Interpreting API 5 in 1 Test Strips - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-21-2017, 05:36 PM Thread Starter
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Interpreting API 5 in 1 Test Strips

Okay, I know these are crappy, but I just wanted to get a ballpark of my tank parameters, primarily the GH and KH. So I tested, and this is what I got - the picture is of my used test strip and the chart on the bottle. I'm assuming it's basically saying that my GH and KH are super low, as is my PH. I know that we have very soft water here, so I think this is probably pretty accurate. I think the nitrite is essentially 0, so that's good. My question is the nitrate - before you use the test strip the pad for nitrate is blue, and it did not change color at all after I tested. The color chart doesn't have any blue colors at all, so I don't know what this means. No nitrates? Off the charts nitrates? I did three separate test strips, and they all came out the same.

The tank is a 40 breeder that has been set up for several years. Filtration is a Rena XP3 canister. Medium to heavily stocked with fish. Lots of java fern, no other plants. No CO2. Gets regular water changes. Tank seems healthy to me, haven't lost any fish in at least a year.

My questions are - can I assume my nitrates are okay? I am planning on turning this into a heavily planted tank and adding pressurized CO2 - will these low GH/KH/PH make managing CO2 a problem?

Thanks!
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-21-2017, 05:44 PM
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You got the test strip backwards duders.

There's no nitrates or nitrites, they're white/slightly off white-pinkish. PH is middle obviously, looking about 6.5, and you have 0's on GH and KH. Is your water going through a softener or some other filtration?

Also, if this is coming from your tank, it means it's not cycled which doesn't make sense. It also means, if the strips are at all correct, you need to pickup some products to add KH and GH, otherwise your plants won't do well, nor will livestock and you'll get massive ph swings. I use nilocg's ReKHarb and ReGen for my RODI water, check out his website nilocg.com. Plenty of other good products too that you could use instead.

What's the exp date on those strips? They may just be bad because the results don't make sense for a several year old tank with livestock
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-21-2017, 06:22 PM Thread Starter
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Oops. Things make a lot more sense now. I swear I didn't use to be this stupid. Age is not your friend, people.

I just checked the box, and it doesn't expire until 5/2019. No softener or anything like that. I just tested the water coming right out of the tap and got the same results, maybe a wee bit of color on the GH.

I am really confused. My tank is definitely cycled. is there anything that might cause these values?

I thought I might need to add some kind of buffer to the water. I was actually already looking at some of nilocg's stuff - glad to hear good things. I don't know, this CO2 thing keeps getting more complicated the more I reasearch.

Okay, not sure of this helps - I also have a 20 gallon tank that has been set up several years. Just tested it and got pretty much identical GH/KH/PH levels, 0 nitrites, and nitrates around 20.

Last edited by Darkblade48; 12-21-2017 at 11:04 PM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-21-2017, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Svham View Post
Oops. Things make a lot more sense now. I swear I didn't use to be this stupid. Age is not your friend, people.

I just checked the box, and it doesn't expire until 5/2019. No softener or anything like that. I just tested the water coming right out of the tap and got the same results, maybe a wee bit of color on the GH.

I am really confused. My tank is definitely cycled. is there anything that might cause these values?

I thought I might need to add some kind of buffer to the water. I was actually already looking at some of nilocg's stuff - glad to hear good things. I don't know, this CO2 thing keeps getting more complicated the more I reasearch.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Svham View Post
Okay, not sure of this helps - I also have a 20 gallon tank that has been set up several years. Just tested it and got pretty much identical GH/KH/PH levels, 0 nitrites, and nitrates around 20.
Don't let co2 intimidate you, it's not that bad. Your plants will explode with growth.

I would go pick yourself up a drop test, something like the API Master freshwater kit (nitrates, nitrites, ammonia, ph high and ph low) and get the API GH/KH test kit too, both are available on Amazon and other fine retailers. LFS might have them too. Those test strips may just not be sensitive enough. If you have a light bioload, a clean tank and enough plants, it's totally possible you have low nitrates that aren't registering on the strips. You may end up with identical results on the GH/KH stuff, but you'll get a better answer on the nitrates. Regardless, before adding stuff, I'd get more accurate test results which the drop test will provide.

Side note - the nitrate test bottle #2 in that test kit...beat the living heck out of it each time you use it. Bang it violently on something. There's something in there that settles out and is thick, so if you don't shake it vigorously with some banging on a table or whatever, you won't get accurate test results.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-21-2017, 09:33 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, I'm going to get some individual test kits this weekend and see how things look. It wouldn't surprise me if I had really low nitrates, I did a big water change last week, I have a LOT of java moss, and I feed the fish pretty lightly.

Every time I get ready to bite the bullet on CO2 I read something else that discourages me, so I'm pretty intimidated by it right now. However, I really want a tank full of beautiful crypts and buce, so I think I'm going to end up doing it.

Thanks for the help!
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 12-21-2017, 10:23 PM
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Originally Posted by mgeorges View Post
Side note - the nitrate test bottle #2 in that test kit...beat the living heck out of it each time you use it. Bang it violently on something. There's something in there that settles out and is thick, so if you don't shake it vigorously with some banging on a table or whatever, you won't get accurate test results.
I feel like this should be a sticky, or a macro for this forum.
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