My water shows everything - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 11 Old 07-13-2010, 06:11 AM Thread Starter
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My water shows everything

My water shows everything, Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate. What is up with that. I did a 20% water change yesterday and used Prime. The water this morning (yes I am a test-aholic) shows Ammonia 1.0ppm, Nitrite 5.0ppm and Nitrate 10ppm. Is that even possible? I know the Prime takes care of the Ammonia and the Nitrite. The fish seem just fine, normal swim patterns, begging for food etc...

I just thought once you show Nitrate, which I do, the others should all but disappear. Is my water weird or what? Should I be concerned? Is there something I should be doing? In a few days, I will be planting a whole bunch more live plants which hopefully will help some. I guess I was just shocked to see these numbers.
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post #2 of 11 Old 07-13-2010, 09:22 AM
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a tank can have another cycle. just because you cycle a tank doesnt mean you can fill it full of fish right away. this is why its best to stock slowly so the tank can adjust to what is being added. have you added anything new recently?

have you checked your source water for amm or nitrite?
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post #3 of 11 Old 07-13-2010, 10:22 AM
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Another slight possibility is that you have old/faulty test kits. What brand are they, and what is their posted expiration date? (Granted, heavy stocking shortly after a new cycle is established is a much more likely cause, since the tank won't yet have enough beneficial bacteria to process the new load of ammonia.)
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post #4 of 11 Old 07-13-2010, 12:50 PM
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Yea what kind of kit do you have too? Is it a test strip? or a quality liquid test kit? With that much nitrite and ammonia your fish are in for a world of hurt.

If the fish are acting normal and continue that way, I would recommend you buy yourself a new test kit.
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post #5 of 11 Old 07-13-2010, 04:10 PM Thread Starter
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I have not added any fish for a while now. The last was 1 small red tail shark going on 2 weeks ago. Before that, a month. I use API Master Test kit. Like I said, the fish seem fine, I am just sort of surprised to see everything at once. I know the Prime will make Ammonia and Nitrite less toxic so that is good but it is still registering pretty darn high. Especially considering I do regular water changes. I am stumped.

Oh and Yes, I did test my water here and it has 0 Ammonia 0 Nitrite. This is just weird. The test kit is not old, I just got it less then a month ago.
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post #6 of 11 Old 07-13-2010, 04:45 PM
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Strange.... I guess just do like a 50% water change everyday until it goes down, those numbers are a bit scary to me to just let things ride out and keep using the prime until the numbers come down.....
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post #7 of 11 Old 07-13-2010, 04:48 PM Thread Starter
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Right? I thought so too. I tend to be paranoid though and for awhile I was doing 40% water changes each day because I kept seeing Ammonia. That was before it was fully cycled though. I just thought once you had Nitrites, the Ammonia went down and once you had Nitrate, the Nitrite went down. Maybe I was confused again. I will do another 50 % water change but honestly, the fish look perfect. They are doing their thing. :)
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post #8 of 11 Old 07-13-2010, 08:28 PM Thread Starter
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Dang! Now, a couple of hours after the 50% water change and a BIG dose of Prime, I have 10 ppm Nitrate, 5.0ppm Nitrite and .25 Ammonia. Something is weird, but I don't have a clue. I am changing one of the 2 Bio-filters. I don't want to change them both because I don't want to start the cycle all over again. The fish seem fine but the numbers are throwing me a curve ball. Any other suggestions? I mean, other then relax. :)
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post #9 of 11 Old 07-13-2010, 08:44 PM
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I'm at a loss, see if anyone else has any ideas....
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post #10 of 11 Old 07-14-2010, 12:41 AM
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Hold on. Nothing is wrong. Relax.

Now to the issues. First, nitrate at 10ppm is fine, in fact very fine. Most suggest keeping nitrate below 20ppm, but many fish seem to be OK with it higher than that. But as a good practice, keep it below 20ppm, and it will be with regular partial water changes (weekly) and certainly with live plants.

As for the ammonia, Prime detoxifies ammonia by changing it to ammonium which is basically harmless. Test kits including the API read ammonia and ammonium together as "ammonia". So the "ammonia" is probably ammonium. Which is why the fish are not showing stress. Bacteria and plants use ammonium/ammonia, so no issue there.

Nitrite. This cannot be at 5 or all the fish would be dead. Nitrite at .25 is dangerous and at that level fish would be showing stress; heavy respiration, hanging at the surface in an attempt to get oxygen, listlessness, followed by death if not rectified. Nitrite gets in the bloodstream and prevents fish from carrying oxygen in the blood. I know that Prime detoxifies nitrite (and nitrate) by binding it somehow, so the bacteria can use it (the nitrite that is) but I do not know if tests will still show it. Unless something is way out of whack in the tank, you are not going to see nitrite above zero, unless it is in the source water. Have you tested your tap water for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate? You should, as knowing it will come in with fresh water during water changes is important, so a conditioner like Prime can be used and handle it.

While water changes will not harm the fish, all that work is unnecessary (unless there really is an issue, which frankly I doubt). Close observation of the fish by sitting in front of the tank for an hour or more is one of the best "tests" we can do. It is amazing what I find by just doing this. I never test for ammonia or nitrite, haven't for years; and rarely do I test nitrates because I know from what I'm looking at what they are. Fish behaviour is a tremendous guide to what is going on in the tank.

Inga, I know you are deeply concerned about providing the very best for your fish, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But I would not fuss over testing after a water change; test the water before the water change (esp for pH and nitrates), that will give you an idea of what is going on; and keep a chart with the date, time of day (this is important for pH and nitrates) and the numbers, so you can identify changes. The water change plus the conditioner will obviously affect the water chemistry. If you want to check these things again, do so the next day. Unless you see trouble of course.

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]

Last edited by Byron; 07-14-2010 at 12:44 AM.
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