Copyright 1999 AquaChem Publishing

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by Kevin J. Ruff


or most aquarists, water quality is an elusive and sometimes illusive property. There are many books and magazine articles that explain what water quality is. Some even explain briefly how to test certain aspects of it. But, it’s important for the consumer to know which company produces the best test for their pH dollar. The aquarium hobby’s expanding at an incredible rate and so is the number of companies vying for your hobby dollar. After reading what follows, you’ll be better able to spend your hard earned money wisely and get the most accurate, easy to use, cost worthy pH test kit available.

How pH Testing Works

        The most common pH test kits are the "wet" type. With this type, you place a known volume of aquarium water (usually 4-6 milliliters) in a clear test vial. Two or three drops of a pH dependent color indicator is then added to the test vial. The resulting color of the solution is then compared to a color gradient pH chart to determine the pH. Variants of these types of kits also exist in which the liquid indicator is replaced by a powdered, granular, or tablet form of indicator.

        Another type of test kit is that of the "dry" type. To use this kit you simply dip a test strip in a sample of aquarium water. These test strips are coated with a pH dependent color indicator. Similar to that of the wet kits, the resulting color of the test strip is compared to a color gradient pH chart to determine the pH. ............

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