What water parameters do *you* test? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-22-2018, 06:42 AM Thread Starter
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What water parameters do *you* test?

So I'm trying to up my game from having a drop checker and nothing else.
I boxed up the drop checker and purchased a pH tester Apera Instruments AI209 (see below)
and a HM Digital TDS-4 (see below)
and a Alkalinity Colorimeter HI775 Hanna Checker - Fresh Water (see below).
What do you consider essential? Or another way of phrasing the question would be, what should I add to my kit to up my game?
Note: primarily concerned with growing aquatic plants and having a few micro fish in a well established tank.
Thanks David





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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-22-2018, 11:45 AM
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TDS most often. I know the source water TDS and how much ferts add, so use it to set the amount and frequency of water changes to keep it steady. Plus it's an instant result.

Nitrates now and then just to make sure they are staying ok too.

I don't use CO2 though, which is where I guess your ph pen might come in handy. I have one but don't use it often. It's interesting the swing you get between lights on/off even in a low tech.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-22-2018, 05:46 PM
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d...

I don't test my tank water. I haven't for many years. I simply change most of the water in my tanks weekly and this guarantees a steady water chemistry. This is the only requirement for a healthy tank. My water isn't significantly different than most other areas of the country, so anyone can just remove and replace most of the water in their tanks too. By following such and aggressive routine, there's no time for pollutants to build up in the water before I remove them by changing out the water.

M
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-23-2018, 02:48 AM
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Every time I see the thumbnail for the Apara pH test, I can only see this...
burr740 and burr740 like this.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-23-2018, 04:42 AM Thread Starter
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My tap water is opaque brown, 10+ ppm iron, 8+ pH, etc..
That is, without filtration:
I inject chlorine, then hold the water in two 40 gallon retention tanks to precipitate iron, then through a katalox light (gamma Manganese dioxide (MnO2) coated ZEOSORB) to grab iron and regenerated with potassium permanganate, then a tank of calcite and corosex to adjust pH, then a tank of MTM (MANGANESE GREENSAND EQUIVALENT)to grab iron and regenerated also with potassium permanganate, then Centaur catalytic granular activated carbon (doggy doo expensive) to remove chlorine and potassium permanganate bleed through, then a water softener.
Unfortunately, even with all this I have to run my water through reverse osmosis.
If I had ideal water I feel I could eliminate most problems with water changes, but I don't.
So I'm measuring to deal with re-mineralization.
Also, I'm running a moderately high tech tank and trying to find fertilization deficiencies and ideal CO2 levels.
I imagine a time where these problems are solved and testing might only be for confirmation, but personally I'm not there.
Of course, I have run my tank for years without measuring anything and not really worrying about re-mineralization and just fertilizing with a set EI formula, but lately I've been challenging myself to discover why I can't grow some plants and why some plants have problems.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MultiTankGuy View Post
d...

I don't test my tank water. I haven't for many years. I simply change most of the water in my tanks weekly and this guarantees a steady water chemistry. This is the only requirement for a healthy tank. My water isn't significantly different than most other areas of the country, so anyone can just remove and replace most of the water in their tanks too. By following such and aggressive routine, there's no time for pollutants to build up in the water before I remove them by changing out the water.

M
Bump: Yeah natemcnutty if my wife switched out my Apera and I saw two lines, well, let's not go there, he he.
Tamsin I'm trying to keep a log of TDS to get an understanding of my water from day to day as I move through my weekly EI regimen. It is interesting.
What's your nitrate kit?
Or what nitrate kit does anyone recommend?
Does anyone find nitrates spiking very often or is it just for confirmation?


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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-23-2018, 11:58 AM
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If you are doing EI and 50% changes then your water should stay fairly steady. TDS would be a very easy way to double check that though. It's easy to misjudge exactly where 50% is and if you were a bit under each time, for example, it would gradually creep up over time.

I'm not using EI so I don't do 50% changes, but I like that you can use maths and TDS to work out what you need to do e.g.

If my new water is 190 TDS, my ferts (and anything else) add 12 TDS per week, if I do a 30% weekly change then I can maintain the tank at 218 indefinitely.

Or I can do smaller changes some weeks and then a bigger one now and then. If you know your tank water and your fresh water's TDS you can work out exactly what volume you need to change to bring it back inline.

I've been gradually increasing my fish numbers recently so I'm just double checking water changes are keeping up with nitrates - it's an API nitrate test kit. If you were heavily stocked or doing smaller changes it would be more important to check. It doesn't tend to spike, just gradually creep up.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-23-2018, 05:54 PM
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tam...

You want to be consistent in your approach to tank management. If you're not and do things one way and some time later do things another, you risk changing the water chemistry. This is lethal to aquarium fish. The simple water change takes care of any tank problem. The reason is simple, water makes up the largest part of the tank keeping hobby, so it makes sense to take of it more than anything else. Gradually work up to the point you remove and replace most of the water every week. Don't miss a change and you'll have no tank problems.

M
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-23-2018, 07:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MultiTankGuy View Post
Gradually work up to the point you remove and replace most of the water every week. Don't miss a change and you'll have no tank problems.
I'm not disagreeing, but that's just not practical for me and I imagine a lot of people. A auto/constant water change system would be lovely but not on the cards. To remove and replace most of the water in a week you'd be talking 3 or 4 50% water changes (depending on you definition of most) in. I guess it would be more practical on a nano size tank or you could do a massive change and do 90% in one go - but then your risking changing the chemistry doing a big change.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-23-2018, 08:37 PM
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Nada, EI dosing, 75% water change per week. No need ( of course, if one finds such things interesting, then by all
means ).
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-23-2018, 08:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by natemcnutty View Post
Every time I see the thumbnail for the Apara pH test, I can only see this...
Well some folks do consider their tanks their babies...
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-23-2018, 08:50 PM
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HI dmastin,

I test ph, dKH, dGH, nitrates (NO3), and phosphates (PO4) monthly unless there is an issue I am addressing.

If a tank is cycling I test ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates a couple of times a week.

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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-24-2018, 03:00 AM Thread Starter
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Tamsin, ahhh use TDS to make sure EI creep does not occur. Thanks, that is useful.
Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate are parts of the same cycle.
Tamsin, why pick nitrates?
I hadn't really considered, but yeah, a big difference between a water change in a 5g vs 100g tank. Especially if your tap water isn't good like mine.
75% Jeff! Well, like multitank points out, you're just resetting your water back to baseline.
I'd always though more along the lines of worrying about too radically changing water parameters for the fish, but if you're just getting back to baseline that makes sense!
Hmm Ostress, now if my wife got pregnant with a new aquarium I could handle that! he he
Seattle_A's monthly testing looks like a good example to research.
So I'm testing pH, dKH, but not dGH, I don't know how to do that, and not testing NO3 and PO4.
I'll research dGH, NO3, and PO4.
Nice information, thank you!


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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-24-2018, 11:28 AM
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It's good to know what your KH and GH is, because they can effect what sort of livestock will be happy in your water. If you are using the same source water (and your water supplier isn't changing things) they should stay the same. So they are the sort of thing you probably don't need to test frequently.

I use remineralised RO so I know the GH and KH stays the same if I mix it to the same TDS, so it would be pointless testing. It's roughly GH6-7 and KH 3-4. The tank might change a bit with leach from rocks or KH being used up, but not a lot with regular water changes and it would also show up on TDS. You might even be able to get these numbers from your water company report. I can't remember when I last actually tested them.

In a cycled tank (particularly a planted one) ammonia should be consistently zero, ditto nitrites. To get ammonia you'd have to do something you'd probably notice before a test e.g. die off of fish, filter stop working, dump a tub of food in etc. You could test for them during set up to monitor your cycling or if you had a problem in the tank to rule them out, but I don't routinely.

Nitrates are the end result of the nitrogen cycle and basically tell you how much waste is in the water. They'll build up gradually over time (although plants can reduce them so you can end up too low in a planted tank too!). Monitoring them will tell me if the water changes are keeping up with the waste production. So while ammonia and nitrite should give you consistent zeros. Nitrate should give you a reading that goes up/down and tells you about water quality.

If you are changing 50% a week a lot of testing is less important as you basically cut everything in half each week so it should stay at roughly the same level.

I think the less you water change, the more you want to be testing to make sure the tank is staying habitable.
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-24-2018, 07:15 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks a buuuunch tamsin.
I'm sure this info is elsewhere, but you've done a good job of summarizing for me.
I just used a six in one test-strip (until I pick a longer term solution) and was wondering what the nitrate reading indicated.
I thought, I'll review what tamsin wrote again. Nice!
d


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