Nirate Test Results - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-15-2018, 09:48 PM Thread Starter
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Nirate Test Results

Hello All,

I just wanted to report some findings. After reading a blog post about the accuracy of nitrate test strips for determining accurate levels in soil and water (Accuracy of Test Strips for Assessing Nitrate Concentration in Soil and Water - Salinas Valley Agriculture - ANR Blogs), I wanted to see for myself. So I purchased some of the strips the blog post said they found to be accurate. Hach AquaCheck strips for nitrite and nitrate. I then tested my water pre and post water change in my 40 breeder (50% every Saturday). I also tested my tap.

The results are wildly different.

Pre-water change API test kit: 40+ PPM
Pre-water change Hach test strips: 10 PPM

Post-water change API test kit: 30(?) PPM (the ? is because it was definitely red, but not as deep of a red as 40, but it definitely wasn't orange like 20 - so I split the difference)
Post-water change Hach test strips: 5 PPM

Tap water Hach test strips: 1 PPM
I didn't bother testing with the API kit as I know my tap has little-to-no nitrate.

Nitrite came back as 0 across the board with both API and Hach.

This leads me to believe that the Hach strips are indeed more accurate than the API kit - and if that is true - the API kit, when following their specific directions to test for nitrate, is significantly over-estimating nitrates in the water.

The next step is to get some distilled water and dry ferts and create a solution with a known PPM of nitrates, then compare test results with both methods. I've been using Thrive+ for ferts so I don't have any salts...yet.

I know a lot of people on here don't test and have little-to-no interest in testing water, just merely observe plants and animals and adjust accordingly. But some people, like me, regularly test their water parameters. If the Hach strips are the ones that are truly accurate, I'm pretty stoked about how low the nitrates are for the livestock, but it also makes me wonder if dosing should be increased for the plants. Only more time and tinkering will tell, which is half the fun of this hobby!

I hope someone finds this useful.
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-15-2018, 10:14 PM
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Yes I found this useful and interesting enough to subscribe. I like to "test" the water every so often while I do a EI type dosing. Looks like the API is way overestimating which is kind of a fail safe type of thing I suppose.

I never bothered to make a test solution like you are so am curious what happens.

Cheers
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-15-2018, 10:46 PM Thread Starter
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Yes I found this useful and interesting enough to subscribe. I like to "test" the water every so often while I do a EI type dosing. Looks like the API is way overestimating which is kind of a fail safe type of thing I suppose.

I never bothered to make a test solution like you are so am curious what happens.

Cheers
Thank you sir! I think the API kit is still a decent all-around kit, but like you said it probably over-estimates as a fail safe, as it is geared towards general fish keeping, not necessarily planted tanks. They probably figure that if people use the nitrate kit according to their directions, they'll get high readings and hopefully be encouraged to do water changes, which is a good thing.

But for people who monitor levels for plants, if the API kit is indeed throwing higher results than what's really in the water, that could be bad if people are depending on it to determine nitrate dosing levels. I know a lot of planted tankers that like to keep nitrate at about 20, sometimes even 30 ppm, when they have demanding plants that grow quickly. I recently added some staurogyne porto velho, and what little information I could find about it indicates that it's a nutrient sponge, which could mean that increasing nitrate levels might be necessary as this plant begins to grow and spread.
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-15-2018, 11:43 PM
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Excerpt from the proposed document.

"The Hach Aquacheck and Lamotte Instatest NO3/NO2 strips differed from the other brands because the color chips were calibrated in equivalents of NO3-N rather than NO3. For convenience of displaying and comparing the data, results for these two brands were converted to NO3 (by multiplying the NO3-N values by 4.43)."

I'm just sayin.
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-16-2018, 12:52 AM Thread Starter
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Excerpt from the proposed document.



"The Hach Aquacheck and Lamotte Instatest NO3/NO2 strips differed from the other brands because the color chips were calibrated in equivalents of NO3-N rather than NO3. For convenience of displaying and comparing the data, results for these two brands were converted to NO3 (by multiplying the NO3-N values by 4.43)."



I'm just sayin.


Well Iíll be. Thatís an egg on my face. Assuming the API kit measures NO3 and providing this kit measures NO3-N, the test results are the same.
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-16-2018, 01:49 AM
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Well I’ll be. That’s an egg on my face.
Not an egg just a little poo, it wipes off though!

I work in a corporation that contains many young executives.
Every day includes an extreme amount of adult daycare.
I'm over 50 so nothing really matters and I've seen it all go South.
They jump the gun @ everything, my solution is to put the most important statement @ the very end of every email.
They never get that far before they respond with their woes.
Is this entrapment, proving their illiteracy or a decline in their level of comprehension?

No harm intended but the ratio of N to NO3 seemed to be there.
So I had to go "read" the attached document.

Reason behind this is the fact that I have dosed Urea as a form of nitrogen in the past.
The numbers just seemed to match!
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Last edited by Maryland Guppy; 09-16-2018 at 01:56 AM. Reason: edit
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-16-2018, 02:11 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Maryland Guppy View Post
Not an egg just a little poo, it wipes off though!

I work in a corporation that contains many young executives.
Every day includes an extreme amount of adult daycare.
I'm over 50 so nothing really matters and I've seen it all go South.
They jump the gun @ everything, my solution is to put the most important statement @ the very end of every email.
They never get that far before they respond with their woes.
Is this entrapment, proving their illiteracy or a decline in their level of comprehension?

No harm intended but the ratio of N to NO3 seemed to be there.
So I had to go "read" the attached document.

Reason behind this is the fact that I have dosed Urea as a form of nitrogen in the past.
The numbers just seemed to match!


Haha fair enough. I swear to you I read the document, it just mustíve gone over my head at the time. Iíll blame the sinus infection and toddler

Iím still curious to do the controlled test but it is a relief if the API kit is accurate.
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-16-2018, 02:18 AM
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I swear to you I read the document
As long as the API second bottle receives the proper amount of agitation all should be good!

I've mixed up the solutions in the past and calibrated the API test kits.
Even took pics of the results to keep my old eyes well informed.
It is way worse with the PO4 test kit in regards to distinguishing the colors!

Enjoy, and always read till the end!
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I enjoyed this post, both the curiosity that inspired @varanidguy to do this experiment-- it did pique my interest-- and the guidance that @Maryland Guppy provided. This is how all good threads begin and end.

I do do a lot of water testing because I have very sensitive, wild fish. Sure wish there was a test strip that would work accurately. Appears this one might do the trick after the necessary conversion.
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-16-2018, 05:37 PM Thread Starter
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I enjoyed this post, both the curiosity that inspired @varanidguy to do this experiment-- it did pique my interest-- and the guidance that @Maryland Guppy provided. This is how all good threads begin and end.



I do do a lot of water testing because I have very sensitive, wild fish. Sure wish there was a test strip that would work accurately. Appears this one might do the trick after the necessary conversion.


Thank you! Iím still planning on doing the control test just to see how accurate it is. It seems the API kit was off post-water change, but not by much, whereas the test strip was spot on.
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post #11 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-17-2018, 04:01 AM
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Strips are notoriously inaccurate. Use reagent kits. Best I've found, at reasonable pricing, is the Salifert NO3 kit. Might be interesting to compare that one with your sundry strips.
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post #12 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-17-2018, 05:06 AM
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Originally Posted by varanidguy View Post
Hello All,

I just wanted to report some findings. After reading a blog post about the accuracy of nitrate test strips for determining accurate levels in soil and water (Accuracy of Test Strips for Assessing Nitrate Concentration in Soil and Water - Salinas Valley Agriculture - ANR Blogs), I wanted to see for myself. So I purchased some of the strips the blog post said they found to be accurate. Hach AquaCheck strips for nitrite and nitrate. I then tested my water pre and post water change in my 40 breeder (50% every Saturday). I also tested my tap.

The results are wildly different.

Pre-water change API test kit: 40+ PPM
Pre-water change Hach test strips: 10 PPM

Post-water change API test kit: 30(?) PPM (the ? is because it was definitely red, but not as deep of a red as 40, but it definitely wasn't orange like 20 - so I split the difference)
Post-water change Hach test strips: 5 PPM

Tap water Hach test strips: 1 PPM
I didn't bother testing with the API kit as I know my tap has little-to-no nitrate.

Nitrite came back as 0 across the board with both API and Hach.

This leads me to believe that the Hach strips are indeed more accurate than the API kit - and if that is true - the API kit, when following their specific directions to test for nitrate, is significantly over-estimating nitrates in the water.

The next step is to get some distilled water and dry ferts and create a solution with a known PPM of nitrates, then compare test results with both methods. I've been using Thrive+ for ferts so I don't have any salts...yet.

I know a lot of people on here don't test and have little-to-no interest in testing water, just merely observe plants and animals and adjust accordingly. But some people, like me, regularly test their water parameters. If the Hach strips are the ones that are truly accurate, I'm pretty stoked about how low the nitrates are for the livestock, but it also makes me wonder if dosing should be increased for the plants. Only more time and tinkering will tell, which is half the fun of this hobby!

I hope someone finds this useful.
Hi @varanidguy,

Just an FYI, I made up a batch of the Rex Grigg calibration solution for nitrates and my API Nitrate Test kit was right on the button measuring 80 ppm, 40 ppm, 10 ppm and 5 ppm. And yes, now I follow all of the 'shaking' instructions completely because when I first tried using the API Nitrate Test kit yes ago I couldn't figure out why I always got a '0' (zero) ppm reading - lol.
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post #13 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-17-2018, 04:38 PM Thread Starter
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Hi @varanidguy,

Just an FYI, I made up a batch of the Rex Grigg calibration solution for nitrates and my API Nitrate Test kit was right on the button measuring 80 ppm, 40 ppm, 10 ppm and 5 ppm. And yes, now I follow all of the 'shaking' instructions completely because when I first tried using the API Nitrate Test kit yes ago I couldn't figure out why I always got a '0' (zero) ppm reading - lol.


Awesome! Glad to know your findings. Now if only API would make the colors easier to read...
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post #14 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-17-2018, 05:05 PM
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Strips are notoriously inaccurate. Use reagent kits. Best I've found, at reasonable pricing, is the Salifert NO3 kit. Might be interesting to compare that one with your sundry strips.
I also prefer the Salifert kit. It's easier to distinguish the colors, and the ranges are broken down into smaller increments. It's also quicker/easier to use. I found the API kit was almost always red for my tank, but I'm consistently at 25ppm with the Salifert kit.
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Last edited by 64D-1701; 11-16-2018 at 01:53 PM.
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post #15 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-17-2018, 07:02 PM
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I also prefer the Salifert kit. It's easier to distinguish the colors, and the ranges are broken down into smaller increments. It's also quicker/easier to use. I found the API kit was almost always red for my tank, but I'm consistently at 25ppm with the Salifert kit.
...and you don't need an industrial-strength pneumatic paint shaker for that second step of the API kit!
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