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Aquarium Lab

Discussion in 'Advanced Strategies and Fertilization' started by Gautam, Jan 18, 2009.

  1. Gautam

    Gautam Prolific Poster

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    Hi Tom/ Plant Gurur Team

    Having being a member of Barrreport for nearly a year now and after going thru various threads of discussion, I have realized that to understanding the chemistry behind the Planted Tank eco-system is a must.

    I have tried my hand using the various test kits, pH meters etc that are available now in India but have also realzed that they may not be sufficient in all cases.

    Here in Calcutta getting a laboratory which can help me with some of the testing is pretty difficult and hence I thought of setting a small lab for my self.

    My knowldge of chemistry is minimum and I would remain grateful if you can suggest what all I would need to start wih a small lab. I have limited funds to start with but then I can add as time progresses. Some guidelines or artlices or any suggestion would be of great help.

    Thanking you in advance

    Gautam
     
  2. Gautam

    Gautam Prolific Poster

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    Eagerly waiting for some replies
     
  3. Gautam

    Gautam Prolific Poster

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    Dear Tom/ Plant Guru Team/ Fellow aquascapists

    Still waiting for some reply. This is important for me. Any information is welcome

    Regrards,

    Gautam
     
  4. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi Gautam,

    I would think that you would want a colorimeter similar to this one:

    Hach - DR/890 Portable Colorimeter

    I know Tom finds them at times on e-bay for < 1K$..............

    The reagents can also be expensive but I thought I read that Tom stated they could be made up DIY.

    This meter will do just about any test you care to do, except c02......

    I think it will help, but certainly not a requirement. EI was designed with limited or no testing in mind...........

    I do not understand chemistry at all really and yet my tank is doing very well with EI and c02.

    I have a few meters, but no longer use them as I have sufficient experience with my tank to know via observation if there is an issue........

    I know you have limited funds, but not sure where else to point you.

    Buying individual Hanna meters can be more expensive at 150-300 each.

    Hope this helps.
     
  5. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
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    Many people use teh EI method of dosing which eliminates the need for water testing.

    Read the article here.

    Good luck!

    Bill
     
  6. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I do not think one needs to know much at all about chemistry to have a nicely planted aquarium that;'s nice and stable etc, it's gardening, you do not need to know every detail of soil chemistry to be a good gardener or farmer, or horticulture landscape artist.

    It's nice to know to pin point issues, analyze things, make some conclusions about methods etc. but it's hardly a requirement.

    I did quite well without much if any, as long as the temp was good, I did my water changes, toss in a few ferts, gardened etc.

    Testing equipment, making reference solutions is fine if that is what you want to do and get involved in. But it may not help you to become a better aquarist, only to be able to answer some questions if you are careful.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  7. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    One reason I use the EI dosing method is that I don't want to do a lot of testing and trying to adjust dosages to meet some target levels of nutrients. If I did want to do that I think the cheapest way to do so is to buy ordinary test kits for all of the nutrients, and also learn to make some test standards, having known amounts of the nutrient being tested for. Then I would calibrate those test kits every month, so I could trust them.
     
  8. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I came at this hobby without much technical background, but good observations. I did go back and test my ideas based on those observations and wanted to know more about the chem. I was much more able to answer the questions, pose the ones that are/where relevant.

    I use observations first, then I test to confirm what I am/was seeing. Not always an easy straight forward path however, and careful not to place too much trust in test ppm's etc and what you are seeing either.

    They are just tools and if you do not know how to use a tool, it does you little good.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  9. Gautam

    Gautam Prolific Poster

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    Agreed Tom /Plant Guru Team and thanks for your input.

    My decision for setting up a small lab is kind of similar to what Tom stated i.e. to substantiate my observations. I have used some test kits available here but was not convinced with results. I even crosschecked thru a friend of mine who has access to a water testing lab and found that the results a varying from my test kit results. So I thought that why not set up a small facility in my house and hence this query
     
  10. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Well, I'd make up some reference solutions first.
    Check those against the test kits you have.
    Based on those results, I'd see what is available locally as far as water test equipment and reagents. Reagents generally cost the most, if you can DIY reagents, then the cost is very low.

    But that takes some skills and resources.

    Always a trade off.

    But you might be best suited freezing samples and taking them to your friend to test them all at once and pay them, work out some deal vs doing this all your self.

    Freezing samples works pretty well for PO4, NO3, K+, KH , GH etc.
    A small plastic bottle with 100mls or so ought to do(10mls per test parameter), and you can sample daily, weekly, however you want to see the change over whatever time scale that interest you. It's much easier to test a large number of samples, and you have much less error when you do it all at once.

    Then you can plot the data over time in Excel etc and see the patterns.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  11. Gautam

    Gautam Prolific Poster

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    Thanks Tom.

    Could you please explain what you meant by Freezing Samples.

    Regards,

    Gautam
     
  12. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    You can preserve a water sample by freezing it - converting it to ice. That way you can store several days/weeks of samples in a freezer until you can take all of them to a commercial lab for testing. The test results will still represent what the water samples were like when first taken.
     
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