When you are setting up a tank for fish in your home, you will need to ensure the water is the right condition for those fish to survive (Source).
This is where a saltwater test kit can come in handy. It can measure several factors to determine the condition of your water.
The issue is that not every saltwater test kit is very reliable. The best ones provide you with options to test for a comprehensive range of substances in the water. Such kits also deliver results that are more accurate, which is so important.
It is not always a good idea to buy the cheapest saltwater test kit. This is because inaccurate results may cause you to expose your fish to harmful water by mistake.
We’ve made the process much easier for you by creating a guide on the best saltwater test kits available today. The saltwater test kits that we have highlighted below will all do a great job for you.
While some of them are easier to use than others, all provide a comprehensive range of tests for you. This ensures that you have the correct levels of substances in your fish tank or aquarium water.
Let’s take a look at the top-rated saltwater test kits.
Best Saltwater Test Kits 2019
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Saltwater Test Kits 2019
- 2 1. ATI ICP-OES – Most Professional Saltwater Test Kit
- 3 2. Salifert Master Reef – Best Home Saltwater Test Kit
- 4 3. API Master Test – Most Affordable Saltwater Test Kit
- 5 4. Sera Aqua-Test Box – Most Comprehensive Saltwater Test Kit
- 6 5. Red Sea Fish Pharm ARE21525 – Best Marine Care Saltwater Test Kit
- 7 Things You Should Know Before Buying a Saltwater Test Kit
- 8 Saltwater Test Kits FAQ’s
- 9 The Bottom Line
|Salifert Master Reef|
|API Master Test|
|Sera Aqua-Test Box|
|Red Sea Fish Pharm ARE21525|
1. ATI ICP-OES – Most Professional Saltwater Test KitThose who have no objections to price and want the most comprehensive and accurate saltwater test kit should purchase the ATI ICP-OES.
What makes this test kit so unique is that it can be sent to a laboratory, where you get incredibly accurate and detailed results on your saltwater.
The testing kit comes with vials where you will add the water. It is also sent with a prepaid shipping label, which is valid anywhere in the United States. When you are done, you will package up your vials and send them using that prepaid shipping label, meaning it should not cost you anything to ship the item.
It will reach the company within a couple of days, they will perform tests and send you the rests as soon as they are available. The process does take some time, but it is one of the only ways that you can affordably get your saltwater tested so comprehensively.
The kit tests for major elements such as chloride, sodium, magnesium, calcium, strontium, and boron. The test kit will even give you results for minor elements, such as manganese, mercury, nickel, zinc, chromium, arsenic, and barium. Salinity and KH are also included; pH levels are also tested.
2. Salifert Master Reef – Best Home Saltwater Test KitThe Salifert Master Reef is a very good option for those who want to periodically test the levels of six important factors for their saltwater tank or aquarium. The test kit is made by Salifert, which is a company with a very good reputation in the industry.
With the Salifert Master Reef test kit, it is possible to test the calcium, KH/Alk, Phosphate, Magnesium, Nitrate and pH levels of your saltwater. The test kit includes 50 tests for nitrate, 50-100 for calcium, 25-50 for magnesium, 100-200 for KH/Alk, 60 for phosphate and 50 to pH levels.
The beauty of such a test kit is that you have access to many tests at a time. You can do it every week, two weeks, month or few months. It depends on your preferences and needs.
Nevertheless, it is recommended that you perform these tests at least one time a month, preferably after two weeks. And the Salifert test kit ensures you can do that with ease.
3. API Master Test – Most Affordable Saltwater Test KitThe API Master Test is a saltwater test kit from the reputable API company that provides testing equipment for various types of fish tanks. The Master Test Kit includes all the individual tests that you can buy from API for saltwater tanks and aquariums.
The kit is very inexpensive, which is tempting. While it may not deliver the precise accuracy of our first or even second option, it is still accurate enough to ensure that your fish will be safe based on those test results. If you find any test is on the boundary of acceptable levels, you may want to take action to be safe.
It is a test kit that comes with six testing solution bottles, a color car, and four glass test tubes. You can measure the levels of nitrate, ammonia, pH levels and nitrite using the API Master Test Kit.
Per the manufacturer, it is best to use the kit to perform weekly tests. It is supposed to allow you to compare levels over time. You can also compare levels to any time when you find there are visible problems with your water or fish in the tank.
4. Sera Aqua-Test Box – Most Comprehensive Saltwater Test KitSera has produced a Sera Aqua-Test Box that is perfect for any aquatic enthusiast who has a saltwater fish tank or aquarium in their home.
Sera is a German company, which means some of the instructions on the package are in German. However, an English translation is present so it is a non-issue.
There are up to 540 tests in this kit, which is more than enough for a year of use. The kit will measure the pH value, water hardness, and carbonate hardness. It also ensures nitrite, nitrate, iron, chlorine, phosphate and ammonium levels of the water.
Those who are willing to pay a bit more and want a very comprehensive test kit will be happy with this product. The only issue with the kit is that it is a little difficult to perform the tests. It requires careful reading and understanding of the instructions laid out.
5. Red Sea Fish Pharm ARE21525 – Best Marine Care Saltwater Test KitThe final option on our list comes from Red Sea, another reliable company when it comes to aquatic tests. The Red Sea Fish Pharm ARE21525 test kit is ideal for saltwater aquariums and tanks.
It is a marine test kit that you can use to understand the levels of ammonia, nitrite, nitrate pH and alkalinity in your saltwater fish tank. Unlike some of the other products, Red Sea does indicate the accuracy of their tests. However, these are company numbers and not independently verified.
The ammonia test is accurate to 0.02 ppm, with the accuracy for the other tests also listed on the product page. The kit also comes with an extra test, which is the KH test. And the test kit is very easy to use, with our experience and those of customers indicating that it is almost impossible to mess them up!
Things You Should Know Before Buying a Saltwater Test Kit
Remember that every fish is unique in terms of what type of water it can handle. With that in mind, make sure you do adequate research on the levels of substances that are appropriate for the fish you are adding to your tank.
By testing these kits and assessing what other customers experienced with the kit, we are able to provide guidance on the kits that are comprehensive, accurate and affordable.
Here are the most important factors to take into account when choosing a saltwater test kit.
Test Kit Accuracy
While you may know a lot about fish, you do not have enough experience to know whether your water is safe or not. Only a proper test kit can provide you with that information. Unfortunately, there is no independent body that will provide you with proof of the accuracy of a saltwater test kit.
Since you’ll be adding various products to your pool or aquarium, it is vital that your test kit gives the best possible accuracy for different chemicals. With an inaccurate taste kit, you will waste a lot of money on pool treatments and supplies you actually don’t need.
Digital and photometric tests are the best in terms of accuracy. Titration tests can do a decent job, whereas colorimetric test kits are the least accurate.
Testing solutions that provide a basic level of accuracy will be fine if you have a hot tub. For large pools that need an exact balance, it is worth investing more in a high-end accurate test kit.
Ease of Use and Practicality
Some people prefer individual kit packages that are intended to verify a single parameter. Others use all-inclusive saltwater test kits that allow them to check a number of water parameters.
No matter what option better suits your needs and preference, think about its practicality. Look for an easy-to-use test kit that doesn’t require a lot of time to get prepared. Your test kit should come with step-by-step instructions on how to use it and give you peace of mind while testing the water.
Titrimetric readers tend to be a little fiddly, as it’s necessary to do the tests one by one. It takes about 15 minutes to perform all the tests with such a kit. Digital test kits are the easiest to use because they eliminate the need to compare colors.
You need a test system that is comprehensive and complete to cover the basics. It is supposed to handle different kinds of water compounds, allowing you to have a clear understanding of what type of performance you’ll be able to get with it. With a complete solution, you will not need to purchase extra equipment to supplement your kit.
The most significant tests include total alkalinity, pH balance, and chlorine levels. By keeping these three tests in check, your water will be safe all the time. The top-of-the-line test kits are also capable of monitoring phosphates, calcium hardness, and salinity.
It is also very important that your test results are consistent That’s why you should consider consistency when purchasing a saltwater test kit. Without consistent and accurate results, it is not possible to correct the water composition.
While it will not be an issue if you are the only one who uses the kit, the problem with consistency may arise if your test kit is used by other people too. This is because everyone interprets the test colors differently. To avoid this problem, go for a photometric or digital solution that has been proven to provide consistent results.
As anyone who has owned fish can tell you, the process can get quite expensive. Between buying fish, food for your fish, tanks and other components for those tanks, it is a pricey undertaking. Many people are hesitant to put a lot of money down for saltwater test kits.
The good news is that you have many options when it comes to the price of these kits. Some kits are very inexpensive and can fit into any budget, while still delivering good accuracy. Others are more comprehensive and cost a bit more while providing many tests that you can use for months or years.
The final type of test kit is the one that you can send to a professional lab. These are naturally more expensive and will only give you one test for the price. But if you want a full scale of tests done on the water when you first set up your tank, this test kit is a good purchase.
Saltwater Test Kits FAQ’s
What is a Saltwater Test Kit?
Saltwater test kits are products that allow you to test the levels of certain substances in your water. Each kit will have tests for specific substances. You will follow the instructions laid out in the kit and then interpret the results accordingly.
Experienced aquarists know when there is an issue with the water in a saltwater tank or aquarium. They have been around fish and tanks for long enough. It makes them understand the signs of the water being unsafe or unbalanced.
However, the average person who wants to set up a fish tank or aquarium in their home does not have that experience. Whether you are setting up a freshwater or saltwater fish tank, it is important to know the water is safe for the fish you are adding to that tank.
Why Do I Need a Saltwater Test Kit?
Most people buy fish because they have a passion for aquatic life. You are spending a lot of money in buying fish, a tank or aquarium, filling up that tank or aquarium with marine life and then feeding your fish. All that money would go to waste if your fish begin dying off, as the saltwater is unsafe for them.
And most saltwater test kits give you many tests, which means you can continue to use the same kit for months or years – depending on how often you test the water.
What Substances Are Testable With Salt Water Test Kits?
The most common tests that are included in a saltwater test kit are nitrate, phosphate, alkalinity, magnesium, calcium and the pH level of the water. Some test kits may include ammonia and sodium, sulfur, potassium, and bromine.
The test kit that you buy will mostly depend on the type of fish that you are planning to house in your tank or aquarium.
Research those fish, understand the substances or water levels that impact them most and then buy test kits appropriate for your needs. For instance, if you are placing fish in a saltwater tank that reacts to changing levels of barium, you will need a test kit that tests for barium.
How Often Do I Need to Test My Aquarium Water?
It is critical to check out the water in your aquarium from time to time. That can help you determine the ammonia levels and water quality.
But how often is often enough? Once in a month would be fine. However, if your fish keep dying, you may need to test your aquarium water more frequently.
The Bottom Line
When you want to set up a fish tank at home, or an aquarium, you need to ensure the water is in optimal condition. Healthy water means healthy fish, which is what you will want from your fish tank!
Those who want a truly professional opinion will be happy with the ATI ICP-OES, as it can be sent to a lab for testing. If you are wanting the best test kit where you can get the results at home, the Salifert Master Reef Testing Combo Kit is perfect. It gives you all the test kits you need for saltwater tanks and aquariums.
We hope that our guide will make the buying process easier for you. And if any of our readers have experience with saltwater testing kits, feel free to leave a comment below. We would love to hear about the results you got with some of the kits we have recommended.