The usefulness (or uslessness)of a test kit

Joined
May 5, 2013
Messages
1,142
Reaction score
528
Location
Le Roy, New York
This was going to be my answer to the thread about UV lights but I decided to start a new thread.
When I first got my pond a few years ago I went to the pond store and asked for a testing kit. The owner asked why...seemed like a dumb question so I said to test my water. Again why? Now he had me because I wasn't sure what to say except to make sure that my water was right. You know PH, nitrates, ammonia, nitrites etc. then he asked me once I found out that something seemed wrong what would I do about it. I wasn't sure if he was being a wise guy or really was interested. I told him I would add something or do something to make it right. After going back and forth he pointed to all the ponds he had and said that he sells test kits but never used them. He said he was in the business to sell things and would gladly take my money if I wanted to part with it. His advise was to forget what I read about water quality because it would just get me in trouble. To "fix" things I would buy more stuff then to fix what ever problem that the "more stuff" caused I would buy even more stuff. You know what he was right. I did buy the test kit and used it a couple of times. Why? Because that is what you are suppose to do. I even added "stuff", everything that was recommended for what ever problems that my test kit said I had. In the end the test kit reached the expiration date, long before the chemicals were used up. Now to keep my pond clear all I do is plug in the UV light and use sodium percarbonate to clean up the string algae. I don't swim in the pond and I have 4 healthy fish not 50 or more. What ever the water is it is. As long as I can't walk or it or smell it and can see through it then it works for me. My advise is that no matter how often or loud something is said it doesn't make it right. Turn the flame throwers on I'm ready!
 

peter hillman

Let me think for minute....
Joined
Sep 5, 2015
Messages
1,260
Reaction score
1,398
Location
Reno N.V.
Hardiness Zone
3-5
Country
United States
Agreed, went 20yrs without one, got one last year haven't used it since the initial test that showed all's well. Unless your fish are suffering what's the point? And then what are you going to do if your parameters are 'off'? It's supposed to be water, not a witches brew of chemical fixes.
 
Joined
Aug 2, 2013
Messages
3,211
Reaction score
2,192
Location
North East Ohio-Zone 5
Country
United States
Unless your fish are suffering what's the point? And then what are you going to do if your parameters are 'off'? It's supposed to be water, not a witches brew of chemical fixes.

Test kits are especially useful when someone is starting a new aquarium or pond (or when the filter is not yet established) it helps you to know if you should be feeding your fish (ie by not feeding your fish are not putting out as much waste) or if you should be doing a simple water change to help keep ammonia and nitrite levels tolerable so that your fish don't die. It can also help you determine if your tank or pond is overstocked. Testing your water doesn't equal "chemical fixes" in fact I'm not really even sure what you mean by that? I *think* you may be referring to ph adjustments and if so, pretty much every experienced fish keeper knows better than to mess with ph levels with chemicals to get the "perfect" ph. The only time someone would or should do that is if they keep a very delicate type fish that needs to be in a certain ph level (goldfish and koi are very capable of living a health life in a wide range of ph level)

There is one other thing of importance about ph levels (as well as gh and kh and how they relate) and that would be if you have a ph crash (which if you tested your water you would hopefully catch it before it kills your fish) you may need to intervene and add baking soda or crushed oyster shell.
 

HARO

Pondcrastinator
Joined
Jun 30, 2011
Messages
5,439
Reaction score
6,233
Location
Ontario, Canada
Hardiness Zone
5b
Country
Canada
A very valid point, mgmine. Most pond owners are not familiar with the basics, let alone the chemistry involved in keeping a pond. When I started at the garden center (11 years ago) most of my customers were after "quick fixes", something they could dump in the pond to cure any perceived ill. The ones who actually owned test kits (mostly expired) were the worst of the lot! Many of these ponders refuse to join any forum, absolutely NOBODY will read a book any more, so their body of knowledge is limited to whatever it says on the bottles. Even that is only given a cursory glance! I firmly believe that MOST pond disasters are caused by ignorance and "quick fixes"! Fortunately, I've been able to convince many of my customers that patience is indeed a virtue when it comes to ponding, and a little bit of algae won't kill all your precious fish.
John

See, no flame throwers! Some of us even agree with you. ;)
 

Mmathis

TurtleMommy
Joined
Apr 28, 2011
Messages
13,918
Reaction score
8,098
Location
NW Louisiana -- zone 8b
Hardiness Zone
8b
Country
United States
When I started my pond, I checked the water on a regular basis. Except for start-up, I have never had an ammonia reading, a nitrite reading, or a nitrate reading. So, I now only test once or twice a year [or any time I have a sick or dead fish]. The only thing I really watch out for is pH and KH. I've never had a crisis, but since the KH runs low, I kept crushed oyster shells mixed in with the bog gravel [which really does work].

Now, my QT and indoor tank are different (smaller water volumes) in that I do watch them more closely. About the only thing I do different with them is more frequent water changes, depending on the fish level.

I am a believer in water testing, at least every once in a while. And I keep a record of every test including water and air temps, any changes I'd made, the reason for the test [routine check/dead fish/follow-up, etc.]. IMHO, you need to know the baseline stuff for your own pond, and you need to at least be proficient with conducting the tests. And most of all, a semi-knowledgeable pond-keeper needs to know how everything interacts and balances [IOW, needs to know about nitrogen cycle].

As far as adding chemicals goes....... Nope. Only the oyster shells to buffer the pH. If I ever do get high ammonia [etc.] levels, that's an issue of addressing the underlying problems and first thing I do is a water change to bring the levels down......so the fish won't suffer the effects. So, in that case, water testing is a valuable tool. Then I try to figure out what's going on -- too many fish? -- outdated test kit? -- someone screwed with my water? -- something died down there?........
 

HARO

Pondcrastinator
Joined
Jun 30, 2011
Messages
5,439
Reaction score
6,233
Location
Ontario, Canada
Hardiness Zone
5b
Country
Canada
I remember well when Maggie first joined GPF. She was totally lost, and admitted it. @Mmathis , you are the perfect example to illustrate the point I was trying to make... you asked questions and educated yourself on the subject, and now you are quite capable of figuring things out and giving advice to the 'newbies'. Across North America, you and those like you probably comprise no more than one or two percent of pondkeepers. (I may be wrong on this, so feel free to correct me.)These are the folks you hear from regularly on this site. A further 1/10 of one percent are the pond "geeks", who basically have the equivalent of a pond university degree, and analyse everything to within an inch of its life. You can find them on Koiphen. That leaves the other 98% or so. These are the people who log on to a website, ask a question, and as a rule can't be bothered to check back to see if anyone answered! And if they DO read the answer, they just assume that no-one here knows anything, and never come back.
John
P.s. The system DOES work! Just think... if those other 98% were all as dedicated as US, this website would be so overrun, we would be waiting in line for WEEKS just to get on!! :(
 

Meyer Jordan

Tadpole
Joined
Oct 10, 2014
Messages
7,177
Reaction score
5,675
Location
Pensacola, Florida
Hardiness Zone
9a
Country
United States
Water testing has its place. That being said, testing the chemical parameters of a pond's water should only be necessary is a problem is suspected. Then testing is helpful in identifying the source of the problem.
I do not necessarily believe that everyone should own a test kit, but easy access to one is important.
A pond's basic parameters will remain fairly constant once a pond is established. It is only when external influences are introduced (pond treatments) that these parameters can, and often will, be disturbed.
In 20 years as a pond contractor, I rarely tested any pond. My most recent personal pond was only tested once in 10 years time and then only because of curiosity.
 

HARO

Pondcrastinator
Joined
Jun 30, 2011
Messages
5,439
Reaction score
6,233
Location
Ontario, Canada
Hardiness Zone
5b
Country
Canada
Water testing has its place. That being said, testing the chemical parameters of a pond's water should only be necessary is a problem is suspected. Then testing is helpful in identifying the source of the problem.
I do not necessarily believe that everyone should own a test kit, but easy access to one is important.
A pond's basic parameters will remain fairly constant once a pond is established. It is only when external influences are introduced (pond treatments) that these parameters can, and often will, be disturbed.
In 20 years as a pond contractor, I rarely tested any pond. My most recent personal pond was only tested once in 10 years time and then only because of curiosity.
All right,@ MeyerJordan.... you JUST avoided being placed in that 1/10 of a percent! ;) Glad to have you on board!
John
 

Members online

Forum statistics

Threads
30,871
Messages
509,594
Members
13,096
Latest member
bikmann

Latest Threads

Top