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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, Titrametric, Electronic & About Brands/Manufacturers, & pH Measure/Test Gear, Specific Gravity

Such "test strips" are really only good for "yes/no" presence and approximate value questions... not accuracy. And only worthwhile when not "old"... but fresh!

Ph/Alkalinity? Water Quality Testing   4/17/2010
<Hi Dawn.>
I just want to say how "Wonderful" your site is.
<Thank you.>
My question is about Ph/Alkalinity.
I have a 150 gallon tank which consists of fish, LR, anemones, starfish and a few urchins.
I test for PH, Ammonia, Nitrate and Nitrite. I have not tested for alkalinity.
<Always a good thing to test for.>
The other day I got a bottle of test strips you just "dip" in and read.
<Unfortunately, the dip strips are notoriously inaccurate.>
Upon reading this, all my tests were fine except the alkalinity.
On the bottle the color chart is green, whereas my test strip was blue!
<I rest my case.....>
Is this a test I should be testing?
If so, I would need an alkalinity test. Now an alkalinity test and a KH test are one the same, correct?
<Long story short, yes.>
Would my alkalinity be that far off even if my PH test reads 8.4?
<It can be. A grossly oversimplified 10 words or less definition of alkalinity is the ability of the water to resist a downward shift in pH. so the first sign your alkalinity is too low would be fluctuations in your pH.>
If I am understanding this right, the PH and alkalinity work together.
<They work together, but they are not the same thing.>
Without a test kit, I am guessing my alkalinity is too high.
<Not necessarily.>
What would I do to lower it to a safe level?
<First you need to test it. - get a good KH test kit - API makes one that is only about $5.00 in a pet store.>
I use marine buffer to raise my PH, which I have read on your site you can use baking soda (1 tsp. per 50 gallons).
<The buffer is also boosting your alkalinity. Do have a read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/alkalinity.htm >
One quick question about foods, when you talk about buying seafood at the local grocery store you are talking about "fresh" not "frozen" correct?
<Either will be fine. Though usually the frozen is a bit less expensive..
<My pleasure.>

Friends don't let Friends use Dip Test Strips Wow, nice to hear from you so soon! I'm using "Aqua Lab I" test strips. <Ughhh... I think I'm feeling queasy! When I joked before about a Wardley kit being the most dubiously accurate kit I could think of, it never crossed my mind that ethical retailers still sold test strips! No joking here... I wouldn't take dip strips for free. And Mardel is in fact a quite reputable company with many fine products. I simply have no admiration for this one> They measure both Ph and Alk by dipping the pad and looking at the color. <Oh, ya... I'm quite aware of them... I think they must be high profit or really cheap to produce. I cannot fathom any other reason why they would be marketed to test aquariums with valuable livestock in them> And to tell you the truth, this am, the Ph was a bit lighter in color which indicates lower Ph at about 7.4! <Ahhh... let me suggest that you definitely use a second test kit to compare with the one you currently use. The top shelf would be a LaMotte or Hach. Expensive but worth it for the investment you have in your tank. Very reliable too. Else, its hit or miss on the mid-priced hobby kits. I'm comfortable with Aquarium Systems brand for this and most dry reagent kits otherwise.> I will use the Kalk at night and the Sodium bicarb at day. <as directed by your test kit readings> Now, should I buy another test device for my Ph/Alk? <does a bear bring a reader's digest in to the woods?!?> Thank you for being there! Pam <in Pittsburgh? OK. :) Thank you, dear. Anthony>

Aqualab test kits at LFS Bob: <Hello> I wanted to tell you a story about these Aqualab test kits and my LFS.   <Okay> I went up there to have my Ca checked (I mentioned this in my earlier letter today - turns out it's about 320 - so I will use Reef Calcium to raise). While waiting in line, I observed them using the dip strips to test a customer's NO2 and NO3 (one strip does both).  He informed the customer that both reading were undetectable to which news the customer reacted with some surprise but was otherwise thrilled.  That seemed odd to me as my impression of this customer was of the "fly-by-night-kill-many-fish-in-the-process-of-learning-then-give-up-all-together" variety.  I waited my turn, then as my Ca was being tested (by a more reliable test kit) I told him to go ahead and test my NO3 as well.  Well, no surprise, it was "unreadable".  Now I happen to KNOW my NO3 is around 40ppm at the moment (tested upon return home to confirm - with 2 different kits - both read 40ppm)  Obviously, his kit was bad, perhaps old, who knows?  My concern is, if it was wrong about the NO3 what if the customer had NO2?! (She purchased a fish upon learning how perfect her tank was by the way, and some poor butterfly went with her.) <Yikes> Now knowing the owner of this LFS, he would resent my input on this as being meddlesome and a "know-it-all" but it genuinely grieves me that these fish have to suffer from such poorly-trained shop owners (who also sells birds and dogs by the way).  I just wish there was some way to teach them better. <You're helping here... and I am not deterred by speaking with other hobbyists... in stores or elsewhere. Bob Fenner> David Test Strips - Any Good? >Hi and good day, crew. >>Saludos, Bernd.  Marina today. >Has anybody any experience with Test strips from Mardel or other company? Are test strips in general reliable? Thanks, Bernd from Honduras >>I personally have had no experience with these test strips.  However, I would tend to doubt their reliability without at least first confirming with a known quality kit.  I would make several tests upon which to base an average.  I would also try one of the reefing forums, and http://www.wetwebfotos.com/talk and ask around.  Marina

Nitrates in Salt Water Aquarium  - 08/26/06 Have a 100 gallon salt water fish only live rock aquarium. Have had it for six years or so. Never had major die out until recently. Now I have four fish in it--a marine Betta, a yellow tang, a Valentini puffer, and a stingray. All of my readings are great, with the exception of nitrates, which are 200 or above. I have been doing water changes like crazy--- two a week for the past month. I use RO water. They tested my RO water to see if it had nitrates--none. I do have a protein skimmer, but my aquarium guy says its too small for my 100 gallon tank. (Even though I bought it there from someone who knew what size tank I had.) Today I added two bags with nitrate sponge material, but my aquarium guy says he is still stumped as to why I have high nitrates. He recommended I email you. Hope you have a suggestion. Thanks, Gini <<Gini:  At this point, I think you should double check your test kit.  A nitrate level of 200 would be unusual if you are doing regular water changes.  I once was freaked out by nitrate readings with Jungle test strips.  The strips were unreliable.  Best of luck,  Roy>> Re: still learning! <<Hello, JasonC again...>> I added Seachem's Alkaline Buffer 3 days ago. Now the ph is between 7.8 and 8.0. The buffering capacity, (which I understand now, thank you!) <<ahhh good.>>, is like an aqua color, maybe it's off the scale? The strips are difficult to read. <<egg, I'm not a big fan of these types of tests. You might want to think about a FasTest, Salifert, or LaMotte pH test.>> My Damsels have been going strong the whole time. <<good stuff.>> Maybe it's all that Cape Cod food I harvest at the beach! <<Perhaps. Cheers, J -- >>

Test Kit Hi, Is Master Test Kit (Fresh/Salt) 50 Strips (Mardel) a good product to test salt water? Range for ammonia is: 0, 0.25, 0.50, 1.0, 3.0, 6.0. Range for pH is: 6.4, 6.8, 7.2, 7.6, 8.0, 8.4. Range for total hardness is: 0, 25, 50, 120, 250, 300. Range for alkalinity is: 0, 80, 120, 180, 240, 300. Range for nitrate is: 0, 20, 40, 80, 120. Range for nitrite is: 0, 0.5, 1.0, 3.0, 5.0, 10.0. <Sounds appropriate.  I'd also recommend testing dissolved oxygen and phosphate, even copper.  Could be very helpful.  Ryan Bowen> thanks     Mohamed.

Alkalinity Test kits, Canister filter inserts and Nitrate 5/24/05--Part3 - (And No Shills Necessary!) Thank you for the quick response to my questions below (and the free "keeping spouse happy with tank" advice)! <Glad to! As for the spouse... I am glad that others can benefit from my failures! Ha! Actually, my wife is very tolerant.> Per your advice, the lava rock is removed, and I'm planning on adding the remaining live rock in one batch (after confirming it is cured by keeping it in tub in garage). I'll also buy a better alkalinity test. I've been using Jungle Quick Dip strips, but they have always been "off the chart" in the "ideal" range. I've been questioning their accuracy. Any recommendations on best test? <Always choose an alkalinity test that is a titration type. Titration tests require you to add drops of reagent until a change from one color to another is observed. The value is calculated from the amount or number of drops of reagent that are added. Test kits for alkalinity that use dip strips or compare to a color chart are very unreliable. I am fond of Salifert and Tropic Marin alkalinity kits, but many good ones are available.> I'm going to go with selling the Fluval, but keeping the Eheim for the great water movement it gives me. I had heard--LFS--that filling the Eheim completely with the Eheim filters would "polish" the water without creating nitrates. Do you agree? Or would I be better just having the Eheim completely empty? (I'm the guy who knows there is no way I will be doing weekly maintenance on the canister--most likely just every month or two.) Thanks again for your help and great site. Greg  <I disagree with your LFS, but there is no harm in trying. If you observe nitrates after a couple of months, I would either step up the maintenance or remove all media from the canister filter.> P.S. I'm going to shill for you. I made an Amazon Honors Payment to you guys and was surprised that more people don't do the same. I'm always buying stuff from the LFS when I go in and pick their brains because I feel their time is worth something and they're in business to make money. More so for you guys who are doing this site free of charge to the fish-keeping world. Not everyone is made of money--although this isn't the least expensive hobby I can think of--but I'm still surprised people don't throw a bit more change/bills in your electronic glass jar. <Thanks for the contribution! It is refreshing and uplifting to cross paths with someone who is willing to voluntarily support something they

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