Maintaining a stable environment in your aquarium is one of the keys to having a successful tank.
Hobbyists usually perform water changes, dose aquarium supplements and replace their filter media to keep water conditions at optimum levels. But how do you know when it’s time to perform each of these activities? The answer is simple: by testing your water.
The most popular and affordable way to test your aquarium water quality is by using an aquarium test kit. Most aquarium test kits use the titration method to determine the concentration of the parameter you are testing. For a fish-only saltwater aquarium, you should test pH, Alkalinity, Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate. For a reef tank, you’ll want to test the Calcium, Magnesium and Phosphate levels in your tank in addition to the aforementioned parameters.
Since frequent testing can get tedious, many hobbyists supplement their regular testing regimen with an aquarium controller or monitor. An aquarium controller will not only provide you with constant temperature, pH, ORP and salinity readings, you can also use it to control your lights, pumps and even alert you if something goes awry. The Neptune Systems Apex AquaController and Digital Aquatics ReefKeeper have been the industry leaders in total aquarium control for quite some time.
American Marine Pinpoint aquarium monitors are another option to consider. Unlike the full-featured controllers offered by Neptune Systems and Digital Aquatics which offer the ability to track several parameters, each device in the Pinpoint series only monitors one, such as pH, Calcium, Nitrate or salinity.
Most marine aquarium owners use a combination of testing tools to monitor water quality. Test kits, thermometers and refractometers are standard tools every reef tank owner utilizes. As your aquarium matures and its inhabitants grow, maintaining steady water parameters becomes more challenging. That is usually when a more sophisticated controller or monitor comes into play since they help simplify the daily and weekly chores required to keep water parameters within ideal ranges.