Which do you trust more API Master pH or Milwaukee pH controller? - Page 2 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #16 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-29-2020, 06:32 PM
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I have an APERA pH pen arriving today that I hope is better than the $20 Chinese pens. I want to check against my Milwaukee controller and have some to use in buckets etc..



My experience from hydroponics and in lab was that removing the probe from a solution was the main death sentence. Even when you store it properly it is a challenge to keep the probe effective and not drifting. I think leaving in tank works to extend the life.



As far as the chemical tests like API, there seem to be fewer variables. If you make/count the drops properly and are using a clean tube and fresh reagents, it's going to reliably produce the same result each time, every time. There is more behind the scenes with a pH meter: probe health, unit calibration, unit software/firmware, the kh content of what you are testing ...
I'm going to play the devil's advocate here and say that there are just as many variables. And a liquid test is not going to give you the same pH picture of your tank that a monitor (not pH pen) will give you.

Are you testing with a liquid test kit every minute, or 10 minutes, hour, etc? Are you testing when you put in Ferts, at midnight or 4am? Is your water sample representative of the entire tank (surface water or mid column)? And reagents do come in doa from time to time.

With only a snapshot, a liquid test kit (pH pen too) can give the wrong impression of what's happening in the tank.

That said, I do understand what you are saying. :-)

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post #17 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-29-2020, 07:48 PM
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I'm going to play the devil's advocate here and say that there are just as many variables. And a liquid test is not going to give you the same pH picture of your tank that a monitor (not pH pen) will give you.
Agreed.

Even the age of the API kit can make a difference. I have tested samples side by side with two bottles and got different readings.

And much of this discussion depends on your goals.

IMO, managing a high light high tech tank with API drops would be a nightmare. You would have to be testing constantly to understand what is going on in the tank. And CO2 is too important not to get it right.

If low tech and just curious about pH, anything will do as absolute reading means little.

Also agree that a monitor is much better than a pen. A snapshot a couple of times a day is different than being able to glance at any time and see where you are.

Even today if I see something wonky in my tank, the first thing I do is double and triple check CO2 and pH drop. If it isn't right, all the other adjustments probably won't save you. And if you get it right, everything else is easier (Geez I am sounding like Tom Barr now!).
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post #18 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-29-2020, 08:25 PM Thread Starter
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I have a pinpoint monitor that calibrates to 7.0 and 4.0 solutions yet when placed in any of my tanks reads 0.3 lower than it should. Not sure what is going on with that.

And I switched probes. So it's definitely the unit. Not probes.

So yeah it could be the controller.



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I wonder if the .3 difference is firmware related. If you own both of those and they have a firmware, which they would have something, you might want to check they are on the same version. The pH number we see is the result of probably many calculations in unit, so I can see where they might "tune" their calculations in a newer firmware release.
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post #19 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-29-2020, 08:46 PM Thread Starter
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IMO, managing a high light high tech tank with API drops would be a nightmare. You would have to be testing constantly to understand what is going on in the tank. And CO2 is too important not to get it right.
It's not a nightmare but it does take a lot of time. I can see a model of using both liquid and meters, of course I only have one 50g tank (in process of moving stock from 20g). So maybe if I had a bunch of tanks it would quickly overwhelm.

I can see reducing these tests as I get more comfortable but am doing this mix of electronic and chem tests for the forseeable future. I have a bunch of pH tests because I don't completely trust any of them yet. In totals 13 chemical tests per day and 6 tests using electronic equipment.

3am (I go to bed late so this is in prep of the next day, also when I dose nutrients and excel, all tests prior to nutrient addition, except TDS which is before and after)
- Milwaukee pH monitor check
- APERA pH meter check
- API pH high test
- API pH low test

- TDS meter check for TDS PPM x2 (use to compare to API GH test), I check this before and after nutrients addition
- API GH test
- API KH test

- API Ammonia test
- API Nitrite test
- API Nitrate test
- API Phosphate test
- Hanna Checker HC Iron test (new)

12pm noon (day check also when I dose "bacteria in a bottle")
- Milwaukee pH monitor check
- APERA pH meter check
- API pH high
- API pH low

- API Ammonia test
- API Nitrite test

throughout day, drop checker, temp, and Milwaukee pH checks.

so I guess I am "constantly testing" though.
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post #20 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-29-2020, 10:28 PM
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It's not a nightmare but it does take a lot of time.
LOL I think you just laid out a "nightmare" for me.

Boy, that is a LOT of testing.

Is this tank cycling? Just curious why so many ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, phosphate tests?

And why KH/GH daily? Do you they change much at all? If you know KH, you can make a reasonable assumption of degassed pH. So you should be able to tell if your reading is in the right ballpark. Does your KH change often?


And precise GH level is not very important in the scheme of things. Enough but not too much. Anywhere from 4 dGH to 8 dGH for most tanks.

As to multiple pH tests, to me the absolute value is not that important. It's a consistent relative measurement that counts. For instance, my degassed pH is 6.4. Now whether that is really 6.3 or 6.5 makes little difference. What does matter is a consistent relative pH drop.

And IMO, the best most consistent relative pH reading is from a good calibrated probe left in the tank at all times.

But as always, whatever works it good by me.


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post #21 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-30-2020, 04:41 AM Thread Starter
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LOL I think you just laid out a "nightmare" for me.

Boy, that is a LOT of testing.

Is this tank cycling? Just curious why so many ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, phosphate tests?

And why KH/GH daily? Do you they change much at all? If you know KH, you can make a reasonable assumption of degassed pH. So you should be able to tell if your reading is in the right ballpark. Does your KH change often?


And precise GH level is not very important in the scheme of things. Enough but not too much. Anywhere from 4 dGH to 8 dGH for most tanks.

As to multiple pH tests, to me the absolute value is not that important. It's a consistent relative measurement that counts. For instance, my degassed pH is 6.4. Now whether that is really 6.3 or 6.5 makes little difference. What does matter is a consistent relative pH drop.

And IMO, the best most consistent relative pH reading is from a good calibrated probe left in the tank at all times.

But as always, whatever works it good by me.
The tank is in it's third week so it is still well in the "being cycled" period. And I have shrimp and some fish in it, gradually adding more. I had small ammonia spikes (<.25ppm) early on so feel best to check it often right now.

My dKH is 4 out of the tap but due to Seiyru rock seems to go up a little over time and peaked at 7dKh before I water changed that down. That might be stabilizing though. My dGH got up to 16, I think due to Seiyru, but have water changed that down to a 13 dGH. I have shrimp so am anxious to not shock them with the hardness. I think GH may need to be tested more often if it can risk going that high. Shrimp thrive in my tanks but I do notice a level of mortality that seems to accompany molting. I occasionally find dead molted shrimp (no shell), which I speculate may be due to the hard water (either causing them to molt when not ready or somehow interfering in the process).

Still titrating nutrient levels so running the N, P, and Fe test. I am new to the incredible rapid growth rate of CO2 and floored how quickly everything grew in! I have a huge amount of trimming and pruning after just a couple weeks. So I have been keeping a close eye on N, P, and Fe levels to understand how much I need to feed. I can see how something like EI is helpful because you don't bother with thinking or testing, just add a huge predetermined quantity and do your weekly giant water change to manage excess. But it's quite a leap of faith you won't get algae bloom, I don't trust my husbandry yet to let me do that unscathed. I already had one small GDA bloom when I think I added too much Seachem Nitrogen as I did not account for ammonium nor urea (Seachem N is 50% urea apparently) and just went with the PPM in the nitrate test as a basis to add more.

But yeah, I guess this has been 45 minutes a day or so of testing so this can't be sustainable...
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post #22 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-30-2020, 11:45 AM
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The tank is in it's third week so it is still well in the "being cycled" period.
Aha, now I get it and it makes much more sense.

I've never understood putting stones in a tank that alter the chemistry like that. I have enough to worry about without having a wild card thrown in.


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post #23 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-30-2020, 03:22 PM Thread Starter
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Aha, now I get it and it makes much more sense.

I've never understood putting stones in a tank that alter the chemistry like that. I have enough to worry about without having a wild card thrown in.
I took the leap without knowing too much. The stones are quite beautiful and going to try to work with them as they are an integral part of it.

I got some more data as to whether meter or drops are better for pH.

I calibrated my new Apera pH probe. Seems to be a decent REAL pen with replaceable probe etc..., not like the toy probes you can get for $20.

The Apera pen read out dead on with my Milwaukee pH Controller. The Milwaukee showed a pH of 7.1. The probe, which has an extra decimal place, showed pH 7.08. The API low range test continues to show no green, thus indicating that the pH is higher than 7.2 and closer to 7.6! I notice that when I use the API pH test during the day, when I have CO2 in the tank and ~ pH 6.6, the API test results converge with the Milwaukee reading. So I think that tells me the API pH tests are off, and sadly when your pH in near 7, probably the most common pH range! That was my hypothesis, that the API pH test is less reliable close to the end of the test range. And that tells me I need not bother with the API pH tests.
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post #24 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-05-2020, 03:58 AM
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I wonder if the .3 difference is firmware related. If you own both of those and they have a firmware, which they would have something, you might want to check they are on the same version. The pH number we see is the result of probably many calculations in unit, so I can see where they might "tune" their calculations in a newer firmware release.
Sorry for the late reply. It was a crazy week!

That's an interesting take and you may have something there.

What I don't get is why do both units calibrate to both 7.0 and 4.0 solutions?

It's a weird one.


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post #25 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-07-2020, 02:25 PM
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I

As far as the chemical tests like API, there seem to be fewer variables. If you make/count the drops properly and are using a clean tube and fresh reagents, it's going to reliably produce the same result each time, every time. There is more behind the scenes with a pH meter: probe health, unit calibration, unit software/firmware, the kh content of what you are testing ...
...and testing reagents that haven't expired.
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post #26 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-07-2020, 09:12 PM Thread Starter
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Sorry for the late reply. It was a crazy week!

That's an interesting take and you may have something there.

What I don't get is why do both units calibrate to both 7.0 and 4.0 solutions?

It's a weird one.


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I can see that happening with whatever functions might be used internally to render pH value. They are probably not simple linear functions and calibration may set constants in the functions such that pH is exact right at the buffer pH, but then the functions interpolate/calculate (potentially in a slightly different manner based on firmware) as it deviates from the buffer points (4,7,10 usually). Just wild conjecture at this point though.
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