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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hanna Instruments recently started selling a $50 colorimeter for measuring nitrates in saltwater aquariums: Hanna Instruments Link

Does anyone know a reason why this wouldn't work for testing our freshwater aquariums?

I understand this is a bit overkill, but I have always been interested in accurately tracking my tanks parameters over time. However, with the color charts having a degree of subjectivity, I've never bothered doing it.
 

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I use a Hanna Chlorine Colorimeter to measure nitrate levels and this is how: I used the calculators at rotala butterfly to make up stock kno3 solutions of different ppms (5, 10, 20, 30), using a gram scale and a measured amount of water. Then I used my Nutrifin Nitrate drop test kit to test each amount using the standard 5ml test tube. I put that 5 ml of colored nitrate water in the 10 ml colorimeter bottle and topped up with another 5 ml of distilled water, and ran the test (zero the unit first with 10 ml of pure distilled). This gives me a number for that ppm of nitrate, so for instance for my 5ppm of stock solution the number is 152, the 10 ppm is 304 etc. After calculating for all the in between numbers , I have charted a more exact scale for nitrate using the Nutrifin kit.

It is an extra step, of course, because you still have to use the drop test kit properly and then run the results through the colorimeter. I have tried this with my ammonia colorimeter as well, and it will work (as I believe any colorimeter would), but with a different scale of numbers. I already had done all the chart work with the chlorine unit, so I did not pursue further.
 

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I used to write software for colorimeters that measure computer displays. We had super expensive ones and even cheap ones. I have no fears that a $50 colorimeter would be junk. So there's that. That is a reasonable price point for a low end consumer unit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I use a Hanna Chlorine Colorimeter to measure nitrate levels and this is how: I used the calculators at rotala butterfly to make up stock kno3 solutions of different ppms (5, 10, 20, 30), using a gram scale and a measured amount of water. Then I used my Nutrifin Nitrate drop test kit to test each amount using the standard 5ml test tube. I put that 5 ml of colored nitrate water in the 10 ml colorimeter bottle and topped up with another 5 ml of distilled water, and ran the test (zero the unit first with 10 ml of pure distilled). This gives me a number for that ppm of nitrate, so for instance for my 5ppm of stock solution the number is 152, the 10 ppm is 304 etc. After calculating for all the in between numbers , I have charted a more exact scale for nitrate using the Nutrifin kit.

It is an extra step, of course, because you still have to use the drop test kit properly and then run the results through the colorimeter. I have tried this with my ammonia colorimeter as well, and it will work (as I believe any colorimeter would), but with a different scale of numbers. I already had done all the chart work with the chlorine unit, so I did not pursue further.
I was thinking along these lines too. So you charted your own best fit line to correspond the Hanna output to nitrate measurements, essentially? It's good to hear that it has been working for you.

Any particular reason you used the chlorine colorimeter?

I used to write software for colorimeters that measure computer displays. We had super expensive ones and even cheap ones. I have no fears that a $50 colorimeter would be junk. So there's that. That is a reasonable price point for a low end consumer unit.
Sorry, just to make sure I am understanding correctly, you think at a $50 price point the Hanna colorimeter would be relatively accurate?

I use a similar Hanna Iron Checker and it is very accurate.
How do you like the process for making the solution that it measures? Is it tedious at all?

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I was thinking along these lines too. So you charted your own best fit line to correspond the Hanna output to nitrate measurements, essentially? It's good to hear that it has been working for you.

Any particular reason you used the chlorine colorimeter?
I used the Chlorine checker because after purchasing it to test my tap water, it’s just been sitting around doing nothing to earn it’s keep ... lol.
I use the Nutrifin Nitrate kit as opposed to API because it involves less shaking. The color gradations are just as hard to read, though. So with my chart, I have basically 150 numbers between every 5ppm rise of nitrate - that is very precise! I have found it to be consistent with the test kit colour chart and what I suspect my tank level to be from what I am dosing. I figure the accuracy, if not laboratory grade, is way beyond what a vague colour chart can tell me.
 

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Sorry, just to make sure I am understanding correctly, you think at a $50 price point the Hanna colorimeter would be relatively accurate?
Uhhh, sorta. I believe the negative of the opposite. :- )

I believe it is possible to make an accurate colorimeter for $50. Now, has Hanna done that? I have no idea. It is just possible.

So I believe it could be accurate. Could is very different from would.

Measuring color seems easy and a lot of people get it wrong. I remember sitting in a lab with a very important graphic designer customer playing with one of our high end calibrators. He putzed around a lot, measuring this print and this test chart and complaining, "it is broken, it is saying the test charts have an orange cast."

I pointed out he was wearing an orange shirt. :- )
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Measuring color seems easy and a lot of people get it wrong. I remember sitting in a lab with a very important graphic designer customer playing with one of our high end calibrators. He putzed around a lot, measuring this print and this test chart and complaining, "it is broken, it is saying the test charts have an orange cast."

I pointed out he was wearing an orange shirt. :- )
Hahaha that is a funny. Good stuff

Uhhh, sorta. I believe the negative of the opposite. :- )

I believe it is possible to make an accurate colorimeter for $50. Now, has Hanna done that? I have no idea. It is just possible.

So I believe it could be accurate. Could is very different from would.
Ok this makes sense. I am a bit hesitant after reading the reviews. A lot of people are talking about inconsistencies, but it's hard to say if that is due to the colorimeter or user error.
 

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I use a Hanna Chlorine Colorimeter to measure nitrate levels and this is how: I used the calculators at rotala butterfly to make up stock kno3 solutions of different ppms (5, 10, 20, 30), using a gram scale and a measured amount of water. Then I used my Nutrifin Nitrate drop test kit to test each amount using the standard 5ml test tube. I put that 5 ml of colored nitrate water in the 10 ml colorimeter bottle and topped up with another 5 ml of distilled water, and ran the test (zero the unit first with 10 ml of pure distilled). This gives me a number for that ppm of nitrate, so for instance for my 5ppm of stock solution the number is 152, the 10 ppm is 304 etc. After calculating for all the in between numbers , I have charted a more exact scale for nitrate using the Nutrifin kit.

It is an extra step, of course, because you still have to use the drop test kit properly and then run the results through the colorimeter. I have tried this with my ammonia colorimeter as well, and it will work (as I believe any colorimeter would), but with a different scale of numbers. I already had done all the chart work with the chlorine unit, so I did not pursue further.
This is brilliant. You have found a way to have an inexspensive Nitrate colorimeter. That's such a useful thing to have in this hobby. I think there are several wavelengths used in colorimeters. Mine has four. Chances are the Hanna colorimeters only use a few different wavelengths as well. I'm guessing. So with just two or three of their meters using your hack you could test for many things.
 

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This particular unit is low range.... only goes to a Max of 5ppm right?

Maybe not so great for Planted tanks that run above that for the most part.


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This particular unit is low range.... only goes to a Max of 5ppm right?

Maybe not so great for Planted tanks that run above that for the most part.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
They list a dilution solution so their recommended range goes to 50 ppm.
 

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Uhhh, sorta. I believe the negative of the opposite. :- )

I believe it is possible to make an accurate colorimeter for $50. Now, has Hanna done that? I have no idea. It is just possible.

So I believe it could be accurate. Could is very different from would.

Measuring color seems easy and a lot of people get it wrong. I remember sitting in a lab with a very important graphic designer customer playing with one of our high end calibrators. He putzed around a lot, measuring this print and this test chart and complaining, "it is broken, it is saying the test charts have an orange cast."

I pointed out he was wearing an orange shirt from aesthetic clothing stores. :- )
I really enjoyed your comment. This helped me a lot.
 
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