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Old 08-13-2013, 08:42 PM   #1 
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Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Texas
Testing water necessary?

I have a ten gallon tank that will be home to a betta in a few weeks, when I move back to college and get everything set up. I'm still gathering essentials like a heater, substrate, and things like that, and I'm stuck on what kind of test kit I might need to purchase.

My dad, who has kept several large tanks before with varying numbers of fish (he's decently experienced with fish keeping), suggested to me that I might not even need to test the water unless something appeared to be going wrong, because with just one fish in a 10-gallon tank, there wouldn't be much of a chance of an ammonia spike at all, once it was properly cycled and everything was working alright. But I still wonder if it'd be a good idea to buy the API Freshwater Master kit anyway, just to be on the safe side. I'd probably need some kind of test kit for the time when I'm first cycling the tank, right? Just to keep up with the different levels of ammonia/nitrate/nitrite in the water? I figure it'd be a better monetary deal to spend more on the whole Master kit than just a bottle of the test strips, because the Master kit would last much longer if I ever needed it.

Any advice for a first-timer?
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Old 08-14-2013, 12:51 AM   #2 
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Different chemicals can spike at different times based on water params and how healthy your fish is. It's generally advised to test while cycling and most will tell you to test before/after water changes.

I honestly havent tested my water params of any of my tanks since they've been cycled unless a fish gets sick. ( go ahead people, flame me. Bring. It. On.)

Anyways, though it's pricy, the API test kit covers what you need to know, and will last a long while if you're only worried about the one tank.

You're dad's correct, with one betta you 'shouldn't' run into many problems, but cycling can at times be unpredictable, so the test kit is the safest way to be positive. After all, you don't want to not test, add betta, then betta gets sick and/or dies because you didn't test. So I definitely advise caution when setting things up until you're sure it's cycled. Then you can test as often as you feel comfortable.
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Old 08-14-2013, 12:56 AM   #3 
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Some medications will also cause an ammonia spike (Kanaplex is one of them...), and it's helpful to know what's going on with your tank before, and after the treatments, so you know what's going on.

I also don't test regularly, and beyond my fiance's guppies being a pain in the rumpus, a case of columnaris (because proper quarantine protocol was ignored) and a bacterial plague that has broken out once, I haven't had a sick fish in a long time.
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Old 08-14-2013, 01:03 AM   #4 
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Likewise, I've been illness free for months, and with over 20 fish in a dozen tanks, that's impressive just going by stats.
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Old 08-14-2013, 02:03 AM   #5 
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Location: Brigantine, NJ
I bought my first test kit this year, at chesh's request because she wanted to know what my nitrates were at. I also had some experiments I wanted to do that would require a test kit I don't ever test my tanks for anything, unless someone wants to know something about them. I don't even have thermometers in them since they are unheated. I am literally totally oblivious to my water parameters.

Don't get me wrong, it's a nice thing to have, especially when you are cycling a tank. But like your dad implied not totally necessary. For a betta in a 10 gallon, if you just did 1-2 water changes a week for a couple months, the tank will cycle without you ever having to test, at which point you could ease up on the water change schedule. But like I said, it's a nice thing to have and you can learn about a few things with it.
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Old 08-14-2013, 05:30 AM   #6 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Sarasota Fl
I rarely test any of my larger set-ups the tank have been up and running for a very long time get very large water changes and have been stable for tor years. My nano tanks on the other hand hand are a different set-up all together they are small planted and have a higher bio-load to water ratio that the large tank so generally I test those tank more often. A single betta in a ten gallon is going to be a very light load so you could get by without test kit it just a matter of do you want or need to know

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Old 08-15-2013, 10:07 AM   #7 
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I just like to know, so I test occasionally. Makes me feel like a fishkeeper.
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Old 08-15-2013, 11:19 AM   #8 
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Location: Ontario, CA
Once my tanks have cycled I haven't found regular testing a necessity. If any of my fish seem to be acting off I'll test the water just to rule that out as a cause.
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Old 08-16-2013, 08:26 AM   #9 
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Join Date: Feb 2012
*waves* I saw my name and had to come investigate!

You're dad is right in that your parameters with one Betta in 10g tank will probably be very stable and not need to be monitored so much (three cheers for bigger tanks and Betta fish!).

That said? I personally feel that a test kit is something that EVERY tank owner should keep on-hand, especially beginners - but even old-hands like Jaysee! ^.~

You can learn a lot about what's going on in your tank from them, and if ever your fish should fall ill, a quick water test can clarify a lot in a short time. . .

Api Master Freshwater test kit gets my vote, too. Best bang for your buck as far as accuracy and price per test.

Good luck with your new friend, and with school!
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Old 08-16-2013, 01:17 PM   #10 
Join Date: Dec 2010
+1 You need a test kit...
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