Cum grano salis… a big grano…



I got results from sending in my water samples to AWT… and… the review is mixed. Mixed enough that I’m going to buy a couple more mail in packages, but enough that I am with others in questioning the procedures used and results received from aquariumwatertesting.com.

Last Sunday I sat down and ran a whole battery of tests on my tank water. It was the first time I’d done it in at least a month (aside from quick daily checks of alkalinity). Everything else seemed to be more or less normal with exception of a couple parameters…

Running tests before sending a sample to AWT

So, from all the tests, my results follow. AWT’s are noted as well:

Alkalinity (kH)

API - 13 drops = 6.25 dkH = 2.23 meq/L
IO - 8 drops /4 = 2 meq /L
SeaChem - between 4 - 5 drops ~ 2.25 meq /L
Lamotte - 112ish on the syringe ~ 6.272 dkH = 2.24 meq/L
AWT RESULTS = 2.21 meq/L
Magnesium (Mg)

ELOS - 22 or 23 drops (double sample) / 2 = 1100 to 1150
Salifert - around 1200
AWT RESULTS = 1075 - a little lower, but more or less in line
Nitrate (NO3)

Test 1 Salifert - clear / undetectable
Test 2 Salifert - clear / undetectable
AWT RESULTS = 0.4 - not bad, who can read those Salifert NO3 tests anyway
Potassium (K)

Fauna Marin Kalium Kit - 425 - 450
AWT Results - 192…. ?!
Iodine (Io)

SeaChem #1 - 0.05 - 0.0.6, I can never tell exactly
SeaChem #2 - “”
SeaChem #3 - “”
AWT RESULTS - 0.05 - good
Calcium (Ca)

Elos #1 - 300ppm?!
Elos #2 - 300ppm ?!
Elos #3 - 300 ppm ?!
AWT RESULTS - 148*
Phosphate (PO4)

DD Merck - colors matched somewhere between 0.024 - 0.046 PO4
AWT RESULTS - 0.06 - Fine, I’m just using a kit, no hanna or anything
And that’s all I test for. They did provide other results on Silicates, Copper, Molybdenum, an others (just head to their site for a whole list), but I don’t really care. If the tank had really high copper, I think the coral would have mentioned something long ago. I do not understand the role Molybdenum plays enough to worry about it now, but it did make a kick ass lubricant for pinewood derby car wheels when I was a Cub Scout. They wonder why my cars would never lose…

I do wish I had another Ca kit on hand. I knew about some discrepancies between home kits and AWT’s Ca results (Reef Central thread here) beforehand, so in all honesty, I didn’t really care - Ca is easy to test for, and easy to adjust. I wonder how the hell I let it drop to 300, but that’s an easy adjustment. It would be a boon to their service if there were less discrepancy (low result seems par for the course).

It was great that the iodine came back within the same range the SeaChem reads. Not a huge fan of SeaChem kits in general, either based on past use with other kits, or just the whole thing with the little tray. As far as I know, hobbyist test kits for Io are dodgy at best, so this result was nice too see.

The one parameter that’s really bothering me is the potassium (K). I ran 3 tests with the Fauna Marin kit, and came back with 425ish to 450…ish, a little high, every time. I also kept a sample of the water I sent in, just in case, and tested it 3 times since I got the results - 425 to 450… ish. It’s a little hard to read, but I find it very hard to believe that the potassium in my tank is under 200. Fauna Marin’s MinS additive, one of their main components to the basic system, lists Potassium Chloride as one of the ingredients. Given that I’ve been dosing Min S every day for the last few months, it’s a little curious. I also fail to mention I haven’t noticed any signs of K depletion commonly noted.

All in all, it’s OK. The idea of the service is great. They mail a packet quickly, and the turn around time from when sample is sent in until results received is very good. I am going to order a few more “submission packets”, or whatever they call them, and I’ll send them in every so often. I hope the discrepancies in calcium levels get worked out, and I hope it’s not me, it’s them, regarding the K levels.

The next submission should be interesting - I’ve been dosing the Power Trace 4 for the last couple weeks. Currently only dosing 10% of the recommended amount, but will be sure to note where I am with those on the next submission to AWT. I think “flabbergasted” won’t even begin to describe a report of lower levels of those elements I’m adding daily…