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Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Aquarium Tools: Handheld TDS Checkers

A good piece of kit to have available when looking after you aquariums is a handheld TDS checker, sometimes called a TDS Pen.

These electronic measuring devices allow you to quickly check the TDS value, and possibly other parameters, of a water source.

They can be purchased for as little as £5 if you look around, but i would recommend spending a little more and go for a quality and well known brand such as HM Digital. Their TDS Pens retail between £10 and £20 depending on the model.

They are excellent for doing a quick reference check on your RO water before you either add it to an auto top up, or set about preparing it as salt water. If you do not have your own RO unit and purchase your water from a fish shop, they are a great idea to just double check that the shop is selling you good quality water. Unfortunately it is an often occurrence where a shop will sell a customer “Zero TDS” RO water only for it to have astronomic levels! Some say they have been fobbed off with regular tap water, others blame exhausted membranes or DI resins. You can save you self heartache and wasted money by being vigilant.

I recently acquired a HM Digital TDS-4TM.

16-HM Digital TDS4 Handheld TDS Checker.58

Although i have RO monitors on my RO unit, they don't provide an easy method to quickly check any water i have been keeping in storage, and at the time of writing the 200l container i have to hold bulk RO water has currently been sat for around 3months.

A common question i see on forums is “how long can RO be stored”. Followed by various answers ranging from days, to months depending on the environment and the type of water container, and if its is sealed or not etc.

My water is kept in a run of the mill, cheap, rain water butt from the garden centre. It has a loose fitting lid which i semi reinforced by trapping a sheet of polythene underneath to limit any dust getting in, as some will argue that airborne particles will dissolve back into the water and raise the TDS…

So three months later…

17-HM Digital TDS4 Handheld TDS Checker.57

My stored RO is a still a dead 000! Very happy with that!

And as a comparison, my tap water is…

18-HM Digital TDS4 Handheld TDS Checker.06

Quick, easy, and simple reassurance.

The TDS-TM4, also measures temperature, so works quite nicely as a digital thermometer. Great if you want a reference check on the aquarium or are preparing a water change.

19-HM Digital TDS4 Handheld TDS Checker.02

Excellent tools, a must for all aquarist “tool kits” in my opinion.

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