Test Kit - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-05-2015, 08:18 PM Thread Starter
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Test Kit

All I have ever used to test my water is the API master kit. I recently just purchased their GH/KH kit to add to it. After feeling my tests were coming out incorrectly, I went to the lfs today. My kit was off a tiny bit on PH and a lot on nitrates. They used the Tetra 6 in 1 strips. Should I just buy these and trash my API kit? What are others using currently?? I did read through some threads here that say the API nitrate kit is off sometimes.

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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-05-2015, 08:38 PM
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The API nitrate kit often reads much higher than actual. Mine reads 80 PPM at an actual 20 PPM. You can make a test solution from KNO3 to calibrate the test.

The API GH kit is also a problem. I have never gotten one that works. The test strips are said to be less accurate and are certainly more expensive but they do work. Once you get your dosing dialed in and you know what your levels are from water change to water change then testing is rarely needed.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-05-2015, 09:02 PM Thread Starter
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Mine was reading 40, and the strip read around 5.

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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-05-2015, 09:13 PM
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Liquid test kits are generally more accurate than strips, though nitrate tests are probably suspect either way.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-05-2015, 10:16 PM
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With the API Nitrates test you must follow the instructions carefully. Shaking bottle #2 for a full 30 sec. before using is important. Shaking the test tube for a full minute after adding #2 is also important. Then start your 5 min. timer.

I would trust the API liquid test before the strips. I have both. If your LFS is using strips, it could mean they are less sophisticated than you are. Strips are good for a quick alert, but I wouldn't rely on them for accurate numbers.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-05-2015, 10:23 PM
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I used to have the Nutrafin mini master kit. So hard to read-

Ammonia- shades of clear to yellow
Nitrite- shades of pink (argh!)
Nitrate- 3 bottles, also shades of pink (double argh)
pH- the kit came with wide range pH only

I found the API master kit much easier to use, and easier to distinguish colours.

However, I still have Nutrafin GH and KH, these seem to be good.

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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-06-2015, 01:18 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Argus View Post
With the API Nitrates test you must follow the instructions carefully. Shaking bottle #2 for a full 30 sec. before using is important. Shaking the test tube for a full minute after adding #2 is also important. Then start your 5 min. timer.

I would trust the API liquid test before the strips. I have both. If your LFS is using strips, it could mean they are less sophisticated than you are. Strips are good for a quick alert, but I wouldn't rely on them for accurate numbers.
I follow these directions to the T. I might buy some strips to just try them out and keep the master kit. Thanks guys!

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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-06-2015, 03:47 PM
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I bought the salifert Nitrate kit and I like it much better then the API one. Mix dry and wet reagents. Two ways to read it low range and High range. I checked it up against a known number and seemed pretty accurate.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-06-2015, 05:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daisy Mae View Post
I used to have the Nutrafin mini master kit. So hard to read-

Ammonia- shades of clear to yellow
Nitrite- shades of pink (argh!)
Nitrate- 3 bottles, also shades of pink (double argh)
pH- the kit came with wide range pH only

I found the API master kit much easier to use, and easier to distinguish colours.

However, I still have Nutrafin GH and KH, these seem to be good.


Ahh, sucks to hear those are hard(er) to distinguish the colors.
I was thinking of buying the Hagen Nutrafin pH and Nitrate test kits as the API ones are hard to distinguish as well. Guess I won't be though. Thanks for saving my money! ahah
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-06-2015, 05:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevmo911 View Post
Liquid test kits are generally more accurate than strips, though nitrate tests are probably suspect either way.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Argus View Post
With the API Nitrates test you must follow the instructions carefully. Shaking bottle #2 for a full 30 sec. before using is important. Shaking the test tube for a full minute after adding #2 is also important. Then start your 5 min. timer.

I would trust the API liquid test before the strips. I have both. If your LFS is using strips, it could mean they are less sophisticated than you are. Strips are good for a quick alert, but I wouldn't rely on them for accurate numbers.

Even though the liquid tests can be difficult to read correctly; I'd always trust them more than any brand's test strips. I'd also be cautious of store who relies on those and take any advice given from there with a grain of salt!

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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-07-2015, 05:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Argus View Post
With the API Nitrates test you must follow the instructions carefully. Shaking bottle #2 for a full 30 sec. before using is important. Shaking the test tube for a full minute after adding #2 is also important. Then start your 5 min. timer.
Three things I'd like to add.

Don't shake the tube after adding solution #1, just invert it a couple of times. I've found that shaking the tube at this point leads to results that show a lower reading then otherwise.

Don't be afraid to shake bottle #2 for longer then 30secs. I give mine a good shake for at least 30 secs before doing anything else, and then another shake before adding the solution.

Shaking doesn't mean somewhat vigorous shaking of the contents. Shake that thing as if your life depends on it. Both bottle #2 before adding, and the tube after adding. If you think you've shaken it enough, you probably haven't.

Feel free to edit.
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-07-2015, 05:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Audionut View Post
Shaking doesn't mean somewhat vigorous shaking of the contents. Shake that thing as if your life depends on it. Both bottle #2 before adding, and the tube after adding. If you think you've shaken it enough, you probably haven't.


Good to hear I'm not the only one getting a workout from doing those tests haha! I bust a sweat every time, shaking that thing like I'm competing in a shake weight competition or something. And it's not like I'm in that bad of shape either
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-07-2015, 07:37 AM
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Ha, ha, I whack that bottle against the side of the sink a several times, then I whack it against my palm as I shake it for over 30 seconds for sure. Then I feel like I'm getting my money's worth of bottle abuse.

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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-08-2015, 06:43 AM
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Yeah, accuracy and abuse go hand in hand with nitrate testing.
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Feel free to edit.
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