Originally Posted by chocichoci
I meant "worth it".
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. I see I had some typos in my earlier post too.
I only bother testing pH and nitrate, and rarely the latter. Once a tank is established, things should not be fluctuating. In a planted tank as mine all are, nitrates will never be high, unless some real disaster occurs. The pH can fluctuate and does, the normal diurnal fluctuation of course is daily. But it can change from something added to tap water, the season (depending where the tap water comes from). Also in soft water tanks like mine it will lower due to natural biology, and I like to know how much. I don't do it every week, but sometimes I test the pH before the weekly partial water change. In the past year, it has varied by about .2 so I have no intention of testing more often. Nitrate runs at 0-5 in all my tanks except the 115g which is 5-10 [there are more fish per volume in that tank] and this has been consistent for more than a year.
I have a hardness kit, but once you know your tap water you need never use it again, unless you are doing something to adjust hardness for a reason and need to monitor it. I have very soft water out of the tap, less than 1 dGH and KH, so in the 115g I have a half cup of dolomite in the filter to buffer the pH, and dolomite of course does this by adding mineral to the water. That tank runs at 2 dGH. I rarely test this now, as I know that after 3 years this is not likely to change. The other tanks I let go, and the pH has been below 5, but this is fine; I have very soft water fish, almost all wild-caught, and some very rare, and this suits them to a "T". My currently spawning (three times in five weeks) Farlowella in my 90g says to me they are happy. And the characins in that tank are always spawning, though fry seldom get past the adults even with the jungle of plants--but some do. There are five Nematobrycon that were raised (accidentally, not intentional) in that tank that are now spawning themselves and the pencilfish regularly spawn; once one fry survived.
The trouble with testing for iron, potassium, and other nutrient minerals is that you can be led into thinking they are insufficient and start dosing this and that. Bad method. Plants need nutrients in proportion to each other, and ad hoc dosing is no way to experiment, as some of these (like iron) are heavy metals and heavy metals are highly toxic to all fish and plants. While it may take a lot of iron to get to this stage, any iron above the minimum required by the plants is excessive and unnecessary. This is why I use a comprehensive fertilizer weekly, Seachem's Flourish Comprehensive; it has everything in proportion, and the resulting growth of my plants is good enough to satisfy me that it is working. If I miss a dose the swords begin to yellow. So I know my regime is balanced.