Water is an interesting element that we often take for granted. Found in nature, water isn’t just a simple attraction between two oxygen atoms and a single hydrogen atom. Water is rather complex really, and its make up is as varied as the creatures that live within it. When you try to emulate water that’s naturally found in nature (like saltwater), you’re bound to face a few challenges. Fortunately, man has discovered a way to successfully meet those challenges through the study and use of pH, nitrates, and salinity.
Understanding pH Level
Let’s talk a little bit about an aquarium’s pH level. Without getting too scientific, pH levels are determined by measuring the amount of hydrogen-ion concentration in water, or it’s acidity. 7pH is considered neutral – measurements more than seven are considered basic and measurements less than seven are considered acidic. You might be familiar with acidic pH levels from learning about the effects of acid rain. Naturally occurring saltwater owns a pH level between 8 and 8.4, so by monitoring the pH level in your aquarium, you can work to ensure that it never rises above or falls bellow that.
Nitrates and Salinity
Nitrates are the very compound that give saltwater its name. It’s a type of salt! The salinity of a saltwater aquarium is the relative proportion of salt in the tank’s water. Fish found in oceans and other smaller bodies of water must be in an environment that emulates the salinity found in nature if they are to survive. So if you plan on maintaining a saltwater aquarium, your first priority is to maintain its salt level, or ‘nitrite’ level. Through the use of a hydrometer, you want to try and maintain salinity around 1.022.
Temperature Plays A Role As Well
The temperature of the aquarium and the room in which the aquarium sits also plays an important role in salinity. High temperatures evaporate water rather quickly and as water evaporates from a saltwater aquarium – its salinity increases. As temperatures drop however, water becomes denser. And dense water also increases an aquarium’s salinity. As you can see, it’s vital to maintain a constant temperature for your saltwater aquarium so that increases or decreases in salinity isn’t the result of drastic temperature changes.
It’s All About Safety
By maintaining proper pH levels and safe amounts of salinity, your aquarium can house even some of the more exotic tropical fish and non-traditional pets like sea anemones or miniature sharks.