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Old 05-12-2010, 06:46 PM   #1
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Freshwater Test Kit Recommendations

I am asking for recommendations for accurate freshwater testing that also has good color differentiation. I am currently using API's GH, KH, Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate kits but the color differentiation is hard for these half-century old eyes to see. The GH and KH tests aren't bad since they change colors entirely, not shades of a color, but the other three, for me, are hit & miss. I use a handheld digital meter for pH and also have a pH controller tied into the CO2 injection system.

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Old 05-12-2010, 07:03 PM   #2
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I say APIs master kit is the best of the best.
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Old 05-12-2010, 07:42 PM   #3
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I wrote this up a while back

Observations on API test kits

But color differentiation is pretty much the problem with all test kits. The Salifert pH kit has pretty good color change but all their other color cards are very difficult to discern IMO. I've only got 1/3 ++ century old eyes but still have a hard time telling them apart. API Nitrate is a little tricky and I cover that, Nitrite and Ammonia are good on API but once you're cycled you don't even care about those.

Bang for buck API. Saltwater, Salifert is a must.
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Old 05-12-2010, 11:09 PM   #4
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I've found it's fairly easy to see the different colors in the important ranges of the API tests. The ammonia test can be a little difficult, but that's the worst.

Ammonia: Yellow = good, any green = bad
Nitrite: Blue = good, any purple = bad
Nitrate: Yellow-orange = good, red = bad

I don't much care whether the water is a little bad or a lot bad. It's just bad and I need to do something about it.
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Old 05-15-2010, 12:51 AM   #5
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BigJim's method is the sensible way that I also follow. Basically ammonia & nitrites should always be zero, anything else is bad.

It is possible to get accurate results with color change kits if you want to do serial dilution. <This is how "real" labs do those color tests ....> Anyways, you want to know the threshold for color change for a specific test. That usually is the lowest number on the color card. <For my API nitrate, it would be 5.> You take your tank water, and add distilled water until the test no longer read positive, and calculate the result from the dilution. <Eg. if 9:1 dilution is positive & 10:1 dilution is negative in the NO3 test, then your NO3 is 45 (error range +/- 5 ... your threshold).> Only real fanatics (look in some of the plant forums on the net!) do things like this. For the rest of us, ball park figures are perfectly adequate!
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Old 05-15-2010, 11:10 AM   #6
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I have had to dilute samples for customers whose tanks I take over because they are stupid and didn't do water changes for 3 years. When Nitrates are over 600-800 you have to dilute 20:1 to even get a reading!!!!
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