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RANT: why do 99% of people claim to have "perfect" water parameters?


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  • Regular Member

This is not directed at anyone and i hope noone will feel like it is aimed at them. How is it that whenever i see a disease and diagnosis thread, or whenever someone is telling their levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, everyones water is "perfect"? I always wonder, did they even test the water? Did they do the test correctly? Are they misleading us because they think we will think they are terrible people because their nitrate is at 80?  I have my tank stocked at 20.8 gallons per fish and my nitrate rises by 40 ppm or more every week. Do people realize that there has to be some ammonia or nitrite or nitrate in the water, unless you have some sort of magic voodoo going on?  Are plants using up all the nitrate? i dunno. i doubt it. i have plants and they dont seem to be growing much, if at all.  Who else has nitrates? anyone else wonder about this mystery?  i think i need a nap!

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  • Regular Member

I've wondered if people are genuinely testing it several times, but it's up to them to decide if they want to be truthful with us for the benefit of their fish or to hide their readings because they're ashamed of their water quality.

It's not like we're going to refuse to assist you if your parameters are crazy, it would actually help to find the cause of it and that may be the root of your ill fish. Your fish may be sick because you haven't cleaned your filter in way too long or you have too much gravel, that's an easier fix than a mystery illness in a "perfect" tank...

As for nitrates in my own tank, this is the highest I ever see. :idont

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Edited by Chai
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  • Regular Member

Several different issues.  Some people don't have the test kit and have been told by the lfs that their water quality is perfect.  Others are desperate for an answer that doesn't involve water quality, because they are responsible for the water quality and they feel guilty.  Still others aren't testing correctly - the drops haven't been shaken enough/patiently.  Some like drugs and are looking for an infectious answer to a water quality problem. 

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  • Regular Member

I can tell you that in my tank, my nitrates don't really go up much each week.  I've got 3 fish in a 40B and the most I've seen my tank is maybe 20 ppm Nitrate, usually its under 10ppm. I actually bought a different brand of Nitrate test to confirm, thought my test was bad.  I'll use both of them randomly just to check.  I keep thinking my Nitrates will go up since my fish are getting bigger (around 250 g of fish total), it just doesn't get higher.  Wish I could say I have a lot of plants, but my guys eat every single new growth on my anubas plant.   :tantrum   

 

I know that I had bad water a month ago coming out of the tap for a couple of weeks.  The fish were just off on water change one day.  Nothing I could test showed anything different, but clearly there was something different.  I added some carbon and crossed my fingers hoping I didn't have to lug 40+ gallons of water home from the store.

 

So I say its possible to have perfect water tested water and still have sick fish.  Nitrate isn't the only thing we have to watch out for.  That said, chances are some of the people with perfect water truely didn't perform a good test.

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When I get around to doing a thread for treatment I've usually done a few WCs before I decide its time for a thread and at that time my water is perfect or near perfect. Maybe an average water parameters question should be added?

Mine are usually around 40-80ppm NO3 when I do a WC every week to week and a half. That said I have had 2 goldfish and two little bn plecos in an 80 gal tank. Now that I'm adding more fish ill need to bump up my WCs a bit.

On the plant issue though when I had propagating dwarf water lettuce in the tank I could go a month and have 5-10ppm. But I was removing it by the bucket loads and it got to be as much a pain as the WCs lol

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My nitrates have risen to 20-40ppm in the past. Plants really do help and I have to keep up with water changes, but I'm not going to lie that those nitrates ARE there! 

When I was first getting into fish (bettas), I didn't know anything about water quality/testing. I bought an ammonia test kit as instructed by some members on a fish forum and I stupidly didn't read the directions through. I didn't let the tube sit for a few minutes before taking the reading, so it came up 0ppm when in truth (which I learned later) the ammonia was through the roof!  :doh11:

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  • Regular Member

I suspect that most people report 0 ammonia and 0 nitrites because their tanks are cycled.  Once cycled, the system will continue to be cycled unless you disrupt the ecosystem.  Cycle "bumps" can occur because:

 

you reduced the population of nitrifiers by over cleaning, antibacterial treatments, or some toxic substance gets in;

 

or because something disrupted the oxidizing activity of of the nitrifiers, for example, an electrical failure shuts down the filter, leaving only the nitrifiers in the tank available to oxidize ammonia and nitrite;

 

or because the population of nitrifiers was temporarily overwhelmed by massive amounts of nitrogenous waste, for example you abruptly double the fish load, or a "helpful" child or fish sitter dumps in a huge amount of food, or you decide to clear your pea-green pond with a UV filter, which kills all of the green-water algae, which collect in the filter and rot, using up all of the oxygen.

 

Nitrate levels are highly variable in aquariums and typically low to zilch in ponds which include plants and algae in their ecosystem and/or have a niche in their system for denitrifying bacteria.  This includes most ponds.   The denitrifying bacteria that are most typical and desirable live near the border of aerobic and anaerobic conditions.  They aren't likely to survive in a clean, barebottom tank with a well-maintained HOB filter.  They can survive and do their work in gravel, and they can live in anaerobic pockets which are common in pond-type upflow biofilters, and maybe in canisters as well.

 

As a rule of thumb, aquatic plants prefer ammonia as their nitrogen source while land plants prefer nitrates (and some require nitrates).  The only time aquatic plants do much to reduce nitrate is in a very heavily planted tank, which is difficult to create when you have goldfish.

 

Basically, nitrate in the water comes from protein in the food.  The fish eats protein, digests it to amino acids, absorbs those amino acids, and uses those amino acids to make proteins needed for growth and repair.  The excess amino acids have their amino groups removed as ammonia which is released into the water.  The rest of the amino acid is metabolized like a carbohydrate for energy.

 

This leads to the conclusion that the main cause of excess nitrate is overfeeding, specifically feeding more protein than the fish can use. 

 

Yes, some people fib when they report parameters.  Some of this is because they have had multiple people tell them they are doing everything wrong when they introduce themselves.  Also, some of the API tests are virtually unreadable in certain ranges.  Nitrate  from 10 to < 40 ppm is one of them and pH from 7.4 to < 8.4 is another. Since virtually every internet site will tell you (with no supporting evidence) that the ideal pH for goldfish is 7.5, it's logical that an unreadable pH  in a range that includes 7.5 must be 7.5.

 

 

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  • Regular Member

I am very careful when I test my water parameters, I do two 90% water changes a week and still have Nitrate readings up to 20ppm some weeks but it is 0ppm other weeks. I think in my case it may be not cleaning the filters often enough. How often would you clean your filters? Weekly, monthly? I do mine every 4 to 6 weeks.

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My first advice is always to get the fish in fresh water (unless they report a giant ph diff) anyway.  This is really an extension of the 'no bowl' campaign.  People just need to know that the first treatment (unless contraindicated) is to give the fish a clean living environment.

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