need help with my nitrate tests - very confused? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-15-2004, 09:41 PM Thread Starter
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Hi!

I know I'm rather new to this planted tank thing, at least to the scientific side if it. I'm trying hard to do everything properly.

Now, I need some help with Nitrate testing.

I have three tests at home here. A Red Sea Nitrate II, a Nutrafin NO3 test, and also a dip stick test put out by Jungle labs, purchased at Walmart. Not surprisingly, I get varying results with the three different tests. You'll be surprised I think at the test that I find to be most accurate. But, I need to make sure that I am doing the math right.

I purchased a Red Sea Nitrate II test a bit over a year ago, so I could keep an eye on the Nitrates in my fancy golfish tanks. As you all probably know, goldfish are incredible nitrate producers. Unbeknownst to me at the time of purchase, the test was outdated. When I run this test, I get results ranging from 5 to 10 (ppm) in the goldfish tanks, which seems pretty impossible, given the nature of the goldfish beast. Test takes about 12 minutes.

Our local Walmart has this dip test, put out by Jungle labs. It tests for 5 different tests - Nitrate, Nitrite, PH, KH, and PH. I started using this test when I discovered that the Red Sea test was outdated. I'd get results running from 30 to 120ish (ppm or mg/l) on the strips for Nitrate, amounts that will seem high to you, but I think are pretty common in Goldfish tanks. Test takes one minute. Consistency is quite good.

Now, about 3 months ago, I got serious about my planted tanks, and set up a couple using soil and gravel, fertilizers, CO2, high watts, etc. So, I sent for the Nutrafin NO3, Nutrafin Iron, and Nutrafin PO4 test too. I get results less than 5 ppm with this test, even on the goldfish tanks. The test is not outdated (expires 12/2006) Test takes about 6 minutes.

So, I sat down today, and made up a solution of Nitrate/water, Using Nitro+, put out by Kent Botanica. On the bottle, it tells me that each 1 ml of the Nitro+ contains 1 mg of Nitrogen, or 44.2 mg of Nitrate.

So, if I am doing my math properly, if I mix one ml of the Nitro+, with 1000 mls of tap water, I should have a solution of 44 ppm. Is that correct?

The results of the test comparisons were right in line with my experiences with my existing tanks.

Red Sea test showed about 5 ppm
Nutrafin test was clear, just like water. Negative test.
OK, you ready for this - the Walmart test was 40 ppm. :shock:

Now, if I am understanding things properly, the only conclusion that I can make is that it's a waste of time and $ to buy the other tests. It would be interesting to do some sort of comparison test on the PH, GH, and KH on the Jungle Lab strip. If they're also accurate, then it sure would be a savings of time and MONEY. The strips cost about $10 for 25 strips. And it's impossible for any test to be easier.

Any comments? Is my math correct? Does anyone else out there have trouble with their Nitrate tests?

Thanks!

Lucy

12 tanks
125, 20L, 2 29H, 4 10, 3 55, 1 40
All planted. 125, 40, and 2 55 very fancy goldys
55, 29, 2 10's tropicals and livebearers
2 10's guppies
20L, 29 high light, soil, DIY CO2, high planted, tropicals, Angels, loaches, gouramis, barbs etc.
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-16-2004, 12:14 AM
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If you know the Red Sea test kit is expired and giving bad numbers why do you continue to use it? I have a current Red Sea test kit and it's spot on. And it runs about $10 and does 60 tests.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-16-2004, 12:33 AM
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If the test strip gives you the right result, great. Your math seems to be excellent.
I use the Red Sea kit because it makes it easy to distinguish results in the lower range, like 0 - 2.5 - 5 - 7.5 - 10 ppm (it doesn't have 7.5, but you can guess). If you are interested to differenciate say 0, 40 and 120 ppm, the paper strips might be cheaper, quicker and easier.


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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-16-2004, 02:45 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
If you know the Red Sea test kit is expired and giving bad numbers why do you continue to use it?
Actually, I don't use the Red Sea test routinely at all since I discovered it was outdated (lots of expired products work just fine in real life after all.) I mentioned it here because the results were not very far from the Nutrafin results, which served to confuse me more. I have ordered a Red Sea test online. (Actually, several times, as it's been backordered for some time.) The Red Sea test is impossible to get in our very rural area. It will be interesting to see the results of that test when or if it ever arrives.

I just wanted to make sure my math was correct, since the Jungle Lab test results were SO FAR off the results of the other tests. Frustrating though, with the Jungle Lab test, is the fact that there is no reading between 0 and 20 ppm, though I can perhaps estimate a reading of about 10 ppm.

Is there a general consensus that the Red Sea test is the most accurate (given a test that's not expired )?

Thanks!

12 tanks
125, 20L, 2 29H, 4 10, 3 55, 1 40
All planted. 125, 40, and 2 55 very fancy goldys
55, 29, 2 10's tropicals and livebearers
2 10's guppies
20L, 29 high light, soil, DIY CO2, high planted, tropicals, Angels, loaches, gouramis, barbs etc.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-16-2004, 01:15 PM
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La Motte is probably the most accurate, but most of us get by with Red Sea. As long as they're not out of date they seem to work well.

George


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