Taking care of an aquarium is not all fun and games. It is crucial to monitor the tank’s condition constantly to ensure that your fish is completely healthy and happy. One way to keep tabs on your aquarium’s health status is to use the best nitrate test kit that you can afford.
Once the nitrate level in your aquarium reaches a certain level, the water essentially turns into a toxic soup. Your fish will also start going belly-up soon if you do not do anything quickly.
The tricky part here is that you can’t tell just by looking at the water if it has a high nitrate level. The only way for you to do it accurately is to use an aquarium nitrate test kit. This article will teach you everything you need to know about nitrate test kits and which one is best for you.
Best Nitrate Test Kit Reviews
1. Salifert Nitrate (No3) Test Kit
I used to use a digital nitrate test kit to check the nitrate level of my freshwater aquarium regularly, and I think it is the best nitrate test kit reef2reef. However, using it is kind of tiring as there are so many steps to follow.
This kit was so much easier to use with only three steps involved. You do not have to do any rigorous shaking whatsoever. In less than five minutes, you will get the results of the test.
At first, I thought that something that works this fast would not be all that accurate, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well it actually worked. This nitrate test kit is so sensitive that it can detect changes in nitrate levels as low as 0.2ppm.
You may not need this kind of accuracy, but it is a good way to figure out if the nitrate level in your aquarium is just high, or you need to replace the water right away.
I am also surprised that this product is quite budget-friendly. I would have gladly paid more for a test that is this quick and accurate, but I am thankful that this nitrate test kit exists.
For a low price, you can get a box that contains enough medium for approximately 60 tests. It is more than enough to keep even the most paranoid aquarist occupied for at least a couple of months.
Another thing I liked about this Salifert nitrate test kit is that you can use it for both saltwater and freshwater aquariums. This test has high accuracy, making it the ideal test for saltwater aquariums, especially reef aquariums with a delicate balance. Although you do not need that much accuracy for freshwater tanks, it is still a handy test to have.
The problem I had with this test is that the medium is a bit too coarse, making it quite difficult to get a level scoop. It is the only difficult part of using this kit. Your measurement needs to be precise if you want to get an accurate reading.
2. NYOS Nitrate (NO3) Reefer Test Kit
If you have a reef tank, then you need to get this high-range nitrate test kit. I know how much of a struggle it is to keep a reef tank. I noticed that even the slightest spike in nitrate levels can easily affect the fish and the live rock. I use this test to monitor the water condition in my reef tank closely, and it has never failed me yet.
Other nitrate testing kits use a pink pigment for showing results and the charts that they provide have very similar-looking shades for different nitrate level readings. This makes it extremely difficult to figure out the correct amount.
What is great about this testing kit is that it uses a yellow pigment. The gradation between different levels is very clear, too, making it a lot easier to read.
Other nitrate testing kits, like digital nitrate tester aquarium, offer fast results, but this one is almost twice as fast. I have tried a lot of other testing kits before, and they average around 9 minutes before providing an accurate reading.
This kit only needed five minutes for the test solution to change color so I can start getting a nitrate reading.
Moreover, there are only two steps to follow. I am also pleased that it does not involve any shaking since it leads to less mess.
Even though the NYOS nitrate test kit is not the most affordable ones in the market, it still provides a lot of value for your money. You will be getting 50 test kits in one package.
It is almost a year’s worth of test kits if you are testing your aquarium every week. If you are testing even more often than that, then you will still be spending a lot less than if you were using another brand.
The problem I had with this test kit is with the included hardware (test tubes, caps, etc.). This test would have gotten higher marks if the caps for the test tubes were screw-on instead of just being pressed on. The caps that come with this kit leak quite a lot when you swirl the contents.
3. AQUA CARE PRO Freshwater Test Strips
This product may not be the most accurate nitrate test kit in the market, but it makes up for being user-friendly. Unlike a liquid test kit and electronic nitrate tester, you do not have to set up any equipment to test the water in your aquarium.
Just take a test strip, hold it underwater for a couple of seconds, and then compare the colors with those in the chart. It will take less than a couple of minutes to get a rough reading of the water condition.
Another great thing about this product is that it does not just test for nitrates. I even discovered that it is a six-in-one test. It means that you are testing the water for nitrate, nitrite, general hardness, carbonate hardness, pH, and chlorine. You will essentially be getting a general report on the health of your aquarium.
You will also be getting your money’s worth with this kit. What you will be receiving are 64 test strips per package. In other words, you will be getting more than a year’s worth of test strips, which is already a good deal. If you are like most aquarists who test the water of your aquarium at least once a week, then it can help monitor its health.
Aside from the test strips, you will also receive a bonus gift from Aqua Care Pro with every purchase. If you are a beginner, you will appreciate the free e-book that came with the test kit. This book is full of tips from experienced aquarists that newbies will benefit from. It takes most of the hassle linked to aquarium keeping in more ways than one.
I do have some issues with the quality of the test strips. There were times when a test square from the strip would fall off and sink into the water. It has happened more than once, so Aqua Care Pro should consider using a stronger adhesive for their test strips.
4. BOSIKE Aquarium Test Strips
Unlike liquid tests, this freshwater nitrate test kit can provide you with results in just a couple of seconds. You do not need to prepare any vials or powders. There is also no waiting required. You just have to dip a test strip in the water for a couple of seconds then wait until the test squares change color, which is just another couple of seconds.
Beginner aquarists often start with freshwater aquariums. It is mainly because they are not as delicate as saltwater setups. However, that does not mean that they thrive when left on their own. These test strips are calibrated to work best for freshwater aquariums. It means you get readings that will tell you the right parameters you need to go for.
Speaking of water parameters, this product is not just a nitrate test kit. It can also test for nitrite, chlorine, pH, and total hardness. This means you will be getting six different tests in one strip.
You will get an overall health report for your aquarium, which is nice since you will know exactly what you need to fix. For instance, the water might not have a high nitrate level, but there might be some chlorine left.
You will be getting more than your money’s worth with this test kit. For an affordable price, you will be getting 125 test strips. That is more than two years’ worth of water tests if you regularly check every week. This single purchase will provide you with a means to monitor the health of your aquarium for two years.
Now, keep in mind that no test strip can beat a good liquid test kit, including this product. However, you can expect results that are at least in the ballpark of the actual condition. It is more than enough for most aquarists who are just interested in keeping their fish alive for as long as possible.
5. RUNBO Aquarium Test Strips
Here is the best part about getting this test kit. You will receive 100 pieces of test strips in one package. It means that you will be getting almost two years’ worth of test strips for one affordable price. If you do not have enough room in your budget for a steady supply of highly accurate liquid testing kits, then I think this is the next best thing.
One reason why many aquarium hobbyists prefer using test strips is that they can also test for other water parameters, not just nitrate levels. This product, for example, can test for five other parameters aside from nitrate. You will receive vital information about chlorine level, nitrite, carbonization, water hardness, and even the water’s pH level.
Although liquid test kits provide results in minutes, test strips are still much faster. You only need to take a test strip, and then dip it into the water, making sure that you submerge all the squares.
After just two seconds, take out the strip. Hold it horizontally to prevent the pigments from bleeding into each other. After a minute, compare the test strip with the included chart.
I have heard some people complain that the test strips are not very dependable because they are not consistent. This means that two strips may provide vastly different results. So far, I have not experienced any inconsistencies using this test kit, and I am almost halfway through the 100 test strips.
The only issue I have with this product is with the packaging. To be more specific, it is the chart printed on the bottle. After a couple of months, the colors on the chart would start to fade, making it almost impossible to get any kind of accurate reading. It would have been better if RUNBO used non-fading ink for printing their labels.
6. Qguai Aquarium Test Strips
Unlike other test kits that only test for nitrates, this product tests for 8 other parameters, namely pH, nitrite, carbonate, total hardness, alkalinity, chlorine, iron, and copper. You will be receiving a rather complete report about the overall health of your aquarium setup, which means you can catch any problem before it gets worse.
It does not matter if you have a saltwater or freshwater setup. You can even have both while getting the chance to use this test kit. It adds a lot of convenience in owning several different aquariums or fish ponds. You do not need to set up different testing kits for every one of them.
Using these test strips also does not take a lot of time at all. You will only need a couple of minutes to finish testing. The only thing you should do is dip the test strip into the water for no more than two seconds.
Wait for around a minute for the test squares to change colors. Although it is not quite as accurate compared to liquid testing kits, it still gives you a quick glimpse of what is happening in your tank.
This test kit, based on the number of individual tests, is just a fraction of the price of other fancy test kits. Also, every package contains 50 separate test strips, which is almost enough to cover your testing needs for a year (supposing you test your aquarium every week).
Should you use this product as the only means of testing water quality? In my opinion, it is a good backup test kit, as it is not quite as accurate as other similar products. However, it is a good idea to keep a good supply of this product to help confirm your other tests.
What to Look For When Buying a Best Nitrate Test Kit
When choosing a nitrate tester aquarium, you need to consider several things. Keep in mind that you will be using the test kits to monitor the health of your aquarium. If you do not use the right nitrate testing kit, then you may not have enough information to keep your aquarium healthy. Here’s what to consider when shopping for this kit:
Ease of Use
If you are a beginner or even an experienced aquarist, you should opt for a nitrate test kit that is easy to use and does not take that much time. Some kits may require setting up a small laboratory just to conduct water testing. It can be a bit overwhelming, especially for those who are just starting with aquarium keeping.
This is where water test strips are at an advantage. You just need to get a test strip and dip it into the water for a second or two. It should be just enough to get the test squares wet. In under a minute, you can start to compare the strip against the included chart to check the water’s parameters.
However, you can also find liquid test kits that are not that hard to use. Most of them only require you to follow two steps. The first is to scoop a certain amount of the test medium into a container and then place a couple of drops of water in it.
If you are only looking into keeping your aquarium safe and comfortable for your fish, then the test strips will work well enough for you. They do not take a long time to use. They also only need little in terms of preparation. With that, it is safe to say that they are perfect for people who are always busy and do not have that much free time to spare.
If you are a serious aquarist, which means you need to have absolute control over all the parameters of your tanks, you need to get the best nitrate kit that provides the most accurate reading. It also means that you will need to get a liquid test kit as the strips are not that accurate and would only give you a ballpark figure.
The great thing about liquid test kits is that they have very low tolerances. Some can even tell differences of 2ppm. These test kits can tell you even if there is a slight uptick in nitrate levels, so you can immediately tinker around with the tank to get the level back to normal.
However, if you do not have that much free time to dote on your tank, you need to use the most accurate test strip you can find. It means you should test out as many brands as you can, and maybe compare the results with a liquid test kit.
You should then try to find out which one gives the most accurate and consistent results. You can also consult online a Hanna nitrate test kit review to get an idea of what products work well.
Nitrate is not the only toxin that you need to keep an eye out for. However, it does not mean that you need to purchase separate test kits for each of them. You will find liquid test kits and test strips that can test for several toxins. However, test strips are the ones with more parameters tested at the same time.
Having several parameters tested at the same time will save a lot of time and money. However, you will need to compromise when it comes to accuracy if you are choosing a test kit that tests multiple parameters.
Value for Money
This is where you will need to give a bit of effort. You will need to search for a test kit that has acceptable accuracy, tests for more than just nitrate, provides a lot of tests, and is also reasonably priced.
Finding one product that fulfills all these criteria can be a bit tricky. You may need to compromise in some areas, but it is still possible to find a high-quality one.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to Use Nitrate Test Kits?
The answer will depend on the type of test kit you bought. Most liquid test kits usually require around two to three steps. First, you have to place a bit of testing medium in the included vial. Next, using the included dropper, put the required amount of the water to test into the vial.
Swirl it around a bit for a minute or two, or until the water changes color. Finally, compare the color of the water against the chart included with the test kit. The color that is the closest match to the water is the approximate nitrate level in the water.
Test strips are a bit different. You just take a strip, dip it inside the aquarium for around two seconds, take it out, and hold it horizontally to prevent the colors from bleeding into each other. Once the strip changes color, compare the strip with the chart to figure out the nitrate level.
How do Nitrate Kits Work?
The liquid tests use a nitrate-reacting reagent to provide results. When you mix certain amounts of the reagents with the water you need to test, the reagent will react to the nitrate in the water if there is any. The water will turn a certain shade of pinkish-red when there is nitrate in the water. The brighter the color, the more nitrate there is.
In the case of test strips, each paper strip comes with several test squares. Each of the squares contains reagents that react with different chemicals. They turn into different colors when they are present.
Keeping track of your aquarium’s health is of the utmost importance. You want your fish to live for as long as possible, don’t you? Having the best nitrate test kit at your disposal will allow you to do just that. Nitrate test kits will tell you if your aquarium is in tip-top shape. Most importantly, they will tell you if the aquarium is in dire need of help.