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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The what,
I bought a test kit online for keeping fish, now I see it does not test what I need for planted tanks and tests for before and after of my tap water.
Are test strips the best bet or sensors and probes?
If I was starting from scratch can you give me a list of what I need to buy for testing?

The where,

Where do you buy your test equipment and why?
Where do you buy your chemicals for adjusting the water.
Are there non aquarium sites you would recommend for tests and supplies.

Thanks for any info you may have.

I don't know if I'm making it too complicated and overwhelming myself or I'm not seeing it in the order it should be.

Of course there are the questions I'm unable to see for the confusion also.
 

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sensors and probes if you can afford, if not then API test kit is good
 

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Amazon is almost a universal source for everything. They do sell a lot of planted aquarium stuff, including test kits. When I can't find what I want at my closest local fish store I just order it from Amazon. Test strips are the least accurate method for testing aquarium water. Test probes, if you can keep calibrating them, are the most accurate. Liquid test kits, using a "count the drops" and "judge the color" method are accurate enough for almost all of our needs. Some of the most useful test kits are: pH, KH, GH, NO3, NO2, and Ammonia, but most of us rarely do any of the tests. It is the early weeks of setting up a tank that can benefit the most from testing.
 

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Are test strips the best bet or sensors and probes?

If I was starting from scratch can you give me a list of what I need to buy for testing?

Where do you buy your test equipment and why?

Where do you buy your chemicals for adjusting the water.
As @hoppycalif stated many do not test water unless starting up a new tank and cycling.

Sensors, probes, and liquid/titration(API) style tests are better than strips.

I will not tell you what you need, but will share what I use.
API test kits for NH3, NO2, NO3, Ca, PO4, GH, and KH.
Vendor of your choosing look for best pricing.

A pH & TDS pen style tester, sold usually as a pair, Ebay & Amazon etc... $18ish.
TDS pen style testers last a long time just an occasional battery.
pH pen style testers might make 2 years before accuracy begins to diminish.

Chemicals?
I do not adjust my water, I am lucky that tap water for me will work for plants and fishes.

Fertilizer/compounds are another story.
I use NilocG.com for fertilizers.
Only purchasing dry individual compounds and mix my own macro & micro bottles.

Unless I an cycling a new tank or notice a problem I am only testing PO4 maybe every two weeks.
This is only to ensure 1ppm of PO4 is always available to plants.
Low tech tanks get an every 10 day fert dosing, hi tech tanks get 4 doses a week.

Once a month I pick 1 tank and do the entire testing group.
Then record this in my journal, just to know how things really are.
Have captured a calcium deficiency 3 times in this manner.

Hope this helps in some way!
Any questions, please ask.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks everyone,

I agree Dutch, yep hoping to find cheap sensors and probes as right now I am obsessed with exact numbers as that is the easy way out. As far as competency I was tested.....

Thanks Hoppy, Test strips drive me nuts for the above reason as I fret over is it this color or that color.
I'm hoping for suggestions for probes as I always seem to buy the wrong one and have to buy another one.

Thanks guppy, gives me things to consider and places to look.

When someone writes in to ask about algae problems, the first thing asked is what are the numbers, and equipment. I understand the reasons behind it, and also am looking for a kit to assemble to answer those questions.

I am so grateful for all your answers and the fact that all of you with your wonderful photos of tanks don't obsess and test constantly hovering over your tanks. But with some time and experience we can relax and enjoy our tanks.

I think that is what scares me and so many away in the beginning.
thanks everyone.
 

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So according to the link provided, the drop checker is not of much use if the CO2 is less than 20 ppm. Typical low tech CO2 is in the 0 to 5 ppm range which is unmeasurable unless one is willing to spend on a $1000 CO2 probe. Same with light intensity which is unmeasurable unless one is willing to spend on an expensive PAR meter. Since light and CO2 are the primary plant growth parameters, all we can afford to measure are the less important, secondary parameters.
 

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So according to the link provided, the drop checker is not of much use if the CO2 is less than 20 ppm. Typical low tech CO2 is in the 0 to 5 ppm range which is unmeasurable unless one is willing to spend on a $1000 CO2 probe. Same with light intensity which is unmeasurable unless one is willing to spend on an expensive PAR meter. Since light and CO2 are the primary plant growth parameters, all we can afford to measure are the less important, secondary parameters.
No, that isn't correct. You can measure CO2 down to the 5 ppm range by using low KH water in the bulb of the drop checker. See the chart in http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/...ts-discussions/133058-diy-co2.html#post920090 I'm using 1 dKH water in my drop checker now. And, you can borrow a PAR meter to measure the amount of light you have, for no more than the cost of the postage to get and return it.
 

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No, that isn't correct. You can measure CO2 down to the 5 ppm range by using low KH water in the bulb of the drop checker. See the chart in http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/...ts-discussions/133058-diy-co2.html#post920090 I'm using 1 dKH water in my drop checker now. And, you can borrow a PAR meter to measure the amount of light you have, for no more than the cost of the postage to get and return it.
I just ordered a drop checker per your recommendation from Ebay. So I have to dilute the 4dKH test fluid with 3 equal volume of distilled water to get 1dKH, right? I am wondering why the test fluid only comes with 4dKH and not more diluted form that is more appropriate for low tech tank. I am afraid my dilution may not be precise enough. The ISTA drop checker only comes with yellow, green and blue color corresponding to too much, adequate, and too little CO2. Where did you get hold of the multi color chart that tells the CO2 levels relative to dKH?

Are you renting out your PAR meter. If so, let me know the fee. Thanks.

I have just set up my first planted tank and want to know how I am doing scientifically.
 

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I just ordered a drop checker per your recommendation from Ebay. So I have to dilute the 4dKH test fluid with 3 equal volume of distilled water to get 1dKH, right? I am wondering why the test fluid only comes with 4dKH and not more diluted form that is more appropriate for low tech tank. I am afraid my dilution may not be precise enough. The ISTA drop checker only comes with yellow, green and blue color corresponding to too much, adequate, and too little CO2. Where did you get hold of the multi color chart that tells the CO2 levels relative to dKH?

Are you renting out your PAR meter. If so, let me know the fee. Thanks.

I have just set up my first planted tank and want to know how I am doing scientifically.
Here are the details for renting my PAR meter: http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/sale-trade/131882-fs-rent-apogee-par-meter.html

I diluted about half of my 4 dKH water 50-50 with distilled water, to get 2 dKH water. Then I diluted about half of that 50-50 with distilled water to get 1 dKH water. And, I diluted about half of that 50-50 with distilled water to get 0.5 dKH water. So now I have small bottles of 4 dKH, 2 dKH, 1 dKH and 0.5 dKH water. I use the one that my DIY CO2 will give me slightly green yellow when I have my maximum concentration of CO2 in the water. That happens to be 1 dKH with the set-up I now have.

The theory behind the color vs CO2 with a drop checker is so simple that I made that chart myself. I never use the solutions that come with a purchased drop checker, nor do I pay any attention to the manufacturers directions - most of them don't know how a drop checker works.
 
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