Easy but effective basic water test

  • #1
I struggled I struggled reading all the different test kits. I basically ended up in the situation because I rescued fish from our office 2 years ago. The tank has been doing well but everyone keeps telling me I should at least test the basics.

I was told I was told things like the below.

Results for pH, KH & GH would also be handy if they will also do that for you. API test kit for Ammonia and Nitrate and maybe some other tests on occasion such as for pH and nitrite.

I I need something very, very, very easy to test for Ammonia and nitrates, and possibly a couple of those other things. But it has to be really easy. I simply ended up with this so they didn't all get disposed of, But I do want to make sure they stay healthy. I think I've been fortunate as I clean the water every week approximately 50% so I've never struggled too much with too high of levels.

If you have any suggestions for these basic items. Maybe an electronic instrument? or something easy. I wish I had more time, but it's just myself, my rescue dog and now over the last couple of years.....rescue fish. 55 gal, fresh, gravel bottom, Tidal 110, driftwood, 5 ilor 6 live pants, 77 degrees, 30 Neon Tetras, 4 Ottocinclus and 1 Stick Catfish (Farlowella)

Easy, digital, as easy as it gets. Thanks!!
  • #2
Checking nitrates is good to make sure you are keeping up with water changes.

If the tank is established you should never see ammonia.

Depending on your water testing PH, GH and KH might be a waste of time. Especially if you do regular %50 water changes. What is a typical PH level?

I would not recommend anything electronic for a single tank. They are expensive tools that need proper calibration and storage or they are worse than useless.
  • #3
The easiest is to just look at your tank, your fish will behave differently if there is ammonia/nitrite.

Initial response is grouped up in a corner, more severe response is rapid breathing/red gills.

For the other stuff, local city reports will help and knowing what kind of decor you have will help as well. Some rocks contain more lime than others, and will raise pH GH and KH
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
Thanks everyone. The fish have never behaved as mentioned. I have never tested the tank and have had it for over 2 years. There used to be a large pleco which forced me to change the water every week so I just continue it as before. Though I only give the neon tetras a pinch of food, it's probably too much, so the weekly water change also helps keep the water nice and clear. By the end of the week it typically gets cloudy, But I also supplement zucchini for the stick catfish, along with algae wafers every other day for the stick catfish so those also cloud the water.

I clean I clean the substrate every month approximately. I don't go crazy with it, but I do cover most of the ground fairly deep. I have no clues on how much and how deep you should clean a substrate and to what extent. And to what extent it changes watering levels.

It sounds like the only thing I would really need to check is ammonia? And it doesn't sound like I have to worry about that if I change half the water weekly?

Could the zucchini slices throw off ammonia levels or other levels dramatically.
I just I just ordered some test strips for nitrate, nitrate, and ammonia. They also cover some PH and hardness. They weren't that expensive and I will post the results. I should have them by Friday possibly.

I will continue I will continue my weekly water changes, leaving All my filter medium untouched, and only occasional substrate cleaning. Unless I should give the substrate a really good cleaning more often? And by that I simply mean using the Python vacuum.
  • #5
As mentioned above, only need to check nitrate, as that gets produced by the nitrogen cycle and may build up over time.

Ammonia should never be in the water unless something drastic happened like cycle crashed or dumped a bunch of food at once. So just making sure those extreme conditions are not met and you'll never have to worry about ammonia/nitrite. For example cycle crash can happen if KH is depleted from lack of water changes and pH crashes, or heavy use of antibiotics

So just general maintenance and replenishing these minerals once in a while and you'll never have to worry about it. Also I never clean my substrate
  • #6
If your main concern is ammonia and you want the quickest / easiest way, you have a couple of options. Looks like you are already pursuing one of the first options by ordering test strips.
After getting some reliable ammonia test strips, you should test the strips with a liquid ammonia test to make sure they are not bad.

In addition , you can go get Seachem ammonia alert badge and slap on inside of the front face of the tank. The badge is good for one year and will quickly let you know if harmful ammonia is elevated in the water just by taking a quick glance at it.

If you already know how much nitrates you get a week, and your feeding schedule and stocking level is the same, it's a good chance you will get the same amount of nitrates next week. If your fish start growing then you can revisit those numbers.
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
Hi Everyone. Here are my basic test results. This is one day before I typically change 50% of the water. And I change 50% of the water weekly (tomorrow)

Ammonia = 0
PH= 8.0
Carbonate= 300
Hardness= 25 mg/l
Nitrite= 1 mg/l
Nitrate= 25mg/l

30 Neon Tetras, 6 Ottocinclus, 1 Farlowella Stick Catfish, gravel substrate, feed 1 time per day, 55 gallon, 77 degrees, driftwood, 6 live plants
  • #8
Seems like water from a water softener
  • Thread Starter
  • #9
No water softener. It's city water. I don't drink it as it tastes really funky. I've complained about it,but they say it's in regular limits.
Should I, or should I not use the Tetra Aquasafe Plus when doing my weekly water changes? I was told a couple of years ago that I had to use it do the chlorine in city water. Could that be causing an issue?
  • #10
Your GH is low, your KH is high.... doesn't seem like your tap runs water from a lovely, innocent creek in nature. Chlorine is not causing this diaspora.
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
I don't I don't trust this city's water whatsoever. It's the worst water I've ever been exposed to that's why I won't drink it. But I don't have a clean source for weekly water changes for the fish tank, so I have to make due. But I have not been able to figure out how to keep it in a safe range especially changing 50% weekly you would think everything would be fine
  • #12
I just I just ordered some test strips for nitrate, nitrate, and ammonia. They also cover some PH and hardness. They weren't that expensive and I will post the results. I should have them by Friday possibly.

I just started using some test strips like you describe. Previously I had multiple liquids for various tests, all in a big kit. The strips I am trying seem to work well enough. Definitely MUCH easier to use. The only downside I see is that the increments of the scale that you read for the results, are fairly coarse. But then, realistically, it's good enough for an aquarium.

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