Your water isn’t fine.

I’ve paused before writing this, because lets be honest that acronym comes across as cruel and mocking new keepers. It’s not. Its the culmination of a lot of frustration at that one word. ‘Fine’.

There is some idea that fish keeping is easy, and as long as nothing is dead the water must be fine. But even as we can see signs that not all is well, the answer comes back, it’s fine. The fish are at the surface with red gills, the waters fine, mollies showing signs of nerve damage due to soft water, all is fine. Fish doing the spiral of death. But the water is fine.

Fine= F**ked, I’m Now Estimating.

Misinformation on the internet and shops having to cut costs and corners so we can have a pet that should live 10+ years for less than the cost of a pint, as well as generations of fish only lasting weeks mean that people end up on forums and groups looking for help without the information they need, and that information comes from a test kit.

A good fresh water test kit should measure Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, KH, GH, and pH.

Ammonia and Nitrite are toxic in any level and it is important to know if they’re present in your tank. Nitrates are toxic in large amounts, KH, GH, and pH are a measure of how stable your water is.

But you can take your water to the fish shop and they’ll do it. Sure, are they open first thing on a Sunday when you notice an issue? Or last thing on a Wednesday when you notice your fish hanging at the surface, will they test your tap water to see if it has changed since you last did a water change? Every week? I do three or four tests a week on several of these measurements.

But you might be saying that you’ve not done this before. Testing just gives you more information. Nothing more or less. There is no harm in information.

So grab a test kit, and give us information, so that we can help, and you don’t have to just lie and say, it’s all fine.

Check out the test kits in our amazon store.


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Ruth McDonald

Sailed twice around the world, started my acedemic career as an archaeologist and somehow ended up lecturing on science and researching fish.

Tropical Fish Keeping UK