Digital Test Device

blueberlin

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I am wondering if there is an electronic device for testing water for ammonia, nitrite, etc., to get me out of fiddling with the childproof caps on the chemistry set. I have found digital devices for pH. I have also found a device that will test the above but it still requires the chemicals - so basically, I would spend 300 euros to save having to agitate the test tubes. :rolleyes:

Does anyone know of an electronic device that measures these parameters without the addition of chemicals?

Thanks in advance,

-Eva
 

John

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Good news: You can purchase equipment for carrying out these tests (this is actually a lot to do with my professional research).
Bad news: There isn't one device commercially available to test them all (may not exist at all actually) and each individual device costs quite a bit (usually a heck of a lot more than a pH meter) and they usually need to be calibrated on an ongoing basis.

Summary: Not worth pursuing, in my opinion.
 

blueberlin

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Forgive me for pressing, but a device for nitrite and one for nitrate would suffice for my humble purposes. The test lab cost me 100 euros and with 1 aquarium I went through it in about 1 year. Now I have 4 tanks and animals that will hopefully live for more than 10 years. Plus my birthday is coming up.

My searches are turning up nothing, though. Perhaps you could tell me what they are called, and I can waste another hour looking for them before coming to what you told me in the first place?

-hardheaded Eva
 

John

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You want something like this:

http://www.vwrsp.com/catalog/product/index.cgi?catalog_number=11388-306&inE=1&highlight=11388-306

And then you need to order the individual electrodes that are suited to your purposes, for example:

Ammonia:
http://www.vwrsp.com/catalog/product/index.cgi?catalog_number=14002-816&inE=1&highlight=14002-816

Nitrate:
http://www.vwrsp.com/catalog/product/index.cgi?catalog_number=14002-796&inE=1&highlight=14002-796

There doesn't appear to be a same brand nitrite electrode but I think they sell compatible nitrite electrodes.

Using this equipment will require care and regular calibration to ensure they last. Ion Selective Electrodes do their jobs well but they can be delicate and due to the physical properties of the membranes you have to be very careful how you maintain and store them.

As you can see, this is not a cheap exercise.
 

ferret_corner

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oh those are lovely!! i'm anxiously awaiting Evas' reply/decision......:D
 

SludgeMunkey

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I use a few of these devices at work to help keep the chemistry of our feed water for our boilers correct. The devices are pricey and require extra electrodes to operate. I agree with John on this.
At home for my tanks, I utilize these very easy test strips manufactured by the same company that made supplies the equipment to my shop. I swear by them.

Tests you can do with these dip strips:
Free Chlorine, Total Chlorine, Peroxide and Iodine, Copper and Iron, pH and Total Alkalinity, Total Hardness, and Nitrogen Nitrate and Nitrogen Nitrite.
The link has detailed information and no kit is over 20$ U.S.
This company also Has the pH meters and such you were asking about too.

They are able to do international orders!!!

Test Strips:
http://www.omega.com/ppt/pptsc.asp?ref=WTS_Series&Nav=gregg07

Testing Meters, Electrodes and More (look under the "Disolved Oxygen, Water and Soil Analysis Heading)
http://www.omega.com/green/ph.html


Hope this helps.
 
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blueberlin

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Sorry to take so long in replying.

First, I am a militant enemy of test strips. I lost some animals by depending on test strips, which consistently gave me readings of 0 nitrite and low nitrate. When I finally bought the dropper test, it showed that absolutely nothing in my tank was good - ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate were all at extremely dangerous levels. :kill:

The electrode devices are indeed pricey, but the test range is really impressive. I am sure I never need to detect 17,000 ppm. Too bad there isn't something less sensitive and more affordable.

Nevertheless, when I consider how much I would otherwise be spending on the dropper tests over the next decade or so, the price no longer looks outrageous. Especially considering how very much I hate fiddling with the stupid childproof bottles of chemicals.

I suppose the biggest question would be what "calibration" entails - how often it needs to be done. Careful maintenance and storage is a good note, by the way, but I worry that as John mentioned it, "careful" may mean something beyond what I understand it to mean.

Thomas, by the way, got the idea that "that would be a good birthday present" all by himself. So my interest is running very high still. Therefore thank you for all the information.

-Eva
 

blueberlin

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Sorry, I can't edit my last post anymore.

It occurs to me that as I am at the pet shop every week for live food, I could just as well take water samples with me for testing. Duh me.

-Eva
 
T

tylototriton

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I'll chime in on this as well.

If you absolutely want to get the electronic equipment you can check out Forestry Suppliers. I have their catalog here in front of me and they sell a meter that is less expensive then the one John showed. Look for YSI Professional Series. That being said, even these electronic kits need to be constantly calibrated, so you're still going to be playing with chemicals and to top it off, if you don't calibrate your results can be so astronomically wrong that they send you in the wrong direction. You could also look at photometers and colorimeters, but both of those require chemical reagents.

In summary, electronic equipment is a huge and very expensive undertaking. Last year I went to Costa Rica and all of the water studies we did (about 20 locales, each multiple times) were done with two probes, temperature and dissolved oxygen. Everything else was done with strips or test kits. In addition to all that I use test strips quite often. I use them at work in the kitchen to test water quality and I use them at home to test aquariums, and my father, who bred fish for some 15 years, always used test strips, successfully.

That being said, it is ultimately up to you. It does seem like you are paying a lot to test your water. I say go with the test kits, sure you have to play with chemicals, but most of them aren't dangerous and it will save you money. Most scientists use test kits anyway. I bet the companies that are charging you so much are using them as well.

Best of Luck,
Alex
 

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Pertaining to calibration-
With our meters at the shop, we are required to have them calibrated every 6 months in a certified facility by our insurance company as boilers are expensive and can fail with disastrous results. Only meter that ever seems to actually need calibration is our nitrate/nitrite meter. We also replace our probes on a bi annual schedule, however, keep in mind this is a heavy industrial environment where extremes of temperature and abuse are not uncommon.
When I was in the Navy, I had to use pH and conductivity meters often, and also had to test for chlorine and chloramines on occasion. We were required to maintain yearly calibration on those items, and there it was the pH meter that had the most issues.

At home I use the industrial/lab test strips mentioned in my previous post without issue. However, I will agree that commercial strips sold for aquariums can be faulty in their results.


Either way, I like your idea of having the pet shop do the testing while you make a food pick up! I wish the pet shop here had employees trustworthy enough provide reliable results...
 

blueberlin

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Well, although the decision took more than an hour, I have decided to stick with the usual dropper test. I remembered that my Dad is an engineer who designs water treatment plants and former aquarium keeper and asked him for advice. He talked to one of his suppliers, whose company manufactures essentially the exact same devices John et al mentioned above. Oh well.

The factors that decided me were John's comment that the measuring equipment requires careful handling - I figure that if it needs pointing out, it probably requires something more than what I would consider and practice as careful handling -; the fact that it isn't a one-time purchase but that the devices also require regular and expensive maintenance; and Alex' comment that "It does seem like you are paying a lot to test your water." Good point.

I was also disappointed by the pet shop. I thought maybe they would have the fancy equipment. Nope. They used dip strips. :rolleyes:

-Eva
 

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Before anyone spends a lot of money on electrodes look carefully at the kits you use and see if they can be fiddled. My wide range pH kit (Nutrafin Hagen- widely available in the UK) requires 4 drops in a 5ml calibrated test tube. I put 25 drops of water in the tube and use one drop. A Kit for 100 tests now does 400.

The ammonia kit requires 7 drops of each of three reagents. I use 14 drops of water and one drop of each reagent. A 50 test kit now does 350 tests.

The nitrite and nitrate tests require different ratios of reagents and I use these as directed, but not very often.

I suppose I am a mean penny pinching guy who does not follow directions!
 

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Thank you. I love that idea and will use it gladly. I have been using dip strips and am not sure how accurate they are but am a big penny pincher to say the least and am always looking for cost effective ways to improve my animal's lives. Great thinking, I only wish I had thought of it years ago.
 
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