Have you ever???

Slaphppy7

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The only other water I've ever tested (besides my tanks and tap) was my well water...
 

PheonixKingZ

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Out of curiosity, I've been thinking about searching out some local bodies of water in my area and testing them with my API Master kit...I just want to see what "natural" levels are out in the wild, has anyone else ever done this?
Never done it, though it’s a good idea. Just keep in mind that the fish you keep in your tank usually come from halfway across the globe, so the water they are naturally found in won’t measure the same as your local body of water.
 

lnsaneM

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No but I did catch some small fish and fed them to my silver arowanas back in the days. Unfortunately, the fish in the creek wasn't the healthiest so I stopped doing it
 

Rocky998

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I've thought about doing this but don't want to contaminate the test tubes OR my syringe lol
 

Uberhoust

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I have done water testing extensively in the waters around my home over the last 2 years. Unfortunately I did not take good notes but instead only noted when things were outside normal. This is a high rainfall area so normal is pHs around 7 and very soft to soft water. I have not tested ground water because we don't use it for our water supply.

pH, GH, KH vary considerably in the lake waters, but not so much in the rivers.

pH is typically in the 6 to 8 range throughout though areas with freshly exposed rock can be a bit more acidic, into the high 5s, ie in areas near recent forestry road building. Exception to this rule is in limestone areas where the ph does tends to go up, never above 8.

GH is typically low in this area except where the water is in more contact with the bedrock or has a lot of sediment in it (winter floods) 2-5 degrees

KH is highly variable as we have a lot of limestone in the area but in isolated pockets. If I test a cave spring it is typically higher (though not always), otherwise it is low as well. 2 +

Ammonia/Nitrite, I was interested primarily the nitrogen cycle when I started testing, I have never detected the presence of Ammonia or Nitrite with my API test kit in any water I tested, even if the water body had eutrophic indicators such as heavy cyanobacteria blooms.

Nitrate, only two bodies of water, out of 20 or more tested, showed any nitrate, Holden lake got up to 10ppm and Quesnel lake 20ppm at the height of the summer. These lakes have high nutrient loads due to land use around them, and also due to the high waterfowl populations I suspect. Neither of the lakes have water I would put in my tank, or even swim in. In every other body of water the nitrates were 0 by the test kit. (note I have tested my test kit using know nitrate concentrations)

Overall assessment is that most of our waters here, Vancouver Island, are cleaner than even the best kept tank. In some of the lakes I tested have extensive populations of freshwater sponges which is a strong indication of high water quality. But even the slough type bodies of water I have tested still do well based on the recommended values in the test kit. I have not tested any waters from a more tropical climate, though with high water flow I expect those would be similar.
 
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ChasingFish

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I have done water testing extensively in the waters around my home over the last 2 years. Unfortunately I did not take good notes but instead only noted when things were outside normal. This is a high rainfall area so normal is pHs around 7 and very soft to soft water. I have not tested ground water because we don't use it for our water supply.

pH, GH, KH vary considerably in the lake waters, but not so much in the rivers.

pH is typically in the 6 to 8 range throughout though areas with freshly exposed rock can be a bit more acidic, into the high 5s, ie in areas near recent forestry road building. Exception to this rule is in limestone areas where the ph does tends to go up, never above 8.

GH is typically low in this area except where the water is in more contact with the bedrock or has a lot of sediment in it (winter floods) 2-5 degrees

KH is highly variable as we have a lot of limestone in the area but in isolated pockets. If I test a cave spring it is typically higher (though not always), otherwise it is low as well. 2 +

Ammonia/Nitrite, I was interested primarily the nitrogen cycle when I started testing, I have never detected the presence of Ammonia or Nitrite with my API test kit in any water I tested, even if the water body had eutrophic indicators such as heavy cyanobacteria blooms.

Nitrate, only two bodies of water, out of 20 or more tested, showed any nitrate, Holden lake got up to 10ppm and Quesnel lake 20ppm at the height of the summer. These lakes have high nutrient loads due to land use around them, and also due to the high waterfowl populations I suspect. Neither of the lakes have water I would put in my tank, or even swim in. In every other body of water the nitrates were 0 by the test kit. (note I have tested my test kit using know nitrate concentrations)

Overall assessment is that most of our waters here, Vancouver Island, are cleaner than even the best kept tank. In some of the lakes I tested have extensive populations of freshwater sponges which is a strong indication of high water quality. But even the slough type bodies of water I have tested still do well based on the recommended values in the test kit. I have not tested any waters from a more tropical climate, though with high water flow I expect those would be similar.
Thank you! This is very helpful. :)
 

GaryE

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I've tested water here in Canada, in Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico and the USA. Anytime I am where a fish I might keep comes from, I get the info from the source.
 

Akeath

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I was in an environmental program at school where we tested a large variety of local water sources. Test kits were a bit different when testing actual streams and such - we measured total dissolved solids, dissolved oxygen, phosphorus, nitrates, temperature, pH, and more I can't remember off the top of my head. We would collect macro-invertebrates and fish as well to see what was living there.

As far as the usefulness of the master test kits API has for actual streams and bodies of water:
You aren't likely to find any Ammonia or Nitrites in streams at all, so there's not much point in using those. Nitrates are an either or situation - in the vast majority of cases you'll see no Nitrates at all. Or you'll see crazy high nitrates if you are in an unhealthy water source that might be getting eutrophic. pH and temperature change so much by time of day, season, and weather that I haven't found them very useful. I always took them and wrote them down, but they're mostly meaningful when comparing results from the same time, season, and location in years past to look for patterns. Or if you're checking the variations in pH from the same spot at each month of year, so you can see the range. Even just a tree's shade can lower the water temperature a good 15 degrees, and seasonal variations and rainfall can change up the pH more than you'd think. There's a reason fish care sheets usually give pH and temperature in ranges, even for wild caught fish.

If you're really interested in your local streams and waterways and you get only one test, I highly recommend dissolved oxygen. You do have to make sure not to get your sample at the very surface or right against the substrate, as that will affect the results. And make sure you aren't by riffles, rapids, or still pools to get a good idea. But of all the tests I did, high dissolved oxygen meant the water would have the highest amount of varied life. Low dissolved oxygen was often paired with other pollutants. You can even predict what bodies of water will be worth collecting some of the more attractive fish and rarer invertebrates by collecting in areas with the highest dissolved oxygen levels. Assuming you have all the legalities covered for being able to collect natives.

Total Dissolved Solids is my second favorite test. Eventually you'll start seeing a pattern in TDS and what the specific conditions of that stream are - how clear the water is, if it's over silt or rock, what type of vegetation is around, etc. You'll likely start to see patterns in the types of critters that call certain areas home based on TDS, too. It gives you a better idea of what type of specific habitat that section of creek/stream/pool is.

For pollution levels, phosphorus is the best test. If there's a ton of phosphorus, it will test high on other pollutants, and things like dissolved oxygen will also be poor. If the phosphorus is really high practically nothing will live there except huge numbers of leeches, and it's usually safe to say that there's some pollution being caused by people like a nearby construction site.
 
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FishandBirdLover

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Out of curiosity, I've been thinking about searching out some local bodies of water in my area and testing them with my API Master kit...I just want to see what "natural" levels are out in the wild, has anyone else ever done this?
I'm about 20 minutes from the nearest lake, so no. But would be fun to try. :)
 

Uberhoust

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Interesting response @Akeath, your comments pretty much support what I have observed. I found your comments about leaches and pollution very interesting. Many years ago my wife and I dove in a very polluted lake, Summit lake on the BC/Alberta border at Hwy3. This lake used to have a train yard and switching station nearby. When we dove the lake the visibility was pretty low and wildlife very limited, but there were leaches, thousands of them swimming along side of us for the entire dive. Haven't seen that many leaches before or after that dive.
 

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I was in an environmental program at school where we tested a large variety of local water sources. Test kits were a bit different when testing actual streams and such - we measured total dissolved solids, dissolved oxygen, phosphorus, nitrates, temperature, pH, and more I can't remember off the top of my head. We would collect macro-invertebrates and fish as well to see what was living there.

As far as the usefulness of the master test kits API has for actual streams and bodies of water:
You aren't likely to find any Ammonia or Nitrites in streams at all, so there's not much point in using those. Nitrates are an either or situation - in the vast majority of cases you'll see no Nitrates at all. Or you'll see crazy high nitrates if you are in an unhealthy water source that might be getting eutrophic. pH and temperature change so much by time of day, season, and weather that I haven't found them very useful. I always took them and wrote them down, but they're mostly meaningful when comparing results from the same time, season, and location in years past to look for patterns. Or if you're checking the variations in pH from the same spot at each month of year, so you can see the range. Even just a tree's shade can lower the water temperature a good 15 degrees, and seasonal variations and rainfall can change up the pH more than you'd think. There's a reason fish care sheets usually give pH and temperature in ranges, even for wild caught fish.

If you're really interested in your local streams and waterways and you get only one test, I highly recommend dissolved oxygen. You do have to make sure not to get your sample at the very surface or right against the substrate, as that will affect the results. And make sure you aren't by riffles, rapids, or still pools to get a good idea. But of all the tests I did, high dissolved oxygen meant the water would have the highest amount of varied life. Low dissolved oxygen was often paired with other pollutants. You can even predict what bodies of water will be worth collecting some of the more attractive fish and rarer invertebrates by collecting in areas with the highest dissolved oxygen levels. Assuming you have all the legalities covered for being able to collect natives.

Total Dissolved Solids is my second favorite test. Eventually you'll start seeing a pattern in TDS and what the specific conditions of that stream are - how clear the water is, if it's over silt or rock, what type of vegetation is around, etc. You'll likely start to see patterns in the types of critters that call certain areas home based on TDS, too. It gives you a better idea of what type of specific habitat that section of creek/stream/pool is.

For pollution levels, phosphorus is the best test. If there's a ton of phosphorus, it will test high on other pollutants, and things like dissolved oxygen will also be poor. If the phosphorus is really high practically nothing will live there except huge numbers of leeches, and it's usually safe to say that there's some pollution being caused by people like a nearby construction site.
That is really, really interesting! Thanks for sharing.
 

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