Discus Fish in Aquarium

Setting up and maintaining an aquarium or fish tank is often a time-consuming, albeit rewarding process. Regulating temperature, ensuring adequate filtration and analysing chemical levels are just some of the many tasks necessary for the daily routine of aquarium care. Each one of these procedures demands a critical eye for detail to ensure optimum environments for fish and plants are maintained.

In this article, we will examine how weighing scales are often crucial to the successful maintenance of aquariums, from weighing water for tank capacities to measuring chemicals, treatments and minerals in precise amounts.

Why you should weigh your fish tank/ aquarium

Small Freshwater Fish Tank

'1 litre of water weighs 1 kg (2.2 lbs); 1 US gallon weighs 8 pounds. In a typical 4 foot tank, say ~250 Litres (66US G.), that water will weigh in at 250Kg or 555 lbs (39 stone)!'.

– Aquariumwiki.com

Fish tanks come in a range of shapes and sizes, and we often think about how the tank will fit into a given space, however we rarely consider a tank’s weight. Fish tanks should be weighed before filling with water and after filling to ensure that you do not exceed to maximum weight capacity often listed on the tank. Any ornaments you are looking to add to your fish tank should also be weighed.

Tips for helping to support your fish tank

  1. Place the tank on a level surface – Reduces the strain on supports and eliminates strain points on the tank. Larger fish tanks are sold alongside cabinets that can house all your aquarium supplies.
  2. Add additional supports – Having additional supports in place will reduce the amount of strain on existing supports or cabinets.
  3. Adjust placements on panelled surfaces - If placing on a panelled floor or surface, ensure the tank is positioned horizontally across multiple beams rather than length ways on fewer beams. Spreading the weight across more beams helps to distribute the weight of the tank.

Freshwater vs saltwater aquariums: What you need to know

There are many types of aquarium environments out there that are tailored to the types of fish you wish to keep, ranging from cold freshwater to tropical saltwater systems. Here’s a brief guide of what you need to know about each:

Freshwater aquariums

Freshwater aquariums contain no additional minerals aside from the usual treatments and growth promoting solutions. Cold freshwater tanks are considered to be perfect for beginners, since it is not usually necessary to regulate temperature or mineral levels.

Tropical aquariums

School of Angel Fish in Tropical Aquarium

Tropical aquariums can be either freshwater or saltwater environments and refer to the water temperature and aquarium climate. Freshwater tropical tanks are considered to be suitable for intermediate level aquarium enthusiasts that are not yet ready to make the jump to tropical saltwater tanks. These tanks require an optimum temperature of around 24-27°C for fish to thrive.

Saltwater aquariums

Lion Fish in Saltwater Aquarium

Saltwater aquariums use water enriched with salt, similar to seawater. These tanks require and fine balance of chemicals and regular maintenance to ensure temperature levels, PH levels and salinity remain at an optimum level for fish to thrive. Saltwater tanks are often recommended for keen aquarium enthusiasts and collectors that have had years of experience maintaining aquariums, since many of the fish suitable for these tanks, including lion fish, puffer-fish, clown-fish and anemones, are either poisonous or particularly delicate.

What is the perfect amount of salt for your saltwater aquarium?

There is a common agreement that salinity of aquariums should be around 35 PPT (parts per thousand). This is considered to be the salinity in natural seawater and is therefore perfect to replicate in your saltwater aquarium. Too little or too much salt often causes stress in fish which can, in turn, lead to death.

So how is salinity measured?

Kern ORA Refractometer Available to Buy from The Measurement Shop UK

Salinity is measured indirectly, using specialist devices such as a refractometer. Refractometers are used to calculate the composition and purity of a substance in regards to a refraction index or refractometry process. Specialist salt refractometers utilise a Brix scale which calculates the number of grams of sugar or salt dissolved into a solution. Ratios calculated on this scale can be up-scaled to work for larger bodies of water such as those found in fish tanks.

View The Measurement Shop’s guide to refractometers for more information on how refractometers work.

To learn more about salinity and the best salt levels for your aquarium, please see this article from fishlab.

Ensuring your aquarium has the correct amount of sulphates

'Quite often in a planted aquarium the plants absorb so much potassium that it becomes a shortage and limits the growth of the plants. So aquarists often add it manually'.

– Aquariumwiki.com

While saltwater tanks require a consistent level of salt to be maintained in PPT. Other chemicals including potassium and other minerals are often added to aquariums to encourage growth of aquatic plants and protect fish from disease. However, as with any chemical changes, it is integral that you weigh your chemicals as part of a given ratio to ensure that you are not adding too much or too little. Remember! Adding chemicals can have a significant impact on the health of your aquarium.

Aquarium Plants

Aquarium chemicals are often diffused into water solutions before adding to the aquarium to help with equal distribution. Once placed into the tank, the aquarium filter should help to distribute the solution into the water equally.

If mixing chemicals yourself for your business, we recommend using a precision balance with percentage weighing to ensure that chemicals and ingredients are weighed as part of a ratio. Precision balances with trade certifications will be required if you intend to buy and sell formulas by weight.

Why you may need a scale for weighing fish or aquarium products

Weighing scales can be a useful addition to any aquarium enthusiast. Aquarium owners may use scales to accurately measure chemicals and treatments to ensure a healthy aquarium, while garden centres may require trade approved scales for selling certain products and fish by weight.

Checking a fish’s health

Koi Carp in Pond

Weight, size and colouration are often the most telling indicators of a fish’s health, therefore weighing scales can reassure potential buyers of a fish’s quality before purchasing.

Conservationists often use weighing scales to track the weight of fish populations in ponds, lakes and rivers, which can provide detailed information on habitats and eco-systems over time. A significant decrease in weight to certain varieties of fish may indicate a loss of habitat, disease or disturbance in the food supply chain.

Weighing fish food

You need to ensure that your fish are being fed adequate amounts of food in relation to the size and amount of fish in your aquarium. While this can sometimes be measured in caps or handfuls, it is often recommended that food is measured on a weighing scale to ensure that you are feeding your fish a standardised amount of food each time. It is even possible to use a checkweighing scale to weigh portions of food in advance.

Checking the weight of your aquascape

Large Aquarium Aquascape

We all love to craft an aquascape that is personal to us, however it is important to consider the weight capacity of the fish tank when adding heavy ornaments, gravel and objects. Items that are too heavy may risk exceeding the tank’s total weight tolerance, therefore increasing the chance of ruptures or cracks appearing underneath the tank or breaking any supports holding the tank up.

Selling aquarium products by weight

Certain products such as gravel, bottled formulas and treatments often specify a weight on the label. Businesses that specify weight in this way need to ensure that the product is weighed on a trade approved scale before selling commercially. A failure to comply could damage your business if the product does not fall within the guided amount specified which would leave you liable; risking court action and brand reputation.

Our range of weighing scales for aquariums

Adam Equipment WBW washdown scale

WBW Washdown Scales

Adam Equipment's WBW washdown scale has been purpose built to handle weighing in wet environments. This scale is IP66 rated and sealed for advanced protection against water and dust and contains a stainless steel top pan that can be easily cleaned down after use. The WBW is equipped with precise checkweighing features that can be used to check the weight of food and chemicals as well as UK trade certifications for buying and selling products by weight.

Adam Equipment Highland approved precision balance

Highland Approved Portable Precision Balances

A multi-purpose, highly-versatile weighing balance that can be easily transported, stacked and stored away. The Highland range of balances have high resolutions up to 0.01g for weighing samples in tiny amounts. The built-in percentage weighing feature makes this perfect for measuring chemicals in ratios, while trade approvals mean that this scale can be used to bottle solutions for selling by weight commercially.

A&D SK-WP waterproof stainless steel scale

A&D SK-WP Series Stainless Steel Waterproof Scales

A&D's SK-WP stainless steel waterproof scale is IP65 rated for adequate protection against dust and water ingress. The easy-to-clean curved weighing pan is perfect for weighing fish or loose items. UK trade approvals are available on these models for buying and selling by weight.