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Old 11-02-2003, 03:52 AM   #1
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Do I need nitrates to be sure?

I set up my 33 gallon/ 128 liter tank 5 weeks ago. For the first 4 weeks I only had 2 Zebra Danios and several live plants in there. A week ago I added 3 young Platies after I finally QT'd them. The Platies especially are avid poopers, and when I vacuumed the gravel yesterday, I found tons of waste. I've been doing 30% water changes weekly (first to dilute the salt I added when I thought the fish were sick, then to remove some of the waste that was building up, and to dilute the brown water that adding a Mangrove root caused.) But at no point have I registered any ammonia, nitrites or nitrates in the water. With only the Danios, I thought they weren't producing enough ammonia. Now with the Platies added, it seems like there should be enough waste produced for that. I've started suspecting if I can trust my tests, but then again, the fish seem happy, so there couldn't be much ammonia or nitrites around (I bought the Freshwater Master Test Kit, and a separate Nitrate test from the same maker on my trip to the U.S. 2 months ago.) The water, including the pH, has been stable all along. Do I really need some nitrates to prove my tank has cycled?
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Old 11-02-2003, 07:13 AM   #2
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Re: Do I need nitrates to be sure?

Hi dude,
From your post, it would seem that you have good knowledge of tank cycling. However from my understanding on the issue, the bacteria involved in breaking down ammonia/waste will establish themselves in any tank and in proportion to the amount of ammonia/waste produced by the fishes.

Like you suspected, maybe, not a lot of waste was produced by the danios but there should still be the relevant nitrifying bacteria in the tank from what ever little waste they did produce. As you have increased the bio-load with the platies, the nitrifying bacteria colony in your tank should simply grow to compensate.

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Originally Posted by Sinuhe
Do I really need some nitrates to prove my tank has cycled?
Apparently yes, but maybe you did not detect it because of the low levels of it. I do not know if your tank has fully “cycled” but I strongly believe that the proper “nitrifying bacteria” should be present in your tank by now.
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Old 11-02-2003, 12:00 PM   #3
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You might want to drag a water sample to a lfs and have them double check it for you. My guess is, with the really low bio-load the tank IS cycled for that level of fish, but because the waste levels are so low (and you do a decent sized water changes regularly removing a third of the waste) its not enough to register.
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Old 11-02-2003, 03:33 PM   #4
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Buy a pouch of BIO SPIRA ... it's refrigerated bacteria and works great for establishing bacterial colonies.
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Old 11-02-2003, 03:37 PM   #5
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Don't think she can PrettyFishies; I don't think its available in Europe yet.
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Old 11-02-2003, 04:24 PM   #6
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You do have a lot of plants that could be using up the nitrates... I don't have quite as many as you do, and a few more fish in the same size tank, and I've never had nitrate readings over 10 ppm. I do 10% changes twice a week, and test my water before each change - so I'm changing less water than you too...

So, with your larger water changes, fewer fish and more plants... you just might not have any nitrates left over to measure!
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Old 11-03-2003, 01:11 AM   #7
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Thanks, guys . I'm not actually sure if it's customary for LFS's here to test your water samples. As long as the fish seem fine, I think I'm going to keep doing what I've been doing so far, but if I run into some problems, I'll think about asking them test my water.

Yeah, I don't think Bio-Spira is available here. I've seen some other bacteria products mentioned, but I don't think they are refridgerated. And I'd rather not put extra chemicals in my tanks unless I can trust them.

The bio-load in my main tank should grow in a week or so when I'm going to add the Swordtails I currently have in QT. We'll see what happens.
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Old 11-03-2003, 09:05 AM   #8
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Give em a call Sinuhe; this way you'll know in advance in case you need to have em check the water out.
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Old 11-03-2003, 01:35 PM   #9
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I have a good LFS that I just "found" a couple of weeks ago that might test my water if I asked. I'm just weird in the way that I feel uncomfortable asking people for favors like that . I'm the kind of person who'd rather just go and spend a small fortune on a new set of tests than go ask for a simple thing like that .
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