Which Fresh Water Test Kits for Aquarium

imaginators(z6 KY)December 9, 2007

It been a long time since I have posted here. This is a bit of my background information. Last year Christmas 2006 I received a brand new 70 gallon glass bare tank with glass tops. I am on a very tight budget so this hobby is taking a long time to set up but will be worth it when it is completed. My husband is almost finished with the oak panel stand. Just needs the 2 front doors to be put on and finalize the trim. Since last year we have moved and downsized our home.

The tank is now setting on the incompleted stand in our living room. I plan to have a few Discus, Angelfish, a colorful Pleco and neons (11 years ago I use to have a large tropical aquarium with several Discus) I would like to know if there is a Test Kit that has Treatments included with it. What do you recommend for an accurate reading Test Kit?

Also please refresh my memory and give me information of what I should have on hand for medical treatment emergencies.

The list of items below are what I DO have for my aquarium:

2 Emperor Marineland 400 fiters

1 Perfecto Underground filter

1 UV Sterilizer

1 hood with 2 lights

1 heater

1 Python Siphon no spill Clean with squeeze attachment

It probably sounds like I have over killed on filters but you can never have enough filters. Ha! Since my husband and I are accustom with the old technology of UDF, (I have heard the pros and cons of UDF) we decided to use both old and new technology filters.

I plan in the future to get:

1)Rocks and black gravel

2)Plastic plants and live Java ferns

3)Backgound paper of a natural scene

4)Cycle the aquarium for several weeks, test the water and add 1 or two non agressive tropical fish.

Before I add the Discus, I like to have the aquarium running for a least a month.

I would appreciate your thoughts. Thank you.


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As a great fan of the Emperor's, and also a believer in double filtration, I can't critique your choice there.

I would be hesitant to mix Discus with Angels, as both species get quite large and are highly territorial.

However, in a 70, about 4 dozen Neons and a pair of either Discus OR Angels, with about a dozen of a single species of Cory would be a spectactular display. The Neons and Corys would school and the Angels or Discus would leave them be. A few dwarf Plecos would be fine too, although with artifical plants, you will either have to treat continually and probably end up messing up your water chemistry or keep them in the dark, or be constantly fighting algae.

I'm also a great fan of, and believer in naturally planted tanks. It makes for far healthier water and fish.

Frankly, I have little faith in UG filters, as they can too easily become a poison gas trap, just waiting to burst out and kill all of your fish.

As for test kits: I've used the eleborate ones, with bottles, reagents and mess and frankly, don't find them much better than the all-in-one strips.

I'm not aware of any test kits that comes with treatments. However, all of the species you described are Amazon fishes, and all prefer soft, slightly acidic, peaty water.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2007 at 3:17PM
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imaginators(z6 KY)

Thank you Birdwindow for your quick reply. When I had my other aquarium...many, many moons ago, I had both Discus and Angelfish and a few other non agressive fish. You are right the two can be very territorial but even then there was no bad outcome in the aquarium. They seem to have their own special location in the tank and of course the Discus made sure who knew who was boss by swimming across the tank. I always bought Discus young and they grew to be very large. My other problem with them, they would never eat dry food, they only would eat live worms. They had me trained. Once a week, I would buy the worms at a local pet store. Then store the container of live worms in a special place in the refrigerator. Family was not thrilled about that but they put up with me. Ha! I have heard people feeding their Discus dry Discus food with no problems. From the 5 years of using a UGF, we never and any problems with it. I know I have heard the horrids that could happen. I hope to hear from others recommendations of Test Kits.
Thank you.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2007 at 3:38PM
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jkunkel(zone 7)

I would go for the Discus and not the Angels. The angel fish will most definitly make a meal out of little neons as soon as they are big enough to fit their mouths around them. Discus are a little more docile. Plus if you have more than one angel fish, (if they have not been raised together) they will probably fight with eachother. After all angels are cichlids!
I am not aware of any test kits that come with treatments, one that I recommend is the API master test kit, which you can buy from pets mart. The all in one test strips are VERY inaccurate. I bought them and was advised by everyone ive talked to not to trust them. The good old fashioned glass tube testing is the best. The master kit comes with every test you need to check your water chemistry.
Make sure that you run your tank for a good long time before adding any discus. They need a very acidic water with a low pH. Plus they are very expensive, and i would hate for you to loose a $60 fish because you were impatient. Discus do enjoy natural plants, but if you are going to go that rout it can be very expensive and sometimes challenging depending on what kind of plants you want. If you don't want to spend a lot of money plastic plants are fine. Do some research about the fish you want to keep. Ask some questions at Aquaria Central, the people there are nice and can help you with any problems that may come along while cycling or getting things set up for your discus! Good luck-enjoy your fishies!

    Bookmark   December 10, 2007 at 1:20PM
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imaginators(z6 KY)

jkunkel and all,
Does API represent Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Master Kit? If so you are the second person who has recommended this kit.
I did not plan to buy any full grown Discus and Angelfish. I like to get them young and raised together. Also they are a lot less expensive that way. Thank you so much for the tips and I will proceed with knowledge before I do anything. What do you recommend for aqua plants? I want to get Java Fern for my aquarium. Also I am thinking of storing mini tropical water lilies over next Winter then bring them outdoors in the Spring. They would never survive our Winters here in Kentucky. That is another question what kind of aqua plants can tolerate acidic water? So much to learn and it is a good thing I am doing my background research before I get my aquarium running.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2007 at 2:16PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

I'd get my water source tested to find out exactly what it is and then buy a test kit in those parameters.
If you kept Discus before your water must be somewhere in the ballpark?? If your water source is not somewhere near what's needed I'd suggest other species. It's a real hassle juggling water paramerters. Save you a lot of money as all tests sre usually not necessary.
Cardinal tetras would be a better choice for the high temps required by Discus. Though I would suggest a species tank for them .They seem to only like each other lol.
IMO they do much better by thenselves .

    Bookmark   December 10, 2007 at 5:57PM
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I agree that the API kits are very accurate, but once you know your water parameters, if the fish are doing well, testing to that extreme really isn't necessary on a regular maintenance basis. Aquarists can drive themselves to distraction trying to play water chemist, but with few exceptions, it's far better to acclimate your fish to your water than to try to chemically change your water to the fish.

Discus however, are one of the exceptions. Give them the water and temp they need, or they will not thrive and indeed may not live very long. Nevertheless, they have been selectively bred to such a degree in the past few decades, that many strains currently available are far less sensitive as when I first kept them close to 50 years ago and gave up, simply because the easy chemical and/or mechanical water conditioning we take for granted now, was then unavailable to home aquarists.

BTW: I also agree about the Cardinals being a better choice than Neons, but not due to size. I keep both and in general, find the Cardinals both hardier and far more tolerant of higher water temps. But given the right food and a large enough tank, a Neon will grow every bit as large if not larger than a Cardinal. I have several dozen mature Neons in a 55 that are at least 2-1/2".

    Bookmark   December 10, 2007 at 8:54PM
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