Water parameters?


Jack Dempsey
Original poster
MFK Member
Nov 24, 2009
Buena Park
Hi there,
I'm recently getting back into the hobby, I was never really technical about it just had a 55gl with south American cichlids and just always used the strips to test my water. With that being said I now have a 20gl tank with 3 clown loach, 1 L-128, 2 Rams, and 2 Africans. I'm looking to also make it a live planted tank as well and want to breed my fish as well and upgrade my tank, so I know my water quality is going to have to be more exact and the strips are kind of alot of guess work. So I've been looking at some Hanna instruments but am not sure which ones I need? Do I need high range, low range, ect... Any and all help would be greatly appreciated 🙏

Pterophyllum sp

Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Jan 14, 2020
My 2cents. 1) Buy a meter, with a replaceable pH probe, not one of the Amazon special "pen" type meters. 2) If you are lucky enough to have legal rec marijuana in your state, start scouring CL. There are so many great used combo meters floating around from all the pot farmer failures, you can get a great piece of equipment dirt cheap. I've scooped a couple Bluelab combo meters for the price of a new probe ($70ish)


MFK Moderators
Staff member
MFK Member
Jun 7, 2007
Isla Taboga Panama via Milwaukee
By African, do you mean west African dwarfs? or rift lake species?
Depending on which fish you want to breed, rift lake Africans prefer hard high pH water, west African dwarfs do better in soft low pH water..
and Rams prefer soft low pH water. In hard water if you get them to breed, rams usually end up with skewed sex ratios, and more deformities.

Gourami Swami

MFK Moderators
Staff member
MFK Member
Jul 13, 2006
Hanna checkers are nice, but are probably overkill for what you need. For freshwater nobody really buys them as they are very pricey. I have three of them I use on my reef tank, they are nice equipment but a simple Master freshwater test kit would be better for you, the hanna checkers only test one chemical each so you would need a bunch. You'll want to be able to test at the very least ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH. Master kit should have gh/kh as well.
In a cycled aquarium the ammonia and nitrite should read 0 always, if you are getting constant ammonia readings it is either a problem with the bacteria population, or an overstocked tank that they can't keep up with.
pH preference is going to be different for different fish like duanes said. Rams prefer lower ph, most africans a higher ph. most fish are adaptable so they may both be able to live at say, a neutral pH but might not thrive and breed.