Water Quality (more to come later)
Fish are unique in that they live in water and the quality of the water affects their ability to get oxygen, some minerals, and to withstand pathogens and disease. Since water chemistry is unique in nearly every tap in the United States it is important to analyze your water before even thinking about adding guppies to an aquarium. Test kits are available from aquarium supply companies. If you use municipal water you are likely to have either chlorine, chloramine, flouride or some other chemicals in your tap that can injur or kill a guppy. If you are on well water you should be in better shape but keep in mind that wells use water coming from deep in the Earth so well water can be highly variable. If your water has chlorine, etc. you can age it to have the chlorine dissipate but if you have chloramines you should treat your water with a chemical designed to remove it (e.g. AmQuel). Guppies like a pH range from 7.0 to 8.0 but most of our club members think close to 8.0 is better. This means that water is slightly alkaline rather than acidic. While there are chemicals you can use to target a specific pH, it may also be possible to raise your pH with the addition of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to your water storage tank. This will also help buffer the water. Buffering is a term which means resisting pH change so when fish waste, e.g. add ammonia to the water, you do not get a sudden harmful change in pH.
Hardness, a measure of dissolved minerals/buffering capacity is also an important and guppies like hard water. Kits measure this as either GH (General Hardness which indicates dissolved mineral levels) or KH (carbonate hardness which impacts buffering). To read more about hardness go to this web page.
It is unlikely that your water is too hard. One common problem is that your water is hard you may have a water softener in your house system. Maybe you can bypass this to collect hard water or you can raise hardness. Hardness can be raised with the addition of minerals. Success has been good using "Instant Ocean" which contains calcium, magnesium, sodium, etc. How much to add can only be determined by using test kit recommendation and doing trial runs. (go to page 2)
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