Do test kits get a bad rap?
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Old 05-08-2014, 01:20 AM   #1
greaser84
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Do test kits get a bad rap?


I wanted to start a thread about test kits because I always hear that test kits are inaccurate. Even I'm guilty of saying that. But are they really? The companies that make them have been around for a long time, you would think they know how to make an accurate solution by now? What are your thoughts on that? What kind of test have you done to prove that most test kits are inaccurate? Do you think that the test kits themselves are made properly and that most inaccuracies are a result of operator error? I know we are not scientist in a lab but can we blame every high reading on a bad test?
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Old 05-08-2014, 01:26 AM   #2
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I can't say that test kits are made poorly but more that the system is based on a pretty shaky idea that we can judge colors far better than I feel I do. If you try reading a test under different types of lighting, you can begin to see that the results are not going to be uniform. So if you start out with eyes that don't read the same and light that changes the reading, you've already moved a bit away from high accuracy. But then I never find need of high accuracy, just enough to see trends in the readings.
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Old 05-08-2014, 07:28 AM   #3
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go calibrate your api nitrate test kit. http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...ad.php?t=83545 I did that and could not believe my eyes! now i understand why my nitrates seemed to get so high so fast! makes me wonder about my ammonia gh and kh tests.
speaking of ammonia, even in distilled and rodi water i have never seen the yellow that is supposed to be 0


i hate test kits wish i had water testing super powers

Last edited by thebuddha; 05-08-2014 at 07:48 AM.. Reason: because i said so
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Old 05-08-2014, 10:29 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by thebuddha View Post
go calibrate your api nitrate test kit. http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...ad.php?t=83545 I did that and could not believe my eyes! now i understand why my nitrates seemed to get so high so fast! makes me wonder about my ammonia gh and kh tests.
speaking of ammonia, even in distilled and rodi water i have never seen the yellow that is supposed to be 0


i hate test kits wish i had water testing super powers
I calibrated 3 different nitrate test last night, they all seem to be in working order. How far off was your nitrate test?
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Old 05-08-2014, 01:33 PM   #5
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api ammonia


api ammonia test kits are polarizing, but search returns win. Sure you can find search returns that show some Ipads failed to work, but is that really the scope you get from throughly searching Ipads, or that they are awesome? search 'api ammonia test kit false reading' and match that to the few reports we are about to get in defense of API ammonia kits.

misreading of the color gradients is probably huge.
I can see using them to indicate a large spike

test kits dont have a bad rap, api ammonia does. use anything else, or better yet join a biology thread where you dont have to test for ammonia with any test kit to have full control over ammonia at all times in any tank. thats just my take of course, im kinda lukewarm on the matter heh

you will get a constant, or presumed for whatever reason .25 reading as a new tank keeper on any tank you are cycling. you will think the cycle is stalled, never stops, the bacteria chose to develop only one kind of colony since you also have nitrates, your world will be in shambles and you w make one of two hundred thousand "stalled cycle" threads ive read the last decade. not you personally just the next person to use an api kit on a new tank cycling.
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Old 05-09-2014, 12:29 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brandon429 View Post
api ammonia


api ammonia test kits are polarizing, but search returns win. Sure you can find search returns that show some Ipads failed to work, but is that really the scope you get from throughly searching Ipads, or that they are awesome? search 'api ammonia test kit false reading' and match that to the few reports we are about to get in defense of API ammonia kits.

misreading of the color gradients is probably huge.
I can see using them to indicate a large spike

test kits dont have a bad rap, api ammonia does. use anything else, or better yet join a biology thread where you dont have to test for ammonia with any test kit to have full control over ammonia at all times in any tank. thats just my take of course, im kinda lukewarm on the matter heh

you will get a constant, or presumed for whatever reason .25 reading as a new tank keeper on any tank you are cycling. you will think the cycle is stalled, never stops, the bacteria chose to develop only one kind of colony since you also have nitrates, your world will be in shambles and you w make one of two hundred thousand "stalled cycle" threads ive read the last decade. not you personally just the next person to use an api kit on a new tank cycling.
Interesting thought. I have read some of those threads about false readings. I would like to add that api ammonia test for NH3 and NH4 well NH4 is non toxic. I suppose that could turn the solution green and make someone think that there is dangerous NH3 in the aquarium? Possible operator error. Whether the tests are accurate or not I don't know, I am also on the fence about it. I just see a lot of threads where someone says help! I have 40ppm nitrates and I only dose 10ppm every other day, and you'll see most replies saying oh ya you have a bad test. I'm just curious as to how they know that?
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Old 05-09-2014, 03:11 AM   #7
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I would think that the posts about bad test kits are really a warning that this is one possible answer to what the person testing might be dealing with rather than an assured 'Your test kit is wrong' statement.
User error (ie: not shaking the bottle or the test tube enough, or reading the test at the wrong time)
Inconsistent testing methods (such as reading them in different lighting)
Expired test reagents
... are also valid reasons for odd results.

I have used several brands and different types of test kits for many of the things we test for and have found some inconsistent results for sure. two test methods used on the same tank within minutes of each other giving readings that are way off. Leads me to think that certain test kits are not compatible with my tanks. But I have not calibrated them to see which is right.

As noted by Planted Rich, I am following trends rather than trying to target a specific number. Used for this, the strips are as accurate as the reagent test types among those tests sold for the hobby level.
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Old 05-09-2014, 03:31 AM   #8
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I find the API Ammonia and Nitrite tests to be reliable. They have never steered me wrong. On the other hand, the Nitrate and Phosphate tests continue to cause me no end of aggravation. The problem is mostly due the inability to accurately match up the colors. I completely agree with what PlantedRich said above.

Here is an old thread where I wrote about the flaws of the API test kits in more detail:
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/showthread.php?t=299586&highlight=
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Old 05-10-2014, 03:56 AM   #9
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I went to my brothers house to help him with his tank. I took my new test kit knowing his was very old .. at least 3yrs & probably more than that.

I have to say that the results from his test kit matched up with mine, so age didn't seem to hurt it as much as people claim.

I think a lot of time people don't follow the instructions correctly. Especially important for the API nitrate kit where you need to shake bottle 2 for at least 30 seconds before adding the drops & then shake tube for at 1 min after adding drops from bottle 2. When it's cold or it been used for a long time, I shake bottle 2 for at least 1 min prior to adding the drops .. and that's after warming it up first.
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Old 05-10-2014, 10:05 AM   #10
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Also, some people are color blind so they won't be able to see the colors.
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Old 05-10-2014, 12:17 PM   #11
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I think a lot of the issues come from us not being scientists. just like in baking if you are not exact in your measurements and processes the product will be wrong both, after all, are chemical reactions. the littlest thing can throw off the whole process, something as simple as not shaking the bottles enough, or not having a clean test tube can mess the whole thing up (or rinsing the tube in water that is not the water you are testing)

i have noticed the emptier my bottles of chemical get, the more air bubbles i see coming out in my droplets, and it makes me wonder if my test is still as accurate as it used to be.

my biggest complaint with the API test kits is in the PH test, basically the range of 7.4-7.7 (i'm somewhere in that range)
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Old 05-10-2014, 01:13 PM   #12
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My worst example of rotten tests is the Red Sea Iron.
The card shows colors from red to grey, including a sort of grey-pink.
The test tube turned green.
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Old 05-10-2014, 06:49 PM   #13
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I think of test kits as more a guess kit! If the reading shows something totally out of place, it pays to run the whole thought through again. You may find a reason for the test being totally off or sometimes you may find a reason for things being so far out.
Just like tests for school, you have to look at the total picture. My grandson got a totally horrible test score on reading, WHY? He reads all the time!
DUH! He had a nosebleed and didn't finish the test!
Testing is just that , nothing more! Anybody who takes test readings as the final answer is probably going to miss a lot of things!
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Old 05-10-2014, 07:25 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aquatic Delight View Post
I think a lot of the issues come from us not being scientists. just like in baking if you are not exact in your measurements and processes the product will be wrong both, after all, are chemical reactions. the littlest thing can throw off the whole process, something as simple as not shaking the bottles enough, or not having a clean test tube can mess the whole thing up (or rinsing the tube in water that is not the water you are testing)

i have noticed the emptier my bottles of chemical get, the more air bubbles i see coming out in my droplets, and it makes me wonder if my test is still as accurate as it used to be.

my biggest complaint with the API test kits is in the PH test, basically the range of 7.4-7.7 (i'm somewhere in that range)
I know exactly what you mean! I hate when one drop hits the side of the test vial, then your like that whole drop got in there right? Oh S--- my finger is wet. I don't know about you guys but my N03 bottle #1 is a lot lighter then bottle #2.
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Old 05-10-2014, 08:32 PM   #15
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me too greaser, my bottles are the same way.
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