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Test results..what do they mean?

Discussion in 'Cycle your Tank' started by Meeko, Jun 3, 2018.

  1. Meeko

    Meeko Fish Fanatic

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    Hi, so my new tank is set up and has been running for a day despite some cannister filter start up issues. I only have test strips until my API kit arrives in the post so I decided to do a reading and this is what I have

    NO3 - 0
    NO2 - 0
    GH - 4
    KH - 6
    pH - 6.4
    Cl2 - 0
    Temp - 24oC

    I know it's only a day, I am just not sure what some of them mean. I know pH and Cl2i sbut not sure about the rest.

     
  2. essjay

    essjay Member

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    The first two show that you have no nitrite or nitrate in your tap water. Because the tank is just set up there is nothing to make nitrite above zero yet. Having no nitrate is good because there is often some nitrate in tap water, often quite a bit which makes keeping tank nitrate low rather tricky.
    When you get your API test kit, that will confirm (or otherwise) these two readings. The ammonia reading should also be zero or possibly a slight amount if your water company uses chloramine to disinfect your tap water. (This is a chlorine and an ammonia joined together. Dechlorinators split it up and the ammonia part shows up in the ammonia test)

    The GH is hardness and means you have soft water. You will need to choose fish that like soft water rather than hard water.
    However I see from another thread that your water company gives your hardness as 1.78 which means that the results from the test strip are not terribly accurate.

    KH is the amount of buffering chemicals in the water. These stop the pH changing. When there is very little KH there is a risk of the pH dropping, but with a KH of 6 your tank should not suffer this.



    Once you have your API test kit, you can start a fishless cycle http://www.fishforums.net/threads/cycling-your-new-fresh-water-tank-read-this-first.421488/ The link also explains why the nitrite reading is zero at the moment, and why it will cease to be zero after a week or two if you do not do a fishless cycle.
     
  3. Meeko

    Meeko Fish Fanatic

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    Thanks. What you said actually has registered in my brain, alot of information to process :D
     
  4. Meeko

    Meeko Fish Fanatic

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    My API kit arrives tomorrow, so out of pure curiousness I used another strip just now

    NO3 - 0
    NO2 - 0
    GH - 0
    KH - 6
    pH - 6.4
    Cl2 - 0.8
    Temp - 27oC
     
  5. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    weird water.
    NO3 - nitrate, that's 0 so normal for tapwater in some countries.
    NO2 - nitrite, that's 0 and where you always want it.
    GH - general hardness 0, that's odd, no minerals in your water.
    KH - carbonate hardness 6, dissolved carbonates and bicarbonates in the water.
    pH 6.4, slightly acid water.
    Cl2 - chlorine 0.8, there shouldn't be any chlorine in the tank water. If this is tapwater then its fine but a dechlorinator is required to prevent the chlorine killing fish.
    temp 27C is a bit high for some tropical fish like tetras and Corydoras. they prefer 22-24C :)
     
  6. seangee

    seangee Member

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    For completeness...
    Ammonia is NH3. This should be included in your API kit, and should always be 0.
     
  7. essjay

    essjay Member

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    In another thread Meeko gives his location as Scotland, and most of Scotland has very soft water. His water company gives the GH for his town as 1.78. The two tests done with strip testers give GH as 4 in one test and zero in another.
    I would be inclined to go by what the water company says, they get their water tested at labs with expensive testing equipment, not strips that you dip in the water.

    Strips can also give false readings if the instructions are not followed exactly regarding the length of time they are in the water for, and the length of time you wait before reading the colour.



    I agree about the temperature. Very few fish like it that warm.However, it is a good temperature for fishless cycling as the bacteria mulitply faster at a slightly higher temp than most fish like. The heater can be turned down a bit once the cycle is finished.
     
  8. Meeko

    Meeko Fish Fanatic

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    Alright, so I've had my api kit a few days, I added some pure ammonia about 4 days ago here are my results so far..some of the readings could be slightly off due to my eyesight however you can get the gist...thoughts?

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    It's weird that your ammonia level dropped after 3 days and more weird that you had a nitrite reading on day 2.

    Normally you have ammonia for about 2 weeks then it drops to 0. When the ammonia drops the nitrite starts to go up and a couple of weeks later that drops to 0. When the nitrite drops to 0 the nitrates start going up. When that happens the filter is cycled.

    Your nitrate test kit will be reading the nitrite as well, and if you have nitrate in the tap water, then that will give you a reading too.

    I would monitor the levels over the next week or so. If the ammonia stays on 0 but the nitrite continues going up, then it would suggest the first group of beneficial filter bacteria have established and are converting ammonia into nitrite. You will have to keep adding ammonia each day or every couple of days. You want about 2ppm of ammonia in the water, then let it drop to 0 before adding more.
     
  10. Meeko

    Meeko Fish Fanatic

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    Should have provided some more background..
    Day 10 of the tank being set up, I originally added flakes on Day 2 but I managed to source pure ammonia on Friday, and added a dose which brought ammonia up to 4ppm. The test kit was reading 0 beforehand. The graph above is only showing it from the day I added the pure ammonia (friday).

    I tested my tap water and there are 0 nitrate there.

    Basically, keep the ammonia topped up to 2ppm and if the nitrite rating continues to spike then I am well on my way?

    Thanks for the reply.
     
  11. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    well that makes a bit more sense then :)

    The ammonia appears to have come down, and that means the first lot of bacteria have developed in the filter. They are eating the ammonia and producing nitrite as the byproduct, which is why the nitrite has suddenly gone up.

    Nitrate test kits read nitrite and nitrate, so the nitrates will be from the nitrate test kit picking up the nitrites. You don't have to test for nitrates until you see the nitrites coming down. However, you can continue to monitor them if you like.

    Yes keep adding ammonia at about 2-3ppm, it doesn't have to be exactly 2 or 3, but 2-3ppm, then let it drop to 0 before adding more. :)
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  12. Meeko

    Meeko Fish Fanatic

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    Ah okay, I think I've got it now.

    Thank you for your help :D
     
  13. Meeko

    Meeko Fish Fanatic

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    Slightly worried now. Have been continuing to dose ammonia back up to 4ppm when it goes down. Went to test for nitrite and nitrate yesterday and the nitrites were off the scale whilst I am pretty sure I am getting a false reading for nitrate as it stays yellowish. Went to work overnight and got in this morning and the ammonia has barely dropped at all, there is a slight drop but very little difference. when before they were dropping within 24 hours. I didn't overdose it or anything like that and I've followed the test instructions to a tee. So I've just woken up and it has been about 36 hours since my last dose of ammonia now.

    First thing I have done is used a test strip just to confirm that my API kit readings are off the charts. Nitrate and Nitrite are both off the charts on the strips too (tetra test strips).That also confirms that I have been getting a false reading from the nitrate test on the API kit. Then I have re-tested all my API tests and here are my results:

    pH: 6.0 (tested twice incase I messed up and it is definitely a pale-ish yellow result, not quite sure what is going on there.) (for context it is usually has been around 7-7.2) Tank water pH is between 6.8-7.2
    Ammonia: This has actually dropped since this morning, it looks to be around 1ppm which means that it is actually dropping just slower than usual (im going to assume due to the low pH?)
    Nitrite: off the chart
    Nitrate: Bottle 1 turns the tank water dark yellow, then when bottle 2 is added it just goes to a lighter yellow colour..but the test strip said it was off the scale so I think it's safe to assume I am getting a false reading here.

    So I clearly have a pH crash, not sure why?
    the ammonia is actually dropping but very slowly
    Nitrite continues to be off the chart
    Nitrate is also off the chart

    I am not sure what is happening here or what to do :(
     
  14. essjay

    essjay Member

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    A few points occur to me.

    You should not dose ammonia every time it falls. This makes so much nitrite that the cycle stalls. But the stall point is higher than our test kits can read so we have no idea when nitrite reaches the critical level. That's why the fishless cycling method on here was written - if followed to the letter, nitrite can never get high enough to stall the cycle. http://www.fishforums.net/threads/cycling-your-new-fresh-water-tank-read-this-first.421488/
    I would do a water change, big enough to get the nitrite reading somewhere on the chart - or several smaller water changes to get nitrite on the chart somewhere - then follow the instructions in that link. We now know that our filter bacteria do not starve if they are not fed every day.
    And you should add only enough ammonia to get 3 ppm not 4.

    Secondly, with your soft water and low KH it does not take much acidic nitrite and nitrate to use up all your KH, then make the pH drop off the bottom of the scale. The water change(s) to reduce nitrite will also put more KH into the tank so the pH will go back to it's usual level.
    If the pH starts to fall again, do another big water change.


    The liquid nitrate tester - are you shaking bottle #2 as per the instructions? Bottle #2 has a reagent that settles on the bottom of the bottle. All that shaking is necessary to get it back into the liquid. Failure to shake the bottle and test tube is the main cause of a false nitrate reading.
    And are you waiting 5 minutes for the colour to develop?
     
  15. Meeko

    Meeko Fish Fanatic

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    Okay, I am getting conflicting advice then. I was told to continue topping ammonia up. I will have a look at the link.

    I have already added a teaspoon of baking soda, and 30 minutes later it has raised the pH back up to 7.2. If it falls again, I will do the water change method. If it doesn't fall again, I will do the water change to bring the nitrite level down anyway.

    As for the test kit, yeah I am following the instructions, I've searched the web and tried loads of different methods including diluting the mix. Maybe it is just because my level is too high, so once levels go lower after the water change I might be able to get an actual reading.

    Thanks
     

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