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AC Test strips not accurate?


Cbass
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Random, but has anyone run into issues with these? My shipment just arrived and I wanted something that would kick out some quick measurements in between using the API kit. But according to the strip, I have zero nitrates and my pH is 6.8. My API test kit has me at 20ppm of nitrates and a pH of 7.6, which makes way more sense given my starting ph on my tap and I fertilize. Followed instructions exactly and kept it horizontal for 1 min. 

Did I just get a bad batch?

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@Brian That's a good idea. I tested the tap and the results were closer to what I expected. PH was a little off, but not by much. The nitrate still didn't seem to react though. I have 5ppm in my tap assuming the API test is correct. 

 

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Good Luck.   When I first purchased my Aquarium CoOp test strips I had both liquid test and a different brand of test strips.   Both test strips and liquid gave me the same results.  
With liquid test we need to watch the products date code.  Make sure to get the cap on tight.  Keep the tip/end of the bottle clean.  Shake them up.   And so on.   I haven’t had any issues with the Aquarium Co Op ones .

 

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My test strips from the Co-op work great, once I realized just how long 30 seconds is (the ammonia strips). I actually run a timer for both the swirl part and the wait and read (multi-test). When our humidity dropped to single digits, it did take a little longer to get a nitrate reading. Whereas everything else matched my API tests at the 60 second mark, the nitrates didn't match until the 75 second mark. My chemist friend who works at the Sandia Labs is playing with some strips to see if they can figure out why.

So far, all my bottles have been closer than government work.

I also work very hard to keep the bottles stored in a dry place, with temps between 50 F and 80 F. (Our apartment keeps a steady 68 F)

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On 6/6/2022 at 4:29 PM, Brian said:

I would take some water to one of those pet shops that test for free.   Just to make sure the accuracy of both kits.  

Most of the shops I have worked at in the past, and have nearby now, use another brand of test strips that I can attest are not as accurate. My LFS just switched to Co-op strips.❤️

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In most cases what you want is consistency from test to test. If you're using test strips, you want each strip to give the same result when used in the same manner on the same water at the same time. If you use three strips and each one gives a different reading, that's bad. In the real world, the accuracy of the readings isn't all that important in most cases as long as they're consistent. What we want to achieve in an aquarium is stability. A stable pH, GH, KH, and no ammonia/nitrites and manageable nitrates. Test strips tend to be a bit more reliable from test to test than tests with liquid reagents. If the tip of the dropper hits the side of the test tube, you can get a drop and half instead of a drop. People lose count of how many drops they've put in. A drop may have a big air bubble in it making it less than a full drop. With test strips there's less to go wrong. If your fish are happy, healthy, and doing well, does it matter if your pH is 6.8 or 7.6? Not really. If the strips consistently say it's 6.8 then you know things are stable. If a strip suddenly says your pH is 5.6 and your fish are struggling, then you need to act.

I think most hobbyists spend too much time testing their water and chasing numbers that often don't matter. If your fish are happy, healthy, and doing well, that's all that matters.

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On 6/6/2022 at 3:54 PM, Cbass said:

Did I just get a bad batch?

I was going to order CO-OP test strips until they raised free ship to $80, I guess I`m cheap, however when I spend money, I want that product to work, if not I want my money back. I suppose there's a use by date.

 

On 6/7/2022 at 8:06 AM, gardenman said:

most hobbyists spend too much time testing their water and chasing numbers

I totally agree with this, I also wasted time/money chasing numbers but instead focused on what type of secondary tank inhabitants I wanted (Shrimp/snails) and adjusted the water accordingly. Now I check water every once in a while, just to be sure. (I ran out of test strips last year.) Worry causes way too much stress.

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On 6/6/2022 at 3:54 PM, Cbass said:

Random, but has anyone run into issues with these? My shipment just arrived and I wanted something that would kick out some quick measurements in between using the API kit. But according to the strip, I have zero nitrates and my pH is 6.8. My API test kit has me at 20ppm of nitrates and a pH of 7.6, which makes way more sense given my starting ph on my tap and I fertilize. Followed instructions exactly and kept it horizontal for 1 min. 

Did I just get a bad batch?

I got my new test strips about two weeks ago and the readings are the same as the year old strips.

I test once a week, mostly for amusement purposes.  If your numbers seem off, then test again. according to the printed instructions.  I have used ACO and Tetra strips, and gotten results similar to the API liquid tests.  In addition to use by dates, I have read that failure to thoroughly shake the reagents in the API test will throw the results off, and potentially all of the future test results.

On 6/7/2022 at 8:59 AM, BuzzDaddy21 said:

I was going to order CO-OP test strips until they raised free ship to $80, 

The $80.00 minimum for free shipping was a surprise, and will also be a deal breaker for me unless I can wait long enough to put together a larger order.  I do love the fast turnaround on orders. 

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Thanks all. I'll try testing today and if I have time take some of my tank water to the LFS. The expiration dates on the API bottles are all 2024. It's just odd that the Nitrate levels weren't reading on the AC strips. If I really did only less than 5ppm of nitrate, most of my plants would likely show signs. Especially my rotalia, which changes color under low nitrates. Will try again today. I'm going to laugh if the LFS kicks out the same readings as the AC strips. 

Agree with not chasing water parameters. I've learned that the hard way. My tank parameters have finally gotten to a good stable place (although I wish my kh was 1 to 2 levels higher) so I really just focus on seeing to what the plants need. 

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Well...so I decided to pick up a new API nitrate kit and open my spare API pH test because one of my LFS was actually giving me a hard time asking me why I wanted them to test my water (I got sort of annoyed. I just want a water test!).

Turns out that the test strips are pretty dead on. My nitrates are 5ppm (time to up my ferts) and my pH is 7.2. Which when I think about it, makes sense since I changed my lighting schedule. Thanks everyone for the input. I think I'm pretty sold on test strips now and I don't have to deal with my wife saying "are you testing the tank for COVID again?????". Har har...Although I will miss having 10 test tubes feeling like a mad scientist. 

@Torrey I had the same observations. I read everything except nitrates RIGHT at the 60 sec mark for the best reading. My the nitrate pad changed color around 75-80s, pretty much when most of the other pads started to fade out. 

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On 6/7/2022 at 8:13 PM, Cbass said:

Well...so I decided to pick up a new API nitrate kit and open my spare API pH test because one of my LFS was actually giving me a hard time asking me why I wanted them to test my water (I got sort of annoyed. I just want a water test!).

Turns out that the test strips are pretty dead on. My nitrates are 5ppm (time to up my ferts) and my pH is 7.2. Which when I think about it, makes sense since I changed my lighting schedule. Thanks everyone for the input. I think I'm pretty sold on test strips now and I don't have to deal with my wife saying "are you testing the tank for COVID again?????". Har har...Although I will miss having 10 test tubes feeling like a mad scientist. 

@Torrey I had the same observations. I read everything except nitrates RIGHT at the 60 sec mark for the best reading. My the nitrate pad changed color around 75-80s, pretty much when most of the other pads started to fade out. 

Mine will get more pink as they are drying out (I should geek out on this and actually film the timing) but that's not the accurate reading. At the 75 second mark, for me, everything is still covered by a drop of water, exactly as it was when I lifted it out of the tank and laid it flat on my "test plate".

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