Water Testing

It is advised that regular water testing of your system should be carried out, generally every one week to two weeks, especially in the first years until the system has become balanced.

Normal recommended tests include :

  • temperature
  • pH,
  • ammonia,test_kit_1.jpg
  • nitrite,
  • nitrate,
  • salinity
Colorimetric kits
Colorimetric kits are used extensively in aquaculture. The basic principle of using a kit is to mix culture water samples, with the chemicals provided and wait for a colour change. The colour is compared to a given chart and a reading can be made. Although some of the colour charts have a plastic film to protect them from water damage, many do not. Make sure that colour charts are kept dry. Colour charts can be rendered useless if colour indicator is spilled onto them.
It is very much like reading and following a recipe. This means that a person using the kit, quickly becomes proficient in its use.
These kits rely on the operator following the instructions carefully so that the correct amount of chemical is added in the correct sequence, in order to get a true result.
Colorimetric kits are relatively inexpensive and are available at all good aquarium stores. When the chemicals are consumed it is time to replace the kit with a new one.These can all be done by you using test kits readily available online or through an aquarium supplier The costs range from $16 for an individual test kit to about $ 60 for a multi test kit as shown here
You are advised to purchase a few basic instruments and test kits if you wish to ensure the viability of your system

How do I test the water ?


pH can be measured using a colorimetric kit or a probe. The inexpensive colorimetric kits are mainly used.
Test kits for pH come in high range pH, medium range pH and marine pH. Make sure that you are using the correct kit for each application.
Inaccurate readings are easily made if there is any contamination of skin or poorly rinsed containers. Make certain that all containers are thoroughly rinsed and that they are rinsed and stored in a sealed container after use.

pH, Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite Tests

Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrates

Ammonia is monitored using a colorimetric kit. Ammonia measurements are often time consuming as there is a requirement to wait between each step (normally 5 minutes - depending on kit used) so that the chemical reactions can run their course.
Nitrite and nitrate test kits are used to check that the two groups of bacteria are present and effective as well as ensuring the levels are under control.


A variety of salinity meters are available, ranging from reasonably priced units to state of the art
instruments. Also the use of a refractometer to measure the salt level may be measured in your system these vary in price but a reasonable unit for everyday testing may be purchased over the internet for approx. $50