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BlueWolf's Howl

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September 08, 2018

Water Testing

I've mentioned a few times that you can't visually tell when your aquarium water should be changed. You really need a test kit for this. The test kit I use is the API Freshwater Master Test Kit.

You can get this kit from $21.99 online to $34.98 at some pet stores. It is the test kit that is mentioned on all the expert sites and used by most people. I also bought a few packs of the test strips. The strips are easier to use, but the test kits are much more accurate.

When you first start testing water, one of the biggest things you will run up against is comparing the colors. The test strips do not help you in that area - they still use color charts for readings.

I can understand the concern because some of the shades are not easy to distinguish. The close colors sometimes give you wiggle room to see what you want to see. If you have 0.5 ppm ammonia, it's easy to convince yourself that it's only 0.25 - or 1.0 depending on your personality (or mood). But once you test regularly, you get more confident in your results. And I was not confident in my 0.5 readings until I saw a 2.0 ppm reading.

One of the things I realized was that it really doesn't matter if it's 0.5 or 1.0 - if it's not 0 ammonia, you need a water change.

Since I have multiple tanks, I wanted a digital meter to probe and view a digital readout. I looked around and saw some for about $50 [Hanna checkers] - but they seemed to require constant calibration to function correctly. That sounds like more work than the tubes and reagents.

The other thing I'm still looking around for are replacement reagents for the test kit. From what I've seen there are separate tests (like for ammonia) - but the color charts on those are different. Right now a test kit is not my biggest problem, so I have some time to look a little harder.

My plan for the saltwater aquarium setup would be to have a probe somehow connected to an arduino/raspberry pi to send notifications to my phone/laptop. So I will be looking into this much further.

Posted by BlueWolf on September 8, 2018 08:47 PM