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Water Testing Help!


Guest ytsejam

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Guest ytsejam

I bought a Freshwater Master Test Kit (made by Aquarium Pharmacueticals Inc) to test my tank which is in it's 3rd week of cycling with 2 small goldfish.

I had the water tested by my LFS last weekend, and everything checked out OK, as in, the nitrite and ammonia levels were where they should be for a 3 week old tank.

So I tried testing it today with my kit. According to my kit, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels all appear to be at zero! This doesn't seem possible to me.

I followed the testing instructions explicitly. I can't think of anything I did wrong. Should I not take water just from the top of the tank for my testing???

Can anyone help me?

Thanx in advance!

Jay

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:) What were your levels at the LFS? And had you recently done a water change? Why don't you run them again, as thats what I do when I'm not sure of my test results!
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Guest ytsejam

My nitrite levels at the store were at a relatively low level. It was explained to me that they weren't high enough to be a concern, but that they were present. I wasn't told a number.

I have done no water changes, since the tank is currently cycling. I have run the tests again, and I'm still getting the same readings. Next time I run it, I'll take pictures of the results.

Based on my understanding of the tank cycle, I'd be shocked if my nitrites were zero. I'm 21 days in, they should be about peaked at this point.

It wouldn't surprise my to get a false reading for nitrates with all the shaking required. Shaking the 2nd liquid for 30s, then the tube for 60s. I could shake it longer if that's required... Then of course I wait those 5 minutes before attempting to read the color.

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I'm mostly concerned with the nitrite levels right now. Using this test kit, I put my 5 drops in, I shake it for 5 seconds, I wait 5 minutes, and I get a very light blue color. Apparently any nitrites should cause more of a purple color.

Either it really does have 0 nitrites, which I can't see how that's possible, or I'm doing something wrong.

Any ideas?

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Jay, you're probably not getting an accurate reading for Nitrates. I agree, test that again.

It could also be that you're just getting ready to start seeing a climb in Nitrates very soon.... 3 weeks is about right for the nitrites to be plummeting and nitrates to start rising. It's a little odd that the nitrite reading is already 0 ppm and you're not registering nitrates, at all. Do you have lots of algae or plants in your tank that could be digesting the trace nitrates that you would probably have, three weeks in?

But the MAIN thing is you are reading 0 ppm for ammonia and nitrites.... and the nitrite test especially, is pretty fool proof with the API kit.

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Jay, one more thing and this is not being "ornery" on my part, have someone else - preferably a female - compare your test tube to the API color card. Women are much better at detecting subtle color differences than men are... especially reds. That is a scientific truth. The difference between 0 ppm and 5.0 comparing to the API nitrate color card would be difficult for many men to detect. My wife always double checks my results.

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Guest ytsejam

Jay, one more thing and this is not being "ornery" on my part, have someone else - preferably a female - compare your test tube to the API color card. Women are much better at detecting subtle color differences than men are... especially reds. That is a scientific truth. The difference between 0 ppm and 5.0 comparing to the API nitrate color card would be difficult for many men to detect. My wife always double checks my results.

Lol, no worries, I did show it to my wife to confirm I wasn't crazy. She agreed the nitrites were at zero. I'll try retesting the nitrates again to seen what happens. I only retested the nitrites.

Thanx for the help!

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Two small goldfish in a 55 gallon? I'm not sure how small is small, but you have a lot of dilution there, and probably haven't built up high concentrations of anything much as yet. If you are starting to cycle, it doesn't suprise me that you don't see any ammonia or nitrite. The tests for these two are relatively sensitive. If you are just starting to develop nitrate, be aware that the nitrate test (as least in my kit) has poor sensitivity to very low concentrations (like a few ppm). It is better in the 20 to 80 ppm range.

Bottom line - if you are not showing anything for ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate - don't worry. Proceed carefully (as you are), test every few days. You should shortly begin to show an accumulation of nitrate.

Dennis

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Guest ytsejam

Two small goldfish in a 55 gallon? I'm not sure how small is small, but you have a lot of dilution there, and probably haven't built up high concentrations of anything much as yet. If you are starting to cycle, it doesn't suprise me that you don't see any ammonia or nitrite. The tests for these two are relatively sensitive. If you are just starting to develop nitrate, be aware that the nitrate test (as least in my kit) has poor sensitivity to very low concentrations (like a few ppm). It is better in the 20 to 80 ppm range.

Bottom line - if you are not showing anything for ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate - don't worry. Proceed carefully (as you are), test every few days. You should shortly begin to show an accumulation of nitrate.

Dennis

Yes, 2 small goldfish, only 1"-1.5" each. Originally I thought that could be the case. This is my 2nd time attempting to cycle. The first time I was using two fish, they came down with Ick and I couldn't save them. So I waited two weeks, added salt and jacked the water temp. Anyway, I had them for nearly 3 weeks, and I had readings of ammonia and nitrite with them, hence my confusion.

As you said, I'm going to keep testing.

Some additional related info and questions:

I'm also using the AquaClear filtration system, which uses an Ammonia remover. It's my understanding that you need Ammonia to get nitrites, and then nitrates. Should I not be using the ammonia remover?

Also, my water is murky, which to my understanding, indicates poor water quality. Yet the fish seem to be doing very well, and as I mentioned, my tests indicated 0 for everything.

-Jay

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You mentioned the LFS tested for nitrites, but how about nitrates?

If I remember correctly, I didn't bring enough water for them to find out. So they tested the one they were concerned most with, the nitrites. That's what they said anyway.

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I'm also using the AquaClear filtration system, which uses an Ammonia remover. It's my understanding that you need Ammonia to get nitrites, and then nitrates. Should I not be using the ammonia remover?

You're going to want to take that ammonia remover out and replace it with some bio-media.

:( Be careful, you're going to see another ammonia spike and your cycle may take much longer.

By withholding ammonia, your nitrifying bacteria isn't growing to its full potential, and if at any point the ammonia remover runs out, your current cycle may experience a large bump and your fish may suffer from it.

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I agree with Nenn, I would take out the ammonia remover, particularly with your light fish load and lots of dilution. You NEED some ammonia to get things going. I would only use ammonia remover if cycling with a large fish load and ammonia levels were getting too high (in lieu of or to supplement a water change).

You said that your water is murky? Murky as in cloudy? Many tanks go through a "bloom" of suspended bacteria which makes water look cloudy for a while. This will eventually clear as biofilms build up and the bacteria are adsorbed onto them. I found it annoying when my tank did this and I added a product designed to "clear" the tank, which it did almost overnight.

Dennis

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I'm also using the AquaClear filtration system, which uses an Ammonia remover. It's my understanding that you need Ammonia to get nitrites, and then nitrates. Should I not be using the ammonia remover?

You're going to want to take that ammonia remover out and replace it with some bio-media.

:( Be careful, you're going to see another ammonia spike and your cycle may take much longer.

By withholding ammonia, your nitrifying bacteria isn't growing to its full potential, and if at any point the ammonia remover runs out, your current cycle may experience a large bump and your fish may suffer from it.

Argh, I knew it! It just didn't make sense to me as it is... :-( Especially since the three pieces of the filter (sponge, carbon, ammonia remover) have recommended replacement intervals, I was wondering what the bio-media was...

Can you recommend a bio-media?

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I agree with Nenn, I would take out the ammonia remover, particularly with your light fish load and lots of dilution. You NEED some ammonia to get things going. I would only use ammonia remover if cycling with a large fish load and ammonia levels were getting too high (in lieu of or to supplement a water change).

You said that your water is murky? Murky as in cloudy? Many tanks go through a "bloom" of suspended bacteria which makes water look cloudy for a while. This will eventually clear as biofilms build up and the bacteria are adsorbed onto them. I found it annoying when my tank did this and I added a product designed to "clear" the tank, which it did almost overnight.

Dennis

Yes, murky as in cloudy. What did you you to clear it up? I changed out the carbon filter since it was at it's month long life-cycle, but that didn't seem to do much.

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I'm also using the AquaClear filtration system, which uses an Ammonia remover. It's my understanding that you need Ammonia to get nitrites, and then nitrates. Should I not be using the ammonia remover?

You're going to want to take that ammonia remover out and replace it with some bio-media.

Can you recommend a bio-media?

After doing some research, it looks like the sponge portion of my filter is supposed to be the bio-media. I have no idea why the instructions recommend changing it every 2-3 months though...

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I believe aquaclear also sells a packet called the "biomax" that serves as an additional bio-media. Personally I would eventually change out the carbon to either a biomax or a sponge to increase the bacteria development since carbon is only meant to remove medications and impurities, and is also "used up" within a week.

I never ever change any of my filter cartridges or bio-media unless the floss has become shredded, making it useless for mechanical filtration. There's simply no reason to risk damaging the biological filter.

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I believe aquaclear also sells a packet called the "biomax" that serves as an additional bio-media. Personally I would eventually change out the carbon to either a biomax or a sponge to increase the bacteria development since carbon is only meant to remove medications and impurities, and is also "used up" within a week.

I never ever change any of my filter cartridges or bio-media unless the floss has become shredded, making it useless for mechanical filtration. There's simply no reason to risk damaging the biological filter.

The filter came with an ammonia remover, carbon, and a filter, and the setup instructions had me use all three at the same time. There wasn't much explanation on the sponge.

From what you've said, it sounds like I'm better off removing the ammonia remover, and replacing it with the biomax. This makes sense to me, though biomax also says it helps in the reduction of ammonia and nitrites. I'm assuming this is because of the healthy bacteria and such that it promotes.

The ammonia remover really only seems like something worth using after the tank has been established, if at all. I'll leave the carbon in for now, since I can't see how that would hurt. As for the spone, if it's the bio-media, I'll leave that alone.

How does that sound?

Thanx again!

Jay

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You're going to hear lots of differing advice but I currently have a 32+ gallon cube tank [Oceanic Cube] that is filtered by a single, Aquaclear 110. In that filter, all I am using is two sponge blocks... and with very good results. Had Bio-Max in and took it out to replace with a second sponge block.

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I've also heard mixed results regarding biomax, but I believe the sponges are slightly cheaper, so might as well go with that.

I hope your cycle gets established soon! Everytime I've got a new tank to establish I'm always so anxious to get the cycle over with.

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Yes, murky as in cloudy. What did you you to clear it up? I changed out the carbon filter since it was at it's month long life-cycle, but that didn't seem to do much.

I used Kent Pro-Clear. One dose and that was it. Worked very well.

Dennis

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FYI - I removed the ammonia remover last night. I haven't decided on 2 sponges vs. biomax. I'll let you know how it goes.

Again, thanx for all the great advice everyone!

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Guest ytsejam

just a tip..make sure u shake the Number #2 bottle for the nitrAte test(API) very well. i usually shake more than 30 seconds to be safe.

I was doing the same thing, at least I thought I was. I thought I was shaking the22 out of it. Then of course the tube for 60-70 seconds after adding #2 bottle.

Maybe I'll just double the time for each shaking portion of the test.

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