Making an informed choice on the best saltwater aquarium test kit you get is likely one of the most important decisions for the health of your aquarium.
If a fish is to thrive and survive in your care, you must make sure the water in your aquarium is the right temperature, is free of chlorine, and has a correct pH level.
Experienced aquarists may be able to tell if water is suitable for their tank and its contents without outside interference, but newbies should purchase an aquarium test kit to minimize the risk of something going wrong.
When you decide to purse fishkeeping as a hobby, you can expect to spend money on a tank, a filter, some decorations, and, of course, a couple of fish.
It can all get rather pricey, so it is perfectly understandable that you would groan at the thought of dropping further cash on a test kit.
Thankfully, also the best saltwater aquarium test kits out there can be purchased for relatively little, with many quality models selling at a reasonable price.
BEST SALTWATER AQUARIUM TEST KITs
|API 5-In-1 Test Strips||Strips||Check it out on Amazon|
|Tetra Easy 6-In-1 Test Strips||Strips||Check it out on Amazon|
|Instant Ocean SeaTest Hydrometer||Master Kit||Check it out on Amazon|
|API Saltwater Master Test Kit||Master Kit||Check it out on Amazon|
|Seachem MultiTest Marine Special Test Kit||Master Kit||Check it out on Amazon|
|Nutrafin Calcium Test||Master Kit||Check it out on Amazon|
MASTER KITS or SINGLE PIECE OF TESTING EQUIPMENT?
When searching for the best saltwater aquarium test kit for your tank, there are a number of routes you can take.
Some brands manufacture “master kits”, which are essentially package deals that include a couple of different devices and tests, so you can complete a full inspection of your water and its qualities without dropping cash on individual products.
Some experienced aquarists are quick to sing their praises, insisting that they offer everything a novice aquarist needs to get their tank up and running in as timely a manner as possible.
Others claim that master kit manufacturers are more concerned with the quantity of their products than the quality, meaning instead of one really good water testing device you get a bunch of subpar ones.
These master kit detractors also point out that the liquid treatments included in such collections tend to deplete unevenly, meaning you’ll almost certainly run out of one product sooner than the others.
I myself am pretty fond of master kits and highly recommend them to novice aquarists, providing, of course, that they come from a recognized manufacturer.
Single Piece Of Testing Equipment
If you have neither the need nor desire to purchase a master test kit for your saltwater aquarium, most pieces of test equipment can be purchased individually.
Just about everything commonly included in a master test kit can be found on its own, so you won’t have to worry about dropping cash on a bunch of tools you don’t want every time you need to measure your water’s pH, nitrate, or ammonia levels.
Novice aquarists will likely be unfamiliar with the ideal conditions of a saltwater tank.
The following table will give you a quick breakdown of the various parameters you’ll need to take into account when setting up your saltwater aquarium.
While you should try to get your levels spot on, there is room to go slightly lower or slightly higher, so you won’t have to lose any sleep if you can’t match the exact numbers listed below.
|Nitrate||Less than 30 ppm|
|Phosphate||Less than 1 ppm|
If you are a novice aquarist, getting anywhere near the above levels without a saltwater aquarium test kit is going to be more than a bit of a challenge.
Equally challenging, however, is finding a test kit you can trust.
While there are literally hundreds of thousands of saltwater aquarium test kits available, only a select few can be relied upon to accurately measure the conditions of your water.
As mentioned already, failure to obtain a quality test kit will have disastrous results, which is why we have prepared the following reviews.
The saltwater aquarium test kits listed below are some of the best on the market and have been endorsed by some of the most experienced aquarists in the world today.
Read on to find the best test kit for you and your fish.
The Best Saltwater Aquarium Test Kits
API 5-In-1 Test Strips
If you have been involved in fishkeeping for any amount of time, you are almost certainly familiar with the API name.
API is one of the most respected and beloved manufacturers of fish care tools in the world and has been responsible for major innovations in aquarium test equipment.
These 5-in-1 test strips are an excellent example of API’s dedication to quality and convenience and will allow you to test your water’s pH, nitrite, nitrate, carbonate, and general hardness levels with ease.
While the API 5-in-1 Test Strips are great if you need a quick reading of your water, they aren’t suited to long-term use and certainly shouldn’t be relied upon as the sole means of keeping track of your tank’s conditions.
It is advisable to use a more complicated kit to treat and measure your water, while turning to these test strips every now and then just to make sure nothing has changed since your last complete inspection.
Tetra Easy 6-In-1 Test Strips
If you’re one of the many aquarists who doubts the ability of test strips to return an accurate reading, you can be forgiven for groaning at another set appearing on this list.
Don’t worry, we’ll have some products for you a little later on.
Rather than skipping to the next entry, however, I suggest that you give some serious consideration to the Easy 6-in-1 Test Strips from Tetra.
These strips will measure your water’s chlorine, nitrate, nitrite, alkalinity, pH, and general hardness levels.
The Tetra Easy 6-in-1 Test Strips are quite similar to the API test strips we looked at in the previous entry.
Tetra and API devotees are understandably at odds over which test strips are more effective, but all can agree that the Tetra product is incredibly impressive.
While they may not be the right choice to establish the quality of your aquarium’s water, they are an affordable means of maintaining it.
– 3 –
Instant Ocean SeaTest Hydrometer
Preparing a saltwater aquarium is considerably more difficult than preparing a freshwater alternative as you must get the salt content just right if your fish are to be comfortable.
If you want to run your saltwater aquarium based on what experienced aquarists say, you should be trying for a salinity level of as close to 3.5% as possible.
Even veterans will struggle getting accurate salinity measurements with no equipment to keep them on the right track, which is why I suggest you purchase the Instant Ocean SeaTest Hydrometer.
This hydrometer will measure your tank’s salt levels, as well as its specific gravity and can be purchased for a reasonable price.
Appropriate salinity is the basis of a successful saltwater aquarium, which is why a decent hydrometer is so important.
With its durable needle, the Instant Ocean SeaTest Hydrometer will give you accurate readings for many years to come.
Perhaps best of all, this hydrometer takes a historically complicated task and makes it almost effortless, so you’ll have more time to care for and admire the contents of your tank.
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API Saltwater Master Test Kit
Okay, now we’re getting into the master test kits.
We encountered API a couple of entries back when we looked at its 5-in-1 Test Strips, but this is a different beast altogether.
The API Saltwater Master Test Kit is arguably the most impressive and comprehensive saltwater test kit available today.
It can be used to conduct a staggering 550+ tests and will allow you to keep track of your tank’s pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels with ease.
For novice aquarists hoping to establish the conditions of their aquarium without risking an inaccurate reading, the API Saltwater Master Test Kit is the ideal product. For a reasonable price point, you will receive four test tubes that have a combined life of close to 600 tests.
This extended lifespan means the API Saltwater Master Test Kit can be used in the installation of multiple aquariums or even to simply test and retest the water quality of one tank.
When used in conjunction with API’s aforementioned 5-in-1 Test Strips, this master test kit will take you from newbie to expert in no time at all.
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Seachem MultiTest Marine Special Test Kit
The Seachem MultiTest Marine Special Test Kit is one of the most unique saltwater aquarium test kits on the market today.
A collection of smaller test kits, it contains equipment necessary to test for iodine, phosphate, and silicate, which most saltwater test kits don’t offer.
This kit has a combined lifespan of 75 tests.
The tests included in the Seachem MultiTest Marine Special Test Kit are rarely found in the same collection, which for many is enough of a reason to justify the price point generally sells for.
However, you will likely also have to purchase a more traditional master test kit – or at least a couple of individual pieces of test equipment – in order to properly determine the quality of your tank’s water.
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Nutrafin Calcium Test
Measuring the calcium levels of a saltwater aquarium can be a bit of a challenge, especially because many supposedly master test kits don’t include a calcium test.
The calcium level of the typical saltwater aquarium should be as close to 400 ppm as possible and the Nutrafin Calcium Test will help you get there.
Nutrafin has managed to establish itself as one of the premiere manufacturers of aquarium test equipment in the world and the Nutrafin Calcium Test proves that it is more than deserving of that reputation.
The Nutrafin Calcium Test should be high on the shopping list of all novice aquarists. It provides a service not offered by most other saltwater aquarium test kits and does so with unwavering effectiveness.
It is recommended that you carry out daily tests on your water’s calcium levels, so each Nutrafin Calcium Test kit should last you 50 days.
That being said, daily testing isn’t absolutely essential.
The thrifty fishkeeper could limit their testing to every second day and make their Nutrafin Calcium Test kit last a full 100 days.
When you purchase a fish, you become as responsible for its wellbeing as you would be for the wellbeing of your dog or cat. You have a duty to provide it with the best life and living conditions you can, which is why you should view purchasing a saltwater test kit as something you have to do rather than something you might do if you have some money left over on Sunday morning.
A decent saltwater aquarium test kit will help you determine the quality of your water and correct unsafe conditions.
Each of the products featured here will serve to enhance the water in your aquarium, though it is advisable that you purchase one of the final four and a packet of test strips.
Something like a master test kit will allow you to get the parameters of your water just right, while a set of test strips will act as a time-saving means of testing the quality of the water on a daily basis to ensure no changes have occurred.