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Almost all living organisms have very strict pH requirements in order to live - fish, corals, even the lowly snail. A drop in pH might send an otherwise healthy system into shock, and could lead to the death of sensitive organisms. Alkalinity is an important test to perform because it shows the "buffering" capacity of a system and its ability to resist rapid changes in pH. Maintaining high water quality is the secret to a successful aquarium. Water testing is important because it tells us when things are going wrong, helps us identify trends, and allows us to intervene before disasters occur.

Tests for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH are the basic kits which any hobbyist should have. Especially when starting a new tank, it is critical to closely monitor these parameters. Once your tank is established you'll need to invest in an entirely different set of test kits. These will vary depending on the type of aquatic ecosystem that you are trying to duplicate and the organisms that you will be keeping. Those who will be keeping fish only will need to monitor pH, alkalinity, nitrate, and phosphate. If you are keeping a coral reef tank, you need to monitor trace elements such as Calcium, Strontium, and Iodine. If you plan on using an ozonizer, a residual ozone test is essential to ensure that lethal ozone is not making its way into your tank. If you use copper as a treatment in fish only tanks, you will have to closely monitor copper levels. In a freshwater tank, iron and carbon dioxide are important to the live plant enthusiast.

For dependable test results, accuracy is obviously important, and frankly, most test kits are difficult to read. They usually require the inexperienced aquarist to evaluate subtle color changes that are easily misinterpreted. Is it Yellow #2 or Yellow #3? Many aquarists simply get frustrated and stop testing. Red Sea test kits use chemical indicators that show a dramatic color change that leaves little doubt about the proper results. Water testing is fast, easy to read and consistently accurate with our high quality Red Sea test kits. (Available at Big Al’s)

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