Not until I got the 125g tank did I really start testing the water conditions. My 55g tank has always done really well with very little loss of life over an 18 month span. But now that I have this big 125g tank I am trying to be more sensitive to all of my fish tank's water conditions. All of my tanks read the same though and I am not sure what to do, all have ammonia readings, although admittingly I have not yet gone out to get liquid tester yet. I looked today at the LFS and they didn't have any. But while I was there I decided 10 tetras would look good in the tank. If the angels don't start eating them I will get some more. Cute buggers. That is besides the point though.
Here are my readings...
Ammonia: .25-.50 (tough to read these crappy sticks, I would say somewhere inbetween.
I tested the ammonia in my tap water and it was .25-.50 as well.
Is my fish water bad? Good? I know I shouldn't have ammonia. Like I said the other day, the ammonia sticks already read .25 when I pull them out of the box, both kinds too! (I have two types of ammonia test strips).
I want to start cleaning some of the gravel in the large tank. It has been set up for about 7 weeks now but I have dared to touch it. I had a ton of brown algae form about 1-2 weeks ago. I left it alone until 3 days ago and I wiped it all off, I haven't seen any new appear yet. DO I dare start cleaning the gravel yet?
I have these test strips and they just don't seem to tell me anything. Same readings every time, I don't know what they mean.
Well assumiong there is any accuracy in the test strips at all, your tank water should be zero because your tap water should be zero. Getting the exact same result for the tap as the tank says this. But as you said, a liquid test will tell for sure. See if you local fish store will test the tank water for ammonia. Your tap water should never have ammonia in it, if it truely does I would be contacting my local city hall and having something done about it.
As for cleaning the substrate, go for it. It will not interupt nor hurt a cycle but will keep the water cleaner and healthier for when you put fish in the tank. When I did my first fishless cycle, I changed the water weekly, 50%, and the cycle took a little over 8 weeks. This was with nothing from an established tank, no chemicals and nothing else added but dechlor and plant ferts.
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