Which Test To Trust - His 80ppm or my 10ppm
The guy at Petco tested my nitrates, I don't know why...and came up with 80ppm, contrary to 10ppm with my test at home. I'm using API. Which is accurate?
I am in a nitrogen cycle:
Today is day 27.
My water is crystal clear. Wouldn't 80ppm nitrate discolor the water a little, like a very light brown or something that would show from the side of the tank? It's been a long time since I've seen that - I'm starting a 10 gallon planted tank.
Thanks for the help.
firstly discoloured water is not indicative of high nitrates, not that I am aware anyway.
Secondly, I hear again and again that the API test for nitrate is difficult to get right. You need to shake bottle number 2 for at least 2 minutes and with some vigour too... to disperse the particles in it that can settle. you also need to let the test develop for at least 5 mins before checking the colour chart. mine always goes up to over 40ppm, but I get that out of my tap, my tank is heavily planted yet the nitrates remain high.
day 27 and do you have any fish? by week 3 I had about 14 fish in my 29g. I managed this by heavily planting my tank with fast growing plants like Green Cabomba, and Anacharis and some Amazon Swords too and some others. having lots of plants in your new tank can help you bypass the cycle, well it still happens but you don't really notice it.
I would check your tap water for all the parameters, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate just to get a baseline reading. you may have nitrates present, I certainly do and high levels too! make sure to shake the test bottle for 2 mins, and leave it to develop to get a more accurate reading. I would think the test in store was probably more accurate.
If you have fish in, I would do a hefty water change and buy some seachem PRIME, its a water conditioner and it temporarily reduces nitrates along with all the other stuff you don't want also. this will give the tank time to deal with the nitrite which you certainly don't want to see if there is fish in your tank!! if you nitrates are 80ppm then I guess water changes and good tank maintenance is in order, gravel vacuuming etc. but If the tank is empty then I can't see that would be necessary.
It would be beneficial for you to shake the #2 bottle for 2 minutes prior to adding it to the test tube. The liquid is prone to separating and needs to be shaken hard.
Nitrates will not show up as anything other than a color on the chart, the brown you are talking about is Diatoms, algae which comes and goes in tanks. The diatoms are not a problem, they will clear on there own.
With regards to your parameters, everything seems to be progressing well, the ammonia has dropped off to Nitrites which have peaked high, these will then drop off to Nitrates...it could well be that you have 80ppm...HOWEVER, it is not worth testing for Nitrates now as you have Nitrite present...start testing for Nitrates, when you see the NitRITE level drop off. Once you see ZERO ammonia, Nitrite then test for Nitrate. The Nitrate reading will likely be high, this is where you perform a major 70-90% water change to bring those levels down prior to adding fish.
Once you have zero ammonia and Nitrites, then you are considered cycled. Perform the water and add fish SLOWLY...testing for ammonia and Nitrites on a regular basis until your tank is fully stocked..adding the fish slowly will allow the beneficial bacteria you have created time to catch up with the added bioload of having fish.
If you have fish in the tank, perform water changes DAILY as that level of Nitrite is extremely toxic to fish to the point it will likely kill them.
Having any ammonia, Nitrite with fish in the tank is bad for the long term survival of the fish.
Thank you guys for responding so quickly. I don't have any fish in the tank and I'm using the flake method. I wish I had a tankful of plants, but I only have three. One of these is coming back from planting and extraction of the plast basket and as much of the green stuff inside as I could get. The other two, well, they're not doing so hot, even the little swath of Java Moss. I'm happy about the other one, though.
btw, Ammonia is 0.1; nitrite and nitrate are undetectable (raw?)
I agree with most of what has been posted. One exception is the information about Prime. Prime does not remove nitrates, or anything for that matter. It will DETOXIFY ammonia, nitrite and nitrates for 24 - 48 hours only (giving bio-filtration and/or plants time to process [assumes an established tank] following water changes).
I agree that it is very easy to have false readings if/when regent #2 separates. In addition to vigorous shaking, you might even band against a table to ensure all elements are thoroughly mixed.
You should definitely test your source water. It is not uncommon to have high nitrates in your water. Some municipal water supplies are as high as 20ppm+. My (country) well water is off the chart high in nitrates due to a 95 acre farmers field across the road that gets ample amounts of organic and chemical fertilizer.
I didn't say prime removes nitrates, just temporarily reduces them along with ammonia ect so that the filter has time to deal with them. Sorry must have been my use of language, but what Abbeysdad said is what I was trying to say. :)
btw again, I was a little confused on my last post, so please see the parameters below, from Petco.
Nitrate: 80ppm (ouch!)
add the fish a few at a time though, and monitor closely!
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