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Test Kits?

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by travdawg, Feb 2, 2005.

  1. travdawg

    travdawg Guru Class Expert

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    Hello all,

    I am relatively new to teh hobby, & tired of running to the LFS everytime I want my water tested. I would like to be able to track my own levels (ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, ph) but would like the opinions of others on the best kit for a budget (that means I am broke:p) would be.

    Please chime in here!
     
  2. dkarmona

    dkarmona Junior Poster

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    Re: Test Kits?

    If you have plants you don't need amonia and nitrite test kits, maybe a nitrate and a phosphate test kit but if you follow the EI you don't need them. So maybe you can spend a little more money in water :p and a little less in test kits.

    But if you want to spend a little money I have only experience with Aquarium Farmaceuticals nitrate, ph and KH test kits,they are nice. There is always the accuracy thing with test kits especially if you are color blind, and definitely you get what you pay for.
     
  3. Paul

    Paul Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Test Kits?

    I think you have to be fairley confident to do this..... I dont normally check them too often, but I wouldnt say not to buy them

    I use the API liquid test kits, Im a bit colour blind and find them much easier to read than the Nutrafin ones
     
  4. dkarmona

    dkarmona Junior Poster

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    Re: Test Kits?

    Yes definitely a lot of things could cause an amonia spike, but since he is in a low budget I would put it other way, if he wants to spend money on test kits he should buy first the PH and KH test kit to monitor CO2 levels (very important IMHO), then buy the nitrate test kit, maybe the phosphate test kit (if you like to monitor things they will be used a lot) and then the amonia and nitrate test kit if you still want to spend more $$.
     
  5. travdawg

    travdawg Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Test Kits?

    Well, my tank is small, & currently lightly planted. I plan on having a giant tank later in the year, which I am putting money back for... but in the meantime, I am trying to improve my 10 gallon to be something less gaudy than colored gravel & plastic plants. I have 1 Amazon Sword (which is living in ocnditions that are less than optimal due to lighting, & that I need to trade) & a small hunk of driftwood planted with 3 small java ferns. My bioload is high, with 5 black tetras, 3 zebra danios, a red tail black shark, & a plec. I was a total noobie when I started this tank....

    My planned purchases for the tank are :

    1) Buy a test kit (I want to have a solid idea of what the levels in my tank are. I want to know what my nitrates are, & when I need to do a partial water change)

    2) Buy a bag of Eco-Complete, & replace my current substrate with it. (also going to go hunting for some slate)

    3) Get control of the levels in my tank by planting heavily. (looking forward to a large portion of Java Moss, & Clover)

    4) Make a DIY external filter.

    5) Once I have an idea of how my water levels are fluctuating, & I am comfortable with them, I am going to stock some shrimp.... Likely just Ghost Shrimp.


    I hate to have to get the dull old test kit out of the way 1st, but a mans gotta do, what a mans gotta do. :p
     
  6. Greg Watson

    Greg Watson Administrator
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    Re: Test Kits?

    My wife loves those ... she was just sitting here telling me I needed to start selling those plastic treasure chests, diver men, and castles ...

    Seriously ... almost all of started out with that exact same setup ... and I sure wish I still had mine for nostalgia's sake ... It's beautiful tanks like yours that you now describe as "gaudy" that are often what attract new people to the hobby ... there is nothing more eye catching than bright pink gravel! Something that a brown (popular plant substrate) gravel just can't compare to!!!

    Our aquarium club is sponsoring a spring show which attracts about 4,000 people to come look at about 100 tanks ... and I think I am going to enter a nostalgia tank to let people know that there are beautiful tanks that don't involve rare plants, high tech equipment, and exotic rare fish ... I know that's blasphemy in some circles ... so if I'm fired tommorrow, you'll know that I shouldn't have said that !!!!

    I've probably tried and used most of the test kits out there ... and while I might love my LaMotte test kit, I've used the Tetra, Hagen, Seachem, Aquarium Pharmaceuticals kits, and many others over the years ... and all of them are going to be just fine ... especially since we are talking about a nitrate test kit ...

    I would go with whatever brand you can pick up locally at your local fish store ... of course, that's just my opinion ...

    Now ... let's see.... I don't think I've done a nitrate test yet in 2005 ... did I do one in 2004? I think so ... Seriously, test kits are a great idea ... but don't worry about an expensive one ...

    Greg
     
  7. travdawg

    travdawg Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Test Kits?

    Thanks alot Greg, I really appreciate your input, & the others as well. I wouldnt worry about it, but I know I had a nitrate problem in the past, & I wont be comfortable until I have a good idea of what lvls I am running. I have a pretty long road ahead of me as far as that goes. I would like to get my tank planted heavily enough, to add a fish or two. I will have to see what it looks like whne I have it planted. Might too much.

    In your nostalgia tank, dont forget the SKULLS!!!!

    Trav
     
  8. sawallace

    sawallace Junior Poster

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    Re: Test Kits?

    Anyone have an opinion on an NO3 test kit (preferably affordable) that is a little more readable at higher ranges? (20-40 ish) I've only used AP's, and it's a little hard to make out any difference at these levels.
     
  9. Wö£fëñxXx

    Wö£fëñxXx Prolific Poster

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    Re: Test Kits?

    If you are having this problem try doing 5 drop's of each instead of 10, then multiply x2 to get kit reading.
    Work's for me. :D
     
  10. Ian H

    Ian H Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Test Kits?

    Test kit lasts twice as long too.............................What a good idea. :cool:

    Ian
     
  11. Vladimir Zhurov

    Vladimir Zhurov Lifetime Members
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    Re: Test Kits?

    I would dilute sample with distilled (or RO, or even just tap water, if you know its nitrate level) 2-5 or whatever number of times down to approximate range where you feel confident in your ability to judge colour of test reaction.

    Also it is very handy to test your test kit on solutions with known concentrations of nitrate, phosphate, etc. So you will know what are real colours you get with particular concentrations as colours you perceive on colour chart and in a test tube may (in fact they always do) vary with ambient lighting.

    Another thing to watch for is a consistent lighting. I would not go crazy with getting "designer bulbs", but being consistent with the conditions you perform testing will help.

    Vladimir.
     
  12. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Test Kits?

    Some folks have suggested AP NO3 kits.
    I tried them about 9 years ago or something.
    They were all over.

    They seem to have improved but I cannot verify it.
    I stopped wasting my time back then with cheapy kits and went all Lamotte and Hach and now I just use a spect to test everything which is radically more accurate than any test kit.

    I can test to 0.1ppm for NO3, 0.05ppm of PO4 etc.
    That's within a 10ppb accuracy range.

    I did not get into this hobby to test test kits, I got into it to grow plants.
    I did not get into this hobby to do testing either.

    I know of few hobbyists that get into this hobby to test things. Seems simple at first, then when a problem comes up, they suggest test the water. That introduces a new set of issues.

    Some folks might want to get into that, many don't.

    I would not put too much faith into any test kit, but double check them if things seem funny.

    New folks have enough to worry about, later they can and perhaps may wish to go back and test more and see.
    You need to get familar with healthy growing plants first.

    You only need to know the KH/GH/CO2/light watts/tank size right off the bat.

    Testing CO2 is tricky as well and I do not trust the kits too much there either.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  13. Tom Wood

    Tom Wood Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Test Kits?

    Well good for you, but that IS NOT HELPFUL to anybody else. Mere mortals need to be able to get a handle on things in the tanks in our homes using simple cheap methods. I guess I'm one of those 'some folks' that does recommend the AP $7 NO3 and PO4 test kits. We don't need LaMotte or Hach, and we certainly don't need a fricking spectrometer to run an aquarium.

    TW
     
  14. chubasco

    chubasco Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Test Kits?

    TW,
    I'd call this an awkward moment....I don't think Tom inferred that we should go out and buy a spectrometer, even if we had the money and the inclination. I use the AP kits, too, but sparingly. The one thing I have for the fish is a TDS meter, a nice canary in the coal mine when something is going radically wrong with the water! Test kits for beginners like moi, is a nice "trust but
    verify" on what we are doing with our tanks. I'm not at the stage where I can
    look at the plants and say "yes, you need more traces, don't you?" I'd have
    as much luck trying to read tea leaves...hopefully someday, which is why I'm
    here. (And no, I don't talk to the plants, should I?) :D

    Bill
     
  15. Cornhusker

    Cornhusker Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Test Kits?

    :) :) folks, lets all stop and think about why we hit this website,to grow nice plants without a lot of algae and learn to reconize problems when they arise. i hope this is not going to turn into a political debate,we have enough of that(.everyone have a nice day! ) :) :) regards,cornhusker
     
  16. Tom Wood

    Tom Wood Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Test Kits?

    Heh,

    Yeah, some smileys would help. :D (I had the Dr. Evil voice playing in my head when I wrote that last post, so it seemed funnier.)

    I think we all tend to assume that the rest of the world looks at things in a way similar to our own, just as I do from time to time. :rolleyes: So I was just trying to be obtuse and point out that we don't all share quite the enthusiasm for detail. Quick and dirty maintenance once a week probably becomes more the norm over long periods of time for most people. But there I go again, making presumptions...

    My apologies to TBarr, but I think he knows what he's doing here.

    TW
     
  17. Ian H

    Ian H Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Test Kits?

    Ee by gum ( old Yorkshire expression) I'm glad that's sorted.

    I think Tom has developed a 'thick hide' in the passage of time.............I'll leave it there.

    We all have our own ways of doing things, some right some wrong. I don't do the EI but in a way I do my version with less water changes and less dosing. But I'm learning as I go, and improving the results as I go. I do use cheap test kits as a way of roughly monitoring the results against the plants performance. That is my way, I don't mind regular testing. I also learn by my, and others mistakes.

    I am happy,my plants and fish are happy. Life is sweet. :D .........................FOR NOW!!!!!!

    Ian
     
  18. Greg Watson

    Greg Watson Administrator
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    Re: Test Kits?

    I am perfectly comfortable with people using AP test kits for a couple of reasons. 1) They are often available at your local fish store, and I am always looking for "legitimate" ways to support our local fish stores; in my opinion, they are the one of the keys to the future of the hobby, and 2) to the extent that we "need" accurate answers, they are close enough as long as everyone who uses them understands that with many (if not most) test kits, we are only going to be getting a close "approximation" ...

    Now ... that said ... there are some people who like to pick nits (often for no legitimate reason other than to hear themselves) ... for *that* type of person, virtually no test kit is good enough ... but I often liken that type of person to someone with "lice" ... does it really matter how many lice they have in their hair? I'd rather address the cause, than worry about the number of nits they picked !!!!!

    Greg
     
  19. Paul

    Paul Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Test Kits?

    :p I would be impressed if you could even find a place to buy Lamotte or Hach testing kit in the UK, it seems to me about all you can buy easily is the API and Hagen ones and the Hagen ones are crap imo, so we are pretty much stuck with API :(
    If anyone can tell me where to buy 'decent' test kits from that dont cost a fortune, I would be happy to hear it :)
     
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