Testing, testing, 1, 2 ,3

Lynnzer

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How many times do I use my API test kit? Well so many times that refills are necessary from time to time.
I had a pH test pen but dropped it into the water and buggered it up, I also have a TDS for water hardness ppm test pen. I'm beginning to doubt the efficicacy of that though as, for instance, I took a jug of rainwater that is slightly stained brown and tested it at 32ppm. Then I ran the water through a really condensed tube of filter floss and did another test. That showed as 48ppm. Can't quite figure it out.
Anyway, is there such a thing as a universal test pen that'll do pH, GH, KH and anything else?
It would be far less expensive, and a damn sight quicker, to use a simple test pen than sit and watch tubes of tank-water for 10 minutes at a time.
 

Wills

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I dont know which are worth bothering with but what about one of the digital kits? I think the first ones were called seneye? I've been thinking about looking at them for a while but not too much of an issue for me at the moment. Probably would with a larger tank.

Wills
 
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Lynnzer

Lynnzer

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Cost of the Seneye isn't overly bad when you compare it with the API test kits, however it's not got a great deal to it. Lighting isn't an issue, ammonia is important of course but not as much as Nitrates after properly cycling a tank.
It's the GH, KH and pH I'm more interested in as I need to accurately mix 3 sources of water to give the desired result for different tanks.
For instance I have a tank that needs to be between 100 - 130 ppm and a pH of 6 - 7.5, then another tank that is best at 280-330 ppm with a ph of 7.5 - 8.5 etc.
I need to mix treated tapwater with a pH of about 8.75 and ppm of 450ish to achieve the results I need using rainwater and Asda bottled water.
Rainwater of course has zero pH so can easily drop a pH level, and the ppm is also low, down to zero from around 30ppm depending on how often it's rained since the last downpour. The imperfections are filtered in the downpipe but still manage to bump the ppm up a bit. I have a UV light on order now to place in the rain barrel that's to be switched on for a few hours after each rainfall so bacteria should be sorted out before the water gets used.
I'm trying to devise a graph so I can work out how much of each water I need to mix, but I ain't no mathematician so it's not easy.
 

TwoTankAmin

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I almost never use ny GH kit, I use the KH one for my bio-farm but not my normal tanks. TDS is actually calculated by appluing a formula to conductivity. It is important to understand the basics of water chemistry.

Pure water is hydrogen and oxygen. Put in a conductivity or TDS meter and it should read 0 ppm. But in reality it takes stingent lab conditions to have pure water. More on this later.

Pure water is a lousy conductor of electricity. However, what does make it a good conductor is the other stuff in it. The other stuff conducts the electricity. And this is why a conductivity meter is used to measure the content of water beyond H20. It works by send a fixed amount of electricty between two probes. By measuring how much ot that reached the second probe is how conductivity is calculated.

Unlike GH or KH test kits digital measure will include everything in the water. Dissolved organic matter, mineral, ions. compounds etc. etc. What this measure will not do it to determine what exactly is contributing to the reading. For that other tests are needed and this can be a lot of different things. Ammonium, nitrate and ntrite all contribute to conductivity so do any other ions.

Digital tests can be pricey depending on what is being tested. Further, the greater degree of accuracy one want, the more they will cost. I had two pH hand held meters I threw out because they are pretty crappy. I now have a $250 continuous monitor on my altum tank to measure pH, Temp. and Conductivity/TDS. It is not instant but is quick enough to serve my purposes. When I change the pH I useally wait 5 minutes or more to check the monitor. This is because the test kit vial tests 5 ml of water and the tank is 55 gals. I need to wait for the effects to spread ttough out the tank. It matters where in the tank. I will put some muriatic acid in several places including the opposite end of the tank from the probes. So it takes time to circulate and give me a true reading.

The problem with hobby test kits is they are limited in their range in many cases. I have nor seen an aquarium test kit that read pH under 6.0. Even my probes have trouble with very low pH. Since I keep the tank tea stained. colormetric tests are pretty much useless.

A good friend has a YouTube channel on aqariums. She is a published author and speaker at events. She was sent a decent new digital water testing device Fro API into which one put a water sample and it gave readouts on all the sorts of things we want to know about our water. Here is their description:

Presenting API AQUASPIN, a cutting-edge technology that combines speed and accuracy for the best aquarium and pond water analysis results anywhere, all in just two minutes! Using AQUASPIN is simple – all it requires is a small water sample from your customer, the AQUASPIN photometer and a new disk. The water test (freshwater or saltwater) takes fast and accurate readings of aquarium or pond parameters, including, where applicable, nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, phosphate, carbonate hardness, general hardness, pH, magnesium, and calcium. No need for color comparison or human interpretation, the AQUASPIN technology provides your results accompanied by an API product recommendation all with the click of a button.

Now for the kicker, "
How much is the API Aquaspin?
$1200 + $175 for every 50 discs.Aug 13, 2020

So folks how many of you have $1,200 to spend on testing? or do you want more accurate digital tests? You can spend more than $1,200 for a high qualoity single parameter digitasl tester if you want the greatest accuracy.
 

Sgooosh

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I almost never use ny GH kit, I use the KH one for my bio-farm but not my normal tanks. TDS is actually calculated by appluing a formula to conductivity. It is important to understand the basics of water chemistry.

Pure water is hydrogen and oxygen. Put in a conductivity or TDS meter and it should read 0 ppm. But in reality it takes stingent lab conditions to have pure water. More on this later.

Pure water is a lousy conductor of electricity. However, what does make it a good conductor is the other stuff in it. The other stuff conducts the electricity. And this is why a conductivity meter is used to measure the content of water beyond H20. It works by send a fixed amount of electricty between two probes. By measuring how much ot that reached the second probe is how conductivity is calculated.

Unlike GH or KH test kits digital measure will include everything in the water. Dissolved organic matter, mineral, ions. compounds etc. etc. What this measure will not do it to determine what exactly is contributing to the reading. For that other tests are needed and this can be a lot of different things. Ammonium, nitrate and ntrite all contribute to conductivity so do any other ions.

Digital tests can be pricey depending on what is being tested. Further, the greater degree of accuracy one want, the more they will cost. I had two pH hand held meters I threw out because they are pretty crappy. I now have a $250 continuous monitor on my altum tank to measure pH, Temp. and Conductivity/TDS. It is not instant but is quick enough to serve my purposes. When I change the pH I useally wait 5 minutes or more to check the monitor. This is because the test kit vial tests 5 ml of water and the tank is 55 gals. I need to wait for the effects to spread ttough out the tank. It matters where in the tank. I will put some muriatic acid in several places including the opposite end of the tank from the probes. So it takes time to circulate and give me a true reading.

The problem with hobby test kits is they are limited in their range in many cases. I have nor seen an aquarium test kit that read pH under 6.0. Even my probes have trouble with very low pH. Since I keep the tank tea stained. colormetric tests are pretty much useless.

A good friend has a YouTube channel on aqariums. She is a published author and speaker at events. She was sent a decent new digital water testing device Fro API into which one put a water sample and it gave readouts on all the sorts of things we want to know about our water. Here is their description:



Now for the kicker, "
How much is the API Aquaspin?
$1200 + $175 for every 50 discs.Aug 13, 2020

So folks how many of you have $1,200 to spend on testing? or do you want more accurate digital tests? You can spend more than $1,200 for a high qualoity single parameter digitasl tester if you want the greatest accuracy.
Thanks this was super interesting !!!
Is there a reason why stores do not use digital? Is ti becuase they dont know aboutit?
(Sorry for my bad spelling i’m on an iphone lol)
 

TwoTankAmin

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No, its the cost. The API device is designed for stores. But the store (and online sellers) buys test kits to resell, so they do not pay what they are charging us. Most stores tend to markup close to 100% on this stuff where they can. So the ammonia kit.

I just went to one of the sites where I shop for fish supplies, They now shoe the API ammonia test for sale at 14.29. I recall paying half that for the last one i got there a while ago. Amazon has it at the same price. So this means the stores are likely paying anywhere from half that to maybe 2/3?

The API kit is good for 130 tests. The nitrate kit does 90 and the Nitrite does 180. The economics for most stores support the test kits moreso than the API device. Digital testing is not cheap and often not so easy.

Hach is a scientific instrument company that sells all sorts of high quality testing. For ammonia at the low end of their products offering the tester sells for $132.16 plus shipping. When you need more reagents, $113.12 plus shipping. So how many folks reading this will spend that instead of $14.29? If you want the real quality Hach ammonia devices you can peruse these.
https://www.hach.com/parameters/ammonia

The difference between what we as hobbyists use and what scientists use price and true accuracty
 

StevenF

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I also have a TDS for water hardness ppm test pen. I'm beginning to doubt the efficicacy of that though as, for instance, I took a jug of rainwater that is slightly stained brown and tested it at 32ppm. Then I ran the water through a really condensed tube of filter floss and did another test. That showed as 48ppm. Can't quite figure it out.
TDS measure total DISSOLVED solids. Filter floss will not remove any dissolved material. If the TDS went up then the filter floss may have been contaminated with a small amount of something that dissolved increasing the reading slightly. Filter floss will remove solids but generally solids won't be detected by the pen.

Also note that that TDS measures all solids. While the GH test kit primarily ONLYchecks calcium and magnesium levels and will not get detect most of the other stuff in the water. TDS often reads very differently from GH tests. So if you are targeting aspecific GH for the fish you have the GH test is is the better choice. But if you just want to verify your maintenance and tap water is concistant, TDS is a good choice
 

StevenF

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Thanks this was super interesting !!!
Is there a reason why stores do not use digital? Is ti becuase they dont know aboutit?
(Sorry for my bad spelling i’m on an iphone lol)
The key issues with digital is cost. You can get some digital checkers that cost about $50 but you need one for each test you want to doS So if you want to test for PH, Ammonia, Nitrate, nitrite you would need to spend at least $200. You can get devices that will do multiple tests but price fore those is about $1000 or more. They are very accurate but beyond what most can afford. The high cost means most stores don't carry them

So for someone new to the Hobby on a budget they most likely going to get a API or similar liquid test kit or one bottle of 100 test strips which both cost less than $30.
 
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Lynnzer

Lynnzer

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I have the NT Labs kit and to be honest I'm a bit miffed with it.
They have put little thought into the use of it. For instance on the Ammonia test, each bottle requires a single drip from each of the 3 bottles. That way the bottles run out at pretty much the same time. Same for the Nitrate, however when you use the GH, there's a large discrepancy between the amount used. 2 drips from one bottle then just keep dripping away until you turn the colour. In my case, tapwater takes around 20 drips.
I run out of bottle 2 liquid and still have most of bottle 1 left. Can you get a bottle 2 refill? Not a chance.
Surely there's a better and more sensible way to check GH.
 

Essjay

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The API GH tester uses just 1 bottle. As does their KH tester. There are probably other single bottle testers out there as well. Those are better than two bottle testers that are used at different rates.
 
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Lynnzer

Lynnzer

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The API GH tester uses just 1 bottle. As does their KH tester. There are probably other single bottle testers out there as well. Those are better than two bottle testers that are used at different rates.
Thanks for that Essjay.
 

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