Retirement and forum shutdown (17 Jan 2022)


John Howell who has managed the forum for years is getting on and wishes to retire from the role of managing it.
Over the years, he has managed the forum through good days and bad days and he has always been fair.
He has managed to bring his passion for fish keeping to the forum and keep it going for so long.

I wish to thank John for his hard work in keeping the forum going.

With John wishing to "retire" from the role of managing the forum and the forum receiving very little traffic, I think we must agree that forum has come to a natural conclusion and it's time to put it to rest.

I am proposing that the forum be made read-only from March 2022 onwards and that no new users or content be created. The website is still registered for several more years, so the content will still be accessible but no new topics or replies will be allowed.

If there is interest from the ITFS or other fish keeping clubs, we may redirect traffic to them or to a Facebook group but will not actively manage it.

I'd like to thank everyone over the years who helped with forum, posted a reply, started a new topic, ask a question and helped a newbie in fish keeping. And thank you to the sponsors who helped us along the away. Hopefully it made the hobby stronger.

I'd especially like to thank John Howell and Valerie Rousseau for all of their contributions, without them the forum would have never been has successful.

Thank you
Darragh Sherwin

Test kits

13 Jul 2016 13:10 #1 by Jonlate
Test kits was created by Jonlate
A few quick question, that don't have quick answers, so can you help?

What is the best water test kits to use for salt water?
Is it better to buy the tests as kits, or as separates?
What are the top things you should be testing for?
If you could only buy 5 what's would they be?
Can i use my freshwater kit for any if them?
Where is the best Place to buy them?

See I said they are quick questions. Thanks for your help!

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13 Jul 2016 17:34 #2 by Lakes1985
Replied by Lakes1985 on topic Test kits
Only brand iv used is salifert & only have 3, nitrate, nitrite and ammonia as needed them when I was starting the cycle. I'm sure as I get more corals I'm gonna need more types of tests like magnesium, phosphates, calcium etc but as it stands that's all I have and need at the moment but I think I may need others now that I have lobophyllia and favia corals.
As far as I know you can't use freshwater test kits with salty

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13 Jul 2016 17:49 #3 by igmillichip
Replied by igmillichip on topic Test kits
I'd be interested to see what different people reply as being the most important tests.

I sometimes feel that some test parameters are cited as "important" more so on the basis of what is easy to test and can be sold, whereas other parameters are often ignored.

If keeping corals then there is going to be different constraints put on your water chemistry that would require more of a focus on certain parameters than would be expected for a fish-only system.

Plus remember there are wet-test, strip-tests and electronic test systems.........thus adding to what parameters to test with how to test those parameters.

(I do not rate strip-tests by the way.............but any port in storm is better than non perhaps).

The basic principles in colorimetric wet test kits is the same whether for salt for freshwater, but a manuficaturer may tweek the calibration or colour cards specifically for effects of salt on the test in some cases: so I would recommend getting specific saltwater tests if that option is available to remove any queries.


Irish Tropical Fish Society (ITFS) Member.

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13 Jul 2016 18:57 #4 by carlowchris
Replied by carlowchris on topic Test kits
The best test kits to use are elos...only problem is there not for sale in any lfs in Ireland as far as I know...so have be ordered on line....as you probly won't decide to buy test kits on the spare of the moment I suppose this probly works ok for most people....
I'll probly be ordering there test kits next time I need some.....absolutely great reviews

It's better to buy them separately as if you buy the red sea kit you only get one tube to do the tests....a ways handy unless you fancy doing washing up between tests.

Top things tested for are phosphate.nitrate.kh and calcium and salinity..

Wouldn't bother using the freshwater kits at all...most of the tests available in she are quite accurate. ..d&d for phosphate and nitrate...red sea for calcium and magnesium.and tropical Marin. For kh.....but I'm sure these could probly be got cheaper on line.

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13 Jul 2016 20:16 #5 by robert
Replied by robert on topic Test kits
Interesting , i use jbl test kits for ph, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate, all the kits enclose both a test colour card for both freshwater and saltwater

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14 Jul 2016 00:07 #6 by Sukahn
Replied by Sukahn on topic Test kits
For marine i currently use red sea marine test kits that does Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite, KH and PH.

I also have DD calcium/mag and DD phosphate test kits.

They are your basic needs kits wise, but you will learn when to test everything as your going along by seeing corals not extending like they should, algae growth etc.

I testing everything this morning on both tanks cause i had a sick fish but everything is well within normal ranges.

I dont care for test strips as i dont feel they are accurate but i would love to know what people think of automated electronic sensors

ATI do nice complete test kits for even iron and other metals which is good for testing RO water. i borrow my dads one to check RO every now and again to check if it needs changing.

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14 Jul 2016 12:23 #7 by igmillichip
Replied by igmillichip on topic Test kits
Electronic sensors at affordable prices are getting good.

For some vitally important parameters, electrical measurement is the only way to test: RedOx and conductivity demand electrical test systems by virtue of what those parameters are.
Now, you can use wet kits for testing RedOx.............but that would be very very crude and a waste of time.
Electronic TDS meters do not measure TDS as such...............so simply use them as what they are: conductivity meters calibrated in multiple ways.

Electronic pH meters are good and cheap.......and accurate enough.

Now, all of the above do need to be calibrated and used correctly else they are useless.

Other electronic test systems are becoming cheap and more widely available.
Of particular interest are electronic ammonia test systems:
SenEye (for example) has a very cheap system for measuring ammonia electronically.
The ability to continuously monitor ammonia during the initial period of a tank set-up is an extremely useful facility and one that I would support.

As for accuracy.............well, we are talking about pretty cheap kits (whether wet or electronic) that are intended to be a quick indication of parameters.
These are accurate enough for aquatic needs if used correctly.
However, what is important is precision............even if not totally accurate, general test kits can be pretty precise if used correctly.


Irish Tropical Fish Society (ITFS) Member.

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14 Jul 2016 15:42 #8 by Jonlate
Replied by Jonlate on topic Test kits
Thanks for replys so far.
I definitely won't be going electronic in my testing, I will leave that to Alex!!
So I really need to decide on what make, Red Sea seem easy to get, but salifert seem cheaper,. Then there is JBL, H2O, API, etc etc
Is there a big difference in the results? Are more expensive ones better than cheaper ones?

It seems like I need,
Ammonia (nh4),
alkalinity (ka),
Is 7 test kits to many? What can I leave off?
Help before I sink into too much information mode. :silly: :silly: :silly:

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14 Jul 2016 18:00 #9 by Bohrio
Replied by Bohrio on topic Test kits
Hi Jonathan

For marine I wouldnt bother with nitrites.

I use/have Red Sea for Ammonia, pH, Nitrate, Nitrite, KH. But I only test for Ammonia (specially now at the beginning), Nitrates and KH. They all come in the same pack (I think it is cheaper to buy them like this, I think it is called Reef complete). Separately I have another Red Sea Pro kit for Calcium, Magnesium and KH, at the minute I only use it for calcium as my Mg leves are very high due to my rock leaching it.

I also have Salifert Nitrates and Phosphates and Silicates, which I use every now and then just to make sure Red Sea is giving me accurate readings.

Also use DD for phosphates.

And I just ordered Hannah's test kits for Calcium and Phosphates, If I like it I will be getting Mg and Phosphorus when the Red Sea expires.

My Apex is currently constantly measuring pH, ORP, Temperature and Conductivity. You might need to buy a conductivity test kit if not in the list, I also have the DD refractometer. Also, I dont see a pH test kit? Not extremely important but handy to have.

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15 Jul 2016 13:05 #10 by Jonlate
Replied by Jonlate on topic Test kits
This is a perfect example of what I mean!!
Redsea for this test, salifert for this one, and DD for another!
How are we supposed to chose which ones to go with and why doesn't someone just do the main 5 tests in one kit?

I was looking at a Redsea kit video, and the colour had to change from pink to purple. Well me being one of those colourblind people, it looked the same colour all the way through the test, but I think that might be the same for every make.

Another thing I noticed watching videos was that some use only 1 test chemical and some use a mix of 3, is there any difference in the accuracy of these ones? Or is it a case of only using one is best as there is less room for mistakes?

Sorry for the questions, but my API kit for my freshwater only cost €30 and covers most test I need. The saltwater tests seem to cost about €20 for each test, so I want to make sure I get the right ones first time.

www.seahorseaquariums.com/JBL-Testlab-Marine/1891 Is this test kit any good?
Or should I go with the redsea kit www.seahorseaquariums.com/Red-Sea-Marine-Care-Test-Kit/5435
Or buy them all as separates from salifert?


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15 Jul 2016 14:05 #11 by Bohrio
Replied by Bohrio on topic Test kits
I have never used the JBL so I would probably stick to the Red Sea.

I normally only test for nitrates, KH and calcium.

But that's just me as it is a new tank.

I do this weekly (KH might do it twice). Sometimes I test for ammonia as well but again only because is a new tank.

Phosphates, silicates, etc are only tested 2 a months if.

When the tanks matures this test will only happen every month or so, some every few months. I barely use to test my tanks when they were running.

pH and salinity is something else you need to check on weekly basis, mostly salinity although again not as important as Nitrates/KH/Ammonia, specially at first.

Hannah have digital testers that will give you a numeric value, might be something worth looking at if you are color bling. They are not cheap, each module cost 50 euro, then you need the test powder, that's between 7 to 20 euro per 25 tests.

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09 Sep 2016 04:39 #12 by Mc Paul
Replied by Mc Paul on topic Test kits
Phosphates Janna 736 or 713, for bouth you can use Salifert PO4 kit's reagents, it is working and cheaperr then Hanna's reagents.

Nitrate Salifert
KH/Alkalinity Salifert
If you have sps or LPs coral also use that.
Calcium Salifert
Magnesium Salifert

Nitrites,Amonnia tests - waste money. Just remember you can add fishes on second week, one new fish per week .

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