Best TDS Meter Reviews – Top 10 Picks (Ratings, Guide, FAQs & More)

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We agree; TDS Meters are a very handy tool to have in your fish-keeping kit but they can be intimidatingly complex when you first go out to buy them. 

That’s why we decided to test out the most popular ones available and bring you this comprehensive list. 

In today’s post, we’ll be going over what makes a TDS meter great and what are some characteristics you should look for when getting one.

Top Pick

This product is small but sturdy. Its titanium alloy probe is extremely sensitive and helps make TDS readings much more accurate.

Runner Up

You might want to grab this TDS meter if you’re a novice fish-keeper. It comes pre-calibrated and can test TDS as well as water temperature.

Also Great

If you’re looking for a convenient and quick TDS meter, this is it for you.It can accurately measure TDS even in a very small body of water.

After conducting countless tests with countless different TDS meters, we’ve chosen three as the best ones we could get our hands on. 

Now, let’s get into the reviews for the top 10 best TDS meters.

Best TDS Meter - Best 10 Reviews

1. Best All-Around TDS Meter - TDS Water Quality Tester by Hofun Review

This TDS meter made us so happy because it is just the epitome of everything that one would want in the perfect TDS meter. It’s accurate, it’s quick, it’s lightweight and it’s durable. 

The probe for testing is made from a titanium alloy which apparently makes it more sensitive and the TDS meter is able to get a more accurate and quick reading.

It also came with a handy leather case which you can put the TDS meter in when you’re travelling with it. We don’t see how this would come into use if you’re a fish-keeper with an aquarium but it’s still a neat little addition.

Features of TDS Water Quality Tester by Hofun – Best TDS Meter

  1. Weight: 1.44 ounces
  2. Backlit LCD Display
  3. Comes with handy Leather Case
  4. Automatic Temperature Compensation (ATC)
  5. Auto-off feature
  • Easy to read
  • Comes pre-calibrated so it’s easy to use
  • Durable
  • Sensitive
  • Quick
  • The built-in battery is not rechargeable

If you’re looking for the ultimate package which provides you with everything you need to get started on testing your water, this product is definitely it. Its small size is deceiving because it packs a big punch.

2. Best Multi-Purpose TDS Meter - Water Quality Tester by HoneForest Review

This TDS meter seemed promising as soon as we held it in our hands because it’s made from high-quality material that really seemed quite strong and sturdy when we held it. 

It works as a thermometer as well as a TDS meter and needless to say, it has automatic temperature compensation which means that a shift in temperature will automatically be accounted for when you’re testing for TDS using this device. 

It has a range from 0 – 9999 ppm and it comes with a 3-year warranty. 

Features of Water Quality Tester by HoneForest

  1. Backlit LCD display
  2. Automatic Temperature Compensation (ATC)
  3. Auto-lock function
  4. Auto-off feature
  5. Comes with TDS chart for comparison of readings
  • Can test TDS, Electrical Conductivity and Temperature
  • Sturdy
  • Easy to read
  • Pre-calibrated for ease of use
  • Comes with a leather bag
  • 3-year warranty
  • Runs on batteries that get drained fast during use

If you want a TDS meter that has a lot of features but isn’t too complex to use, this is the product for you. Its sturdy body will help it last through any rough use.

3. Best TDS Meter with Save Function - TDS Meter Digital Water Tester by Lxuemlu Review

This TDS Meter or TDS Pen has an auto-lock feature that we were excited to use. This is because while other meters also come with auto-lock features, this product’s auto-lock feature is more extensive as it can save readings taken for later reference. 

This can come in handy when you’re making comparisons between different water conditioners for your aquarium or any other similar products. 

It comes packed with a lithium battery that is required to power it. Like most good TDS meters, this product also has an auto shut-off feature which helps it conserve battery.

Features of TDS Meter Digital Water Tester by Lxuemlu

  1. Runs on lithium batteries
  2. Weight: 2.4 ounces
  3. Temperature range: 32-122 degrees Fahrenheit
  4. With no errors
  5. Extensive auto-lock feature
  • Inexpensive
  • Compact
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to read
  • Accurate
  • Drains batteries too fast

If you like experimenting with water conditioners and would like to save information about TDS in your water using different water conditioning agents, you might want to invest in this product. It’s portable and extensive but still easy to use.

4. Best Recalibratable TDS Meter - HM Digital TDS-EZ Water Quality TDS Tester Review

This blue little device was very easy to use even for our new interns who are only just learning how to work with TDS meters and other aquarium equipment. 

This product was also popular among our most advanced staff as it has a recalibration feature. You can easily recalibrate it using a screwdriver if you think it’s off or if you simply want to use it for a different purpose. 

The translucent, blue body is made of plastic but it’s a strong plastic that doesn’t seem flimsy at all. 

Features of HM Digital TDS-EZ Water Quality TDS Tester

  1. 1000 hours of usage with battery
  2. Made from plastic
  3. Weight: 1.12 ounces
  4. Auto-off feature
  5. Measurement range: 0-9990 ppm
  • Long-lasting
  • Factory calibrated
  • Recalibratable
  • Easy to use
  • LCD backlight helps to read
  • Does not have Automatic Temperature Compensation (ATC)

If you want more control over your TDS meter in terms of calibration, this is the product for you. It can easily be recalibrated according to your needs with a small screwdriver.

5. Best TDS Meter for Detecting Ammonia - Health Metric Professional TDS ppm Conductivity Meter Review

The Health Metric Professional TDS meter comes in at a cheap price of $15. 

We were pleasantly surprised to find that it came with a free e-book that contained all sorts of useful information regarding TDS such as useful, easy-to-read charts that tell you what levels of TDS are harmful and what levels are safe. 

We found this to be useful as it’s one thing to take a TDS reading but then you also need to know what to make of that reading and what it means. 

Features of Health Metric Professional TDS ppm Conductivity Meter 

  1. Measurement range: 0 – 9999 ppm
  2. Weight: 2.08 ounces
  3. Runs on 1 LR-44 Battery (included)
  4. Automatic Temperature Compensation (ATC)
  5. Auto-off feature
  • Quick
  • Easy to use
  • Works accurately in even a very small sample of water
  • Pre-calibrated for ease of use
  • Utilises one battery for a long time
  • Display tends to collect moisture which makes it difficult to read

If you want a long-lasting TDS meter that is able to work off of a small sample water to accurately predict TDS, this is ideal for you. It’s compact and very intuitive in terms of use.

6. Best TDS Meter for Fresh-Water Tanks - MagicPro Water Quality Tester Review

This TDS meter by MagicPro really blew us away by how quickly it gave us a reading. At first, we thought it wasn’t properly calibrated but upon testing it in our water several times and then comparing the reading with other TDS meters, we found it to be completely accurate and lightning fast. 

This TDS meter is said to work great for reverse osmosis membranes. That use requires the TDS meter to be highly accurate and if it can work well for that use, it can work more than well enough for use in aquariums as they don’t require as much accuracy when it comes to TDS.

Features of MagicPro Water Quality Tester

  1. Weight: 2.4 ounces
  2. Auto-off feature
  3. Auto-lock feature
  4. Requires 2 CR2 batteries (included)
  5. Calibrated with salt solution
  • Extremely quick
  • Accurate
  • Lightweight
  • Extremely durable
  • Long-lasting
  • Design looks old and unappealing

If you’re easily annoyed by the time it takes for TDS meters to acquire a reading, you might want to invest in this product. Its fast speed and light weight make it stand out.

7. Best Beginner TDS Meter - Digital Aid Water Quality Tester Review

This pocket-sized meter worked very well under a number of different conditions we tested it in. 

We thought it wouldn’t perform too well when we tested it in our outdoor pond but it was able to give us an accurate reading fairly quickly even in those harsh conditions where a large body of water was involved. Furthermore, we didn’t have to calibrate or do anything at all. It was extremely intuitive to use.

It’s also water-resistant, which is obviously a very valuable feature as the meter is going to be around bodies of water a lot. This property coupled with how well it performs in outdoor conditions makes it great for use under a number of conditions.

Features of Digital Aid Water Quality Tester

  1. Requires 3 LR44 batteries (included) 
  2. Weight: 1.94 ounces
  3. Made of strong plastic
  4. Measurement range: 0 – 5000 ppm
  5. Backlit LCD Screen
  • Comes pre-calibrated
  • Easy to read
  • Highly accurate
  • Durable
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Measurement range is relatively small

If you’re looking for a TDS meter that can perform consistently under a variety of conditions, this product is ideal for you. It will last you a long time and will give you accurate readings every time.

8. Best TDS Meter with Multiple Display Modes - Sunny Digital Water Test Meter Review

A lot of the TDS meters we reviewed only had display modes that could give us a reading in ppm only. While this is the primary unit that is normally adequate for measuring TDS, you could sometimes need it to be measured in other units. 

This product allows you to measure TDS both in units of ppm as well as µs/cm. It can also measure temperature and just like TDS, it provides the option to measure temperature in either Celsius or Fahrenheit. This is great because it doesn’t matter where you live or what units you are used to as this product caters to all demographics.

Features of Sunny Digital Water Test Meter

  1. Measurement range: 0 – 5000 ppm
  2. Weight: 1.94 ounces
  3. Auto shut-off feature
  4. Accuracy of ± 2%
  5. Made of hard plastic
  • Multiple display modes
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to read
  • Recalibratable
  • Durable
  • Measurement range relatively small

If you’re annoyed by TDS meters only being able to show results in a single unit of measurement and nothing else, you might want to try this product. Its versatile display modes really make it stand out from the crowd.

9. Best Low Maintenance TDS Meter - DUMSAMKER TDS Meter Review

The DUMSAMKER TDS Meter is designed to work for a very long time so you don’t have to be looking for replacements any time soon after buying this product. 

It’s designed specifically to undergo wear-and-tear and pull through and keep on working. 

Despite its small size, it features a large and easy-to-read backlit LCD display. The LCD display is intuitive in that it turns a bright red when the TDS reading passes a certain threshold. If the TDS reading is below that threshold, the backlit screen becomes bright green. This is great for monitoring when your aquarium water might need changing.

Features of DUMSAMKER TDS Meter 

  1. Hold feature
  2. Measurement range: 0 – 9990 ppm
  3. Comes with protective case with belt clip
  4. Requires 1 lithium battery (included)
  5. Backlit LCD Display
  • Large measurement range
  • 18-month warranty
  • Comes with a handy carrying case
  • Easy to use
  • Highly accurate
  • Doesn’t require maintenance
  • Not recalibratable

If you want products that can take a beating and still perform effortlessly, this is the product you’re looking for. Its impressive features and bright screen make it a great choice for aquarists.

10. Best Temperature-Compensated TDS Meter - KETOTEK Digital Water TDS Meter Review

If you know even a little about TDS, you will know that TDS readings are often strongly affected by water temperature. In order to account for this, TDS meters come equipped with a feature known as Automatic Temperature Compensation (ATC). 

Now, a lot of TDS meters we tested came with this feature but even though they claimed to have it, they still gave us inaccurate readings when we tested them in water of different temperatures several times. The KETOTEK Digital Water TDS Meter was, by far, the TDS Meter that performed the best under these conditions and gave us consistently accurate TDS readings every time.

Features of KETOTEK Digital Water TDS Meter

  1. Automatic Temperature Compensation
  2. LCD Display
  3. Auto-off function
  4. Pocket-portable
  5. Weight: 1.6 ounces
  • Portable and compact
  • Durable
  • Very accurate even under irregular conditions
  • Intuitive controls and easy to use
  • Pre-calibrated
  • Very small measurement range

If you have an aquarium that requires constantly changing temperature, this is the perfect TDS meter you should get for testing its water. No matter how much the temperature fluctuates, it will give you a dead accurate reading every time.

best tds meter

 

Buyers’ Guide 

 

What is TDS? 

TDS stands for Total Dissolved Solids and it is a measure that can be used to estimate how clean or dirty your water is. 

TDS refers to all of the combined substances in a liquid (in our case, water) that can be measured in molecular or micro-granular suspended forms. In basic terms, TDS represents all of the substances in water that aren’t H2O molecules. These can be a number of things ranging from dissolved salts and compounds to metals and minerals. Since many of these dissolved substances are undesirable and can be characterised as contaminants, a measure of the TDS of water is often used to decide the quality of the water.

High concentrations of TDS can have a number of undesirable consequences. They reduce water clarity and make your water murky. This makes it difficult for your aquarium plants to perform photosynthesis and grow. The solids in your water can also combine with toxic compounds and heavy metals through chemical reactions which can lead to fluctuations in your water temperature. 

How does a TDS meter measure TDS? 

TDS meters are usually extremely small and simple-to-use devices that work almost in the same vein as thermometers. You just have to hold the meter into the water for some time to let its sensors detect the water conditions in order to give you a reading. 

TDS meters don’t actually measure the TDS of water. They measure the electrical conductivity of water. Pure water has an EC of zero while water that contains TDS will have an EC above zero. Most dissolved solids are electrolytes such as salt and they increase the EC of water which causes them to be detected. However, some solids such as sugar don’t raise the EC of water and go undetected. Thus, the TDS given by TDS meters are often considered to be rough estimates and not the true TDS of water. 

What is an acceptable level of TDS in my aquarium? 

Somewhere around 150-200 ppm is an acceptable level of TDS that is bearable by the fish and plants in your aquarium. Generally, it’s your fish that are more affected by high TDS than your aquarium plants. 

Fish are made up mainly of water and when they are living in water that is high in TDS, the high TDS water will want to equalize with the low TDS water inside your fish. When this eventually happens, this will greatly affect your fish’s blood pH, its digestion and its immune system making it much more susceptible to diseases. 

What should I look for when buying a TDS meter? 

Buying a TDS meter can be made simple if you just take a few key factors into account when you go out to buy one. These key factors are: 

  • Intended Use and Surroundings

It’s important to get a TDS meter that is suitable for the type of aquarium you have. If you have an extremely large indoor aquarium, you might want to get a large-scale TDS meter that is able to provide accurate readings for TDS in large bodies of water within a reasonable time. 

Similarly, if you have an outdoor aquarium or pond for which you want to get a TDS meter, be sure to get one that is durable and is able to withstand harsh outdoor conditions such as sunlight, rain, etc.

  • Technology and Salt Distinguishing Properties

For the purpose of getting a TDS Meter for testing aquarium water, you need to be weary of how TDS meters work. Salts such as Calcium, Magnesium, etc. will be considered to be TDS or contaminants within your water by cheaper TDS meters. However, as a fish-keeper, you will probably be aware that these salts are something that your fish and aquarium plants need in order to grow and thrive. 

Hence, you should observe, research and get a TDS meter that is able to distinguish between the dissolved salts and compounds inside your water so you are able to determine how contaminated your aquarium water really is.

  • Calibration Capabilities

Pre-calibrated TDS meters are easy to use and we recommend getting them if you are a novice fish-keeper. 

However, if you’re an advanced fish-keeper, you might want to invest in a TDS meter that can be recalibrated according to your needs. Getting a TDS meter than has the capability to have a wide range of calibrations ranging from 0 to 999 ppm is a feature that can prove to be quite useful in many situations.

Can I use my TDS meter for testing water softeners? 

You can but it won’t give you any significant results. Water softeners do not remove TDS. They essentially work through a process which exchanges calcium and magnesium particles with sodium particles.Thus, the TDS level in your aquarium water virtually remains the same.

Is it necessary for my TDS meter to be pinpoint accurate in order to be effective?

TDS Meters are almost never completely accurate as they work by measuring the electrical conductivity of the water. Thus, the result you get is often a range rather than one concrete value. For most uses, including aquaculture, pinpoint accuracy is not needed by TDS meters. You can easily condition your water effectively using a TDS meter that provides you with a range as a result rather than a pinpoint accurate value.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

My TDS meter gave a higher reading after the water was filtered. Why is this?

Like we mentioned above, not all the particles inside your water are harmful but their presence can cause the TDS reading of your TDS meter to rise. Certain filter media can cause TDS readings to rise. For example, activated carbon is used in fish tank filters to neutralize dangerous toxins. When water passes through this media, there’s a chance that some of the granulated carbon gets into the fish tank along with the clean water. While this granulated carbon is completely harmless to your aquatic plants and fish, it will cause TDS readings to rise.

I get different readings in the same water with the same TDS meter. Am I doing something wrong? 

This is very common and there’s no cause for alarm as long as the readings are within a reasonable range of each other. Like we discussed earlier, TDS meters work by measuring the electrical conductivity of a body of water and there are several external factors that can cause this conductivity to change. 

For example, temperature, air bubbles, volume of the sample water, probe positioning are all factors that can affect and change the electrical conductivity of water. Thus, giving a different reading of TDS each time.

If the readings are fluctuating by a very high margin in your TDS meter every time, then this might mean that your TDS meter isn’t properly calibrated.

Can I test the water’s hardness with my TDS meter? 

The short answer is no. A TDS meter measures the number of dissolved solid particles inside the water. It can’t tell you the chemical composition of these particles or how charged they are. 

Testing for hardness in water requires a hardness test strip which are easily available from pet stores. 

Can I calibrate my TDS meter myself? If so, how? 

TDS meters usually come pre-calibrated and don’t require recalibration ever. However, if you have a meter that has the capability to be recalibrated, there are some steps that you need to follow in order to properly recalibrate it without doing irreparable damage to your TDS meter. These steps are as follows: 

  • Locate Calibration Hole 

TDS meters that have recalibration capabilities come with a visible hole that gives you access to the framework that you can use in order to recalibrate it. Observe the body of your TDS meter and find this hole. This hole will lead to a screw that can be turned in order to recalibrate your TDS meter.

  • Make a Solution whose TDS is known to you

You have to make a recalibration solution whose TDS is known to you. This can be purely clean water that has a TDS of zero or water mixed with salt which has a TDS of about 342 ppm. 

  • Place TDS Meter into Solution and Start Recalibration 

You’ll need a small jeweller’s screwdriver or something similar to turn the screw inside the calibration hole. Place your TDS meter inside the solution and turn the screw until it gives you the accurate TDS reading that you know to be true. Congratulations. You just successfully recalibrated your TDS meter.

Do TDS meters detect bacteria in tank water? 

No. This, again, is made clear if we go back to how TDS meters work: They work by measuring the electrical conductivity of the water. The electrical conductivity of the water changes due to dissolved salts, compounds and heavy metals in the water thus, these are things that TDS meter is able to pick up and detect. Bacteria, however, do not induce a charge inside the water and so, they have no effect on the electrical conductivity of the water. Due to this, they remain undetected by TDS meters.

Final Verdict

TDS meters are an extremely handy tool that every fish-keeper should have in his or her arsenal. It makes water monitoring super easy and convenient, especially if you invest in a TDS meter that is easy to use and gives quick results. 

After months of testing, we decided to go with the TDS Water Quality Tester by Hofun. Its easy-to-read backlit LED display coupled with its accuracy and quick measurement speed make it the ultimate choice when it comes to TDS meters.

With that, we’ve reached the end of our post for the best TDS meters. 

Let us know what TDS meter you’re using to keep your aquarium clean and healthy.

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