Which specific types of tests to run - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-20-2017, 06:50 PM Thread Starter
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Which specific types of tests to run

This is my first post here. I've been reading many of the threads and they are so helpful. I'm setting up my first real attempt at a planted aquarium in a 45 gallon tank. The more I read the more I see how complicated one can make this hobby. I have kept freshwater fish for over 30 years but never seriously attempted to keep plants. As I try to get the water conditions right I'm a bit overwhelmed with the variables. I just purchased my CO2 system with a 15lb tank and regulator yesterday. I decided on this after my leaves were beginning to go transparent at the tips. But on further reading here I see it could be a variety of other nutrient issues. This made it clear to me I need the test kits for those particular nutrients. I read as many posts on here as I could about test kit advice before creating yet another post on this topic. I have a decent understanding of the brands and their reputations. But what I am not easily finding is which specific tests to get for a freshwater planted tank. There are the usual ph/nitrate/etc basic kits that work for just fish. But then there are a variety of tests for calcium, phosphates, hardness, etc. Do you basically run every possible test on the market? Which tests are the really necessary ones and which can be left out? I don't want this to get so complicated that I lose the fun of it and start feeling like it's a job or obsession.

Thank you for your time.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-21-2017, 08:13 AM
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With regards to test kits, pH, nitrite, nitrate, phosphorus, general hardness, carbonate hardness and maybe iron are the ones I would get.

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-21-2017, 12:48 PM
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Sera master kit seems to complete. There are a few others the api kit is the one I use but had to get a few extra gh/kh iron and phosphorus are not included makes me wonder why it is called a master kit.

It seems to me once your tank is set up and you got your plants and fertilizers at a good dosing routine , once everything is growing and stable without signs of malnutrition or dying livestock you probably do not need to test all that much. Mainly I believe it is good idea to test and record your results when you are establishing a planted tank so that you can only dose fertilizers that you need and not leave extra for unwanted things like algeee or something. Once your tank is setup and everything is growing fine and livestock is healthy then just doing water changes weekly is probably fine. Some plants are a bit more demanding and require a bit more care and those would probably require a few more weekly tests. Same can be true for some livestock just small spikes in some things can cause deaths in more sensitive fish.

Simple point is that you can test less once your tank is healthy and doing fine so long as you do not change anything and keep things healthy. Change in ferts or even foods can sometimes change things.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-21-2017, 03:42 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you both. That's very helpful info.

After some frustration with a misbehaving solenoid valve on a discount regulator (no surprise there) I got my first CO2 system up and running last night. Pretty excited to continue learning and developing this hobby. My next step will be figuring out all the water parameters with some testing and dosing.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-21-2017, 05:33 PM
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Hi @stevelenz,

Welcome to TPT!

I live in the Seattle area, Seattle Public Utilities supplies water many of the surrounding areas, and the water is very, very soft. Unless something looks 'out of whack' I typically check the following monthly: PH, nitrates (NO3), hardness (dKH & dGH). When cycling a new tank I also check Ammonia and Nitrites. If things do seem unusual I check phosphates (P) and Iron (Fe). I use API test kits for most of my tests.

Here is Washington State we have one of the most active aquarium clubs in the country, with plenty of 'plantheads' among our members. The club is open to Washington State residents and has monthly meetings at Seattle Pacific University, brings in both National and International speakers, and if the speaker allows it records their presentations (now in HD) and makes them available to our members either on DVD or streaming. In the past we have had Tom Barr (twice), Karen Randall (from AGA) twice, Bart Laurens (Holland - Dutch Aquascaping) Christel Kasselmann (Germany - Plant Exploration), along with Ad Koenings, Gary Lange, Dick Au, and a host of others. If you are in the area check out a meeting as a guest, you won't be disappointed. October 10th is our next meeting, it will be on 'Blackwater Aquariums'.

We have some great local aquarium shops in the area such as Aquarium Co-op, Aquarium Zen (ADA Dealer), The Fish Store, Denny's Pet World, Aquaria LLC, that carry excellent selections of plants, both common and 'rare' varieties that they typically purchase from GSAS members. WA Fishbox is a local online forum where many hobbyists hang out. I hope you can make it to a meeting sometime!

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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-21-2017, 05:57 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you! That's all really good to know. I'm in southeast Washington (Walla Walla) about 4 hours from Seattle. It will definitely be worth the trip to participate in your club. I will be out of state on the 10th but will watch the calendar for upcoming events. I also look forward to checking out the shops. We are limited on all of these opportunities in the rural area I'm in. Thanks again!
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-21-2017, 06:17 PM
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Hi stevelenz,

We have several members that live in E. WA, they maybe make it to a meeting or two a year and the big annual auction in April; the rest of the time they stream the talks online.

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