Nitrate tests- Seachem vs API? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-18-2016, 06:03 PM Thread Starter
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Nitrate tests- Seachem vs API?

I find the API liquid nitrate test is nearly unusable for my water. I've tried all the solutions that seem to apply like shaking, timing , etc, and find once I get any significant nitrate, the reading goes totally off. Past 15-25 I'm totally lost as far as reading the results. I've built test samples and find this is true on the samples as well.
So I'm down to looking for alternates. I find the test strips work closer for me but I'm still looking for better answers.
So how do the Seachem seem to work in very hard alkaline water? (PH 7.8 and 300+)
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-18-2016, 06:19 PM
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I like the salifert test. LaMotte makes a good one too.


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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-19-2016, 02:29 AM
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I agree that the API test kits are a bit hard to read even when comparing against calibration/reference solutions, especially at the higher nitrate concentrations.

I also like the LaMotte test kits, if price is not an issue.

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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-19-2016, 02:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PlantedRich View Post
I find the API liquid nitrate test is nearly unusable for my water. I've tried all the solutions that seem to apply like shaking, timing , etc, and find once I get any significant nitrate, the reading goes totally off. Past 15-25 I'm totally lost as far as reading the results. I've built test samples and find this is true on the samples as well.
So I'm down to looking for alternates. I find the test strips work closer for me but I'm still looking for better answers.
So how do the Seachem seem to work in very hard alkaline water? (PH 7.8 and 300+)
Ug, I have the exact same issue. Not sure if I'm a little color blind or if the test colors are just too close. I'm interested in seeing what people suggest.

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I like the salifert test. LaMotte makes a good one too.
Are these strips or liquid?

I have no idea what I'm doing!
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-19-2016, 03:00 AM
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I rate the API like so.

Yellow I dose KNO3 at least once that week.
Orange all is good.
Red is plan a water change.

I can deal with this and it seems to work.

I have many tanks and have reduced this to a 1 ml two drop test.
If buying a new API NO3 test kit make sure it has 3 years or more on the expire date.
Solution #2 requires shaking the heck out of it for consistent results.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-19-2016, 03:06 AM Thread Starter
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I've done some reading and may not understand what I read. It looks like the tests suggested are only designed for up to 10 and 15 mg/l. That is the same as 10 and 15 PPM, if I remember correctly. Does that leave them usable for higher through some dilutions or something?
If I'm understanding it right, they would not be any help at those levels. I can see the difference in colors that low but my tank often runs higher than that if the API is to be believed at all. Levels as low a 10-15 PPM would not be anything I would bother to measure but when the API only gives me something between 40 and 160+ I do wonder about what I do have. The strips show me somewhere under 20 but then we often speak of them not being accurate. That is what prompts me to look for alternate methods.

Any thoughts from folks who use those brands of tests?
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-19-2016, 03:15 AM
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I like salifert, tried api and seachem. Both api and seachem are hard to read
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-19-2016, 03:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hachi View Post
Are these strips or liquid?
LaMotte makes both strip and liquid types.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PlantedRich View Post
I've done some reading and may not understand what I read. It looks like the tests suggested are only designed for up to 10 and 15 mg/l. That is the same as 10 and 15 PPM, if I remember correctly. Does that leave them usable for higher through some dilutions or something?
Yes, I believe the LaMotte test kits have lower ranges than API, but the colours are more easily told apart (white to pink, if my memory serves me correctly).

Regarding measuring higher levels of nitrates, you can just make serial dilutions and measure your nitrates that way. Just make sure you use distilled or RO water (and measure with a nitrate test just to make sure it is indeed zero), and then account for the dilution factor to determine your initial nitrate concentration.

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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-19-2016, 04:04 AM Thread Starter
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Okay, I'm getting some ideas of what I want to do here. Never been really concerned with the readings as long as they are fairly constant and the fish are doing well. Now after doing some more reading on the various suggestions, I'm getting the feeling that what I want is not going to be out there. Not really wanting to go full bore to get the correct answer if it requires too much tedious stuff. when I read about the ways the test can be skewed to give bad results, I will likely just back down on the project and go with dilution rather than a simple straight out test.
My best use of time and effort seems to be to work more on getting the nitrate down in this tank and then I can get a better reading with the API that is on hand. My plan would seem to be to work a bit more on the water and try to maintain it at a level where the test will show correctly. I've suspected for a long time that my nitrate was high but it was while I was doing breeding and all was well there so I was never really motivated to change the routine much.
Now I'm dealing with less to do on the remaining tanks and it has come back around to make me wonder. But not to the level that I want to throw much effort at it and the tests I now use seem likely to give me the "close enough" that I'm looking for at this time.
Thanks for the replies and I think I see where I'm going now. I can adapt my water changes easier than upgrading my testing to a level that would really give me much more info there. That means less work for me and more clean water for the fish so they will like that plan.
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-19-2016, 05:08 PM
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PlantedRich, just curious, but do you does EI in your tank?

I am asking because I also wondered if I should be concerned with finding a better test kit. I even calibrated my API NO3 kit and found it was way off.

But then I kept asking, if I follow EI properly why am I concerned about the levels? It has been created so I always have enough. And I have read repeatedly that if you follow EI you are not going to have too much, especially with a weekly water change. I also read too much NO3 is a lot more than people think and we shouldn't be concerned with an over abundance of NO3.

My only concern with testing and EI is how would I know if I need more. It's harder for someone new at planted tanks to recognize NO3 deficiencies.

So what is your need for testing NO3?

Just curious.

Thanks,
iso
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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-19-2016, 05:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hachi View Post
Ug, I have the exact same issue. Not sure if I'm a little color blind or if the test colors are just too close. I'm interested in seeing what people suggest.



Are these strips or liquid?
Salifert is one part liquid and one part dry powder.


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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-19-2016, 06:13 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by isonychia View Post
PlantedRich, just curious, but do you does EI in your tank?

I am asking because I also wondered if I should be concerned with finding a better test kit. I even calibrated my API NO3 kit and found it was way off.

But then I kept asking, if I follow EI properly why am I concerned about the levels? It has been created so I always have enough. And I have read repeatedly that if you follow EI you are not going to have too much, especially with a weekly water change. I also read too much NO3 is a lot more than people think and we shouldn't be concerned with an over abundance of NO3.

My only concern with testing and EI is how would I know if I need more. It's harder for someone new at planted tanks to recognize NO3 deficiencies.

So what is your need for testing NO3?

Just curious.

Thanks,
iso
My question comes more from wondering about the readings that I see others post when I compare to mine. In tanks full of plants, it has not been much concern as they was always more there than recommended, so it was simple to just not dose NO3 and use others to get the potassium.
But still there is this gnawing doubt about why I can't measure the nitrate. I also read many posts from others who have the same problem. Since we have had the discussion in different ways about the problems with the API, I thought trying other might give me the numbers.
But in looking at the various kits, I find they all do poorly at the normal higher levels I run. So I come back around to knowing it is high but how high is still in doubt. That leaves me thinking that I don't need to know as it is not a problem that I can see.
More just a nagging doubt that I can learn to work around or if not, I can ignore it in my tanks.
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-19-2016, 06:51 PM
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I'm trying to figure how you would end up with such high NO3 readings doing 50% water changes weekly. I guess I've always assumed that with this water change regiment you would have to dose everything at some level. Is you tank really got that high of a bio-load that it can build NO3 that high with 50% water changes weekly? Is filtration an issue?

I just got a Seachem kit to compare it's results with the API kit and they were fairly close. The Seachem looked like it was maybe 5ppm less than the API. Man, it's hard to get an accurate color comparison. You could easily be off that much depending on how you interpret the color.

Just thinking out loud here, if your reading was close to say 40ppm couldn't you mix your aquarium water with an equal amount of RO water, fill the test vial with that and expect to get a reading 1/2 the actual aquarium NO3. If nothing else it might reduce the test level down to something easier to read on the color chart.
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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-19-2016, 07:14 PM
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See if you can find Red Sea tests... they are pretty good.

Cape Town, South Africa.

Hi. I'm back.
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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-19-2016, 07:53 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jr125 View Post
I'm trying to figure how you would end up with such high NO3 readings doing 50% water changes weekly. I guess I've always assumed that with this water change regiment you would have to dose everything at some level. Is you tank really got that high of a bio-load that it can build NO3 that high with 50% water changes weekly? Is filtration an issue?

I just got a Seachem kit to compare it's results with the API kit and they were fairly close. The Seachem looked like it was maybe 5ppm less than the API. Man, it's hard to get an accurate color comparison. You could easily be off that much depending on how you interpret the color.

Just thinking out loud here, if your reading was close to say 40ppm couldn't you mix your aquarium water with an equal amount of RO water, fill the test vial with that and expect to get a reading 1/2 the actual aquarium NO3. If nothing else it might reduce the test level down to something easier to read on the color chart.
Probably some background info would help. I do not run full EI dosing and water changes. When first getting serious about the testing as I restarted plants, this area was in a severe drought. Water restrictions were in place and the local water supply lakes were down to 30% and dropping.
I was also running about a dozen tanks and breeding fish. The combo made it almost criminal to consider dumping that much water weekly and I also did not want to plant fully. That was never my intent as I use plants to add to the tank appearance while the fish are the main interest. With breeding going well and less planting than normal, full EI was not the best way for me to go. EI does eliminate the testing but as I became interested in all the talk of testing and I did have access to kits, I tried testing and got no usable results when using the API liquid tests. In building samples for testing, I used both API and the Jungle brand test strips and found the strips came out close on 25 PPM samples, while the API was just red or too red with no usable readings.
My current situation has changed as I now have few tanks and the only one which I look at much is only a 120. The drought situation has also cleared for the time being so that dropping 60 gallons is not the critical question it once was when we were looking at running out of water. But the question of testing is still a bug!
So I did three 50% water changes over the last week and tested each time with no definite color change. It is hard to say for sure that the test today is the same as two days ago but I can detect no change by looking at the chart.
With African cichlids who are supposed to require good water and still continue breeding well, and tests that say I have more like 80PPM, I have to feel the test is not doing me much good.

This is an old issue for me and just comes around again. This is an old posting about the same question on nitrate:
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/11...-question.html
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