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Water Test Kits

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Water Test Kits

Post by alexmtl on Mon Jun 23, 2014 9:13 pm

Some of the Canadaquaria members are frequently testing their aquarium source water. Whether they are breeding and conditioning fastidious fish, or watching water quality where the source may be unreliable, or in a new tank setup, where the nitrogen cycle is being monitored. What are your water conditions ? How often do you test ? Do you keep a log ? Are you using test strips or liquid based colour tests ?
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Re: Water Test Kits

Post by alexmtl on Mon Jun 23, 2014 9:15 pm

I monitor my incoming water source every once in a while in case there is a change in treatment. Being in West Island Montreal, I get my source from Pointe Claire. Here are my water measurements :

NEW Tap water
Ammonia 0 ppm
Free Chlorine 0
Total Chlorine 2-3
ALK 80
pH 8.4
TH 250
CyA 30
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Re: Water Test Kits

Post by CAAIndie on Mon Jun 23, 2014 9:41 pm

I haven't checked my water with a kit in a little while, although when I went through the softening my tank, I was checking it multiple times a week. Now I check my tap water on occasion, just to monitor the changes. I know sometimes we end up with a little bit of ammonia in the water supply, particularly during the spring.

I frequently check TDS with a nice little handheld meter. This is usually done with every water change, so I can consistently put water of similar TDS in. I haven't done this the last few changes though, as the batteries need replacing.

I also monitor carbonate hardness and general hardness of both my tap and tank with liquid drop tests.

My tap USUALLY runs

Ammonia- 0ppm
KH- 10-12 degrees (1 degree is 17.8ppm, ~180ppm-215ppm)
GH- 10-12 degrees
TDS- ~400


I haven't ever checked the chlorine levels of the water, or the cyanuric acid (I have to plead ignorance, what is this for?). I would certainly be curious to know about the chlorine levels though.
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Re: Water Test Kits

Post by alexmtl on Mon Jun 23, 2014 9:54 pm

CanadaquariaAdmin wrote:I haven't ever checked the chlorine levels of the water, or the cyanuric acid (I have to plead ignorance, what is this for?). I would certainly be curious to know about the chlorine levels though.

Chlorine Levels :
Basically aquarists do not want chlorine in their tanks, in any form. Chlorine is often added as a gas whereby it dissipates over a short period of time, leaving the water. As I add straight from the tap, this is important for me. I do not put water into a holding tank to degas the chlorine, I add directly to the tanks. Any change in my water source would mean that my fish are getting a straight dose.

Therefore the chlorine from the tap is free ion chlorine, presumably chlorine gas not tied up and bound into a longer molecule. If the Total Chlorine from the tap is high, then I can presume that this is chloramine or a bound chlorine. I monitor just in case.
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Re: Water Test Kits

Post by alexmtl on Mon Jun 23, 2014 9:56 pm

CanadaquariaAdmin wrote:cyanuric acid (I have to plead ignorance, what is this for?)

I test for cyanuric acid just in case the treatment plant adds bound chlorine. As I do not know which form, I look for a commercially used binder like CyA
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Re: Water Test Kits

Post by CAAIndie on Mon Jun 23, 2014 10:11 pm

alexmtl wrote:
CanadaquariaAdmin wrote:I haven't ever checked the chlorine levels of the water, or the cyanuric acid (I have to plead ignorance, what is this for?). I would certainly be curious to know about the chlorine levels though.

Chlorine Levels :
Basically aquarists do not want chlorine in their tanks, in any form. Chlorine is often added as a gas whereby it dissipates over a short period of time, leaving the water. As I add straight from the tap, this is important for me. I do not put water into a holding tank to degas the chlorine, I add directly to the tanks. Any change in my water source would mean that my fish are getting a straight dose.

Therefore the chlorine from the tap is free ion chlorine, presumably chlorine gas not tied up and bound into a longer molecule. If the Total Chlorine from the tap is high, then I can presume that this is chloramine or a bound chlorine. I monitor just in case.

I almost always age my water prior to water changes to gas off the chlorine (unless I'm in a big rush), but always use prime anyways (for chloramine). I never worried about testing for it, as I am treating for it, so it isn't a worry. I can see how that be something very important to be monitoring, particularly if you aren't ageing the water. Are you total chlorine numbers high enough that you need to worry about adding dechlorinator?

I'll have to pick up a test kit sometime, and satisfy my curiousity about my own tap water.

alexmtl wrote:
CanadaquariaAdmin wrote:cyanuric acid (I have to plead ignorance, what is this for?)

I test for cyanuric acid just in case the treatment plant adds bound chlorine. As I do not know which form, I look for a commercially used binder like CyA

Interesting. Thank you. Smile
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Re: Water Test Kits

Post by alexmtl on Mon Jun 23, 2014 10:22 pm

Well relying upon public works to ensure the safety of my water means that I have to be a little vigilant. In summary, any increase in chlorine stabilizers, like CyA and amines (registered as Total Chlorines) means that I have to start treating my water before I use it. Right now, I add directly to the tanks.

I use pool test kits. Why ? They detect the chlorine stabilizers as well as are ultra sensitive to chlorine levels. The strips runs at about $9.00 for 50 strips. I also use the liquid tests, but the strips are easier. Well yes, some people say that the strips are not accurate. Perhaps. But then diabetics use tests strips, and most reagent testing in the blood labs are now test strips, so the technology in test strips has really advanced. I would challenge the statement that strips are not as good as the liquid reagents on many accounts.

I use the API test kits for ammonia as well. For TDS, I do not have an electronic gizmo, but it is on the list.
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Re: Water Test Kits

Post by CAAIndie on Mon Jun 23, 2014 10:37 pm

Interesting to hear about the test strips. I have always heard about their reliability being lower than liquid tests as well. It would be interesting to know if the same advances you've mentioned in the medical test strips have been applied to the ones we are using too. That would be pretty cool.

I've found that TDS meters are pretty affordable, and a nice quick way to get some baselines for my water. I'd say generally more useful measurement than pH. I found mine on sale for about 9 bucks. I was nervous about the quality initially, but it has seemed to be consistent, and fairly reliable.
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Re: Water Test Kits

Post by alexmtl on Mon Jun 23, 2014 11:07 pm

CanadaquariaAdmin wrote:Interesting to hear about the test strips. I have always heard about their reliability being lower than liquid tests as well. It would be interesting to know if the same advances you've mentioned in the medical test strips have been applied to the ones we are using too. That would be pretty cool.

Well the strips have come a long way. The counter argument for the liquid reagent is : how well has the reagent been mixed (as the solution tends to settle), how viable is the reagent (ie shelf life) and how well is the concentration monitored to reflect the true indicator colour ? While the liquid may show a certain colour against the colour standard, how well was the test agitated and reagent standardized. Coming from a science background we all know variability in visual tagretting with liquid standards.

I would submit that the strips are a valid surrogate for liquid tests. While I have not done a direct comparison, I would tend to believe that the test strips are within an acceptable range of variance.

One day I took my pool water sample to the local pool store to have the parameters checked. I figured that I needed my liquid reagents reconfirmed as the I was not entirely sure that I had mixed the chemicals well enough. As I waited in line, I saw that the expert was using pool strips. Okay. I guess pool strips are good.

In another instance, the pool expert tested my water with his "contaminated" fingers. He has just done a reading with a previous customer and did not "blank" his fingers. I shuddered as he used the same fingers to cross contaminate my readings. Oh well.
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Re: Water Test Kits

Post by CAAIndie on Mon Jun 23, 2014 11:15 pm

alexmtl wrote:

In another instance, the pool expert tested my water with his "contaminated" fingers. He has just done a reading with a previous customer and did not "blank" his fingers. I shuddered as he used the same fingers to cross contaminate my readings. Oh well.

An expert should know better.

It makes me think of an archaeology research having to do with starch grain contamination in ancient DNA labs. Remind me to tell you about it, I feel like you would appreciate the paper. It'd be better suited to the hangout though.

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Re: Water Test Kits

Post by nyleveiam on Tue Jun 24, 2014 5:53 pm

I understood the biggest issue with strips was the effects of humidity and dripping water into the container and, in general, not being careful with their storage. I actually use both... always found the strips to be okay, but mine don't do ammonia so if I find nitrites I need to follow up with my liquid ammonia test to be safe.
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Re: Water Test Kits

Post by Sbenson11 on Tue Jun 24, 2014 6:24 pm

Never a big fan of the strips, no particular reason, just believing the hype I guess.

I use two API test kits for my SW tanks that test. I keep a close eye on the Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, calcium and phosphate.

For FW i use a Nutrafin master test kit. I keep a close eye on Nitrate, Nitrite, Ammonia and Alkalinity.

I also keep a close eye on my PH with a digital PH meter in both types of tanks.

I regularly fight the Chloramines in my water so I am curious if I am neutralizing it all or using to much Prime. Going to order a Kit to measure free chlorine and total chlorine soon. Also considering a test kit for dissolved oxygen.

Steve



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