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I have never touched a test kit in my life and decided to use some of these API test kits out of curiosity. Good lord! I can't discern one color from another, especially the nitrate color chart. I rather like the simplicity of the TDS meter; but the one I bought gives the reading in ppm NaCl instead of microSiemen (μS) and the conversion rate isn't linear according to Google. Shucks!

I would like recommendations for some quality electronic meters (if they are available at all) that I can dip and get a reading for NO3, PO4, Ca, Mg, Fe and TDS. I don't mind paying $100/each, +- whatnot if it does the job and is hassle-free. It doesn't have to be laboratory grade but it does need to give accurate results relevant to this hobby.

I don't need one for GH since the drop test doesn't require me to compare between a light yellow and an ever less slightly yellow. :|

I'd really appreciate your expertise. Thank you very much.
 

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Haha, I feel your pain (I'm not color blind at all either!). If only I had the dough to drop on easier to discern tests though :p

Be sure to post results of your plant growing experiences since with the test instruments for all the fertilizers giving you readable results/concentrations, you can learn many things.

I recall there being a member on here (several months ago) that had (or access to) a electronic meter that could test fertilizer concentrations. He did a couple or so "RAOKs" offering to test people's water. Pretty sure it was lab grade. Not sure if it was a rather small table top device that is purchasable or some huge actual lab machine.

Found what I was referring to
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/1...sting-n-p-k-ca-mg-fe-zn-cu-planted-tanks.html
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/156-wtb-raok/929793-potassium-magnesium-calcium-water-testing.html
still not sure on the device used, might be worth checking into (I didn't)
 

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What you are looking for is a photometer. They are not cheap. $200+ for each parameter but you can buy one that measures multiple parameters but they are expensive too but it saves you a lot of money. I have a Hanna HI-83200 Benchtop photometer which measures 44 water parameters. The machine alone is $900. Reagents cost from $25 to $100 for each 50/100 test and yes you have to buy the reagents for each paramater. If you want the full set of parameters that we test for then you could be down another couple hundred dollars. Some parameters reagents are expensive and some are cheap.

You get your money's worth if you are managing multiple tanks.

HI83200 Multiparameter Benchtop Photometer - Hanna Instruments
 

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Oh, boy am I on board with this conversation.....however I don't need to test 44 parameters. I just visited the website for that photometer and the little obsessive compulsive man inside my head was saying "buy it, buy it"

but holy pleco-pants!! 44 parameters??? I have multiple tanks but isn't there something inbetween liquid api test kits and 44 parameters???

I would , also, happily spend 100 bucks per....


great info lives in these forums!!!
 

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Oh, boy am I on board with this conversation.....however I don't need to test 44 parameters. I just visited the website for that photometer and the little obsessive compulsive man inside my head was saying "buy it, buy it"

but holy pleco-pants!! 44 parameters??? I have multiple tanks but isn't there something inbetween liquid api test kits and 44 parameters???

I would , also, happily spend 100 bucks per....


great info lives in these forums!!!
They have individual photometers for 1 or 2 parameters. Most of the time only for one parameter. If you need only 1 or 2 parameters checked then this might be the option for you. The single parameter photometers again are at $200+ each plus cost of reagents.
 

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I don't have a hardware background, but I really dream of doing (or finding someone) that's doing a kickstarter for a drop-in, internet connected device that tests your main params (pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, temperature) and just syncs to your phone. A fitness tracker for your tank! Well, there is something currently called Fishbit that does exactly this but only for pH and temp: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1758456789/fishbit-your-aquarium-made-simple

Unfortunately all tests so far require agents to react to the water and then something like the colorimeter to read it. Maybe one day!
 

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Aquarium-specific photometers aren't strictly needed. You could use something extremely old-school like a Milton Roy Spectronic 20 (search ebay - there is one for $85 on there) but then you'd need to know what wavelength to use for each test, how to make standards for building a calibration curve, and of course how to read a non-digital scale! You would still need to buy the reagents for each parameter. The disadvantage of the aquarium-specific meters is that they rely on the internal calibration which might not be correct after a few years of use.
 

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Aquarium-specific photometers aren't strictly needed. You could use something extremely old-school like a Milton Roy Spectronic 20 (search ebay - there is one for $85 on there) but then you'd need to know what wavelength to use for each test, how to make standards for building a calibration curve, and of course how to read a non-digital scale! You would still need to buy the reagents for each parameter. The disadvantage of the aquarium-specific meters is that they rely on the internal calibration which might not be correct after a few years of use.
The nice thing about the individual parameter Hanna photometer is they have a calibration option. You can buy a calibration check solution and calibrate the device. They are not cheap but it gives you the option to check the device calibration and calibrate the device using the same calibration check solution.
 
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