A Simple Guide To Testing Aquarium Water Parameters

A Simple Guide To Testing Aquarium Water Parameters

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For any fish hobbyist it is crucial to check the water parameters of an aquarium to ensure pristine water quality and the overall well-being of a fish. This often leads to two often asked questions: how do you check the water parameters and what should you be checking for?

From ammonia test kits to pH readers the various brands and testing methods might be overwhelming. The two most common ways to check water levels are five in one test strips and a master test kit.

Test Strips

Beginner fish hobbyists often buy test strips because of how easy they are to use as they simply require a dip in the fish tank for a couple of seconds. While useful for roughly checking water parameters it's somewhat difficult to tell exactly what the levels are and accuracy can fluctuate.

Once a test strip container is opened moisture from the surrounding area will begin to alter the results, making them inaccurate. Test strips are initially cheaper than a master kit, but while they check for nitrites, nitrates, the pH level of the water, carbonate and the general hardness of the water it's missing an essential component: ammonia readings.

For the 5 in 1 test strips a 25 count container costs around $9. To buy a container of 25 ammonia test strips costs around $12. The cost is about 80 cents per strip, making it more expensive over time compared to buying a master test kit.

Master Test Kit

Master Test Kits come in containers that look like the beginning to a basic chemistry lab, but they are quite easy to use after a few tests. The API Freshwater Master Test Kit comes with four vials that hold around 10ml of water and an assortment of solutions that test for pH, high range of pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels.

Master Test Kits are much more accurate than their test strip counterparts and cost a lot less in the long term. The API Freshwater Master Test Kit costs around $27 and if a conservative estimate is used when calculating the number of tests per kit the cost per use averages 30 cents. There is an expiration date of around 3-4 years on the solutions included in the test kit, although this shouldn't be a problem even if a test kit is used sparingly.

How To Use

An instruction booklet is included in the API Freshwater Master Test Kit and is easy to interpret. Each vial has a line that measures 5ml of water to be tested as well as solutions that measure pH, ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates.

For pH add three drops from the test solution (which conveniently comes in a container with a dropper). Adding five drops in a separate vial will display the correct pH level in the tank if the pH level is higher than 7.6.

The API Freshwater Master Test Kit comes with two bottles of ammonia test solution, so adding eight drops from bottle #1 and eight drops from bottle #2 (while shaking the vial for a few seconds in between) will display the correct levels of ammonia in the tank.

To test for nitrite levels adding 10 drops of solution and shaking the vial for a few seconds is all that's needed to check for nitrite in a tank.

The biggest complication in the API Freshwater Master Test Kit is the nitrate test, which involves two bottles of solution. Adding 10 drops from bottle #1 is all that is needed, but it is crucial to vigorously shake bottle #2 for at least 30 seconds to ensure accuracy of the results. One of the ingredients "wants to solidify out of a liquid solution" if the test bottle sits for any period of time, giving a falsely low reading for nitrates if it isn't mixed up.

Because of the fluctuation in the number of drops needed for each test certain solutions will run out faster than others. Listed below are the individual test kits for each solution:

API pH 250 Count Test Kit: $5

API High Range pH 160 Count Test Kit: $7

API Ammonia 130 Count Test Kit: $7

API Nitrite 180 Count Test Kit: $10

API Nitrate 90 Count Test Kit: $12

Once all of the solutions have been added and the vials shaken it will take at least five minutes for the test results to show up. Each vial will show a different color for the test readings, which are then compared to a color pallet that the test kit comes with showing what each level is at.

As a general rule ammonia and nitrite readings should be as close to 0 ppm as possible, while nitrates should be below 40 ppm.

Winner: Master Test Kit

Five in one test strips may seem tempting, but because the results are harder to interpret the tests can be rather inaccurate and the price is generally higher. Purchasing a master test kit is worth the investment despite the initial cost. The readings are much more accurate, ensuring happy fish, a healthier fish tank and an even happier wallet.

Cover Image Credit: Brandon Lazovic

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

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And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

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Sincerely,

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Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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American Or Christian?

Can you really be both?

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This is a thought that has lingered in my mind for a very long time.

Personally, I hate news and politics. It's depressing and it seems like both parties (and people in general) just don't get it. Political conversation gets on my ever-loving nerves and literally gets me down in the dumps for the day.

I just simply don't watch it anymore. There is too much negativity.

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I try and respect everyone's opinions, and I earnestly try to love everyone, even when they trash and disrespect my beliefs and convictions. But I must put my call to Christ about anything that has to do with this nation. I will pray for ALL our leaders because I was told to do so (I prayed for President Obama when he was in office). And I will be here to support this nation. But I cannot put it above Christ's commands.

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