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Old 06-02-2011, 03:40 PM   #1
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Interesting rookie experiences...

My LFS is adament about not using API test kits for SW. I post about it here (twice) and very few have had a reaction to support it or refute it. Surprising that no one else here has had the experience I have had and be able to offer advice.

Then...

I mention to my LFS that I am fishless cycling using a cocktail shrimp and they look at me like I am from another planet. People post about it here all the time. I couldn't believe that they had never even HEARD of it before.

As a rookie it can be hard to figure out what is right in this hobby. I find both my LFS and this site helpful. But mostly I have to listen to both and then make up my own mind and try not to lose any fish in the process.
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Old 06-02-2011, 03:42 PM   #2
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What kinda test kit does you lfs use for testing if not the liquid?

Yeah, I cycled with staright ammonia and the lfs guy looked at me like i had two heads. lol
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Old 06-02-2011, 04:01 PM   #3
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For SW they are currently using a Tetra liquid kit. I did get one for nitrates and am comfortable with it. Apparntly Tetra is going to discontinue these tests.

I prefer the straight ammonia method because you can control your levels. I tried the shrimp this time for fun and found it caused too much ammonia. Then I learn my test kit might not be giving me accurate readings. Too many mid cycle water changes later I am still in limbo and waiting for nitrites to decrease and wondering if the API test will show it when and if it does.
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Old 06-02-2011, 04:15 PM   #4
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I have Done both the shrimp and the aqua ammonia (14% solution) the shrimp is less accurate and you can get some wild swings of ammonia and nitrites. Also some times you need to take the shrimp out because of the height of the nitrites.
As far as test kits go... I have used 3 different names of (liquid) test kits and I like parts of each... they seem to use different chemicals for most of their tests. Some ammonia tests take 20 min and some take 5 min. Some nirtate tests are unable to function if you have to high of nirites. I bought 2 master test kits and a few singles I tested the kits against each other and found them all to have similar results, some of the color schemes kinda suck though and are hard to tell the difference on the color chart. In the end as long as you have a liquid test kit, you follow the instructions and you use proper lighting, you will get accurate results. Test strips are not good at determining concentration. The only thing I would use a test strip for is a positive/negative result... but even then you can get false negatives.
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Old 06-02-2011, 04:15 PM   #5
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For the money and quantity API is the way to go. I find them pretty accurate. For my SW tanks I have been using Salifert tests, pretty $$$ but very very accurate. They don't sell a kit so unfortunately I have spent months collecting them all. lol

The cycle will go through, don't worry. You will see a noticeable drop in trites soon.
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Old 06-02-2011, 04:23 PM   #6
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I have never used test strips. I was able to get that bit of advice before making that mistake. I have used the API for my fresh tanks and feel I should be able to use the same for SW. It could be that my water is so out of wack at the moment that API chemicals are not able to work properly. We will see.

My cocktail shrimp came out two days ago. I am worried that if I wait too long before the fish goes in my ammonia levels will drop and I will lose bacteria. I am only going to have an ocellaris baby, so I won't need much, but how long do I wait before doing something differently? Once nitrites drop I plan to add ammonia to 1-2ppm to make sure it gets processed, but what if my nitrites go another week without dropping?
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Old 06-02-2011, 04:29 PM   #7
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Some people don't think you should test for pH when doing a cycle... I disagree. If your pH gets too low then you will have a stall in your cycle. Things that can help a cycle to complete faster are sodium carbonate (baking soda that has been spread on a cookie sheet and baked in the oven for 15 minutes at 350) and some type of carbon source (I use vodka) If your pH is lower then 7.8 then I would add some sodium carbonate. If you decide to add vodka make sure you add a very small amount at a time. (your water will get cloudy and your pH will drop so you will have to add sodium carbonate)
Things that are used in a cycle are.
Calcium carbonate
Sodium carbonate (baking soda is Sodium bi-carbonate if you bake it in the oven it becomes Sodium carbonate)
Carbon (vodka) (used in removing nitrate more then nitrite)
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Old 06-02-2011, 04:34 PM   #8
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Just remember that your LFS is out there to make a sale. If you are using a piece of shrimp then he cant sell you some damsels to cycle the tank. Thanks for doing it the fishless way as it`s more humane. It`s cheaper and safer for the fish. As far as test kits I`ve always used API for many years. Always have done good for me.
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Old 06-02-2011, 04:34 PM   #9
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API test kits have a different chart for FW/SW make sure you are using the right chart.
Once your nitrites get back in line you can throw your shrimp back in and make sure it is working properly. (if you haven't thrown it out yet put it in a good container and put it in the freezer.)
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Old 06-02-2011, 05:14 PM   #10
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Didn't think about keeping the shrimp. Went out to the curb today. I still have my bottle of ammonia so will probably just do it that way.

It is good to know the general opinion is API should work for SW. I think I just need to let the tank settle and let the nitrites come down. I messed around with the tank a lot last week and I am guessing that slowed me down. Purple is purple no matter what chart you are looking at.

My PH has been 8.2 all the way so far. I will continue to watch it.

Thanks all! I finally feel better about the API.
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