The Best Aquarium Test Kit
To help you find the perfect aquarium test kit, we continuously put forth the effort to update and expand our list of recommendable aquarium test kits. Our team collects, edits and publishes new information, in order to present it to you in an accurate, significant and neatly arranged way.
Runner-ups: 7 Best Aquarium Test Kit Alternatives
Table of Contents
Buying Guide for Aquarium Test Kits
What are the Types of Test Kits?
There are four basic types of aquarium water tests: dip strips, colorimetric test kits, titration test kits and digital test kits. Dip strip tests include strips of paper pre-loaded with testing reagents. After dipping the strips in a sample of aquarium water, you compare the treated paper to a provided chart to determine the rating for that parameter.
Colorimetric test kits include one or more reagents with a test tube for collecting a water sample. Users add a predetermined amount of the reagents to the water sample and mix it up. The color of the water will change depending on the level of the parameter being tested; after a set amount of time, you compare the color of the sample to a reference chart to determine the parameter level.
Titration test kits are similar to colorimetric test kits, but rather than adding a set amount of reagent to the water sample, you instead count how many drops of reagent it takes to induce a color change in the water. After observing the color change, you cross-reference the amount of reagent you used to determine the level of the parameter in the water sample.
Digital test kits may share features of other types of test kits, or they may consist of a simple probe and reader. Although some digital kits may require you to perform some manual preparation before testing, the actual measurement is done electronically.
What Parameters Should Be Tested?
You can purchase test kits to measure a wide variety of different water parameters, but there are some types of tests that can be safely ignored depending on the type of aquarium you own. Some test kits can be used for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums, but others are specialized for a particular type of water.
Regardless of the type of aquarium you own, you'll need a pH test kit, an ammonia test kit, a nitrite test kit and a nitrate test kit. Good readings on all of these parameters are necessary for a thriving aquarium; ammonia, in particular, can quickly become lethal in even small concentrations.
In addition to the essential four parameters, owners of freshwater tanks should also test for carbonate hardness, general hardness and phosphate. Saltwater tanks demand additional tests, especially reef tanks with live corals. For a saltwater tank, you'll need to monitor salinity, calcium, magnesium and alkalinity. You may also want to monitor copper, silicate, iodine and iron.
How to Choose Test Kits
There are multiple test kits available for all different applications and budgets, from inexpensive dip strips that only cost a few dollars per box to expensive digital meters that sell for hundreds of dollars each. Choosing the right test kits ultimately boils down to how much you want to spend, how much time you want to spend testing, and how much accuracy you need from your test kits.
When you're just starting out and don't yet have a heavily stocked tank with multiple expensive fish, you can get by with simple dip strips or colorimetric tests. Many testing companies offer a master test kit that covers the basic water parameters, and these kits are usually sufficient for beginning aquarists. These tests are relatively inexpensive and easy to perform, but they lack the accuracy of some of the more expensive kits. Colorimetric test kits can be especially frustrating; variations in printing quality, lighting and color perception can make it difficult to match the color of the water sample with the appropriate level on the reference chart. These types of tests typically cost between $7 and $15 for a single-parameter test.
Some aquarists eventually want or need more precise and less frustrating testing kits. Those with deep pockets may jump straight to a full-featured aquarium controller with automated monitoring of multiple parameters, but most people usually settle upon titration test kits. These tests are a little bit more expensive than colorimetric tests and are more time-intensive to perform, but a good titration kit is much more accurate. You can usually purchase a good titration test for between $15 and $25 for a single-parameter kit.
Digital test kits are often the most accurate and straightforward tests, but they are also the most expensive. Some kits are stand-alone devices that measure a water sample directly, and other testing devices are sold as add-ons to aquarium controllers. Digital testing devices typically start at around $50 for a single-parameter device.
Depending on your budget and type of aquarium, certain types of testing kits may best fit your needs.
For those with a simple fresh or saltwater tank, the Tetra EasyStrips 6-in-1 Test Strips kit provides enough accuracy to warn about major catastrophes brewing in the tank. The testing kit is easy to use and tests six major parameters, including pH, alkalinity, hardness, nitrate, nitrite and chlorine. Each kit provides enough strips for 100 tests, making this one of the best values available. You won't get pinpoint accuracy, but the kit provides you enough information to make sure that you correct problems before they get out of hand. These types of test kits are usually sufficient for all but the most demanding freshwater tanks.
Beginning Saltwater Tank
The API Saltwater Master Test Kit is a good option for anyone starting out with a saltwater tank. The tests are more time-consuming to perform than dip strips, but in return they offer greater accuracy on the scales that are important for saltwater tanks. The Instant Ocean SeaTest hydrometer can serve as a good entry-level way to measure the salinity in your tank, a key parameter that you'll need to keep stable for long-term success.
Intermediate Saltwater User
For saltwater tank owners who require more precision, the Salifert line of test kits offers greater precision at a proportionally higher cost. Most of Salifert's tests are titration tests, and it's relatively simple to calculate the reading for a given parameter. On the other hand, the tests are more complicated to perform and generally require a higher time investment. Salifert offers a combination kit that includes individual tests for calcium, alkalinity, pH, phosphate, nitrate and magnesium. Red Sea offers a similar line of test kits that's somewhat cheaper, but the Red Sea kits aren't as well-reviewed and tend to expire in less time. Intermediate users may also wish to upgrade their salinity testing device to the Aquarium & Seawater Salinity Refractometer by Agriculture Solutions.
The Hanna Instruments line of digital colorimetric testers offers accuracy and convenience at the expense of a larger upfront investment. Testers are available for most water parameters, and each individual device is color-coded so that you can identify the correct device at a glance. Each tester includes its own storage case to safely store the device and its associated testing supplies. High-end users can also recruit their aquarium controllers, such as the Neptune Apex, to monitor pH, salinity and temperature in real-time. Alternately, you can use the Milwaukee MA887 Digital Salinity Refractometer to monitor your salinity.
Staying on top of your water testing will ensure that your aquarium provides your fish with years of health and happiness. By evaluating your needs and choosing your testing kits wisely, you'll keep your fish happy with high-quality water.
Top Rated Aquarium Test Kits
If you're looking into finding the best rated aquarium test kit, you should probable check out the API FRESHWATER MASTER TEST KIT Freshwater Water Master Kit. We looked at various sources of reviews and found this one to have the best mix between review count and average rating stars.
Often, going for the best price is a simple but good option. With a price of $14.69 (last checked on April 20, 2019), we do not list any other aquarium test kit cheaper than the Seachem Laboratories, Inc. Seachem Iron Kit. Just remember that it's not always the best option to go for the cheapest one.
The Aquarium Test Kit with the Most Reviews
With at least 2245 reviews and counting, the API FRESHWATER MASTER TEST KIT Freshwater Water Master Kit might be another option to consider. This large amount of reviews signalizes that many people are using it, with most of them beeing satisfied.
It's quite rare that the saying "You get what you pay for" turns out incorrect. If you have the money on the sideline, feel free to choose the most expensive item from our list: The Red Sea Fish Pharm ARE21525 Marine Care Kit currently sells for $55.67.
Most Clicked Aquarium Test Kit
If you trust us and our users, feel free to check out the API FRESHWATER MASTER TEST KIT Freshwater Water Master Kit. Our statistics say that it is the most favorite Aquarium Test Kit from the list above.
If you're still undecided, I would recommend that you go with the masses and choose the top selling aquarium test kit: The API REPLACEMENT TEST TUBES WITH CAPS For Any Kit for currently $22.22 on Amazon (last checked on April 20, 2019).
That's it for now, please remember that this list is updated on a regular basis.
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… total ammonia readings in the holding tank dropped to undetectable levels with a standard aquarium test kit … l of 2.0 μm-filtered natural seawater was trickled into each aquarium to prevent … Water was circulated in the aquaria using a Catalina Aquariums CAP-180 powerhead set …