test kit database, FAQ

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AC Members
Aug 22, 2005

I would like to compile a database of test kits since I am not quite satisfied with my tetra test (see pic).

For each test kit (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, ph, gh, kh, iron, phosphate, c02, etc.) please specify the brand and post the scale and/or a pic of the color charts. Now I know that these kits are not that accurate but at least we could look for the best one out there.

I'm looking for something with a smaller increment in scale with colors that are not too close of a shade to each other (see my ph test and ammonia). The Aquapharm master kit seems to be sufficient regarding the scale but I do not know the colors in it. So if anyone can take a pic of the cards that info is highly appreciated and will be added to the database/FAQ




zazz said:
It[Aqua Pharm kit] also measures in shades of yellow/green. Maybe, by memory, a little more clear than your pic looks...
But IMHO, its not a Big deal. What i did was /do is,
Put the tube against a very white background. If i perceive Any change from the simple yellow, that is Any greening at all, I change water.
This will be fine for cycling IMO/IME
any other time there should be NO ammonia registering anyway, so the same aplies.
hope thats helpful.
FisheyLisa said:
ditto zazz, any little change in color...you can tell it goes to a slighly more putrid yellow-green instead of the cheery sunshine yellow;) the color seem in the aquapharm to be a bit more vibrant than the tetra, that helps to read better.

within the other tests in the kit, there are colors that are very close, but again, if it changes from the base color, you should change the water.
happychem said:
Personally, I don't think that you need a new test kit.

For one thing, these kits aren't extremely accurate to start with, the human error prevalent in this thread is a big reason why. If you actually want an accurate kit, you'll need to standardize it yourself, and that means having a pure source of analyte: ammonia, nitrite, whatever. A means to accurately measure the quantity of both water and analyte, like a scale and volumetric glassware, and a means to record the colour. Is this practical? Heck no.

Hobby test kits give you a general sense of what's up in the tank, but not a quantitative picture. If you want accuracy and precision, you're going to need to shell out the buck on Lamotte and Hatch. If you're happy just knowing approximately how much ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate is in your tank, then your basic kits are fine. Whether it's AP, Tetra, Hagen/Nutrafin, doesn't matter. If your ammonia is so low that you're stuck trying to tell whether it's 0ppm or 0.25ppm, you're on the right track - assuming a fishy cycle. Ditto for NO2, check your colour scale and do your water changes so that only the palest pink is visible. And as zazz suggested, put the tube up against a clean, white background and look at it through even lighting.
RTR said:
If you want greater accuracy and precision, you would have to step up to LaMotte and Hach test kits, but they are a significant investment. I have never seen them stocked in stores, mail-order only.



aquarium pharmaceuticals freshwater master test kit.
thanks to RockabillyChick and Puffernewbee

Ammonia - 0ppm, .25, .50, 1.0, 2.0, 4.0, 8.0
Nitrite - 0ppm, .25, .50, 1.0, 2.0, 5.0
Nitrate - 0ppm, 5.0, 10, 20, 40, 80, 100
pH Low - 6.0, 6.4, 6.6, 6.8, 7.0, 7.2, 7.6
pH high - 7.4, 7.8, 8.0, 8.2, 8.4, 8.8
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Easily amused
Jun 12, 2002
Winnipeg, MB
This is the Hagen Ammonia test kit, NH3/NH4. Note they have a couple different kinds, this is the one in the orange box for "Fresh & Salt Water." It has 3 regents. The plus is the lowest reading as 0.1 - the minus, you have to wait 20 minutes for the result.

In case you can't read the numbers on the pic, they are in the following increments:

0, 0.1, 0.3, 0.6, 1.2, 2.4, 3.7, 6.1

I have some (new) AP tests as well. I'll take pics and post soon.

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Easily amused
Jun 12, 2002
Winnipeg, MB
Aquarium Pharmaceuticals test kit pics:

1. Ammonia
Edit... Note this is the salicylate test kit with 2 regents.

2. NitrIte

3. NitrAte

Follow attachments in order.

Ammonia, with 2 regents (salicylate).jpg q_no2_ap.jpg q_no3_ap.jpg
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Easily amused
Jun 12, 2002
Winnipeg, MB
Last pics.

Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Ammonia Test kit. This is the Nessler test with only 1 regent. Lowest reading above zero is .5 to 1.0. With that minimum, only good for fishless cycling, I think.

Hagen pH Low Range Fresh Water

Follow attachments in order.

Ammonia, with 1 regent (Nessler).jpg q_ph_hagen.jpg
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AC Members
Oct 4, 2005
Red Sea Freshwater Test Kits

Here are the charts from the 'Red Sea Fresh Lab Deluxe'

It contains 8 tests and 2 planted tank supplements:-

  1. Ph low range 6.2-7.4 and high range 7.4-8.6. 100 tests each
  2. Ammonia/Ammonium. 60 tests
  3. Nitrite. 60 tests
  4. GH. 25 tests approx
  5. KH. 25 tests approx
  6. Iron. 60 tests
  7. CO2. 35 tests
  8. Chlorine/Chloramine. 60 tests
  9. Sample 15ml bottle of Flora Gro
  10. Sample 15ml bottle of Flora 24 daily additive

Each test comes with a short but informative leaflet on how to use the test, interpretation of result and how to remedy the situation if needed.

In general the colours are easy enough to match to the chart in daylight but I find it a little more difficult in fluorescent and incandescent lighting.

With the Chlorine test I get a reading of 0 from tap water which I find hard to believe!

Red Sea Ph Low

Red Sea Ph High

Red Sea Ammonia/Ammonium

Red Sea Nitrite

Red Sea GH

Red Sea KH

Red Sea Iron

Red Sea CO2

Red Sea Chlorine/Chloramine



AC Members
Mar 2, 2006
NutraFin Test Master Lab Kit

anyone used this (NutraFin Test Master Lab Kit) its a liquid test seems pretty good im gonna try it
Tests for ammonia, calcium, nitrate, phosphate, nitrite, ph, iron, carbonate hardness, and general hardness. 9 instructions booklets, 5 glass test tubes with caps, 2 pipettes, and 1 spoon. only other test you would need is chlorine
*edit* actually i think im gonna go with the Red Sea Deluxe Freshwater Lab Kit seems it has more test
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RIP my precious kitty baby
Oct 29, 2006
For NITRATE: I currently use the AP test kit, but have a dickens of a time trying to tell which one it is if it gets past 10, but the colors are so hard to distinguish. All orange/reds and just a variety of intensities of the same colors! Does anyone know of one that is more like the nitrite - blues, lavenders, etc... where the colors are different for the levels and not just various shades of the same color? The ph chart is a good example, it's easy to tell which one. I hope someone can help - I'm so tired of straining my eyes. The ammonia one isn't really easy either. We just go with the top two (it never gets below the second one down - .25) - and say... does it have ANY green in it or not? That's the only way we can get that one either.

Any "easier on the eyes" suggestions would be ever so much appreciated! Someone must make a nitrate test kit that has different colors rather than darker and lighter shades of the same colors???