Sunday, 10 March 2013

Essential Info about Test Kits for Planted tank/ Shrimp tank

Harlo, long time no post... There are a lot of newbie in Aq asking questions about test kit, so i will try my best to answer them here...

Test Strip VS Test Reagent (liquid)

For me, i will prefer liquid type as they are more accurate. those all in test strips are a disaster to read and the colour will change as it evaporates... darn headache to read the colours and compare the result in time

Expiry Date
All stuff has expiry your MATA (eyes) BIG BIG  to check the box for one, if there is none...don't BUY.

Brands to choose
Personally, i find API brands the cheapest but also hardest to read. the colour change is very minor.  I am using SERA and PRODAC brand test kits. So far so good.

Types of Test kits that i think is a must have
Cycling of aquarium

  • Ammonia
  • Nitrite
  • Nitrate

These 3 test kits above is for checking whether your tank has sufficient Beneficial Bacteria (BB) for keeping the water parameters stable.

These test kits is generally to know the poisonous stuff in you tank is absorbed by plant or whether an emergency wc is required. After cycling, i only test for nitrate. Too much nitrate will cause algae bloom. Ammonia is to check during sudden death....well, i only test once a month... so i still have at least 75% of the test liquid.

More info

General Well Being

  • Chlorine

This is to check the the amount of chlorine in the water. There were feedbacks in AQ members from certain part of sg  ( new development) has unusual amount of chlorine in their tap water.. well i skipped this test kit as i think my area is still ok and my OF anti chlorine has not fail me so far.

Note: May need to check if there is unusual death after WC

  • PH

Fishes and shrimps lived in certain habitat of water, hobbyist are trying to simulate the environment they stay in naturally, thus a PH test kit is required. However, fish are generally more tolerant as long conditions are not too extreme. e.g  neon tetra like PH 6, but if you throw them into PH 9 waters... they will be sick/die in no time..

Shrimp Keeping

  • GH

This is to test General Hardness of water. In lay-man term... all the elements of water. Calcium, magnesium, potassium etc are lump into a category GH.

Certain shrimps need certain GH to MOLT ( shed their outer skeleton and grow new shell).

if high water has high GH, the shell will harden too fast and shrimp will not be able to grow in time...will cause death

If the water has low GH, the shell will harden too slow and shrimp will die too...

For info on shrimps i have and the condition i keep them in

Where to buy test kits?
Hospital? hardware shop?

 lol... LFS of course...

which LFS?
Read this, you can find the answer below

What about other test kits i saw in LFS that are not stated here?
Well there are a lot of test kits in the world, but i don't think you will need them unless you are darn serious about the water parameter or you loves lab

INFO: some of the test kits are actually for reef keepers...well feel free to explore... i don't have the money to


  1. Hi,

    Great blog, found it via AQ. I am a beginner who has just set up a tank.

    From your post, it seems that you only use Nitrate regularly and ammonia/nitrite at the start. For a beginner on a budget, can I just use the Nitrate test? Is there a positive correlation between all 3, for example, if Nitrate levels are safe, would Nitrite/ammonia levels normally be safe as well? I am not going to keep super expensive fish, should I spend $$$ for Nitrite/ammonia if I'm not going to use it regularly.... thanks!


  2. I suggest you get minimum ammonia test kit.. as long you have no or little bit ammonia, its still ok for hardy fish...

    i seldom test water lazy.. i only test PH and GH as i keep shrimps..

    my ammonia is 0

    the reason i recommend ammonia as its most toxic of them 3... but ammonia will exist in ammonium form (non toxic) if PH is less than 7...

    NOTE:Last time i don't even have test kits and still manage to keep a variety of hardy fish...well as long you are not using aquatic soil...or just normal are generally safe as tap water's ammonia are general low enough for hardy fish

  3. Thanks for the advice. I am starting new tank, using Gex Shrimp soil.

    When it comes to plants, a lot of trial and error as most LFS don't label their plants so I'm not 100% sure what I'm buying. I've used the internet to look a photos of crypts and anubias which are supposed to be 'easy' to grow, but not 100% sure if the item in the LFT is really a crypt or anubias.... hope you can update your list of suggested plants with photos from LFS of those plants u recommend :)


    1. Hi erwin, its a bit hard to snap the pictures as i already change the plants in my list and testing some weird and interesting crypts too lol...i got trouble identifying types of crypts there are too many varieties of them. I don't think shop will allow me to take pictures of their shop/plants... i will try though..good idea....appreciate it...:)

      For anubias, they are pretty easy to spot...anubias normally sold together with their roots attached to rocks/driftwood as their roots can't be planted in soil..must have aeration at roots/rhizome or it will rot.

      For labelling, you can try seaview/C328, normally they will label their plants.

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