11-19-2009, 06:58 PM
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This thread has continued on about your test kit...but what about the poor fish???
What are they doing? Are they acting "normal" or different? Gasping near the surface, or respirating faster than usual? Rubbing on items (flashing it's called)?
Any of these signs means trouble, and daily partial water changes of 50% with a good water conditioner will probably work. If you don't see any signs of stress or trouble, it may have been a slight nitrification blimp and OK.
The mini cycle is what we call it when something occurs to kill off the good bacteria that perform the nitrification work in an aquarium, at least one without plants. Doing too much or too thorough a cleaning of filter media and substrate at once can kill off considerable numbers of bacteria, and then the fish continue to produce the ammonia but suddenly there are no nitrosomonas bacteria--or too few--to handle it, and they need time to multiply back to the level required. Same with the nitrospira bacteria that convert nitrite to nitrate.
In a heavily-planted aquarium it is practically impossible to create a mini-cycle because the plants consume more ammonia (as ammonium) than the bacteria can, so unless you remove or kill the plants, cleaning the filter and substrate will never cause a problem. But without plants, you have to be very careful to rinse the filter media in tank water to avoid killing the bacteria, and many suggest cleaning the filter at a time other than when you do vacuum the substrate. I can't say how much actual bacteria may be killed by ordinary substrate vacuuming, but removing it would be a different thing. And removing decor items and cleaning them has killed all the bacteria on them.
I agree with the liquid test kits being much more accurate. If you have any questions on the nitrification issue, just ask.