I am building a chop2 system utilizing 2 ibc tanks, meaning 1 fish tank, 1 sump, and at 1st 2 growbeds, hopefully progressing to 3 growbeds, and maybe some strawberry/tomato towers. My question is, should i go with a ph tester, that stays in the system at all times, or with a portable handheld 1. Also, do they make a ph meter that you reccomend that does more than just ph, that is both value, as well as quality, and if so, which ones are reccomended?
I use API freshwater master test kit. It's a really inexpensive and accurate solution for water testing.
I prefer the General Hydroponic's pH drops.. cheap and easy.. takes about 4 seconds
I own every other digital ph and hardness meter they sell, all of them are problematic, and expensive to operate.. not to mention the time and money it takes to calibrate them.. don't buy anything digital that measures pH !!
I use/have used a few things to check my pH.
1. API Freshwater Master Test Kit: Cons, not too many really. If you are a hardcore data nerd, that likes objective, down to the exact tenth type test results, the API test may not be the way to go. It will give you a subjective and approximate idea your pH. Lighting, background and your perception of color are all variables when you are using a color comparative key. Pros: A lot of people use them, it is quick, cheap and easy and it comes with everything you need to test the big four metrics (pH, ammonia, nitrites and nitrates).
2. BlueLab pH Pen: I've used other pH pens before but I like this one. You do have to calibrate before you use it, but that just consists of putting it in a cup of 7.0 pH buffer solution and hitting the "Cal" button. For the cons, it's definitely a bit more money than the test kit, you do need to purchase the buffer solution and it only measures pH (it does give temp). The pros are that it is a very robust little unit, it's easy to use and it's accurate (none of the variables of the API tests)
3. BlueLab Guardian: This is a wall mounted unit that gives you EC, Temp and pH. Cons: Again, more money than a test kit or pH pen, you do have to buy the 7.0 and a 4.0 buffering solution to do the calibration and I think general consensus is that EC is not really a useful metric in aquaponics. Pros: The probe stays in your water 24-7 so you always have an accurate reading on your pH, you only have to calibrate every 30 days (the unit has a flashing light to remind you) and you can set alarms for your pH and temp levels.
You may want to check our Hannah also. They have a line of water chemistry checkers and pens too.
Hope that helps,