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275 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey Gang.

Well, I'm progressing nicely.

I've got:

  • A nice, heavily planted tank
    • 29 long with few places to look where you don't see green :]
  • my light levels where I want them
    • 2x 39w t5HO about 6 inches off the waterline
  • excessive filtration! :D
    • a 10 year old XP1 that just. wont. quit.
    • a magnum 350 for polishing and stirring the surface.
    • a UV filter that doubles as my co2 reactor - i seldom light the lamp inside it anymore.
  • stable co2
    • 2+ BPS and a steady almost-yellow on the drop checker
    • inline, reactor-based

"Say Cheese"

"I can hear all of you complaining about the paintball bottle. Shush!"

And a collection of dry ferts

"Eenie, meenie, miney, algae outbreak ."

I've been happily following the recommendations in terms of the baseline fert regime, and have seen a lot of good growth, and a little alga instabilitiy.. I'm sure that I need to tweak my "1/8tsp this, 1/16th tsp that on day 1,3,5" note to myself i stuck to the light housing.

SO! I figure it's time to see what in the world is really going on in that there water column. Trouble is, after a couple of hours of rummaging through the forum, I'm not seeing consensus on a 'recommended' array of test kits, by manufacturer.

Let's get a discussion going, how's about you tell me what you like, why, and where to get it, if it's an uncommon resource, for testing:

  1. Nitrates
  2. Nitrites
  3. Ammonia
  4. KH/GH
  5. K
    1. (I actually only barely care about testing this.. but why not see what folks like, hrm?)
  6. PO4
    1. (again, i'm only slightly interested in testing for this..)
  7. Fe
    1. (yup, do I really care? not too much, really.)

I look forward to seeing where this leads. Personally, I'm at a choke-point for deciding what to get based upon concerns about accuracy and cost. I don't want a result that tells me "it's somewhere between 0 and kills-everything-omg".

"Wait, the blue from the GH leaked over to the PH. Ah, screw it.."

I also don't want to spend a hundred dollars on cool-looking lab equipment.

"Batteries and line of credit not included."

Thanks for the help! I couldn't have gotten very far without the help of the community.

5,370 Posts
I use the Mardel 5 in 1 test strips (this should be fun) I have had API, Redsea, and others over the years and they all seem to have one or two test that seem somewhat accurate and others that don't work at all, the API was ok and Redsea a waste of cash.

Now the 5 in 1 may not be accurate and the longer they sit the darker the colors so you need to use them in a consistant manner, I take my readings at 3 to 5 seconds after they have been dipped into the water. For me it's not about accuracy and only used as a guide, mostly weekly to get a glance at nitrates. But if use in a consistant way you can see if any changes are happening in the tank.

These kits are cheap and I can't afford Lamont(?) or other high dollar kits nor do I want to, for me it's looking at the tank for signs of change, I can almost tell by water quality and algae if my nitrates are high and the cheap dip strips confirm it.

Personally I would waste anymore than $25 on 100 strips that last me a year or so.

pH seems to work best with wet kits and well enough with the dip strips

I liked the kH/gH from API and the dip strips

Fe/K tests have never worked from anyone.

Ammonia/PO4 works good by all to the best of my memories, YMMV.

IMO you have to be really into this hobby to pay $180 just to get an accurate kH, I would take that cash and travel looking for hard to get fish before I would use it on test kits.

BTW your tank looks nice!!!

1,185 Posts
I use the Mardel test strips for weekly testing. If I get a weird reading or want more detail, I use the API Freshwater Master Kit. I do keep shrimps, so I also test my shrimp tanks with an API Copper Test set.

275 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
for a number of months, was charting my results using the API test strips using a spreadsheet.

The charts were on another page from the entries, so I stopped looking at them. one day, after a number of months, I looked at them again and saw that the hardness numbers would swing all over the place, for no clear reason - leading me to think that the test's accuracy was low.
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