What do my water params mean? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 5 Old 07-09-2009, 04:49 AM Thread Starter
New Member
What do my water params mean?

I've been measuring the params of the water in my tank for the last 4 days. I know this isn't long, but the tank should have already been mostly cycled, since the tank was set up as a coldwater tank before. However, I stupidly changed the filter medium, and then had to change the substrate as it was causing the PH to rise very high, so I believe the tank is going through a mini cycle. I've been testing every day, usually more than once, and the params have been like this:

5th July
AM Ammonia 0.25, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 0, PH 8.4
PM 30% water change carried out, substrate removed.

6th July
AM Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 20, PH 8.0
PM 30% water change carried out, new substrate added, plants added.

7th July
AM Ammonia 1.0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 10, PH 7.4
Two pieces planted bog wood and two apple snails added
Following 30% water change
Midday Ammonia 0.25, Nitrite 0.25, Nitrate 10, PH 7.4
Following further 30% water change
PM Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0.50, Nitrate 10, PH 7.4

8th July
AM Ammonia 0.25, Nitrite 0.50, Nitrate 10, PH 7.4
No water change carried out, on advice to keep things stable
PM Ammonia 0.25, Nitrite 1.0, Nitrate 10, PH 7.4
30% water change carried out

9th July
AM Ammonia 0.25, Nitrite 1.0, Nitrate 10, PH 7.4
30% water change carried out

Tank is 35 litre, and had something that's been ID's as a CAE (yes, I know it needs rehoming, I'm on it) in it when it was coldwater, which is still there, and the two apple snails I added. Filter has been squeezed in a bucket of tank water because it got clogged with plant bits and was not being effective.

I want to know whether these results are normal for cycling. So far, everything I've read about the nitrogen cycle seems to say that once there are nitrites, there shouldn't be any ammonia, and once there are nitrates there shouldn't be nitrites. My tank seems to be backwards, in that there have been nitrates there from the beginning, and although the nitrites now seem to be spiking, ammonia is still present.

This brings me to my next concern. I've also been testing the params of the tap water every time I do a water change, and to my uneducated mind they seem peculiar. Ammonia seems to be a fairly constant 0.25. I don't know if this is usual for tap water. What's the result of adding it to my tank? Surely it would just maintain the ammonia levels? The tap water shows as having 0 nitrites, but nitrates at 10ppm, which, again, is the same as the tank. This makes water changes seem a little pointless! At this point I feel like all I'm doing is reducing the nitrites with water changes, as the ammonia and nitrates are the same. The other thing about the tap water, is that the PH fluctuates between 8.0 and 7.4, apparently every other day or so. The tank water now seems fairly steady at 7.4. Will this water have a negative effect on the tank/its eventual occupants?

I appologise for the essay! Would really appreciate some more experienced opinions.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Whole tank.jpg (34.6 KB, 22 views)
beckywhite1979 is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 5 Old 07-09-2009, 07:43 AM
I am not the best person to answer this, but I am pretty sure you do not change water during a tank cycle; you wait until ammonia spikes and then drops and reaches zero. After that you do your first water change. Also, maybe since it was cold water, certain bacterias could not thrive, and with newer warmer water, along with a new filter medium, you are experiencing new bacteria, thus you are going through a completely new cycle. Hopefully someone else can chime in!
mullinsd2 is offline  
post #3 of 5 Old 07-09-2009, 08:30 AM
Twistersmom's Avatar
All of your test readings are very normal for a cycling tank.
Notice that your ammonia has dropped already, as your nitrites has increased.

In a cycling tank, completely normal to get a reading for ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates.

Looks like it is a mini cycle. Should not take that long to complete the cycle.

I would continue with the water changes to keep both ammonia and nitrites under .25 ppm. This will help keep the fish and snails healthy.

I also have nitrates in my tap water. Still need to do the water changes. Once the cycle kicks back in, you may find it difficult to keep nitrates low, but the plants and extra water changes help.
Twistersmom is offline  
post #4 of 5 Old 07-09-2009, 08:45 AM Thread Starter
New Member
Thanks. I'll keep doing what I'm doing then. :)
beckywhite1979 is offline  
post #5 of 5 Old 07-09-2009, 09:22 AM
Byron's Avatar
This was addressed in another thread, but no matter. As TM said, it was a mini-cycle, I explained why in that other thread, and how to deal with it.

Only new info here is the ammonia in your tap water, that wasn't mentioned in the other thread. You will have to get rid of it with a water conditioner that negates ammonia. I believe 1077 and others have mentioned Prime or Amquel as good ones. Just make sure it eliminates ammonia and use it for all partial water changes. Otherwise, every addition of fresh water will add this ammonia [and .25 is very significant with a high pH] and the bacteria in the tank are not sufficient to handle it and these mini-cycles will continue because first the nitrosomonas bacteria have to multiply (takes around 9 hours) and then the nitrospira (little more time) to handle the nitrite.

Nitrates are not a concern. And I believe we resolved the pH issue in the other thread, as best as I recall.


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]
Byron is offline  

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
water question deoinized water vs distilled water jaysix79 Saltwater Fish 13 02-08-2010 01:42 AM
Questions on my water conditions. Advice on water changes and liquid fertilizer saulat Beginner Planted Aquarium 13 07-05-2009 05:50 PM
White Cloudy Water + Dead Fish after water change HELP!!! eviltuna Tropical Fish Diseases 8 03-05-2008 12:03 AM
My params le9569 Water Chemistry 10 10-09-2006 11:44 AM

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome