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Old 05-09-2013, 12:19 AM   #1
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Is this a mini cycle or just my plants doing their job?

My 3 gallon betta tank (houses 1 male betta only) has been cycled for maybe a month and half or so now. I do 50% PWCs twice weekly with treated tap water. My last PWC was Friday. At that time, I took my filter media out, removed the carbon that it had come with because I heard keeping old carbon around is a bad idea, and swished the media in old tank water before putting it back in. My schedule got off because my work schedule changed, so instead of testing Monday as per usual, I did my testing today.

I got pH 8 (the usual)
Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrate 0

I use the API tests with liquid reagents.

I do have two live plants in the tank that are thriving and growing well, a java fern and an anubias. Please tell me my trates are 0 because the plants are using them up and that I'm not starting over my cycle for some reason!!
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Old 05-09-2013, 12:48 AM   #2
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Did you shake the heck out of 'trate solution #2? Did you shake the test tube well after adding #2? Personally I hit the #2 bottle on a table and shake like crazy, then repeat that several times for at least a minute. It is well known with the API test kit that if you don't vigorous shaking, you get a false reading and that reading can be zero. I'd try the 'trate test again even if you think you shook enough the first time, shake more.
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Old 05-09-2013, 12:51 AM   #3
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I shake like crazy yes, for the full time it says to. I've never got a false 0 before, but I will run the test again.
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Old 05-09-2013, 12:53 AM   #4
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P.S. I'd been doing the nitrate test successfully for quite a while the first time I got my first false reading from not shaking enough (if that's what happened to you). It happens. I know you know what you are doing if you completed a cycle using it.
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Old 05-09-2013, 12:55 AM   #5
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I shake like crazy yes, for the full time it says to. I've never got a false 0 before, but I will run the test again.
I was posting my ps when you answered. Let us know how it goes and good luck.
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Old 05-09-2013, 03:53 AM   #6
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Sorry it took me so long to get back. It's still 0
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Old 05-09-2013, 06:07 AM   #7
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Yeah I had plenty of false '0' on my nitrates test. I didn't shake them up enough. Then when I did get carried away and shook the crap out of the bottle I got a result of 40-80ppm.
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Old 05-09-2013, 09:46 AM   #8
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Sorry it took me so long to get back. It's still 0
I'd just watch the fish, and plants for that matter, carefully and test for pH, amm, trites and trates more often for a while in order to keep tabs on it all. 0 is usually only seen with a totally new tank, but you are doing frequent large water changes and your tank is not that old. By watching carefully you should stay ahead of anything that may be happening.
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Old 05-09-2013, 12:35 PM   #9
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Have a 0 nitrate reading isn't uncommon when plants are in the tank. Plus by doing two large WC's weekly your nitrates wouldn't have time to build up. You could really go to doing just 1 weekly 50% WC. Also it wouldn't hurt for you to get something like Seachem's Floiurish Comprehensive and dose it once weekly after your WC to give your couple plants alittle nutrients.
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Old 05-09-2013, 01:26 PM   #10
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Okay, thank you! My trates have been running at about 5 with the two large pwcs per week. Maybe the plants are just now really kicking into full gear. I will start doing 1 per week instead, so long as the trates remain low. I will test more often in the meantime to make sure nothing else is going on.
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Old 05-09-2013, 05:02 PM   #11
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Reward yourself and your betta and throw in a few more pellets every now and then. You can both afford it...

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Old 05-09-2013, 05:50 PM   #12
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I feed 3 pellets twice daily. I thought over feeding was supposed to be bad for Bettas? Do you mean I should just throw some extra uneaten food in to raise the ammonia levels?
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Old 05-09-2013, 06:01 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Rivercats View Post
Have a 0 nitrate reading isn't uncommon when plants are in the tank. Plus by doing two large WC's weekly your nitrates wouldn't have time to build up. You could really go to doing just 1 weekly 50% WC. Also it wouldn't hurt for you to get something like Seachem's Floiurish Comprehensive and dose it once weekly after your WC to give your couple plants alittle nutrients.
I have my first plated tank, but I spoke to my LFS yesterday and they agree with Rivercats. I have 0 Nitrates as well and my LFS told me to only do about a 5 gal or less PWC on a 36 gal tank once a week. I have:
0 Nitrates
0 Ammonia
0 Nitrates and
7.5 PH
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Old 05-09-2013, 06:05 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Rivercats View Post
Have a 0 nitrate reading isn't uncommon when plants are in the tank. Plus by doing two large WC's weekly your nitrates wouldn't have time to build up. You could really go to doing just 1 weekly 50% WC. Also it wouldn't hurt for you to get something like Seachem's Floiurish Comprehensive and dose it once weekly after your WC to give your couple plants alittle nutrients.
I have my first planted tank and 0 nitrates as well. I was at my LFS yesterday and mentioned this and they agree with Rivercats. I dose sparingly with Flourish and Excel.
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Old 05-09-2013, 08:09 PM   #15
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Do you mean I should just throw some extra uneaten food in to raise the ammonia levels?
Oh no, I was kind of patting you on the back for good husbandry skills. You can treat your fish with a little extra food without worrying about fouling the water. The plants will thank you as well.

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Old 05-09-2013, 10:37 PM   #16
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Oh! Okay, sorry!
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Old 05-19-2013, 08:26 PM   #17
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So just to update:

After taking it much easier on pwcs, my levels are all still zero except my trates, which are < 5, but at least they are there! I took advice and got some flourish for the plants and I ended up adding a really sad looking wisteria I got on clearance, lol. My betta is happy and must be okay because his tail, which had a large portion missing when I bought him, is growing in nicely!
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Old 05-20-2013, 03:51 AM   #18
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Glad to hear your betta is healing!
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Old 05-20-2013, 08:10 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by my_little_tetra View Post
So just to update:

After taking it much easier on pwcs, my levels are all still zero except my trates, which are < 5, but at least they are there! I took advice and got some flourish for the plants and I ended up adding a really sad looking wisteria I got on clearance, lol. My betta is happy and must be okay because his tail, which had a large portion missing when I bought him, is growing in nicely!
My water is about the same as yours. I was told by my LFS to go ahead and put my betta into my community tank, and he loved it- he went from a 5 gal to a 36 gal planted, but then he killed 2 of my neons so back to the 5 gal he went. I really enjoyed watching him in the other tank, he's so pretty.
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