 26 ° C

28 ° C

Salinity

1,023 - 1,026 (32 - 35 ppt)

1,020 - 1,025

1,025 - 1,027 (34 - 36 ppt)

pH

8.1 - 8.4

8.1 - 8.4

8.0 - 8.5

Ammonia (NH3)

0 ppm

0 ppm

Close to zero

Nitrite (NO2) 

0 - 150 ppb

0 - 150 ppb

Variable (typically <0.1 ppb)

Nitrate (NO3)

Low values ​​are preferred

<30 ppm

Variable (typically <0.1 ppm)

Phosphate (PO4)

<0.05 ppm

<0.2 ppm

0.005 ppm

Phosphorous

<20 ppb

<100 ppb

2 ppb

Alkalinity

8 - 12 dKH (142 - 215 ppm)

8 - 12 dKH (142 - 215 ppm)

7 dKH (125 ppm)

Calcium

380 - 450 ppm

350 - 450 ppm

380 - 420 ppm

Magnesium

1,250 - 1,350 ppm

1,150 - 1,350 ppm

1,280 ppm

Iodine

0.06 - 0.10 ppm

0.04 - 0.10 ppm

0.06 ppm

Potassium

380 - 420 ppm

380 - 420 ppm

400 ppm

Strontium

8 - 14 ppm

4 - 10 ppm

8 - 10 ppm

Silica

0.06 - 2 ppm

<3 ppm

<0.06 - 2.7 ppm

ORP

250 - 400 mV

250 - 400 mV

Variable

Iron

0.15 ppm

~ 0.15 ppm

0.00006 ppm

Boron

<10 ppm

<10 ppm

4.4 ppm

* Please note that natural coral reef values ​​are based on typical surface ocean values ​​and may change.

ppm = parts per million

ppb = parts per billion

ppt = Parts per thousand

dKH = degrees of carbonate hardness

 

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