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Old 09-09-2004, 03:46 PM   #1
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Margin of error on test kits for water quality?

Years ago (OK, so maybe it was decades -- I am getting old!) I was told by a respected biology professor that the margin of error in consumer test kits for aquariums was significant enough as to make them invalid tools. So, my question is this: Are there any true scholars, biologists, etc out there that can affirm/deny the accuracy of home (consumer) water quality test kits?
Thanks - jd
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Old 09-09-2004, 03:57 PM   #2
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honestly they've gotten better over the years...but certain kits are more accurate than others.
Salifert and SeaChem are the two best...as is LaMotte if you wanna spend $45 per test kit.
Aquarium Pharm. isn't bad for stuff like ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, but I wouldnt' trust their phosphate or calcium tests.

I"m not impressed with the 1 hagen kit I own (for nitrate). And I've heard enough comments on Red Sea to avoid it as well.

Most feel that the quick dip test strips are too expensive, and too easily skewed by minor humidity during storage to be useful, especially in a salt tank.
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Old 09-10-2004, 05:49 PM   #3
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I've never heard anyone say anything about Aquarium Pharm. before. I use them because they are sooo much easier than the rest of them. They're not very expensive either. They get the job done for me. I also notice that the LFS's here use them.

I've never heard anyone say anything negative about Salifert or SeaChem, so I would say that they're probably the best on the market. I hear they're a bit more work and a lot more money, though. So, if you're worried about quality, they're the ones to get. If you're lazy and just want a ballpark figure on your nitrates, go for Aquarium Pharm.
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Old 09-10-2004, 07:21 PM   #4
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I also doubt my Hagen NO3 test kit, unfortunately still not able to find a better one (not that i mean Hagen the best but i mean i need one that accurate to 1-2ppm then 5ppm increament).

AFAIK Hagen, Sera, Aqua Pharm, Tetra, SeaChem all have 5ppm increament.
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Old 09-10-2004, 07:39 PM   #5
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The problem is we can't possibly know if the test kit is giving an accurate reading or not since we have no proven point of reference. As much as I advocate testing as good practice I think it's entirely possible to rely on it all too much.

Once you get to know your tank and it's inhabitants you can quite easily pickup on when something is amiss just from general observation. I rate this above all other methods.
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Old 09-10-2004, 08:55 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Atari
The problem is we can't possibly know if the test kit is giving an accurate reading or not since we have no proven point of reference. As much as I advocate testing as good practice I think it's entirely possible to rely on it all too much.

Once you get to know your tank and it's inhabitants you can quite easily pickup on when something is amiss just from general observation. I rate this above all other methods.
Great point and I agree totally. Thats why for PH I got a monitor, will save big $$ in the long run. Its something we always have to check.
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Old 09-11-2004, 08:54 AM   #7
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Just because some reefers can tell how the tank is doing dosen't mean I would reccomend it to a noob.
I just checked my test kits, and none of them state their margin of error. but with the kits that use color comparison, sometimes it is a guess. test kits that use titration instead of comparing color are more accurate.
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