Aquascaping journey, understanding water.

0 comments / Posted on by Adam Zulfikar

            Water, the most important substance to support life. It’s amazing how two hydrogen and one oxygen molecule house and support living being including aquatic organism such as fish and plants.  “Water can be described as hard or soft, alkaline or acid, and acts as a carrier for a wealth of minerals, nutrients, toxins, bacteria, and pollutants. Providing good water quality means ensuring that all these factor are in acceptable level, so water in the aquarium is not only safe for fish and plants, but actively encourages their health and growth.” – peter hiscock, encyclopaedia of aquarium plants.


Good water parameter provide healthy environment for fish and plants.



            To force peace and harmony a good weapon is needed. On this case, water test kit is necessary to monitor diluted substances level in your aquarium. Healthy aquascape can be done without high tech tools to monitor and control water parameter. Remember.. Plants and fishes are living being, they have the ability to adapt to certain level. Providing decent water quality standard is enough, you can follow this chart:





22-28° Celsius

Some aquarist can achieve healthy aquascape at higher or lower temperature

TDS (ppm)

0 – 250 ppm

Adapt to desired fish or plant requirement, plenty of species to mix and match.

pH (alkalinity)

6 – 7.5



test kit




Very Soft




Slightly Hard


Moderately Hard



Above 420

Very Hard


            The chart above does not include water parameter like kH, gH, nitrate level, etc.  We will talk about in-depth water parameter on different article. Don’t be scared of those water parameter, plants and fish have the ability to adapt!! Just do it!!

            What I should I do? First, check your water source for TDS and pH value, temperature is easy to control by installing water heater or chiller. There is chemical additive to control pH level. Plan your fish and plants choice according to your water parameter is the easy way to start. Can’t it be changed? Sure, we have the technology now. Reverse osmosis water treatment system can reduce significant amount of total dissolved solid (TDS) minerals and adjusting pH level to certain level.



            Fish in our tanks produce waste from excrement and respiration. Uneaten fish food, dead fish and decomposed plant parts contribute to our water contamination. To cope with contamination level you can employ four types of filtration in one way or another: mechanical, biological, chemical and sterilization.  Filtration process not just remove visible debris from the water but also providing remove or neutralized harmful substances. In aquarium the ratio of fish and plants is far higher than in nature. Artificial filtration became essential if you want to maintain a healthy aquarium.

Mechanical filtration remove physical matter from the water. Debris from undecomposed fish fesses, dead leave from aquatic plants, and also dust material. Known filtration system force water through filter media such as series of sponges, pads or micron paper pleats. To make this work, filtration media must be cleaned regularly.

            There are cases where aquarist put too much fish in the aquarium after installing a large filtration system. Decomposing process cannot keep up with fish waste even though they introduce better mechanical filtration system. Ammonia level in the water can’t be monitored by how much debris that have been filtered. That is different matter.

N cycleBiological filtration   is the most important type of filtration, especially for fish. Nature has produce his own protocol to cope with biological matter removal or convert toxic substances (ammonia) into less toxic substances. Introduction good bacteria such as nitrobacteria and nitrosomonas into the aquarium system will help fasten this natural procedure.  The filtration capacity is depend on available surface area inside the aquarium system and the oxygen level. He utilization of high surface area media inside filter system and substrate will promote good bacteria colony. They will degrade ammonia into nitrate that can be digest by aquatic plants. Aquatic plants also act as biological filter, they take minerals, organic material and carbon dioxide then excrete much needed oxygen for fish and good bacteria to live. This natural process is widely known as the nitrogen cycle.


Chemical filtration remove substances from the water using medium that binds dissolved chemical compound. In the past years there is bunch of products that target certain chemical compounds or organic matter from the water. This filtration method also remove the needed nutrients from the water. Regular parameter testing and water change is important to sustain aquarium health.

            Chemical filtration is best to deploy on temporary manner, because of its absorbing substances nature. Activated carbon is one of chemical filtration media known, those carbon absorbs almost all minerals and organic matter such as tannin. Activated carbon will continue absorbing those matter until certain level and then it will lose the ability of absorbing substances.


Sterilization filtration normally employed in the marine aquarium, but it can be useful to break down some algae cells and disease organism in freshwater aquarium. The process involves passing water through a pressurized unit containing an ultraviolet lamp. UV lights has the same effect to chemical filtration which also destroy useful elements. We are not recommend using this filtration method into aquascape system. Experienced aquascaper use this filtration method to reduce algae growth, and off course the already know what they’re doing.



            Hope this article provide the needed knowledge for your aquascaping journey. Feel free to discuss at our social media. You can continue to recommended aquascape filtration units here.


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