Critical Water Tests - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-29-2003, 03:51 AM Thread Starter
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I test my my water for pH and kH on a regular basis but I'm concerned there are other parameter that I need to monitor so I can make informed decisions on plant and fish care. I uses DIY CO2 and my pH is typically between 6.8 and 7.0 and my kH is varies between 3 and 4 points. On occasion, I add fertilizer (Kent Grow and Seachem Fe) and I'm concerned that I may need to make some additional measurements.

I am assuming that NH3/NH4+ measurements are not too critical because my pH is low and I'm not so sure its possible to have an ammonia problem with neutral or low pH. Is this reasonable? Nitrates and nitrites are another issue, however. Of these four nasties, I beleive that nitrites may be the worst and I should probably monitor that above the others.

As for the trace elements needed to help plants grow, I can monitor Fe and GH. Are there any others that I need to consider?
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-29-2003, 04:45 AM
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In an established tank that's not overstocked and has sufficient surface area for bacteria (either plants or filter media or both) neither ammonia nor nitrite should be present. As soon as it is produced, it is either taken up by plants and/or converted by said bacteria to NO3.

Now Nitrate is a little more interesting. In a tank with lots of plant growth, it is used as a nutrient and might go down to zero, which isn't good for plants, and might cause various algae to bloom. In a plant-less tank, NO3 can accumulate over time. To me, a nitrate test kit is essential for a tank. More than any other test.

Once your NO3 is known and under control, phosphate becomes quite interesting. If you have too much, algae will proliferate. If it is near zero, plant growth will not be optimal. Another fairly useful test.

Unless you are into RO/DI, I don't see much use in kH and GH testing... those are pretty consistent, unless your water supply changes.

PH testing is interesting if you are adding CO2, to make sure it is enough and not too much...

I heard iron tests are just a waste of money, and I dose it regularly and monitor plants/algae for any signs of problems.


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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-29-2003, 10:26 AM
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I just monitor pH, KH, & Nitrates, although I have kits for the other tests. From what I've read, the common Iron test kits aren't that accurate & give more of a "ball-park" figure.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-29-2003, 03:42 PM Thread Starter
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I test for kH and pH because it allows me to cross reference the CO2 concentration from my DIY set-up as long as I don't add any phosphate buffers (which I do not). I'm also a little concerned about my GH because the hardness of the water out of my tap is much less than the level reported by the water company. I'm losing something on the way to my faucet. So, if I add fertilizer (either DIY, Kent, Seachem......) I thought it would be good to know what I'm doing. In the end, I guess the plants are a pretty good gauge of trace elements and iron. They are just a little slow in responding.

Nitrates, however, are becoming a concern because I've had some neons that didn't make it becasue they were either stressed out or sick with ich the day I bought them. I have always assumed that my plants would keep the nitrates in check but I guess it's better to know. I've read that 5 to 10 ppm of nitrates and about 1/10 of that in phosphate is needed for plants to do well without stressing your fish.

There's a nice saltwater aquarium store in my neighborhood. They sell Tetra products. Guess their nitrate/nitrite kits are good as any.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-30-2003, 03:16 AM
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The pH and NO3 tests from them are not very useful. I much prefer the Red Sea NO3 kit, and I have yet to find a "good" pH test. I use the AP pH test, and it is hard for me to interpret. The Tetra pH test shows 6, 6.5, 7, 7.5, etc, which isn't precise enough.

Just my opinions... others might have quite different experiences.


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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-30-2003, 03:30 AM Thread Starter
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Your right about the precision of their nitrate test. But maybe that's as accurate as you can make such a simple inexpensive test. Nevertheless, I'm going to get a Red Sea test with the money I'll save by not getting an iron test kit. I've read on a product review site that Red Sea kits also have accuracy problems as well. Guess I'll find out first hand.

The real solution, regardless of the test manufacturer, would be making and testing a good standard so you can know more about your readings. The problem there is knowledge. Sometimes things you rely on don't hold up well under scrutiny and it can tend to be upsetting!

There is a kit you can buy at http://www.nitrate.com/cntktm.htm. It's a one time deal with a standard. I have no clue if it is any more accurate than any of the kits we have discussed but it does have a standard with it. I do know it is pricy, about $13 a test. Maybe some of you folks with lots of influence can trial a few of them at no cost
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-30-2003, 06:44 AM
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Wasserpest tried the Wardley midrange pH kits yet? they go from 6.2 to 7.4 in .2 increments, I find the colours quite easy to read.

I think they have other kits for the lower and higer reaches too.

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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-30-2003, 10:56 AM
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Nice clown nordic. 8)

New Tank!

80 g, Eheim Pro II w Hagen Surface Skimmer, TetraTec IN-1000, JBL Aquabasis and Sand subtrate,
1st 40w Lighting: 40W Marine Glo
2nd 80w Lighting: 2 40W Power Glo
3rd 80w Lighting: 2 40W Aqua Glo
Whole set of Azoo fertilizers
3.8 kg Pressurized co2 tank
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-30-2003, 12:44 PM
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Its a NEMO fish man!!!!!!

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