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FAQs about Marine Water Test Gear, Use,

Related Articles: Product Review Marineland Labs/Aquarium Systems Hydrometer, Part 1 By Steven Pro, Captive Seawater Quality, Nutrient Control and Export, Seawater Test Kits, Nitrates, NitritesAmmonia, Phosphate

Related FAQs:  Marine Test Gear 1Marine Test Gear 2Marine Test Gear 3, FAQs on: Rationale, Selection, Use, Troubleshooting, Testing Methods: Liquid Reagent/Colorimetric, Dry Reagent Test/ing, "Paper", Titrametric, Electronic & About Brands/Manufacturers, & Specific Gravity

Some Better Brands: Hach LaMotteSome Good Ones: Aquarium Systems Salifert, http://salifert.com/ SeaChem Tetra Tropic Marin SeraSome So-So: Aquarium Pharmaceuticals (liquid) Hagen/Nutrafin, http://www.hagen.com/Kent Marine Enterprises Red Sea

Hanna alk checker; actually, all test gear        2/11/16
Hello again.
recently found my LFS using their Hagen test kit for alk was way off.
they said ~6 dKH and I kept getting 11-12. Big difference! They later said their reagents were "bad".
Your site in a 2007 note mentions Pinpoint and Martini testers. ( I am color-deficient so test kits requiring good shade differentiation are hard for me).
What are your thoughts on reliability/accuracy of the Hanna checkers?
<They're generally good; however; important to "check the checkers" every now and then; hence "standard/ized" solutions like Jules' AccuraSea seawater; for testing. Bob Fenner>

Red Sea NO3 Test Kit   8/15/11
Hi Bob,
<Darrel at the moment - your email is also passed on to Bob for a "real" answer>
Just want to advise our readers who may be using the Red Sea Nitrate Test Kit to compare readings with another brand and/or have their LFS perform a nitrate test and compare results. The Red Sea NO3 Test Kit that came with my RSM 250 read 20-25ppm. I thought this was a bit high considering this is a new system running for only 24 days with no animals present, so I ran a test with my Salifert Nitrate Test Kit and got a reading of <10ppm, more along the lines of what I expected.
<James - the reason I snagged a copy of this mail is because you've come upon what is a key subject for me and I'm sure for many others and since this is America, I believe that everyone is entitled to my opinion.>
<When I re-entered the Marine Aquarium Hobby 5 years ago '¦ which is to say when my son got bored with HIS Marine Aquarium Hobby and I had to get involved '¦ the first thing I noticed was the absolute horror of what are euphemistically called "test kits">
<I started with the API (Aquarium Pharmaceuticals /Doc Wellfish) test kits. They're economical and easy to use --- Except that the test tubes seem to turn every color and hue under the rainbow EXCEPT the colors on the stupid cards!!!
0.0 Ammonia is LIGHT GREEN
0.25 Ammonia is '¦ LIGHT GREEN
and deadly .50 Ammonia is '¦ well, you can see where this is headed.>
<So I go out and buy the Seachem test kit and I can't get the test to work at all. So I take it back to the dealer, who can't get the reagents to work right either, so he swaps it out for another kit and that doesn't work any better. Tiny little cups with tiny little scoopers of powered reagents that must have matching batch numbers??? What were they thinking?>
<Then I noticed that the LFS in my area all seem to use the Instant Ocean test kits, which are much more expensive, but probably worth it. And yes, I got better results for the more common tests but I still saw readings 5 minutes apart that are inconsistent.>
<Then we got Blue Tangs, which means we got Crypt, which means that after any number of false starts we started using copper. NOW we needed a test kit that is not only 100% accurate but easy enough to use 4 times a day. Salifert was/is the best I've found, but STILL '¦. Red, Red, Dark Red, Dark Red & Purple all blend together.>
<I think the weakest link in the hobby is the guy at the LFS that talks as if he knows what he's talking about but then tries to tell us that the fish in his store have already been quarantined and we can just dump them in, etc'¦ but a strong #2 is the quality and reliability of the test kits.>
<There are kits out there in the commercial world that are far more accurate than we have in the hobby. Metropolitan Water Districts will have kits that use two vials of water that fit into a visor device (like a GAF ViewMaster) with a rotating wheel of colors, but they're in the many hundreds of dollars>
<We have the technology to send people to the moon and back. We have the technology to make your car "remember" how you like your seat '¦ we even have the technology to make 27.9 million people think that the Kardashian family is note/news worthy '¦..
<Anyway '¦ that's my opinion and everyone is entitled to it>
Red Sea NO3 Test Kit, Bob's go    8/15/11
Hi Bob,
<Hey James>
Just want to advise our readers who may be using the Red Sea Nitrate Test Kit to compare readings with another brand and/or have their LFS perform a nitrate test and compare results. The Red Sea NO3 Test Kit that came with my RSM 250 read 20-25ppm. I thought this was a bit high considering this is a new system running for only 24 days with no animals present, so I ran a test with my Salifert Nitrate Test Kit and got a reading of <10ppm, more
along the lines of what I expected.
<Mmm, might be just the one test kit that's faulty. BobF>
Re: Red Sea NO3 Test Kit   8/15/11

Yes, it is possible and is why I referenced with another kit.
<Ahh, I see. B>

Test Kits 7/4/2011
I was just wondering what would be an affordable yet reliable and accurate brand of test kits? I have used API test kits for a while and recently heard they may not be up to snuff as some others; would make sense since they are so inexpensive.
<They are not a bad kit for the money. I was wondering about Instant Ocean test kits. They do cost
more and I'm not sure if they would be better or not.
<Will be similar to the API kits.>
I do like the test kits that come in master kits with multiple parameters to test for, rather than buying each test separately.
<Yes, you do save a little money buying the entire package.>
Anyway I rather not spend the money on Salifert kits even though I hear they are top of the line.
<You get what you pay for. My personal favorites are the Salifert and LaMotte kits.>
Thanks for your time and
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Re: Upgrading Tanks; and anemone comp., test kit grade/SW  10/18/10
Thank You for the quick response. I do have a couple of questions. I read that a Bubble Tip anemone *can* get along fine with a Sebae anemone.
<Can... have photographed them in the wild, contiguous>
Mine do well. I got the Bubble Tip prior to discovering WWM or I would have forgone that acquisition. I have tried to get the Bubble Tip out, after reading that there can be a problem, unsuccessfully.
You showed doubt in my Phosphate readings, something to do with my stinging-celled life. I truly get 0 phosphates when I check them weekly.
<Assuredly, the measure is less than 0., perhaps less than 0.0... but not altogether absent>
My Nitrates never get to 20. I either misunderstood your reasoning or my test kit is not very good.
<Likely the test kit precision to significant figures>
I guess I am unclear on what you wrote.
<And I apologize for not being clear/er>
If my test kits are not accurate then I should purchase a better brand.
<Mmm, not really. I suspect your kit/s is/are fine for what you have in mind>
I am using API.
<Not the best, but passable for most aquarists' use>
Thank you for the link. Most times I find what I am looking for. I no longer purchase anything of importance without referring to WWM. Thank you for this awesome site.
<Certainly welcome John/Tracey. BobF>

TEST KITS, exp. dates for reagents  1/16/10
Good morning and happy new year to all the Crew,
<And to you Wil>
A quick question, do test kits have an expiration date?
<Mmm, yes, some do have reagents that "go bad" with age>
I have a Nutrafin tests kit since 2006 but don´t know if I should STILL trust the readings.
Thanks again for your help...
<You might write to the maker/distributor (Hagen) with the product incept. date info./batch number and ask them re:
Nos vemos, BobF>
Gracias Bob, cuidate y seguimos en contacto.
<De nada mi amigo. RobertoF>

Salifert KH Test Kits 7/1/08 I am hearing rumors about a bad batch of Salifert KH test kits. A friend has one that reads off the charts every time, even in natural seawater purchased from the store. It's brand new, and his DKH was 10 to 11 until he had to buy a new kit. Have you guys heard anything about this? <Yes, there was apparently a bad run that was quickly recalled and remedied. A few kits did make it to market (this was quite a few months back). This is a good company with great test kits (still my choice), this sometimes happens to the best of us. I suggest he/she take the kit back to where he purchased it along with a water sample from his tank, let them compare the difference (and hopefully refund).> Thanks Richard <Welcome, Scott V.>

Re: Long Tentacled Anemone/Health 4/8/08 The filtration in the tank consists of two Emperor 400 power filters on each side of the tank. Are the 4-7 week ph/ ammonia/ nitrate/ite in-tank test kits effective? <If you are referring to the Mardel Live Meter, they are for freshwater tanks only. James (Salty Dog)>

This one's got me!! Nitrogenous test kits  -- 06/07/07 Crew, <Michael> I have had a 20 gallon saltwater system set up for about 4 months. I ran into a problem about a month ago with high nitrites and nitrates. I moved the livestock to a QT tank and most of them made it (didn't have much since I just started, just 3 clowns, <Better to just have two... a third will be brutalized in time...> 1 flame angel <... not enough room for this species here> and one red mushroom remain) I know, the flame angel will eventually go to a 200 g when we finally get that going, hopefully soon). <Wait till then> At the time I decided to upgrade the 20 g and install an internal overflow and hard plumb it to the 10 gallon sump below. <Good practice> Finally got that done about 2 weeks ago. For equipment I have the 10 g sump, a 4.5 g hang on back refugium with miracle mud and Chaeto, a Remora skimmer and about 25 lbs of LR. When I set up the new system I put in a new substrate of CaribSea Arag-ALIVE. The LR is fully cured and when I set up the new tank, I used about 16 gallons of water from the QT tank (55 g) to get the 20 g tank going again. Since I had a new substrate I figured the tank would have to cycle again. <Likely so> I have been testing everyday with Salifert test kits and it has shown Nitrites .5 - 1.0 <Hopefully sans livestock presence> and Nitrates 5 - 10. Getting low on those test kits, I found a Hach Saltwater Master test kit direct from Hach for $58 which included 50 tests each of Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate and pH (what a steal I thought). <...!> Got the new tests yesterday and of course had to try them out. The Hach test kit shows undetectable amounts of Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate on the 20 g. Being puzzled, I did the same test with the Salifert kits which showed Nitrites around 1 and Nitrates around 10. So, I did the same testing with the QT tank. Same results, Hach undetectable, and Salifert show Nitrites 1 and Nitrates 10. Trying to get the bottom of it, I decided to test my pre-mixed saltwater which I use RODI water with a TDS of 1 and Bio-Sea Marinemix which I just mixed it last night. Hach shows Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate undetectable, and Salifert shows Ammonia 0, Nitrite 1 and Nitrate 5. So, is the pre-mixed salt water supposed to be 0 for Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate? <Yes, though some will show nitrate and some do register some ammonia initially> I assume it should be since there is no bioload. I just want to make sure my new test kit is the "bomb" before I return my livestock to the 20 g display. Do you think my tank is ready, or should I wait until Salifert shows I have 0 Nitrites (which could be never). Michael Svehla <I would "check the checker" here... take both kits to a dealer, have them test their water with them. I read the Salifert's as being off here. Hach is a MAJOR manufacturer of many other companies' reagents... Bob Fenner> Salifert calcium test   4/16/07 Hello crew, I am wondering if anybody out there knows how to get in touch with Salifert regarding their test kits. <Mmm... well, their website: http://salifert.com/ doesn't list contact information... and they're made in Holland...> I had heard nothing but good things about their products so  purchased a Salifert Ca Profi test kit from the LFS to compare a suspect API calcium test kit I have. I had  low calcium on a new tank set up  with live rock that has just been cured (API -360-380) and purchased some Seachem calcium supplements to get the Ca up. The API kit showed the CA rising to normal levels 400-460 and stabilizing at about 440. Knowing the API kits are middle of the road I wanted a benchmark to know if these results are accurate, so I purchased the Salifert kit. The first day  the new kit told me my Ca was about 370 mg/l same as the API at the time. The second day API 400 after dosing supplements Salifert 370 mg/l. third day API 420, Salifert 370. yesterday and today 440mg/l -API ,  375mg/l- Salifert. Now here is where it gets interesting, Salifert- good  API -ok or so one would think. My wife who works at a local hospital as a laboratory scientist, ran a sample of my water through a very expensive chemistry analyzer (Sundays are slow) showed calcium at.... drum roll please.... 441mg/l, dead on with the API kit. I even had her perform the Salifert test this morning  (this is what she does for a living as a lab scientist) with the same results She also pointed out to me that temperature and high humidity such as found in your LFS full of aquarium tanks could affect the reagents in a negative way and any reagents in her lab are stored with desiccants. I would like to contact Salifert  to advise them of what I found, maybe a bad test reagent(s) <Am sure they will/would appreciate this... I would write to them via their master distributors... Quality Marine in the United States, or Tropical Marine Centre in the U.K., depending on where you are... Both companies have websites, contact info. posted...> I am a bit disappointed because I've heard such great things about them and would use the test as a benchmark for the cheaper (API) test. Any info you kind folks could give would be greatly appreciated. I tried their website but it has no contact info and the box only has a European  phone number. thanks guys and gals, John P <Ahh, yes... I too have heard little negative re this companies main stream assay/kits... But as your wife states, there are many influences to the reagents... Bob Fenner> Anemone System/Calcium Levels/Faulty Test Kits - 08/14/06 Hello There; <<Howdy!>>    We are looking into converting our 92 gallon FOWLR tank to a more invertebrate type tank, specifically bubble tip anemones. <<Mmm, indeed creatures best kept in a "species specific" system>> We've been researching lighting, compatibility, feeding, and water quality. <<Excellent...have you been through our articles/FAQs?   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/cnidaria/anthozoa/bubbletipanemones.htm >> Our LFS gave us a Nutrafin calcium tester as well as magnesium tester so we can start tweaking our levels as we learn more about what we should know to adequately care for these guys. <<Hmm...balanced and excellent water quality is a must, but I think you should concentrate more at this stage on ammonia/nitrite/nitrate and getting/keeping all at "zero"...the calcium and magnesium will balance/be supplemented adequately through frequent water changes.  An "anemone" system will not have need for high levels/usage of these>> We happen to have beautiful coralline growth on all of our live rocks as well as what I assume to be "mini" bright-orange tube worms, so we imagined our calcium levels wouldn't be too bad. <<Are likely fine, yes>> Well, to our surprise, our calcium levels were well over 700, we stopped at 760 as to not waste our newly purchased test kit. <<I seriously doubt this is correct...I would try a better test kit (Salifert, Seachem) and see what you find>> My question is; is too much calcium bad for the anemones, and also just out of curiosity how do you think we've managed to have such an overwhelming calcium level to begin with?  Any information you can give us is greatly appreciated. <<An elevated calcium level shouldn't bother the anemone, but I honestly think your test kit is in error.  Try one of the brands I suggested and retest...likely the reading will be/is much lower...I would also obtain a kit to test your alkalinity to validate the calcium reading as these two components are mutually exclusive (please read here for better understanding: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm)>> -Thanks <<Happy to assist.  Regards, EricR>>

Aquarium Systems Test Kits...Going Out Of Business??    8/7/06 To all, <Chris> Hope all is well at WetWebMedia. <Is OK.> I have 3 quick questions. I have a master test kit from Aquarium Systems, it is a FasTesT, and I also have a FasTesT alkalinity test. I have been through a few different companies, and these tests seem to me to be accurate, repeatable, and easy to use. <Yes, a reliable kit for the money.> I'm having trouble finding them online, and in my phone call to one major supplier, they told me that these were no longer going to be available as the company is going out of business. <The supplier or Aquarium Systems.  Very unlikely the latter will go out of business.> 1)  Do you know if this is true? <I'd say no unless Mr. Fenner heard something in the wind.> <<Still in business, though sold... still being made as far as I'm aware. RMF>> 2)  Do you know if they are going to be available under some other name? <I know they are now called Instant Ocean Test Kits.  Drs. Foster & Smith handle these kits.> 3)  If not, what tests do you recommend?  I think I read that Anthony likes Salifert? <Salifert is a reliable kit.  I have had no problems with Aquarium Systems kits. I really want to stick with the ones I use, because I trust what they're telling me about my tank.  I do use a Seachem calcium test that seems to work well. <It does.> Any thoughts? <Out of curiosity I am going to contact someone I know at Aquarium Systems and settle the matter.  Will post his reply on the dailies.> Thanks! <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Chris

Marine Test Kit Readings Off The Chart! -- 01/29/07 My husband and I just bought a Red Sea marine testing kit for our salt water tank. <<I am not a fan of colorimetric test kits.  Many hobbyists have trouble matching up colors on the charts used with these kits...and many of the kits are just wildly inaccurate bunk in my opinion.  Much better to use titration method test kits of quality manufacture (Seachem, Salifert, etc.)>> When he tested the pH and alkalinity they were both off the charts. <<This may well be so...but I would confirm this reading with another brand of test kit>> The kit tells you what to do if these two items are too low but doesn't say anything on how to correct them if they are too HIGH. <<Partial water changes with properly prepared artificial seawater are a safe and effective method>> All the other levels in the tank seem fine, other than the ammonia which is at .25ppms. <<Mmm...has this tank been correctly/completely cycled?>> This kit has been helpful but does not help us at all with trying to fix the problem before something more happens, like our sea creatures dying. <<Do validate these kits, but in the meantime the partial water change can't hurt>> We would appreciate any help anyone can give us ASAP. Thanks, Sarah <<I sense you and your husband are new to the marine hobby...I'm happy to help out/answer your questions Sarah, but please do avail yourself of the plentitude of information on our site and elsewhere.  Please spend some time reading/learning at the following links and beyond.  Regards, EricR http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i5/Filtration/Filtration.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/martstkitfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ammoniamarart.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/marineMaint.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water4maruse.htm  >>

Test Kits Hello, I had asked a question about probably water toxin problem.  Well the bad news is that I lost the yellow tang and several green Chromis.  The good news is that the Maroon Clown , Wrasse, and the yellow tail damsel are looking better.  I still do not know what happened.  I did 5 gallon water changes daily and I think things are better. The mushrooms and the polyps still do not look good.  I am wondering if my test kits are not very good.  What is a good quality test kit? Thanks Tracy <I'm very sorry to hear of the losses, my friend. But I am reassured to hear of your wonder and sleuthing intuition. It is true that most hobbyist test kits are mediocre at best. Too many are shamelessly inaccurate or unreliable. For a top shelf choice... go for Hach or LaMotte. For a cheap hobbyist kit, I like most of the Aquarium Systems line. They cannot compare though. Best regards, Anthony>

LaMotte or Hach test kits Are there any brands of test kit that are particularly reliable? <most hobby test kits are weakly reliable at best. Although I personally like most of Aquarium systems line. None can compare to Hach or LaMotte brand though. Well worth the investment.> I have been using Aquarium Pharmaceuticals and Red Sea brands purchased at Petco. Both are testing negative for nitrites. The AP brand ammonia is very hard to interpret due to the subtlety of the color changes, but it seemed t be zero to me. Then I tested with the RS one and got 0.25! I then tested fresh RO Seawater (made with red sea salt) and also got 0.25. Needless to say, I no longer trust either test. <agreed> Any recommendations? Thanks, Steve Allen <best regards, my friend. As per above. Anthony>

- Test kit Recommendations - Yo, Crew... <Good morning, JasonC here...> I am a new marine aquarist with a 37 FOWLR tank.  In your opinion, who makes the best/most reliable water test kits and what tests should I perform with what frequency?  I have read varying opinions and value your thoughts. <Depending on how much money you want to spend... Hach and LaMotte make some of the best kits available to the hobbyist, but they are also the most expensive. Salifert, Sera, and SeaTest are less expensive and quite reliable. In all cases, the reagents used for the tests have a shelf life so make sure you get fresh ingredients and replace them when their expiration date hits. As for a test regimen, while the tank is cycling you should probably test at least once a week and nothing is stopping you from testing every day or every other day - for typical cycle testing you need ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate tests. Once the tank has cycled you should continue to test nitrates every so often, but it is less important. I will admit to not having tested nitrates in months... perhaps I'd better go do that now ;-) If you begin to lean towards more of a reef tank than FOWLR, you should test for nitrates more often in addition to calcium, alkalinity, phosphate, and maybe even iodine. Oh and don't forget a device to test your specific gravity and pH - always good to know what those numbers are.> Thanks for the input! Bob <Cheers, J -- >

Spot test of Silica and sodium  9/3/05 Do you know of any spot testing kits for sodium and silica in water treatment applications? Best Regards, Allan L. Macaraig Chemical & Environmental Engineer <I would try LaMotte and Hach companies... if they don't list these tests specifically, contact their tech.s via the Net, phone. Bob Fenner>

High phosphates not detected with old test kit Hi crew, I have been battling hair algae (Derbesia) in a 90 gal reef / 30 gal sump. I have been removing algae manually, reduced feedings, reduced light (650w total de HQI) to 8 hours per day. Top off water is from 100gpd 5 stage ro/di. I have read lots of books and this site extensively. I have been following suggestions from these sources without much progress. I had a small amount of razor Caulerpa in the sump and recently added a good size Chaetomorpha and red grape algae to the sump with ~65watts of compact fluorescent. Added SCWD on closed loop to increase circulation. Now for the question: I have been using Salifert test kits to test nitrate, nitrite, phosphates and alkalinity. The phosphate test did not change color so I assumed the phosphate levels were undetectable and not a problem. Today, I brought a .5 liter sample of my tank water and my top off water to the LFS and they were kind enough to test my water to help determine a cause for the algae. The LFS test showed phosphates off the scale! I definitely have high phosphate levels which helps explain the algae problem. When I got home, I tested the same tank water bottle with my Salifert PO4 test and it came back negative. Do the test kits expire? Should I throw out my test kit and replace it? <Hello Pat.  Usually the shelf life of the reagents in test kits are not to be trusted much over a year with an exemption to ph kits. If you have had it more than a year replace it and test again.  Salifert test kits are very accurate and reliable.> On the algae side of things, will my macro algae out-compete the hair algae and solve my problem naturally?<It can provided other measures are taken along with this.  Phosphate removers are like band aids.  If you do not get rid of the source of phosphates you will be continually using one of these products.  You didn't mention if you do a 10% weekly water change.  This is a must for starters.  You also didn't mention whether you are using a protein skimmer, this is a must to combat nuisance algae.> I added a poly filter as well.<The PolyFilter is a good idea, but is not designed solely around removing phosphates.> Do I need to add a phosphate sponge to accelerate the process? The LFS was recommending ROWAphos phosphate remover and a pressure canister. <I use a Magnum H.O.T. and run PhosGuard in it as a preventive measure.  As long as phosphate levels are low in the system, this will last quite some time.  Adding the macro is a good idea, it will compete for food with the nuisance algae.  I also have a Caulerpa growth in my tank. Many aquarists are going to refugiums with a live sand bottom with some live rock and Caulerpa and leaving the refugium lights on 24/7.  A lot of good has been reported as to the effect this has on minimizing nuisance algae.  Good luck.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks for the info and the great books: conscientious marine aquarist, reef invertebrates, book of coral propagation, etc. -Pat Live rock from hell Good Morning Thank You James... <You're welcome>  I was thinking that last night after I sent you the e-mail so I prepared water and I'm going to do that today. Keeping fingers crossed and hopefully this will do the trick. One other thing, you got me thinking on those test kits and this morning I did a barrage of testing, trying to sort out what is accurate and it boggles my mind that I can use 3 different manufactures and get 3 different results, even if I repeat the testing with the same kits, I get different readings.  I checked the codes on them and they are all within a year of expiring.  Think the aquarium hobby needs to have some sort of guidelines for manufactures because it seams they just feeding on us. I will e-mail you in a few days and let you know how it worked out.  Have a great day and thx again.  <Frank, you have to remember that the cost of these test kits pretty much limits how much accuracy can be had for the money. I think they pretty much warn you whether it's good or bad. Good test kits are available from LaMotte and Hach. You won't get them for $7.95 though. Do a Google search for these names, they sell direct and they do list the prices. Good luck. James (Salty Dog)> 

Nitrate test kits 7/25/05 I have been caring for saltwater aquariums for many years now and have recently (about two years ago) started to maintain reefs. I have used a variety of different test kits from dry tabs, to liquids, to strips. I know that it probably depends on the brand but which kind is considered "the best" or the most accurate? <I like Aquarium Systems test kits.  Reasonably priced and reasonably accurate for our needs.>Also, I remember reading something about multiplying the number you get by three or four or something like that to get the true nitrate level. It had something to do with what the test kit was actually testing for. Do you know of anything like this? <You need to know what the test kit is measuring, nitrate as an ion or as nitrate nitrogen.  Total nitrogen is the result of the 4.4 multiple.> I am very confused on that subject. Now any time I get a reading of any nitrate I feel that it is to much especially if a reading of ten really means forty.<For our purposes, a reef tank should not exceed 20ppm of NO3-N.  For fish only 20-40 is acceptable for most species, although we don't like to keep nitrates that high as they do increase nuisance algae growth.  Hope this helps.  There are FAQ's on this subject on the WWM, keyword "nitrate testing".> Thank you for your help, Andy <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

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