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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had a question..what are some other good test kits besides the standard API water test kit. I saw some cool looking kits in the Fosters catalog but the names escape me right now. They seemed a lot more thorough and the ppm ranges were a lot more detailed.

any other good ones out there that people use for their aquariums?
 

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Unless your thing is water chemistry, the avarage test system will do fine.
Even the test strips can alert you to any potential problem.
Honestly, I look to the fish for an indicator as to how the water quality is.
If acting strange, even for my mob, I would likely test.
Or not.
With the testing you might find a water change is needed, but that is my usuall first course of action anyway.
If after the WC things still look goofy, I would hunt up the testing kit.
 

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When cycling a tank you should have a nitrite kit. For a mature tank it's nice to have a nitrate kit and a low range pH kit for soft water or a high range pH kit for hard water. (Not that one can't be had without the other, but practically speaking.....; paper pH strips are just as good as liquid pH kits IMHO). GH is nice to have if you are fighting your water.

In a planted tank, you might want to add a phosphate kit. In my "lab" I have the whole gamut, including a LaMotte potassium kit, but with frequent water changes I never have a need to use them. Frequent WC's solve almost everything.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
yeah, as longs i can test nitrites and nitrates the API is good. In the catalog they just make it sound so much fun. But I am hardly the chemist. Thank you
 

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KaiserSousay said:
Even the test strips can alert you to any potential problem.
Honestly, I look to the fish for an indicator as to how the water quality is.
I'm cycling (fishless) so the test kits are the only tool available. I'm not so impressed with the test strips. I've been testing my tank for weeks with the API liquid test kit waiting for the nitrites to drop. I was at my LFS last week and noticed they had a boxing week sale on the API strips (expiry date 08/2012). I picked some up and later that evening gave one a try. It came back showing 0 for my nitrites. I was about to break out the champagne when I thought I should double check with the liquid kit. The results indicated the nitrites hadn't budged from 2.0 (or 5.0) depending on the light you look at the results under. I can't see myself purchasing the strips again.
 

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Of course, the only way to know for sure is to test both the strips and the liquid with standardized samples - which of course - is not practical for a hobbiest. Like you're doing, use the most conservative method with ntrites. It is amazing how long it takes for a new tank to cycle!
 

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To me Zimmey has, without knowing it, put his finger on the main point that I see. While some say one test or another is more accurate, I see no reason to really go for precise measurements when, as Zimmey points out, it depends on the light. If one cannot honestly tell whether the reading is 2.0 or 5.0 due to light, I just drop back to what is easy and simple and then set up a standard way to read the colors. I have one tank that I use as the standard light to read the colors. Otherwise I do get different readings. For me it is not a matter of how high/low the readings but how much they have changed from the last time. If my PH has always been 8.0 with one type kit and 7.6 with another than does nothing for the way I want to react. When it works, I leave it alone. If the reading with the same kit changes from 8.0 to 7.6, then I will ask questions. Simple,easy readings that I will do because they are easy beat difficult but precise readings that I might not do.
 

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Relying on variations with one method wouldn't have helped in my case if I had been using strips all along to measure nitrites. When the reading was actually at least 2.0 (according to the liquid kit), the strip read 0. Presumably when my nitrites really do reach 0 (according to the liquid kit), the strip would still read 0 (it can't go any lower). If I'd relied solely on this method, I would have thought I was cycled weeks ago, added fish, likely watched them die and then wondered what the problem was since all my readings seemed good. Someone would have then advised me to get a liquid test kit, I would have gone to the LFS picked one up and then gotten the real reading.

The liquid test strip is hard to interpret if you're comparing nitrites at 5.0 ppm and 2.0 ppm but it's not hard to mistake these levels with 0 ppm or even 0.25 ppm.

To each his own but for me unreliable but easy to do readings don't compare with more time consuming but meaningful readings.
 

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The point I was making is that 100% reliance on test kits, liquid or strips, is foolhardy. Just because you get a reading doesn't mean that it's accurate. One needs to verify versus a known concentration.

For example, the only nitrate test kit I've used that correctly measured the concentration of NO3 in a 30ppm solution that I freshly prepared was a LaMotte kit. Hagen and AP kits were waaaay off. However, I didn't know how old they were.

Like you said, nitrite is critical to get to zero before introducing fish, but once your tank is up and running there won't be much of a reason to test for it. If you change your water like you're supposed to, you won't need to test for nitrate either. Same with everything else as long as you're not fighting your source water.
 

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Cyclesafety, my last post was actually a criticism of test strips specifically. I can't argue with your point that no one method is entirely reliable.
 

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My reason for testing frequently is that it is easy for me to lose track of a fish and not miss it for a few days. If that fish is stuck somewhere under a rock and pouring out buckets of ammonia the only way to know is by testing. In that way I hope to catch flaws before they get deadly. Just relying on the normal run of the mill routine leaves you open to fish loss from the unexpected things that can happen. My point was that no test is any good if you don't do it. If I had to do the testing and counting drops and such for my tanks it would not be easy. With strips, I open to feed, go by to dip the strips and go to the light to read and record the results. Takes less than five minutes, usually. I find the liquid and the strips are pretty close any time I compare them but that may vary with different water and such. When I was doing a cycle I tried the liquid but got the same answers so went with the convenience.
 

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Not sure how the OP question got off into cycling.
If the water chemistry turns your wheels, by all means, try a more advanced testing kit.
Just be aware that a little bit of knowledge/information can have big consequences when mucking about with your water.
Real easy to turn a healthy tank full of fish into a killing field just by adding a bit of this and that, while trying for that perfect coloration in the testing vial.
 

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KaiserSousay said:
Not sure how the OP question got off into cycling.
If the water chemistry turns your wheels, by all means, try a more advanced testing kit.
Just be aware that a little bit of knowledge/information can have big consequences when mucking about with your water.
Real easy to turn a healthy tank full of fish into a killing field just by adding a bit of this and that, while trying for that perfect coloration in the testing vial.
Not sure if you've read the posts in this thread but cycling was referenced only insofar as it's an instance when test kits are needed (you can't look at the fish to see if something's wrong as you suggested in your first post in the thread). Also, one of the posters is using "cyclesafety" as a handle - might have caused confusion.
 

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I think all the posts point out that different purposes require different testing. For routine quick testing I like the strips, for really precise measurements if one needs to change his water or during the first phases of a tank, liquid test kits are better. Which is better depends on the tank and what one needs to learn from the tests. I think if one gets into which test kits of each type might be better, I think they all will have good points and bad, so much of that decision will depend on personal feeling about using the kit. Hobby grade kits are just not that good in many cases.
 

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KS makes an excellent point. I am a chemist and I would like to assert that the test kits targeted to the aquarium hobby cannot be relied upon to be accurate enough to titrate one's water towards "ideal" conditions. Basic/acidic, low/high nitrate, zero/some nitrite, zero/some ammonia are determinable. Not much else. But really, with frequent water changes that's all that's necessary anyway..

LaMotte kits are much better, but they also cost 10X what the aquarium kits cost.

Reasons:

1) Discerning color differences
2) Age of test kits
3) Contamination of opened vials
4) Time between start of test and the final reading
 

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(you can't look at the fish to see if something's wrong as you suggested in your first post in the thread).

Funny, I can tell by how they are acting if there is reason to check further.
You are not looking hard enough.
 

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KaiserSousay said:
(you can't look at the fish to see if something's wrong as you suggested in your first post in the thread).

Funny, I can tell by how they are acting if there is reason to check further.
You are not looking hard enough.
I don't see a smiley face so I assume you're being serious. You don't seem to have read my post. As far as I know you can't look at fish during a fishless cycle no matter how hard you look.
 

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Mis reading is a pretty common failing around here. John probably missed the fishless part. If we do fish long enough we begin to think we see fish everywhere!!! Just ask my wife how many fish shops I see that she can't spot. :roll:

Boy , is she lucky! I used to chase trains>>>
 

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Not sure if you've read the posts in this thread but cycling was referenced only insofar as it's an instance when test kits are needed (you can't look at the fish to see if something's wrong as you suggested in your first post in the thread). Also, one of the posters is using "cyclesafety" as a handle - might have caused confusion.

I don't see a smiley face so I assume you're being serious. You don't seem to have read my post. As far as I know you can't look at fish during a fishless cycle no matter how hard you look.

Certainly got me there.

Though I have tried just the "laying on of hands" when there are no fish to observe.
It didn`t work.
 

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KaiserSousay said:
I have tried just the "laying on of hands" when there are no fish to observe.
It didn`t work.
Would save some money on those pesky test kits if it did work. :)
 
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