When it comes to keeping your fish healthy, there’s more to think of than just feeding them regularly and keeping the aquarium tank clean. This may seem obvious when you think about it, but it can be easy to forget that not all water is the same.
The water from your faucet may not be the best kind for your fish. Different fish require different kinds of water, and it’s a lot more complicated than just freshwater or saltwater.
The kind of water in your aquarium should be as close to your fish’ natural habitat as possible. Remember that your fish would otherwise be living in the wild and so the water in their natural habitat is the kind they will thrive in best.
Different kinds of water may not directly harm or kill your fish (although that is a possibility). But the wrong kind may make them ill or just not live very well or very long. Just because your fish are surviving, doesn’t mean they’re healthy and living well.
One of the best ways to find out exactly what is in the water of your aquarium is to test it. It might all seem very scientific, but it’s actually really easy to test the water at home. So, to help you make sure your fish are living their best lives in the best water, we’ve put together a guide of the best aquarium water test kits.
OUR TOP PICK
OUR TOP PICK
Need to test that water ASAP and don’t have time to browse? No problem, here’s our top pick for the best aquarium water test kit.
- High Range pH
This API kit is our top pick for the best aquarium water test kit. It is specifically designed for aquariums and comes in a range of choices for freshwater, saltwater, and reef.
This kit will provide you with the specific information and test results that you need for your specific kind of aquarium. This will allow you to know exactly how healthy your aquarium water is for your fish.
Unlike some kits which include testing strips that are dipped in water or the water is applied to, this kit uses specific testing solutions. The kit includes 7 bottles of testing solutions, a color card, and 4 glass tubes with caps.
Each of the 7 solutions tests for something different. This means that, if you only need to check for one thing, you won’t be wasting strips or solutions. Simply add the water to a test tube, drop in the required solution, and compare the result with the color card included. This process does take around 10 minutes which is a little longer than average.
This kit does not test for as many parameters as other kits, but it is designed specifically for different kinds of aquariums. There are three different types of kits available for freshwater, saltwater, and reef water.
- Available for saltwater, freshwater, and reef water
- Includes multiple test tubes
- Uses specific testing solutions
- Takes a little longer than average
- Total Hardness: 0-425PPM
- Free Chlorine: 0-10PPM
- Iron: 0-500PPM
- Copper: 0-10PPM
- Lead: 0-500PPM
- Nitrate: 0-500PPM
- Nitrite: 0-80PPM
- MPS: 0-20PPM
- Total Chlorine: 0-10PPM
- Fluoride: 0-100PPM
- Cyanuric Acid: 0-250PPM
- Ammonia Chloride: 0-500PPM
- Bromine: 0-20PPM
- Total Alkalinity: 0-240PPM
- Carbonate: 0-240PPM
- pH: 6-9
This kit provides results for a huge number of tests and will give you a great idea of what exactly is going on inside your aquarium. This test kit will be great for your monthly water quality check, but will be especially useful if your fish have recently been unwell or if one has sadly died.
The water may have contributed to the illness and it can be difficult to tell exactly what is wrong with it. Using a kit that will test for a wide range of parameters will give you a better understanding as you may not know exactly what you’re looking for.
This kit includes 100 testing strips, a pipette, and a test tube. There are also dry bags included which help the testing strips to remain uncontaminated.
This test kit will be able to provide results in just 2 minutes. So you can regularly check your aquarium with great ease and efficiency.
This test kit provides multiple testing options. You can place the water into a normal container and dip a testing strip in, test the water in a test tube, or add water to specific sections of the strip for greater accuracy.
- Wide range of tests
- Quick results
- Three different styles of testing
- Not specifically designed for aquariums, but will still give useful results
- General Hardness
- Free Chlorine
- Carbonate Hardness
This testing kit does not test for as many parameters as others on this list. But, the parameters tested are very standard and you won’t need more for your regular monthly water quality check.
This testing kit includes 100 strips and a detailed color chart. This is great as, although test tubes, pipettes, and other features can be useful, it is a lot of essentially unnecessary plastic. This testing kit has a limited amount of plastic and is super easy to use. Just place some aquarium water in a container and dip in one of the strips.
Then, after only 30 seconds, you can compare the strip to the included color chart to find out the water quality of your aquarium.
Also included is a thermometer that sticks on to the side of your aquarium tank. Water quality isn’t the only thing that you need to regularly check and the temperature is just as important. This is another easy way to make sure that your fish are living in the best habitat and conditions possible.
- Includes stick-on thermometer
- Results in only 30 seconds
- Free e-book included
- Limited number of parameters tested
These test strips may not technically be an aquarium water testing kit, but they will do just as good a job as the other options on this list. All these strips require is for you to fill a container with water from your aquarium and dip a testing strip in.
There isn’t a color chart included so you will need to read the instructions sheet carefully. The sheet will explain what the results mean. It will also, mostly importantly, provide you with information on what a healthy water quality is for your fish. There is a chart included which highlights, for example, the correct level of pH for different kinds of fish.
The information will also give you tips and guidance on how to alter the water quality of your aquarium, should you need to. This is especially useful. Knowing the quality of your aquarium water is important, but so is knowing what to do when it is wrong.
- Available in a pack of 4, 25, or 100
- Choice of 5-in-1 tests, single test for ammonia, or single pH test
- Designed specifically for freshwater and saltwater aquariums
- Single test strips only
- Color chart not included
This kit isn’t specifically designed for testing aquarium water, but it will still give you an accurate analysis of water quality. Kits that are specifically designed for testing aquariums will sometimes include information on the best type of water quality for your fish, so you won’t have that information with this kit.
But, that sort of information is easy to find and you will still be given an accurate assessment of your aquarium’s water quality. In fact, you will have a more accurate assessment than most aquarium testing kits. That is because this kit tests for 17 different parameters, which is a lot.
As this is designed for drinking water, i.e. the water from your kitchen faucet where you will likely fill up your aquarium, you can still trust the results. This kit even tests for bacteria, which is especially useful for an aquarium. Specific breeds of fish will react differently to different kinds of bacteria. So you will be able to know exactly what is inside your aquarium.
- Large number of parameters tested
- Tests for bacteria
- Not specifically designed for testing aquarium water
- More expensive than average
Best Aquarium Water Test Kit Buying Guide
Types of Test Kits
Test kits vary greatly as they will test for a variety of parameters. The number of tests can range from 6 to 17, so it’s important to check exactly what the kits test for. Some water testing kits are also intended for drinking water, so may include tests that aren’t relevant to aquariums. But, this is still useful information to have as you will be able to know exactly what is in your aquarium. Different fish thrive in different environments, so a range of testing is really useful.
Some test kits provide more options, so if you need to test for something specific then make sure to double-check it is included. The most important parameters to test for are the pH level, water hardness, and chlorine.
What To Look For
As test kits provide tests for different parameters, it’s important to choose the correct kind for your fish. There is a general water quality level needed for most fish, but some need a variation.
There are several different kinds of testing kits, but most will include testing strips and a color guide. (More on this is explained in the next section). Other kits will include specific testing solutions that provide a more accurate assessment. Depending on the quality of the test, the coloring on some strips may bleed into one another. This can make it difficult to get an exact reading.
If you are simply doing a regular check-up on your aquarium’s water, then colored testing strips should be fine. But, if you’re looking for something specific (for example, if your fish have been ill or if there are signs of the presence of something specific), then individual testing solutions may be the better option.
All good testing kits will come with a color chart. This chart will give you information on what the color changes on the testing strips mean. The color will change depending on the presence of certain minerals, chemicals, and substances.
The results won’t give a specific amount but will indicate a range of the ppm (parts per million). This will give you an idea of the levels of minerals, chemicals, and substances that are present in the water.
Your aquarium will need specific levels of minerals, chemicals, and substances that are dependent on the type of fish you have.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do aquarium water test kits test for?
Aquarium water test kits test for a wide range of parameters. Some kits add different tests to try and appear more sophisticated. Most test kits will provide results for pH, water hardness, Nitrate, Nitrite, and chlorine.
Can I test my aquarium water at home?
Yes, all of the kits listed above are for home use. There are many professional versions available, but these are unnecessary for a home aquarium. It might be tempting to purchase a professional kit assuming that they will be more accurate. But this is really unnecessary and they will be more specific (i.e. for freshwater or saltwater) and are intended to analyze water quality for scientific purposes.
They can also be very expensive compared to the home test kits available (such as the ones provided on this list).
How often should I test my aquarium water?
You should test your aquarium water at least once a month. This will allow you to make sure that the water is still well-balanced enough for your fish.
You should also check the water after any of your fish die or have been ill. The water may have been the reason behind the illness or there may be some contamination in the water.