While aquarium test kits provide you with quantitative measurements and concentrations of what is in your water that you cannot see, they are also great tools for troubleshooting various problems that can arise in your aquarium.

Many aquarium keepers aren’t aware that there is an excellent complete range of aquarium test kits that exist. In fact under our Nutrafin brand we offer a Master test kit that comes in a super convenient lab case complete with 9 different tests and useful accessories.

In order to help you understand how test kits can help you prevent common issues or problems, we are going to list some, and explain the when and why of the related test kit.

PROBLEM: PH WILL NOT DECREASE

Use a KH test kit and slowly lower the KH (carbonate hardness) by diluting your aquarium water with R/O water. Once you have reduced the KH to a maximum of 3 to 4 dKH or approximately 54 ppm, you will see more sustained drops in pH as you apply a product like pH Adjust Down.

PROBLEM: AQUARIUM WATER IS GREEN

This is suspended algae, and so in addition to reducing light levels or eliminating exposure to natural light, test for phosphate. If you have levels close to 1 ppm or more, you need to identify where the phosphate is coming from and ensure you keep levels at less than 0.25 ppm. Live plants can help control phosphate levels.

PROBLEM: FISH ARE GASPING AT THE WATER’S SURFACE

First, make sure your filter output is aggressively moving the water’s surface, and then test for ammonia (NH3/NH4). If you have measurable amounts of ammonia, you need to add an effective biological product such as Biological Enhancer, and control any nitrogen input into the aquarium (control feeding, no new fish additions, etc.). Note that testing for pH at this point is also very important; lowering pH will help reduce the toxic component of ammonia. This is a given if you have fish that prefer acidic water.

PROBLEM: PLANT LEAVES ARE YELLOWISH

This can be due to a lack of available iron as a trace element in your aquarium. Use Plant Micro Nutrients and an Iron test kit to maintain chelated iron levels of approximately 0.25 to 0.5 ppm.

PROBLEM: POOR HARD CORAL GROWTH AND CONDITION

Check calcium and magnesium levels. A Calcium test kit will obviously measure calcium levels, but when combined with the use of a general hardness kit, it can be used to determine magnesium levels as well.

We’ve covered some good examples of how useful test kits are, and how regularly checking up on pH, KH, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, and Phosphate really can provide you with a clear snapshot of your aquarium water quality.

Learn more about test kits and how to use them.