Introduction: How to Test Your Aquariums Like Walter White

So you have an awesome fish room but testing all your aquariums takes way too much time. This instructable will show you how to efficiently keep up data collection without sacrificing an entire Saturday to test tubes and color charts.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

Gather all your testing supplies, supplements and a water sample from each aquarium. Here is what you will need:

Step 2: Collect Water Samples

Label a plastic cup for each aquarium. Fill each cup with about 2 inches of water.

Place your cups on your workspace in rows of five samples or less.

**Make sure each cup is clean and that you do not cross contaminate aquariums as you collect your samples.

Step 3: Fill Test Tubes

  • Using a clean pipette for each cup, measure 5 ml into a test tube for every test you want to perform.
  • Orient your rack so that it matches your cups. The row of tubes farthest from you will hold the specimens from the cups farthest from you. In this way, you know which tube came from which aquarium.

Step 4: Prepare Your Digital Meters

  • The pH meter needs to be calibrated before you get started. You may also have to re-calibrate after performing several tests. Higher quality meters require less fiddling. Also, rinsing the probes with RO or distilled water after each sample helps to keep measurements consistent.
  • The TDS meter does not require calibration. Just rinse with RO or distilled water in between uses.

Step 5: Add Testing Reagents

  • Count the appropriate number of drops for each reagent.
  • Work through the entire rack one bottle at a time.
    • Add 8 drops of ammonia bottle 1 to all the tubes in column one and column six. Next add 8 drops from ammonia bottle 2 to all the tubes in column one and column six.
    • Then move on to adding five drops of Nitrite test solution to all the tubes in columns two and seven.
    • Finish with 10 drops from Nitrate bottle one and 10 drops from Nitrate bottle two in columns three and eight.
  • Titration tests like GH & KH will come later. Leave the tubes in columns four, five, nine, and ten alone for now

Step 6: Read Tests for Each Aquarium

  • Place the TDS and pH meters in the first sample cup. Let them sit while you complete titration tests for that sample.
  • Swirl the tubes with the reagents and let them sit while you complete titration tests for that sample.
  • GH & KH tests are titration tests. Using the tubes from columns 4 & 5, or 9 & 10, count drops of those reagents until the color changes.
  • Congratulations, you have completed all the tests for one aquarium.

Step 7: Record Results

Record your test results. I use Google Forms to enter results using my phone. All the data is collected in a Google Sheet. You can see an example form here.

Step 8: Prepare Supplements

  • Using the remaining water in each sample cup, add desired supplements for each tank to the specimen cups.
  • Refer to your test results and prior dosing records to estimate correct supplement dosage.
  • Record what you are adding.
  • Set all your cups aside, perform water changes and then add the solutions to the correct tanks.

Step 9: You're Done!

Congratulations! hang up your lab coat and enjoy the rest of your day.