Test Review Journal: Seachem FE, NO2 & NO3,Phosphate; Red Sea KH,GH,pH - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-14-2004, 10:47 PM Thread Starter
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Test Review Journal: Seachem FE, NO2 & NO3,Phosphate; Red Sea KH,GH,pH

I just ordered and received all of these test kits from bigalsonline.com (no problems with order, good experience overall) so I thought I'd do a little journal on these to see how it goes.

Seachem Kits:
Iron
Nitrite & Nitrate
Phosphate

Red Sea Kits:
pH
KH
GH

Seachem Testing Equipment :

The Seachem kits are some of the nicer kits I've owned. Each uses a white plastic "testing plate" that has 6 wells for testing.

The reagent dropers are nice, the droppers used to collect and measure the water to be tested are nice and easy to use (they are a little nicer than the droppers that come in the Seachem tank addatives such as Flourish.)

The powder reagents seem to be a little "clumpy" but not too difficult to work with. To level the power in the little spoon i just use the cap to scrape extra back into the powder vial.

The color comparison scales come with white "slips" that the scales slide in to make it easier to seperate the different shades of the scale when comparing to the test sample (more later.)

All of the reagents are clearly marked. The instructions are clear and easy to understand (except for the Nitrite & Nitrate test, which I'll discuss later.)

Red Sea Testing Equipment:
These are simple standard liquid reagent test kits.

Simple 12ml test vial comes with each one. The reagent droppers are of a good size and are easy to use.

The color comparison charts are easy to use for the KH and GH, and the PH scale has a decent seperation of shades throug out the scale.

Seachem Comments:
I really like these kits. I've always wanted to be a scientist deep down, and the appearance and use of these kits satisfies a little bit of that desire.

The white slips for color scales may help with the complaints that I've seen from some people able the Seachem tests, saying that the scale is too hard to read that there isn't much difference in shades throughout the scale. I have very good color vision so I don't think this will be an issue.

The Nitrite & Nitrate test instructions are a little confusing at one point. The instructions seem to say that you can skip adding the Nitrite reagent if you are only doing a Nitrate test. Well, after waiting for a color change (which didn't happen) I added the Nitrite test reagent to the Nitrate test and that seemed to work. I repeated the test (doing what I think is proper by adding the Nitrite test reagent first, then adding the Nitrate reagent) and came out with similar results (and results that resemble the situation in my tank accuratly, so I feel this is the proper testing method, using both reagents.)

The Phosphate kit right now is not doing me much good. It seems that although this kit is labled for use in marine and freshwater, it doesn't measure high levels of phosphates in freshwater very well, stating that the water needs to be diluted to get a proper reading. The website says "This kit measures inorganic phosphate down to 0.05 mg/L, producing a unique easy to read yellow-green-blue color range in marine and freshwater. " but mentions nothing about having to dilute the water to get proper readings for most freshwater aquariums. The thing that REALLY made me mad was that while the instructions mention that you will likely have to dilute the test sample, it does NOT TELL YOU HOW TO DO THIS! If they tell you that you'll need to dilute, they should tell you how much RO/Deionized/distilled water you will need to dilute the test sample into then how much of the diluted sample to use for the test, then how to compare that test sample to the chart. I'm emailing Seachem about this, as it's very unlike them to do this type of thing.

Red Sea Comments:
The kits are simple and do their job. The only bad comment I would have would be against the pH test. The color scale that the reagent produces seems to be of a different color hue / saturation level than that of the chart. This can make it a little tough to determine where in the scale you are. As I mentioned before I have really good color vision and I'm easily able to seperate different hues and saturations of color, so this might actually be a bad thing when trying to read the results of this kit.

Seachem First Tests:
Phosphate results aside (see above in Seachem Comments) the kits worked well. Nitrite was near 0, Nitrate at 20mg/L which should be a good range. I'm going to test some more before I start trying to add a Nitrogen/Nitrate supplment. The Iron kit showed me that I was low on Iron, so I dosed enough iron to bring the level up to 0.20mg/L which is recommended on the back of the Flourish Iron bottle. (Note: I need to try to find out some kind of conversion scale between mg/L, ppm, etc. Seems like everyone uses a different scale.)

Red Sea First Tests:
KH was 3 degrees and GH was 4 degrees. I'm probably going to supplement to get the KH up a little bit since I'm dosing CO2 and want to minimize pH swings. The pH test read around 6.2 which is a little lower than I want. This is a little lower than the pH test strips that I was using, I expected this due to the cheap test strips, but wasn't sure if it would be higher or lower (more likely than not lower due to the CO2.)
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-14-2004, 10:55 PM
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I believe mg/L and ppm are equivalent. One being the metric measure, and the other the Imperial measure. eg. 20 mg/L = 20 ppm
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-15-2004, 12:39 AM
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All test kits are relatively inacurate.. to some extent..

the best test is done by a qualified lab.. with qualified lab techs.. since we are normally not able to relye on such things.. these cheap test kits foot the bill.. but I tend to believe that for Nitrate... phosphate.. Red Sea and Seachem are the better than average choices... My read sea can take time to work ..sometimes.

AP works good for testing Ph(sometimes).. Kh..Gh..Nh4...No2(since the last two are supposed to be zero..acuracy above that is not important)

Help control the pet population...spay or neuter people won't spay or neuter their dogs or cats!
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-15-2004, 01:06 AM
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Well done FiberCon!

I was thinking about trying the Seachem Nitrate test kit, know I know what to expect.

Thanks for taking the time to put your experiences down in writing for all of us!!

Mike

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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-15-2004, 01:14 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fedge
All test kits are relatively inacurate.. to some extent..
True, but I'm not really trying to review the accuracy of the kits, since as you said getting tests done by a lab is expensive, and to test the accuracy of the kits I would have to do that. (Plus, there is a thread around here somehwere that links to an article that did compare several kits against lab results.)

I'm basically writing down what I think about the easy of use, look, feel, and quality of the test kits (aside from accuracy.) At most I'll see if the kits show expected differences after dosing macros and doing water changes.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-15-2004, 12:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Momotaro
Well done FiberCon!

I was thinking about trying the Seachem Nitrate test kit, know I know what to expect.

Thanks for taking the time to put your experiences down in writing for all of us!!

Mike
I have duplicates of everything (Seachem and RedSea) and for nitrate I will choose the RedSea over the Seachem. Nice color change on the RedSea between 2.5-5.0-10.0 between 5 and 10 on the SeaChem slide is pretty close. I have two of the SeaChem kits in fact (they sent me a replacement) and both sometimes for no reason have a very pale reading even with the tank at 10 ppm. They said it may have been old reagents so they sent me another kit but it does the same thing.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-15-2004, 05:15 PM Thread Starter
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Here's the email I sent to Seachem last night and the response I recieved back from them today.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
>I recently ordered and received your Multitest Phosphate kit so that
>I could test the phosphate / phosphorus level of my freshwater
>planted aquarium. When I read through the instructions it states
>that to use it with a freshwater aquarium you'll likely need to
>dilute the solution, but the instructions (nor your website) give no
>information on how to do this. How much water do we dilute the
>solution into, then how much of the diluted solution do we test? Do
>we read the comparison chart any differently? Basically, how should
>I use this kit to test for phosphates in my freshwater planted
>aquarium?

We state this as an option simply because if using a phosphate based
buffer (commonly used in FW aquariums) your levels will likely exceed
what is readable by our test. For example, let's say our phosphate
test kit can read levels up to 4.0 mg/l of phosphate but you have 6.0
mg/l of phosphate in your system. I would start by diluting your
sample used in the test in half with DI water (basically use 1/2 a
stem of sample water and 1/2 stem of DI water to equal the 1 full
stem required by the test). Since you are only reading half the
result (because half of the sample used was actually aquarium water),
simply multiply the result by 2 to get your final answer. In this
situation, half the answer would be 3.0 mg/l which is readable on our
color scale which goes up to 4.0 mg/. Then multiply the result by 2
to get your final answer (your result when diluted in half was 3.0
mg/l when multiplied by 2 equals your final answer of 6.0 mg/l). This
method of diluting the samples in test kits works for practically any
type of kit.

----------------------------------------------------------------

Sounds like simple yet sound advice to me.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-15-2004, 05:58 PM
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I decided to modify my philosophy toward dosing and just ordered a LaMotte nitrate test kit. The accuracy of the usual hobbyist kits are notoriously poor, so I am really looking forward to seeing what this will yield. Will be comparing it for accuracy with my existing Seachem kit. Maybe I'll post in this thread since you already have such a lot of info here already.

James
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-15-2004, 06:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aquaverde
I decided to modify my philosophy toward dosing and just ordered a LaMotte nitrate test kit. The accuracy of the usual hobbyist kits are notoriously poor, so I am really looking forward to seeing what this will yield. Will be comparing it for accuracy with my existing Seachem kit. Maybe I'll post in this thread since you already have such a lot of info here already.
I've heard of alot of people getting a LaMotte to use it to judge their cheaper test kits and have heard good things about the validity of cheaper test kits. I am curious to see how it works in your situation. I have been kicking around the idea of getting a lamotte to test against kits once a month and then just using the cheaper kits on a week in and out basis. The Lamotte kit would last quite a while this way I would assume.

Matt
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-17-2004, 06:53 PM Thread Starter
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Quick update:

I've found myself using the Red Sea test kits more frequently because they are the easy "drop the reagent in, shake, measure" type. But, that also has to do with the types of test kits I have for each mfg (seeing as how most, if not all, Iron kits take at least a few minutes to indicate.)

The iron kit showed the proper changes after I dosed. As for the phosphate kit, I haven't had a chance to try it again using the dilution method given by Seachem in my last post above. I'll post when I do (as I'm thinking my phosphates are high due to algae growth lately.)
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