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ACO Test Strips - Tips+Tricks/FAQ Request


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Hello @Zenzo and ACO team! Hello everyone,

I had a bit of a "moment" this morning. 😂

I was checking my KH/PH/GH on my semi-daily testing and I ran into a question, led myself down a rabbit hole, and I really would love to know a few of these questions.  I feel like a lot of hobbyists might have some of the same questions, so I'll share them here.  My hope is that eventually this makes it's way to the website or potentially sparks an idea for a video to help people out. 

First tip, if you have ever had any issues reading test results, I have heard a few people mention converting the results to grayscale to try to interpret them.  Here is a really good website where you can do this and potentially save yourself some guessing.


Second, If you are having issues with the colors having a different hue around the edges, it is very likely there was some sort of contamination from the other pad.  I just had this happen when I tried to take the photo, the pad itself absorbed a little bit of water on the KH pad from the GH pad.


You can see discoloration on the KH as well as the PH pad 😕

To avoid this, the tip is to let your strip rest on a towel instead of a non-porous surface when waiting the necessary 60 seconds for results.  This really tends to help keep things like that from happening and was a tip I saw from this hobbyist!

The third tip I would give people is to use an app like aquarium notebook or a notepad to log your results.  This is helpful if you are trying to adjust something in the tank over time or simply to have the data available to look back on when you need it. If a fish becomes sick, or you see a nutrient deficiency on a plant, that data might be invaluable.

My questions I'd like to understand:
1.  Can you talk about the development of this product and what the process is like to determine what colors end up on the color chart?

2.  The directions say to wait 60 seconds before reading results.  Does this matter for every test or just nitrite and nitrates?

3.  What if I accidentally walk away for 2-3 minutes, are the results valid? Would the results be valid still for some of the pads? Are the results accurate if the pads haven't dried up?

4.  If someone is using the ACO strips in comparison to a liquid test kit, what factors determine accuracy? (For instance, which one is newer?)

5. Generally speaking, are strips more accurate because they result in less error performing the test?
Meaning, you dip it, wait, and then it's down to understanding the results (Question #2-3) vs. a liquid kit where you have to shake the bottles for a specific amount of time in a certain way.

6. If you have "weird results" what is the best thing to do?
(Ex. I had my water reporting very low GH because I forgot to aerate the water thoroughly enough, and/or because I forgot to add dechlorinator.  I repeated the 24 hour aeration test with more aeration/dechlor and the results were normal)

7. If you are trying to use something like crushed coral, equilibrium, alkaline buffer, Epsom salt, etc. to buffer your water, is there a general guideline of time to wait before testing for "valid" results?

8. When it comes to planted tanks specifically, I tend to track nitrates for my dosing schedule. However, I am finding myself struggling to read 10 ppm results. Is there any lighting condition that these tests were designed for to be optimal for clear reading? Right now I use a LED flashlight.

9. If a color is "off the scale" it just means it's over the edge of the value indicated, right?image.png.2f9d5ec63a22ae8f9d1af2a2f06d72e4.png

10.  How often should I purchase test strips once I open the container?

If you have any other questions you think might be useful for this type of a list, please post them below!

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On 5/31/2022 at 10:36 AM, nabokovfan87 said:

let your strip rest on a towel

The only potential problem with this would be the towel (or any absorbent material) wicking water away from the pads.

On 5/31/2022 at 10:36 AM, nabokovfan87 said:

If you are trying to use something like crushed coral,


On 5/31/2022 at 10:36 AM, nabokovfan87 said:

If you are trying to use something like crushed coral,

Generally crushed coral will take days or even a couple weeks to show any change.  The less "acidic" the water the longer it takes to (very slowly) dissolve the coral.

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