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FAQs about Liquid Reagent, Colorimetric Assay 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: Dry Reagent Test/ing, "Paper", Titrametric, Electronic & About Brands/Manufacturers, & pH Measure/Test Gear, Specific Gravity

Mmm, reagents don't last forever... A suggestion: Find out their expiry date/s and print this in large, dark letters on the test kit box... Compare test results against standards in good, bright light... with a white piece of paper behind your test vial.

Re curing live rock; now test kit use        4/13/15
When I'm testing my saltwater levels am I supposed to make the test tube actually touch the color chart or hold away so it don't touch the chart?
Because it makes a big difference!
<Some standards are better compared side to side... in sunlight as the light source. The better colorimetric assays have standards set in plastic (nor printed on paper); the best use colorimeter/spectrophotometer
, Titrametric devices.
Bob Fenner>

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>

Copper, other colorimetric assays -- 04/30/07 Gentlemen (RF in particular) <Yes> Thank you for your help and advice on Copper and test kits.  It's become something of a quest / mild obsession with me to explain why the manufacturers can't see what WE all see - namely that squinting into vials next to paper cards almost always yields the universal result "Gee, it's KINDA like THAT color, but the hue is completely different and maybe if I discount THAT ... then maybe it looks more like THIS color...." I'm wondering if actual photographs of the identical vial with real-world colors wouldn't be better. <Mmm... actually... a plug here for colorimeters, spectrophotometers... and calibration (of course) of the same... Machines that can/do measure transmittance, and its reciprocal (absorption) accurately...> I'm wondering if chemists have the ability to make the color differentiation between, say 2.0 and 2.5 much greater than they currently are. <For some types of tests... yes... mostly this is a matter of net cost...> I'm wondering if some chemist COULD make the colors "night & day" different & foolproof  *IF* we didn't mind paying $50 per kit <Bingo!> Has anyone every tried improving the test readings like this on their own? <Likely so... please see Hach, LaMotte's websites... re this gear and the tools mentioned above> Regards Abell <Thank you, BobF>

Re: Tank cycling and testing Thanks Don! <My pleasure, Eric> Where do you live that it's so cold? Not San Diego I'm guessing ;-)   I used to live in the NE, <Yep, that's the place!> but I'm glad it's where it's warmer now (South Carolina).  A quick update and 1 quick follow-up question if I may. update: Things are starting to look a little more normal after I tested again yesterday.  I'm pretty sure that NO2 has dropped slightly, from .2 to maybe .1, or at least .15.  Hard to say at that color range, but I don't think I can quite call it .2 anymore.  NO3 has jumped up to almost 25, from 5 the last time around.  Ammonia still 0.  Alk is at 13dh.  PH still 8.0.  BTW- I brought water samples to my LFS (well, not so local, 100 miles way, but it's worth it), and his numbers seemed to jive with mine, more less. <Good to hear, all sounds normal. Yes, the colorimetric tests can be difficult to read. I have found that with the Salifert tests I can 'see' the colors a little better in sunlight or at least natural light> Question: I see little white flecks swirling all around my tank.  Not enough to make it cloudy, but enough to notice with the PC lights on.  My LFS guy seems to think they are air bubbles, but not once have I seen my powerheads or return pump spit a burst of bubble out.  .  My overflow certainly kicks up plenty of bubbles/air, but I don't see any making it to the return pump (of course I don't have the advantage of PC to see down there!)  I do have 3 baffles in my sump, between my overflow and return pump.  I do have fine oolite sand, but I really don't see any of it being stirred up considerably.   The LR still looks like it has a little of the sand dust on some of the fine algae pieces/hair hanging off of it, but I've "turkey basted" them to death, and it doesn't seem to be removing any more of it. I think whatever dust is on it, is not going to blow off easy, which is why I don't think the rock is causing these white flecks.  Sorry for being so long-winded, I just wanted to give as many details as possible.   <all good> Do you think this is just the bacteria, or part of the cycling process in any way, and if so, should I notice it go away completely after the tank cycles?  If not part of the cycling process, what do you think it might be, and what would you suggest to get rid of it? <Hmmm, little white flecks could be a number of things, but I have never seen bubbles that look like white flecks? If you can get a small magnifying lens or even a low power microscope, you should be able to tell if these are debris, mineral (like precipitate) or even some kind of little critters. Until identified, hard to respond.> Thanks again! Eric N

Test Kit Question Hello Mr. Fenner, I just wanted to say keep up the good work. This is the best site that I have seen on saltwater, period!.  <kind thanks, my friend> Anyways, I was wandering if you could suggest a reliable and easy to read saltwater kit. I have a Red Sea kit and I can hardly tell what color test result matches the color scales. Very vague results and very frustrating. I am tired of spending my money over and over again to only find what I buy does not really work all that well. Your opinion would sincerely be appreciated. Thank You, Jim <unfortunately... there is a lot of variability between brands and even within the same line of colorimetric kits. Each line has some easy/accurate kits and some more difficult ones as well. Furthermore... the colorimetric kits are perceived differently by different eyes. Some people are colorblind or nearly so... others are more keen. For me... I like most of the kits in the Aquarium Systems line. Cheap, easy... fairly accurate and easy to read (but none are perfect). The best is to use digital meters when possible. Hach kits are good too but expensive. Best regards, Anthony>

Test Kits Thanks a bunch, I noticed that my alky. stays constant at 4.0 meq/l, that is good I suppose. as far as test kits go what do you like to use, what is pretty accurate? thanks Jamie <colorimetric test kits are rather subjective (we all see color differently). Most hobby grade kits aren't very accurate anyway... yet they are good enough to spare us from having to spend hundreds on research grade reagents. When possible do keep redundant kits of different brands to verify results. For higher end kits I have enjoyed using Hach and LaMotte. But overall... I am very satisfies with the reasonably priced Aquarium Systems brand kits. Best regards, Anthony>

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

Observations and interesting testing (expired test kit reagent) info. Hi Crew, First of all let me thank you guys for all your help. I have a 10 gallon SW with fish for 22 months now and I finally beat a bout of ick with your help. I would also like to add that I also suddenly had an algae problem which also resolved itself following your advice. <Good> I think that most of your readers, including myself, tend to think you are too conservative but I can testify that when your advice is not heeded problems do happen and with your advice things do work out fairly well. In my case I overstocked my 10 gallon and I felt all was well since they were peaceful fish  and they seemed to get along well. Recently I had an ick attack even though I had not added anything other than food for over 4 months and I lost 3 fish. 2 cardinals did not get ick and a clown goby was saved after following your advice. What I find interesting is that although I considered the fish as doing well and getting along they in fact were stressed. They did not fight because they were peaceful types but evidently they were stressed since they got ick. <Yes> And now that I just have 3 fish they swimming patterns have changed dramatically and where before they kept to specific areas they now cruise the whole tank which to me indicates they were too intimidated to try it with the other fish present. <As your title states, good, worthwhile observations> I recently posted a question about the life of testing regents. I decided to ask Aquarium Pharmaceuticals themselves since I am using their saltwater test kit. Their answer: In response to your question, each reagent bottle has a Lot # printed on the bottle.  The last four digits are the month and year of manufacture. Example: Lot # 28A0102.  This is a pH reagent manufactured in January of 2002.  Ammonia, High Range pH, Nitrate, and GH all last for three years. Nitrite and KH will last for four years. Freshwater pH and Salt Level test are good for 5 years.  I would not trust these kits after they have expired. <Me neither> Since I know I bought them 22 months ago when I started this hobby I decided to check the bottles in my test kit which is made up of  tests for ammonia, nitrites, nitrates and PH. Well, to my surprise, they were not all from the same year. 2 were from 0802 and 3 from 1199. So 3 were probably expired or just about to expire when I purchased the set and the other 2 are about expired now. I either bought them from Dr Foster or Pet Solutions. <Thank you for this. Will share. Bob Fenner>

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