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Quality Test Kits

1438 Views 7 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Beancurd
1) Which test kit brand(s) are reliable and high quality? I am looking for pH, KH, No3, PO4 and ?? see question 2. Quality is paramount, but price is a consideration.
2) Which tests are most necessary for a planted aquarium?
3) What is a good source? (Especially for accurate pH test - as needed to determine CO2 levels in combination with KH test)

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If you plan on testing and getting decent results, I'd say the Lamotte, Hach brands are well worth the $.

I've been saying this for oh, I suppose 15 years...........folks still suggest the cheapo's and say I do not know everything..and that they have a good experience with their one or two cheapy test kits.

I guess.

Then I read several folks who you tested the same brand of cheapy test kits and had huge massive errors compared to the known chemical standard reference solutions. Now one cheapy test kit may have a decent level of accuracy and repeatability, however, yours may not.

The accuracy and repeatability with the Hach and Lamotte brands is very high.

Basically, you get what you pay for.
You can do DIY CO2 also, but gas tanks are lot easier and more stable.

You can and should test the test kit prior to use.
Especially if you use a cheapo test kit.

To do this, you will want to learn how to make a reference solution, or perhaps someone will sell you some of theirs.

See LeftC's post on making this for NO3 and PO4.
For CO2, well, this is a long old issue and problematic, however, things are getting a little better, still, your eye is about the best test for this once you in the ball park. See the pH drop checker method with KH reference(these are sold by folks here and on line).

I really do not think anyone needs a test kit other than perhaps for CO2 really. Plenty of methods to get around testing.

If you do a non CO2 planted tank method or use Excel, then there's no need for any test kit really.

You can still use them, but they are only as good as their accuracy/repeatability.

So basically you get what you pay for here and the method you chose determines whether you need a test kit or not.

KH is alkalinity, Lamotte makes a decent one
GH, same as above
NO3, as above
PO4, you can use Lamotte, Hach or Merck
pH(measuring CO2 indirectly), most narrow range Bromo blue methods work, but a KH ref and Bromo blue and drop checker address that continuously for 2-3 weeks.

None, CO2 the most of any(if used), so the drop checker perhaps

Several sell the KH ref solution, see

Tom Barr
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Good day,

I was reading about tests that are 'titration' that are easier for color blind folks to use.

Any suggestions on easy to use tests for us that uhhh umm that have reduced ability to perceive the differences in shades of colors?

Sorry for being a bit snarky - yes us color blind folks that need a hand with our readings. :D

Many thanks -
I was reading about tests that are 'titration' that are easier for color blind folks to use.
The Lamotte Alkalinity test (for KH) that Tom mentioned above is a titration test. I can't speak for the others he mentioned, but I have that one. And I'm not color blind... I'm color challenged (minor color blindness). So for me, that test is a god-send when it comes to knowing my KH, and subsequently my CO2 ppm. And BTW, it's wicked accurate.

For the pH side of that little calculation, I've given up on chemical tests and rely on a frequently calibrated electronic dip stick from Hanna. It also is wicked accurate.

Those solutions aren't cheap. But if you have trouble with color, they are good solutions.

After a few years in this hobby, I find it hard to place a value on shifting from "thinking" and "hoping" that I understand my KH/pH/CO2 ppm, to "knowing" those measurements. It matters.
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Colorimeters are excellent for color blind folks.

Neil Frank, a very good aquarist and long time Editor for the Aquatic Gardener was color blind.

They run about 150-200$ for a couple of brands, but are far more accurate than normal test kits.

Still, you should run a calibration of a pair of known reference samples over the range of interest. Even with a 5000$ lab unit.

Tom Barr
Thanks very much for the tips Tom and Steve. I will opt for the Lamotte kits with test solutions to verify accuracy. Can you recommend a source for Lamotte tests? Especially the pH narrow range Bromo blue Lamotte test which I haven't been able to locate with google and other searches.

I believe I got mine from . You'll run into the problem that many of their kits require special toxic-substances type shipping, which adds cost on top of cost. But what are you gonna do???
Thanks for the kind words all!

I have algae problems, I am sure it's fixable. I am just having a hard time with seeing and that takes some of the fun out of it. I would rather pay a bit more and get it right than just guessing.

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