Best Aquarium Water Test Kit Review & A Detailed Guide

Best Aquarium Water Test Kit

So you’re looking to invest in a fish tank? Make sure that the first thing on your list is an aquarium test kit! They allow accurate measurements of water conditions and help make adjustments when necessary. 

It’s a crucial tool for anyone who cares about their hobby investment.

What’s the best aquarium water test kit?

In this guide, I’ll review some of today’s top aquarium water test kits so you can get a better sense as to which one might be right for you.

Best Aquarium Water Test Kit: My Top Picks 

With so many different test kits on the market, it’s hard to decide which is best. However, over time I’ve tried them all and precisely know which ones will work for you!

Aquarium tests can be complex; there are dozens of options available with varying features – but my list below covers most potential needs.

Top 3 Liquid Type Test Kits

Combination tests kits for aquarium water are the perfect way to have all the basic tests at hand. But, is it worth buying? The pros of this product include that they’re cheaper than purchasing them individually, and everything has a similar expiration date.

The API Master test kit for aquarium water testing is a great choice! It has been one of the top brands on the market since it was started in 1983. The company offers reliable products to help keep underwater habitats clean and healthy with their wide range of tests, so you don’t have an unhealthy ecosystem.

I like that API’s water master test kits come with enough tubes so you can run all your tests at once and keep them from drying out. 

The API water master test kits are the perfect tool for beginners looking to get started with aquariums. It’s effortless and straightforward, using colorimetric testing methods that require little expertise of yours! 

The kit comes complete with four vials and seven bottles of liquid reagents, so there won’t be anything left out.

Some users complained about it, but I’ve never had a problem with test tubes leaking from the lid. I don’t know if it’s just luck or if some people aren’t putting them on correctly, but I’ve gone through several of these kits over the years without any issues ever arising!

The testing process is easy! API does a fantastic job of ensuring you don’t have any accidents with reagent bottles. The kit has everything in color-coded sections for simplicity, and those drip-style droppers make getting accurate measurements super simple too.


Pros
  • Covers all primary parameters.
  • Accurate and reliable.
  • Effortless and beginner-friendly.
  • Very long-lasting.
Cons
  • Little pricy.
  • Don’t cover GH, KH, phosphate, iron, etc.

The Hagen Nutrafin Master Test Kit is the only kit you’ll need for all your aquarium testing needs. It includes 10 test parameters.

The Master Test Kit includes everything you need to ensure that your fish are living in a proper environment with water chemistry and alkalinity levels that will keep them healthy and thriving.

This comprehensive test kit includes ammonia, pH, calcium, phosphate, iron, nitrite, and nitrate tests and tests for KH (carbonate hardness) and GH (general hardness). 

Easy-to-read color charts are suitable for beginners and will last with their durable plastic case until the expiry date!


Pros
  • It can test 10 parameters.
  • Easy-to-read color chart.
  • Great for freshwater and saltwater aquariums.
Cons
  • Expensive.

The Sera Aqua-Test Box is a tremendous all-around test kit that covers your basic aquarium water parameters plus some extras, like phosphate and iron, which can be handy for planted tanks. 

You get everything organized in the carrying case, so you’re not constantly losing parts or having each individual test tube take up precious space inside cardboard boxes!

The Aqua-Test Box also includes a color chart to help with interpreting your results. The box is straightforward to use, and tests are easy to read. It comes in a sturdy plastic case for storage of all the test strips and a color chart.

This aquarium test kit is different than other tests in that it has a much larger color comparison chart. It also comes with easy-to-read instructions, but the English version of this manual is sandwiched between German and other language versions.

Though it’s a great aquarium water test kit, the only downside is that you can’t compare total ammonia (ammonia and ammonium) to free ammonia.


Pros
  • Covers many tests.
  • Great for planted tanks.
  • Larger test tubes.
  • Easy to read & beginner-friendly color chart.
Cons
  • It tests total ammonia but not free ammonia.
  • The chlorine test also cannot specify the free chlorine.

Top 3 Testing Strips

As an alternative to liquid testing, Tetra EasyStrips 6-in-1 Aquarium Test Strips may be for you. This kit tests for more parameters than the API ones.

Tetra EasyStrips 6-in-1 Aquarium Water Test Strips are the fastest, easiest way to test your aquarium. Just dip the strip into water for 60 seconds and read the results on the easy-to-read color chart. The six tests included monitoring nitrates, nitrites, water hardness, chlorine levels, alkalinity, and pH levels. 

One thing I like about the Tetra aquarium water test strips is how they’ve designed them. Unlike other products on the market, their different pads don’t sit atop one another, so there’s less risk for cross-contamination or bleeding from each strip to alter results in any way!

These strips can be used in both freshwater and saltwater tanks. You can use them weekly to maintain a healthy aquarium environment.


Pros
  • Speedy result.
  • Several tests at once.
  • Suitable for freshwater and saltwater aquariums.
  • Easy to test and read.
Cons
  • Expensive.

You’ll never have to worry about bloating your aquarium with this freshwater test kit! Designed by experts, the Aqua Care Pro 6-in-1 strips are wider and more effortless. Plus, they come pre-packaged so you can get started right away – no extra liquid needed!

The sealed container and opaque design mitigate the risks of light damage or humidity tampering, making it great for freshwater tanks or aquariums! In addition, you can get an accurate reading within 60 seconds with these reliable strips on hand.

The Aqua Care Pro Freshwater Aquarium Test Strips make testing easy and convenient. Each test strip has six panels that measure pH, carbonate hardness, chlorine levels, nitrates, nitrites, and general water hardness. This way, you can test for all the most common problems in your tank at once!

These strips have an excellent design which makes them easy to use. Place the strip flat on a tabletop as it develops color, and you won’t experience any bleeding or false readings by this particular technique! The corresponding color chart can be found right on their bottle for quick reference too.


Pros
  • The packing is well-sealed.
  • Can test 6 basic parameters.
  • Easy to use.
  • Accurate result.
Cons
  • A bit expensive.

These kits, developed by Bosike, are six-in-one test strips that can monitor Total Hardness, Nitrate, Nitrite, Cl2, Carbonate, and pH at a time. 

This product is widely used for tropical fish tanks, breeder tanks, ponds, Betta tanks, and shrimp tanks. It uses advanced technology to provide accurate results with high precision. 

Their strip-style aquarium water test kit contains six panels to measure individual parameters, and it’s spaced out pretty far, so you won’t get any false readings in your tests! Plus, it’s super affordable, too; I was nicely surprised by how well these things work, considering their low price tag.

The BOSIKE aquarium water test strips are so easy to use. All you have to do is dip the strip in the tank water for about two seconds, then place it horizontally and wait 60-90 more seconds before reading!


Pros
  • Provides speedy results.
  • Affordable.
  • Longer shelf life.
  • Lightweight and easy to carry.
Cons
  • Color accuracy on the container is not that good.

Best Electronic Aquarium Test Kit

Apera instruments for aquarium water testing are electronic testers to measure the quality of your aquatic environment. They not only give instant readings but they’re also very accurate!

But, they are costly, and you can usually perform a single parameter test with a single device!


Pros
  • Exact measurements.
  • Very speedy results.
Cons
  • Doesn’t cover all the basic parameters.
  • Huge initial investment.

The Apera pH tester is a simple, reliable, and accurate pH meter that is easy to use. It’s the perfect choice for testing your aquarium water, pool water, or even your drinking water. 

The Apera has an auto-calibration feature with buffer recognition, so you don’t have to guess when to manually hold measurement. It also includes auto temperature compensation (ATC) which ensures accuracy in various temperatures (32 to 122F). 

Backed by an Apera quality pH sensor with low impedance ensuring a high response rate, this tester will provide up to 2000 hours of continuous operation.

This device is a professional water quality meter that measures the parameters of pH, conductivity, total dissolved solids (TDS), salinity, and temperature. 

The meters are designed for quick and accurate measurements. A large LCD screen with a dual display shows all parameters simultaneously with 3 backlit colors (indicating 3 different modes). 

When the smiley face icon stays on screen, it’s the right time to record the measurements. Then, the meter automatically calculates your results by using preset logic.

APERA Water Hardness Meter Kit is a portable water hardness tester, which adopts the electrode method to test hardness. It has the same accuracy as the EDTA titration method yet is much more convenient. 

It can measure the concentration of calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate in water by using electrodes instead of chemicals. The measurement range is from 0-300 mg/L for CA2+ and from 0-200 mg/L for MG2+. 

Adopting intelligent chip design produces stable potential, a fast response rate.

APERA Dissolved Oxygen Meter Kit is a revolutionary instrument for measuring dissolved oxygen (DO) in water. However, this device is very costly, so it is best for expert aquarists or large aquarium owners.

The DO meter works on the principle of light absorption by dissolved oxygen in the water. It has two operation modes; manual mode and automatic mode. 

In manual mode, it can be used to measure DO with only one-point calibration, while in the automatic settings, it can be used to measure DO with 2-point calibration when using an optical probe that comes with this kit.

The Importance Of Water Test Kits

Water screening is always vital regardless of the kind of aquarium you have or what aquatic creatures you’re caring for.

Water chemistry is much more complicated than a lot of believe. While everything looks okay from the outside, all water has actually dissolved minerals, chemicals, and also other contaminants. It’s the existence of those pollutants that change the water’s chemistry and impact its practicality to hold life.

Believe it or not, pure water isn’t always the best for fish. Some helpful minerals are essential to all animals in aquariums! Your favorite pet needs a balanced diet and safe environment so they can stay healthy. Your fish are made use of to remain in particular conditions.

They may come from exotic rivers with a high focus on acidic tannins or cool ponds with a near-neutral pH balance. A fish tank testing package will certainly aid you in recreating it!

These sets allow you consider your aquarium water from a brand-new scientific perspective. You can find out about the chemical structure of the water and guarantee that it’s right for your fish. Thanks to the precision of modern-day packages, fine-tuning water specifications has actually never been much more manageable before!

What’s the deal with water? It seems like we know so little about it. But actually, when you get right down to brass tacks, most everything in your aquarium revolves around its quality and conditionings, whether or not living creatures can live there comfortably, how often they need testing for contaminants etcetera.

Aquarists must take great care due to this ever-changing dynamic environment. What works one moment might not work another depending on variables such as pH balance changes over time, leading us to disaster if ignored long enough.

You require to make sure that the environment continues to be secure for your fish. Impurities like ammonia, nitrites, as well as nitrates occur due to the waste your fish produce. When those contaminants get out of control, your aquarium might become a ticking time bomb of catastrophe!

Water screening makes it less complicated to stop mass disasters, maintaining you abreast of what’s going on below the surface. Potentially life-threatening water changes do not take place overnight. Instead, they require time to develop, offering you many possibilities to rectify them before significant damages are done.

With routine water screening, you can stay updated on conditions and make ideal adjustments to maintain your fish healthily and balanced.

Different Types Of Aquarium Test Kits

There are various kinds of aquarium water testing kits; however, they all rely on a chemical reaction of some sort.

Different aquarists have different testing needs. Below I described the most common three types: 

Testing Strips

Aquarium water test strips are a quick and easy way to measure the water parameters in your home aquarium. 

The strip itself is a slim item of plastic that has numerous responsive pads glued along its length.

Each pad reacts to different chemicals, and also they change color when they’re subjected to the dissolved substances in your water.

aquarium water test strips

Typically, you just dip the strip in your fish tank and remove it immediately. After a minute of waiting for the color to develop, compare what array appears on your shaded graph against directions from the bottle’s packaging!

While simple and rapid to use, test strips are not constantly one of the most precise. Because the strips can be polluted from damp air, leading pads to not respond any longer and offer incorrect results.

Reaching into the bottle with damp fingers can additionally pollute strips. 

Pros: 

  • Provide quick results.
  • Inexpensive.

Cons: 

  • Don’t have a long shelf life
  • Less accurate results.

Liquid Tests

One outstanding feature of liquid tests, you can keep them stored much longer than test strips. Because it is not so easily polluted.

The downfall of liquid test sets for aquarium water tests is that they take more time to run than if you were utilizing strips. 

Dipping a strip and also reviewing your results can be done in an instant. But, with liquid tests, particularly nitrate or ammonia, it’s necessary to go through several steps before seeing the color develop at all.

aquarium water test liquid kits

This isn’t that big of a bargain if you just have one fish tank – you can get a lot of your tests done within 15 or 20 minutes.

For multiple aquariums, I have actually spent well over 2 hours running a complete collection of tests.

When you make use of these tests, there’s likewise the problem that you are managing chemicals. As a result, it is possible to subject yourself to skin and also eye toxic irritants. Don’t get me wrong, this is pretty uncommon. 

However, it might occur, so wear protection for hands and eyes.

Pros: 

  • More accurate results than test strips.
  • Longer shelf life.

Cons: 

  • Takes longer times to test than strips.
  • Some chemicals are skin and eye irritants.

Electronic Testers

Digital testers are tiny battery-operated gadgets that offer an accurate readout of aquarium water parameters.

Aquarium enthusiasts use reagent fluids and powders to test their tanks’ pH level, hardness measurements, salinity, and nitrite or total ammonia concentrations. 

However, some of these meters can also measure temperature, oxygen levels, and other additional parameters. But a single device is only for a single parameter.

The aquarium water sample with reagent is put inside the meter’s body. The meter then shows an exact number in a display on the front of the gadget.

As trendy as all that is, there are some disadvantages to electronic testers.

aquarium water test electronic meter

The meters are expensive, normally running someplace around $60 each. As well as most only do one criterion. You need one for nitrate, one more for ammonia, one more for pH, etc. 

You also need to maintain acquiring the reagent chemicals for each examination, which suggests continuous prices.

For some of the meters, like pH or total dissolved solids (TDS), you will likewise need to buy chemicals so that you can regularly calibrate the device.

Electronic testers are most definitely not the least expensive way to go. But I suggest that if you’re keeping a delicate variety of fish or many aquariums together, the digital testers are a rewarding investment.

Pros: 

  • Provides speedy results.
  • More precise data.

Cons: 

  • Very expensive.
  • Needs skill to operate.
  • Need to buy separate testers for each parameter.
  • Reagents are costly.

How To Get The Best Aquarium Test Kit

You want to make sure you’re getting a reliable kit. You know what they say – buy cheap, buy twice? Well, before you go out and spend your hard-earned cash on an aquarium test kit that may not work accurately, here is some information about which types of test kits should be used to ensure proper care of fish living in tanks.

How To Get The Best Aquarium Test Kit

1. Accuracy

You require to assume concerning accuracy.

All fish tank test sets will undoubtedly give you some fundamental data. However, that does not suggest that every reading is going to be 100 percent precise.

Why test if accuracy isn’t top-notch? Most aquarists don’t need pinpoint accuracy. Luckily, most fish in the aquarium trade are relatively hardy and can adapt to subtle changes in water chemistry. As long as there’s no major shift, they’ll have no problems!

So test packages only need to supply a particular degree of accuracy. As a result, a lot on the market today can give you an idea of what your fish tank is doing without going into scientific nuts and bolts, making them budget-friendly for those who want an easy way out!

There are some cases in which pinpoint accuracy does pay off. For example, saltwater tanks and coral tanks require detailed readings to keep conditions intact, with a certain level of precision needed. Some reefs will recede unless specifications are ideal.

In those cases, you will certainly require to identify a package that can provide the most precise feasible readings.

Now, accuracy and price go together hand in hand. More accurate and detailed readings come with a much higher price tag! When you factor in recurring testing costs, things can get pricey pretty quickly!

I always suggest getting a set that matches the requirements of your tank. For example, if you have an aquarium with hardy fish, I recommend lower accuracy levels could be okay. But if you keep sensitive corals reefs? They need more precision in water quality, and so more accurate test result is vital.

2. Test Number Per Kit

The number of tests in your aquarium water test kit matters, too! You need to figure out how many you can do before running out and what parameters they measure.

For those who are new to keeping fish, it’s important that you get a large aquarium water test kit. Because, in the establishment phase, you may need to test your aquarium water every few weeks. Even once you get your fish in, there’s still a lot of work that goes into maintaining it!

Related article: Nitrogen Cycle In A Fish Tank – What It Is And How To Cycle A Fish Tank

That said, larger kits will last most people several months before they start running low. 

When it comes to the variety of specifications you require, this all depends on the tank you have. Test kits can differ wildly in terms of screening capacities. Some will only supply fundamental info, while others give you readings on things you never ever knew you needed!

Typically, standard tropical freshwater tanks require screening for pH, hardness, ammonia levels, nitrite degrees, and nitrate levels. However, if you have plants, you can go the extra mile for a set that offers phosphorus readings.

For marine fish tanks, you’ll need many additional screening abilities. These consist of salinity and also chlorine. Likewise, you’ll require to examine for phosphate, calcium, and magnesium if you have a reef tank with coral.

There are some specialized kits out there to check for complex issues. You can also discover packages that determine oxygen levels, the quantity of iron in the water, and copper levels. Those tests are good if you have picky fish or invertebrates in your tank.

I don’t suggest going for complex tests unless if you have valid reasons. But, there are specific tests that every aquatic enthusiast should know. These kits can help keep your tank healthy by ensuring all the essentials are covered for its inhabitants to thrive and grow!

3. Cost

Previously, I pointed out that accuracy, as well as price, go hand in hand. The same goes with the number of testing options the kit includes – the higher number of features means higher cost.

You know what? I don’t think the number of testing will be too short. You’ll be testing your fish tank consistently. So remember the reoccurring prices involved with this process!

It’s not enough to just have a kit. Even if you’re using the most basic strips, some knowledge is still involved in working correctly. Whereas a digital tester demands more skill.

Aquarium water testing packages just feature a lot of reagents. So at some time, you’re going to have to replace it.

Here’s where things can be expensive! Your persisting costs will be high if you have a complex aquarium and require to determine lots of criteria!

So price is a significant aspect and needs to be considered when purchasing an aquarium water test kit.

4. Ease Of Use

Finally, you should think about how easy it is to perform the test. Aquarium water tests come in a few different forms – some are simple dip strips! 

Strip-based testing requires taking one of these little gadgets and putting it into the aquarium water for the chemicals inside to react before reading off the end result.

The process becomes much more involved if you perform aquarium water tests with testers other than dip strips. You will need specific sample sizes and reagents for each one to get accurate readings that are not skewed by any sampling error- which means that it could take up your entire workday just corralling all those samples!

For the newcomers, a quick test is more suitable than laboratory tests.

How To Use Aquarium Water Test Kit

If you use it correctly, a water test kit will only offer precise results! But, on the other hand, inappropriate usage could lead to all kinds of problems.

Fortunately, examining your water isn’t super tough. Here are some ideas to assist you in getting the reliable analyses you seek.

Read The Instruction

All tests work in different ways. So before you do anything, take some time to read the directions plainly and become accustomed to your screening process so that everything will go smoothly from then on out!

Gather Your Materials

Next, gather up your materials. This can be anything from a basic aquarium water test strip or several reagent-filled tubes with an appropriately shaded graph to go alongside them all, depending on what settings you have in mind for the test! 

Whatever the situation might be, have everything available and all set to go. But, again, time is essential with test sets. When you’re holding onto a sample, the last thing you want to do is search your products down.

Collect Water Sample

If you’re utilizing testing strips, this is very easy as dipping the whole strip right into your aquarium water. 

For fluid or digital tests, it might be necessary to accumulate a sample and use clean syringes for glass vials/pipettes if necessary (as some plastics will melt). 

However, I recommend using these, so they don’t get contaminated by other things in there!

If you’re testing for multiple parameters of aquarium water, it’s additionally a great idea to identify examination tubes.

Add The Reagent

Next, you’ll need to include any compound or reagents. Add the proper quantity precisely as specified in these guidelines – too much can cause incorrect outcomes!

Shake And Allow Time

As soon as you include the reagents, shake the tube to ensure that it’s completely dissolved and integrated. The best way to dissolve the reagents is by shaking them for about ten minutes.

But carefully read the instruction manual. Often, examination packages need you to shake for a defined amount of time.

Don’t ignore those instructions!

Compare Color And Data Value

Lastly, you can compare the data. This entails matching each color of your aquarium water sample to a consistent chart if necessary to avoid missing any details by utilizing a chromometer test!

Consider the colors in all-natural daylight conditions. Colored lights from your tank might make you regard the shades wrong.

Digital tests are relatively straightforward, as they provide readings in number. However, you must still have your preferred parameters known to compare the situation.

Tidy Up Things

After you’re done, rinse out any type of test vials as well as tidy up.

You don’t want to let used samples and reagents be in the vials for a long time. They might stain the glass and also spoil your outcomes for future examinations.

Allow Adequate Time

Take your time! Don’t hurry with the testing procedure. Every wrong step can make or damage your results.

Take things slow-moving and also make sure that you’re carrying out the test specifically just how it’s suggested.

What works for one test might not apply to another.

This can be a standard testing strip or several examination tubes, reagents, and a shaded graph – time is significant. For liquid or digital tests, you may require collecting a sample, and the testing kit needs you to frequently shake it for a certain period.

Which Aquarium Test Kit Is Best?

The API Freshwater Master Kit and adding on the GH & KH kit will give you all of your aquarium’s needs fulfilled. (Best overall)

That covers all of your bases for a healthy tank that lets you keep track of vital parameters and helps to make necessary adjustments! You could also pick up extra phosphate testing if trying algae control.

The API Freshwater Master Kit is a great option for those who want the best of both worlds – economy and accuracy.

But these kits take more time and won’t be as accurate as an electronic meter! 

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