The Exact iDip smart photometer was perhaps one of the biggest surprises in new aquarium products that was spied at MACNA 2015. In addition to the MindStream, JBL Proscan, and the new Elos Colorimeter, the iDip Exact is a new device that lets users test aquarium water without having to use their own eyes to determine the particular spectrum of water color of a given water test.
The eXact iDip uses test strips to measure a wide range of aquarium water parameters including phosphate, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, and hardness (one way to measure alkalinity). Future test strips for the eXact iDip will also be available to test iron, iodine, manganese, metals, ozone and copper however it remains to be seen what range and resolution these values will be reported in and if for example, the iDip will be able to measure manganese at the natural seawater level of 0.002 mg/l.
We thought the eXact iDip would measure the color change of the test strips directly, like the KBL ProScan but instead, the photometer itself has a water well within which the test strips are dipped. These strips leach the necessary reagents right inside this water sample nestled within the photometer and it is this color change that the iDip measures to record and report back the particular water test.
The iDip photometer does the heavy lifting of testing and measuring chemistry levels in the aquarium, but it communicates all the results back to an iOS or android device wherein all the readings can be seen and logged over time. Updates to the iDip app help to improve accuracy and add features over time.
The eXact iDip photometer retails for $179 and the base app comes preloaded with testing for pH, free chlorine, combined chlorine and total alkalinity. These free tests don’t really register with reef aquarium users as the iDip device was originally developed for pool maintenance, and has since been adapted for many different ‘wet applications’ including homebrew, spas, pools, wells and so on.
It seems that parent company Industrial Test Systems is marketing the iDip primarily to professionals such as aquarium service technicians and aquarium stores who often have to test many different and basic water tests. The packets of test strips range in cost from about $15 to $20 for between 50 and 100 tests but we’re not thrilled about having to purchase both the photometer, the test strips, and to unlock the testing of each new parameter for $4.99 each.
Like many new promising water testing technologies, the eXact iDip is extremely promising but we’ll hold out our final judgement for when the iDip has been put through its paces in an aquarium setting and proved its worth compared to current standards of aquarium water testing. [Industrial Test Systems]