A GUIDE FOR FRESHWATER AQUARIUM WATER TESTING
Testing your water is the best way of understanding your aquarium. Water can appear crystal clear but can still contain pollutants. Simply looking at the aquarium does not tell the whole story. Most problems can be attributed to poor aquarium water quality. This includes algae, diseases, plant health and the general well-being of your inhabitants.
Traditional Water Tests
Water tests are available in many different form factors. We will discuss the most popular and easily accessible ways to test your aquarium below.
A relatively new and inexpensive technology, the ProScan uses your phone and a test strip to receive almost immediate test results of (7) important freshwater aquarium water parameters, including pH, GH, KH, nitrite, chlorine and CO2. The coolest thing about the ProScan is that it keeps your test results handy so that you can refer to them or send them to a friend.
It’s always a good idea to maintain a consistent water chemistry. A good rule of thumb is to mimic the natural environment of where the fish come from. Make sure to keep fish together that have similar water chemistry needs and check water values, including your tap water. There are so many great resources available for this information like Heiko Bleher’s Biotope Aquarium book and his website - the Biotope Aquarium Project.
If you are currently using test kits that need to be swirled or mixed, you can use the SR Aquaristik Speed Test. The SR Aquaristik Speed Test is a portable magnetic stirrer and is ideal for use with most standard titration-style test kits. The variable speed control allows for faster, more accurate and quicker testing of fresh or saltwater aquariums.
The speed test vials and stirring pill should be rinsed after use with distilled or reverse osmosis water and dried upside down on a clean paper towel.
Color Comparison Test
Two testing vials are filled with aquarium water and then put into a color chart or color field. The water is then tested and the two colors are compared on a chart or within a carousel. A good example of this would be the Red Sea Phosphate Test Kit.
Test strips are convenient but tend to be less accurate than most available test kits if not used quickly and stored properly. You simply dip the strip into the aquarium for a few seconds and then match colors to a color indicating chart.
There are several forms of continuous testing available including a drop checker for CO2 and various permanent testing meters. Unfortunately, there are only a few options although more are becoming available. The most popular are used for pH, conductivity, salinity and ORP or reduction in oxidization.
A good example of this type of test would be the JBL Pro Aquatest. JBL Pro Tests are available in several configurations and are accurate and user-friendly.
Zooxae carries a wide range of water test kits that can help with algae issues, incorrect water chemistry, pH, phosphate, nitrate, carbon dioxide, potassium, magnesium and KH - just to name a few.