Aquarium test kits aren’t complicated – at all!

Follow the API Easy Care Guide and use 5 IN 1 AQUARIUM TEST STRIPS when:
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Of all the advancements that marine aquarists have enjoyed over the years, general testing of aquarium water has been one of the most stagnant areas of improvement and development. If you’re testing the chemistry of your reef aquarium water at home, you’re basically doing the same color changing and titration tests which have been the de facto method of measuring nitrate, phosphate, alkalinity and calcium for decades.
Inexpensive and long-lasting, freshwater aquarium test kits can save you a lot of trouble.
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Well, that sounds like a no brainer – Right? Wrong! If there is one thing you take away from this article, it is Follow The Instructions! I should rephrase that to READ the instructions then FOLLOW the instructions. Nearly all of the reports of weird and incorrect test kit results are due to not following the instructions and user error. If the test kit says you need to shake the test tube for 30 seconds, it means 30 continuous seconds, not three seconds. It matters! Your saltwater is reacting with minute amounts of chemicals, to give an accurate result. I have personally met with aquarists and even shop owners who recommend adding more or less test chemical to the test tube because “it works better.” Not true. Test kit manufacturers spend years developing their kits to perform well, as long as you follow their instructions. Verdict: True Marine Basic Lab Test series for saltwater aquariums tests 13 important aquarium water parameters.
Photo provided by FlickrTesting Your Aquarium is Easy
Photo provided by FlickrThe API GH and KH Test Kit contain liquid tests for general hardness (GH) and carbonate hardness (KH) in tap water and freshwater aquariums.
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Keeping tropical fish healthy in an enclosed environment involves not only regular tank maintenance but also some knowledge of how to test your water and what to look for when you have the results of those tests in front of you. You have got to remember that just because the water looks nice and clear, that doesn't necessarily mean that the water is in good condition, for all you know your aquarium water may contain some extremely dangerous toxins that are lethal to fish. So before you put water in your tank, you must purchase some good quality water testing kits that will test ammonia, nitrite, nitrates and pH, these are the four elements that you must test for on a regular basis, even after your aquarium is fully established. It doesn't matter whether your aquarium has been set up for one month, or 10 years, you will always need to have some water test kits at hand.Buying these aquarium test kits individually can get expensive. You can usually save a few dollars by getting a master test kit. For most hobbyists these master test kits will be sufficient. Live plant keepers and saltwater reef tank keepers may need to invest in additional specialized mini test kits such as copper, phosphate, dissolved oxygen, etc.An aquarium water test kit is needed if you want to be successful in the tropical fish hobby (freshwater or saltwater). You will need to know how to test your water during new tank start-up (the cycle) and whenever problems arise.Nitrate is the byproduct of ammonia and nitrite and is nowhere near as toxic as ammonia or nitrite. Very high levels of nitrate can stress fish and make them more susceptible to disease. It should also be kept very low if you are breeding. Nitrate can only be removed/lowered by doing water changes rather than being removed by nitrifying bacteria. Nitrate levels should be kept at 40 ppm or below. If you keep your fish in a suitable environment, it is extremely easy to keep the nitrate levels below 20 ppm by doing regular water changes. If you keep your Oscar in a tank that is too small, you may find that nitrate levels rise very quickly.

It is important to know what the pH of your water is. Basically, the pH value indicates whether the water is acidic, alkaline or neutral. Without going into detail, a pH level of 7.0 is classed as neutral. If the pH level falls below 7.0, it is classed as acid, if it rises above 7.0, it is classed as alkaline.

Water test kits should be bought with the aquarium before you add any fish. To set up an aquarium and biological filter properly, you need to test the water on a regular basis. Trying to set up a fish tank without knowing what is going on with the water could very well put your fish at risk so please remember to ask for a water test kit when you are buying your aquarium.

Nearly every aquatic company manufacture their own water test kits. Since keeping Oscars, I have used three companies. They are, , and They all work very well but If you were to ask me which I preferred, then it would have to be Aquarium Pharmaceuticals. The main reason why I prefer the test kits manufactured by this company is the longest you have to wait for the results is five minutes, rather than 20 minutes for some of the others. They don't come cheap but you get a lot for your money

Some people prefer to take their water to the local aquatic centre for testing. Many shops will do it for free, or maybe charge you a very small fee. Whereas there is nothing wrong with doing it this way, I prefer to do the testing myself. This means that you can test the water at any time. If you have a problem during the holiday period when the shops are not open, you could put your fishes health at risk whilst waiting for the aquatic centre to open up again. Testing water really is extremely easy, you don't have to be a scientist to do it. It's just a case of adding a few drops of a special chemical to a small amount of tank water and then waiting a few minutes for the results.