Keeping a saltwater aquarium can be an exciting hobby with all the colorful and exotic fish, coral, and plants available to you. However, keeping a saltwater aquarium is no easy feat! There is time and effort involved in it, and some aquatic inhabitants are very sensitive to changes in water quality. This means that monitoring your water parameters is imperative to the health of your tank.
We’ve put together reviews of the 10 best saltwater aquarium test kits to help you pick the right test kit for your tank. When it comes to testing your tank, you want a kit that tests all the parameters you need to monitor and provides you accurate results you can trust.
Table of contents
- A Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 10 Best Saltwater Aquarium Test Kits – Reviews 2021
- 1. API Saltwater Aquarium Master Test Kit– Best Overall
- 2. Tetra EasyStrips 6-in-1 Saltwater Aquarium Test Strips – Best Value
- 3. Red Sea Fish Pharm ARE21525 Test Kit – Premium Choice
- 4. BOSIKE Aquarium Test Strips
- 5. capetsma 9 in 1 Aquarium Test Strips
- 6. JNW Direct Aquarium Test Strips
- 7. Milliard Aquarium Test Strips
- 8. API Reef Aquarium Master Test Kit
- 9. FUNSW 7 in 1 Aquarium Test Strips
- 10. Qguai Aquarium Test Strips
- Buyer’s Guide
A Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||API Saltwater Aquarium Master Test Kit||
|Best Value||Tetra EasyStrips 6-in-1 Saltwater Aquarium Test Strips||
|Premium Choice||Red Sea Fish Pharm ARE21525 Test Kit||
|BOSIKE Aquarium Test Strips||
|capetsma 9 in 1 Aquarium Test Strips||
The 10 Best Saltwater Aquarium Test Kits – Reviews 2021
1. API Saltwater Aquarium Master Test Kit– Best Overall
The best overall test kit for your saltwater aquarium is the API Saltwater Aquarium Master Test Kit. This kit includes reagents for testing ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels. It also includes the reagent for testing high range pH, which will show you pH levels of 7.4 or above. This kit also includes four glass test tubes and thorough instructions for how to perform and read the tests. It also comes in a handy plastic box that holds each item securely. There are over 550 tests worth of materials in the kit.
One downside of the ammonia test in this kit is that sometimes it will show false low-level ammonia of 0.25 but treating for this level just in case shouldn’t harm your aquarium. It’s important to make sure to follow the instructions for performing these tests, especially the nitrate test, to get accurate results.
2. Tetra EasyStrips 6-in-1 Saltwater Aquarium Test Strips – Best Value
The best saltwater aquarium test kit for the money is the Tetra EasyStrips 6-in-1 Saltwater Aquarium Test Strips. These strips come in a secure plastic bottle that protects them from moisture, which can ruin the strips. They can be used for freshwater or saltwater tanks and can be purchased in packs of 25 tests and 100 tests. To use these strips, all you have to do is dip them in the tank water, swirl them, and pull straight back out without shaking water off. These strips measure nitrate, chlorine, and nitrite levels, alkalinity (KH) and pH, and the general hardness (GH) of the tank. They take 30 seconds for results to show and then you compare the strip to the color chart included on the bottle.
These test strips do not measure ammonia levels in the tank, which is an important waste product to monitor, especially in young or overstocked tanks. It also may be difficult to differentiate between the colors on the strips sometimes.
3. Red Sea Fish Pharm ARE21525 Test Kit – Premium Choice
The premium pick test kit is the Red Sea Fish Pharm ARE21525 Test Kit. This kit can perform 100 tests of pH, ammonia, and nitrite levels, 55 tests of KH, and 60 nitrate level tests. The kit includes simple instructions and color charts that are easy to read for results checking. While this kit has great functionality, it is at a premium price.
This kit comes in a plastic box but some of the items don’t have specific locations in the box, so you may have to find the organization that allows everything to fit with the box closed. Some of the test solution bottles may leak as well.
4. BOSIKE Aquarium Test Strips
The BOSIKE Aquarium Test Strips are a great pick for easy to use strips. These test strips come in a plastic bottle that protects them from moisture and can be purchased in 125 strips for 6-in-1 or 50 strips to check ammonia levels. The 6-in-1 strips measure GH, nitrate, nitrite, chlorine, KH, and pH in your tank. All you have to do is dip the strip into your tank, hold it there for 2 seconds, and then pull the strip out. Wait 60 seconds and you compare the strip to the color chart that breaks down the safe ranges for each parameter.
The 6-in-1 strips don’t measure ammonia, so those do have to be purchased separately. These strips are freshwater and saltwater friendly, but they are not able to accurately read the GH levels in saltwater aquariums. The nitrate level may be difficult to fully determine on this test because it may show up slightly dark.
5. capetsma 9 in 1 Aquarium Test Strips
The capetsma 9 in 1 Aquarium Test Strips are a handy option for testing some of the less common water parameters. These strips come in a secure plastic bottle and can test your tank’s pH, nitrate, nitrite, GH, TDS, chlorine, KH, iron, and copper. Heavy metals like copper are especially important to monitor in tanks with invertebrates, like snails and shrimp, because they can be very sensitive to copper. There are 50 strips in a bottle. These are easy to use dip strips and provide results in 60 seconds. The bottle has a color chart to help you monitor the parameters.
The color chart on the bottle sometimes can be difficult to read when compared to the strips. These strips are slightly less accurate than some of the other options, which can be an issue, especially in cycling tanks, so they may not be the best testing option for all the time testing.
6. JNW Direct Aquarium Test Strips
The JNW Direct Aquarium Test Strips are 9-in-1 strips that come in a secure bottle and test for iron, copper, nitrate, nitrite, GH, chlorine, KH, TDS, and pH. The ideal ranges for each parameter are marked clearly on the bottle, making these very easy to use. There are 100 strips per bottle and the purchase includes a free downloadable e-book with information about aquarium water and access to the JNW Direct app for easy record keeping.
Sometimes, the colors on the strips bleed together, making them difficult to read, so it’s important to keep the strip horizontal after removing from the water. These strips expire faster than some other strips do after opening, so they may become inaccurate before you finish the bottle. These may be less accurate than some other options and are better for spot testing.
7. Milliard Aquarium Test Strips
The Milliard Aquarium Test Strips comes in a secure bottle that keeps the strips safe. These strips are 7-in-1 and can check pH, nitrite, KH, GH, TDS, chlorine, and nitrate levels. These strips need a 3 second dip in your tank and results are clear within 60 seconds. There are 100 test strips per bottle and the color chart on the bottle has appropriate ranges marked.
These strips are not accurate enough for routine use but can he helpful for spot testing. The pads on these strips are made to not bleed color onto the other pads, but they do still bleed sometimes with use, making it difficult to read the results. To prevent this, it’s important to keep the strip horizontal while waiting for the results to show.
8. API Reef Aquarium Master Test Kit
The API Reef Aquarium Master Test Kit is a great, high-quality product, but it doesn’t test for the full range of things you may need for a non-reef saltwater tank. This kit tests the calcium, KH, phosphate, and nitrate levels in the tank. It includes an easy to read color chart for reading results and comes in a plastic storage tub that has a spot to hold each item in place. It also includes four glass test tubes for water testing.
This kit does not include testing supplies for ammonia, nitrite, or pH, so these must be purchased separately. It’s difficult to know how many tests are available in this kit because some of the testing requires drop titration, so different tanks will require different amounts of the reagent. Many people get over 200 tests out of this kit, though.
9. FUNSW 7 in 1 Aquarium Test Strips
The FUNSW 7 in 1 Aquarium Test Strips are in a secure plastic bottle and measure nitrate, nitrite, GH, chlorine, PH, KH, and TDS. There are 100 strips per bottle and the pads are made to not bleed onto each other. The color chart is easy to read, and the correct ranges are marked. These strips provide test results in 60 seconds.
These strips do not test for ammonia, so this will need to be purchased separately. These are best for spot checking and the pads on these strips will occasionally fall off when they get wet, so it’s important to not hold the strips in the tank too long. They tend to read lower than accurate on pH, which can be a major issue for saltwater tanks.
10. Qguai Aquarium Test Strips
The Qguai Aquarium Test Strips are 9-in-1 test strips that come in a secure plastic bottle. These strips test pH, nitrate, nitrite, KH, GH, chlorine, TDS, iron, and copper levels. These strips are good for up to 24 months after opening if they are kept in a cool, dry location. These strips are easy to use and include a color chart on the bottle for test reading.
These strips may read falsely low on nitrite and nitrate testing and are best for spot testing over routine testing. These strips don’t read ammonia levels. There are only 50 strips to a package and while there are ranges marked, they are slightly different from most other sources, which can be confusing.
The overall winner out of these reviews is the API Master Saltwater Aquarium Test Kit for its functionality, accuracy, and easy storage. The best value is the Tetra EasyStrips 6-in-1 Saltwater Aquarium Test Strips because they’re budget-friendly strips that provide accurate readings, although sometimes it can be difficult to read the results if the colors bleed together. The premium product is the Red Sea Fish Pharm ARE21525 Test Kit because it’s a great, high-quality, high-value product, but for a premium price.
Choosing the right test kit for your saltwater aquarium is based on the quality and accuracy of the product, as well as your testing preference. You can try different products and compare the results to each other to find the one you feel is the most accurate, or you can choose a highly-reviewed product and go from there! What kind of test you choose is totally up to you.
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Featured image credit: Dmitri Ma, Shutterstock