This site is supported by the advertisements on it, please disable your AdBlocker so we can continue to provide you with the quality content you expect.
  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Unfortunately for Photobucket users, things have changed in a big way as of June 26th they are rolling out a $399 per year subscription fee for those who want to hotlink images from Photobucket’s servers to display elsewhere.
    This does not mean it only affects this site, It now means that billions of images across the Web now display an error message instead of the image in question. :(
    https://barrreport.com/threads/attention-photobucket-users.14377/
    Dismiss Notice

Test Kits - Why Not?

Discussion in 'Advanced Strategies and Fertilization' started by aquabillpers, Aug 14, 2005.

  1. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2005
    Messages:
    638
    Likes Received:
    2
    In the last several years the use of test kits has been discouraged in some quarters. Some kits have been found to be inaccurate and some are quite expensive. Some are cumbersome to use. And with the appearance of several sites that reduce the calculation of dosages to a few keystrokes, the old "try and test" method of dosing is passe. And, of course, the simplicity of EI makes testing unnecessary.

    Well, no, IMHO.

    We see many posts here and elsewhere from people who have problems but insist that they are dosing in accordance with XYZ site's calculations or that they are using EI. But they don't know what is actually in their aquariums.

    Theoretical calculations are great but they should be supported by measurement, particularly when there are problems. A lot of processes are underway in aquariums. These can increase or decrease the nutrients in an aquarium, in addition to what the hobbyist is doing. And errors in measuring the ammount of chemicals to be added are not rare.

    A great American president once said, "Trust but verify." This advice might also be applied to managing planted aquaria.
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
    Staff Member Administrator Social Group Admin

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Messages:
    18,458
    Likes Received:
    323
    Re: Test Kits - Why Not?

    Actually they do, the mathmatical models predict and the test kits indeed do verify and match up. The other more basic question is why do I really need such precision to grow plants?

    Don't they grow well in a wide variety of conditions both in nature and it our tanks?

    Also, many folks simply do not do other things totally unrelated to the nutrient levels.

    95%+ of every algae issue I deal with is CO2 related.
    The rest of the issues?
    Not enough plants.
    Not enough maintenance/cleaning
    Run out of nutrients

    So....if you want to discuss testing, it should be with respect to CO2 before anything else nutrient wise.

    Even there, we often find that a leap of faith is required by adding a bit more than the tested recommendations, Amano does this also.

    Been there done that more times than I can recall counting, not just me either, an entire groups of folks working together, the APD did for many years, local clubs etc.

    The maximum build up need not be tested as it can be predicted easily by assuming no uptake by plants.

    The variables are mainly plant uptake, filter cleaning, netting of leaves, pruning, fish inputs/outputs.

    So if you try to do this by adding the minmum amounts, this will be highly variable tank to tank.

    But......you can do it using EI, by adding progressively less of one nuterient at a time till a negative response is induced by a sensitive plant etc, this is called a bioassay, a very commonly used method in biology.

    Plants are the ultimate "test".
    Then ..........you can bump the dose back up to the previous amount and then move on to the next nutrient test. If a few months, without a test kit, you can find the individual tank requirements for nutrients in any tank.
    No dosing metrhod is error free, responding to changes is par for the course then a routine that is based on pre existing habits(weekly water changes) maintains the the balnace and maintenance even better than a test kit ( and removes all the variables you cannot test for)

    Problems in of themselves are difficult to measure unless you are looking for specific casual realtionships such as adding NH4 to see if it induces Green water or adding PO4 to see if it induces algae as well.

    Really, how on earth did EI evolve? Do you believe that I was solely alone in this process and guess the entire thing or did I also test as well?

    See here from about 10 years ago:

    http://www.sfbaaps.com/reference/barr_02_01.shtml

    This was mainly consensus from a dozen or so aquarist.
    Folks have tested EI for many years, with good and with poor test kits.

    I have 2000$ worth of home testing equipment.
    What other traces do you test for besides Fe?

    Probably none, so we are guessing there and have no idea if there is enough of many things for our plants, same for CO2 very often.

    I have equipment that will measure Cu, Mo, Co, Zn, Ni, B, Cl, Mg, Ca, NH4, NO3, O2, pH, Redox, TDS/Conductivity, temp, SO4, Chemical O2 demand(a good indicator of organic dissolved matter) pretty much everything signifcant in terms of EI and things beyond a dosing routine for that matter.

     
  3. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2005
    Messages:
    638
    Likes Received:
    2
    Re: Test Kits - Why Not?

    Tom, thanks for your long and thoughtful respopnse.

    But what do you say to a person who says that he doses properly, does EI,
    and has the right light and CO2? "Sorry, it can't be true"?

    I think that you would analyze his problem, try to determine what the possible
    causes were, and suggest remedies, not just say, "Do more EI, and more carefully."

    Wouldn't you?

    And, remember that the current president at one point thought that he had lost an election. He trusted the ballot counters but he also verified the results, and lo and behold . . .

    Best,

    Bill
     
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
    Staff Member Administrator Social Group Admin

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Messages:
    18,458
    Likes Received:
    323
    Re: Test Kits - Why Not?

    Well, I just think many folks simply do not know my history with testing, I've done a hell of lot of it for a long time and know it's limitations.

    First, tell them they have "coyote breath" and ask if "anyone has a Tic Tac", this will put them on the defensive.

    Hehe, I show them the math, if that scares them, well, too bad, if they wanna test the kits, run the calibrations against known standards, a hobbyist can do this, but it's work and many like the do arm chair aquarium testing, not the real stuff(eg work), it's easy top sit back, be critical and cynical, but they seldom gain much with that attitude.

    I suggest they prove it to themselves.
    Heck, do not take my word for it, go test and see for yourself, but you'd better make sure to do the test correctly and have confidence in them.

    I've had folks claim they did this after the fact and then try and back up and say I was wrong, likely becuase they just are playing games/don;t like getting something wrong but if you have done this enough times, actually done a lot of test work, you know when someone is BS-ing.
    That pisses me off even more. Trolling always hang the troll also.

    This gives me a lot of direct confrontational attitude, something that bothers some folks, but when you know excess PO4 does not cause alage and someone claims otherwise, I have little issue calling them out on it.

    It's not personal though, it's always about the plants.

    Yep, we could quickly find out precisely what, how much and what frequency he/she doses. That is more accurate than a test kit measurement.

    Then rule out each one of those based on an assumed max uptake.
    On to the next item, generally CO2 or basic mainteanace.

    but you can follow a very simple flow chart and Water chnage+re set the tank's nutrients, then add a tad more CO2 and check that(I do suggest testing KH/pH very carefully and then if it still does not look right at 30ppm , take that leap of faith and watch the fish, have a little surface movement and add more CO2 anyway)

    I'm an democratic anarchist honestly, the plants shall inheret the earth and assimilate us all into leaves, shoots and roots. Never know, it's more likely we will come back as algae:) I'm hoping for a Caldphora Ball myself.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  5. reiverix

    reiverix Lifetime Members
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2005
    Messages:
    270
    Likes Received:
    0
    Re: Test Kits - Why Not?

    So you'd only really need a test kit if the maintenance conditions were a variable? For example, if there's a decaying fish in the tank or the water changes aren't on a schedule or such. then that has an effect outside of knowing the dosing routine and assuming no uptake.

    Ok, so maybe I'm just testing the sig...
     
  6. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
    Staff Member Administrator Social Group Admin

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Messages:
    18,458
    Likes Received:
    323
    Re: Test Kits - Why Not?

    Well, yes, even then, depending on what you consider successful growth/tank mainteance is also highly subjective............some go years without testing or water changes, Dave Gomberg for example has not done a change is about 2 years, he also killed his fish but that was with the CO2, but the plants do fine.

    I can go several weeks before I need a water change.

    I have mentioned to others about implied accuracy of the tesdt kits and methods.

    Compared to AP and other cheapy test kits, even with comparing them against known standards, they are roughly 500X less accurate than my methods using a sub milligram scale to make the standards and the blanks and spectrophotometer, premeasured reagents sealed etc.

    So is it worth it?
    Not really in terms of aquatic horticulture, but then again neither are the cheap test kits folks are using now days.........

    I can do EI and maintain a similar accuracy, yes, you can verify semi accuracyly with the cheaspy kits and then know, or use a very accuractre method and know and guess much less than the cheapy kits.

    Each method has a "guess factor" and an associated error/variance.

    How much do you need to grow plants is quite another matter and point folks seem to miss frequently when aguring for testing.

    I have suggested a 1000 times in the past to test, CO2, GH/KH still.
    But...............having hel;ped many folks and know what they will do vs what would be all nice and fuzzy in an ideal wolrd is another matter also.

    You have to be flexible and be able to work around bad habits and use the habits already established and simple.

    Folks already do water changes, so I used that since we had to anyway for some things like mulm and yellowing water from driftwood etc, adds CO2, PO4 or whatever else might be in the tap water.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
Loading...

Share This Page