Nitrate Test Kit Evaluation - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 12-22-2004, 01:33 AM Thread Starter
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Post Nitrate Test Kit Evaluation

I recently bought and tested five inexpensive nitrate test kits.

I am not a chemist. The tests were conducted in my kitchen. My eyes are not capable of discerning some of the subtle differences between colors on the color charts that accompanied all of the kits, if in fact the colors printed on those charts accurately portray the colors that should result from tests, a big ďif.Ē Nonetheless, I believe that the tests accurately portray the differences between the kits.

One other problem is that I donít know what the ďrightĒ answer is for the three test solutions that I used. For example, my tap water comes from a 150 foot deep well in an area with very little agricultural influence. I donít know what the nitrate level is in the water from that well, but four of the five kits measured about the same amount. The fifth didnít measure any. Since that fifth kit also reported substantially lower levels of nitrates on the other tests, I am inclined to give more credence to the other four, but others might make a different choice.

One additional note: Since one of the kits produced substantially different results than the other four, I am inclined to question its accuracy. But to be fair to that vendor and to respect the interests of the management of this forum, I will not identify it here. If anyone should want to know the identity of that vendor, he or she may email me and I will respond.

The results:

Test 1. Tap water, as described above
API, 11 Ė 12 ppm; Jungle, 10; Tetra, 13 Ė 14; Wardley, 11 Ė 12; Brand X, 1
Test 2. A solution of NO3 and tap water:
API, 120 Ė 150 ppm; Jungle, 50; Tetra, 20; Wardley, 90 - 100; Brand X, 0
Test 3: A healthy, heavily planted, soil-based aquarium, set up for several months:
API, 1 Ė 2 ppm; Jungle, 5; Tetra, 2; Wardley, 0; Brand X, 0
In summary, it seems safe to conclude that four of the five give reasonably accurate readings at commonly encountered nitrate levels, but that they diverge significantly when measuring very high levels.

Bill
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 12-22-2004, 02:53 AM
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wow interesting results. Can you tell me out of the ones you tested which kit you liked?

Test one looks normal except for the brand x which was way off.
Test two was just complete different.
Test 3: A healthy, heavily planted, soil-based aquarium, set up for several months:
API, 1 Ė 2 ppm; Jungle, 5; Tetra, 2; Wardley, 0; Brand X, 0

** Wardley and Jungle were sorta off** Tetra and API seemed to be the same.

I wonder if you can get a controlled stock soulution that you actually know what the nitrate levels are. Sorta like when you recalibrate a pH probe.
This way you know for sure which test is acurate.


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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 12-22-2004, 03:02 PM Thread Starter
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Marc,

This started with my attempt to measure the amount of NO3 in my tanks. I found conflicting advice about the variuos kits on the web so I decided to do my own test.

What I learned from this is that my well water probably has 10 - 15 ppm of nitrate in it, which surprised me, and that my "star" tank might be very low on them, although probably the soil substrate makes up for that.

It would be interesting to test the kits using a standard solution with known
nitrate levels. Maybe someday . . .

Bill
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 12-22-2004, 03:36 PM
 
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Good experiment, Bill .

The "API" test, is that the one with the #1 and #2 bottle, 10 drops each, you shake the #2 bottle for 30 seconds and shake the test tube for 1 minute? It's easy for me to tell the difference between yellow and orange, but at the higher levels it's really difficult to judge what shade of red it is.

I had the Wardley one a while back, that had pills to dissolve.

I think these kits have a shelf life, but I never bothered to check the expiration date until accurate readings became more important to me.

C'mon, tell us who brand "X" is.
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