When I had my first aquarium, I lacked the necessary knowledge and equipment access to test water parameters. The absence of proper guidance and the inability to enforce necessary actions brought demise to many of my fish.
pH level is one of the most critical water parameters that you need to maintain as per the requirements of the inhabitants of your aquarium. An anomalous pH level can cause ion imbalance, a weakened immune system, and stress.
Note: pH is usually measured on a logarithmic scale and a unit change equals 10x in the normal scale. It means that a level 4 reading is 10x more acidic than level 5.
In this article, we’ll review 9 pH testing kits to determine their best use cases for different types of aquariums and users.
Table of Contents
9 Best Aquarium pH Tester
1. Bluelab pH Pen-Digital pH Tester
The premium-most option on this list, the Bluelab pH Pen is the preferred choice of most professional aquarists and breeders. While it doesn’t offer any significant feature that sets it apart, the premium materials used to produce the device are its unique selling point. It should last you years before breaking down.
- Automatic Temperature Compensation (ATC)
The water temperature often influences pH meter sensitivity. The wide operational temperature of this device, paired with ATC, makes it one of the most efficient pH testers for aquariums.
- Double Junction Electrode
pH meters use a reference electrode to measure the pH levels. Single junction devices, mostly the cheaper ones, allow the liquid to directly come in contact with the reference electrode.
Double junction electrodes, as it’s on the device, keep the reference electrode isolated to avoid contamination.
- Fully Waterproof, Corrosion-Free
The Bluelab pH Pen is fully waterproof. The internal components stay safe from liquid damage even if submerged in the water for a few minutes.
- Calibration Reminder
A calibration reminder is programmed into the device so that you get accurate readings every time.
- Premium design and components used
- Fully waterproof, not splash-resistant
- Auto On/Off and temperature units
- Pricing is on a bit higher side.
The Bluelab pH Pen Tester is suitable for everyone who takes fishkeeping seriously. If budget allows, it’s the best pH testing solution you can get.
2. YINMIK Digital pH Tester
Built to last, designed to generate accurate results, and aimed towards aquarists, the YINMIK Digital pH Tester can measure a whole range pH of 0-14. It comes bundled with an extra probe for a prolonged lifetime and cost-effectiveness.
- Automatic Temperature Compensation
Automatic temperature compensation (ATC) ensures that the measured pH levels are corrected with the temperature of your aquarium water.
- Bundled Temperature Sensor
The probes of YINMIK pH tester include both glass pH and temperature sensors. You won’t need to buy them separately for your aquarium.
- Replaceable Probe
Save cost with the free replaceable probe shipped with the product. Replacing the probe is easy and can be done without the help of any technician.
- 3-Point Auto Calibration
Calibrate for a single pH level or make use of the 3-point auto calibration with the solutions included in the package.
- Reasonably priced
- Easy to calibrate and measure pH
- In-built battery compartment to store batteries
- The instructions don’t state how often to calibrate
The YINMIK pH Tester is perfect for beginner aquarists. It’s cost-effective and can measure the pH of your aquarium, terrariums, and turtle tanks.
3. Gain Express pH and Temperature Tester
Specially designed to be mounted on various aquarium arrangements, the Gain Express pH and Temperature Tester is by far the best portable solution for aquariums. It comes with different probes for pH and temperature measurement and can read up to 14.0 pH with an accuracy of ±0.1.
- Large Smart Backlit Monitor
The large monitor allows you to read the pH and temperature levels more easily. It comes with a battery indicator, power-saving mode, and smart backlit features.
- Multi-Point Calibration
The Gain Express pH meter has advanced buffer detection and calibration to avoid confusion and complexity.
- Automatic Temperature Compensation
Higher temperature increases the ionization of water, which influences the pH readings. Temperature compensation allows this product to modify the readings to ensure accuracy.
- Replaceable pH Probe
The BNC-style pH probe can be disconnected and replaced without needing to replace the whole unit. If the pH probes develop an oxidation layer, it’s better to not use the probe anymore.
- Automatic buffer detection for calibration
- Wall mounted design
- Pretty accurate and cost-effective
- The temperature probe isn’t replaceable
Gain Express pH and Temperature Tester is ideal for aquarists who prefer keeping a constant watch on the water parameters. If you have sensitive fish, this product is hands down the best solution.
Also Read: Ways To Lowering Aquarium PH Naturally
4. Jovitec Universal pH Test Paper
Made with quality litmus paper and delivering a full pH range of 0-14, the Jovitec Universal pH Test Paper is among the most trusted products. As it relies solely on chemical reactions and not a probe, the accuracy of this unit is greater than cheaper electronic testers.
- Full pH Range
It measures pH values in the range of 0 to 14 through the color chart provided on the rolls. The color charts, while not designed for nitpicking, do an exceptional job of giving an accurate result.
- Fast and Accurate Results
The color changes occur instantaneously. Tear a small test strip and dip it into the aquarium water to test the pH levels.
- No Calibration Required
As no mechanical or electronic elements are involved, the Jovitec pH Tester doesn’t require calibration. However, keep it in a dry place to prevent spontaneous reactions from happening.
- Scroll Design for Easy Dispensing
A scroll compact reel design allows you to easily remove strips of any length to test the water. Each roll is 16.4 ft in length.
- Easy to use
- Quite cost-effective
- Moisture-proof packaging
- Can’t be temperature-compensated. For aquarium usage, however, it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker
Jovitec pH Strips are ideal for aquarists with multiple aquariums and not enough time to thoroughly monitor each one.
5. Danoplus pH and Temperature Combo Tester
Great for aquarists, the Danoplus Combo pH Tester comes with separate probes for temperature and pH measurements. While similar to Gain Express Tester in terms of accuracy and mechanism, this product has a screw-based calibration system—offering better control and fine-tuning.
- Wide pH Measuring Range
Similar to most premium pH testers, this Danoplus unit has the whole 0-14 pH range to spare. It also is suitable for both saltwater and freshwater operations.
- Automatic Temperature Compensation
When your aquarium’s pH is near 7, temperature changes can cause it to oscillate between acidic and alkaline ranges. With a built-in temperature sensor, this unit is capable of automatically compensating for the pH changes due to temperature.
- One-Point Manual Calibration
A screw-drive mechanism allows manual intervention and ensures proper calibration. Three different buffer powders are provided to calibrate the unit effectively.
- BNC Type Probe
A BNC-type calibration probe is provided with the tester for cost-effective replacement. Easily replace damaged probes with new ones.
- Refreshes the readings every 5 seconds in backlight Off mode and 1 second in On mode.
- Can be mounted on aquarium walls
- Smart backlit display allows constant monitoring of pH
- Automatic calibration is absent
Danoplus Aquarium pH Tester is suitable for aquarists who prefer a sturdy trustable pH monitor that can be used consistently.
Check out our article on ‘How To Lower The PH In An Aquarium (Ultimate Guide)’
6. API 5-in-1 Test Strips
Suitable for both freshwater and saltwater operations, the API 5-in-1 water testing kit is faster and more efficient than most other pH testing tools. As it’s in chemical form, you don’t constantly need to calibrate the strips for accurate results.
- 5-in-1 Water Parameter Testing
This API product monitors all 5 essential parameters, including pH, nitrite, nitrate, KH, and GH, with single strips.
- Fast and Accurate Results
As expected, the reactions occur instantaneously and simultaneously. There is no need to wait for multiple minutes for the results.
- No Calibration Required
The test strips are chemical-coated and don’t require calibration before use. The most troubling part for you would be to pick a single strip out of the box.
- Easy-to-Read Results
The color codes on the manual are pretty consistent and comprehensive. While it may take a few tries to get used to the readings, it shouldn’t present an issue going forward.
- Usable in both saltwater and freshwater aquariums.
- Pricing is very reasonable for 25 test strips.
- Faster and more accurate results.
- Can’t be automatically temperature compensated.
The API 5-in-1 Test Strips are ideal for beginner aquarists with smaller tanks and reasonable fish stock.
7. Easytest pH Strips
Embracing efficient proprietary technology, the Easytest pH Strips are one of the most accurate pH testers available for aquariums. With 100 strips in the package, it’s also one of the most cost-effective options in the market. Easytest claims to have removed the middlemen to reduce the pricing.
- Wide pH Testing Range
Available in 2 options, the 0-14 pH testing strips are most suitable for aquarium usage. It ensures better accuracy and a very wide pH range for most saltwater and freshwater aquariums.
- Four Colorimetric Blocks Technology
Don’t be alarmed by the 4 components in the test strips. Those are utilized to measure the pH levels more accurately than traditional pH strips. Refer to the color chart to match all 4 colorimetric blocks to get the results.
- Reachable Customer Support
Easytest customer support is reachable through email. They claim to be available 24/7 and respond as early as possible.
- Easy-to-Read Accurate Results
While matching the color charts may seem a bit challenging in the initial iterations, they’re quite easy to understand and apply.
- More accurate than other pH testing strips
- It’s more cost-effective than other pH or combo testing strips
- Responsive customer support
- Yellows in the color chart are a bit more obscure.
- This strip isn’t temperature compensable.
The Easytest strips are suitable for aquarists with leniency towards accuracy, time-saving, and cost-efficiency.
8. LabRat pH Meter for Aquariums
One of the cheapest options, the LabRat pH Meter for Aquariums gives faster results, can be three-point calibrated, and is easy to use. It’s also small enough to carry in your pocket. The operating temperature of 32-122 degrees F is equally impressive for a pH meter of this category.
- Highly Accurate Wide pH Range
The LabRat pH tester is fairly accurate with an accuracy of ±0.1 pH. The glass electrode ensures zero corrosion and applicability in both freshwater and saltwater environments.
- Easily Readable Results
The LCD display is adequately bright to allow easy comprehensibility of the pH levels. It also doesn’t clutter the small display with redundant information.
- One-Button Calibration
A single button is used to calibrate the device. Depending on the requirements, it can be utilized to access various features by holding and pressing multiple times.
- Multiple Buffer Solutions
Three buffer solution powders are provided in the package to calibrate the meter more accurately. Follow the instructions to utilize them all.
- Easy to use and mostly gives accurate results.
- Quite portable and cost-effective.
- Measures a wide range of pH.
- Not temperature compensated.
- LCD backlight is not present.
The LabRat pH Meter is the most cost-effective solution to the aquarium pH monitor problem. It’s suitable for beginner enthusiasts bound by a limited budget.
9. JulyPanny 3-in-1 Testing Kit
A bit costlier than average, the JulyPanny 3-in-1 testing kit is by far the most convenient pH testing kit we tried. Equipped with automatic temperature compensation (ATC), a wide range of operating temperatures, and a large backlit LCD screen, this is one of the most practical pH, TDS, and temperature meter on the market.
- 3-in-1 Testing Function
Measure pH, TDS, and temperature simultaneously with this device. It also comes with a battery indicator and a mode change option for convenience.
- Auto Calibration Button
Three pH buffer solutions are provided with the pH tester. The calibration feature automatically detects which buffer is being used and adjusts itself accordingly. It takes the human element out of the equation to generate a more accurate result.
- Wide pH Range
A wide pH range of 0-14 can be measured with the device. With ATC, the results also are more accurate.
- Low Impedance Glass Probe for Higher Accuracy
The glass probe used in this device is professionally made under 1000 degrees C. It’s more sensitive and accurate than the average electronic tester.
- One of the most accurate pH testers
- Automatically calibrates itself
- Keeping the features in mind, it’s reasonably priced
- The probe isn’t replaceable
The JulyPanny 3-in-1 pH Tester is among the most professional pH testing kits. It’s ideal for professional breeders and hardcore fish keepers.
Check out ‘Swordtail Fish Complete Guide To Care‘.
While we’ve tried incorporating as many best pH testing kits possible in this list, numerous other ones are available to choose from. In this section, we’ll guide you through the parameters that we considered while reviewing the aquarium pH testers.
1. pH Range
All the pH testers in this list measure pH levels from 0 to 14. However, more often than not, manufacturers limit the product’s capabilities to a 4-9 range. Which, in most cases, is sufficient for aquariums.
But, it doesn’t hurt to have the range option.
As mentioned, pH levels are determined on a logarithmic scale. A minuscule deviation from the true reading can prove to be a huge issue for your live fish and plants. That’s why we also recommend having an automatic temperature compensation (ATC) feature in your pH tester.
3. Ease of Use
pH testers generally are pretty easy to use. However, calibrating them may be a bit too challenging for beginner users. The exact buffer ratio and the process can be overwhelming for some.
Strips, in this regard, may seem most ideal, but, they lack accuracy.
We advise our clients to get the electronic pH testers and to learn the calibration process.
4. Maintenance Requirement
A varying amount of maintenance requirements are necessary for different types of pH testers.
For example, you need to keep your strips dry and isolated and your electronic testers calibrated.
Some of the premium options may also require you to soak the probe in KCL solution for a day before using it after a few weeks of abandonment.
Electronic pH testers, with automatic temperature compensation (ATC), are the best ways to test pH in an aquarium. Litmus papers and strips aren’t as accurate as the premium electronic testers.
Yes, you do. Irregular pH can develop issues like ion imbalance, stress, and infections in your fish.
Different fish species require different pH levels to survive and thrive. Please follow our fish care guides to learn more about diverse fish species.
The Bottom Line
We’ve reviewed the best aquarium pH tester kits and strips. We also have put together a buying guide for you to source your product from a different physical or online store.