Updated on December 21, 2020 by Lyric Fergusson
It’s undeniable that a room with an aquarium lends a calm and playful mood to any who enter. Behind the scenes of that aquarium owner, you’ll find some fierce dedication to maintaining it. If you own a one, you know that the safety of those little fish is in your hands, and one of the most important things to get right is having the correct chemical balance in the water. The easiest way to check this is through aquarium test strips, but there are so many out there and they all look so similar. That’s why I’ve made this convenient top 7 list to compare the different options for testing your tank water.
Best Aquarium Test Strips
(Quickest results — $)
Why it’s great: First on the list is SJ Wave’s six in one aquarium test strips. This testing kit comes with easy to use test strips, a thermometer, and an e-book with many helpful aquarium tips. The SJ Wave has a shelf-life of 3 months, but this is only once the package is opened, so in the right environment they can last you a very long time. These test strips are all about efficiency and accuracy, displaying the 7 most important parameters for a fish tank: pH, chlorine, general hardness, carbonate hardness, nitrate, nitrite, and temperature. It takes less than a minute to use this testing kit and gives you accurate results right away that you can count on!
Keep in mind: The shelf-life is 3 months.
Good for: Quick results!
(Most versatile — $$)
Why it’s great: The well-known brand you know and love as an aquarium owner… Tetra. These aquarium test strips are very reliable and versatile. You can use these for fresh or saltwater aquariums. There are 6 different tests in this one little strip, including alkalinity, which isn’t always included on your typical test strip. It is advertised to be able to test any age range of fish and with the ability to work in any kind of water, these strips really can work for anyone. The color chart for this product does not come printed on the bottle, it is on its own sheet of paper, which could be a downside or an upside! I have taped mine to the inside of the cabinet door. This tester also comes as an optional subscription, so that you can always keep up on supply.
Keep in mind: It is recommended to use this product once a week.
Good for: People who own both freshwater and saltwater tanks.
(Easiest to read — $)
Why it’s great: The AQUA CARE PRO test strips are a great option for any freshwater testing, whether it be a tank or a pond. Not only does this kit come with very reliable and detailed instructions, but they offer 24/7 customer service. While it only comes with 64 strips, it advertises that it lasts for an entire year’s supply of once-a-week testing. This is a great deal for the price! These particular strips are made to be easy to read with clear colors and lots of room to read the results. You’ll get the reading quickly, and be on with your day in no time.
Keep in mind: This one is also only for freshwater.
Good for: People who are dedicated to weekly testing.
(Most informative process — $)
Why it’s great: The RUNBO test strip kit is the most inexpensive option on the list and comes with an optional subscription as well. The bottle holds 100 strips and is good for freshwater or saltwater! It comes with the main bottle of 50 and a refill pack. It is advertised to be useful for beginners or experts, and even includes on the Amazon page important information about what each test means and what to look out for. If you’re green around the edges when it comes to being an aquatic animal owner, you’ll appreciate the guidance you get with this product.
Keep in mind: There is a lot to learn when you’re figuring out the correct chemical balance, so the information they provide can appear daunting at first.
Good for: New aquarium owners.
(Best longevity — $)
Why it’s great: These testing strips work for just about everything! Tropical, Betta fish, Shrimp, saltwater, and freshwater aquariums can be tested with these strips. There is also no color bleeding on the fiber of the strip’s paper for easy-to-read tests. This brand is also very well known for their Ammonia testing kit and many people rely on it to regularly check their tanks. However, the regular testing strips do not include any information about ammonia, so make sure to search that specifically and don’t rely on a basic 6 in 1 test. The BOSIKE strips last for 2 years and come with a count of 125, which makes them a perfect buy for long-term use.
Keep in mind: These do work for salt water on every test, except for total hardness.
Good for: Exotic fish owners.
(Best record keeping — $$)
Why it’s great: These JNW testing strips are unique, because there is an app linked to the kit so that you can record and calculate your results. This is very useful and can help you get acquainted with how to test out your fish tank. It’s also helpful to track patterns over time. The strips contain more parameters than other products, including iron and copper levels. Like the Tetra strips, they test for alkalinity, which is a very useful thing to be able to track. This is another testing pack that can be bought as a subscription.
Keep in mind: There is sometimes color bleeding on the test strips.
Good for: Iron and copper tracking.
(Most straightforward — $$)
Why it’s great: Another great buy is the API test strip 5 in 1 kit. It analyzes the main things you test for: nitrite, nitrate, and carbonate levels. This testing strip set has detailed instructions on how to accurately read for the parameters, including how long you should wait until you take note of each chemical. This description is super useful for beginners, who feel like they are treading water as they learn the ropes! This is also a brand that works for saltwater or freshwater, but the general hardness does not work for saltwater tanks. This product does not come as a subscription, but there are multiple options for the count that you want with this brand.
Keep in mind: There are only 5 things tested for, instead of 6 like many others.
Good for: Those who only want to test for the basics.
FAQs about best aquarium test strips
1. Can I use the test strips for saltwater fish tanks, too?
Many test strips do test for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums. Make sure to purchase one that advertises both, if that is what you need. Several of the test strips we listed for you are meant for both kinds.
2. Does the tank size matter when choosing a test strip for my aquarium?
It doesn’t matter the size of the aquarium that you’re testing. However, if you’re testing a pond, you need to find a test strip that is meant for that specifically.
3. Can you use a pool test strip for your aquarium?
The test strips for pools don’t examine the very same things, and often the readings wouldn’t match up due to the large difference in water volume. The only reliable way to read the levels of chemicals in your fish tank is to use a proper test strip meant for aquariums.
4. Does the temperature of the water affect the results of my test strip?
As long as your water is within the livable range for fish, it will not affect the reading. It’s important not to remove water and let it sit in sunlight or in a container that could have any contaminants in it, as that can potentially give misleading results.
5. If my test strip indicates a problem, what do I do?
You can raise or lower the necessary chemical amounts or pH by buying chemicals at your local pet or aquarium store. It’s important to do that as soon as possible so that your fish don’t start having problems or worsen. I think it’s best to talk to an employee about what you need to purchase. Make sure to take the test strip with you (or better, take a pic of the test strip), so that the employee knows exactly what the reading is.
6. When should you test your aquarium water?
It is recommended to test it once a week unless you are seeing changes in fish behavior or water clarity. It is also wise to check the water before and after adding new fish to the tank, and after a water change.
Testing strips are a must-have for any aquarium-owner, and Amazon is the best place to find them. With all of these options, there’s a product that will work for everyone. Just determine which type of fish you have, where you source your water from, whether it’s salt or freshwater, and what type of filtration you use. Armed with that information, you can pick the best test strips for what you need, and once you find that perfect match, you will have it easy in the future, since most of the brands give you enough strips to last a year! If your fish make you smile as mine do, and you want to keep the water crystal clear so that their beautiful colors shine, then make sure to test the water regularly with the test trips you deem best for you. Any of these could be a great option for a great aFISHionado like yourself!