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About 3 weeks ago, there was a discussion in another thread regarding nitrate tests and how much agitation of the test reagent is required. My experience is with the API master test kit, and I experimented with various amounts of agitation. In my case, I acheived readings between <5ppm and 20ppm, depending on how long & how vigorously I agitated the bottle. I went to API's web site and was unable to find any clarification on the issue, so I submitted the question via their web form. Yesterday, I received this response:

Doug,

Thank you very much for contacting us regarding our products. All of your comments and questions are valuable. We use your feedback to create the most effective line of aquarium and pond products available.

Liquid Nitrate Test Kits from any manufacturer can have a common problem with their last test solution. For some companies, it is bottle number 3, but for us it is bottle number 2. One of the ingredients wants to solidify out of liquid solution. If the test bottle sits for any period of time, this can happen. If this does happen and the test is performed without Bottle # 2 mixed properly, then you can get a falsely low reading. I have never heard of falsely high readings with Nitrate Kits. I would try tapping your Bottle # 2 a few times on a table or counter top. This should loosen-up anything that has solidified. Then I would shake this bottle for about 2-3 minutes, to really mix it up. Try the test again and this will give you more accurate readings. With regular weekly usage, this bottle should only need to be shaken for 60 seconds.

This vigorous aggitation is not necessary with any other test solution.

If you have any other questions or wish to discuss this further, please email back or give us a call at 1-800-847-0659.

Best Regards,

Brian Bridgwater
Technical Service and Research
MARS Fishcare, North America


So it appears that API's (and maybe all manufacturers') nitrate solutions should be shaken for 60 seconds, not 30 as specified in the instructions that come with the kit. However, with either a new bottle or if your reagent hasn't been used on a weekly basis, run down to your local paint store and have them put the thing in their paint shaker. Or maybe you could pick up one of those old butt-shaking machines that were so popular back in the '60s, put the bottle in your back pocket, and strap yourself in!

Cheers,
Doug
 
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