My Personal Choice In Test Kits
When I started off in the aquarium hobby testing my water seemed pointless when my water looked so clean. Why would I want to spend money on a test kit when I could get a beautiful fish for the same price? Or even some coral? I had already spent so much money on my basic set up as it is, I just wanted some fish in my tank. So that is what I did. long story short the fish I got died. Yet the tank water looked so clean and almost like there was nothing wrong with it, so why did they die? BLOODY NITRATE! Huge spike as a result of bio load and over feeding, basically my inexperience and mistake no. 47 of my reefing journey. I would of known this if I simply had my own test kit to monitor my levels. I could of acted before the water parameters got to a critical level.
so the next day I got a test kit…
Before I get into the details of ‘what a test kit is’ and ‘which one I personally recommend’ I will state that over the years I have used many test kits. These range from the cheap and simple to the expensive and complex and all have their pros and cons. I am simply going to recommend the best test kit that I have used and the one I will keep using for years to come. It is the one I recommend for beginners and experts alike.
# What Is A Test Kit?
A saltwater test kit is as it sounds. A kit designed to test the water parameters within your aquarium. Water does not only consist of H2O. The water chemistry is made up of many other parameters.
Think of the water in your aquarium as the air in your home. The air is made up of many parameters and not just oxygen. To survive we need a stable atmosphere that we can breathe in. Imagine if there was a gas leak in your home, you cant see it in the air but in high amounts it can kill us. Well its the same for your aquarium. If some of your water parameters spike, such as Ammonia, you cant see it in the water but it can kill your fish and coral.
Part of the general maintenance is to ensure these levels don’t spike and remain stable though out your aquariums life span. This is crucial for the health of both fish and coral. We monitor these levels by testing each parameter using a specific test kit.
# Why Do I Need One?
Haven’t I already covered this? I mean I did give an example of my mistake no. 47 didn’t I?
Never the less, here we go.
Stability is key in any saltwater aquarium. The oceans parameters stay at a very constant level as a result of the vast amount of water it holds. It rarely experiences change in terms of temperature and/or parameters. As a result of this livestock and coral struggle with such change resulting with illness or death. If only we had a way to monitor these parameters…?
You need a test kit for your tank for the same reason you need a carbon monoxide detector. Its to keep a check on the levels in our aquarium so that they do not spike and harm the livestock in the tank. Would you risk not having a carbon monoxide detector because you thought it would be fine and the fact your air ‘looked’ clean? So why do it for your aquarium?
If you are serious about create a part of the ocean within your very own home or having an aquarium with Nemo in, then you will need a test kit.
# What am I Testing?
There are many parameters within your aquarium water that you will need to keep an eye on. Some are toxic to livestock and others need to be kept at just the right level (also know as the Goldilocks zone).
If you have a basic set up that is lightly stocked and you perform regular water changes, then many of these parameters can be kept stable. If you have a full reef aquarium with a range of corals then you need to start ‘topping up’ these parameters as the corals use them for their growth.
# Beginners testing – Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Ph, Temperature, Salinity and Hardness.
These are some of the basic parameters that need to be kept under control if you are wanting to keep fish healthy.
# Other Parameters – Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphate, Iodine, Strontium and other elements.
If you wish to keep SPS coral or large numbers of LPS coral then you will need to maintain these parameters. If you wish to simply keep fish and soft coral then it is most likely that regular water changes will be sufficient.
What ever you keep, below is a table of what these parameters should be kept at for a long term healthy aquarium.
# Best Test Kit
To start off with I used a cheap test kit. I got the single parameter test kit for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate (think it cost me around £10/$8 per test kit). Don’t get me wrong they worked fine and gave me a reasonably accurate result, but they weren’t great and you could tell it was the cheaper option.
Later on I ended up getting a second hand RedSea marine care test kit. Now this test kit means business! Its Smart, simple and complex at the same time and very easy to read. I was so impressed I went out to buy my own (I kind of like new things).
The best thing about the RedSea marine care test kit is the fact it is a multi test kit. This basically means there is more than one test kit in the bundle. Now this comes at extra cost, but think about it. A single test kit costs around £20/$35 and the starter multi test kit costs £40-$35. This multi test kit contains Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Ph and Alkalinity. So 5 x £20/$35 results in £100/$175. What I am trying to show is getting this multi test kit is much better value for money. So to me this simply makes sense to buy the multi pack.
Within these test kits you can find a fully and detailed set of instructions that show you how to perform each test accurately. As well as an easy to read graph that allows you to assess your parameters with ease.
RedSea do a range of test kits that test all the necessary parameters within your aquarium. I am simply covering a specific multi pack that they offer.
RED SEA MARINE CARE TEST KIT – If you don’t believe what I say click on the image below and check out the red sea test kit for yourself. Amazon is the ideal place to purchase your test kit, after all its where I buy mine.
Already use the RedSea test kit?
Then let us know in the comments what you think about it?
# Tip – use a note pad or excel spread sheet to keep track of your results. This will allow you to see any spikes or concerns with ease.
Good look everyone and I hope you never experience a need to rely on this test kit. I hope its simply a way for you to monitor your aquariums parameters.