Master test kit... OR NOT???

Dasha
Member
Hi,

I'm cycling my fist tank right now (it's been 8 days).

I do not have a master test kit, I bring the water into LFS every few days and they test it with the strips which I know are not as accurate.

However, I know that people have been keeping fish succesfully for a very long time without expensive "gadgets" such as the master test kit.

How important is testing the water with a master test kit in your opinion? The way I see it the cycling will happen if you monitor the water closely or not...

I'd be curious to hear everybody's opinion.

Dasha

PS. We had a small fish bowl when I was a kid with no filter, one air stone, bunch of live plants. The "tank" must have been a couple of gallons. We had whole family of guppies (with babies all the time), neons (those didn't last that long), cory and small pleco of sorts. Now that I know more it sounds like our fish bowl was a torture chamber, but the guppies seemed very content. Needless to say, there were no testing strips let alone a master test kit in sight...
 
sgould
Member
I am not sure I would consider the test kit an expensive gadget. You can get it for about $15 online. Compare that to the money you put into the tank itself, a stand, filter, pump, heater, decor, and fish...$15 just does not seem that bad to me. Also, just because a thing was done before an advance in knowledge made it easier, does not mean the advance should not be taken advantage of. I mean, people have been farming for thousands of years without tractors, but it sure wouldn't make much sense to try it today. (and THERE is an expensive gadget, btw ;D )

The test kit is important during the cycle, sure, but also after. I would say the kit is critical if you are cycling with fish in the tank. If you are cycling fishless, it is not as critical, but still important because while the tank will cycle with or without being tested, how are you going to know when it is done and ready for fish? Even after the tank is cycled, many problems that can develop in a tank will eventually trace back to water quality problems that can be detected with the test kit. I guess if your lfs was using a good liquid test, and you were willing to drive there all the time for tests, that might be one thing, but if you know they are using an inaccurate test, what is the point?

When my tanks were cycling, I tested daily, so that I could keep up with water changes as needed. Now that they are done, I test them all weekly. Personally, I do not want to drive water samples to the lfs that often!
 
  • Thread Starter
Dasha
Member
How long does the test kit last (how many tests)?
Dasha
 
sgould
Member
Quite a long time...the packaging indicates "over 700 tests". I have had mine since March and am still going strong.
 
  • Thread Starter
Dasha
Member
Which master test kit do you recommend? the Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Freshwater Master Test?

anybody knows a good/cheap website to buy it from?

Thanks, Dasha
 
Amnagrla
Member
Definitely invest in one.

$19.99

This is the one you want.. you can look around and see if you can find it cheaper. It's the API Master Freshwater Test Kit.
 
sgould
Member
Big Al's has it for $16.
 
Butterfly
Member
The aquarium pharmaceuticals liquid testing supplies are definitely the way to go.
Carol
 
TheEssigs
Member
Strips stink! Get a Master, you'll be happy you did!
 
armadillo
Member
My experience with strips was really terrible. They were quoting really crazy numbers. I definitely would get the liquid kit although I have to admit I don't use any test at all at the moment. But it's good to know I have it handy if I suspect there's something off with the water.
 
jsalemi
Member
I've got a supply of the API test strips around, and I've found they're not too far off (except for the pH -- that's WAY off on the strip). But I agree, the liquid chemicals are better overall. The strips are handy for a quick check though, and then if anything really looks off, break out the liquid kit.
 
lilsoccakid
Member
my API test strips told me my nitrites were at 8ppm and my nitates were about 100ppm, the API master test kit is much more accurate
 
jsalemi
Member
My API test strips have been pretty much within +/- 10% of the results I get from the API liquid kits (other than pH), but then again I've only got a 10 gallon tank for now, so that may make a difference. But in any case, yea, liquid is the way to go for truly accurate results.
 
armadillo
Member
Mine was giving me a pH off by 1.0 point! Which is really enormous. And it was sometimes inventing lots of nitrites although there wasn't really any, if I remember well.
 
TheEssigs
Member
The ph is always off in my tanks too using strips... so, I just gave up and solely use the kit. Takes a few more minutes, but at least its better than guessing.
 
  • Thread Starter
Dasha
Member
thanks guys - I just got my master kit tonight from Big Al's (along with whole bunch of other stuff, but who's counting... : it's fun, it's like one of those chemistry kits for kids they don't sell anymore.

Thanks for all the help!
 
armadillo
Member
Great stuff, Dasha. You'll see, at the beginning, you'll be playing little chemist ALL the time! Like, 5 mins after the last check. Mmmmmh, I wonder what my nitrites are like NOW. ;D
 
  • Thread Starter
Dasha
Member
I know, I was just thinking I want to test the water again tonight, but figured I need to exercise some self-control. Maybe tomorrow??? :;rab
 
armadillo
Member
no no no, it's imperative and desperately urgent that you test the water again, now, I demand it, all your fish's lives (past and future fishes) depend on it. And I think a puppy's going to die if you dont' do it again. Go noooooow, run!
 
Amnagrla
Member
(you'll find some of us here are a bit.... dramatic.......)
 
armadillo
Member
Dramatic? How do you mean? Me?
 
Amnagrla
Member
Nope, the boogey man.
 
  • Thread Starter
Dasha
Member
yeah, tested the water again last night...

of course the results were exactly the same as the night before, haha.
 
  • Thread Starter
Dasha
Member
Have been testing everyday... and last night my nitrites were 0!

So that means I'm cycled, right? Here are the results:

Date Ammonia Nitrites Nitrates
7/30/07 0.25
8/6/07 0.25
8/8/07 0 1.0 - 1.5 40
8/9/07 0 1.0 - 1.5 40
8/10/07 0.5
8/11/07 0.5
8/12/07 0 0.25 20-40
8/13/07 0 0 20-40
 
griffin
Member
looks like you're cycled
 
Amnagrla
Member
yay!
 
  • Thread Starter
Dasha
Member
more fish toda-ay, more fish toda-ay :;
 
  • Thread Starter
Dasha
Member
So, now that I stopped jumping up and down... Should I do a partial water change? I am really afraid to touch the tank just yet since everything seems to be ok - Nitrates are under 40 and falling - I have a few live plants in there which should soak it up, right? and since under 40 is ok for fish, I can just let it be for a few more days, say till the weekend? I can still add more fish tonight, though, right? :
 
jsalemi
Member
You probably don't need to start doing water changes until after you get fish in there. And yes, you can start adding fish -- just not too many at once. You'll get a mini-cycle (usually) as the bio load in the tank increases and the bacteria increase to compensate for it.
 

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