Water tests are a crucial part of a fish keeper’s arsenal. It’s the tool a fish keeper uses to determine the condition of the water since it’s not possible to use our senses to determine that.
Use test strips to quickly determine the water quality. I have used the test strips from API that you can find on amazon. But now I use the one from JBL To closer and more precisely determine the water quality using a liquid test. These tests could be bought separately and the important tests are pH, KH and NO2. Check these links to find the cheapest one on amazon. Note that I use the liquid tests from JBL but they are hard to come by outside of Europe where I’m situated. The tests I have linked are tests that have got good reviews and are reasonably priced.
There are different kinds of tests and there is a lot that you don’t really need. Therefore I would not recommend buying a big kit with tests. You will find that you only use a fraction of the tests provided and they are quite expensive too.
What test to have
You could test a lot of different things with your water but not a lot will matter in the end. The only tests that matter for you and make you aware of any danger starting to occur in your fish tank are:
- Nitrite-test (NO2-test)
Whether it’s test strips for a quick check or liquid tests these are the tests I recommend to have.
A test strip that is a strip of paper with different pads on to test the water parameters is a type of test everybody should have. It’s a quick and cheap way to test the water and you will quickly get a picture of how your fish tank is going.
The test strip is not that accurate though. If there is anything serious the strip will pick it up but if you want to find problems in an early state you should test your water with liquid tests.
For the test strips, I use and recommend JBL. They are hard to get so instead I would recommend the ones from API. They are accurate and also measure chloride which is good to see after a water change due to the risk of chloride in the tap water. They also measure the crucial parameters that you need to measure. You can find APIs testing strips on amazon.
Liquid tests contain a kit with some kind of liquid testing the water with one parameter only. It also contains some kind of chart to measure the water of that specific parameter.
These kinds of tests are more time consuming but are more accurate with their measurement. It’s also more expensive due to their accuracy but is worth it in my opinion.
The tests I use is the pH, KH and NO2 liquid tests from JBL. I really like them since they are easy and quick to use (the longest only takes 3 min max). I haven’t been able to find them outside of Europe though. I’m sure, due to the reviews, the water tests from API is similarly good. You can find allt the test on Amazon. Here are the test for pH, KH and NO2.
The cost of water tests
If you test your water often the cost of water tests runs away. It should not be necessary to test the water more than once a week. If you test once a week the costs of water tests will not be a big cost for you.
The JBL strips are containing 50 strips to test the water and with one test a week, you have water tests for about a year. A tip to save money is to cut the strips in half. You will get twice the strips but with the same result!
The liquid tests have a big initial cost when buying the kit. When you have the kit you can use it until it breaks and that’s a lot of times! What’s the cost after the initial investment? It’s refilling the test.
The liquid water tests contain a liquid that will run out. That’s when you buy these refills but they could be expensive!
$5-$15 is the normal costs of refill and a refill will last for about a year with 1 test a week! The liquid water tests contain about 50 tests.
How to test if your water test is working
If the test is not working it could result in an empty fish tank because it didn’t show something that could be fatal for the fish. There are some simple steps of testing if your water test is working.
First, check the best before date. All tests have a best-before-date and it’s important to check it before the use of the test to be able to trust the result.
If the best before date is good you could once in a while check the parameters from your tap water. The parameters from the tap water are obtainable from the water provider from your local area. The pH and KH are parameters they will provide you. The NO2 should be 0.
When you have checked your water tests with the tap water you can feel safe that your tests are showing you the right result.
I calibrate my tests once every six months.