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FAQs about Marine Water Test Gear, Using

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, Troubleshooting, Testing Methods: Liquid Reagent/Colorimetric, Dry Reagent Test/ing, "Paper", Titrametric, Electronic & About Brands/Manufacturers, & Specific Gravity

1) Follow Directions. 2) Do record your data! Including dates, notes... 3)Take care in dumping mixed water and chemicals (NOT in your tank)... and rinsing your test vials and other contaminated gear

Testing frequency   10/8/08 First, I want to thank you for operating this fantastic forum. I have received excellent advice here, and greatly enjoy reading all of the information offered. <Ah, good> I am trying to develop a schedule for testing my aquariums waters, and would appreciate advice regarding how often I should test for the following: PH Nitrite Nitrate Ammonia Alkalinity Magnesium Calcium Phosphate Salinity My tanks are respectively 120 gallon and 47 gallon reefs. I do not have much of coral in either of them yet, but they are stable. If I have omitted anything that I should be testing for regularly, I would appreciate knowing about it. Much thanks, Jeffrey <Mmm, unless there was something that appeared out of whack (health of livestock, algal proliferation) or you were attempting to adjust some aspect/s of water quality (use of supplements, a new piece of gear), I would only test for pH and Nitrate once a week, during water changes let's say... Alkalinity and biomineral the same, unless you can/do develop a routine of supplementation, other means that are/can be more "automatic"... Phosphate... I wouldn't be concerned with unless you had/have an obvious nutrient issue (e.g. excess algae)... Salinity, I would check on daily, esp. if you have evaporation issues, metal halides... and adjust as often. Bob Fenner>

Unit conversion tip, using Google, Yahoo etc.   6/18/07 Hi WWM, <Hi Paul, Mich with you tonight.> I've been reading quite a few of the tank articles and FAQs recently, and have noticed that many people ask questions about converting tank length measurements to volume, etc. One often overlooked but highly useful feature of Google is that users can simply type in a number along with two different units, press enter, and Google automatically completes the conversion. For example, entering a common set of tank dimensions as the search string "48x18x24" returns a calculation of "20736" as the first search result. Then, typing "20736 cubic inches to gallons" returns a result of "89.7662334 US gallons." (Quotes do not need to be entered into Google, just the text.) This feature works on an incredible array of measurements, Imperial and metric (and from one system to the other), and has saved me much effort over the past few years. I thought others that use WWM might also be interested. For the record, Yahoo.com also does calculations and conversions, although I haven't used it as much. Other popular search sites may also have similar functions. <Thank you for sharing this very helpful tidbit!> What a great online community; <Thanks! Glad you like!> thanks for your time and efforts. <On behalf of Bob and the crew, you're welcome!> Sincerely, Paul

Warm Enough? Thank You, Scott. I will lower their temp. Should I keep it around 78? <I think 78 degrees is perfect!> If I have a pretty stable system how often should I be checking AM, Nitrites, PH, etc.... It is a 60 gal and we do at least a 5 gal water change weekly, but I usually only test water maybe once a month. Should I be doing this more? Thanks in advance!!! Freckleface <Well- I'm fairly conservative...I like to do once a week checks, but many successful hobbyists perform checks bi weekly with good results. As I always tell people- don't get crazy about trying to hit an exact nitrate reading, etc. Instead, look for how well your tank is doing- spot trends, note changes in formerly stable parameters. You can learn so much by following these trends! Have fun, and continued success! Regards, Scott!>

Reading Water Test Results I have received excellent feed back many of the WWM crew and am planning several changes to improve the quality of our 29G tank. <Hopefully, I can help today! Scott F. here this morning> I have the following questions about reading/interpreting the water test results (I didn't find this info in any of the FAQ's): Q1: is it normal for the results not exactly match the color card? <Normal, but not desirable. Unfortunately, quality control, age/type of reagents used, and lots of other factors can affect color development in hobbyist-grade test kits. Also, in my experience, most liquid reagent test kits tend to be a bit less accurate than dry reagent kits after some period of time> Q2: if the test results are "between" two of the color chips on the card should I (a) interpolate (b) round-up to the next highest reading? <Well, If it were me, I'd take the conservative approach and take the reading that is less attractive! Example- I'd go with the lower pH, higher nitrate reading, lower dissolved oxygen reading, etc. Pessimistic, perhaps-but better to be safe than sorry if interpolation of results becomes necessary, IMO> >Q3: my Wardley (Hagen?) Ammonia test kit has instructions for mathematically adjusting the results based on temperature and pH.  The test requires twenty minutes and I would assume that the 5ml of water is at room temp at that point.  What temp should I use for the computation (a) room temp (b) tank temp (c) it's all relative because any ammonia is bad? <Good question. Yes- all ammonia is bad! However, I'd consult the manufacturer to see what temp to adjust for. Certainly, at the start of the test, tank temp is the factor. But after the sample sits for a while- room temp is the correct one...Maybe you can try to keep the test vial suspended in the tank in some way (in an enclosed container like a specimen holder, etc. to avoid possible disasters if the sample spills) in order to keep a steady tank temp as your reference?> Q4: hitchhiker question.  I was looking at a turbo snail that I recently purchased and discovered "something" attached to its shell.  I only saw this because the light was just right.  It is very small perhaps less than a mm in length.  It appeared to be hairs spread out in a plane - sort of a fan arrangement.  It was twisting back and forth - much faster than the water current around it.  It frequently "retracts" for one or two seconds and then reappears and I am assuming this is some sort of feeding behaviour.  Any Ideas? <Could be anything from a small anemone to a coral polyp- or lots of stuff in between! You may have to "break out the books" for a proper ID! Anthony has a great photo and caption in his "Book of Coral Propagation" describing how xenia can attach to even a sleeping snail...really funny- and entirely common, actually!> I cannot share enough compliments on the support all of you provide.  Many thanks for helping us sort through the industry's chicanery. Rex Merrill <Well, Rez, it's certainly our pleasure to help assist however we can. We're all learning new stuff every day! That's why this hobby is so addictive! Good luck! Regards,  Scott F.>

Calcium and KH test kits... Thanks for the quick response. My Alkalinity test kit shows a color chart ,but only 'high', 'low' and 'normal'. <Chuck that kit in the trash, it's of no use to your tank.> According to the color match, I am right in the middle of normal. <And that means what? Unfortunately, "normal" doesn't mean anything. 10 dKH would, as would a reading in alk, so go out and get a decent carbonate hardness kit (Salifert, SeaTest, sera, etc)> Since I first sent the question about my high calcium readings, I tested my source (LFS) salt water. It too tested high, but at the store, it tested 375. <Ah ha! Your kit was likely way off. I'd suggest a Salifert brand calcium kit.> I am in the process of getting a better test kit and a carbonate hardness kit also. Being very new to this, I am quite concerned about the well being of my 'critters'. I will watch Calcium and Alkalinity very close for awhile. <Great! Keep testing. -Kevin> Thanks again, Art Ling

- Test Kit Use - Hi again, <Hello to you, JasonC here...> I also had one more question. I bought the Saltwater Master Test Kit today made by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals. Would you recommend this brand? <Is ok, but sometimes their tests are dual use - freshwater and saltwater, even though they sell the kit for 'saltwater' use.> I normally get my water tested for $1 at my local store but wanted to have something I could use at home. <Wow, what a racket... best to test at home, and then spring for the dollar if you're unsure of the results. If I were you I'd look for another local store that would test your water for free. Many will when you are a regular customer.> All the dry tab or tablet mixes were really expensive and I figured it would be cheaper and more reliable if I had the store check it for me at 1 month (or should it be shorter?) intervals where I can also get tips. <I'd test a little more frequently if this is a new system... perhaps once a week. Once things get settled and you're more familiar with the cause/effect relationships in your system, you can test a little less.> So is this master kit that I bought reliable for testing in between these periods? <Should do fine for now.> I really appreciate your suggestions. Rocko PS: Sorry, I forgot to mention that I bought the liquid version of the tester kit. <No worries. Cheers, J -- >

Initial fill, what to test? > Hi crew, <Hello! Ryan with you> I have question about the initial fill on my tank. > I am planning on keeping various SPS and at least one of each T. maxima and T. squamosa. I have heard conflicting opinions on what to do. I have not purchased a RO/DI unit yet and need approx. 110gal water for my tank set up. The easiest thing for me to do would be to just fill the tank up with tap water and let it run for about a week; then mix the salt in the tank. <Tap water acceptable in some aquaria: Reefs are not one of them.  Either invest in a RO/DI unit yourself, or buy the prepared water from a quality LFS.>  (Why is the practice of mixing salt in the tank frowned upon by some?) <The initial mixing of salt in the tank is fine, it's just not safe once livestock is present.> So I guess one of my questions is will that be ok or will I regret it in the future b/c of silicates or some other stuff that will be in the tap water; or does my plan sound fine? <Investing in good water is truly SAVING yourself money.  The better your source water is, the less: Livestock will die, supplements you'll buy, frustration you'll endure.> > After the initial fill I am planning on storing tap water while aerating it b/f using it, its just that I don't have enough storage capacity to do the whole 110gal; so the tank is the only thing I have that big.  <OK...a cheap 20 gallon tank should be plenty of water to have on hand for a weekly water change.>  I have plans to purchase an RO/DI unit in the near future. <So maybe just buy the water until you're there> One last question can you recommend some reliable test kits to use to make sure my tap water is ready for mixing with salt. Like what brand for chloramine, and anything else that would be helpful to test for? <You should test for: Nitrite, Nitrate, pH, Ka, dissolved oxygen, ammonia, salinity, and calcium if you plan on reef-keeping.  As far as quality of kits, I've had decent luck with Seachem.>  Thanks a lot for your help and keep up the great work.- Ryan <I sure will, and you keep working on the new project.  I know it seems overwhelming, but just keep researching and you'll be fine.  Have you found www.reefcentral.com yet?  It's a great resource as well.  Best of luck! Ryan Bowen>

- Calcium Testing - Crew: I just received my first calcium test, as I am preparing for some coral additions.  The test instructions say to add a certain amount of RO or Distilled water during the test.  Do I really need this kind of water? <If the instructions say so, I would follow them.> I currently use filtered tap water for top-offs and filtered, aerated for salt mix.  What is the need for the pure water? <So that impurities don't throw off the test. You should be able to pick up a gallon of distilled water at the grocery store.> Thanks, Rich

Re: Salts and testing  Thanks for the quick response. I have a follow up question. If I stopped adding ALL supplements once I begin using the Reef Crystals, how long do you think it would take to see any meaningful results via my test kits? (calcium, iodide, etc.) <Hmm, meaningful? Almost immediately...> Thanks again and hope all well, Tony <Ahh, yes, just busy... which is good... as usual. Bob Fenner>

Easiest to read ammonia/nitrite/nitrate kits I am trying to find out which test kits for ammonia/nitrite/nitrate are easiest to read.  <The new ones by Red Sea claim they have "more than a shade" difference in their colorimetric standards for comparison. I still like the Salifert line... and for the maximum readability there are actual meters... Bob Fenner> I have a hard time matching colors on the two kits that I have used. Is there any kit out there you would recommend? thank you Thierry Genoyer

Looking for a Log that won't drive you crazy JasonC, Aquadraco here :-) ... anyway, I saw an inquiry in the daily questions for aquarium log software. Here is a link to several different ones with explanations of each: http://saltaquarium.about.com/cs/softwaremaint/  -herb <<much appreciated. Will post on the dailies for all to see. Cheers, J -- >>

Testing Water How long after doing a water change should you test the water to see if there are any differences? <If your kits are sensitive enough, you could record a change in several hours.> Thank you for your help <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Nitrate test kits 7/26/05 All of the test kits test for NO3-. So the number I get from these tests I need to multiple by 4.4 or I don't need to multiple? Thanks, Andy <Andy, to be sure, I would contact the manufacturer by email, they all have sites with a contact form.  Ask them what their kits measure.  James (Salty Dog)>

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