Strip tests

Cherryx

Member
Wonder if anyone ever had success using strip tests? I tried API and Sera (simply because it helped me do tests more ofte) both gave wrong results consistently. Which makes me wonder why do these products still float in the market? Who are buying them? I had to buy liquid tests for all to straighten up my cycle.

My intention with this post to call out Sera and API 6in1 test kits as inaccurate and hence useless. Always, always invest in a liquid test kit. Learnt it the hard way. If my fish weren't hardy enough to withstand the nitrite spikes, we'd be talking about bodies here.
 

BigBeardDaHuZi

Member
Cherryx said:
Wonder if anyone ever had success using strip tests? I tried API and Sera (simply because it helped me do tests more ofte) both gave wrong results consistently. Which makes me wonder why do these products still float in the market? Who are buying them? I had to buy liquid tests for all to straighten up my cycle.

My intention with this post to call out Sera and API 6in1 test kits as inaccurate and hence useless. Always, always invest in a liquid test kit. Learnt it the hard way. If my fish weren't hardy enough to withstand the nitrite spikes, we'd be talking about bodies here.
API test strips are hot garbage. They are bad enough to give test strips a bad name in general. Which is in pretty much direct opposition to the API Master Test Kit which is famous for its accuracy. I've never tried the Sera strips.

If you get a set of test strips, you should always compare them to a liquid test kit that you trust. Find some test strips that are accurate or off by just a little bit (but you know it is off, so you can adjust for the difference). They are wicked handy.
Test strips are good for a quick check on the fly. It is better to do a quick check that is mostly accurate than skipping the test entirely because sometimes you just can't be arsed to go through all that business with the vials.
I find myself testing water almost every day (just for now, because I have a lot of projects going on - in the future I am hoping to cut it down to a couple times a week). I can't afford the time to be doing all those vials everyday. Doing the ammonia vial a couple times every day is a pain enough.

Tetra test strips are pretty good. Definitely accurate enough for a daily check. I have used JBL (German) test strips happily enough for day-to-day work.
 

Kathylee

Member
Cherryx said:
Wonder if anyone ever had success using strip tests? I tried API and Sera (simply because it helped me do tests more ofte) both gave wrong results consistently. Which makes me wonder why do these products still float in the market? Who are buying them? I had to buy liquid tests for all to straighten up my cycle.

My intention with this post to call out Sera and API 6in1 test kits as inaccurate and hence useless. Always, always invest in a liquid test kit. Learnt it the hard way. If my fish weren't hardy enough to withstand the nitrite spikes, we'd be talking about bodies here.
I started with the Tetra test strips, it was a bundle & also came with Ammonia strips. Very helpful when I was trying to figure out my cycle progress. My issue wasn't the accuracy, I was just running out of them so quickly! I ended up making charts & graphs so I could look at how my ammonia, Nitrate & Nitrite levels were going up & down. I compared with the API master kit & it was pretty spot on. I kept using the API master kit until cycling was over. It was more time consuming with the tubes, measuring, rinsing, washing, drying. I actually went out & bought another pack of the Tetra dip strips to use for my weekly checks just because they we're more convenient. But the API kit was more cost-effective for cycling. I've never tried the 2 brand's that you mentioned, but Tetra worked very well IME.
 

AcornTheBetta

Member
Cherryx said:
Wonder if anyone ever had success using strip tests? I tried API and Sera (simply because it helped me do tests more ofte) both gave wrong results consistently. Which makes me wonder why do these products still float in the market? Who are buying them? I had to buy liquid tests for all to straighten up my cycle.

My intention with this post to call out Sera and API 6in1 test kits as inaccurate and hence useless. Always, always invest in a liquid test kit. Learnt it the hard way. If my fish weren't hardy enough to withstand the nitrite spikes, we'd be talking about bodies here.
Tetra's test strips are good. I'm almost 100% sure that Cory from Aquarium Co-Op uses them for his tanks. I would give the tetra strips a 8/10. I deduct the two points because they run out quick.
 

MacZ

Member
I use JBL strips, after years of using Sera. Both with good success. I have additionally a liquid test for Ammonia by Sera and a JBL low-range pH test. Haven't used the Ammonia test in months and I think the pH test is necessary for my setup, while I could not be bothered testing anything else on such a level.
The thing many people underestimate is, how the test liquids in the little pads on the strips can mix. So it's very important to remove excess water immediately. I use paper towels for this.
Since earlier this year I also use the scan option, as my eyesight is starting to give me problems distinguishing the pinkish hues of the nitrate test. Except for that one field my readings with the scanner and without are consistently in the same ranges.

About API, I had the chance to take a look at these once (API is usually not sold here), can't shake the feeling they are bad on purpose, so people buy the liquid tests.
 

raptor22

Member
AcornTheBetta said:
Tetra's test strips are good. I'm almost 100% sure that Cory from Aquarium Co-Op uses them for his tanks. I would give the tetra strips a 8/10. I deduct the two points because they run out quick.
Yes he does. He did rated sera strips as better but I don't know

MacZ said:
I use JBL strips, after years of using Sera. Both with good success. I have additionally a liquid test for Ammonia by Sera and a JBL low-range pH test. Haven't used the Ammonia test in months and I think the pH test is necessary for my setup, while I could not be bothered testing anything else on such a level.
The thing many people underestimate is, how the test liquids in the little pads on the strips can mix. So it's very important to remove excess water immediately. I use paper towels for this.
Since earlier this year I also use the scan option, as my eyesight is starting to give me problems distinguishing the pinkish hues of the nitrate test. Except for that one field my readings with the scanner and without are consistently in the same ranges.

About API, I had the chance to take a look at these once (API is usually not sold here), can't shake the feeling they are bad on purpose, so people buy the liquid tests.
I would use a colorimeter app to check color
 

MacZ

Member
raptor22 said:
I would use a colorimeter app to check color
Not much of use for me, as I still would have to compare the readings and the tube the scales are printed on will likely be hard to read with this due to form and texture. But thanks for the hint.
 
  • Thread Starter

Cherryx

Member
Macz I have very good experience with Sera otherwise. I love their products and Seachem's. I found them infallible from both user reviews and my own experience so far but I would not rate their test strips as accurate esp considering the variations I saw were massive. It tested both nitrates and nitrites wrongly (no change to nitrite color pad but nitrates showing 20 at some point). Used API afterwards saw erratic results in back to back trials. Fish never looked happy. Then tested water at the local store and found i have very high nitrites and very low nitrates. Now fully switched to JBL for nitrites & ph and Sera nitrates. Got my tank cycled with necessary interventions and now doing the second one - things have been smooth so far. I would try Tetra (they are priced a bit high here) later as testing with vials as BigBeard mentioned isn't going to be practical but i want to keep testing frequently. Thank you guys for all the insights!
 

MacZ

Member
Oh, switching from Sera to JBL is due to the fact I switched LFSs and the one I now buy at doesn't have Sera in their assortment. To me both are totally fine.
 

TheNacho

Member
Test strips in general aren't very reliable. The good thing about them is that they give me a good 'general picture' of what's going on in the tank. I always take the results with a grain of salt, and I use liquid test kits for the specific parameters I want to check, but they are great for when you just want to see if anything is really wrong with the water.
 

leftswerve

Member
I've always contended that test strips are fine if you keep in mind they are litmus type paper (for lack of a better term). They will react to the atmosphere, your fingers, you name it. Leaving the container open too long or not sealed properly can skew your results.
They shouldn't completely replace a liquid test kit, but they have their place for quick general tests.
 

aquachris

Member
I've been really satisfied with these.. seem really accurate/etc.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B082X2QDLR/

Some people will flame for using test strips... I really don't care honestly about the difference on the two. Things are either safe, or not safe, getting the "exact" measurement means little to me. I want 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and usually <40 nitrate (depending on species, some are <20). If I have that, I'm happy.

Oh for ammonia, I use the seachem ammonia alert.

And people might flame me for it, but it works great for me, and I've been successful so far.
 

BigBeardDaHuZi

Member
Kathylee said:
I started with the Tetra test strips, it was a bundle & also came with Ammonia strips. Very helpful when I was trying to figure out my cycle progress. My issue wasn't the accuracy, I was just running out of them so quickly! I ended up making charts & graphs so I could look at how my ammonia, Nitrate & Nitrite levels were going up & down. I compared with the API master kit & it was pretty spot on. I kept using the API master kit until cycling was over. It was more time consuming with the tubes, measuring, rinsing, washing, drying. I actually went out & bought another pack of the Tetra dip strips to use for my weekly checks just because they we're more convenient. But the API kit was more cost-effective for cycling. I've never tried the 2 brand's that you mentioned, but Tetra worked very well IME.
You can cut the test strips in half, lengthwise, and double your test strips!

Edit: This tip is totally stolen from Corey at Aquarium Co-op. It has saved me a bunch of money
 

aquachris

Member
BigBeardDaHuZi said:
You can cut the test strips in half, lengthwise, and double your test strips!
Yes, this is an amazing hack, I do this
 

Kathylee

Member
BigBeardDaHuZi said:
You can cut the test strips in half, lengthwise, and double your test strips!
I should have thought of it sooner! Thanks.
 

MacZ

Member
BigBeardDaHuZi said:
You can cut the test strips in half, lengthwise, and double your test strips!

Edit: This tip is totally stolen from Corey at Aquarium Co-op. It has saved me a bunch of money
Just make sure your hands are dry and you only do this to one at a time. Leaving the tube open for too long ruins the whole batch.

aquachris said:
Things are either safe, or not safe, getting the "exact" measurement means little to me. I want 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and usually <40 nitrate (depending on species, some are <20). If I have that, I'm happy.
That philosophy works for me for years now. (I try having lower nitrates, though.)

Exact measurements have their time and place. Extreme parameter biotopes, breeding, wild caught fish, high-tech planted setups... But even many of these can be done perfectly fine with strips and an additional test for 1-2 parameters.
 

raptor22

Member
aquachris said:
I've been really satisfied with these.. seem really accurate/etc.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B082X2QDLR/

Some people will flame for using test strips... I really don't care honestly about the difference on the two. Things are either safe, or not safe, getting the "exact" measurement means little to me. I want 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and usually <40 nitrate (depending on species, some are <20). If I have that, I'm happy.

Oh for ammonia, I use the seachem ammonia alert.

And people might flame me for it, but it works great for me, and I've been successful so far.
I have seachem ammonia alert, it never crossed "safe" for me, even with a dead fish right next to it.

I can't find the test strips at my local store, already have seachem ammonia alert in the Planted tank. which two liquid test kits I should buy?
 

AvalancheDave

Member
raptor22 said:
I have seachem ammonia alert, it never crossed "safe" for me, even with a dead fish right next to it.

I can't find the test strips at my local store, already have seachem ammonia alert in the Planted tank. which two liquid test kits I should buy?
Depends what's available in your area.

The API Master Kit is a very good value in the US but that's not true for the rest of the world.
 

aquachris

Member
raptor22 said:
I have seachem ammonia alert, it never crossed "safe" for me, even with a dead fish right next to it.
When I fishless cycle and ammonia, it definitely flares for me. However they are only good for 1 year.
 

raptor22

Member
AvalancheDave said:
Depends what's available in your area.

The API Master Kit is a very good value in the US but that's not true for the rest of the world.
Today, I saw API ammonia.
Multiple Sera including PO4, Nitrate, nitrite, ammonia and pH
JBL Nitrate, pH kits at my local store.
They even had JPL master kit.
Which one of these I should get. Bcz those are expensive e.g PKR 3200 i.e USD 20 for JBL pH kit which is good for 80 test.
 

AvalancheDave

Member
raptor22 said:
Today, I saw API ammonia.
Multiple Sera including PO4, Nitrate, nitrite, ammonia and pH
JBL Nitrate, pH kits at my local store.
They even had JPL master kit.
Which one of these I should get. Bcz those are expensive e.g PKR 3200 i.e USD 20 for JBL pH kit which is good for 80 test.
I would probably buy the one that's cheapest per test with some consideration of availability because you don't want to get used to one brand of test only to have it disappear.
 

MacZ

Member
AvalancheDave said:
I would probably buy the one that's cheapest per test with some consideration of availability because you don't want to get used to one brand of test only to have it disappear.
I'd go for the Sera Master if they have it or JBL pH and Sera Ammonia.
 

raptor22

Member
MacZ said:
Not much of use for me, as I still would have to compare the readings and the tube the scales are printed on will likely be hard to read with this due to form and texture. But thanks for the hint.
JBL already has a product in this category
 

MacZ

Member
raptor22 said:
JBL already has a product in this category
That's what I already use. I called it "scan option" in my other post above, though. Quite happy with it. Makes teststrips quite accurate, though I still compare the oldfashioned way, too. I thought you meant to use the other app instead.

Only downsides: Preset good/bad ranges are not for specialist setups.
And the details section just explains why a certain reading is too high/low and what products to use. So basically an ad-function. But nobody has to use it and it doesn't pop-up by itself.

At least one can use the normal strips for it, because those and the "special" scan strips are the same. When you know that the one-time extra expense is worth it, if not the "special" strips cost 15€ for 20 strips, the normal ones 16€ for 50. So with that info the 50-pack is at a nice value.
 

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