Dubious Water Test Results - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 10-07-2020, 06:49 PM Thread Starter
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Dubious Water Test Results

I just got the water from my new setup tested at the LFS, as I don’t have my own test kit (yet). They used strips instead of test tubes though, so I’m not sure if I should take these results with grain of salt. I’m using Tropica aquarium soil with a moderate to high plant load, and I don’t have any livestock currently.

Firstly, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate all came back at zero. I was honestly hoping to see some ammonia as evidence that my tank is cycling properly, as the Tropica soil is supposed to leach some ammonia in the early weeks. Maybe it’s not enough to register on the test? I’m wondering if I should be adding another source of ammonia to jumpstart the cycle.

The weirder thing though was that the PH supposedly read at 6.2, while hardness was 300. Is this even possible? I always thought that PH and hardness were usually correlated. Maybe the Tropica substrate buffered down my PH without affecting my hardness? The weird thing is, my municipality reports general hardness in our tap water being around 120.

Should I trust these results, or disregard them as the test strips being ineffective? Should I look for another shop that tests with a proper liquid test kit?

Pictures attached: my test results from the LFS, and the cloudy water in my newly set up tank.
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 10-07-2020, 08:51 PM
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Originally Posted by max_clare View Post
I just got the water from my new setup tested at the LFS, as I donít have my own test kit (yet). They used strips instead of test tubes though, so Iím not sure if I should take these results with grain of salt. Iím using Tropica aquarium soil with a moderate to high plant load, and I donít have any livestock currently.

Firstly, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate all came back at zero. I was honestly hoping to see some ammonia as evidence that my tank is cycling properly, as the Tropica soil is supposed to leach some ammonia in the early weeks. Maybe itís not enough to register on the test? Iím wondering if I should be adding another source of ammonia to jumpstart the cycle.

The weirder thing though was that the PH supposedly read at 6.2, while hardness was 300. Is this even possible? I always thought that PH and hardness were usually correlated. Maybe the Tropica substrate buffered down my PH without affecting my hardness? The weird thing is, my municipality reports general hardness in our tap water being around 120.

Should I trust these results, or disregard them as the test strips being ineffective? Should I look for another shop that tests with a proper liquid test kit?

Pictures attached: my test results from the LFS, and the cloudy water in my newly set up tank.
I'm not familiar with Tropica soil so best to do some more research on that part, especially about leaching ammonia.

The PH part, if your TDS of 300 is all GH and you happen to have very low to no KH then it's very possible to get low PH reading. KH will affect your PH and it states on the Tropica site that it does in fact lower PH . https://tropica.com/en/plant-care/aq...aquarium-soil/ It's an active substrate so it's more than likely buffering your KH to 0 or close to it.

I wouldn't trust the test results if they were test strips. And you should definitely get a proper liquid test kit which will be more accurate but not 100% accurate.

The cloudiness might be from the soil or some bacterial bloom.

Anyway Tank is looking good! Good luck to you and hopefully the more experienced aquarists here will chime in!


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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 10-08-2020, 12:27 AM Thread Starter
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Is it possible that the strange discrepancy between pH and hardness could be due to a water softener which is removing the calcium from the water? I live in an apartment, so I actually don't know if my building uses a water softener or not. That being said, previous places I've lived which used a softener generally had high pH too.

I was looking into some liquid test kits I could get, but none of them included a gH or kH test. It seems like my hardness may remain a mystery unless it's important enough to invest in a separate hardness test. Is general hardness actually important enough for me to care about - or is it fine for the plants as long as the pH is fine?
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 10-08-2020, 01:45 AM
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Is it possible that the strange discrepancy between pH and hardness could be due to a water softener which is removing the calcium from the water? I live in an apartment, so I actually don't know if my building uses a water softener or not. That being said, previous places I've lived which used a softener generally had high pH too.

I was looking into some liquid test kits I could get, but none of them included a gH or kH test. It seems like my hardness may remain a mystery unless it's important enough to invest in a separate hardness test. Is general hardness actually important enough for me to care about - or is it fine for the plants as long as the pH is fine?
Yea gh and kh tests are sadly separate from the master kits. I think there are some higher end test kits that would include everything. But it would definitely be at a premium price.


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