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what liquid test kit?
I read that paper test strips were useless. What should I use instead? Can you recommend a brand? I'd like to be able to test the usual shibang (pH, KH, DH, Nitrate, Nitrite) + ammonia with it. Your opinions about what to buy/not to buy are appreciated.
Most of us recommened . Then if you want to deal with GH and KH, etc. you could get as well.
Thanks, Lunyin. I've just checked your link. That looks really professional. Thanks for the advice.
Shame that it seems it will take me way longer to test if I need to repeat the test for each flask. Is that the case? Right now, it takes me about one minute to get, granted, approximate results. I just know how busy life gets and I think I might find it tempting to skip regular testing if it takes 20 minutes each time. How long does it take (roughly) to get a pH, nitrate and nitrite reading?
From the API test kit, it takes about a minute to prepare the sample, then you wait 5 minutes for the results on ammonia and nitrite. The nitrate test takes a minute or two longer in preparing simply because one of the chemical bottles for that test requries A LOT of shaking before use.
It's well worth the extra few minutes to test, after you get into a routine you won't even realize it took a couple of minutes longer.
pH is an instant reading, so no time at all. As for ammonia and nitrite, you don't really have to test those much after you are done cycling. I usually only test them after I add more fish to the tank or if I'm trying out any new chemicals in the tank to see if they have any negative effects. Nitrate, I get the sample right before I do my weekly water change anyway. So while it's sitting for 5 minutes, I'm doing my water change and the time just flies by. KH and GH again are only once and a while. If you add anything to your tank (new decoration, different chemical, etc.) you will want to test these after a few days to see if there is any change, but for the most part they should be pretty stable in your tank most of the time. These are more important if you are trying to achieve a certain level of soft/hard water for a specific type of fish and for the beginner isn't all that handy of a test. So it doesn't bother me all that much at all that it take some time to get the results because I know they will be very accurate. With the test strips, we've had people say they had a reading of 100ppm of nitrate, only to switch to a liquid test and find out it was only at 10ppm. So you may be getting a result, but it may not be anywhere close to reality. It's worth the extra few minutes to be sure it's right.
OK, that sounds fair enough. It's true you can do it while you do something else. I didn't think about that. I just hope it's OK to leave it standing for over 5 minutes while you're busy finishing that something else.
Everything but the Nitrate test is ok to leave a bit longer and not see a change in results. However, for the nitrate test I set an egg timer so once the 5 minutes it up I can check it right away. If you leave it sitting longer then it gets darker and darker and you will get a false high reading.
Mmmmh. Unlucky. Just the one that I really want to keep an eye on.
And the paper strips are really useless? I was used to them, and am really bad with the liquid stuff (I have one for ammonia) can never tell precisely the colour.
The paper strips aren't totally useless because they won't give a reading if there is 0 of something. For example, if you have ammonia in your tank the test strips won't read 0, or if you don't have any ammonia the test strips won't say that you do. Well normally they won't . So if you don't really care how much ammonia or nitrite you have in your tank exactly, just that if you have any you need to do a water change right away, then they will be fine. But yeah, there are numerous posts on this forum (and others) of people using the test strips and thinking that their tank is in one condition but when they get a liquid kit they find it's a completely different way. Considering there are lives at stake here, I personally don't risk it on the test strips. Besides my 4 year old likes to count the drops as I add the various chemicals to the test tubes, and he runs the egg timer ;D
Then I need to go liquid, because I need exact readings for nitrates and pH in my main tank. Also, exact readings are kind of a must for the tank I am cycling. OK, off to the pet store (again!). ;D
According to my test strip, my GH hardness in my main tank has gone from 15 to 20 since 2 days ago. Mmmmh. Hope it's wrong or my plecos are in for a hard time. I'll compare with the liquid test am about to buy. Keep you posted.
OK, I've bought the sera aqua-test box. One of these with liquids and vials and stuff. I have 2 questions on how to use it, and it doesn't seem to say on the box/instructions:
1/ It says for some tests (NO3) that you must put 5ml of the aquarium water in if it's salty water, and 10ml if it's freshwater. As mine is very lightly brackish (1 teaspoon per 2G), what do I do: 5ml, 7ml or 10ml? I followed all fresh water quantities, but I wonder if I should then revise the reading to a notch higher than what it returns to take into account my water concentration.
2/ To compare the colour of the liquid in the vial wiht the colour samples on the strip of paper, must you place the vial against the whilte background of the paper, or just next to it. If just next to it, the results are quite a lot lighter as the shadow of the paper doesn't darken it. What do you do?
Thanks again for all the good advice!
Put the vial up against the card, in the white space to the side of the color codes. Meaning basically on the card, not just beside it.
I am not sure about the answer to your brackish water question...answer will be coming soon I am sure!
Thanks! Althought it's kind of bad news as it means my concentrations are higher than the original reading.
Well after a bit of searching, it seems that on those tests that have the option (like nitrite) to test between Freshwater and SW, that you have to lean toward the salt water reading. Apparently the salt in the water, even at brackish levels tends to skew the results away from the Freshwater values. However, it seems that a lot of people said that it can depend on the test kit as well. Does Sera have a website or email address listed on the box that you could contact them and ask? Maybe someone with more brackish water experience can chime in here on this one.
As to how to view the test vials, I hold them against the card and move near a light. If you look straight at the card you will notice that the vials shadow is actually cast over itself. If you tilt the card slightly so you are looking at it from a angle, the shadow will move out of the way and now you will get just the liquid against the white background of the card. This will allow you to hold the vial right up to the different colors and find the closest match.