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Aquarium Test Kits

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Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Test Kits ICP Water Analysis
Test kits for reef, fresh and saltwater aquariums
The ICP Water Analysis Kit is a unique product. Included with the purchase is an ICP test tube and a pre-labeled (but NOT pre-paid) envelope. Send you sample to ICP in Colorado and they will analyze your aquarium’s water for 33 elements down to the parts per million (ppm), or even parts per billion (ppb), surpassing the accuracy of any hobby level test kits.
Jungle & Tetra Quick Dip Test Strips Lifegard Aquatics Test Strips
The Jungle & Tetra Quick Dip Test Strips are easy to strips for testing your water quality. Just dip in your aquarium water and compare to the provided color chart.
5-Way Test Strips, 6-Way Test Strips and Ammonia Test Strips. Can be used for saltwater and freshwater tanks, and for ponds.
Red Sea Marine Care Program Test Kits Red Sea Pro Test Kits
The Red Sea Marine Care Program Test Kits are part of the Red Sea Marine Care Program. This Program integrates the Ree Mature Pro Kit additives with the Test Kits.
Very accurate test kits for reef and saltwater aquariums. Along with the usual calcium, nitrate & alkalinity test kits are the less common iodine and potassium test kits.
Salifert Test Kits Seachem Alert Series
Very accurate test kits for reef and saltwater aquariums: alkalinity, calcium, magnesium, phosphate, potassium and kh/alkalinity.
Easy to use testers that are placed in the aquarium and give a continuous readout.
Seachem Test Kits Sera Test Kits
Test kits for ammonia, copper, nitrate, nitrite, iron, phosphate, pH, alkalinity, iodine, iodide & magnesium carbonate.

We carry the Red Sea Pro Test Kits, Red Sea Marine Care Program Test Kits, Aquarium Pharmaceuticals (API) Test Kits, Seachem Test Kits, and the Lifegard All Purpose 6-Way Test Strips. The test kits all use either the colorimetric or the titration method. The colorimetric method involves the mixing test kit chemicals with some water from the tank in a test tube. After a specified period of time you match the color in the test tube against the colors on the color strips that come with the test kits to determine the concentration of the ion you are testing (i.e. nitrate, nitrite, ammonia). For calcium, magnesium and alkalinity the titration method is used. The concentration of an ion is determined by counting the drops of a chemical added until a water sample turns a certain color.

The Red Sea Pro Test Kits are quite a bit more expensive than the other test kits (some of this difference can be attributed to the number of tests in the kit). While all the test kits we carry will give you acceptable measurements, the Red Sea Pro Test Kits are more accurate.

The Lifegard All Purpose 6-Way Test Strips are a very easy-to-use paper strips that test simultaneously for alkalinity, pH, nitrite, nitrate, hardness and ammonia.

We also carry electronic testers, such as pH and ORP meters.

In different stages of your aquarium's life you will need to know different parameters for your aquarium. The easiest way to find out these parameters is with aquarium test kits.

Freshwater Aquariums
New aquariums go through an ammonia cycle caused by the amount of new organic waste and the lack of bacteria established. The first test any new aquarist should buy is an ammonia test kit such as the Red Sea Ammonia Aquarium Test Kit to make sure you have no ammonia in your tank.

After the ammonia and nitrites have settled to zero ppm you will want to do a final test of the pH to determine if the aquarium water is safe for the type of fish you are keeping.

Freshwater fish from the waters of Asia, North America, South America, and Australia usually will require an acidic (6.5) to neutral (7) pH. You will need a freshwater pH test kit, and can find this along with the ammonia and nitrite test in the Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Freshwater Master Test Kit.

For high range pH fish like African Cichlids use the Aquarium Pharmaceuticals High Range pH Test.

After the first month you will want to keep an eye on your nitrates. Nitrates are the end result of the nitrogen cycle and can be tested with the Red Sea Nitrate Pro Test Kit. Along with the pH, the nitrates should be tested every week.

Saltwater Aquariums
As described in the section for freshwater aquariums, test for ammonia, nitirite, nitrate and pH (the pH test kit in the Red Sea Marine Lab is the high range for saltwater tanks).

If you have a reef aquarium you will also have to pay particular attention to the Alkalinity, Calcium, Magnesium, and Phosphates. Test Alkalinity and pH on a regular basis.

The Red Sea Calcium Pro will give calcium level results in 2.5 ppm.

Once your Alkalinity and Calcium are at the correct levels, you will need to test for magnesium. Magnesium controls how fast your calcium and bicarbonate will precipitate. A magnesium level around 1250ppm will help keep both calcium and alkalinity stable.

If you have issues with algae or proper color of your corals you will want to look at the phosphates. High phosphates will promote algae growth and hinder coral health. Phosphates usually come from the fish food or the tap water. Use the API Phosphate Test Kit to assure your phosphates are low.

Product Choices for Various Reef Aquarium Tests
Test Reason To Test Test Frequency Acceptable Range
Maintaining correct pH is critical. Low pH will lead to pH shock and the death of your fish and corals. To raise your pH to an acceptable level use a buffer such as Inland Seas Marine and Reef Buffer.

Electronic pH meters, such as the Milwaukee Aquarium pH Meters are far more accurate than the chemical test kits.
A couple times a week 8.15-8.4

-Red Sea KH/Alkalinity Pro Test Kit
-Red Sea MCP pH/Alkalinity Test Kit
-Seachem MultiTest pH & Alkalinity Test Kit

Alkalinity is a measure of the acid buffering capacity of your tank water. ( In other words, a measure of the ability of a solution to resist a decrease in pH when acids are added.) Since the biological action of the reef tank contents will produce acids, alkalinity in a closed system has a natural tendency to go down. Correct alkalinity levels allow hard corals and coralline algae to properly secrete new skeletal material. When alkalinity levels drop, the carbonate ions needed are not available and the process slows or stops. A buffer such as Inland Seas Marine and Reef Buffer will help you maintain your alkalinity.

A couple times a week 2.5-5.0 meq/l
Elevated ammonia levels typically result from not cleaning the filter frequently enough or having inadequate filtration. During the tank-cycling phase an ammonia test should be performed daily. After the cycling phase, test every 2-3 weeks. Additionally, test when there are unexplained fish deaths to see if the deaths are caused by high ammonia levels.
0.0 ppm

NOTE: If your test kit detects any ammonia--that is too much. At concentrations as low as .2-.5 ppm (for some fish), ammonia causes rapid death. Even at levels above 0.01-0.02 ppm, fish will be stressed. Take corrective action immediately by doing large water changes and identifying the source of the problem.

-Red Sea Nitrite/Nitrate Test Kit
-Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Nitrite Test Kit
-Seachem MultiTest Nitrite & Nitrate Test Kit

The only time a nitrite kit provides information that an ammonia kit can't is while testing for completion of the second phase of the nitrogen cycle. As in the case for ammonia, if your test kits detects nitrite, your biological filter is not working adequately. Once a tank has cycled, nitrite kits are pretty much useless. (If the bio filter in an established tank isn't working, both ammonia and nitrite levels will be elevated.) Test daily during tank cycling
0.0-0.01 ppm

At levels above .5 ppm, fish become stressed. At 10-20 ppm, concentrations become lethal.
Magnesium helps regulate the balance between calcium and carbonates in aquarium water, and is a component of aragonite, the mineral secreted by reef-building organisms such as corals, clams, and their allies to form skeletal material. Test weekly prior to adding supplements with magnesium and prior to water changes
1220-1390 mg/l

The level depends on the type of corals
Corals, crustaceans, mollusks and calcareous algae all extract calcium from seawater and use it to construct their skeletons from calcium carbonate. Calcium can be controlled using kalkwasser ( also called limewater). Once every 1-2 weeks
400-475 mg/L
Compounds containing phosphorus and oxygen are called phosphates, and they occur in all living things. The accumulation of phosphates is a factor leading to the growth of algae. The easiest way to eliminate phosphate is to never introduce it into the system. Most tap water contains high levels of phosphates. Using RO (Reverse Osmosis) water will reduce phosphates to acceptable levels. RO water can be purchased at aquarium stores or produced at home with an RO System. Once per week.
0.05-0.1 ppm
Dissolved Oxygen

-Milwaukee MW600 Dissolved Oxygen Meter
A tank with adequate aeration should have an adequate amount of dissolved oxygen. Aeration is provided by water movement and surface area at the top exposed to air. Testing for dissolved oxygen is more for advanced aquarists. Chemical dissolved oxygen test kits are not particularly accurate and consequently we does not sell them. However, we do sell an accurate electronic meter, the Milwaukee MW600 Dissolved Oxygen Meter. Once per week.
Greater than 6.9 mg/L
Specific Gravity (Salinity)

-American Marine PinPoint Salinity Monitor
Specific gravity, or salinity, is a indirect measurement of the quantity of dissolved salts in water and is measured with a hydrometer. A quick change in salinity can cause a shock to fish and corals. Weekly

Corals come from different regions in the world with ocean temperatures ranging from 72 degrees to 92 degrees. To be safe most aquarists keep their tank between 75-80 degrees. However, some aquarists have very successful tanks with temperatures up to 82 degrees.

Fluctuating tank temperatures can be more of a threat to a tank than high temperatures. If your tank varies more than four degrees, up or down, you can add a chiller or heater.
75°-80°F (24°-27°C), with 77°F (25°C) being a good midpoint