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Testing kit recommendations

sparkyweasel

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They do it right in front of you, I cant imagine it would be worse.
It can be worse, because when I used to test I followed the instructions on the kit.
I have seen shop staff who ignore things like "shake well and wait 30 seconds before adding reagent 'B' "
Just chucking it in seems OK to some of them.
And I'm sure there's a reason you're supposed to measure out (eg) 5ml of water and not just put 'some water' in the vial.
Of course some shops are great, but some are very dodgy.
 

Andy265

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Blimey!
Wasn't aware this was such a divisive subject. Having been in marine I will be glad to step away from weekly testing and documenting results and constant tweaking to ensure rock solid water chemistry.
One of the reasons that I have returned to planted tanks.
From all of the extensive advice and opinions given ( Always welcome so much advice thank you ) I think I feel confident letting my tank cycle but will test for ammonia and nitrite to ensure filter working correctly and that it is safe for livestock. From then on will be nice to monitor the tank visually, put the test kits away and when needed tap into the experience on here when things go sideways.

Again thanks for the help
 

ian_m

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I think I feel confident letting my tank cycle but will test for ammonia and nitrite to ensure filter working correctly
No need to test at all. Just whop some garden dirt, dirt from old tank, a spare tank sponge from a mate AND loads of plants (could be sacrificial plants to be replaced by nicer plants when happy), leave 8-12 weeks. Job done, not a test in sight. Some people have managed in 4 weeks, but play safe 8-12 weeks is fine.

In that 8-12 weeks you can perfect your water changes, fertiliser dosing regime, plant re-arranging techniques, perfecting CO2 injection as well as doing long critical stares at your tank from comfy armchair, all without any testing or harming live stock.

If you are really worried after all this time (or just can't wait), just add something like Kordon AmQuel that removes ammonia (as well as acting as a dechlorinator). Not AmQuel+ as that removes nitrate, which plants want.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
The nitrite test is basically a pass / fail so I feel like it did its job. I do have a terribly time differentiating some of the results. Again I am not chasing a specific parameter value like pH, KH, GH or Nitrates other than make my water "safe for fishies".

I just wanted my ammonia and nitrite to read 0 after an ammonia spike followed by a nitrite spike,
<"I don't see any issue with this">, nitrite (NO2-) is relatively easy to test for, because some nitrite containing compounds are both coloured <"and insoluble">.
........ Nitrites react with chromotropic acid reagent to form a pink tint in the sample. The amount of color developed is proportional to the concentration of nitrite present in the aqueous sample........
Ammonia/ammonium (NH3/NH4+) is a <"little bit more problematic">, because you have the two <"different states of the TAN"> and because of the solubility of most ammonia containing compounds. An ion selective electrode would work, but they are expensive bits of kit.

Personally I'm never going to base decisions, <"about fish welfare">, on the results of the ammonia or nitrite test.

The real problem I have is with the <"whole "cycling" concept"> as a binary switch between "fish unsafe" and "fish safe" and using test kits to tell you on <"which side of the binary divide you reside">.

You don't need to do any of this you just need to <"plant the tank and wait">, once the plants are in active growth and a reasonable biomass has developed <"the tank is cycled">. It is the <"Seasoned Tank Time"> concept.
Having been in marine I will be glad to step away from weekly testing and documenting results and constant tweaking to ensure rock solid water chemistry.
It is <"slightly different with sea water">, you have <"known datum values"> to aim for in a much denser, saltier liquid. The increased density of sea water allows you to use a "protein skimmer" and you the <"ionic content of the water"> allows you to use a hygrometer or refractometer to measure salinity. For many parameters there are a very small range of values which are "good" and everything else is sub-optimal. It is a <"very black and white world">, compared to freshwater, where everything is <"shades of grey">.

cheers Darrel
 
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jaypeecee

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Could it be that the vehement people had previously wasted their time, money and energy using test kits...

Yes, that's entirely possible. But, in that case, those people may not have even had a basic understanding of aquarium water chemistry and didn't fully understand the rationale for why they were testing. Very recently, I had a discussion with @dw1305 suggesting the inclusion of 'Water Chemistry' in the UKAPS Articles section. I think that could be helpful.
It is the phycological impact of the testing process that traps individual into a life of endless testing.
Perhaps you meant 'psychological'. The testing process will not have any phycological impact on anything. The word 'phycological' refers to matters relating to algae.

And I'm sitting here thinking why am I bothering with this reply? If anyone in our hobby recognizes the importance of water chemistry, then it should be a logical step to recognize the importance of water testing.

Let's leave it at that.

Have a nice day!

JPC
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
why am I bothering with this reply? If anyone in our hobby recognizes the importance of water chemistry, then it should be a logical step to recognize the importance of water testing.
I think there are some things we all agree on, personally I would really <"like to know the water chemistry of my tanks">, and the reason I would like to know is because of the importance water chemistry to the organisms that live in it.

The problems are <"not in the concept">, but <"in the measuring">.

I've always told people that the <"water chemistry values"> they get from their water company are <"likely to be accurate">, because they come from:
  • multiple samples
  • tested to a standard protocol,
  • in an analytical laboratory,
  • with hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of analytical equipment,
  • <"by scientists">
  • who do this for their day job.
That is a totally different scenario to the water testing that most of us can do, even if we understand the scientific method etc.

cheers Darrel
 
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jaypeecee

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Hi Folks,

It is no surprise that many people have major problems with algae and cyano growth in their tanks. I offer this as just one example of what can happen when an aquarist doesn't have the knowledge to understand what's going on in the water itself. It is my view that we should be encouraging people to develop an understanding of water chemistry. Discouraging any, and all forms of testing will have the opposite effect. Water testing is a valuable tool when supported with appropriate knowledge. It concerns me that we are sending out a different message. Could we not, instead, leave individuals to decide for themselves if they want to test water parameters, etc? That's the approach taken by other forums. No bickering, no arguments. Just informed discussion.

JPC
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
It is my view that we should be encouraging people to develop an understanding of water chemistry. Discouraging any, and all forms of testing will have the opposite effect. Water testing is a valuable tool when supported with appropriate knowledge.
I don't think we are discouraging people from having <"an understanding of their water chemistry">, personally I've always tried to answer <"water chemistry questions"> to the <"best of my ability">, and if I haven't known the answer (which has been frequently) I've tried to <"find some-one who does">.
No bickering, no arguments. Just informed discussion.
I think this is informed discussion and <"we are enabling people"> to use <"inferential methods"> and informing them of why they may offer <"more probability of success"> than decision making based entirely on test kit results.
But, getting water parameter figures from one's water company will only tell us what's coming out of our tap. Thereafter, these figures will have changed and it's these latest figures that are of most relevance.
John, I understand this, but how are going to get <"accurate values for our tank water?">

cheers Darrel
 
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Ria95

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In comparison to reactive testing , proactive maintenance and dosing have given me better results at a fraction of the cost,time and effort/loss of enjoyment.

To balance my post a little bit, let me say that if you ever used a thermometer to check the water temperature of your tank ... you tested your water. Used a pH test (liquid or probe) to figure the 1pH drop for your CO2 injection? You tested the water.

In my opinion, the most important point that was made is that most hobbyists become very absorbed by the numbers they get and forget to look at the tank. For example, how many starting aquarists we know who are adding chemical to get the exact pH found on some website . How many are guided in their decision to do / or skip water changes purely on the nitrate test kit result. Following that logic adding a nitrate removing solution such as a selective resin = never change water. Many times the issue is caused by something that was never tested for or can't be tested for by the average aquarist ( 'liquid carbon' cytotoxic effects etc.).

I agree with the previous posts that highlight the issues with test kits for nutrients. Some are better than others, some are unreliable even for yes/no results, some have gotten better/cheaper over time. As was mentioned, even if equipped with recently calibrated research grade gear the person doing the test is just as important. Just ask your newest intern to test a sample and give them the same samples to test after 6 months of learning ;) In that sense, testing is not a required skill to be an aquarist. I test nutrients when I experiment, normal tanks I just enjoy.
 

alnitak

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Hello,
When I was young, decades ago, an old aquarist told me "don't try to push in that way or in that way, stop measuring this and that. You settled your tank the best you could, you applied the global rules, leave it. Because your tank is your tank, it has its own parameters, its own characteristics. It is different from the other which seems to be the same.. It will find its balance, by time"
Based on that, I would say that time is the key. Not the tests kits. Look at the horizont, feel and enjoy your plane. Stop looking at the instruments. Keep in mind that the balance is fragile. Chemistry and maths are the best way to headaches, because your little living world surrounded by glass walls has its own rules. So the best test kits are your eyes, your feeling, and the best medicine is... time.
Let it be ;)
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
To balance my post a little bit, let me say that if you ever used a thermometer to check the water temperature of your tank ... you tested your water. Used a pH test (liquid or probe) to figure the 1pH drop for your CO2 injection? You tested the water.
That is really it. If it works use it, if it isn't reliable? Don't.

If it is a water parameter we are really interested in, like fixed nitrogen levels or dissolved oxygen, then find a <"proxy for estimating it"> and / or a mechanism for ensuring <"that levels never becomes problematic">.

We have a <"few threads"> that make <"exactly that point">.
In my opinion, the most important point that was made is that most hobbyists become very absorbed by the numbers they get and forget to look at the tank.
I think <"that probably is"> the <"nub* of the issue">.
....... I don't often try and measure the pH of the tank water. If you dip a meter in you are really just measuring the <"dissolved oxygen : CO2 ratio">. I can get a more accurate reading by taking the sample away (in scrupulously cleaned glassware), adding some NaCl (a neutral salt to raise the ionic strength) and then calibrating and using three of the bench type pH meters linked above.

Alternatively I can observe the <"condition of the snail shells"> and <"measure the conductivity of the water"> with a dip meter. It doesn't sound as scientific but it gets you to the same place a lot quicker..........
......... asked Dr Sven Kullander what the water parameters were; here's his reply.
Did you record water chemistry parameters?

I used to do that for many years, but it was a pain to carry extra stuff and get dubious recordings.
Dr Kullander would definitely be described as a <"proper scientist">.
*specially for @Hufsa

cheers Darrel
 
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ceg4048

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Perhaps you meant 'psychological'. The testing process will not have any phycological impact on anything. The word 'phycological' refers to matters relating to algae.

And I'm sitting here thinking why am I bothering with this reply? If anyone in our hobby recognizes the importance of water chemistry, then it should be a logical step to recognize the importance of water testing.
Yes, that's right, I meant psychological.
Understanding the importance of water chemistry does not automatically mean that testing is necessary. It's exactly as Darrel points out. The problem is not in the recognition of the importance of water chemistry but in the implementation of testing and in the fruitlessness of inconsistent and irrelevance of the test results.
But, getting water parameter figures from one's water company will only tell us what's coming out of our tap. Thereafter, these figures will have changed and it's these latest figures that are of most relevance.
This is another misconception. The water municipal takes reading from several locations, none of which may be representative of your tap. The results are typically averaged and the value used as a proxy in their published reports.
The fact that they change thereafter, whatever the initial numbers are, supports the argument that testing puts the hobbyist on a perpetual hamster wheel. As we mention in the EI world view, simply executing regular large water changes virtually ensures that any toxic buildup is removed. In fact, the toxic buildup is that of water pollution due to organic waste, which is 1000X more important and deadly than nutrient buildup. So at the end of the day, one needs tp decide between endless testing (expensive) versus endless water changes (cheap).
It is no surprise that many people have major problems with algae and cyano growth in their tanks. I offer this as just one example of what can happen when an aquarist doesn't have the knowledge to understand what's going on in the water itself.
As far as I can tell, you are the one suffering the most from algae and cyano growth based on the number of threads you started complaining of algae in your tank. Furthermore, since you love playing the "show me data" card, please show me data indicating that those who do not test for nutrients suffer more cyano and algae than those who test.

Cheers,
 
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