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Water Testing

Discussion in 'Are you new to aquatic plants? Start here' started by hdrestr, May 19, 2009.

  1. hdrestr

    hdrestr Junior Poster

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    Hello again!

    So, I tested my water today using a Tetra brand master test kit. The indicators show:

    pH of 8
    NH4 of 0 mg/L
    NO2 of 0.3 mg/L
    KH of 4.5 dH
    and the supplied chart for CO2 read to be 1.4 mg/L

    for fish this all seems ok, but for plants, the CO2 seems low. What do you guys/gals think of these numbers?

    Also, does anyone have comments on testing kits?

    Thanks.

    -herm

    29 G X-tall, 65W PC, no CO2, Eco-Complete, full of Hornwort
     
  2. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi Herm,

    Some test kits are better than others........

    The real issue is if the kits have been CALIBRATED against a KNOWN solution.

    If this is not done, the test kit results are most likely unreliable..

    Even an expensive colorimeter needs calibration to ensure accuracy.

    You cannot measure c02 simply with a ph chart.

    I will post more on this later, but look for a drop checker how and why thread by Vaughnh.
     
  3. hdrestr

    hdrestr Junior Poster

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    drop checker

    Wow, I'd never heard of these before. Thanks for directing me to the thread, I've read the initial post and some, but not all of the replies yet. I'm glad to see that the device doesn't cost too much either. Now I have to look up calibrating my other tests.

    -herm
     
  4. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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  5. hdrestr

    hdrestr Junior Poster

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    Thanks for the link! Now I have to decide if I have the time/patience for this. Is the only other option to forget about testing altogether?
     
  6. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Over time, most folks have done/do a little of both, they test somethings and do not bother with others.

    You can do both, or none or all testing.
    Real issue is how consistent you are ith that and compare that to how consistent you might be with doing water changes etc.

    Then what things you can do to make that consistency nd motivation to do it easier for yourself.

    I made the water change very easy for myself. I'm doing one right now, I'll get up and switch the connectors and fill in 8 minutes.

    I'm almost done draining and watering my lawn.

    Semi automated, automated water changes are easy.
    I cannot do this with water testing however.

    But........I can tke small samples and place them in small plastic vials and put them in the freezer. Then after say 2-4 weeks, take them out and measure 2-4 week's worth of samples and then record the data. Look at that data, and then make appropriate changes for dosing.

    This way I only suffer a little bit once every 1-2 months etc.
    I do not get to adjust as I go(micromange), but rather, can see longer term trends. It's much harder to make any snese out of dosing over the short term always changing things week to week or day to day.

    Some claim otherwise but it's not been demonstrated.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  7. hdrestr

    hdrestr Junior Poster

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    At the risk of sounding like the laziest person here, I ask:

    What about bringing water in to the LFS for testing? (Is this just as bad a testing with an uncalibrated off the shelf kit?)

    -herm
     
  8. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
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    In all likelihood they're doing the same thing. Pull it out and read the colors. I doubt most of them bother to calibrate. Another issue is that things like pH will change due to CO2 outgassing ( if you dose CO2 ) which means their results will not be accurate to what you have in the tank. Uncalibrated might give you an overall trend, but as your reagents age you won't necessarily know how much the curve changes as they get older. The only real advantage for the LFS method is that it won't cost you anything, but it's also likely to not be super accurate either.

    -
    S
     
  9. hdrestr

    hdrestr Junior Poster

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    Thanks,

    Yes it does make more sense to test at home. I'll be rereading the calibration steps you provided for me above. I always enjoyed chem classes, so perhaps this won't be so bad. And better for my tank.

    now I just have to get my water changes semi-automated (does making my kids do it count?)
     
  10. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Yes, that's why you have kids, to do the work. you worked to provide for them, it's time they learn to do the same, no doting, they get enough of that when they are pretty young. They also get anything they want if the do well in school, and do chores.

    If not, they shall suffer the wrath of the evil parent.:p
    You keep them suckers busy, that's the main job/focus of the parent.
    Then there's no time to get into trouble.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  11. hdrestr

    hdrestr Junior Poster

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    City test as a calibration for home test kit

    Tooling around the internet during a water change, I found the following report summary on City of Milwaukee Water. Can I use these values to get a sense of how well my test kit works? Is there anything in the report that should be alarming to my fish? Thanks for your expert opinions!!

    (I tested the tap with my pH kit and it was about 7.5)

    http://water.mpw.net/files/WaterQualityBasics.pdf
     
  12. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
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    I certainly wouldn't freak out over the water. I don't know that you can really calibrate to that though. At best you could use it to ballpark things, but just because it's their nominal values doesn't mean when you check your water they aren't having a spike of something at the time. If over the course of several weeks you get roughly the same values, you at least know your kits aren't drastically off, or at least are consistently off. Without a known value, you can't tell what's throwing things off. Could be your pipes, could be a flushout of the water sytem, could be anything.

    -
    S
     
  13. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    That report doesn't mention magnesium, and the calcium concentration indicates the water is pretty soft, so you may be short of magnesium for the plants. Otherwise, I didn't see anything to be concerned about.

    The main test kits people seem to use are nitrates and phosphates, other than the standard KH, GH and pH kits. I wouldn't try to calibrate either the nitrate or phosphate kit based on that report.
     
  14. hdrestr

    hdrestr Junior Poster

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    Thanks for the feedback. You guys are great!
     
  15. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
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    It is amazing how those people who used those charts were able to maintain such handsome planted aquaria.

    What fools they were!

    Five years from now people will be chuckling and shaking their heads about the emphasis that today is placed on PAR readings.

    Bill
     
  16. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Perhaps but it's doubtful.
    PAR is more for a standard way to compare light and specific plants. CO2 is more difficult to measure and harder to compare with any standard.

    Light is applied and stays the same pretty much.
    Many different brands, reflectors and other issues complicate light.
    PAR meter cuts through that effectively.

    CO2 does not have brands, and other type of things. No method really cuts through it, perhaps a CO2 meter, but they are 10X more than a PAR meter.


    I do not think any one will be out buying one anytime soon, PAR meters?
    200$ and the club can share it amongst membership, and see how low they can go in light for a specific plant etc.

    Fairly useful.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  17. aquabillpers

    aquabillpers Lifetime Charter Member
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    My post was an attempt to poke fun at how quickly yesterday's hot technology becomes obsolete. I once bought a bag of Flourite when it was THE hot, state of the art substrate, but before I could use it something hotter came out. It's still in the bag.

    Future technology? How about an inexpensive CO2 meter for about $50? Technology moves fast. PAR meters a few years ago cost well over $1000, remember?

    And, maybe in five years, lighting will be evaluated in terms of the number of photons that strike an object. That is really what drives an aquatic plant, not what part of the spectrum they come from. Lux meters and PAR meters approximate that, but a photon count would be much more accuarate and useful.

    And maybe there will be a genitically-enginered fish that consumes CO2 and gives off O2, and . . . .

    Never say never when technology is involved.

    Bill
     
  18. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I hope that the cost come down. Much like the new Stem plant O month. They sell for 10$ per stem, then 2-4 months later..........1$ or less and some cases, you cannot give it away. T5 lights, PC's lighting, FL's, all have dropped a lot.

    There's some shift away from ADA to MS, and returning to dry salts instead of pricey brands of liquids(once the overwhelmning evidence suggested that they where no different and the ADA etc faithful had been unequivocally been refuted).

    This is good, remember Dupla?

    Same thing.

    Heating cables?

    What are those?

    Perhaps testing with the plants and algae themselves will be more popular.
    I do that, then go back and see.

    For many hobbyists, the eyeballs work fine:p
    I'm 95% that way.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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