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It should also be noted that this is a common problem for many people. I have never reached a point where the API was of value to me. With calibrated test solutions, the readings are only useful when dealing with less than 25 PPM of nitrate. Any level beyond that is just not any help. The best read I get is by cutting the sample 50-50 with distilled water and then it is somewhat better to read but also throws in a certain amount of question as to the accurate measurements when doing the 50-50.
I now just go with using Jungle brand test strips as I have more confidence in what I see. Liquid tests can be more accurate but only if you can read the result.
When dealing with the trouble of diluting the sample and then doing the color check, I found it much simpler to just do a water change and assume the nitrate would be lower.
 
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