Water testing kits are one of the best investments for a healthy reef aquarium. Don’t be deceived, a clear-looking water can be toxic to corals and invertebrates inside the reef tank.
These animals need stable water parameters to thrive. And you can’t afford to do guesswork, otherwise, you risk their health and your investments.
Before we jump in, let’s take some time to explain how a test kit helps.
What is a reef aquarium test kit?
A test kit is any equipment designed to measure a specific water parameter.
These kits are important in testing for imbalance in water parameters that can affect the life of your fish. High nitrates, for instance, will make your fish die sooner or later.
So, by frequently testing the water, you be sure that the water elements are optimum. And if otherwise, you quickly act to supplement or reduce as the case may be, to save your marine life.
Now, What Parameters Do You Test for?
Most test kits available on the market can only be used to analyze one unique water parameter. This means you need to buy a test kit for each parameter you want to measure.
However, the number of parameters you need to test for will depend on the size of your reef tank. For starters, you might need just test kits for the core parameters, including alkalinity, calcium, nitrite, and magnesium.
Some of these water parameters are:
- Trace elements such as Iodine, Boron, and Iron.
Here are some of the best water testing kits for your reef aquarium:
1. Salifert Test Kit
Salifert test kit combo, one of the oldest brands, can check all essential (pH, Nitrate, Magnesium, pH, Calcium, Phosphate) aquarium parameters. You can see a sharp colour change for estimating accurate values. Moreover, the results are very easy to read.
This test kit may be a little expensive (since you’re getting a 6-in-one high-quality kit).
2. Hanna Checker Alkalinity Test Kits
Hobbyists want top-quality solutions for their reef aquariums. The Hanna Checker tester is a very helpful one at that. Slightly expensive, this equipment gives a very accurate digital reading without any guesswork. Its downside is that the regents do not last very long.
If you’re serious with your reef journey, I’d recommend the Hanna Checker as one of your testers.
3. Ammonia Test Kits
As a hobbyist, an ammonia test kit is one of the pieces of equipment you can’t do without. An ammonia kit can measure both non-ionized (NH3) and ionized form (NH4+) of ammonia. However, it’s the non-ionized form of ammonia you should be concerned about.
4. Nitrite Test Kits
Test for nitrite is an ongoing test right from the start-up of a new marine tank. You’ll want to check for nitrite levels before putting your fish to avoid the “New Tank Syndrome.”
This should be a weekly test from the start and reduced to monthly as you move on. Use the liquid tests for accuracy.
5. Nitrate Test Kits
Although nitrate is not a dangerous water parameter, it can stress your fish at high levels. Another reason to always keep nitrate low is an increased level enhances the growth of algae. So, use a nitrate test kit to track its composition in your reef tank.
How Often Should You Use an Aquarium Test Kit?
After your first tank cycle, you will want to test the water often, say every two days, to keep an eye on both Ammonia & Nitrite measures. Try to aim for zero, especially for nitrates, as any composition in the water is not good for your fish.
If you find any trace of nitrates, you should change the water immediately. Once you have a stable maintenance routine, you can just test once a week.
However, when you start adding your fish, you should increase the test to once per week. Again, you would be testing for Nitrates, CAL (Calcium), pH, and Magnesium to monitor their composition respectively. Of course, you should supplement any if needed.
What test kits do i need for a reef aquarium?
Although aquarium test kits may not be most accurate, they’re perhaps the best equipment to test for water parameters. In fact, I would recommend them to any beginner.
Considering that keeping a marine tank gets expensive with time, purchasing test kits could be a low-cost approach.
I think now it makes sense. Right?