Strips and their bad name

  1. leftswerve Well Known Member Member

    I wonder if some the mythology behind test strips not being accurate has to do with improper handling?
    i.e. Leaving the container open instead of removing a strip and immediately closing the container then immediately using the strip.
    Touching a test pad with bare hands, or letting the test pad touch anything prior to use.

    I'm not going to flip the bill to run tests to compare the two, but I have to wonder....

  2. Aquaphobia Fishlore Legend Member

    It's an interesting question. Maybe someone out there who has both would be willing to run the experiment for you!
  3. leftswerve Well Known Member Member

    The problem with that is control, we don't know how an opened bottle of strips has been treated already.
  4. Lchi87 Fishlore VIP Member

    I have used both and I feel better using the traditional liquid tests because I have a better sense of control and also I feel like they are more cost efficient because I am neurotic about water quality and test very frequently. I could easily blow through a tube of strips in a few weeks but using API's Master Test Kit will give me way more tests for the same price and I have the peace of mind knowing that the results are accurate and that I'm not using stale strips that have been sitting on a shelf for who knows how long.
  5. Dragones5150918 Well Known Member Member

    What I know about test strips is what I read up on.

    Air has its own peramaters. If you left a test strip out in the countertop, with in a week you will see a slight change in colors. The only way to really see it is side by side comparison of a new strip vs the one on the counter. After a month more color is on the strip and more noticeable. Plus everything that is in the air, dust, pollen, animal dander, etc has their own peramaters as well. When you open the bottle, there is an exchange of air, plus the fact you end up touching inside the bottle and normally more then just one strip which is a cross contamination.

    So the moment you crack open the strips, your pads start collecting the peramaters from its surroundings, and the longer you have the strips, the more its picked up from the air, and less accurate from your tank.

    Hope this helps.
  6. leftswerve Well Known Member Member

    Lchi87 you had me bah humbugging you (cost wasn't a factor in my question) until you got to the part about sitting on the shelf. Agreed, however what about the liquid tests? What is their shelf life, compared ? How many people buy the strips first and only the strips and never get a liquid test? So the turnover on Strips may be much higher.
  7. leftswerve Well Known Member Member

    You just repeated what i said the problem was. Does that still happen if you carefully open and close the screw top container they come in? Some even come in individual pouches.
  8. Lchi87 Fishlore VIP Member

    LOL. I realize you never mentioned cost but at the end of the day the $30 spent on the master kit is more worth it to me than $30 spent on strips especially when you factor in the number of tests you can perform, accuracy and consistency.

    I believe the master kit expires three years from the date on the box, hoping someone can confirm.

    My point was that there's less chance of outside factors mucking up the results when using the liquid tests just because you're dropping the chemicals right into a vial so there's less chance for contamination as long as you're using a clean vial; whereas with the strips, it's coming into extended contact with your skin and the air.

    I'll be honest, I bought the strips first because I was lazy and thought this would be an easy alternative to testing rather than collecting samples of tank water and meticulously measuring out the correct number of drops but after I switched over to the liquid tests, I haven't looked back.

    It's a personal choice but at the end of the day, it's all about the health and well being of the fish and I don't want to chance sacrificing my water quality over strips that may or may not be accurate.
  9. Dragones5150918 Well Known Member Member

    It still happens unless they come in individual sterile packets. Once you open them and they are exposed to air, the contamination has started, but the individual packed one would be more accurate then the other ones.

    Age also deteriorates the pad, so watch the expiration dates.
  10. leftswerve Well Known Member Member

    I was thinking about how accurate the liquid is, assuming user responsibility, but the Nitrate test does pose quite a problem as bottle 2 gets older.
  11. Aquaphobia Fishlore Legend Member

    Someone needs to invent a teeny tiny paint can shaker just for that #2 bottle...:p
  12. CindiL Fishlore Legend Member

    I actually use a photometer now and love it because it gets rid of the subjective color analysis you have to do with both strips and regents there are pros and cons to both the regents and strips. That said, I still have some strips and regents around.

    The strips have a longer shelf life then regents but are the least exact. I think if you keep the lid closed on the strips immediately after removing one they should not deteriorate that quickly. I think strips are good for ball park readings like you think something is not quite right in your tank, you use the strip and see one thing in particular is off like nitrites or nitrates or KH or PH or whatever. Then you can pull out your regent kit and get a more exact reading. Saves you from having to do every single regent test when you're not sure which parameters might be off. I do keep strips around for that very reason and then will use my photometer to get the exact number.