What water testing equipment do you recommend?

Discussion in 'Water Chemistry' started by Wulfen, 25 Jul 2018.

  1. Zeus.

    Zeus. Member

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    Well I was using a cheapo one from Amazon for some time cost about £15 which was OK. As to which is most accurate was there are easily better pH probes but how much do you wish to pay. Its about balance and how long will it last and ease of use etc

    Yep you can mess with solutions to get a colour change and estimate the pH which takes time or read it instantly! your call ;)
     
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  2. alto

    alto Member

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    Test Strip technology is quite advanced (widely used in clinical applications, any “unusual” results lead to additional testing, eg, liquidity technology/ alternate methodology)

    At the hobby level, some branded products are decent, some are extraordinarily awful ... in contrast, very few test kits I checked yielded utter nonsense

    I’ve found both Tetra & API multitest strips to be decent, Tetra ammonia performed well
    I prefer Tetra but can’t source them locally anymore & shipping makes them too expensive (API will do ;))

    I use them to confirm nothing much has changed, tap & tank are similar, there’s nothing untoward if fish are looking not quite right ... think I may’ve used 2 strips in the last 6months

    I keep intending to replace my (lost?) pH/TDS pen but prefer Hanna Inst over what local shops are presently flogging

    Mostly I just do another water change :cool:
     
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  3. Siege

    Siege Member

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    I’ve got loads of test kits that I have bought in past. Best advice I found Is don’t use them!

    If you want to know the ph and hardness etc then look at the waterboards website for a full breakdown for your postcode.

    If you plant heavily, you’ll have no issues as the plants will do all the work and will result in healthy fish.

    A ph pen is handy if you want to do a full ph profile. Like others have said you can test for ammonia and nitrite if you have an issue. But set up a nice heavily planted tank and don’t stick a million fish in the tank in one go and no issues :)

    Go to your retailer with a picture of the hardscape and they’ll discuss a planting plan for you, I think thats what would have helped others on the forum who are currently having issues with newly set up tanks.
     
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  4. alto

    alto Member

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    I’ve never seen a pH test kit go “off” as badly - or frequently - as pH probes (no idea what happens as it’s always Nobody that last used the pH meter) ....
    though I was using pH probes daily for years so not really an accurate comparison (back when I was monitoring my tanks, weekly was the most frequent & only for 2-3 years)

    A friend used (a rather expensive) pH system to constantly monitor aquarium CO2 etc, finally gave up after I confirmed probe #5 was no longer working properly

    My view of these low cost pH pens is
    pH 7 or 7.5 or 6.5 ... likely numbers
    pH 7.1 7.0 6.9 6.8 7.0 7.2 ... it’s likely somewhere in there

    Before any pH probe use, check pH standards (eg, 4.0, 7.0) AND confirm the midrange standard (5.6) is also reading accurately and precisely - then you know the sensor is working as expected

    Single point calibration, electronic calibration ... dead simple to use ... dead simple to be completely off and the user will never know
     
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  5. alto

    alto Member

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    :)
     
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  6. Zeus.

    Zeus. Member

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    Forgot about them:thumbup: Like you said its just getting a decent brand. I don't treat the pH reading as accurate just as a guide with reference to the DC colour change and to how stable the pH reading is once the lights are on, but both my pH pens are two point calibration, check the pH pen in 7.0pH and 4.0pH buffer to check their working within acceptable limits, a pH pan is easy and fast and the Hanna probe doesn't seem to need calibrating that often IME. Once your happy with the CO2 injection it only need checking every so often or when changes to the light or tank are done. Increased my lights quite a bit once and didnt do a pH profile and the pH was increasing with the increased CO2 uptake of the plants with the increased light intensity! obvious when you think about it :rolleyes:
     
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  7. alto

    alto Member

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    It shouldn’t, the standards should usually just confirm that the sensing membrane (& internal reference solution) is working as expected
     
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  8. Wulfen

    Wulfen Member

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    I think for myself personally I am still partly programmed with the testing is essential gene.
    This is due to my lack of experience with planted tanks, and the biological process of the plants helping to break down Ammonia and Nitrate.
    I am however slowly coming round to the "test if you like but it's not essential (as long as you maintain good tank cleanliness, regular water changes, regular fert dosing) mindset."
    I think time and experience is really the only way to find your own comfort level.
    Now that my new setup has arrived (just waiting on the stand) one thing keeps nagging at my mind.
    When I start adding fish to the system (once the tank is mature) I still feel I want to monitor ammonia and nitrate levels to get an indicator of the changes in water parameters as an aid to when to add new fish?
     
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  9. alto

    alto Member

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    I was already established in my lab life when fish tanks invaded so I spent the first years testing, testing, testing :p

    I was also paranoid about killing fish & providing optimum water quality & ...

    I was also attracted to wild caught fish like altums :eek: & chocolate gouramis :happy:
    - which have such conflicting husbandry advice - I decided to go with LOTS of very clean water vs these fish don’t like water changes - I mean, how could a wild fish prefer sitting in a toilet tank over a water change :confused:

    In the beginning, you lack the experience to judge fish health by appearance & behaviour, so water testing at least provides some information and you know you’re doing something and there’s nothing toxic in your tank (that you can test for anyway)

    BUT when you start with test kits, get comfortable with the technique, buying a kit with an reference standard is worth the extra £ initially as you can check your accuracy & precision
    Then go on to picking up those sale kits - especially while you’ve still your other kit to compare with

    I’ve used Seachem’s Ammonia Alert on new systems or if I’m feeling paranoid (still get that feeling :lol: ), also their pH Alert but this seems less useful as it doesn’t change much (in my tanks, pretty much always 6.0 - 6.4 ish)

    Congratulations on your amazing tank system :) :) ;)
     
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  10. alto

    alto Member

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    btw just rescaped my 90cm so feeling less jealous :D
     
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  11. Wulfen

    Wulfen Member

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    Cheers alto.
    Nice insight into your current thinking ;)
    Looking forward to scapeing :)
     
  12. dw1305

    dw1305 Expert

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    Hi all,
    The "something unknown" ammonia source is the reason for having lots of plants (and some with the <"aerial advantage">) and <"highly oxygenated"> water, it means that you always have spare nitrification capacity.

    Most forum discussion dramatically under-estimates the importance of plant/microbe biofiltration (and oxygen) in maintaining water quality.
    You can, there are some problems with the measurement of both parameters. In the lab. we use <"Ion Selective Electrodes">.

    Personally I don't regularly test the water in the fish tanks, I use a combination of a <"conductivity meter and the duckweed index">.

    cheers Darrel
     
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  13. tiger15

    tiger15 Member

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    If you use pH pen to estimate co2, it can grossly under estimate co2 availability under misty condition. Co2 is available to plants under dissolved (ionized)and free (mist) form, but pH pen measures only the ionized H+. Liquid pH test kit can pick up free co2 by chemical reaction as you cap and shake the sample. If you are not injecting co2, pH pen and test kit readings should be identical within visual color resolution. When you inject co2, the undesolved co2 can be under estimated by pH pen by as much as 0.3 pint IME.
     

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