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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The only kits I have ever known are those strips to read ammonia, pH, nitrate, nitrites, hardness, etc. And I know those only give you colors in which to make guesses.

After almost a year of thoroughly reading forums, I'm finding that those aren't reliable and that everybody has some sort of water testing kit that gives exact numbers.

So my questions: What is the best kit to get to test water parameters for the best money? I'm about ready to set up my tank and what money I have left to allocate towards the tank is mostly for fish and plants cuz I have everything else, so hopefully one of these kits doesn't cost a fortune.

Thanks for your help.
 

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Even the kits with liquid reagents as opposed to strips still rely on matching colors to get a number. Though they are more accurate if calibrated than test strips are. I am currently using an API kit. If there's a better way I'm all ears, subscribed.
 

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You can't possibly get exact numbers for any water parameters, using anything that is readily available and cheap. Even if you calibrate the test kits, you still have a margin of error, but you know a lot more about what that margin of error is.
 

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Right. Last night while testing a nano I'm cycling I was thinking "there must be a better way" Looking at the color chart my ammonia vial didn't really match anything, kinda half way between two colors. So guess it's in the middle of those 2. Color is subjective, you know?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Ok, so I guess I should have known that numbers can't be exact, but I remember seeing that API kit at Petsmart. I'm assuming nobody would disagree that this API liquid kit is better and more accurate than a standard test strip kit they sell?

Petsmart API Liquid Test Kit
 

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In my opinion, the aquarium grade test kits are ok, but as pointed out on this forum, then need to be calibrated. They just are not that accurate.

You can go out and get the lab grade test kits like Lamotte or Hach, but be prepared to spend a lot of money per test kit. Typical price is about $50 per test kit up. Before you do that, make sure you really need it.
 

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Visine bottle! Awesome, so simple, god I feel like an idiot. I'm building a giant turkey baster for spot cleaning my 90.
 

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Visine bottle! Awesome, so simple, god I feel like an idiot. I'm building a giant turkey baster for spot cleaning my 90.
Eh - the universe stuck it in my head so I can't take credit for it LOL!

I keep trying to get Ray to use some (along with me finding excuses to use it for myself - oh geee my eyes feel tired - ohhh lemme refresh them! :tongue: ) so I can have an empty bottle to use (I'm too cheap to just waste the stuff LOL).
 

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I keep reading about calibrating the test kits - how do you do that? Are there directions in the kit? I'm still using the strips, but I want to "move up" too ; )
 

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My question is this... what is it that you want to test and why? The reality is that if you take your water to the lfs they will test it for free. And they likely go through there tests kits quick enough to not have them expire. If you aren't encountering a problem, not much need to test. Test kits expire quicker than you'll use them on just a tank or two.

I'd spend my money elsewhere.
 

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There's a sticky in the fert and water forum: http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/f...83545-calibrating-test-kits-non-chemists.html
Or you can do what I did and test a sample of water with your kit then have it tested by one or several LFS and see if they match up. Mine matched with 2 LFS so I assume it's correct.
why not just have the lfs do it all the time? How often can people possibly need to test.

I honestly think test kits is one of the few things in this hobby that offer little use.
 

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There is no reason to assume that a LFS has calibrated their test kits either. From what I have seen they just use a kit they sell. Routine testing seems a total waste of time to me, and testing for troubleshooting only makes sense if you take the considerable time needed to first calibrate the test kit. But, for troubleshooting you would be doing multiple tests, thus multiple calibrations, another big time consumer. Just because we can test doesn't seem to be a good reason to test. So, I haven't tested my tank water for many months - long enough that I don't even recall doing it.
 

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For "hobby" purposes the only thing I really care about is testing for the "presence" of ammonia or nitrite. Beyond zero, I don't really care. As any trace in a cycling tank is indication of whether you are cycled.

For fertilizer testing(lab) purposes, I use an ag extension office to have my samples tested. Cheap and quick. Accurate to .1 ppm on most levels.

For the most part, test kits will make you no better prepared to take care of your fish or plants.
 

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Thanks monkeyfish for the link : )

OverStocked & all, I'm testing because I'm in the process of setting up two 29g tanks and two 55g tanks. They run the gamut of having just had water put in for the first time, to the construction of the stands they will rest on - so this is an ongoing project. I need to know what stage of the cycle the tanks are in before adding livestock, I hardly think that's frivolous. These are dirt tanks with DIY backgrounds siliconed in. I'm finding the combo of silicone, Drylok and the colorants, and the soil mix itself can vary the level of the ammonia sources and the breakdown time considerably. The only two stores in town are an hour's round trip, and I can't afford to waste the gas since I have no other reason to go into town.
I should add that since my 40b is established, I test the water every two - four weeks, just to monitor it. I like the peace of mind...
 

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Sure, testing all the time is a waste of money and doesn't tell you much unless your kit is properly calibrated.

But it's certainly nice for me to be able to test my myriad tanks once a week to make sure nothing has gone haywire that I might have missed. Also nice to be able to test my tap water before and after it has aged every week or two to make sure nothing new is popping up that the water company isn't telling me about.
 
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