Just a reminder that there are many brands of aquarium test kits. Some of the most popular brands are not always the best brands. Many beginner hobbyists purchase a master test kit, but find that they aren’t exactly accurate. Most master test kits will include pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. These are sometimes called NH3/4, NO2 and NO3. From brand to brand these test kits are fairly similar, but you really should invest in high quality test kits if you plan to keep corals. The most important tests for corals are calcium, alkalinity and magnesium. You may also consider purchasing a phosphate or PO4 test kit.
Selecting Aquarium Test Kits
Using lesser quality brands, will oftentimes yield inaccurate results. When this happens the average aquarist overdoses or doesn’t add enough supplements to their saltwater aquarium. This can spell disaster for a saltwater aquarium. Some of the best aquarium test kit brands are Elos, Salifert and Lamotte. For just a few extra dollars you can get accurate results and won’t have to worry. Also remember that most aquarium test kits expire after one year, so be sure to replace them before they expire. You can usually find a label on the package.
When selecting an aquarium test kit, you should consider how difficult the test will be to complete. Some tests are drop based, where some contain powders or other reagents. Some tests will use shaded color sheets to give you a reading, so if you have trouble seeing colors, this type of test kit may not be for you. Also remember that the time of day can impact your test results. For example, pH is always lowest in the morning and highest in the evening. Other popular saltwater aquarium testing tools include a refractometer which checks salinity and an ORP probe which monitors oxygen redux potential.