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Re: Absolutely essential test kits for planted aquaria???

On Wed, 26 Jan 2000, samm wrote:

> Being on a student budget, I wanted to know the most
> essential test kits for a planted aquarium.

Here is a complete list of all the absolutely essential test kits for
planted aquaria:


Now, wasn't that easy?  Inexpensive, too.  You don't absolutely need test
kits for a planted aquarium any more than you need test kits for a potted

I'm trying to remember all the times I've made changes for the better in
my tanks based on the results from a test kit...  Nope.  Never happened.

Now I'm trying to remember all the times that test kits kept me from doing
something dumb after I got misguided advice...  Hmm.  There are a few of

Now I'm trying to remember all the times that test kits gave me screwed up
results and caused me to make unnecessary or counter-productive changes...
Oooo.  There's a few of those, too.

For a lot of purposes you're far better off getting a complete analysis of
your water from your water supplier than you are trying to get information
from test kits.

That said, there are some test kits that you might want to get, depending
on how you maintain your tank.

If you add CO2 get pH and alkalinity (KH) tests.

If you use PMDD get the above plus iron and nitrate tests

If you know your tap water is soft (I understand that it isn't in the LA
area, but heck, you might buy water or have point-of-use treatment) then
you might want to get a general hardness kit.

Phosphate test kits are sometimes useful for solving problems.

Of course, if you post questions to this list someone (who knows, maybe it
will be me!) is likely to say they can't tell you anything unless you test
for [insert randomly selected chemical here].

> ...in order
> of importance for a **planted** aquarium, how would
> you rank Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate test kits in
> terms of importance, and which displays the bulk of
> the nitrogen available to plants]

Depends on your setup.  If you have a nitrifying filter then most of the
nitrogen available to plants will be nitrate.  Ammonia and nitrite tests
are useful mostly during tank setup and as much as I tested my new tank
setups I only once found any nitrite.  Ammonia tests (along with a pH
test) are a safeguard for your fish.  Don't get one for the plants; even
if you don't have a nitrifying filter the ammonia level in a
well-maintained tank should be unreadable.

Roger Miller

In Albuquerque, where we finally achieved humidity.