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Old 06-04-2005, 05:03 PM   #1
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Swing Arm Hydrometer Warning!

Ever since I've been in this hobby I've always used a swing arm hydrometer of one type or the other. I've been using the "Deep Six" model for the last several months and while being here on the AA forums have read nothing but bad things about these. I've always thought, "well how bad can these things truly be". Well after a disease outbreak and needing to use hyposalinity for a quarantine tank I decided to purchase a refractometer. The difference between the two devices is staggering.

- The swing arm hydrometer is off by a whopping -.5/SG; for example the refractometer showed my main tank at 1.26SG while the hydrometer showed 1.21SG.

Let this be a warning to everyone in this hobby. Spend the $45 dollars and get a refractometer today! It's the single best tool you can buy if you are serious about the care of your tanks.
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Old 06-04-2005, 05:09 PM   #2
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Oh as a sidenote, while I was typing this article I remembered I also have a glass hydrometer (the kind you drop in the water and see where it floats). I've had this thing probably for a good five years now, and this one is +.2SG as compared to the refractometer:

Main Tank:

1.23SG (refractometer)
1.25SG (glass hydrometer)
1.18SG (swing arm hydrometer)

Not as bad as the swing arm hydrometer, but still leaves room for doubt.

- Jeff
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Old 06-04-2005, 05:11 PM   #3
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Thank you for sharing, this is one of the reasons why I read these post everyday. I use a refractometer and I'm glad I spent the money. As much as I stress about my tank I want to make sure all readings are accurate.
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Old 06-04-2005, 06:49 PM   #4
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I also just recently changed from a hydrometer to a refractometer. I had similar results, a .5 difference between the two. My refractometer readings match that of the LFS that uses some kind of digital meter.
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Old 06-04-2005, 07:04 PM   #5
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Same here ... I was using an "Instant Ocean" hydrometer and it was giving me a reading of 1.028 ... I decided to go ahead and get myself a refractometer (the blue one from premiumaquatics.com) and when I got it my readings were 1.024!

A BIG DIFFERENCE!!!!


Needless to say the hydrometer went in the garage!!!
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Old 06-04-2005, 07:55 PM   #6
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That's so funny. I've noticed exactly the opposite. Most of my fellow reefers that think they have their tanks running at 1.025 using a swing arm actually have their water at 1.029 using the refractometer. Wrong in any direction is just wrong, but I find it interesting that it is wrong in both directions.
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Old 06-04-2005, 08:09 PM   #7
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My Refrac says 1.025 my Instant ocean Hydro says 1.025..
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Old 06-04-2005, 08:17 PM   #8
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I'm going with you, revtree....lots of conflicting advice here. If I stick with my floating arm hydrometer and just keep the level consistent (mine reads 1.023, and that's what I adjust the new water to too), that can't be too far off the mark.
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Old 06-04-2005, 08:18 PM   #9
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Sorry about the misspelling, revhtree!
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Old 06-04-2005, 09:46 PM   #10
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As the salt deposits over time they will become increasingly inaccurate. I'd double check it every month at the LFS, just to be sure it hasn't changed any.
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