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10 Best Aquarium Test Kits

You've done your homework, selecting the ideal tank, substrate, plants, decorations, and, of course, fish for your aquarium. You're now ready to fill your aquarium with water and begin designing the perfect habitat for your fish.

Stop right now! If you haven't yet examined what type of water is best for your fish, you might be putting them in grave danger. Even if you choose a freshwater or saltwater aquarium with a balanced pH to begin with, the addition of sand, plants, and decorations can still have an effect.

That is why it is critical to have reliable aquarium test kits on hand. They will inform you about the quality and content of your aquarium before you introduce your fish, assuring their safety from the start.

BestForPets (bestforpets.org) investigated, analyzed, and tested hundreds of aquarium test kits to compile this comprehensive list of the best aquarium test kits available. Continue reading to learn all you need to know to provide a secure and pleasant environment for your fish.


API Master Test Kit for Freshwater Aquariums


  • All important aquarium chemical levels are measured.
  • Instructions and equipment are included to correct any imbalanced levels.
  • It is suitable for over 800 tests.
  • Priced reasonably


  • Only 4 test tubes are included for measuring 6 different levels.

API’s Freshwater Aquarium Master Test Kit is widely regarded as the gold standard for at-home testing, and with good reason.

It’s a moderately priced, very accurate, and thorough test kit that’s simple to use and backed up by a variety of instructions for beginners.

API’s Master Test Kit is an excellent choice whether you’re purchasing a test kit for your first freshwater aquarium or your fiftieth.

API’s test kit is an all-in-one solution for keeping your fish tank healthy and looking its best. It is designed not only to monitor the six critical aquarium levels — ammonia, pH, high range pH, water hardness, nitrite, and nitrate — but also to modify them when necessary.

Testing your aquarium levels is quick and easy with this kit, which includes four test tubes, a holding tray, a test tube rack, and a laminated color card.

Fill the test tubes with aquarium water, add the test drops to separate tubes, and compare the color to the reference card supplied. If you need to alter a level, the card includes instructions on how to do so.

In a nutshell, API’s Master Test Kit is our go-to kit for freshwater aquariums, and we highly recommend it.

API Aquarium Ammonia Freshwater & Saltwater Test Kit


  • Several tests at a cheap cost
  • The liquid testing solution is quick, accurate, and simple to use.
  • Ammonia tests, the number one threat to many fish
  • Freshwater and saltwater aquariums are both compatible.


  • There is no treatment for elevated ammonia levels.

The API Ammonia Freshwater & Saltwater Aquarium Test Kit, from the same firm that makes the industry-standard test kit for freshwater aquariums, is a versatile and affordable solution to testing for any fish tank.

It’s a streamlined device that may be the best aquarium test kit for the money, designed exclusively to test for ammonia, the most toxic chemical for aquariums and the main cause of fish mortality.

Every time you use this API test kit, liquid testing assures a perfectly accurate result. It can test for ammonia levels ranging from 0 to 8 parts per million using an easy-to-read color display for rapid comparisons.

To use, just mix a few drops of water from your aquarium with the test solution in the included glass tube, then compare the color to the reference card.

With enough liquid for 130 tests included in each kit, you’ll be well prepared to protect your fish against ammonia contamination for years to come.


Master Test Kit for Nutrafin


  • Extremely thorough 10-factor testing
  • Quick and simple liquid testing method
  • Instructions on how to fix any imbalances are included.
  • It includes everything you’ll need for testing.
  • Freshwater and saltwater aquariums are both compatible.


  • It’s rather pricey.

A six-factor test, such as the one offered by our top option, will be more than adequate for most aquariums.

However, if you want to experiment with breeding more exotic species or adding unusual plants to your aquariums, you’ll need a more comprehensive testing tool.

The Nutrafin Master Test Kit, which includes ten test criteria, is a good choice for this purpose.

This Nutrafin test kit is suitable for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums, since it includes liquid tests for ammonia, pH high range, pH low range, calcium, phosphate, iron, nitrite, nitrate, KH, and GH.

Five glass test tubes with lids, two pipettes, one spoon, instruction booklets for each testing parameter, and a reference card for simple testing comparison are also included.

The Nutrafin is priced at the top end of the aquarium test kit pricing range, thus it may be out of reach for those on a tighter budget.

However, if you’re seeking for the most complete testing kit on the market today, Nutrafin’s Master Test Kit is unrivaled.

Aquarium Test Kits Sera Aqua-Test Box


  • 9 aquarium chemical balance tests are performed.
  • It includes everything you’ll need for testing.
  • Results are easy to read, and a reference card is given.
  • The most affordable pricing for a full test kit


  • It does not include advice on how to fix any imbalances.
  • In comparison to most test kits, it is still very pricey.

Sera’s Aqua-Test Box Aquarium Test Kits, a less expensive option to Nutrafin’s above test kit, includes many of the same testing criteria with a similarly easy-to-read design — but lacks the same documentation to instruct you how to make modifications if anything is out of balance.

Sera’s test kit offers a value that no other aquarium kit can match for anyone who is already familiar with techniques for fixing chemical imbalances or is prepared to spend time researching them.

It comprises ammonium/ammonia, pH value, nitrite, nitrate, total hardness, carbonate hardness, phosphate, iron, and copper tests – a comprehensive routine suitable for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums.


ARE21415 Pro Test Kit by Red Sea Fish Pharm


  • Magnesium measurement that is astonishingly exact
  • Essential for the upkeep of saltwater reef aquariums
  • High-quality laboratory equipment


  • Measures only magnesium
  • The learning curve is steep.

The Red Sea Fish Pharm Pro Test Kit is a hyper-specific choice for testing that has the benefit of laboratory-grade precision. It is designed exclusively to test for magnesium levels in a reef-style saltwater tank.

Because magnesium levels are so important in reef tank care and maintenance, it’s worth considering investing in this test only for its exceptional precision.

The Red Sea Fish Pharm, which employs a high-precision titration approach, may take some getting accustomed to for those without a background in hard sciences.

However, with materials for up to 100 tests, there will be plenty of opportunity for mistake as you learn how to apply this incredibly precise testing procedure.


6 in-1 RUNBO Aquarium Test Strips


  • Excellent accuracy for a strip-style test
  • Simple to use
  • Six important freshwater chemical levels are tested.


  • Not suitable for use with saltwater aquariums.

Strip testing is not our preferred approach for determining aquarium chemical levels. This is due in large part to how difficult they may be to read, providing a high possibility for errors that might be harmful to the health and well-being of your fish.

The RUNBO Aquarium 6-in-1 Test Strips, on the other hand, do not appear to have any of the typical issues associated with strip test kits.

We found these strips to be one of the most dependable strip testing kits we’ve ever used after doing over 50 tests with them.

These test strips, which include tests for nitrite, nitrate, general hardness, pH, free chlorine, and carbonate, are ideal for taking quick and easy readings in freshwater tanks but cannot test in saltwater.

Final Decision

BestForPets (bestforpets.org) highly recommend the API Freshwater Aquarium Master Test Kit as the best aquarium test kits because most novices will be working with freshwater aquariums at first. It’s a thorough answer to freshwater aquarium testing that may assist maintain your water adequately balanced for practically any fish. It’s reasonably priced and incredibly instructive.

While the API Ammonia Freshwater & Saltwater Aquarium Test Kit is a little more difficult to read, it has the added virtue of being extremely cheaply priced and suitable for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums. It’s an excellent choice for anyone on a low budget, and it outperforms many other test kits in our ratings just on the basis of its adaptability.

What to Look for In Aquarium Test Kits?


Accuracy is likely the most crucial feature of any test kit, since slight changes in results can result in radically different conditions that are either good or unhealthy for your fish. To assure total accuracy, look for approved lab-tested kits.

Tests must also be simple to understand and compare to any accompanying charts. Because there is no standard design for testing readouts, here is where the biggest variation exists amongst kits.

Comprehensive testing for every value that your unique aquarium requires will depend on whether you’re creating a freshwater or saltwater aquarium. Always use a test kit designed particularly for the sort of aquarium you’re making.

Aquarium Test Kit Varieties

Aquarium test kits are classified into three types:

Electronic test kits employ electrodes and digital measuring devices to determine an exact pH, although they are frequently too expensive for most aquarists’ budgets.

Strip test kits employ a color-changing paper strip that has been carefully processed to detect relative pH and chemical levels. They’re cheap, but getting precise readings from them may be challenging.

Liquid test kits depend on chemical interactions with tiny water samples to determine water composition. Many skilled aquarists like them because they are dependable and accurate.


How frequently should I test my water?

Water quality should be tested at least once a month with established systems, but more often is always acceptable.

New systems that are less than 4 to 6 weeks old should be checked regularly to ensure that New Tank Syndrome does not become a problem.

At least once a week, systems with newly added living components, such as fish, invertebrates, and live rock, or new equipment, such as pumps and filters, should be evaluated.

Finally, always write down your values (do not expect to remember everything from your last test).

How long will my test kit last?

You have one year after opening your reagents to utilize your test kit. You will only have six months if you store it outside.

Yes, there are expiration dates on the side of these test kits, but it is only for businesses to know when they have been lying on the shelf for too long.

When you open your test kit, write the date on the side and throw it away a year later.

Which freshwater tank parameters should I test?

Always monitor your nitrogen cycle (ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate), pH, KH, GH, and temperature in freshwater systems.

You may need to test for iron or carbon dioxide if you have live plants and are adding iron or carbon dioxide. Unless you have a big system with substantial temperature variations, oxygen testing is rarely necessary.

What characteristics should I measure in my saltwater tank?

Just like freshwater systems, fish-only saltwater tanks should evaluate their nitrogen cycle (ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate), pH, KH, GH, and temperature.

Depending on the kind of coral you are dealing with, you will need to test your phosphate, calcium, magnesium, and other trace elements.

Why am I unable to use test strips?

Test strips are a huge waste of money since they do not provide trustworthy results. Our staff independently evaluated three brands using three different water sources and three different containers.

All of the strips produced a variety of data right out of the box. While using a liquid-based test kit requires a little more work, it is well worth the effort because it provides trustworthy information.

Author Image

Dr. Deborah Fletcher

Deborah R. Fletcher, DVM, is a skilled veterinarian with more than 15 years of experience dealing with companion and exotic animals. She has experience caring for a variety of animals, including household cats and dogs, reptiles, birds of prey, and even primates. Dr. Fletcher is a valuable part of the BestForPets team, where she contributes to their aim of providing pets and their owners with the finest possible treatment and services.

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Deborah Fletcher


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