Testing your water parameters is an important method of foreseeing problems in your aquatic ecosystem before they result in catastrophe. Luckily, tools that were once only accessible (and affordable) to advanced hobbyists have since become simpler and more affordable. Easy to use and read, a new generation of testing equipment provides accurate results without the wait.
The water parameters most often tested are: pH, Hardness, Alkalinity, Nitrite and Nitrate. Testing these once meant using five different
test kits, but now the quick dip of an economical
test strip monitors all 5 in a single swipe. Results appear in less than a minute so all you have to do is match the test strip to the color chart on the packaging to view results. While not as precise as a laboratory grade test kit, these will give you the results you need to determine if a problem exists and if actions should be taken to correct it.
Even beginner reef enthusiasts don't have to worry any longer about keeping the ideal saltwater conditions. A portable refractometer is an optical device that provides a direct reading of specific gravity and salinity while automatically compensating for temperature. Simply place a drop of water on the lens and hold up to the light to read results in the viewfinder.
Investing in accurate testing equipment will save your budget and time later, by allowing you to catch symptoms before they become costly health problems for your aquarium and its inhabitants.