How far away do you hold the vial from the color chart?

Tailtenlabs

I'm not sure which level of nitrate is true when I'm reading the API color chart.
First of all, the ppm's of 10 and 20 look the same... and 40 and 80 look the same! LOL!!
Also, the value jumps up by 20 if you hold the vial right up to the card, touching it.
So, when determining the ppm's, do you hold the vial right up against the card and touching it, or do you hold it a couple of inches away from it?
Here are the results
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The pics aren't really showing the shades that I see... the 1st pic away from the card looks 10/20 and the 2nd when I hold it up to the card looks 40/80
 

Fish99

I'm not sure which level of nitrate is true when I'm reading the API color chart.
First of all, the ppm's of 10 and 20 look the same... and 40 and 80 look the same! LOL!!
Also, the value jumps up by 20 if you hold the vial right up to the card, touching it.
So, when determining the ppm's, do you hold the vial right up against the card and touching it, or do you hold it a couple of inches away from it?
Here are the results
You must be registered to see images
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The pics aren't really showing the shades that I see... the 1st pic away from the card looks 10/20 and the 2nd when I hold it up to the card looks 40/80
I hold them right up the the chart in the white next to the color. Then look thru the vial where it is brightest much like in your pic.
Looks like 40 to 80 to me too.
 

BradleyH2O

I put the bottom of the vial right on the paper, but hold the top at an angle just far away enough to let the light shine through the vial to where it’s not casting a shadow on the paper.
 

Tailtenlabs

I hold them right up the the chart in the white next to the color. Then look thru the vial where it is brightest much like in your pic.
Looks like 40 to 80 to me too.
thanks!
I put the bottom of the vial right on the paper, but hold the top at an angle just far away enough to let the light shine through the vial to where it’s not casting a shadow on the paper.
Thanks!!
I hold them right up the the chart in the white next to the color. Then look thru the vial where it is brightest much like in your pic.
Looks like 40 to 80 to me too.
Thanks!!
 

Azedenkae

I look top down, seems to work best no matter the distance.
 

Revan

Honestly, considering that it's nitrates, you don't really need an exact reading. I usually struggle to find the exact value, but if it exceeds 20-40-ish is where I do a water change. It's more of a problem with the ammonia and nitrites IMO, but the colors vary better for those tests.
 

Bwood22

Oh this is a fun thread....Im not even going to give a solid answer to the question because I honestly believe there isn't one.

I remember going thru this very conundrum myself.
Let me tell ya. It's more about the shade of the color and less about the actual number.

Once you see your nitrate vial turn RED....like RED RED....then change your water, test again, and it turns either light orange or dark orange depending on how much water you changed....you will understand.

You will get the hang of it, you will find your tanks rhythm.

RED is not good.
Less than RED is good enough.

Your vial is RED. And your tank is cycled.
That's the most important takeaway.

Now days i just change my water....sometimes I test. When I do...i see light to medium orange and say "yep....that's good enough until next week".

So change some water maybe 40-50%...test again and see what it looks like.

You'll get the hang of it.
 

Tailtenlabs

I look top down, seems to work best no matter the distance.
Top down? Like, you lay the chart down flat on the counter and lay the vial on top of it?
Honestly, considering that it's nitrates, you don't really need an exact reading. I usually struggle to find the exact value, but if it exceeds 20-40-ish is where I do a water change. It's more of a problem with the ammonia and nitrites IMO, but the colors vary better for those tests.
I totally agree with you!
I'm looking for yellow (ammonia) and blue (nitrite) when I test. I always see dark orange (nitrate), LOL!
I have overstocked African Cichlid tanks, and I'm doing BIG water changes of 60-75% every few days, anyways.
Oh this is a fun thread....Im not even going to give a solid answer to the question because I honestly believe there isn't one.

I remember going thru this very conundrum myself.
Let me tell ya. It's more about the shade of the color and less about the actual number.

Once you see your nitrate vial turn RED....like RED RED....then change your water, test again, and it turns either light orange or dark orange depending on how much water you changed....you will understand.

You will get the hang of it, you will find your tanks rhythm.

RED is not good.
Less than RED is good enough.

Your vial is RED. And your tank is cycled.
That's the most important takeaway.

Now days i just change my water....sometimes I test. When I do...i see light to medium orange and say "yep....that's good enough until next week".

So change some water maybe 40-50%...test again and see what it looks like.

You'll get the hang of it.
Thanks!
I like the way you do it.
I'm not as worried about the nitrates' numbers either. I'm just
Top down? Like, you lay the chart down flat on the counter and lay the vial on top of it?

I totally agree with you!
I'm looking for yellow (ammonia) and blue (nitrite) when I test. I always see dark orange (nitrate), LOL!
I have overstocked African Cichlid tanks, and I'm doing BIG water changes of 60-75% every few days, anyways.

Thanks!
I like the way you do it.
I'm not as worried about the nitrates' numbers either. I'm just
oops, I must've hit send, LOL
Anyways, I'm just crazy about trying to figure things out!
 

Bwood22

I have overstocked African Cichlid tanks
You have my attention. Pics plz.
 

Azedenkae

Top down? Like, you lay the chart down flat on the counter and lay the vial on top of it?
Yeap. I have been told it is the most accurate and consistent, and does seem so to me so yeah. :D
 

Flyfisha

Hi all,
Welcome to fishlore Tailenlabs
My two cents worth.
Use daylight but don’t get hung up about the numbers.

Proviso,
All testing is done on the day of water changes but before a water change.

My suggestion is to have a stable routine of removing the exact same amount of water every week.
The point of testing the water is to determine if your routine is keeping the colour the same over many weeks.
Regardless of the numbers if you are seeing more and more red over time you need to change the routine. That may mean more than one 50% water change per week.

Regardless of the numbers if you are seeing only Orange the routine is fine.

Any real green in the ammonia test and you have lost the cycle.
Any purple in the nitrites test and you have lost the cycle.


To answer your question, by my reckoning.
You are not removing enough water in your routine .
To my eyes that’s red red. Thats ok in the short term but your routine is inadequate. In my opinion.
 

PAcanis

I put the bottom of the vial right on the paper, but hold the top at an angle just far away enough to let the light shine through the vial to where it’s not casting a shadow on the paper.

That's what I do, too.
First I look at the test tube and determine the color. If (for instance) it looks yellow for ammonia, it probably is. Then I do what BradleyH2O does for comparison.

Otherwise, like said, you can pretty much make it look like any number of readings by holding it differently and in different light.
 

MacZ

I have to agree with Bwood22 the reading is over 40mg/l, that's all that matters. The shade of red is absolutely irrelevant at that level.

I'd keep up with the waterchanges to stay below 40mg/l. If waterchanges don't suffice, add pothos plants to the top of the tank or any sumps you might be running. With Malawi cichlids nothing beats biological extraction of nutrients additional to biofiltration and waterchanges.
 

fishkeepernewbie

I always see dark orange (nitrate), LOL!
I have overstocked African Cichlid tanks, and I'm doing BIG water changes of 60-75% every few days, anyways.
No wonder why that pic of your tank was so pretty! Thought it was overstocked. If you want to lower nitrates, put some bamboo in. It sucks it out like nothing.
 

evonner

Everyone seems to have different opinion about the correct way to determine your color of the test tubes. BradleyH20 and I have collaborated to find the true answer. I contacted API with this question and should have an official answer by tomorrow from API. I have to same question and that why I read this thread. I will pass on whatever API tells me. And natural sunlight is not available to all of us. ;)
 

StarGirl

Everyone seems to have different opinion about the correct way to determine your color of the test tubes. BradleyH20 and I have collaborated to find the true answer. I contacted API with this question and should have an official answer by tomorrow from API. I have to same question and that why I read this thread. I will pass on whatever API tells me. And natural sunlight is not available to all of us. ;)
It's in the directions. ;)
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evonner

It's in the directions. ;)
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I know StarGirl. Against the "white area" needs further explanation from API. It doesn't hurt to see what they have to say.
I know StarGirl. Against the "white area" needs further explanation from API. It doesn't hurt to see what they have to say.
Against is the trick word.
 

StarGirl

I know StarGirl. Against the "white area" needs further explanation from API. It doesn't hurt to see what they have to say.

Against is the trick word.
Idk I hold the vial on the white part touching it with the vial. I don't know why others do anything else...it doesn't say 1/2 inch from the chart, or on the colors....lol we will see ;)
 

Dennis57

Idk I hold the vial on the white part touching it with the vial. I don't know why others do anything else...it doesn't say 1/2 inch from the chart, or on the colors....lol we will see ;)
I agree, when I do test my water (maybe twice a year) I hold the vial's right up against the chart.
 

KingOscar

"Well lit area" leaves a lot of open variables too. Move from one well lit area to another (or even just turn in place a bit or move your arms!) and the shade will appear different. This combined with the virtual non-difference between the colors of certain levels makes exact accuracy not possible. But like many have said, it's usually not needed.
 

evonner

Here is what API said: "Hello Evonne, Thank you for inquiring at API. We would recommend to having a white background. The color is best interpreted when it is not touching the surface but holding away. We hope this helps!"

I sent another message asking them about how far away. I will update you all when I get this answer too.
I was poking around API's Facebook page and came across this image. I think it means anything more than an just a marketing photo as API already confirmed part of the question. I am waiting for the answer to "How far do we pull away from the chart (white in background).
 

evonner

Ok, I just got an email from API and this is what they said:

PITechServices <APITechServices@effem.com>​

2:46 PM (10 minutes ago)Reply
to me, APITechServices
Hello Evonne,

Thank you for contacting API Technical Services.

The most important part of reading the result of the colormetric tests is to match the hue of the test tube liquid to the most similar hue on the color chart, while avoiding shadowing of the test tube that could artificially cause the results to look darker.

Sometimes this shadowing can be avoided by using a good light source, that shines through the tube and onto the color chart directly.
In suboptimal lighting, the shadowing can also be avoided by pulling the test tube slightly away from the color chart, causing a gap that can minimize shadowing (or at least shift it to the side). There is not specific amount of space that removes the shadow – start at about a quarter inch and adjust as necessary.

As long as you are able to avoid reading the shadowed part of the test tube, you will have accurate results, regardless of which way you hold the tube.

We hope that we have helped! Please feel free to ask any follow up questions by replying to this email normally.
Complete our Consumer Feedback Survey by clicking
HERE to let us know how we did.

We also now offer an easy-to-use tool,
API® | AQUASPIN™ Advise (apifishcare.com) designed to help you track what is happening in your aquarium or pond by providing customized recommendations based on your testing results, water appearance, and fish behavior. An unlimited amount of individual aquariums can be created on your free account and any retail store with an AQUASPIN testing machine can send results directly to AQUASPIN Advise for you.

Thank you,
API Consumer Services Team
Technical Services
T 1.800.847.0659
E APITechServices@effem.com
I just got a messenger text from API and it says there is no set amount of space away from the white backing as long as it is NOT touching the surface of the white area of the test color chart.
 

Nitro0707

I sit mine on the table with the bottles all in a row, and the sun shining from my back to front with the #1+#2 bottles in front of each other slide a piece of paper between the bottles so it holds the paper up and place the vials beside the bottles. You end up approximately 3/8”-1/2” away from the paper. I hope this help solve everyone tests . Happy day ahead…
 

KrissyBunnie

I also hold the vial and the card in the same hand, with it up against it. The card is waterproof so I just wipe it down after I'm done.
 

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