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Re: Test Kits

Kellie & Peter Schmidt inquired about test kits.

George Booth responded:
>Hobbyist style kits are generally lower cost than professional test
>kits but their quality seems to vary widely.  If you don't mind paying
>a little more, check out either Lamotte or Hach test kits.  I have
>nothing but praise for the 10 different Lamotte kits we have.

I have used Hach test kits and highly recommend them to anyone wishing to
do accurate and precise testing.  I have never used the lamotte test kits
so I can't comment on them.  I would not recommend the hobbyist kits
because of the inconsistency of results.  If you begin adding chemicals to
your water based on inaccurate test results you can do more harm than good.

Therefore, regardless of the test kits that you use, it is always wise to
check the test kit against standard solutions prior to any chemical
additions - if that is the only basis on which you are using to make
adjustments.  Hach sells standard Nitrate soln's, pH standard soln's, and
iron standard soln's and I'm sure lamotte does as well.

Regarding cost, the Hach test kits run about $50 each, are good for about
100 test, and are renewable for about $10 to $20.  If you can't afford
that, pH testing is probably the only test that is an absolute must,
especially if you are making CO2 additions.  You can buy inexpensive rolls
of pH paper at any chemical or hobbyist supply (edmunds scientific, etc.).

Having said that, observation goes a long way toward understanding the
chemistry and ecology of a planted tank.  Plants such as hygrophila
polysperma reveal quite a bit about tank conditions (see TAG vol. 9 no.5).
Combined with observations on the rate of algae growth, the types of algae
and the general conditions of your fish, a person can get by with very
little or no testing at all.  Your local water supplier, or university
extension office or county water lab can tell you the nitrate levels in
your water supply for little or no cost.

Augustine Rodriguez
Elk Mound, WI, USA