Re: [RML] Water quality and pH - what kits are the best

Gary Lange (gwlange at
Sat, 21 Aug 1999 22:08:31 -0500

I'm a bit behind on my RML reading but this string reminded me of something
that I wanted to ask our group.
What are the best test kits out there on the market for the accuracy, ease
of use and money? To my local aquarium group I will be soon known as "The
Waterboy", as I will be responsible for bringing a variety of water test
kits to the monthly meetings. I know people have made a big deal about some
of the Hach kits but I'm not sure that absolute precision for some
parameters is necessary. Just some trends for things like
nitrates/nitrites. Some of the items we are planning to buy include:

pH pen - any suggestion on brand/price/durability? Can I get a good pen for
under $70?
Conductivity pen - our waters range from 50 ppm - 450 ppm GH so you can
imagine with KH and salts added it could be a wide range. Can I get a good
pen for under $70?

Both of these will be checked against standards made in my lab as well as
checking them against the $2,000 lab counterparts to ensure accuracy.

GH (general hardness) and KH (carbonate) test kits - I like the Tetra kit
that is available in the "Laborett" that also contains nitrite and ammonia
test kits. The GH and KH are quick and relatively "no brainer", you just
have to add drops and observe color changes.

I think the Wardley "Professional" kit that tests for total GH and calcium
test kit is a good test for splitting out the magnesium hardness from the
Calcium hardness.

Ammonia test kit - Must be salicylate based kit, not Nessler reagent kit.
With all of the "buffers" and chloramine removing products out there Nessler
kits (like aquarium pharmaceutical) are worthless and give false readings.

Nitrates/Nitrites - Any quick kits, any to avoid?

Phosphate Kit - I have used Red Sea before but really don't have any real
opinions on it as it hasn't been a problem in my tanks and therefore not a
worrisome question.

Specific Gravity - I guess for our "beginning" saltwater people we are going
to include this using one of the glass bulb-type systems so people can
compare it to their cheaper, plastic swinging bar setups.

Temperature probe - for the SG test above and to help people approximate
their own aq thermometers inaccuracies.

?Fe kits - I was thinking about adding something like the Red Sea Fe kit for
the plant people.

Any other kits that you think might be necessary?
How about any websites or books that explain water quality in relatively
simple terms?
I also need to replace my own RO unit. Any suggestions on models, websites
or places to buy/avoid?


gary lange

-----Original Message-----
From: Ed <erom at>
To: rainbowfish at <rainbowfish at>
Date: Monday, August 16, 1999 10:50 PM
Subject: [RML] Water quality and pH

>Regarding water quality testing, assuming that we are taking about
>an established fish tank, with a good gravel bed, water flow,
>in a location with slightly alkaline water supply,
>as most are; imho I think that the best indicator for
>the interval required for gravel vacuuming and water change is:
>nitrate concentration.