I've got some serious questions regarding the results I've been getting from my text kits (Red Sea) during my tank cycling.
A little background:
About 10 days ago I plopped a large, raw shrimp in my 46 gallon tank with about 40 lbs of live rock that had been sitting at the LFS
for quite a while. Some of it had been in a customers tank and they sold it back when they moved away so about 20 lbs I guess could be considered "mature" (?) while the other 20 lbs had been in thier tank for about 2-3 weeks. There's about 5" of Argonite sand including a 15 lb. bag of commercially available "live sand".
My shrimp layed there for about 3 days slowly decomposing and then just completely dissapeared by the 5th day; no remnants at all.
I have been having a devil of a time with my test kits. My last test battery that I did about 30 minutes ago reads as follows:
Temp: 79 degrees.
Ammonia: .25 innitial reading, .035 after calculating PH
Nitrite: 0-.1 VERY hard to tell with the color chart provided w/kit
Nitrate: 0-2.5 VERY, VERY hard to tell with the color chart provided
Spec. Gravity: 1.021
The thing is, nothing has changed. It's been pretty much the same from day one. I am a little concerned (slight understatment) about what is really going on in there. I am assuming that I missed the Ammonia spike somehow. The ambiguity of the tests I've done doesn't help matters. When you get a color, repeatedly, that isn't really on the color chart it is difficult to tell what is truly happening.
My questions are:
1. Red Sea kits? Is it just me? They are all that are available around here but I'm not real impressed with them right now. Is there something out there that is better/easier to read?
a. Nitrite: I have constantly gotten a color that isn't on the chart. I get Blue. It's neither blue/green or blue/grey so it's just a best guess every time.
b. Alkalinity portion of PH
/Alkalinity kit: There is really only 3 sections of the test color strip: low, normal and high. The same color (blue) is on both the normal and the high so I don't know what range I am in.
c. Nitrate. According to the kit directions for Nitrate, the results are scewed from Nitrite level readings, but I haven't gotten a real accurate Nitrite reading so I don't trust either.
I have no idea what's really going on. Should I just throw another shrimp (or two) in the tank and see what happens?
I have brown algea all over the bottom of the tank as well as my powerheads. I have some "spider web" looking things in some areas. I have bristle worms crawling all over the place. There are about 20 small feather dusters and I have even found some flourecent green mushroom looking things in there. There is a dead piece of coral that the LFS
threw in because I liked the look of it and it's covered in green algea (that's where the mushroom (?) looking things are as well.)
Any help would be appreciated. You can have all my kudos.