A critical part of Red Seas Coral Colouration Programme (itself the pinnacle of their Reef Care Programme), the Coral Colours Pro Test Kit will appeal to hobbyists running mature tanks with low nutrient levels and balanced foundation elements who are looking to maximise SPS and/or LPS coral growth/colouration in an educated and controlled manner. To this end, this package consists of tests for determining levels of Iron, Iodine and Potassium and teams up perfectly with the range of Coral Colour Supplements also available from Red Sea.
First impressions of the kit were good based on some excellent packaging. The attractive box contains a tough and professional looking plastic vault case which neatly holds all the different components for each test. Reagents bottles are clearly labelled, colour coded and mostly have child proof caps. The glass vials feel really excellent quality and, providing the cap was put on tightly, they didn’t leak when shaken. Instructions are very clear and backed-up with water resistant graphic cards that provide a really useful visual quick reference while performing each test. Furthermore, you can view useful Youtube demo videos via the Red Sea website (we found these highly useful).
Now for the individual tests:
Firstly, and easily the most simple, was the Iron test. This test uses colorimetry to determine a final reading to a claimed accuracy of +/- 0.05ppm (over a 0.0-0.9ppm range). As said, this was the least complex test to handle but it did require a 15 minute wait to establish a final reading (this wasn’t a problem, we just set our cooker timer to beep when it was ready). In our experience you’d need to perform this test a few times to get proficient in reading the final colour to get a good level of accuracy, and good daylight (or strong neutral illumination) is also a must as the differences are very subtle (a reference solution may have been useful here). We attained a ‘low’ reading from our test indicating our test tank had a value well below that of natural seawater.
Iodine was the second test we performed and this proved to be slightly more complicated but still nothing we couldn’t handle. Again, this is a colorimetric test and it offers a claimed accuracy resolution of 0.03ppm (over a 0.0-0.09ppm range). Note that this test measures total Iodine (Iodide and Iodate). The instructions were very clear and we obtained a result first time. Take note that again, this test requires a short wait as the sample needs to be warmed by floating it in the main tank for 10 minutes and then the sample needs to be watched again closely in the final stage until the reference solution matches the colour chart. Again, we found we needed good daylight and it took a couple of efforts to feel confident in the final result (with enough for 50 Iodine tests included, a couple of test runs was no problem). We did have trouble opening one of the reagent bottles in this set, but with the extra grip given by a pair of pliers, we managed to unscrew it. Once again, our reading came out at the low end of the scale (see image, we read this as 0.03ppm).
The Potassium test completed our session and was the most involved test of the three. This was a titration test with a stated accuracy of +/- 3ppm within a range of 150-450ppm. Practical observations were similar to the two other kits, that is, generally good but the colour change of the final stage was VERY subtle (see the two images opposite). The syringe used in the final part needs some practice to learn to avoid squirting the reagent into the sample rather than adding it dropwise as it should be (watch the video). Other than this minor point it was a very impressive kit. Our reading came out at around 380ppm which matches the level found in natural seawater.
In conclusion, we were very impressed with the professional feel and overall ease of use of the tests that form this kit. After a few trial runs to familiarise ourselves, we felt confident in the results we’d attained and the reasonable level of accuracy. As said, good lighting is critical to being able to detect the sometimes extremely subtle changes in sample colouration that indicate a final result though. In short, work in good light and take the time to organise your working space (tissues, RO water, dilute vinegar/lemon juice, containers for rinsing etc, stopwatch are all useful).
By the way, if you feel confident enough to go on and use the these tests as a basis for supplementation, we feel they are suitable for monitoring this process. Actually, keep your eyes on Digital-Reefs in the coming weeks as we will be doing just that (using some of the Red Sea Coral Colour Supplements) and reporting back on our observations!