Aquarium test kits are one of the most integral tools for keeping your tank thriving. Water testing leads you to the invisible world of tank water quality.
Unluckily, some aquarists take water testing for granted until something goes wrong in the aquarium. Water quality scarcely decreases at a quick pace. Periodic testing hands you a “heads up” on what’s happening in the tank before conditions move to potentially dangerous levels.
However, aquarium testing is way more than just avoiding disaster. Test kits help us fine-tune the aquatic ecosystem, so your fish inverts, and plants look stunning. You can even handle algae-stimulating nutrients, so your fish tank will stay cleaner with minimum maintenance.
The following list of aquarium water test kits will bring in information about what excellent testing products are available on the market.
- Best Aquarium Test Kits For Accurate Results
- 1. API Ammonia Aquarium Test Kit
- 2. API Freshwater Aquarium Master Test Kit
- 3. Aqua Care Pro Test Strips
- 4. SJ Wave Aquarium Test Strip Kit
- 5. Milliard Aquarium 7 In 1 Test
- 6. Qguai Quick Read Aquarium Water Test Kit
- 7. JNW Direct Accurate Tank Test Strips
- 8. RUNBO Aquarium 6 In 1 Test Strips
- 9. Sera Aqua-Test Box Aquarium Test Kit
- 10. Nutrafin Master Test Kit
- 11. Red Sea Fish Pharm Pro Test Kit
- Freshwater Fish and Planted Tanks
- Saltwater and Reef Tanks
- How Do Aquarium Test Kits Work?
- Which Aquarium Test Kit Should You Choose?
- Tips When Using Aquarium Test Kits
- Our Suggested Picks for Best Aquarium Test Kits
Best Aquarium Test Kits For Accurate Results
The API Ammonia Aquarium Test kit is a versatile and economical testing solution for every fish tank. Specifically made to test for ammonia, the most detrimental chemical for aquariums and a common cause of fish death, it’s a streamlined item that is worth your money.
Liquid testing guarantees an absolutely accurate readout whenever you use this test kit from API. Using an easy-to-read color chart for fast comparisons, it can test for ammonia levels between 0 and 8 parts per million. What you need to do is to mix a few drops of water from your tank with the test solution in the included glass tube, then compare its color to the reference card.
Offering enough liquid for 130 tests in a package, you will be prepared to maintain your fish healthy and safe from ammonia pollution for years to come.
The API Freshwater Aquarium Master Test Kit is considered the gold standard for at-home testing. This is because it is affordably priced, highly precise, and easy-to use, with a vast source of tutorials for first-time users.
This aquarium test kit is created to test the six important aquarium levels (ammonia, pH, high range pH, nitrite, nitrate, and water hardness) and adjust them when needed. It is an all-in-one product to keep your fish healthy.
The kit comes with four test tubes, a holding tray, a laminated color card, and a test tube rack, making it easier to test your aquarium levels. You just need to fill the test tubes with water from your tank, add the test drops to individual tubes, and compare the color to the reference card. If you want to take any action to change a level, there are also instructions on the card.
If you want to test your aquarium’s water every week, you can try using the Aqua Care Pro Freshwater Aquarium Test Strips that provide enough strips for one year.
This six-in-one test kit uses strips to bring you readings. The strips are kept in a small and sealed container. The container is airtight and opaque, reducing the risks of light or humidity damage.
Designed for freshwater tanks, the test strips give you reading in 60 seconds. The six panels on every strip will test pH, nitrates, nitrites, chlorine levels, carbonate hardness, and general water hardness.
The strips are well made. Provided that you put them flat on a desk as the color appears, bleeding and false readings should not be a problem.
The corresponding color chart printed on the bottle is separated like the panels on the strip. Therefore, you can set your strip against the bottle for easier comparison
This aquarium test kit makes it simple to stay on top of aquarium conditions for years.
The strips contain six colorimetric testing panels. The panels include chlorine levels, pH levels, carbonate hardness, general hardness, nitrite levels, and nitrate levels.
Besides, the kit is equipped with a handy test tube. Users can dip the strips directly into the aquarium. However, getting a sample with the tube may bring in more stable results. The tube is large enough to fit the whole strip.
Moreover, there is also a simple thermometer included. It is not a complex digital thermometer but can give precise temperature readings. You just need to stick it on the outside of the tank glass.
Milliard does a good job of teaching aquarists about water conditions. The kit provides a comprehensive fact sheet that covers some fundamental information about multiple water parameters. It’s a decent extra that can serve beginner aquarists as they become familiar with the requirements of their fish.
The test strips offer results for seven different parameters within 60 seconds only. These parameters consist of nitrates, nitrites, pH levels, overall hardness, total alkalinity, free chlorine levels, and carbonate hardness.
The strips are held in a container to avoid environmental problems or pollution.
The Qguai Aquarium Test Kit is packed with nine different testing panels, handing you a detailed look into your tank’s condition.
The nine water parameters are comprised of chlorine levels, pH levels, carbonate hardness, general hardness, alkalinity, copper, iron, nitrates, and nitrites. This is a suitable option if you want to build an aquarium for sensitive fish. Besides, the kit also works for shrimp tanks, breeding tanks, and heavily-planted aquariums.
The panels are well-spaced to prevent any altered readings. They also arrange the color chart for quick cross-reference.
The container is opaque and sturdy. With proper storage, the manufacturer says that the strips will be in good condition for up to 2 years.
If you want to a little more testing complex, the JNW Direct Test Strips come in handy, providing colorimetric results.
The chart on the bottle is very detailed and includes most of the potential color variations, which ensures easy reference and less confusion,
With this aquarium test kit, you can test for nine parameters, including pH levels chlorine, general hardness, carbonate hardness, nitrates, nitrites, total alkalinity, copper, and iron. The latter two parameters are especially helpful if you are keeping invertebrates.
What’s more, JNW Direct comes with a handy smartphone app, which is an amazing touch. You can easily record results and keep tabs on how your aquarium is doing within the app. It’s a perfect tool for long-term maintenance as it will identify problems that require resolving.
With the RUNBO Aquarium Test Strips, you can perform more than 50 tests for your fish tank. This test kit covers tests for general hardness, free chlorine, pH, carbonate, nitrite, and nitrate.
These test strips are properly designed for taking fast and convenient measurements in freshwater aquariums. You just need to dip the strip in the water for 2 seconds and then remove it. Keep the strip horizontally for 2 minutes, compare it with the color chart to achieve the precise results of your water quality.
Importantly, the 50 strips are kept in a sealed moisture-proof foil bag, making sure the strips can be stored for 2 years.
The Sera Aqua-Test Box Aquarium Test Kit provides many of the same testing parameters with an evenly easy-to-read design. However, it is not equipped with the same literature to show you how to make adjustments if anything is off-balance.
For those who are familiar with protocols for fixing chemical imbalances or want to research them, this aquarium test kit provides a value that no alternatives can beat.
It consists of tests for ammonium/ ammonia, total hardness, carbonate hardness, nitrite, nitrate, pH levels, phosphate, copper, and iron. This is a comprehensive regimen that works for both freshwater and saltwater tanks.
For most fish tanks, a six-factor test will be enough. Having said that, if you want to discover the possibilities of keeping more exotic fish or introducing uncommon plants to your tanks, you will need a more powerful testing kit. Equipped with 10 test parameters, the Nutrafin Master Test Kit is a decent option for this purpose.
The aquarium test kit from Nutrafin provides liquid tests for pH high range, pH low range, ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, calcium, phosphate, iron, KH, and GH. It is equally well-designed for use with both freshwater and saltwater setups.
In addition, there are five glass test tubes with caps, one spoon, two pipettes, instruction booklets for every testing parameter, and a reference card for convenient testing comparison.
Specifically created to test for magnesium levels in a reef-style saltwater aquarium, the Red Sea Test Kit is an excellent choice for testing that has the benefit of laboratory-grade accuracy. As magnesium levels are so vital to the care and maintenance of reef tanks, you should consider buying this aquarium test kit.
With a high-precision titration method, you might take some time to get used to the kit. However, with materials for up to 100 different tests, you get numerous room mistakes as you learn to use this markedly precise testing method.
Freshwater Fish and Planted Tanks
A freshwater tank containing discus will often have low water hardness and an acidic pH with low alkalinity. Meanwhile, an African cichlid tank will have high water hardness, pH, and alkalinity. A community aquarium stays somewhere in the middle.
The great news is that most community freshwater critters grow in various water conditions, allowing you to keep numerous types of tropical fish.
No matter what type of aquarium you’re building, ammonia and nitrate should always be zero.
Nitrate is regarded as an indicator of overall water quality. As nitrate levels rise because of feeding and fish waste, it’s about time to perform a water change.
The phosphate level is an essential test when you keep live plants. PLants and algae prefer light and require the same nutrients to live. However, the idea is to add just enough nutrients to keep the plants thriving but not enough to boost algae growth.
Carbon dioxide (C02) provides carbon for aquatic plants. A lot of aquarists leverage CO2 injection to track the level of carbon dioxide and optimize plant thriving.
Read more: Most Reliable Aquarium CO2 Regulators
Saltwater and Reef Tanks
Saltwater tanks are grouped into the fish-only and reef aquarium categories.
If you’re raising a fish or fish only with a live rock aquarium, it is simple to do testing. You will want to keep track of ammonia and nitrate, always ensuring the levels are zero.
As pH and carbonate hardness (alkalinity) go together, both should be tracked. Saltwater fish don’t express to be super-sensitive to nitrate, but it is still necessary to test. Nitrate indicates the biological breakdown of fish waste and food, so if the level increases, it means a water change is required.
Reef tanks with live corals need more advanced testing to track the trace elements required by reef-constructing SPS and LPS corals.
Beyond the normal saltwater tests, reef aquarists monitor phosphate. Phosphate build-up can promote algae growth. The production of calcium carbonate by corals is somewhat prevented by phosphate.
Silicate is among the most popular minerals in groundwater. It is used by saltwater diatom algae to create their skeletons. Silicate will likely slip through the reserve osmosis system and can result in unsightly brown patches in the tank.
A silicate test kit enables you to check your tap water, reverse osmosis water, and aquarium for silicate break-through.
Magnesium (Mg) and Calcium (Ca) levels must be kept stable for the corals to grow. Magnesium and calcium test kits allow tracking levels and using additives that improve these crucial elements.
Moreover, there are optional tests like strontium and iodine. These two vital trace elements are used by encrusting coralline algae, SPS and LPS corals, and many other invertebrates.
How Do Aquarium Test Kits Work?
Aquarium test kits are invented based on built analytical test methods for water testing in laboratories. The tests are usually shortened for home aquarium users.
Every kit is colorimetric, which means the end result of the test procedure creates a color. The color relates to the level of the substance being tested.
For instance, as there is no detectable ammonia in the water, the result will turn yellow. When the ammonia level climbs, the test result will change into shades of green.
In the meantime, some tests are titrations. That means a chemical is included in the test tube, drop by drop, until a certain color appears or disappears, showing the test is done.
The number of drops needed to get to the endpoint is used to determine the level. The test chemicals can be in powder or liquid form.
Dip strips get the test chemicals applied to the strip. You just need to dip and watch the color.
Colorimetric tests depend on your capability to precisely see the color in the test tube or dip strip and match it to a color chart. It is a fast and economical method used in laboratories, water treatment factories, and aquaculture facilities.
Although these tests have various results, as each person’s ability to see the color and accurately match the test to a color card, they have proven to be correct and useful, particularly to aquarists.
Nevertheless, thanks to technology, small handy “colorimeters” have been common to aquarists. Every colorimeter is created to test one parameter, such as phosphate or calcium.
The benefit of getting a colorimeter is that the device can identify very detailed variations of color. It is far more precise than “eyeballing” the color and comparing it to a color chart.
Which Aquarium Test Kit Should You Choose?
IF you are a basic freshwater aquarium hobbyist with an easy aquarium setup, dip strip testing is a perfect choice. Dip strips are simple, convenient, and require no handling of chemicals.
You don’t need to add any liquid drops to a test tube. You don’t need to measure out scoops of powder. Simply dip the test strip into the water and compare the results to the color chart. Some dip strip tests include some parameters on one strip, making it easier to check your tank’s water quality.
Liquid test kits are a bit more complicated. You will need to take a water sample and carefully add dry or liquid chemicals to the test vial. Then you need to shake the test tube for a certain time frame. Next, let the color develop before matching with the color card.
Several test kits, such as alkalinity (KH) and water hardness, apply the titration method. You will pour a drop of test chemical at a time until the water sample changes color. These kits take more care and time to use.
A lot of aquarists love the increased precision and test a variety of liquid test kits. If you are a specialty freshwater aquarist with a planted aquarium, breeding sensitive fish or cichlids, liquid test kits are highly suggested.
That’s also true for saltwater and reef enthusiasts. Marine life, like corals, is particularly sensitive to improper water chemistry. Saltwater and reef test kits are created to test saltwater and offer highly precise results.
Some of the test parameters crucial to reef aquarium care, such as calcium and magnesium, are only available in the format of a liquid test kit.
The electronic colorimeter-style tests are significantly correct and mitigate the interferences caused by ambient lighting and the bias of human eyes.
For many aquarists, this level of sophistication is unnecessary. However, for reef aquarists and coral fraggers, these test kits make it more convenient for very specific levels of calcium, alkalinity, and other parameters important to keeping corals.
In regard to laboratories, you can send your tank’s water to a laboratory for analysis.
ICP (standing for Inductively Coupled Plasma optical emission spectrometry) is the most appropriate method of testing for trace metals in the aquarium water. Reef aquarists are intrigued by tracking the levels of critical trace elements like iodine, strontium, and other trace elements, as well as detrimental metals like aluminum and lead.
ICP testing services, designed specifically for saltwater testing, will analyze your tank water and give an analysis of every metal in the water. ICP brings reef aquarists who keep SPS corals with information that used to only be available to universities and laboratories.
Tips When Using Aquarium Test Kits
Matter which type of test kit you use, the following testing techniques will decide the accuracy of the results. Here are some tips that will reduce many of the testing errors you might face when testing at home.
Read through all of the testing guides. Every step must be followed for the kit to work well. You should get familiar with the steps before testing.
- Do not rush. Rushing often results in missed steps, adding the wrong quantity of test chemicals, or forgetting something crucial.
- Add the chemicals right as the instructions say, in the order described.
- Shake the test chemical bottle for precisely the specified time. This is absolutely necessary when you test nitrate.
- Let the test color develop as guided.
- Compare the test results to the color chart in natural daylight conditions. Yellowish incandescent lighting and bluish reef lighting might make it hard to match colors.
- Clean the test vials with freshwater after finishing the test. Do not let the vials sit with old water and chemicals. It may stain the glass and leave residue in the test tubes.
Our Suggested Picks for Best Aquarium Test Kits
|1||API Ammonia Aquarium Test Kit||$11.60||Buy on Amazon!|
|2||API Freshwater Aquarium Master Test Kit||$$||Buy on Amazon!|
|3||Aqua Care Pro Test Strips||$12.99||Buy on Amazon!|
|4||SJ Wave Aquarium Test Strip Kit||$$||Buy on Amazon!|
|5||Milliard Aquarium 7 In 1 Test||$$||Buy on Amazon!|
|6||Qguai Quick Read Aquarium Water Test Kit||$$||Buy on Amazon!|
|7||JNW Direct Accurate Tank Test Strips||$$||Buy on Amazon!|
|8||RUNBO Aquarium 6 In 1 Test Strips||$$||Buy on Amazon!|
|9||Sera Aqua-Test Box Aquarium Test Kit||$$||Buy on Amazon!|
|10||Nutrafin Master Test Kit||$$||Buy on Amazon!|
|11||Red Sea Fish Pharm Pro Test Kit||$$||Buy on Amazon!|
As the majority of novices will be experiencing freshwater aquariums at first, the API Freshwater Aquarium Master Test Kit is highly recommended for reliable, easy-to-read testing. Affordably priced and significantly informative, it’s a perfect solution to freshwater tank testing that can maintain your water properly balanced for your pets.
Even though somewhat more difficult to check the test results, the API Ammonia Freshwater & Saltwater Aquarium Test Kit provides the dual benefits of being reasonably priced and suitable for freshwater and marine tanks. It’s the go-to choice for anyone on a tight budget.