Pack Checker is a useful tool to check the condition of aquarium water that we cannot see with our eyes. With Pack Checker, you can measure the water quality with ease, just by sucking up the aquarium water into it. Before introducing fish or shrimp to the aquarium or if your aquarium has a problem such as algae and poor plant growth, it is recommended to check the water quality with Pack Checker.



■ Water quality changes easily in aquarium

Once a stable ecosystem has been established in Nature Aquarium with aquatic plants, fish and microorganisms, the water quality is stable without significant changes. However the water quality often becomes unstable and greatly changes in the initial stage of aquarium where ecosystem is not fully functioning, or when the filter is clogged, or when the ecosystem is not balanced due to a significantly reduced plants caused by trimming or cutting and replanting. Water is transparent and therefore, we cannot know the actual water quality unless we do the measurement. Particularly in the initial stage of aquarium, the ammonium (NH4) and nitrite (NO2) levels tend to be high. If you introduce fish and shrimp to an aquarium in such a condition, they get weak and may die in the worst case scenario. Even when NH4 and NO2 are not present in the aquarium water, the condition of fish and shrimp may be affected by sudden change of pH level (hydrogen ion concentration). The pH level of aquarium water easily varies depending on the factors such as substrate and CO2 supply. Therefore, pH level should be checked as one of the water quality parameters to be tested before introducing fish and shrimp. Besides, the aquarium using stones as layout material sometimes faces surge in total hardness (TH) of water which can affect the growth of aquatic plants. The measurement of the above easily-variable water quality parameters helps you avoid some troubles in your aquarium.




■ Effective actions against a high level of ammonium or nitrite

Ammonium (NH4) and nitrite (NO2) are usually detected in the Nature Aquarium in which biological filtration is not fully functioning. In the initial stage of aquarium (1-2 weeks from setup), organic compounds and nitrogen compounds leached out of the substrate are converted into ammonium and nitrite. Shrimps such as Cardina japonica is particularly vulnerable to nitrite and therefore should not be introduced at this stage. If you wish to introduce fish or shrimp to fight algae, you should choose Otocinclus sp. or Crossocheilus siamensis first because they are relatively resistant to nitrite. Even for these two species, it is safer to carry out more water change as frequent as possible to lower the nitrite level in water before introducing them to aquarium. After 3-4 weeks from aquarium setup, the biological filtration starts to fully function and ammonium and nitrite will be broken down into nitrate. In biological filtration of filter, the function of aerobic bacteria is important. To avoid lack of oxygen during night, properly aerate your aquarium after the aquarium lighting is turned off to expel excessive CO2 from water.



■ Actions against a high level of pH and total hardness

Nature Aquarium usually has a low pH level and water is more acidic below pH7.0 (neutral) when Aqua Soil-Amazonia is used for substrate and CO2 is supplied. Most of aquatic plants grow well in acidic water but they suffer from poor growth if pH level rises and water becomes more alkaline. The pH level varies even within a day depending on the change in CO2 level of water. The best time to measure pH level is 4-5 hours after lighting is turned on when aquatic plants are very active in photosynthesis. If you measure pH level of aquarium water using Pack Checker in this timing and find out that the water is mildly acidic (about pH6.0), the water quality is almost all right. However, if the pH level reading at this time is mildly alkaline (around pH7.0-8.0), insufficient CO2 supply is suspected. When pH does not decrease even after CO2 supply is increased, you should also measure total hardness (TH) level. The pH level and TH level tend to increase together. In Nature Aquarium, the ideal total hardness level is around20-50mg/ℓ. If it exceeds 100mg/ℓ, the growth of aquatic plants is affected. The possible cause of rise in total hardness level of aquarium water include the impact of stone used as a layout material and a high TH level of tap water used for water change.




Color chart



After 5 minutes


Pack Checker NH4 (Ammonium)


You can easily measure the water quality with Pack Checker just by sucking water into Packtube like a dropper, waiting for a specified time and comparing the water color with color chart.









What water quality parameters should I check if algae grow fast in my aquarium?



Among many algae species, brown cotton-like diatom grows fast at a high nitrite (NO2) concentration level while filamentous green algae grows fast at high phosphate (PO4) concentration. When nitrate (NO3) is accumulated to a high concentration, black beard-like alga actively grows. When your aquarium water is found high in these parameters through measurement, perform water change to eliminate these compounds from water. When the phosphate concentration level is high, you can solve this problem by adding Do!aqua “be Clear” containing tiny particles which absorb and eliminate phosphate.



Shake the container of “be Clear” well until the liquid becomes milky. Tiny particles containing in “be Clear” absorb and eliminate phosphate.








What kind of problems can happen if the panted aquarium water has a high total hardness level?



Total hardness (TH) indicates a sum of calcium ions and magnesium ions in the water, both of which are trace elements essential for healthy growth of aquatic plants. As long as the TH is maintained at an appropriate level (below TH50mg/ℓ), aquatic plants grow healthily. However, if the level becomes too high, the plants’ absorption of iron ions is inhibited. Iron ion is a trace element essential for plant growth and pigment synthesis. Inhibited absorption of iron ions can result in the problems such as dwarfing of buds and chlorosis in  plants. An effective action against a rise in total hardness is installing Softenizer in the aquarium. Dwarfing of buds and bleaching can be treated by adding ECA containing rich iron.



Softenizer containing ion-exchange resin absorbs calcium and magnesium ions in the water and reduces total hardness level. It is recommended to install this equipment if the TH level exceeds 100mg/ℓ.








In what cases should I measure chemical oxygen demand?



Chemical oxygen demand (COD) is a measure of organic compounds in water. It rises when an aquarium has too many fish inside or when too much feed is given to fish. Organic compounds are the food for free floating bacteria in water which can cause cloudy water and fish diseases. These bacteria can be reduced with UV germicidal lamp, but it is also important to control the amount of organic compounds in water. If COD level is above 6-8mg/ℓ, it is recommended to use filter media NA Carbon which absorb organic compounds. At the same time, you should also review the number of fish in aquarium and the amount of food.




NA Carbon


The use of NA Carbon is very effective to remove organic compounds in water. By replacing NA Carbon about once every two weeks, the high absorption effect can be maintained.





(From Aqua Journal #249)