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The total dissolved solids (TDS) are simply a summation of the substances dissolved in water. These substances are both organic and inorganic. For aquarists, it might be puzzling to decide on the ideal TDS for aquarium, but you can measure it with the right tools.
The ideal range for aquarium TDS is approximately 400-450PPM for freshwater species. Higher TDS levels will lead to death for the fishes and algae bloom. On the other hand, low TDS levels will stunt fish growth in an aquarium.
For aquariums, the target should be to replicate the fish’s natural habitat as much as possible. In most cases, the water bodies have balanced TDS levels. But one major contributing factor to low or high TDS levels is artificial pollution.
You will learn helpful tips on measuring and managing your TDS levels correctly. Also, the importance of TDS, its effects on fish, and the ideal TDS range. Keep reading.
Ideal TDS for Aquarium
The ideal range is between 400-450PPM. A higher concentration will prove toxic, cause death to your fish, and encourage algae growth. Low TDS levels can also lead to stunted growth. There must be a balanced concentration of valuable minerals in the aquarium. Generally, most freshwater fish will thrive in a concentration of 400PPM. However, saltwater fish need higher levels of around 5000 to 50000PPM.
The total dissolved solids are very vital to osmoregulation. This is the balance between the cells of the fish and the external environment. Extreme amounts of TDS in the aquarium will make the fish lose fluid through its gills.
An aquarium will have an ideal TDS balance for the fishes to breed. You should also regulate the alkalinity of the water and keep the dissolved oxygen levels up. Though the accepted TDS for fishes vary, these ranges cover them according to fresh and saltwater species. This video on YouTube will give you more materials on the topic.
Sources Of Total Dissolved Solids
Dissolved solids can be obtained from natural and artificial sources such as rivers, plants, and soil. Groundwater absorbs minerals from the surrounding soil. Also, pollution caused by man’s activity can generate these solids in water.
Some discarded pesticides contain substances like chlorine which will contaminate the surrounding water. Sometimes catastrophic events like oil spillage on the seas increase the total dissolved solids. In such cases, harmful hydrocarbons pollute the aquatic ecosystem and end up killing a large number of fish.
One major reason many countries have environmental laws is to protect and minimize man-made pollution. It has been observed over time that man-made factors like poor refuse disposal can pollute water bodies.
Natural events also influence the TDS levels. A volcanic eruption can suddenly change the chemical composition of a water body. This YouTube video has some helpful information on this.
How To Reduce TDS In Your Aquarium
A high TDS level in the water, especially in an aquarium, is a big risk. Here are some methods you can use to reduce the TDS content of your water.
This process is very reliable. Here water is converted to steam, separating it from the dissolved solids since they have different boiling points. The water is collected separately and cooled, making it free of contaminants.
This process involves applying pressure to propel water through a semi-permeable membrane. This membrane has tiny holes to prevent contaminants from passing through. The water obtained after the process has a balanced TDS level.
In this process, the TDS is removed through ion exchange. This is one of the most preferred methods used.
Change your water regularly:
It is very easy for TDS to build up in your aquarium over time. Use a TDS meter to check the levels and change the water regularly to maintain a balanced system.
Don’t overfeed your fish:
You should try as much as possible to regulate the food you give to your fish. Leftovers will increase the overall TDS levels over time and pollute your water.
Clean your tank regularly:
Keeping the fish tank clean will help to balance the TDS levels. Ignoring regular cleanup can lead to the build-up of slime and waste in the water.
How Do You Measure TDS
The best method to measure it is with a TDS or conductivity meter. TDS is measured in milligrams (mg/L) per liter or parts per million (PPM). The meter can only measure the levels but cannot show what absorbed solids are present in the water.
TDS meters are calibrated with Sodium Chloride, while conductivity meters are calibrated using potassium solution. A proper water analysis and checks for contaminants must be carried out to get a more detailed measurement.
TDS Measurement chart
|Less than 50 to 250ppm||The low level lacks minerals like zinc and magnesium.|
|300-500ppm||The ideal level contains minerals.|
|600-900ppm||Not ideal; you should use a reverse osmosis system to filter out the TDS.|
|1000 -2000ppm||Bad, the water is not fit for your freshwater aquarium at this level.|
|Greater than 2000ppm||Hazardous filters cannot remove this type of contamination.|
For a reverse osmosis system, follow these processes to measure TDS levels:
- Measure the TDS of the tap water that you use for your aquarium. You can do this by dipping the probe of your tester into a container of tap water.
- Next, you measure the TDS of your water again after the reverse osmosis process.
- Dip your tester in the water and take your readings.
Calculate the percentage rejection with this formula:
The percentage rejection is simply the amount of total dissolved solids that are removed from the tap water. This removal is done with the semi-permeable membrane used for reverse osmosis.
Why You Should Measure The TDS Of Your Water?
There are several reasons you need to keep an eye on the total dissolved solids in your water. They include:
- Health: heavy metals like lead are also hazardous to man and aquatic life. Lead, for instance, can cause severe damage to the nervous system. It can also lead to a dangerous situation known as lead poisoning.
This poisoning shortens the lifespan of fishes and creates reproductive and breeding problems for them.
- The smell and taste (freshness): Water with concentrated TDS levels will be bitter and have a bad smell. If you also drink from that same source, you must regularly check the levels.
- To preserve your plumbing and aquarium: At high TDS levels, the dissolved substances can corrode your pipes and cause stains on your aquarium. If left unchecked, it will eventually lead to costly repairs.
It also leads to scaling around tiled areas and discoloration.
- To ensure the safety of your fish: Exposing your fish to dangerous levels of TDS from untreated water is risky. Fishes are very sensitive to slight changes in their environment. Regularly test the water to know the type of contaminants that are present.
Are TDS and TSS the same?
Total dissolved solids and total suspended solids differ in particle sizes. The main difference is that they react differently when passed through a filter. But they both deal with solids.
When water with solid particles is passed through a filter, the larger particles held back are the TSS. The total suspended solid deals mainly with the turbidity (cloudiness) of the water.
The danger of a high TSS is that it can block sunlight from reaching aquatic plants. This will prevent the plants from getting enough sun for photosynthesis. It will indirectly reduce the oxygen supply to fishes since it’s a by-product of photosynthesis.
It can also create respiratory problems for fish by blocking their gills since the particles are bigger than the dissolved solids. On the other hand, the TDS is concerned with conductivity, alkalinity, salinity, and water hardness.
Overall, both TDS and TSS influence the properties of the water, which acts as a solvent. Using filtration techniques to control TSS and constantly checking your TDS levels is vital.
A healthy aquarium should not only be balanced in terms of chemical properties but also clear and free of debris. You can gather more information from this YouTube video.
Total dissolved solids in moderation can be beneficial to aquatic life. The major problem faced is the pollution of water by contaminants. When measuring the ideal TDS for aquarium, the safe range mainly depends on the type of fish in the tank.
It is very important to regularly measure and adjust TDS values to suit your fish to avoid problems. While freshwater fishes thrive in an ideal range of 400-450PPM, saltwater fishes are comfortable from around 5000-50000PPM. The most important thing is maintaining a healthy water pH level for your fish and avoiding a toxic environment.
It is also important to note that leaving your water unchecked and untreated can have adverse effects. Methods like distillation, deionization, and reverse osmosis can be used to balance the TDS level. TDS control aims to make fishes in your aquarium feel like they are in their natural habitat.