In my one month as a "Tropical Fish Hobbyist" I have had my tank tested 2-3 times a week at the lfs. They use 5-1 test strips with a separate strip for ammonia. Although they are not "old" strips at all, that variances would be almost comical, if it weren't so critical. I bought my own test kit, one with test tubes and drops, trusting I'll get more accurate readings. However I find that the color in the test tube always seems to appear closer to the color I wish it to be, then maybe what it is in reality. What do my fellow hobbyists use to test the water and do you really trust the readings?