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post #1 of 21 Old 08-07-2012, 04:58 PM Thread Starter
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API liquid ammonia test question

I'm positive my tank is cycled and healthy. When I test ammonia I never get a completely yellow response, its somewhere between yellow and the first green. I've tested a friends well established tank and it shows the same. Mine routinely tests 0 nitrites and 5 -30 nitrates. Its 4 months old, 20g with 3 adult and 4 fry platys. Anyone know about this? And as long as I'm here my nitrates dont stay steady. If I go a week between wc's, nitrates will climb to about 80ppm. Then I wc daily for a few and get nitrates back down, but they slowly climb again. Is this normal? I have several small anubias, and in last 2 days added 1 batch needle leaf ludwigia ans several stalks of water wisteria.

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Last edited by marshallsea; 08-07-2012 at 05:13 PM.
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post #2 of 21 Old 08-07-2012, 05:19 PM Thread Starter
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I should clarify, nitrates stay steady if I change water every 2-3 days.

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post #3 of 21 Old 08-07-2012, 07:16 PM
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Have you tested just plain tap water?
My friend's tap water has ammonia in it. I'm not an expert, but if you're doing water changes every 2-3 days it could be possible that all the ammonia in the tap water hasn't had time to be converted into nitrite.


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post #4 of 21 Old 08-07-2012, 07:35 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by AK Fresh Water View Post
Have you tested just plain tap water?
My friend's tap water has ammonia in it. I'm not an expert, but if you're doing water changes every 2-3 days it could be possible that all the ammonia in the tap water hasn't had time to be converted into nitrite.
The 2-3 day water changes are to keep nitrates down. I dont believe I have an ammonia issue as a friends established tank test shows the same yellow/green color. I think my test kit doesnt show an accurate
ammonia reading. But I will test the tap for ammonia and nitrates. That might answer a few questions. Thank you for the idea.

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post #5 of 21 Old 08-08-2012, 12:27 PM
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If the test results for nitrates are accurate, something is wrong; nitrates should not be rising that much in just a few days. But the first step is to eliminate (or confirm) each possibility, starting with the tap water. Test it for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate.

Second issue is the tank size and fish stocking and feeding, water change volume and frequency, and live plants. These are obviously all related. You mention a 20g, with three adult platy and some fry, and some stem plants. Unless you are overfeeding, I would not expect nitrates to be rising over a week, with a regular weekly partial water change of half the tank; nor would I expect ammonia, especially with stem plants. Are the plants growing well?

Byron.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #6 of 21 Old 08-08-2012, 04:23 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Byron View Post
If the test results for nitrates are accurate, something is wrong; nitrates should not be rising that much in just a few days. But the first step is to eliminate (or confirm) each possibility, starting with the tap water. Test it for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate.

Second issue is the tank size and fish stocking and feeding, water change volume and frequency, and live plants. These are obviously all related. You mention a 20g, with three adult platy and some fry, and some stem plants. Unless you are overfeeding, I would not expect nitrates to be rising over a week, with a regular weekly partial water change of half the tank; nor would I expect ammonia, especially with stem plants. Are the plants growing well?

Byron.
I tested the tap water-ammonia-0, nitrites between .25 and .50 ppm, nitrates 3-5ppm. I'm careful not to overfeed. My 3 stem plants were planted 2 days ago , but look a bit healthier now than they did when planted. I suspect the nitrates started when I (stupidly) put 8 API rootabs in substrate for a few anubias that had yellowing leaves. It really clouded the tank and filled both hob's with a thick brown muck. I vacuumed tabs out next day. Alternating filters on different days I cleaned sponges and housings a few times each in removed tank water. They were bad. But they still spewed brown when turned back on after feeding. Today I looked inside pick up tubes and they had a lot of the muck. I cleaned 1 housing, sponge and tube today in tank water, will do other tomorrow. As I see the situation, there shouldnt be excessive nitrates. My plants haven't been in that long, and theres not that many plants. Im adding as I can. I think it has to stem from the rootabs and until I get the filters clean enough to stop spewing muck, I cant rule it out.

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post #7 of 21 Old 08-08-2012, 05:05 PM
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That API Ammonia test is always the same for me too, it NEVER looks like the colour for 0ppm, looks slightly greeny. I just take it as 0ppm as it never gets there, and my tank is 8 months old. I guess the only explanation is that it is maybe registering a slight trace of ammonia before it gets chance to be converted by the bacteria, or used by the plants. there must be a point where ammonia is present, even in fully cycled tanks. Although it must be converted quickly. Probably wrong about this aspect, but just a thought. I wouldn't sweat it, as long as the colour doesn't go anywhere near the other green colours on the chart you should be fine. I stopped worrying AGES ago about this very subject.

Peace always..

If you worry you die, and if you don't worry you still die..... so why worry?
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post #8 of 21 Old 08-08-2012, 05:54 PM
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My experience with the API ammonia test is the same, but isn't it the best match? You could also bring some of your tank water to the LFS to test for ammonia with the API test and ask if you can see the color. You could bring your vial too.

So when did this start happening? After you put those 8 roottabs around the anubias? Did you get them out or did they melt? Some fertilizers still use nitrate. I really don't think the fish can generate that much by themselves. Go buy some more plants - fast-growing ones. I'd recommend Fanwort (Cabomba), but it can lose leaves and be kind of messy. Did good for me for a while. Definitely do Water Sprite, planted. They can grow like weeds. That won't solve the problem if you're getting mega-nitrates from somewhere, but at least you'll have more plants assimilating any ammonia. I can attest to that.

Last edited by equatics; 08-08-2012 at 06:00 PM.
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post #9 of 21 Old 08-08-2012, 06:08 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by rhymon78 View Post
That API Ammonia test is always the same for me too, it NEVER looks like the colour for 0ppm, looks slightly greeny. I just take it as 0ppm as it never gets there, and my tank is 8 months old. I guess the only explanation is that it is maybe registering a slight trace of ammonia before it gets chance to be converted by the bacteria, or used by the plants. there must be a point where ammonia is present, even in fully cycled tanks. Although it must be converted quickly. Probably wrong about this aspect, but just a thought. I wouldn't sweat it, as long as the colour doesn't go anywhere near the other green colours on the chart you should be fine. I stopped worrying AGES ago about this very subject.
Thanks Rhymon78, thats what I figured.

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post #10 of 21 Old 08-08-2012, 06:23 PM Thread Starter
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My experience with the API ammonia test is the same, but isn't it the best match? You could also bring some of your tank water to the LFS to test for ammonia with the API test and ask if you can see the color. You could bring your vial too.

So when did this start happening? After you put those 8 roottabs around the anubias? Did you get them out or did they melt? Some fertilizers still use nitrate. I really don't think the fish can generate that much by themselves. Go buy some more plants - fast-growing ones. I'd recommend Fanwort (Cabomba), but it can lose leaves and be kind of messy. Did good for me for a while. Definitely do Water Sprite, planted. They can grow like weeds. That won't solve the problem if you're getting mega-nitrates from somewhere, but at least you'll have more plants assimilating any ammonia. I can attest to that.
Yes, it is the best match. I believe the nitrate problem started after the rootabs. I got complacent and hadnt tested for a while. I noticed glancing the day after the rootabs. Thats when I tested and found high nitrates. That day I vacuumed the tabs out and have been cleaning the muck daily since then. The nitrates have gone down but since Ive been doing daily wcs that could be causing the nitrate drop.When I get the filters to stop spewing muck when turned on after feeding, I'll know for sure if the tabs caused the mega-nitrates. Im adding plants as I can.Thank you.

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