The Best Freshwater Aquarium Test Kits

Water test kits for aquariums are essential in maintaining the health of the fish and plants that are in your home or office. Both fish and plants produce by-products which cause water quality to deteriorate or change. pH levels also fluctuate, and when water changes are done, or water is added, there can be changes in these levels as well. Bacteria and algae in the water can also change the quality so while the water may look good, you can’t see the ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, chlorine, and other levels which can cause fish to become sick or even die.

There are numerous testing kits available, and each offers unique benefits. Some are as simple as dipping a test strip into the water, waiting a minute, and reading the colors. Others involve a smartphone app, adding to the sophistication and making it easier to track results over a period of time.

STAR PICK
API Freshwater Master Test Kit

API FRESHWATER MASTER TEST KIT 800-Test Freshwater Aquarium Water Master Test Kit, White,...
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API is a brand known in the fish industry for providing aquatic products for over 40 years. It’s no surprise that this API Freshwater Master Test Kit comes in as the best. With the kit you get 4 test tubes, holding tray, laminated color card, and instruction book which will tell you how to correct any bad water conditions. It’ll test the pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels of freshwater tanks.

The test kit is compact and it all stays together for easy storage. Each bottle of the testing fluid will last a long time, allowing for regular water testings without feeling like you’re using up the kit quickly.

The kit is easy to use, even for beginners to the aquarium world. Instructions tell you how to perform each test. Once you have done each test a few times, you’ll have it memorized and it will take you very little time. The laminated color sheet is great for those of us who may tend to be messier, you don’t have to worry about ruining the sheet!

This really is a great kit for any size tank, and gives you results for the 4 basic levels most people are concerned with in tanks. Depending on how often you test and what you test for, one kit should last you quite a long time. It doesn’t take much time or effort, but helps your fish live longer.

STAR BUDGET PICK
Tetra EasyStrips Complete Kit

Tetra EasyStrips Complete Kit 25, 6 in1 Testing Strips and 25 Ammonia Testing Strips
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If you’re looking for the best option on a budget, go with Tetra EasyStrips Test Strips. The strips make it very fast and easy to test multiple parameters of water conditions with just one dip. Minimal effort required and fast results let you know what you need to adjust in your tank.

Each kit contains 25 test strips which test 6 different parameters, and 25 test strips for ammonia. The 6 parameters covered in one strip include chlorine, nitrites, nitrates, GH (general water harness), alkalinity, and pH. It takes one dip into the water, and 60 seconds until it is ready to read. The ammonia test strips take just 10 seconds for results.

This is a compact testing kit so it’s great for areas which are storage challenged. No bottles or tubes to spill, and you can easily teach kids how to use these testing strips, which can help them better understand responsibilities in having a fish tank. You get a good variety of different readings to help maintain your tank, all in a budget-friendly and quick manor.

RUNNER-UP
Nutrafin Master Test Kit

Nutrafin Master Test Kit, Contains 10 Test Parameters
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If you’re not sold on the above two, another contender is the Nutrafin Master Test Kit. This kit is great because it offers 10 parameters. You’ll get results for phosphate, calcium, nitrite, nitrate, ammonia, pH high range, pH low range, carbonate hardness, GH (general water hardness) and iron. This combination is ideal for large tanks and tanks with a great variety of fish and plants. An overcrowded (or just “highly active”) tank would benefit from this kit as well, since having a lot in a tank will cause imbalances to occur more easily.

The kit comes in an awesome hard plastic case, with a handle, making it feel like a professional chemist’s kit. It includes 5 glass tubes with caps, 2 pipettes, 1 spoon, and the instruction booklet which will teach you all you need to know about what this kit tests for.

While this particular test kit may take a little time to learn, there is no need for a degree in chemistry to use it. The instructions will guide you. It really is a good option for larger and/or fuller tanks. You’ll get accurate results which will help you maintain a healthier tank population.

RUNNER-UP
JBL Water Test With Smartphone

JBL Water Test With Smartphone Evaluation For Freshwater Aquarium, ProScan
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For those who are more “tech-savvy” or just like a more sophisticated version of aquarium testing, consider the JBL ProScan Water Test with Smartphone Evaluation. Simply download the free app from JBL and use it in conjunction with the test kit’s easy to use strips to get results for pH, GH (general water harness), carbonate hardness, nitrite and nitrate, chlorine, and CO2-calculation.

This product is compatible with Apple devices with iOS 5.0 and higher, as well as Android 4.0 and higher. It uses the camera with auto-focus feature to take a picture of the test strip, and provide results on the phone. It’ll give you both a numerical result as well as a simple “good, average, or bad” reading.

It does come with a color chart to use, but it’s so fun and”nerdy feeling to use the app! Who this kit would be perfect for is those who suffer from color-blindness, because you don’t have to rely on actually seeing the colors to get results. It also helps you better track results over time, so you can see trends and look for anything that may trigger changes in the water quality.

Choosing the Best Freshwater Aquarium Test Kits

When deciding on a test kit to purchase, you’ll want to consider a few things. Firstly, the size of the tank and how much is in there. If it is a small tank with a few fish and a few plants, a more simple or budget-style kit (such as just strips) may work just fine. If you have some really expensive, exotic fish, you may want something a little more “high-end” that tests more parameters to help keep these fancy fish around longer. Or, if your tank is crowded, has a great variety, or is very large, a more expansive test kit may be best.

Secondly, you also want to consider how much effort you want to put into it. While these test kits aren’t going to require hours of work, there are time and effort differences between using a test strip versus mixing water from the aquarium with the testing chemicals to get readings. Typically the results are going to be more accurate, to some degree, from the mixing versions versus test strips, but test strips still give you a very good idea of conditions.

Lastly, some test kits are going to cost more than others, and testing your aquarium water is something you will need to do routinely as long as you have the aquarium. So, monetary investment needs to be factored in along with testing needs. Plus, if you’ve spent a lot of money on your tank (which isn’t hard to do), you may want to spend a little more in your testing supplies to help maintain it. Keeping all of this in mind will help you choose the best freshwater aquarium test kits for your needs, budget, and level of interest in the tank.

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