Water tests are one of those aspects of reefkeeping that you either love or hate. Sometimes, if you don’t have a lot of time, fiddling around with bottles of solutions, vials and syringes can prove to be a real pain.. and then there’s always the worry if you are getting the right results. Test kits aren’t cheap either… and they don’t last indefinitely.
That’s why we really like the service offered by tanktests.co.uk – the UK’s only mail order water testing service. If you’ve never used this service before, basically, you just order and pay for your test and then a small bottle is sent to you along with a return envelope. All you do is fill up the bottle, put it in the return envelope and then send it back to tanktests recorded delivery (which you pay for). That’s it… you can then just sit back and enjoy your tank! A few days later, you’ll receive your results back by email. With several levels of test available, we particularly like the Advanced Test which, for £15 plus postage, gives you 12 key parameter readings- pH, Salinity, Alkalinity, Calcium, Magnesium, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Phosphate, Iodine, Strontium, Potassium and Silica.
But how is the testing done specifically you may ask? Well, rather than using just one brand, it’s reassuring to know that tanktests have chosen from a range of different brands of tests kits with a view providing the most consistent and accurate results. At present, Coral Shop test kits are used for the Calcium, Magnesium and Alkalinity, and they also use the Coral Shop standards (reference solutions) and the lab set. This means they use glass phials and latex free gloves to ensure any skin contact does not effect any results. Tricky Phosphate testing is done with a D&D high sensitivity test kit, although at the time of our review they are parallel testing with a Hanna phosphorous checker. For general good practice, all phials and syringes are rinsed several times with RO water and then allowed to dry naturally (some dry cloths/kitchen roll may have contaminants). Finally, although time consuming, only one water sample is tested at a time. This enhances the accuracy of results as some tests can be very time specific for adding reagents or comparing results. The other advantage is that cross contamination of samples or even results is avoided.
In conclusion, it’s great to see this operation offering such a useful service under new ownership. We wish them all the best and look forward to having the Digital-Reefs tank tested by them again in the near future!