Can't figure out API pH test results, newbie - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-31-2016, 03:25 PM Thread Starter
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Can't figure out API pH test results, newbie

Hi there, question about ph test results. I have the API freshwater master test kit. I have a 38 gallon cycled tank. When I test with the regular pH, color results match the highest pH of 7.6. But when I test with the High Range pH, color results match with lowest pH of 7.4. Water straight from my tap is 8.4. Should I just assume the tank water is in the 7.4-7.6 range?

The tank is newly planted, has two pieces of driftwood and many rocks and a few shells I collected from the beach. Substrate is floramax, eco-complete and river pebbles, no CO2 or ferts yet. How accurate are the pH tests? Also, I don't use pH down.

Thanks!
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-31-2016, 03:54 PM
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I would call it 7.5. Hobby kits are close approximations anyway so don't get too caught up in exact results. Imo trends are more important.

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-31-2016, 04:46 PM
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Yup take the average when they overlap. Also tap water tends to have distorted ph due to extra dissolved gases... Let it sit out for 24 hours (less if you aerate it) then test to get an accurate result


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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-31-2016, 04:57 PM
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I shoot for stable rather than exact numbers. I don't find PH to be very important even though it is one of the first items mentioned in many places. GH/KH seem far more important. An example is when I keep African cichlids in planted tanks. The first point we read about them is that they REQUIRE high PH. But they care not a bit when kept in a tank where the PH is driven down from 7.8 to 6.8 with CO2.
My advise for PH is to be aware of it and investigate if it is moving up or down radically when you are not making changes, but for most of the time, ignore it if it is stable. Like us when the weather changes? It is easy to adapt to the changes but a real pain if it happens too often or too much. The difference might be that our fish can't change clothes?
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-31-2016, 05:13 PM Thread Starter
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Ok, great feedback. Thanks! I will pick up a GH/KH kit next time. I had just gotten through the nitrogen cycle with this tank, so I cut back on water changes and thought I'd start tracking pH.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-31-2016, 05:13 PM
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I have the same results when I use the test kit, right in the middle of the two test ranges.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-31-2016, 08:14 PM
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We sometimes get spooked into thinking of one item in the water tests as being totally important. Like PH? But it is much more complex than that as the PH is very much tied into the GH and KH readings. The buffers resist change to the PH, so we need to look at more than one single item.
And for exact readings we can all see that we might not be getting exact numbers at best. Something as simple as the lighting used during the test can skew the readings. Ever looked at paint or fabric colors under the tube lights at the store and then have them look totally different at home? The test colors under one light may look different under another light.
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