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Nitrate but no nitrite? (fishless cycling)



 
 
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  #1  
Old March 11th 05, 04:13 PM
Bill
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Default Nitrate but no nitrite? (fishless cycling)

Hi all,

I'm doing a fishless cycle on my 20H tank. I've been testing ammonia
and nitrite daily, but haven't been testing nitrate very much. I
figured there wasn't any point to it until I saw nitrite, and the
nitrate test is a royal pain to do -- it's the Aquarium Pharmaceuticals
test, where you have to add 10 drops of one solution, shake the 2nd
solution for 30 seconds, add 10 drops of it, and shake the test tube for
another minute.

The last time I tested nitrate was March 4th, when I first added the
ammonia, and the result was 0 ppm. Since then, I've done daily ammonia
and nitrite tests and gotten 4 and 0 ppm, respectively. On March 6th, I
dropped some food in the water to add a little phosphate to the system,
based on http://tinyurl.com/53dvn, http://tinyurl.com/4z65a, and
http://www.algone.com/fishless_cycling.htm; I also adjusted the
temperature from 80F (set there from 78F the day before) to 82 (to
promote the bacterial growth), and it's been fluctuating 81/82 (by whole
degree) since then. However, it's actually been less than about half a
degree on the analog thermometer I have on the tank.

Keeping in mind that my tap water tests negative for nitrate, I tested
the big three last night. I read 4 ppm ammonia, which I expected, 0
ppm, which I also expected, and about 2.5 ppm (maybe 1-2.5) nitrate,
which I most certainly did *not* expect. On the card, it matched
neither the bright yellow of the 0 reading nor the light orange of the 5
reading. It was slightly orange and certainly darker than the bright
yellow. Keeping in mind what NetMax said about the differences in color
perception between males and females, I saved the samples to show to my
wife, who was out at the time. She agreed with me.

I shook the second bottle of nitrate test solution vigorously for 30
seconds and the test tube for one minute, as directed. (I timed it.)
I'm also positive of the nitrite test results, and it's only been just
under a week since I first added the ammonia. I can think of three
possibilities, the first and simplest of which is operator error.
Second, it could have been the decaying food producing nitrate directly
-- the water smelled less strongly last night than it had for the first
few days after adding the small amount of food (what would be probably
three or four feedings' worth in a fully-stocked 20 gallon tank).
Third, and least likely, IMO, is that the bacteria are responsible for
it, even though I have no measurable quantities of nitrite yet.

Anyone have any ideas?
  #2  
Old March 11th 05, 05:59 PM
David C. Stone
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Posts: n/a
Default

In article [email protected], Bill
wrote:

Hi all,

I'm doing a fishless cycle on my 20H tank. I've been testing ammonia
and nitrite daily, but haven't been testing nitrate very much. I
figured there wasn't any point to it until I saw nitrite, and the
nitrate test is a royal pain to do -- it's the Aquarium Pharmaceuticals
test, where you have to add 10 drops of one solution, shake the 2nd
solution for 30 seconds, add 10 drops of it, and shake the test tube for
another minute.

The last time I tested nitrate was March 4th, when I first added the
ammonia, and the result was 0 ppm. Since then, I've done daily ammonia
and nitrite tests and gotten 4 and 0 ppm, respectively. On March 6th, I
dropped some food in the water to add a little phosphate to the system,


The food could also be a source of nitrate.
  #3  
Old March 11th 05, 11:08 PM
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Default

I found the Aquarium Pharmaceuticals ammonium and nitrite tests to be
very accurate. I cannot say the same about their nitrate test.

  #4  
Old March 12th 05, 01:17 AM
Richard Sexton
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Default

In article .com,
wrote:
I found the Aquarium Pharmaceuticals ammonium and nitrite tests to be
very accurate. I cannot say the same about their nitrate test.


How do you know how accurate they are?


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  #5  
Old March 13th 05, 12:37 AM
NetMax
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"Bill" wrote in message
news:[email protected]
Hi all,

I'm doing a fishless cycle on my 20H tank. I've been testing ammonia
and nitrite daily, but haven't been testing nitrate very much. I
figured there wasn't any point to it until I saw nitrite, and the
nitrate test is a royal pain to do -- it's the Aquarium Pharmaceuticals
test, where you have to add 10 drops of one solution, shake the 2nd
solution for 30 seconds, add 10 drops of it, and shake the test tube
for
another minute.

The last time I tested nitrate was March 4th, when I first added the
ammonia, and the result was 0 ppm. Since then, I've done daily ammonia
and nitrite tests and gotten 4 and 0 ppm, respectively. On March 6th,
I
dropped some food in the water to add a little phosphate to the system,
based on http://tinyurl.com/53dvn, http://tinyurl.com/4z65a, and
http://www.algone.com/fishless_cycling.htm; I also adjusted the
temperature from 80F (set there from 78F the day before) to 82 (to
promote the bacterial growth), and it's been fluctuating 81/82 (by
whole
degree) since then. However, it's actually been less than about half a
degree on the analog thermometer I have on the tank.

Keeping in mind that my tap water tests negative for nitrate, I tested
the big three last night. I read 4 ppm ammonia, which I expected, 0
ppm, which I also expected, and about 2.5 ppm (maybe 1-2.5) nitrate,
which I most certainly did *not* expect. On the card, it matched
neither the bright yellow of the 0 reading nor the light orange of the
5
reading. It was slightly orange and certainly darker than the bright
yellow. Keeping in mind what NetMax said about the differences in
color
perception between males and females, I saved the samples to show to my
wife, who was out at the time. She agreed with me.

I shook the second bottle of nitrate test solution vigorously for 30
seconds and the test tube for one minute, as directed. (I timed it.)
I'm also positive of the nitrite test results, and it's only been just
under a week since I first added the ammonia. I can think of three
possibilities, the first and simplest of which is operator error.
Second, it could have been the decaying food producing nitrate directly
-- the water smelled less strongly last night than it had for the first
few days after adding the small amount of food (what would be probably
three or four feedings' worth in a fully-stocked 20 gallon tank).
Third, and least likely, IMO, is that the bacteria are responsible for
it, even though I have no measurable quantities of nitrite yet.

Anyone have any ideas?


I agree that the NO3 test is a PITA (FYI: and if you leave the solution
to sit, it gets darker). I wouldn't worry about a few readings which
don't quite fit. Cycling is proven when you have no NH3/4, no NO2 and
lots of NO3. There are many things which can skew the results in
between. Aerobic nitrifying bacteria is in the air (and in higher
percentages if you already have fish, like your Bettas), and if you have
more of the nitrospiras for some reason (like when you added Stress-Zyme
which I think is a wide spectrum bacterial mix), then they could be
moving the NO2 to NO3 faster than expected.

When you think it's cycled, you can add some ammonia (about 2ppm) and
check to see if it has been converted to NO3 after 24 hours.
--
www.NetMax.tk


  #6  
Old March 13th 05, 06:57 AM
Bill
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Default

On 2005-03-11, David C. Stone wrote:
The food could also be a source of nitrate.


I was thinking that that could be a possibility, but I wasn't sure. The
food itself is just the cheap stuff that came with the bundle, so I
figured that it wouldn't hurt to use it for this and not actual feeding.
  #7  
Old March 13th 05, 07:57 AM
Bill
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Default

On 2005-03-12, NetMax wrote:
I agree that the NO3 test is a PITA (FYI: and if you leave the solution
to sit, it gets darker).


I didn't know that. Useful information.

I wouldn't worry about a few readings which don't quite fit. Cycling
is proven when you have no NH3/4, no NO2 and lots of NO3.


Call me eager. It's frustrating watching an aquarium with no fish in
it. :-)

Aerobic nitrifying bacteria is in the air (and in higher percentages
if you already have fish, like your Bettas), and if you have more of
the nitrospiras for some reason (like when you added Stress-Zyme which
I think is a wide spectrum bacterial mix), then they could be moving
the NO2 to NO3 faster than expected.


Basically, I hear you saying that any of my hypotheses could have been
accurate. ;-)

FWIW, we don't have the bettas *yet*. We were out visiting a few more
LFS today, though, and we got our desk aquaria in which we intend to
keep bettas -- she got a plain rectangular 5.5 gallon with a lid and
fluorescent fixture, and I got a Mini-Bow 5, and a self-ballasted
compact fluorescent bulb. Still need heaters -- we're going to get a
compact 25W each. We also hit pay dirt -- Bio-Spira.

I had been looking around online last night and found one source:
http://fishstoretn.com/bio_spira.html. We hit a couple of places[1]
today that we hadn't been, and they had it at both.

When we checked out, they packed the Bio-Spira in its own small brown
paper bag with a cold pack before putting it in the plastic bag with
other items, which I thought was a nice touch.

I just did a 100% water change -- actually, 17 gallons out of 20, but it
was all I could get out, and one or two of the three missing gallons
would have been due to evaporation. I probably wouldn't have bothered,
but there was about three tablespoons of salt in there, which wouldn't
sit well with the cories that we want to get. I'm debating another such
water change tomorrow, but that's probably overkill.

We're thinking a couple of angels and four or five cories for now, and
then adding a few congo tetras and five clown loaches when we get our 80
gallow tank in a few months.

I got a GH/KH test kit today. From the cold tap, it is 300 ppm (16.8 -
17 in dH?) GH and 130 ppm (7.3 dH?) KH. It might be too hard and basic
(pH is north of 8) for tetras.

Lots of fun, and there aren't even any fish yet! :-) Can't wait to get
the little buggers.



[1]For Phoenix-area residents, the stores were Aquarium Arts in Mesa and
Pets Inc in Tempe, about five miles from each other. So far, my wife
and I like Pets Inc the best of any store that we've been to. I'm
probably going to steer clear of Aquarium Arts, personally -- among
others, we saw a firemouth who was laying on its side on the bottom of
the tank, gasping for breath, along with more than a couple more dead or
dying fish. Pets Inc, while not specializing in fish, had quite a large
fish section and selection, the fish all seemed to be doing well. There
were tanks marked not-for-sale, and I overheard an employee telling a
customer about one tank that they weren't being sold because they were
sick. That impressed me. The other place seemed like a gamble to buy
healthy fish.
  #8  
Old March 13th 05, 08:22 AM
Ozdude
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"Bill" wrote in message
news:[email protected]
On 2005-03-11, David C. Stone wrote:
The food could also be a source of nitrate.


I was thinking that that could be a possibility, but I wasn't sure. The
food itself is just the cheap stuff that came with the bundle, so I
figured that it wouldn't hurt to use it for this and not actual feeding.


Well going off my experience of fish foods, this definitely could be a
source.

I've seen some foods of late about the place which claim to have "lower
phosphate and nitrate", so I presume your cheap or average
multi-flake/pellet food wouldn't have these manufacturing considerations. I
also notice these "... free" foods also cost considerably more than your
average fish food on the pet store shelf.

I am looking at taking the plunge and purchasing one or two varieties of
these low or zero phosphate/nitrate when my current flake supplies run out,
which will probably be about the time I get my canister filter, which should
be able to cope better anyway with high levels of things - well better than
my two internals seem to be lately.

I too have high nitrates on occasion. They show up as above 0 on my AP test
kit, but when I take a jar of the same water to the LFS and get it tested it
comes up 0, so I've taken to not bothering about my home reading any longer
as long as it doesn't go above where my test kit has it at.

To be honest, I haven't tested the water for a couple of weeks because I've
been keeping up daily gravel vaccing and water changes, but I will test it
tomorrow and I hope the nitrate hasn't gone up.

I've cut the feeding's right down over this intensive maintenance period, so
I'd be surprised if any of my levels were higher than 0

Oz

--
My Aquatic web Blog is at http://members.optusnet.com.au/ivan.smith


  #9  
Old March 13th 05, 08:33 AM
Ozdude
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"Bill" wrote in message
news:[email protected]
On 2005-03-12, NetMax wrote:
I agree that the NO3 test is a PITA (FYI: and if you leave the solution
to sit, it gets darker).


I didn't know that. Useful information.


I didn't know that either. This is why my home kit reveals above 0
apparently and the shop reads 0 on the same water. So it should be read
exactly after 5 minutes (as per instructions) ?

Call me eager. It's frustrating watching an aquarium with no fish in
it. :-)


Patience grasshopper. I know this frustration. It happened on my first tank,
many months ago, and I bit the bullet and bought two Paradise Fish and a CAE
(without water tests and full of ignorance). The female died within a
fortnight and the male a few days later after the CAE lunged onto his side
and made a nice big hole in him - he was already weak from chemical
poisoning I suspect.

The CAE just stopped one day, rolled onto his side and died. I tested the
water and the ammonia was through the roof.

The only advice and consolation I can give you is to be patient - it will
pay off in the future in a very stable and readable tank, which should be a
great environment for any fish you introduce into it.

Once this tank is going, you can use it to seed all further tanks and thus
not go through this waiting game. Also consider this - this is probably the
only time you have to display this patience in your life, so it's not really
*that* hard - just frustrating at the time


Oz

--
My Aquatic web Blog is at http://members.optusnet.com.au/ivan.smith


  #10  
Old March 13th 05, 08:06 PM
Bill
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On 2005-03-13, Ozdude wrote:
Patience grasshopper. I know this frustration. It happened on my first tank,
many months ago, and I bit the bullet and bought two Paradise Fish and a CAE
(without water tests and full of ignorance). The female died within a
fortnight and the male a few days later after the CAE lunged onto his side
and made a nice big hole in him - he was already weak from chemical
poisoning I suspect.


Sorry to hear about that. I didn't see that, as I read only what my
ISP had retained for the group, going back just a couple of months
(which was still quite a few messages). I'm glad to hear that it's
going better after the recent setback.

Once this tank is going, you can use it to seed all further tanks and thus
not go through this waiting game. Also consider this - this is probably the
only time you have to display this patience in your life, so it's not really
*that* hard - just frustrating at the time


Indeed -- but we found Bio-Spira, so I think that we'll be stocking
soon, once we figure out what we want in it for sure.
 




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