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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What brand of test kit do you use on your tanks ?
How expensive are the replacement solutions ?
Where do you buy them ?

I'm shopping for a "real" test kit. I understand some don't test KH or GH. Is it more economical to buy for example an API kit and get a separate GH/KH test ?

The brands I found on a quick search were:
API incomplete
Red Sea and
Hagen
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I've got a Shrimp tank, which is why I now am concerned with testing. My 5g fish tank has been up and running for over a year now w/o any issues. Since I've gotten CRS I want to test my 10g.
 

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I've been using API kits for NH3/4, NO2, NO3, GH, KH, pH, and phosphate. It took some time to get used to interpreting the colors, but now I can get a good feel for where things are going to land after 30 seconds instead of waiting the entire 5 minutes (for some tests). All in all I've been pleased.

Since I got past the initial cycling on my two tanks, though, my most frequent testing is for nitrate (NO3). The API kit involves two reagents and 1 minute of "shaking". Not a big deal, but kind of a PITA. I'm considering trying the Seachem Multitest NO2/NO3 version as in seems easier to implement.
 

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Just a tip with any test kit. Always test twice and if you get mismatched tests test until you get the same thing at least 2-3 times in a row. It uses up reagents fast but it will tell you if something's horribly wrong with your technique or your kit.
 

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I use the API Master Test Kit, which includes tests for pH (including high range pH), Ammonia, Nitrate and Nitrite. I purchased the API Freshwater pH and KH test kit separately; for this test kit there appear to be different tests for saltwater and freshwater so be sure you get the right one. Because I keep inverts, I also use an API copper test kit. I use Mardel test strips for frequent testing, and the API liquid reagent tests for better detail if I have a peculiar reading with the test strips. I have used other brands, but these are the ones that I like the best. I have also used Hanna and Milwaukee electronic testers, but I think that the API is better for my needs because they are far less expensive and do not require special solutions for calibration like the electronic probes do. Usually API refills/replacements are pretty cheap, both in an LFS and online. One thing I like to do is have two different tests on hand for important parameters, so I can get a second opinion to verify if I need it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the input. I lost a few shrimp, so I want to make sure everything is ok. I only lost 1 at a time, here and there. No major die off. My tank is heavily planted and needs a major trim.
 

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It doesn't matter what kH kit you use as they all are pretty much the same.
None of the GH kits you listed is worth anything.
You need a kit that tests for Ca and Mg. The only reliable kit that does this is made by LaMotte. From the concentration of Ca and Mg you can calculate the GH but it is a worthless number and cannot help you set up a good planted aquarium.
 

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It depends on how important accuracy is to you. If you're taking the time out of your day to run tests then I'm guessing you want some pretty accurate results. For this you need kits that contain reference solutions for validation. At the lowest price point is Seachem...pretty good bang for your buck. Above that you can try salifert or elos...both have good test kits.
 

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For most test kits, the Lamotte are good (as mentioned already) and well priced for what you get, cheaper is NOT better. As with every test kit,........ make a reference solution, or buy one off someone else. You cannot trust test otherwise.

If your cheapo test kit sis accurate over the desired range using a standard reference, then you ARE OKAY. If not, then you need to account for that.

Simply because you have a more $$$ test kit, does not EVER imply you can simple forgo the standard reference step however.
 

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For most test kits, the Lamotte are good (as mentioned already) and well priced for what you get, cheaper is NOT better. As with every test kit,........ make a reference solution, or buy one off someone else. You cannot trust test otherwise.

If your cheapo test kit sis accurate over the desired range using a standard reference, then you ARE OKAY. If not, then you need to account for that.

Simply because you have a more $$$ test kit, does not EVER imply you can simple forgo the standard reference step however.
I have to agree with Plaintbrain. I hardly ever test my water parameters unless I notice the growth of my plants are different. I do have Lamotte test kits and while they are more expensive than the rest they are better than the others you have mentioned, but they are only good if you have a reference solution.
 

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For most test kits, the Lamotte are good (as mentioned already) and well priced for what you get, cheaper is NOT better. As with every test kit,........ make a reference solution, or buy one off someone else. You cannot trust test otherwise.

If your cheapo test kit sis accurate over the desired range using a standard reference, then you ARE OKAY. If not, then you need to account for that.

Simply because you have a more $$$ test kit, does not EVER imply you can simple forgo the standard reference step however.
When I wrote that the LaMotte kit was the only kit available that can test for Ca and Mg, I didn't mean to imply that you don't need to use good testing practices.

The LaMotte kit is the best; because, it can tell you how much Ca and Mg are in your tank, which are the parameters you need to know in order to maintain good plant growth. There is no other test kit on the market (as far as I know) that can do this.

Also, good testing practices require that if you want to be sure that your results are accurate, you need to run a minimum of three different samples at the same time. You need to run your tank sample, the reference (as you pointed out) and a negative sample (blank) This sample is usually distilled water.

In order for your test to be valid, the negative sample must read "0" and the reference must get the expected result. (Although, this may not be necessary, if you know what you are doing).
 
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