Manual vacuum heads and hoses are for when your automatic pool cleaner plays up or is not coping with the job. Just a quick tip, hold the open end of the hose over one of the return jets to blow all the air out of the hose before plugging it into the vac plate. This saves your pump getting a big belly full of air.
Water Testing Kits
There are liquid test kits available but these can be a little complicated unless you are prepared to learn how to use them. A simpler method is the dip strip, 30 seconds job done. For the more adventurous there are CD Rom test kits available that have data recording facilities and treatment suggestions, just like having your own pool shop.