very confused by water test results - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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post #1 of 11 Old 07-22-2009, 01:24 PM Thread Starter
very confused by water test results

Hi, I currently have two tanks in my house. One 55 gallon with one oscar in it and a corner tank thats roughly 50 gallons that has 6 tinfoil barbs.

I'm guilty of hardly ever testing my water I usually only test if it looks like theres something going on with the fish. Anyhow today I figured I'd do a test of each tank since its been so long(the fish seem fine)

The 50 gallon with the tinfoil barbs turned up normal results.. like 20ppm of nitrate no nitrite and trace amounts of ammonia (barley enough to even read it)

The 55 gallon with the oscar is what has me completely confused... Its reading no nitrate nitrite or ammonia.. keep in mind that both of these tanks have been setup for at least 7 months

I'm using the API freshwaer master test kit which is what everyone seems to recommend
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post #2 of 11 Old 07-22-2009, 01:29 PM
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im in agreement with you, i would be confused by your oscar tank test results....No nitrates?............Is this tank very heavily planted?......(i sorta doubt it, i know oscars usually dont put up with plants in their tank).......When was the last water change you did on your oscar tank?.........how much water did you change?.......
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post #3 of 11 Old 07-22-2009, 01:31 PM
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yeah, something is not adding up right....did you test properly? I would re-test....it's not gonna hurt anything
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post #4 of 11 Old 07-22-2009, 01:34 PM Thread Starter
I already did retest. There is zero plants in the tank and i do a 60% waterchange about once a month (I should do it more i know)
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post #5 of 11 Old 07-23-2009, 11:23 AM
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There are a coule of things here.

1. No tank that is established biologically should test anything but "0" for ammonia. I'd want to find out why there was even a trace of ammonia in that tank [but see 3 below].

2. How large is the oscar? If it is very small and by itself in a 55g, it is possible there is insufficient biological activity to show significant nitrates. But if it is larger (6+ inches) there may be trouble here.

3. A 60% pwc once a month is no where near adequate for either tank. This may be the source of both problems. PWC should be more often even with less water rather than less often and more water, to maintain a more stable and consistent water quality.

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 11 Old 07-23-2009, 04:45 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Byron View Post
There are a coule of things here.

1. No tank that is established biologically should test anything but "0" for ammonia. I'd want to find out why there was even a trace of ammonia in that tank [but see 3 below].

2. How large is the oscar? If it is very small and by itself in a 55g, it is possible there is insufficient biological activity to show significant nitrates. But if it is larger (6+ inches) there may be trouble here.

3. A 60% pwc once a month is no where near adequate for either tank. This may be the source of both problems. PWC should be more often even with less water rather than less often and more water, to maintain a more stable and consistent water quality.
1. Theres traces of ammonia because inadequate filtration. My canister broke and I had to improvise.

2 The oscar isn't really too big, maybe 5 inches long head to rear fin, and he is the only fish in the tank.

3 I know i should do more frequent water changes but I never seem to get to it.. Maybe I'll mark the days on a calendar or something.
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post #7 of 11 Old 07-24-2009, 08:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Christian Patti View Post
1. Theres traces of ammonia because inadequate filtration. My canister broke and I had to improvise.

2 The oscar isn't really too big, maybe 5 inches long head to rear fin, and he is the only fish in the tank.

3 I know i should do more frequent water changes but I never seem to get to it.. Maybe I'll mark the days on a calendar or something.
The lackof nitrates in the oscar tank is still odd, but in my honest opinion regular pwc will probably clear all this up. I cannot stress too much the importance of weekly pwc. Find the time; if you intend to keep fish you have to be prepared to give them the necessary care to keep them healthy. And aside from feeding them properly, nothing in an aquarium is as important as weekly partial water changes.

I have written elsewhere on the internal issues this prevents, and won't repeat here. Get in the habit of doing them the same time every week (first thing Saturday or Sunday morning, or whatever). It would take less than an hour to do both tanks; I can do my three tanks (115g, 90g and 70g) in less than 2 hours, and that is with plant triimming included. Take my (and everyone else's) word for it, it is very crucial to a successful aquarium.

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 #8 of 11 Old 07-24-2009, 08:38 AM
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agreed.

PWC are crucial, and once you get the hang of it, they really don't seem as much as a "hassle", but more of a weekly activity. You can always find short cuts to make things go quicker too, you'll learn your own way to get it done fastest, but a 20-30% PWC weekly is very important for your tanks environemnt, like byron said.
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post #9 of 11 Old 07-26-2009, 01:05 PM
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huh?

I'm confused...you're all telling her more water changes when she has all zeros....interesting...so..to sum it up, change your water more to get rid of those pesky zero readings!

Maybe it's that one 5 in fish in a 55 gallon tank is just too small of a bioload to make enough ammonia for your test kit to read. That's almost 11 gallons per inch of your fish! One of the 11 gallons is just for the tail fin! And, I doubt you overfeed...and there's another solution for the all zeros problem.

BTW, I only change my water twice a month with readings that are fine...muhahaha.
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post #10 of 11 Old 07-27-2009, 02:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Christian Patti View Post
1. Theres traces of ammonia because inadequate filtration. My canister broke and I had to improvise.

2 The oscar isn't really too big, maybe 5 inches long head to rear fin, and he is the only fish in the tank.

3 I know i should do more frequent water changes but I never seem to get to it.. Maybe I'll mark the days on a calendar or something.
A tank with healthy biological filter should render zero for ammonia all day every day. You say canister filter broke and that you had to improvise. Did you transfer the filter material from the broken canister to the filter you have now? how long ago did your canister break? How long has present filter been running on the aquarium? I have heard of similar problems when filters are replaced and all new filter material has been installed or when filter material was cleaned with tapwater. Both instances would cause ammonia levels to increase until beneficial bacteria can once again be developed in the filter. I would keep an eye on ammonia levels if either of these scenarios has taken place.
Weekly water changes are recommended by nearly all expierienced fish keepers to ensure the longterm health of the fish. To do otherwise,, simply invites problems that are easily prevented.
The one inch per gal rule is flawed but is good general guideline for most fish however,, It cetainly does not apply to fish like Oscars,Plecos,and goldfish who are capable (and do!) create twice the waste of other fish of similar size. Take care of your water and fish will remain healthy. It don't get much simpler than that.

The most important medication in your fish medicine cabinet is.. Clean water.
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