Mr. Saltwater Tank Reviews the Hanna Calcium Checker

Can the most-complicated Hanna Checker still be easy enough to use for the everyday aquarist? I put the Hanna Calcium checker to the test and come up with a request for Hanna Instruments.

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Comments for this article (48)

  • Mark says:

    Awesome product, what is the cost?

  • Capt.Adam says:

    I think they run about $40.00. Looks simple enough!

  • Darvin says:

    Moron Hu Dude it took me the full set of reagent B to get this test rite..
    Now your turn be honest…LOL
    But it could be that the site you send ppl to ( TB Aquatic’s ) has the wrong instrutions …
    Different then the one’s that come with the kit it’s self…
    But anyway great test for 60 bucks shiping & handeling…

  • Carl Nelson says:

    You may want to note that the instructions with the kit are correct according to your demo. However, the instruction on the Hanna website clearly says to INCLUDE THE SAMPLE as part of the zeroing, or “C-1”. Then it says to add Reagent B, then take the “C-2” reading. An obvious and significant contradiction. As a new CA Checker owner getting a very high reading, (600)– 412 with Salifert– I called Hanna for a clarification. The person I spoke to was obviously not informed of the correct procedure and proceeded to opt for the web site instruction and apologized that the kit instructions were wrong. Mark to the rescue!! After hanging up and confused I checked my email and there you were with a video of the correct procedure. Maybe you should send it to them so they can clarify their error. They also should be more specific that deionized and RO are not the same and that the procedure REQUIRES DI. I suspect my high reading has something to do with the LFS water I used for the test. At your suggestion I’m headed to the grocery store for some DI. I agree that Hanna Checkers are the way to go, I have the Alk one also, however I’m surprised that a company that relies on accuracy in their products can be so slipshod on their own website about how to use them. You can find what I’m talking about on their site under “Hanna News”, announcing the launch of the CA Checker.
    I’ll take this opportunity to thank you for your very informative and entertaining service to us less informed public. You are my definitive source of info when I need to sort out the endless internet baloney we newbies are subjected to.
    Carl Nelson
    Coronado, CA (where our tanks never overheat–sorry, couldn’t resist.

  • Adnan Mumtaz says:

    A lot of folks are facing problems with the tank sample i.e 0.1ml the results were not consistent, I bought a 1/2 cc Insulin syringe = 0.5ml 50 units, 10 units = 0.1ml, which helps me adding the tank sample very accurately and the results are very consistent. I have noticed you havent used the clips which came with the syringes.

  • Mike says:

    correction@ adman an insulin syringe only measures in units not ml or cc. You cannot convert units to volume like that. A tb syringe will measure in cc’s.

  • Adnan Mumtaz says:

    100 units of a insulin syringe = 1 ml, 10 units = 0.1 ml. I was told by a pharmacist when i was asking for a syringe less than 1ml.

    This article will be helpful too:

    Riyadh – Saudi Arabia

  • corocora says:

    6 drops with the green syringe gets you 0.1ml of sample water every time.
    I’ve tried it several times and get the same 439 reading.

  • Joshua Memme says:

    I cant wait to use mine just got it yesterday, judging by this show I would have liked it to be as easy as the alkalinity checker but at least its very accurate

  • Matt Allen says:

    I agree with the colour red issue and that the nitrate checker (whenever its due) should be red and perhaps even flash… but the warning sound is a no, no since I’ll probably try to jump ship or at least do a runner for the nearest fire exit!

    I wonder if they’re available in the UK yet…

    Thanks once again for the informative yet very entertaining video Mark 😉

  • Carl-

    I’m jealous of your “never overheat” tanks!

    Interesting to hear about the issue with instructions around the checker. The problem might have been that I received a beta testing unit where everything was clearly marked “beta tester”. Therefore Hanna might have changed the instructions for the final unit. Nonetheless, I would think their tech support people would at least get a memo (or a TPS report) to make sure they were up to speed.

  • Adnan…by clips do you mean the long pointy attachment?

  • Matt…good to see you chap and I’d bet they are available in the UK. Have a pint for me.

  • Adnan Mumtaz says:

    Hi Mark yes the pointy attachments, Hanna recommended to use them for more accuracy, but I am getting the best accuracy with the use of insulin syringe which is 0.5ml.

    By the way thanks for your review, I had been waiting for it since you had mentioned you received the beta kit 🙂

    Did you compare the results with your Seachem CA test kit?

    Riyadh – Saudi Arabia

  • Matt Allen says:

    Mark – UK website says ‘coming soon’… Us Brits will have to wait a little longer it seems… 🙁

    It’s about time you got your marine loving butt over the pond and let me buy you a pint or two 😉

    You know I was looking into this Hanna checkers and its accuracy compared to others even at 6% is excellent… 3% has the others completely whipped no doubt about it!

    Can’t wait for mine! 🙂

  • Wesley Brower says:


    I have a suggestion for the Hanna folks and their checkers to make things a tad bit easier, how hard would it be to include or sale a small jar (think Salifert Calcium reagent A) of the powder for all of their kits that aren’t all liquid like the KH checker. It makes for easy measuring and less cumbersome additions to that small cuvette when time is of the essence before it shuts off.

    side note — I’m loving the WXM and Tunze 1073.05 integration for feedings and water changes, great videos!

  • Wesley…most people actually prefer the liquid reagents. When Hanna first came out with their ALK checker, it used powdered reagents. After they ran into issues, they switched to a liquid reagent that was very well received. They might cause a uproar if they went FROM liquid reagents TO powdered ones.

    Glad you love the WxM and the 1073.05. Both are great products.

  • Adnan…perhaps I should try the tips out then as I don’t use them.

    The results I got from it were very close to the SeaChem CA test kit. However, now I’ve retired the SeaChem one!

  • Adnan Mumtaz says:

    Mark, trusting the results of Hanna’s other checkers I have also ditched my all other CA test kits. Using the tips I was not able to drop consistently 0.1ml and the results were varying a lot, but since I started using the insulin syringe 0.1ml is accurate as well as the result.

  • Jason says:

    Is it okay to use distilled water? I have yet to get a clear answer on this through the reef forums.

  • Adnan Mumtaz says:

    Jason, as I have learned from Hanna any water preferably RO/DI or ‘LAB GRADED’ Distilled water which assures there are no traces of CA in it is good to use.

  • Sophia says:

    Love your video, your funny and the Hanna Calcium Checker is very cool.
    Sophia age 9

  • Heather says:

    Mark, It’s interesting to see you don’t use the tips on the syringes – we tried using them and had trouble getting accurate measurements because of air so now we have abandoned them. How do you manage to get all of the powder reagent into the cuvette?! It’s ridiculously tricky as the powder gets stuck in the seam of the packet and it’s really hard not to spill any. How can we be sure the reading is accurate if not all of the powder is used? We also noticed the instructions on their website are incorrect… This is our first Hanna Checker and we were disappointed to have to deal with all of these issues considering it was supposed to make testing easier for us.

  • Heather…sorry for your issues! I asked Hanna about the tips and they suggested I use them, but i’ve been able to get consistent results w/out them.

    As far as getting the powder into the cuvette, I tear the whole top off the reagent packet, then push in the edges of the packet to form a funnel. Then I dump the reagent into the cuvette. Works like a charm!

    Keep in mind if some reagent stays behind, that’s ok. You don’t have to get the reagent packet 100% free of reagent. Certainly you don’t want to leave a lot, but I’ve been able to get nearly all of it out via the method above.

    If you keep having issues, try calling Hanna directly. I’ve found them to be helpful. If that doesn’t help, let me know and I can connect you to someone directly

  • Thanks Sophia! Tell your dad he needs a bigger tank!

  • Lawrence says:

    Have you tried Salifert’s testing kits? out of all the kits i have from salifert so far, you dont have to count drops or compare colors with a card. it does involve detecting color changes, but they are pretty easy to tell. also have you compared the accuracy of the the hanna checker with other test kits?

  • ivori says:

    I was just wondering what tank personality do you recommend buy the hanna checkers…testing my tank is the most confusing part of the whole process for me.

  • albert says:

    hello mr mark.i have been following up on tv glade someone out their can help us with keeping corals alive and well. in a reef tank.thank you .ROCK ON. say can you hepl me on one thing.i have a 55 gal reef tank.its 4 years old.and a 20 gal refugium tank with caulerpa paspaloides,and chaetomorpha.i put those plants in 3 days ago.and my lighting .i have 2 150 watt metal halide.and 2 96 watt compact fluorescent actinic bulbs.ext.i have a problem with green hair algae.and brown algae.what am i doing wrong.please help.thank you.

  • glenn says:

    anyone having trouble getting the powder into the cuvette all you have to do is open the packet of the reagent and empty onto a piece of paper with a fold in it then just gently fold the paper and tip the powder in works great try tapping so it doesn’t come out too fast 🙂

  • glenn says:

    mark the instructions say if your reading is too high like maxed at 600 to dilute it but they don’t say how or what with i removed half the final sample and topped up with DI and it gave a normal reading but I’m not sure if that was right

  • Jesse says:

    I just got my tester in the mail and at first when i opened the box i was very unsure at where to start. One thing i noticed they changed the packaging alot from the one you show here. I tested with there method and it was diff both times. I used your vid as a guide and have dead on results everytime once again you vid saved me from mistakes. BIG THANX!! and keep doin what your doing your helping make our tank lives alot easier:)

  • Chris Kennedy says:

    i found out what i was doing wrong with the Hanna Cal Checker. i push out what you showed for the tank water and was useing the rest not the 0.1 ml watch is about 3 i feel like a dumb azz.i just was not thinking about it and tring to do the steps right and when it did not work out right i did not stop and think what am i doing wrong.

  • Terence says:

    I LOVE my Alk checker. This one is a PITA to use and the results are NOT consistent for many of us out there. I have gone to using an insulin syringe and my RODI but still get flashing 600 one time, 520 the next, etc. Also, many in the hobby do not have RODI on hand. This should have been shipped with the kit. Some people will go and get RODI from a LFS that still might have 20 TDS which due to the small sample size could throw off the measurement. Also, the fact that you put in so little sample water means that without a micrometer, plunger error could be +/- 10% even for the the most careful person. I would like to see an unedited video showing three tests done on a tanks water starting from scratch (pull the kit out of the box even) for each test.

    Being partially colorblind, I wanted this tester to work more than anyone…and by the reading of the forums out there, I am not the only one…

    I think a good video idea for MrSaltwaterTank would be “TestOff” whereby a lab certified test sample is tested three times by four test kits using an off the street average hobbyist. The video could be sped up and it would be quite entertaining and we could see real world results that are a hybrid of the test quality and user errors.

  • Carl says:

    After several weeks of using my calk checker, I find that the inconsistency I first experienced has disappeared through practicing a carefully repeated routine exactly the same way each time. The most critical steps for me are using distilled water purified by steam evaporation which most grocery stores carry, and it’s cheap, a gal will last forever. Also as Hannah suggests, I make sure I wipe the cuvette THOROUGHLY with lens cleaning cloth before it goes into the checker without fail. The tricky part for everyone is attempting to be consistent introducing the sample before going to C2.For me at least, counting 6 drops from the green syringe gives me the correct amount without having to guess–every time. I get results deviation as would be expected, plus predictable changes one would expect from dosing. So, don’t give up on’s a get back from it what you put in.

  • RL Simpson says:

    Your Calcium Checker came in a different case than mine. Mine has a place for one syringe and nowhere for the powdered reagents. What gives?

  • RL…I have one of the prototype versions which is probably why it looks different. Hanna doesn’t let me know when they change packaging so that’s my best guess

  • RL Simpson says:

    Well I sure like the packaging for yours better. I wish they hadn’t changed it.

    Thanks for the review though, it sure helped me get over my hesitance to buy this checker. Other people were making this sound like the most complicated procedure in the world.

  • Terence says:

    This is one of the most disappointing pieces of technology I have used. The test is not consistent with what they send you from Hanna and you are required to obtain absolutely pristine DI water to have any chance of it working. Hanna finally sent me some and I was able to get three tests with a variance of +55ppm/-40ppm or an 95ppm accuracy window. This is probably because without a micrometer taking 0.1ml of sample water is a daunting task using the crappy syringe they give. I used a .3ml syringe and it helped some, but still there was too much room for error. There are too many places that can throw off the test (measure in the first solution, measure in the DI water, measure in the sample water, tear off the powder vial and get it all in). Overall this test adds a lot of workload over an Elos or Salifert test and gives back no additional accuracy while at the same time having double the cost per test. Too bad, I absolutely love my Hanna Alk checker.

  • Marc Wheeler says:

    hey soooo, I did every thing just as you did… all honesty here… i even went to the level of measuring stuff like the 9ml… and I got a reading from this of 568…. and then the salifert reading was like 425… I the drastic change in numbers… I measured even the RO DI i was suppose to put in… then i was told that maybe my RO DI isn’t putting out accurate water… sigh!!! anyone expierence this?

  • Krzysztof Cygan says:

    I just found out that Calcium Hanna checker is not always accurate. I just used Red Sea test and it came up with 250ppm, while Hanna keeps flashing 600. I was suspicious when at first my readings were different but I assumed it’s Hanna, it’s electronic so accurate. But now after second reading comparison AND noticing I got no coralline growth, I believe I got wrong result from Hanna. Yes I used Ro/Di water each time. I will now be using both Calcium test kits whenever I take reading untill I workout procedure that gives me same reading on both. Hopefully corals are all fine, probably my pencil urchin is the only unhappy creature.

  • John Nicita says:

    I have a question, the syringes have a shaft on them, are you supposed to measure 1ml when the 3rd round ring is t 1ml, or pull it until the entire tip of the syringe is up, ie:when the 3rd ring is at 00, the dong is at 0,15, boh syringes in this kit have the dong hanging down from the plunger unlike ever syringe in the world which is just flat across, what gives? Which part do you read from?

  • Carl says:

    Watch this video for your answer

    When she says pull the plunger to zero she’s looking at the 3rd ring on the bottom as you view it with syringe pointing down. The gap from there to the liquid is because of the tip that’s added to the syringe.

  • Carl says:

    John, you may have to add http://www at the beginning of the link, there wasn’t room for it in the comment box on one line

  • George Lopez says:

    I have own for a while the calcium hanna tester. After washing the video I did the test, after doing it about 6 times i have come to one conclusion. The meter is either broken or it has no consistency or accuracy. I have order more chemicals to rule out meter issue. when in the 6 test it goes from 405 to 517 ppm. I think something is wrong.
    To add to this I have been trying to know what 0.1 ml is in drops. I find to add the precise accuracy of the testing water being my reef tank water. is quite impossible with this sheep devises. can any one state they have tried to do this test 6 times in a row. How close were you to the test.
    You see i believe in order to dose any tank with any additive you must have accurate readings 1st. the industry says to add this add that. I want to know my starting point.
    I have seen some nice reef tanks out there. Can any one help with this question.

  • Nelcor says:

    I have the Hanna Alkalinity, Phosphate and Calcium checkers, and finally after months of trying to get dependable, consistent results from the Calcium checker, I finally have set it aside and use Salifert instead. I was using 6 drops to equal 0.1 of sample water, that made it easier to be consistent but the readings would still vary widely. I was careful to follow all other instructions the same way each time also. The reagents are expensive also. Hard to say how accurate the Salifert results are but at least they are consistent and using them to guide my dosing keeps my levels proper. The most popular Hanna checker is the Alk one, it’s simple and reliable.

  • Andrew says:

    I went to my LFS to buy a syringe and they said check Mark Callahan’s wife’s pussy. HEY MARK, FUCK YOUR WIFE’S HIV INFECTED PUSSY!!!!

  • Howard Bash says:

    I spoke with Hanna and using the RO /DI water is not recommended. The recommend using specifically markets deionized water (they sell it as do other lab resources). They stated that the results using the RO / DI water will not yield as accurate results.

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