API Drop Tests vs Tetra Strip Tests - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-30-2014, 04:32 PM Thread Starter
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API Drop Tests vs Tetra Strip Tests

I use API liquid/drop tests. My tank is still new so I'm testing every few days. I know it's overkill but it makes me feel better.

I tested last night and today and both times I get:

pH: 7.2
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 10-20ppm

Today a friend brought over his Tetra strip tests. His tests show the following:

ph: 7.4
Ammonia: 0.5ppm
Nitrite: 1ppm
Nitrate: 20ppm

Fish are doing fine but ammonia is elevated on his tests and nitrite is quite high. I have almost 3 complete API drop test kits (1 really old, 1 about 6 months old and 1 brand new) and tested using all 3 with the same results.

I did a 35% water change last night and I use prime which I'm told messes up some tests.

Any thoughts why his test would show such different results?

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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-30-2014, 04:47 PM
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Shake your bottles every time before you use them. If you don't your readings will be inaccurate especially nitrate. I would trust the drops over the strips. Strips give you a general idea, I don't feel they are as accurate. As long as your test bottles are not expired.

Also, how long has it been cycling?
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-30-2014, 05:13 PM
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The drops are supposed to be more accurate. However you do have to shake the bottles well. Especially the nitrate test reagents. If you have the Masterkit shake that whole box for 2 mins, before using it, that way you are shaking all the bottles at the same time. Then shake each bottle before using it. I then shake the nitrate bottles another 1 min before using.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-30-2014, 06:00 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fiftymeatballs View Post
Shake your bottles every time before you use them. If you don't your readings will be inaccurate especially nitrate. I would trust the drops over the strips. Strips give you a general idea, I don't feel they are as accurate. As long as your test bottles are not expired.

Also, how long has it been cycling?
I shake the bottles for about 15 seconds before using them except for nitrate which I shake according to the directions (30 seconds for the bottle, 1 minute for the test tube with solution).

I'm not really worried about nitrate as both tests are showing similar results and the results are basically where I want them for the plants.

I've read ammonia can have false readings (false positive) due to Prime. I've heard other people who suspect false nitrite readings but no official statement from SeaChem.

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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-01-2014, 01:53 AM
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I have really mixed feelings about test methods. One thing that I find really overlooked is getting your methods and eyes set to get a consistent reading. I finally set up containers of various nitrate and phosphate of known levels. Running tests with the API liquid, I got totally worthless nitrate tests as they all looked alike to my eyes. With known samples, I now use the cheap Jungle brand 5-in-1 strips I get at Wal-mart for most testing but for phosphate, I use the API.
I find so many ways to make the liquid tests miss that I am reluctant to tell new testers to use them. Not shaking, not holding the bottle correctly, not timing it , lighting changes, can all throw the readings off so I often feel the strips are more likely to get a ball park answer better than the liquids.
But either method has to be done in a consistent way to get it close and that often means you need some samples of known values to find what the color will look like to your eyes under your lights. It does take some real practice, though. Your eyes and my eyes will likely read the colors differently.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-01-2014, 03:24 AM Thread Starter
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Personally I have no issues with the colors on the drop tests. Yes, some are so close that you can't really tell them apart but do you really need to know if you water is 1ppm ammonia vs 0.5ppm? They are both slightly elevated and need to be taken care of. Go from 1ppm to 2ppm or 4ppm ammonia and it's easy to tell the difference. The great thing is that 0ppm ammonia and nitrite are extremely easy to distinguish from all raised levels.

I'm confident that my water is testing 0ppm for ammonia and nitrite using API's tests. I have no doubt that I'm reading that right. I also have no doubt on the strip tests reading elevated levels. What I'm concerned about is if there are factors that might cause the drops or the test strips to read inaccurately (other than color misinterpretation). From what I've read the API liquid tests are some of the most accurate but I still worry about the other tests reading elevated ammonia and nitrite levels.

I'll try and test again and see if it's consistent. If it drops then maybe it was the prime I added and the detoxified ammonia and nitrite were eventually consumed by my bacteria bed.

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-01-2014, 02:46 PM
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I think a lot of folks struggle with drops because the fail to hold the tube up against the white area of the card properly. Just my opinion anyway.

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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-03-2014, 10:29 PM Thread Starter
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Interesting tid bit that I just stumbled across.

From SeaChem's Safe page:

Quote:
Use fish to gauge toxicity reduction as test kits will still show presence of nitrite/nitrate even when detoxified
Safe is the same as Prime so doesn't it logically follow that this would go for Prime as well?

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