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Old 07-25-2005, 12:43 AM   #1
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Testing kits -- dip strips vs. "chemistry sets."

I started with those dip stick 5-in-1 test strips. They were ok, but I was told that the "chemistry-set" type kits are far more accurate. So I bought Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Master Test Kit from Big Al's.com. It tests ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, PH & (one other --I forgot). So now I feel like a chemist

When I used the test strips, I compared the strip to a color chart and guessed what my parameters were. Now with my chemistry set test kit I still compare my results to a color chart and guess what my parameters are. It seems to be no different from the dip strips. 8O The color gradiations have large leaps and it is hard to tell where my test tube water (or dip stick for that matter) falls on their scale. It doesn't seem to be any different from the dip strips except that it takes longer to get the results.

Have I really made an advance in accuracy over the dip strips? What testing kit do you use? Did I buy a cheap testing kit? Am I doing this testing stuff right?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 07-25-2005, 01:27 AM   #2
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I some times have trouble with the color comparing too. I use the aquarium Pharm. liquid tests, and it does help if you stand right up next to a window, or go out side. I don't test my water as much as I probably should. When I do, I basically test to see that my Ammonia is 0 (pretty easy to tell that one) nitrites are 0 (again pretty easy to tell) and that my nitrates are low. If you are testing your water regularly, you will notice if there is a big swing in your ph or ammo,etc, and I think that is really the main purpose of these tests.
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Old 07-25-2005, 01:51 AM   #3
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The difference lies in the accuracy of the chemicals used. With the kit, hold the tube against the white card in a well lit room. The 5 in 1 strips have been known to give inaccurate readings.
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Old 07-25-2005, 02:18 AM   #4
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I use the 5 in one strips with no problems. So much easier!
I have a liquid test kit also, just in case I question one or the other. Just make sure not to let any moisture inside the strip bottle, and pay attention to the expiration date and they should be fine. These type of reagent strips are used in human medicine all the time.
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Old 07-25-2005, 02:36 AM   #5
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I love the AP test kit. The Nitrate is where I have a problem. BUT, when you get into the shades where you can't tell the difference, then your Nitrates are too high anyways. So it doesn't matter if you have 40 or 80, you still need to do a pretty big water change to get the number down. That's my theory on it anyways. ATM, we only really test for Nitrates and pH occassionally. The others only get tested about once a month or if I'm bored. There's no reason that the tanks should have Ammonia unless it isn't cycled. HTH
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