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Aquarium Co-op test strips?


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I recently bought aquarium co op test strips for the first time.

Not sure if im doing something wrong or if they are from a bad batch or what but my results are just wack¬†ūüėÖ

Im following the instructions exactly as told but according to the coop test strips my PH an KH are both so low as to not register a reading at all, On all 3 of my tanks. This had me panicking about a PH crash on all tanks due to low KH however besides 1 sick molly all fish plants and inverts are healthy happy and seem to be thriving.

 

Can anyone help me? If my KH is truly 0, what is the best course of action?

 

This is not representative of the api liquid tests, which tell me my PH is 7.6-7.8. I havnt tested for KH with API liquid test.

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I would back up by testing with the API kh test.  If kh is very low, seachems Alkalinity buffer will raise it.  The package gives you dosing for the amount you want to raise it for a given volume of water…

Baking soda can also raise it. You have to experiment with amounts.

Crushed coral can raise as well over time…

 

over time nitrates in your tank gradually deplete kh.

Edited by Pepere
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Mine are also a bit wonky. They are consistent in readings, but are marginally different from results from liquid kits and they are very hard to read with mixing colors. Also my gh results are always a color not on the sheet. Liquid kits put my gh in all my tanks between 6-9 units. 

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If everyone and everything is healthy don't chase a number. 

I don't worry about kh it gets tested because it's on my test strips but if everything is happy I'm only looking at nitrate and nitrite to see if I need a water change.

Sometimes we can do more harm trying to fix things we didn't need to.

 

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On 1/17/2023 at 12:46 PM, Flumpweesel said:

If everyone and everything is healthy don't chase a number. 

I don't worry about kh it gets tested because it's on my test strips but if everything is happy I'm only looking at nitrate and nitrite to see if I need a water change.

Sometimes we can do more harm trying to fix things we didn't need to.

 

Been trying to tell an acquaintance that recently. She's been trying to chance perfect gh levels for ADFs when they'll be better off with consistent parameters.

I use RODI water so I can get perfect parameters but I would do anything for usable tap water that wasn't perfectly ideal. I know there is some variation in my water parameters in my tanks because ill never measure, mix, etc everything perfectly so i feel bad that my fish deal with variable water parameters. Though I'm getting abetter with consistency. 

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My hardness is so high it's off scale for the co-op strips and turns some weird lightish purple.  GH is at least.  KH might be on scale, actually.  In any event, I don't worry about those for anything I'm doing now.  At some point I might try breeding some fish and mixing RO with tap to get some desired level of hardness.  For that I'd imagine I'll use the API liquid kit and possible correlate that to something on the test strip at that time and make sure it's consistent so that I can spot check with the strips.  

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On 1/17/2023 at 1:46 PM, Flumpweesel said:

If everyone and everything is healthy don't chase a number. 

I don't worry about kh it gets tested because it's on my test strips but if everything is happy I'm only looking at nitrate and nitrite to see if I need a water change.

Sometimes we can do more harm trying to fix things we didn't need to.

My tap water is only barely 1 degree KH, GH is just barely 2 degrees.  I supplement both of them to keep them between 4-6 degrees. 
 

plants, animals and waste products all cause GH, KH depletion over time.  Water changes cause depletions.

people with higher GH and KH in their tap water can rely on water changes.  I cant.  I dont view it as chasing a number but doing what I need to do because my tap water is deficient.  If you run straight RO DI water without remineralizing you will have suffering plants and dying animals…. My water is not too far removed from rodi water in terms of gh and kh…,

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On 1/17/2023 at 1:08 PM, jwcarlson said:

My hardness is so high it's off scale for the co-op strips and turns some weird lightish purple.  GH is at least.  KH might be on scale, actually.  In any event, I don't worry about those for anything I'm doing now.  At some point I might try breeding some fish and mixing RO with tap to get some desired level of hardness.  For that I'd imagine I'll use the API liquid kit and possible correlate that to something on the test strip at that time and make sure it's consistent so that I can spot check with the strips.  

mine does the same with the hardness gh color but my hardness is not that high according to both equillbirum dosing and liquid test kits. perhaps a weak spot in these strips?

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So glad I found this post!  I received the test strips today......the hardness reading on the strip is 300!  I use remineralized RODI water.  I tested the GH with the API test...GH is 10 PPM.  All of my fish are healthy.  I'll take the advice on other posts and just pay attention to the Nitrate and Nitrite readings.  

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On 1/17/2023 at 1:46 PM, Flumpweesel said:

f everyone and everything is healthy don't chase a number. 

Well said Flump! Those of us who lack the knowledge will make mistakes along the way and hopefully will learn. 

I've pretty much given up on test strips with the exception of ph. 

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On 1/17/2023 at 8:23 AM, Winstons_estate said:

Can anyone help me?

There is a few things going on, but photos help!

First things first, get a clear reading using this specific technique to avoid contamination.


Secondly, use a timer and test it on time.  Don't let results sit too long and don't let the pads get dry. 

I try to have a way to read the strip and either take a photo (no flash) with decent light and be able to compare.  I also tend to have paper or something so I can write down the results for the sake of writing them out later (usually the journal tank).

For something like GH as a good example, let's check the color scales.  It goes from a pretty clean blue to a purple color.  Eventually it will go to a light purple (less blue as you go higher).  So if you see something "off the scale" just check what the colors are doing and you'll get a bit better at understanding what you're looking at.  Another one.... PH goes from yellow to red.  More of a red-orange would be higher PH while more of a muted yellow orange is a lower PH result.

Finally...

If you have anything weird going on with your results, test them against your tap water and an off gas test.  What this means is that you:
A. Take a sample of water from your source of water that you use for water changes.  Test it for everything.
B.  Aerate that sample of water for 24 hours with an air stone.  Repeat all tests for everything. 
C.  Test your tank and compare those to results from B.  This should give you a trend and you should see, optimally, your results from B very close to your tank.  If they are out of wack it could  mean old tank syndrome or it could be an indication of your plants or other things using up minerals. 

Performing this off gas test every 3-6 months is a good way to keep yourself in check and to keep an eye on your water parameters from the water company or well source.

Edited by nabokovfan87
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On 1/17/2023 at 7:23 PM, Pepere said:

 I cant.  I dont view it as chasing a number but doing what I need to do because my tap water is deficient.  If you run straight RO DI water without remineralizing you will have suffering plants and dying animals….

Sorry if you miss understood me my advise was to someone who has already told us the fish and plants are doing well in the water.  I probably worded it badly sadly your situation is different but my way of looking at testing is that every test is part of a picture if the tank is happy what you test is your happy marker and then you use whatever kit you have to look for change and then manage that..

I know that sounds really basic but these test kits are relatively new to me most didn't exist when I started keeping fish or were to expensive if you weren't a fish farm

 

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By the same token he used a test strip that was indicating ph and kh were so low as to not register.

 

That certainly bears further investigation. I would want to follow that test up with another testing method to confirm results.  If Kh is indeed below 1 degree of hardness, and PH is reading off the scale, I would want to correct it before the fish and plants start showing visible signs of distress.

I would also test the tap water for kh levels.  It could be that one simply has to increase water changes.  Nitrate levels are not the only reason to do a water change.  It can also replenish minerals and carbonate buffer.  It can remove growth inhibiting hormones, and plant allelochemicals. amd if one has hard water for a source, and one does only top offs the kh and gh can tend to rise over time rather than decrease.

For most fishkeeping I would say a floor of 3-4 degrees of KH and GH would be a reasonable goal.  Certain setups can go lower and thrive, but  that should be an educated choice rather than an accidental one.  When fish are showing visible signs of distress, harm is being done to them.  I think it might be better to head that distress off at the pass before it is visible.

A no water change ecosystem is not the holy grail of fishkeeping to me or a goal to be pursued.

accurately knowing levels where testing is readily accessible and cheap is a good thing.

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I have some Co op test strips on hand.  I mostly use them for a quick screening and back them up with API master test kit and GH KH test kit.

 

as a general rule I find significant discrepancy between the two methods but I have not benchmarked them against lab tests to know for certainty which is more accurate.

 

historically I find the CO op strips report GH significantly higher than API, and reports PH significantly lower than API.

So this morning I pulled three strips and measured three display tanks.

all three tanks the strips indicated GH between 150 and 300 ppm.

my API GH test indicated 7, 6, and 4 degrees of hardness.  1 degree of hardness equals 17.85 ppm.  
 

So, 125 ppm,  105, and 70 ppm.  Now I will say the test strip color intensity between tanks did correlate very nicely with the relative hardness between the tanks even though the absolute numbers are at significant variance.

The KH test between methods was close enough for me, reading between 40 and 80 ppm with good correlation.of 2, 4 and 4 degrees. 35.7,and 61.4 ppm.

 

my KH was lower than I prefer so I added Alkalinity buffer.

Seachems Equilibrium and Alkalinity buffer gives you dosing information.

1 Tablespoon of Equilibrium is supposed to raise GH 3 degrees if added to 20 gallons. When I add this and test with API test the next day I find very close agreement.

1 teaspoon of Alkalinity buffer is said to raise KH 2.8 degrees when added to 20 gallons.

I find the API KH test closely mirrors this when testing the next day. 
 

Given that the API GH KH tests report the increase very closely to what would be expected, I have more confidence in this test method for GH and KH than the test strips though the kh reporting of the strip is very close as well…

 

i will retest in the morning tomorrow as well as compare ph reporting between both methods.  I wanted to get the kh in this morning and forgot to do the API ph test to compare them…

 

my Nitrate levels were reporting unexpectedly low by co op test strip this morning so I tested that with API kit as well.  There was excellent agreement and correlation between both methods.  

Apparently I need to increase my Easy Green dosing period now that I have pressurized CO2 on board…
 

I think probably the hardest thing I have to try to remember when responding to inquiries about how to deal with test results is that everybodies water is so very different.  
 

If I had harder tap water than I do, I would not be using Equilibrium and Alkalinity buffer… And I might be adding RODI water to dilute GH and KH levels.  Very high GH and KH tends to inhibit plant growth.  My tanks are probably a bit more about the plants than the fish….

Edited by Pepere
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