While we’ve touched on the subject of water testing in the past, we felt it necessary to follow up with additional guidance on how to perform the tests as well as how to interpret results.

There are some very important things you need to do when testing water using a typical aquarium test kit employing liquid and dry chemical re-agents.

SHAKE THE TEST VIAL

Be sure to cap the vial securely and shake aggressively for at least the period of time indicated in the instruction manual that came with your kit.

Some tests call for more than one chemical re-agent to be used, so shake the vial properly after each re-agent introduction to the vial. This will ensure a proper mixture to allow for the most accurate result possible. Failing to follow this instruction will result in test colour results that don’t match up.

REPEAT THE TEST

It’s a good idea to repeat the test at least once. Some tests require multiple drops of a re-agent so there is a chance you may have missed a drop.

RINSE THE TEST VIAL AFTER EACH USE

Any remaining re-agent from a previous test will render the results of the next test less accurate, therefore, be sure to rinse the test vial well, and do so several times after each use.

CHECK EXPIRY DATES OF CHEMICAL RE-AGENTS

Some chemical re-agents used in test kits have expiry dates so make sure you check this. Using past date test re-agents will deliver inaccurate results.

INTERPRET RESULTS

To assist in an accurate reading of your test sample results, make sure to do so in a light source that mimics natural daylight, preferably with a colour temperature between 5500 and 5800K.

SAVE THE INSTRUCTIONS

Keep instruction booklets and result charts in a clean and dry location. It’s always a good idea in case you forget the test protocol and of course, you want to make sure the result chart is in good condition for accurate reading of results.

USE THE TEST KIT REGULARLY

One of the best things you can do to maintain optimal water quality is to use your test kit regularly. By testing pH weekly, for example, you will be able to see how consistent it is, which is key to a healthy aquarium and offering insight into any developing trends upwards or downwards. There are many factors that can affect many parameters and regular water testing is the best guide for making needed adjustments to fish populations, aquarium decor, water change frequency and buffering.

Remember, use your test kits regularly, log the results, and follow these suggestions. Happy testing!

Learn more about test kits and when and why to use them.